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February 18, 2005
Compiled by Bucky Rea, The Brown Bag Blogger

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Blogs (Not So Much) In The News

No Valentines went out for webloggers from Google this year. Instead, getting your blog googled got a whole lot tougher, beginning with the Ides of February. Bloggists at Fables of the Reconstruction, Sisyphus Shrugged, and the Eschaton noted their searches for self (as in self-googling, not self-actualization) seem futile as blogs disappear from the #1 search engine's search results. The Box smells a rat, folks.

Google, it should be noted, periodically rejiggers the formulas for its search-and-ranking spiders whenever it thinks the World Wide Thingamajig is evolving in a way that makes it tougher for people to use the Google search engines to find what Google suspects they want to find. This may be nothing more than a burp in that rejiggering process. As Mithras of Fables of the Reconstruction calculates, Americans who specifically google for political blogs probably only number in the middle six figures. And half of them are Republicans. Blecch!

Then, Mithras prophesies...

Until today, if you googled any topic of current interest, the first page of results included blogs. That made blogs relevant to general internet users, but much more importantly, it made blogs vital for journalists researching stories. The prominent placement of blogs in google search results meant that bloggers, rightly or wrongly, were paid attention to. It also meant that blogs occupied valuable internet real estate that attracts advertising revenue. Take search engines away, and the entire enterprise dries up. No google hits, no blogs. It's that simple.

Blogs may not go away quite that fast, of course. But the net effect of changing the formulas for Google's search engine is to expose Google users more to pages intended for permanent display and direct them less toward webpages that are intended to have a short shelf life - like those found on blogs. Alvin Toffler, author and coiner of The Third Wave, would call that Second Wave thinking. Ooooh, dis!

So the real value of the Google search engine's old algorithms was that they brought new readers to weblogs, including new readers to political weblogs. But more importantly, googling brought weblogs to the attention of people who might not otherwise read items from these evolving news venues. In other words, the de-blogging of Google helps de-democratize the free flow of information for people who go online. This de-blogging will, if it does not quite cripple blogging, certainly attempts to ghettoize it.

So yeah, it stinks.

Bottoms Up

Now (slipping into my conspiracy box) why would blogging suddenly warrant a one way ticket to second class netizenship? Well, Lex from the DU blog, a weblog culled off from the DU discussion forums, connected the dots when he posted this cartoon from Pat Oliphant and reminded us that "Gannongate" is a word you won't hear much on the recently corralled CBS Nightly News.

Yep, while blogs are sidelined because they're not "real" news sources, real news sources are ignoring the most important part of the news story that shows "right wing media whore" isn't always just a pejorative term. In the case of a guy named Guckert who goes by Gannon in the daytime and Hotmilitarystud by night, right wing media whore is actually a job title, as Hullabaloo and about a million other bloggers keep pointing out.

Well, Pete, Bryan, and the terminally ill Uncle Dan may be missing the obvious, but Digby is still on the case and asking the tough questions, like "who exactly felt close enough to Gannon/Guckert/Hotmilitarystud to share with him the top secret Valerie Plame memos? Someone from the White House? May Bob Novak? (Eeww!)

Meanwhile the Intelligence Squad found the video of Gannon/Guckert/Stud's earliest known appearance in the White House press room. He looks eerily placid in the photo, like he's just hangin' there, waiting to perform whatever job he's been hired to do over at 1600 Pennsylvania. Daily Kos has the money shot.

The Undiscovered Country

Jeanne at Body and Soul is in a contemplative mood. She's got a young'un in a California school who's studying the history of California and seems a bit perplexed about how pre-conquest local history is being taught, or not taught, to the next generation. Ironically, she notes, the Indians are getting disappeared from the ivied halls of LaLaLand, just like they did in real life. So who says academia isn't relevant? Now Jeanne wants to know if other schools drill their elementary kids in local history. The comments section in this post is definitely worth the read, friends.

The weblog Shlonkom Bakazay takes you into a crazy place far from the Land of the Free. In a dimly lit sanctuary, crazed religious fanatics exhort groups of disengaged youth to take up the sword and gun for the glory of God and bring death and vengeance upon the infidels. It's an ugly blending of religion with primal, xenophobic bloodlust.

Sound like Tehran? Maybe some Wahabist enclave in Tora Bora, Falluja, or the Gaza Strip? Nope, it's Kentucky, where yuppie Christian vocal groups wearing camo shirts and crisply starched Dockers croon homages to the working class troops they voted to send off to fight for oil, 9/11, world peace, freedom, human rights, WMDs democracy in Iraq. (For you dial-uppers out there, Shlonkom has posted this low calorie version of this story for a faster download.)

Thanks go to DUer Bolo Boffin for that link. Like any good hobbit, Boffin's good at finding hidden gems in the hidden nooks of his cybershire. F'rinstance he recently uncovered The Shortcake Chronicles, a blog totally dedicated to the love of strawberry shortcakes. No, really.

Little Deaths

Lindsay Fincher, who blogs from the coincidentally named is miffed at Time Magazine. Apparently they totally ignored her copyright on the patriotic chant "Racist, sexist, anti-gay - Bush and Cheney go away!" It's like she just begging for and IRS audit.

By the way, sorry about missing the column last week. When you're a Brown Bagger, the week before Valentine's can be a little tough to take.

Via Two Feet In, we learn from the PR Watch blog contribution from Sheldon Rampton, who notes the sleuthing work of an ex-pat guy named "El Gringo" (are you following this?) that a certain Bush and war supporter is turning the horrors of war into nifty little propaganda posters to make our guys proud to die for Halliburton, oil, 9/11, world peace, freedom, human rights, WMDs democracy in Iraq. Apparently once you Photoshop all the blood off their faces and dead relatives out of the background, those Iraqis look pretty dang grateful.

Political Animal Kevin Drum gets in the choicest quote this week, but at least partial credit has to go to the former Calpundit's muse, tha aetherial philosopher of wit, Don Rumsfeld.

RUMSFELDISMS.... Donald Rumsfeld, asked about the number of insurgents in Iraq
"I am not going to give you a number for it because it's not my business to do intelligent work."
We've suspected it all along.

And finally Atrios came up with a good theory about why lefty bloggers aren't quite as successful at collecting scalps as the righty bloggers are. Now mind you, Atrios was demonstrating the intellectual shortcomings of Jonah Goldberg. That's not exactly a tough assignment. But Atrios's bigger point was that it's tough to shame certain people into leaving their jobs.

Jonah doesn't mind getting money from racists, and the racists in charge don't mind paying for his column. And, Jonah complains about anti-Semitic emailers (which, if true, should be complained about) but has little to say about the Times accepting numerous ads for anti-Semitic outlets. There's no way to shame these people into resigning because no one involved has any sense of shame.

Well, we've suspected that all along, too.

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