Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Can't we all get along?

Joe Kelly has a blog called For theSake of Argument. I would probably have never heard of it except for another site called Unpartisan, which I also have never heard of. Unpartisan is the brainchild of Cameron Brooks, a programmer in Santa Barbara and former Political Science major. Brooks wrote a program for a self-populating blog. Here's his explanation of why he did it and how it works: is a political site that blends news, discussion, and commentary from all over the internet. There are thousands of political weblogs all over the internet comprising two distinct political spheres. Unfortunately, it is extremely rare that these spheres ever intersect or even meet. It is our mission here at not to get everyone together at the table to discuss our differences and reach a compromise, but to at least offer a forum where each side can at least see what the other has to say. At this site we do not censor, but we certainly encourage intelligent discussion over flamewars or yelling matches. We aren't sure if any of the links will change anyone's mind or their political views, but maybe that's not the point.

[...] relies entirely on RSS feeds to select stories. Stories are aggregated and the most popular political stories are chosen from those feeds. relies on dozens of news feeds to choose its stories, and hundreds of blogs to choose relevant discussions pertaining to that issue. There are no human editors at this site, and every story, every blog posting, is chosen by a complex computer algorithm which we are refining every day.

The Unpartisan blog has three columns. In the center are links to the major media sites carrying a story. On the right are right-wing blogs commenting on that story and on the left... I'll let you guess.

I discovered Unpartisan today when Joe Kelly and I were paired up as commentors on the Starbucks bomber arrest (I was on the left). There is a suprisingly accurate symetery between Joe Kelly's and my posts. We began with the exact same quotes, followed by offense at the police sergeant's decisive announcement that no terrorism was involved, and finished by irresponsibly announcing what the bomber's motive was.
Excuse me?

No connection to terrorism?

That police sergeant is either lying or is choosing his words poorly.

What he might have meant to say or imply is that the bomb does not appear to be related to any form of Islamofascist-Middle-Eastern-Arabic-War-on-Terror terrorism.

But, there’s no mistake about it – a bomb left in the bathroom of a Starbucks in San Francisco is absolutely an act of terrorism; likely the anti-capitalism, pro-socialism type of terrorism.

While I was inclined to suspect the mujahadeen O'Reilly, Kelly is inclined to suspect anti-globalization neo-anarchists. Actually, I was being sarcastic (No!).

In reality, I suspect that Mr. Kelly is right. I lived through the "Battle of Seattle" WTO protests. Based on my historical credentials and personal political background, I have a very low opinion of the anachism of the WTO rioters. I have no problem believing that the black-sweatshirt crowd could and would randomly bomb a Starbucks and think they were making a intelligible point. I have no problem believing that they would screw it up (thank whatever).

Of course, Ronald Schouten might be nothing more than an incoherent nutcase who Kelly and I can both blame on the other side. I suppose that gives us something in common. We both hate the sort of liguistic foolishness that deprives a word like "terrorism" of its meaning. Maybe when the current constitutional crisis is over, we can find common ground enough for a few drinks on that basis. I like to think we will.

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