Sunday, March 23, 2014

If the Civil War had been reported by today's editors for The Atlantic...

...the article headlines might look like this:

What Everyone Gets Wrong About The New York Draft Riots

No, The Blockade Runners Will Not Save The South

The Myth Of Heroic Southern Womanhood

The Fredericksburg Disaster, In Three Simple Graphs

How Lincoln's Exchange With Horace Greeley Emboldens Foreign Intervention

When Habeas Corpus Is Just A Memory

Why The Substitute Soldier Is The Future Of War

This list is inspired by this article from The Atlantic last autumn.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Will Ta-Nehisi Coates shut down comments at The Atlantic?

I've been commenting at The Atlantic on posts by Ta-Nehisi Coates for the past year or so. His comments threads have always been heavily moderated, and justly so. I remember what happened to the unmoderated African-American usenet groups back in the 90s, 'nuff said. He has to have two maybe three editors to keep the vileness out. In addition to that though, he seems to dislike much in the way of disagreement. After having received a rap on the knuckles from him a time or two, I've tried to tone up my remarks, with some success. I will confess that I was surprised when I first discovered him, that it was harder than I expected to hold up my end of a conversation with him and his fans. I now take it as a challenge to frame my opinions in a way that is acceptable to that online community, while still making my points. Only n00bs whine about the moderators, is my online motto.

But I've been struck how many comments will be deleted and commenters banned, for stating obvious facts. I myself was threatened with banning, for mentioning the fact that Africa's post-colonial human rights record is an appalling horror show, and its leaders have until recently been mostly larcenous and murderous despots. His truth narrative doesn't seem to like having its toes stepped on by other truth narratives, apparently. I mean, what would the reaction be if the Nigerian academic George Ayittey logged in and said the same things? Things are a bit more relaxed when he deals with topics in which race is not always front and center, such as his experiences in Paris or his readings in Eastern European history. (Speaking of which, I wonder if he's going to take up Iron Curtain anytime soon, as promised some time back? Maybe he's lost interest.) Then the crowdsourced knowledge of the commenters is giving freer rein, and the threads make for quite educational and enjoyable reading, for those interested in those subjects.

Lately he's been posting articles and leaving the comments off for days, if not permanently. I hope he doesn't leave the magazine because of commenters, the way Steven den Beste gave up political blogging because he was tired of getting crapped at by his commenters. If the comments are too wearisome to police anymore, my suggestion would be for him to do away with them, a la James Fallows, and just post open threads once a week. That ought to simplify things from The Atlantic's end.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Simferopol scene

This picture is currently making the rounds on Twitter. Looks like riot police checking women's handbags.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Crimea, Ukraine and Russia

Attentive readers of the news boiling out of Crimea and Ukraine may have noticed this historical tidbit, that Crimea was transferred to Ukraine from Russia in 1954. See here and here for backgrounders.

Back when the Soviet Union was still around, I used to enjoy "eavesdropping" on the Kremlin by browsing the publication The Current Digest Of The Soviet Press. Snippets of old issues are available in Google Books, and while spelunking therein I found this announcement from 1954:

It's just a snippet, but you can grasp the high-handed optimism so typical of communist propaganda. Little did they realize that their "reforging" of humanity would fail, and the consequences of their social engineering would ripple out for decades.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Digital rights lockdown

Oh, brother...didn't they learn anything from the music biz? H/T Instapundit.

Keurig Will Use DRM In New Coffee Maker To Lock Out Refill Market (via Techdirt)

The single coffee cup craze has been rolling now for several years in both the United States and Canada, with Keurig, Tassimo, and Nespresso all battling it out to lock down the market. In order to protect their dominant market share, Keurig makers…