Minor email setback

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I managed to wipe out all the mail in my inbox since August 9. (Don’t ask.) If you’ve emailed me in the last 12 days and you don’t hear back from me about whatever you emailed me about, that’s probably why. Feel free to contact me again. Thanks.

As PNH calls it: The book meme that ate blogdom's brain

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OK, OK, I’ll play (I guess you can call this entry the final straw, although I wasn’t “tagged” by it, so this is kind of a bastard-child in terms of meme lineage):

Total number of books owned:

No idea. At least 2000. Possibly double that, counting boxes of books in the basement. Would be a multiple of that again if I hadn’t purged my author copies and editor copies of every book I was ever personally involved in a few years back with the help / at the insistence of b.

Last book bought:

Paperback of John Coltrane: His Life and Music by Lewis Porter, on the recommendation of xourmas, who says the way we’ve been studying music theory together and learning to play has some parallels in Coltrane’s own history.

Last book read:

Does re-reading count? If so, put me down for Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey / Maturin series, which I’ve just re-read for the umpteenth time. If not, Up from Conservatism by Michael Lind. It’s now a tad out-of-date, and Lind is still more conservative than I have, but turncoats make the best informants.

Five books that mean a lot to you:

  1. The Truelove by Patrick O’Brian. One of my favorites from that series.
  2. Money and the Meaning of Life by Jacob Needleman. A philosopher takes a hard look at what money really is and what it means and why it matters. I’m probably overdue to read this again.
  3. Creatures of Light and Darkness by Roger Zelazny. One of his space-future reinterpretations of mythology, in this case Egyptian.
  4. Night Soldiers by Alan Furst. I love all of his books but this first one in the series sets the stage for the rest and begins the series of subtle interlinkings that connect them all.
  5. Invitation to a Beheading by Vladimir Nabokov. Again, this stands for many, but is definitely my favorite among them all. Conjures up mid 20th century totalitarianism and manages to weave together an intertwined take on literature and spirituality, at least the way I read it. Postmodern without being annoying.

Tag five people to continue this meme:

Cecil Vortex
Bill Cassel
Frances Pabon
Pete Gaughan
Willem Knibbe

This doesn't surprise me

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Quoting from More Alan Furst Blogging:

More Alan Furst blogging, this time from Unqualified Offerings:

Unqualified Offerings: Henry Farrell got me into a to-do for novelist Alan Furst at GWU this evening. The food was fabulous and the author did not disappoint. Controversial GWU President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg did the introduction, and it was good – the kind of informed appreciation a writer can get, if lucky, from a very smart fan. See previous Furst-blogging on this site and current Furst-blogging from Brad DeLong. Furst read a few pages from The Foreign Correspondent, which will be out in time for Father’s Day – 2006. I have to say, the excerpt completely hooked me…

Now excuse me while I turn green with envy.

If anything I’d expect to see more discussion of Alan Furst in blogs. He’s an incredible writer and as good as Patrick O’Brian is at conjuring up a different time in all its nuances. Now that I’ve read all his books I’m always impatient for the next one, and other supposedly similar writers out there (not naming any names) don’t quite scratch the same itch.

Bloggers trying to have it both ways with the FEC?

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I read Chris Nolan because she makes me think and she teases out subtleties that ordinarily might escape me. In The Man Behind the Curtain she takes Kos to task for promoting a future in which bloggers have all the exemptions of journalists and all the freedoms of partisan hacks:

The idea of getting money out of politics is one that used to be endorsed by Democrats and reformer, folks who really were progressive, not just mouthing the words to some 1970s Golden Oldie barely remembered from their first 8th Grade co-ed dance. Why? Because those reformer understood that big money – corporate money, union money, rich people’s money – didn’t always go to their side or the aisle. And regardless of where it goes, it can be corrupting. They understood that money will never leave politics; that’s why it has to be watched very, very carefully, as publicly as possible, as openly as possible.

Mike Krempasky does not believe this. And if you think for a minute that Krempasky isn’t trying to use this recent round of FEC hearings and comments to gut the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, which brought many of them into being, you are dreaming. That’s the Great and Powerful Progressive cause. But, of course, it’s being ignored in favor of name calling and mocking a woman who’s both reasonable and polite and who Moulitsas met only a few weeks ago when he sat next to her on a panel (which I moderated in New York) and decried the rising tide of partisan name-calling and bad-mouthing on the Internet.

Now, I don’t agree with Carol Darr’s analysis of what should be done by the FEC. I think the media exemption should be given freely and fully to anyone who asks for it. But I also think people who ask for it shouldn’t take money from campaigns, shouldn’t be involved in fundraising and shouldn’t be endorsing candidates or doing any other sort of political work. Carol Darr sees the same trouble I do:

On its face, the bloggers’ request for rights equal to those of mainstream media seems reasonable. Their online readership, in a few instances, exceeds those of mid-sized daily newspapers, and their influence and legitimacy continues to grow, in some cases exponentially. Last summer, dozens of bloggers were issued press credentials at the two national party conventions, and several of them have been credentialed by the House and Senate Press Galleries. Recently a blogger was given a day pass to the White House Press Room. Some bloggers want it both ways, however. They want to preserve their rights as political activists, donors and even fundraisers — activities regulated by campaign finance laws — yet at the same time enjoy the broad exemption from the campaign finance laws afforded to traditional journalists. As one blogger speculated, “So basically, I can do whatever I want, spending however much money I want (blogTV that has fatband maximized by megamillions) and just call it a blog?” 8 That is exactly right. For thirty years the campaign finance laws have made a fundamental distinction between political activists and the news media, in order to protect a free press while at the same time limiting the influence of big money on federal elections. Until recently, the distinction between the news media and rest of us was clear and uncontroversial…
Bloggers can have it all, but not all at one time, without destroying the two campaign finance statutes or the press exemptions or both. Given the social and political changes ushered in by new communications technologies, it may already be too late for anything but a massive overhaul of the campaign finance statutes.

Food for thought.