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TOXIC MASCULINITY: My Neighborhood Was on Fire. My Neighbors Came Together to Save It.

As Virginia Postrel noted on Facebook, this story has a real Army of Davids feel to it. Mostly I’m surprised that the NYT would present such a glowing vision of male cooperation and bonding, not to mention the scene where a good guy with a gun saves the day.

OLD AND BUSTED*: An Army of Davids.

The New Hotness? An Army of Fredrick Werthams: How Twitter Transforms Regular People Into Woke Crusaders.

Earlier: Wokescolds Go Batty Over Upcoming Joker Movie They Haven’t Even Seen Yet.

* Well, at least in certain fever swamp quarters, sad to say.

JESSE WALKER: The Podcast Revolution. “There was a time when a radio program required an actual radio station. Podcasting changed that. It is now possible to transmit a talk show, a documentary, or an audio play without dealing with anyone licensed to broadcast on the AM or FM bands. Needless to say, this costs a lot less to operate than it did the old way. And with less money on the line, your audience doesn’t need to be as big for your show to be profitable—if profits even matter to you in the first place.”

This isn’t really new — I wrote about this stuff in An Army of Davids, and the late, lamented Glenn & Helen Show started in 2006. But what’s happened since is that it’s gone from remarkable, to part of the normal fabric of everyday life. I kind miss the Glenn & Helen Show — I just listened to one of the last episodes when I got the above link — but not enough to go back to it, I think.

CROWDSOURCING LIBERTY: How the Hong Kong Protestors’ Tactical Brilliance Backed Beijing into a Corner.

One of the reasons for the effectiveness of the protest movement is the decision to remain leaderless. In an op-ed article in 2017, Nicholas Berggruen, chairman of the Berggruen Institute, suggests that resistance movements need strong and charismatic leaders to succeed. Many resistance movements such as the Civil Rights Movement with Martin Luther King Jr., the resistance to apartheid with Nelson Mandela, and the India Independence Movement with Gandhi benefited greatly from such leadership.

But the outcome of Hong Kong’s 2014 pro-democracy movement suggests that the current protests would not be nearly as robust or effective if it did have such leaders. Joshua Wong, the strong and charismatic leader of the Umbrella movement in 2014, was jailed in 2017 for unlawful assembly. With strong leaders present, the authorities can arrest them, fatally weakening a movement. Given the deterioration of the rule of law in Hong Kong, the authorities could conceivably jail all of the movement’s linchpins with considerable ease. But with a leaderless movement, the authorities have no such power. So far, the Hong Kong Police Force has arrested hundreds of protesters while the movement has not lost any momentum because the contribution of no single individual is vital.

Didn’t somebody write a book about this, once upon a time?

ARMY OF GEEKS: Ohio Seeks to Create a Civilian Cyber Militia to Protect Elections.

It’s Glenn’s world — we just live in it.

HUH. WHO COULD HAVE SEEN THIS SORT OF THING COMING? The Alt-Right Is Using Crowdfunding to Take on Liberal Silicon Valley.

SAMIZDAT:

rogue-nasa

President Trump faces two problems, probably intractable, in his efforts to control communications from Federal agencies.

The first is, it can’t be done. The second is, he’ll make “heroes” out of these “rogues” who resist.

UPDATE (From Glenn): Trump is a genius with mass media, but it’s not clear that he’s as expert at dealing with this stuff. But the Army-of-Davids response to this Army-of-Davids behavior wouldn’t come from Trump, but from Trump fans, who might set up fake “Rogue” sites pumping out nonsense, or something like that. There are a lot of Trump fans out there on social media. . . .

AN ARMY OF DAVIDS: Meetings of activists planning to disrupt inauguration were infiltrated by conservative group.

In the weeks leading up to President Trump’s inauguration, a small group of activists threatening to disrupt the event was trying to keep the details secret. D.C. police detectives were working hard to learn the plans and head them off.

What neither authorities nor the activists apparently realized was that conservative activist James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas had already infiltrated key meetings of groups of suspected agitators.

A D.C. police spokesman has confirmed that a secret video recording made Dec. 18 by one of O’Keefe’s operatives led to the arrest of one man and foiled an alleged plot to spread acid at the DeploraBall for Trump supporters at the National Press Club. It was not clear whether the alleged plotters ever obtained the acid.

Law enforcement authorities said they think that the successful penetration of DisruptJ20, an umbrella organization for a number of groups that police said sought to wreak havoc at the inauguration, forced it to abandon plans to try to shut down Metro trains and block entrances into the District, according to two law enforcement officials with knowledge of the investigation.

He should get the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

IT’S LIKE THE BOSS SAYS, AN ARMY OF DAVIDS: Who Goes There?!

AN ARMY OF DAVIDS: Spooked by Russia, Tiny Estonia Trains a Nation of Insurgents.

“We just have to stay alive,” Ms. Barnabas said of the main idea behind the Jarva District Patrol Competition, a 24-hour test of the skills useful for partisans, or insurgents, to fight an occupying army, and an improbably popular form of what is called “military sport” in Estonia.

The competitions, held nearly every weekend, are called war games, but are not intended as fun. The Estonian Defense League, which organizes the events, requires its 25,400 volunteers to turn out occasionally for weekend training sessions that have taken on a serious hue since Russia’s incursions in Ukraine two years ago raised fears of a similar thrust by Moscow into the Baltic States.

Estonia, a NATO member with a population of 1.3 million people and a standing army of about 6,000, would not stand a chance in a conventional war with Russia. But two armies fighting on an open field is not Estonia’s plan, and was not even before Donald J. Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, said European members of NATO should not count on American support unless they pay more alliance costs.

Since the Ukraine war, Estonia has stepped up training for members of the Estonian Defense League, teaching them how to become insurgents, right down to the making of improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.s, the weapons that plagued the American military in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another response to tensions with Russia is the expansion of a program encouraging Estonians to keep firearms in their homes.

Forget the gratuitous swipe at Donald Trump, and marvel instead at reporter Andrew E. Kramer’s estimation of Estonians’ enthusiasm for their own national defense as “improbably popular.”

CHALK ONE UP FOR THE ARMY OF DAVIDS: Gamers just outdid scientists in a race to figure out a protein’s shape.

STUCK IN THE 20TH CENTURY: Hillary Clinton Never Learns That the World Sees Every Stumble.

To state the obvious: Obviously Hillary Clinton’s health matters, and the public has a right to know whether she has the physical stamina to be president. Obviously Sunday’s events are a real story, not only because of what happened, but because the Clinton team lied about it. If it didn’t matter, why did they lie, and hide it from her press pool?

Perhaps less obvious, but also true: this whole cycle was straight out of the playbook that worked for Bill Clinton for many years. Hide, deny, lie, and when that lie breaks down, spin another while surrogates and supporters attack. That playbook lost its mojo on Jan. 19, 1998, when the Drudge Report broke the story of Monica Lewinsky’s presidential trysts. It has been steadily getting less effective since that day. Unfortunately, the only person who doesn’t seem to realize that is Hillary Clinton.

I will hardly be the first to observe that all of us, and especially famous people, now live in a digital panopticon, where at any moment our actions may be observed, videotaped, and uploaded to the internet. Nor that the web has democratized publishing, creating what law professor Glenn Reynolds has dubbed “an Army of Davids” willing and able to attack the powerful. Nor that the amazing proliferation of data and records on the web has given those Davids an array of weapons far more powerful than a slingshot. Why has the news not yet reached Hillary Clinton?

If you collapse in public, and you are famous, the odds that this event has not been captured on someone’s cell phone are starting to approach zero. And the odds that this video will be seen by virtually every American are starting to approach 100 percent because there are no longer any gatekeepers to bully. Trying to control stories like the old Clinton spin machine did is like trying to fight World War II with tactical maneuvers that worked for Caesar’s legions.

Yep. But Hillary’s grasp of technology — except, apparently, for BleachBit — is notoriously poor.

AN ARMY OF ASTRONOMER DAVIDS: Backyard telescopes and amateur eyes see where “pro” astronomers can’t: Regular folks armed with the Internet are pushing sky science into fast forward.

I actually had a section on this back in An Army of Davids, which, shockingly, came out over a decade ago.

AN ARMY OF MARY SUES: “If, as Glenn Reynolds put it, the Internet has unleashed an ‘Army of Davids,’ it is also unleashing an army of Mary Sues,” Robert Tracinski writes at Real Clear Future:

For those who don’t know, “Mary Sue” is a term that originally referred to a particularly bad kind of fan fiction. It originated with a 1974 parody of Star Trek fan fiction in which the heroine, Lieutenant Mary Sue, is a rather obvious stand-in for the author, who is seeking to live vicariously through her overly idealized alter ego. Since then, the term has come to be a stand-in for fan fiction as such.

It also indicates some of the mixed feelings fans of a franchise have toward its amateur fan fiction, and it gives you an idea why movie studios and publishers who own copyrights worth billions of dollars might not want to give fan fiction full rein.

Which leads us to the next step: surprise, surprise, a promise made by a Hollywood producer turns out not to be true. The Axanar lawsuit has not been dropped, and in late June Paramount ignored a set of guidelines proposed by makers of fan films and published its own set of guidelines that will put the medium in a pretty small box. To avoid a lawsuit from Paramount, a fan production must be no more than 15 minutes long; have a budget no bigger than $50,000; have no paid professional actors or crew and no one who has ever worked on an official Star Trek production; no merchandising, not even the little perks usually given out for crowdfunding efforts (and what is a crowdfunded project without a T-shirt?); and all costumes from the franchise must be official Paramount merchandise. This can only be viewed as an attempt to ensure that no fan films with decent production quality or and kind of ambitious scope can be produced.

Earlier: THE FAN TRAP: Axanar, The $1 Million Star Trek Fan Film CBS Wants to Stop (from Reason TV):

ARMY OF DAVIDS, EARTHQUAKE EDITION: Developed by UC-Berkeley scientists, the MyShake Android app uses crowdsourcing to detect earthquakes. From the LAT report:

The cellphone MyShake app would not replace the USGS’ early warning system, Allen said. Smartphones will never be as effective as hundreds of sophisticated earthquake sensor stations installed underground to detect the first subtle signs that an earthquake has begun.

Still, a successful smartphone app, woven into the USGS system, could make the overall warning network even faster in California, Oregon and Washington state, he said. And it would enable the technology to be used in other areas of the world with few or no earthquake sensors.

“Nepal has almost no seismic stations. But they have 6 million smartphones. There are 600,000 smartphones in Kathmandu alone,” Allen said. “So if we can get MyShake working, then we could potentially be providing early warning in Kathmandu.”

Related, ICYMI, my report on the use of smart phone apps and crowdsourcing to collect economic data, especially in less-developed countries.

ARMY OF DAVIDS, STATISTICS DIVISION: My latest Bloomberg View column looks at a startup using more than 30,000 smart-phone-wielding contractors to collect economic data, “peering into hard-to-reach places, identifying emerging trends and providing a check on official numbers. Particularly useful in developing countries, this grassroots data collection may, like the phones themselves, allow formerly lagging countries to leapfrog 20th-century approaches and establish flexible, nuanced and decentralized ways of answering economic questions.” Read the whole thing here.

Premise contributor in Nigeria

IS TED CRUZ TAKING AN ARMY OF DAVIDS APPROACH? “The Cruz mobile app, which helps volunteers coordinate and sign up new people, has been downloaded 22,251 times.”

I WROTE ABOUT THIS PHENOMENON IN ARMY OF DAVIDS: Meet The Teen Who Pays For College With A Jewelry Business. “LeiLei Secor, a rising sophomore at the University of Virginia, is her own boss at her Etsy and online shop, Designed by Lei. Secor doesn’t simply sell the jewelry, she makes it herself with tools and supplies that are stashed under her dorm room bed and desk. Oh, and to top that off, she was the winner of the 2013 National Federation of Independent Business Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Now that’s what we call an extracurricular.”

MICHAEL S. MALONE: The Promise at Technology’s Powerful Heart: As Moore’s Law turns 50, the revolution in computing it foretold is on the cusp of even more-radical progress.

Moore’s Law is creative destruction on steroids. It regularly fosters the next wave of entrepreneurial opportunities made possible by the latest jump in chip performance. It can be blamed for much of the 90% mortality rate of electronics startups.

But because the usual graphic presentation of the law is tamed by the format into a nice shallow line, we don’t get to see the awesome power of the raw curve—which, like all exponential lines stays shallow seemingly for a long time, then suddenly curves almost straight upward in a vertiginous climb. It is the curve of a rocket’s acceleration, of a pandemic, of the cells born from a fertilized egg.

The great turning took place a decade ago, while we were all distracted by social networking, smartphones and the emerging banking crisis. Its breathtaking climb since tells us that everything of the previous 40 years—that is, the multi-trillion-dollar revolution in semiconductors, computers, communications and the Internet—was likely nothing but a prelude, a warm-up, for what is to come. It will be upon this wall that millennials will climb their careers against almost-unimaginably quick, complex and ever-changing competition.

Crowd-sharing, crowdfunding, bitcoin, micro-venture funding, cloud computing, Big Data—all have been early attempts, of varying success, to cope with the next phase of Moore’s Law. Expect many more to come. Meanwhile, as always, this new pace will become the metronome of the larger culture.

Moore’s Law has always induced de-massification: giant mainframe computers become smartwatches, giant vertically-integrated organizations are defeated by what Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds has dubbed an “Army of Davids.”

Rigid command-and-control structures in every walk of life, from corporations to governments to education, become vulnerable to competition by adaptive and short-lived alliances and confederacies. Now that process is going to attack every corner of society.

Be ready.

A FIELD MARSHAL IN THE ARMY OF DAVIDS: Meet the Mild-Mannered Investment Adviser Who’s Humiliating the Administration Over Obamacare.

Rich Weinstein is not a reporter. He does not have a blog. Until this week, the fortysomething’s five-year old Twitter account had a follower count in the low double digits. . . .

He’s also behind a series of scoops that could convince the Supreme Court to dismantle part of the Affordable Care Act. Weinstein has absorbed hours upon hours of interviews with Jonathan Gruber, an MIT professor who advised the Massachusetts legislature when it created “Romneycare” and the Congress when it created “Obamacare.” Conservatives had been looking for ways to demonstrate that the wording of the ACA denied insurance subsidies to consumers in states that did not create their own health exchanges. Weinstein found a clip of Gruber suggesting that states that did not create health insurance exchanges risked giving up the ACA’s subsidies; it went straight into the King v. Burwell brief, and into a case that’s currently headed to the Supreme Court.

A few days ago, Weinstein pulled a short clip from Gruber’s year-old appearance at a University of Pennsylvania health care conference. As a crowd murmured with laughter, Gruber explained that the process that created the ACA was, by necessity, obfuscated to pull one over on voters.

“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure the CBO did not score the mandate as taxes,” said Gruber. “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. Call it the stupidity of the America voter, or whatever.”

Weinstein’s scoop went around the world in a hurry.

As it should have. Nice work. Imagine if we had actual journalists doing this sort of thing.

AN ARMY A DIPLOMATIC CORPS OF DAVIDS: Louise Mensch vs Russia – the Twitter row. Frankly, she’s doing better than the U.S. State Department.

PEOPLE KEEP EMAILING TO ASK WHERE THE BLOGROLL WENT. It’s still there! Now it’s in pulldown menus to save valuable space, right above the search box and the “Buy My Book!” link for Army of Davids.

ELECTION 2012: An Army Of Davids vs. . . An Army of Peggy Josephs?

They’ll turn us all into beggars ’cause they’re easier to please.

Related: Where Do “Obama Phones” Come From?

ANN ROMNEY NOT TOO HAPPY with the Obama Campaign’s “kill Romney” message.

Remember all that “civility” bullshit from last year?

UPDATE: Has the “Violent Political Rhetoric” Panic Come to an End? Only until there’s another chance to put it to political use against a Republican.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Prof. Stephen Clark writes: “No doubt they’ll try. But, just as various canards pushed by the White House and media allies have recently backfired, I suspect any future attempts will be quickly put down. Many are now watching and just waiting to pounce when it comes.”

Yes, all sorts of people are complaining about the “Army of Davids” effect lately.

ARMY OF DAVIDS: Is Herman Cain stealing my deal? Various readers want to know what I think. Well titles aren’t copyrightable, and although the phrase “An Army of Davids” was, as far as I know, original to me, it’s not all that original, so I don’t feel too put-upon. Though a shout-out would be nice. . . .

ANOTHER READER BOOK-PLUG REQUEST: Reader Donna Gordon writes:

My friend Steve Hyle has self-published a children’s book on Amazon. It is called:

The Baby Moose and His Undersea Friends.

He made up this story when his children were little. It’s a fantasy about how a baby moose falls to the bottom of the ocean, meets Clem the Clam, who in turn introduces him to an assortment of sea creatures.

Steve is an interesting guy. He is a retired Air Force pilot and was member of the Thunderbirds. He was appointed by President Reagan to be on the panel investigating the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. He is the co-founder director and secretary/treasurer of the Support Our Soldiers Foundation. He also helped me organize my first two tea parties. He is a true member of the “Army of Davids” :)

Is there any chance you could give his book an Instaplug? It would mean the world to him.

Done!

THE REAL MEANING OF DOG-GATE: “It’s amazing how the aptly named ‘Army of Davids’ is able to use the Internet and social media to run with a theme and dominate the popular imagination. We may be seeing the end of an era dominated by ability of Leftist comedians like Jon Stewart, Bill Maher or the cast of SNL to create a false image of a political figure. Perhaps the trashing of Sarah Palin was the high point of their power, just as Watergate was for the MSM. Ridicule is the most potent political weapon. Obama is rapidly looking less and less like a President and more and more like an inept pol who’s also something of a doofus.”

THE ATLANTIC: Did Bloggers Kill The Healthcare Mandate?

Blogs — particularly a blog of big legal ideas called Volokh Conspiracy — have been central to shifting the conversation about the mandate challenges. At Volokh, Barnett and other libertarian academics have been debating and refining their arguments against the mandate since before the ACA was signed. At the beginning, law professor Jonathan Adler fleshed out the approach that came to typify the elite conservative response for the first months of the public debate: the Founders never intended for the Constitution to permit such broad federal power, but given New Deal-era precedent, the mandate, if it became law, would pass muster. Things changed on Volokh around the time that it became clear that an insurance mandate would be part of whichever health care reform package passed into law.

The blog that saved America? Hey, someone should write a book about this kind of thing.

Also, Ilya Somin weighs in. “Where we did have some influence is in debunking the myth that the constitutionality of the mandate was a no-brainer backed by an overwhelming consensus of expert opinion. But we could not have done that were we not 1) recognized academic experts on these issues ourselves, and 2) able to point to other well-known experts who also believed the mandate to be unconstitutional, many of them not VC-ers. The latter include such prominent constitutional law scholars as Richard Epstein, Steve Calabresi, Steve Presser, and Gary Lawson.”

UPDATE: Reader Michael Formica writes:

Is it really the case, as the Atlantic claims, that Volokh actually changed perceptions? Or is it simply a case of clueless myopic liberals (but I repeat myself) blathering on in their journolista echo chamber parroting whatever Ezra Klein/Andrew Sullivan and the Obama PR machine (but I repeat myself) told them to say in their fetish to support whatever it is Obama and the liberal left desire.

I mean seriously, the Atlantic cites some crackpot liberals blog post about the inevitability of Rule 11 sanctions for seeking to challenge federal legislation as an example of intelligent critical thinking on the lunacy of challenging Obamacare?? That ranks right up there with Pelosi’s thinking.

It opened up a preference cascade, overcoming the bullying tactics of ObamaCare supporters.

ANDREW MALCOLM: Andrew Breitbart Is Dead. So What Are You Going To Do?

On Facebook, Jim Treacher writes: “If you want to know who’s going to replace Andrew Breitbart, you’re asking the wrong question.”

A big roundup here.

UPDATE: Via email, Treacher delivers the right question:

It’s…

“What’s stopping me?”

Army of Davids, baby. I could never do what he did, because I’m just not that guy. But there are aspects of what he did that I can do. And I sure as hell am gonna try.

Preach it, brother.

WHAT THE HOME-BREWING MOVEMENT can teach us about emerging technologies.

Gosh, this could be the inspiration for a book.

LIVING IN THE AGE OF BIG DATA:

The story is similar in fields as varied as science and sports, advertising and public health — a drift toward data-driven discovery and decision-making. “It’s a revolution,” says Gary King, director of Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science. “We’re really just getting under way. But the march of quantification, made possible by enormous new sources of data, will sweep through academia, business and government. There is no area that is going to be untouched.”

Welcome to the Age of Big Data. The new megarich of Silicon Valley, first at Google and now Facebook, are masters at harnessing the data of the Web — online searches, posts and messages — with Internet advertising. At the World Economic Forum last month in Davos, Switzerland, Big Data was a marquee topic. A report by the forum, “Big Data, Big Impact,” declared data a new class of economic asset, like currency or gold.

We’ve barely begun to tap the power of this sort of thing. On the other hand, there will always be a place for a more aesthetic, intuitive angle, too — especially where consumers are involved. And will Big Data methods go small in an Army-of-Davids fashion via intermediaries like Wolfram Alpha?

WHO REALLY STOPPED SOPA, AND WHY:

In Washington, the accepted wisdom by year-end was that the technology industry had matured at last into a lobbying force commensurate with its size and pocketbook. But what everyone missed was that the users had opened a third front in this fight, and clearly the one that determined its outcome.

The bitroots movement wasn’t led by Google. It wasn’t led by anyone. Even to look for its leaders is to miss the point. Internet users didn’t lobby or buy their way into influence. They used the tools at their disposal—Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and the rest—to make their voices heard. They encouraged voluntary boycotts and blackouts, and organized awareness days. This was a revolt of, by and with social networks, turning the tools that organized them into groups in the first place into potent new weapons for political advocacy. The users had figured out how to hack politics.

Somebody should really write a book on this phenomenon.

AN ARMY OF DAVIDS APPROACH TO LITIGATION: Car owner takes legal fight away from lawyers. “Working together but filing lawsuits independently, consumers could force companies to go mano a mano with individual plaintiffs in far-flung courtrooms nationwide. Call it a small-claims flash mob.”

HIGHER EDUCATION UPDATE: Settlement Reached in Brown U. Lawsuit Over Student Said to Be Falsely Accused of Rape.

UPDATE: Here’s the order in the case dismissing Brown. The accuser’s name — which the Chronicle refused to print even though it’s in public records and even though the charges appear to have been false — is Marcella Dresdale. Other documents are here.

Plus, class issues? “Unlike Richard Dresdale, William McCormick III was poor. He was attending Brown on an academic scholarship. While earning straight-As, he was also a star wrestler. He could not have afforded to attend Brown University without substantial financial aid. Didn’t this poor boy get kicked out of college, ultimately, for not belonging to the right social class? If William McCormick’s father had been Richard Dresdale, does anyone doubt that the case would have been handled differently? . . . Isn’t it unfair when the super rich have poor people expelled without due process – and without any good cause at all?” #OccupyBrown!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Mike Krempasky emails: “Not for nothing, if you google her, someone has invested not small dollars to cover the search engines with dozens of prefab SEO properties. Very smart, and a good professional effort in preemptive SEO.” When I googled, the false rape accusation issue was on the first page multiple times.

MORE: A reader emails:

Hi Prof. Reynolds,

I was surprised that you did not write more about the actual person buying influence in the Brown rape case, the father Richard Dresdale.

He is a 1%er. And a huge Democrat. Maybe Brown University is not the only place he believes he can buy influence.

He is:

The Managing Directior of Fenway Partners…a private equity firm.

A huge political donor, especially to Democrats. It looks like over $200K in donations the last few years. There may be other donations that I am not finding.

Maybe the Army of Davids can see if his donations to politicians, like the ones to the university, are panning out.

An Army of Dresdales?

THE EMPLOYMENT HORROR OF NEW YORK’S LITERARY CUBS:

Rebecca Chapman, who has a master of arts in English and comparative literature from Columbia University, hit bottom professionally last summer when she could not even get a job that did not pay. Vying for an internship at a boutique literary agency in Manhattan, Ms. Chapman, 25, had gone on three separate interviews with three people on three different days. “They couldn’t even send me an e-mail telling me I didn’t get it,” she said. . . .

Ms. Chapman added: “My whole life, I had been doing everything everybody told me. I went to the right school. I got really good grades. I got all the internships. Then, I couldn’t do anything.”

On Facebook, Kate Coe cruelly comments: “Bad news, honey. You didn’t do anything before.” Cruel, but the bottom line is if you want to be a writer, write. Despite what they tell you at Columbia, nothing else matters.

Despite her upbeat take on the proceedings, Ms. Chapman admitted she wasn’t feeling chipper. It was her birthday. A happy occasion? For most, maybe — but not, she explained, when you are turning 25, having graduated summa from Cornell, with a master’s from Columbia, only to find yourself unemployed and back living at home with your parents.

You can write in your parents’ basement. And if you want to make it as a writer, you’d better. And if you want to make it as a literary agent, try making some sales for your unrepresented writer-friends. You can do that from your parents’ basement too.

UPDATE: Phil Bowermaster asks, what if you want to make it as an editor? Start your own webzine, I guess. But “editor” is an iffy career path at this point, especially if you mean “literary editor.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Virginia Postrel thinks I’m unfairly influened by the NYT’s spin: “It’s actually about young, aspiring literary intellectuals DOING THEIR OWN THING, using the web to write and publish the kind of work they want to do. They are taking the Army of Davids approach. The Times reporter decided to lead with the complaint, not with the actual subject of the article, which is the entrepreneurial workaround. Bitching about the economy is how you get stuff in the NYT. It’s not, however, what’s going on in the story.”

Good point, and I stand corrected.

TELEGRAPH: The Euro elite are totally out of touch with the modern world. “The psychology of the EU – a postwar elite bureaucracy – is entirely out of kilter with this very modern surge of popular protest: technology-driven, non-hierarchical, anti-elitist. It is like trying to connect an old ribbon typewriter to an iPad.” I’ve got a book they should read.

ASTRONOMY CROWD SPOTS PLANET KILLER! Well, not quite. But: “Unravelling DNA, identifying exoplanets, and now, spotting near-Earth asteroids: is there anything that science can’t outsource to an Internet crowd? The European Space Agency has announced that its Space Situational Awareness program, in which amateur astronomers pitch into to help analyze sky survey photographs, has turned up its first near-Earth object.”

Somebody should write a book on this phenomenon.

REGARDING AMAZON ENTERING THE PUBLISHING BUSINESS, a reader emails: “Amazon isn’t getting rid of publishers, it’s becoming a publisher. This means the group that controls the distribution also controls the content selection. Not exactly a blow for the Army of Davids in my opinion — when all the publishers are gone, who will publish the books critical of Amazon? Bottom line: It’s not getting rid of middlemen, it’s just muscling them out so it’s the only middleman. It does however reveal that in the age of digital publishing, discoverability and promotion on the digital storefront is the only thing that actually matters. The role of publishers in curation is almost totally abrogated to the sellers. When anyone can publish a book, it’s no longer the publishers that are the gating factor to what we read, it’s the digital storefront. It’s a very interesting shift and definitely good news for Amazon and the like.”

That’s a good point. I like Amazon, but if they become a chokepoint that would be bad. Right now their platform is very open to self-publishers and others, but if that were to change it would be a bad thing. There would probably be antitrust issues, too.

SCIENCE, ARMY-OF-DAVIDS STYLE: From the Comfort of Home, Web Users May Have Found New Planets.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: RETURN OF THE REAL OBAMA. “A most revealing window into our president’s political core: To impose a tax that actually impoverishes our communal bank account (the U.S. Treasury) is ridiculous. It is nothing but punitive. It benefits no one — not the rich, not the poor, not the government. For Obama, however, it brings fairness, which is priceless. . . . The authentic Obama is a leveler, a committed social democrat, a staunch believer in the redistributionist state, a tribune, above all, of ‘fairness’ — understood as government-imposed and government-enforced equality.” He wants to spread the wealth around (though mostly to his cronies). I want to spread the power around, to ordinary Americans. He’s no redistributionist there.

GAMERS SUCCEED WHERE SCIENTISTS FAIL: “Gamers have solved the structure of a retrovirus enzyme whose configuration had stumped scientists for more than a decade. The gamers achieved their discovery by playing Foldit, an online game that allows players to collaborate and compete in predicting the structure of protein molecules. After scientists repeatedly failed to piece together the structure of a protein-cutting enzyme from an AIDS-like virus, they called in the Foldit players. The scientists challenged the gamers to produce an accurate model of the enzyme. They did it in only three weeks.”

This sort of distributed, cooperative approach could prove quite powerful. Someone should look into it.

IRONY: Advice on boosting your cash reserves, from Bank Of America.

Not that some of the suggestions aren’t decent ones. Flush with the Army of Davids advance, I bought the Highlander Hybrid for cash, then put “payments” into savings. That’ll pay for the next car.

But I can’t say that Bank Of America has been especially frugal in its own affairs. . . .

JOHN HAWKINS ON THE END OF THE INDEPENDENT CONSERVATIVE BLOGOSPHERE. But I think the comment by Perry De Havilland is spot-on:

Don’t look at The Big Players as all that matters as it just does not work that way any more… that is ‘Old Think’, i.e. newspaper era think. The heterarchical nature of the internet changes things fundamentally.

100,000 small blogs with 100 readers per day move ideas around in ways that are vastly harder to track but they are just as important as 100 blogs with 100,000 readers each. . . .
I no longer get my information from a newspaper whilst drinking my morning coffee… I spend about the same time quickly scanning a selection of blogs and then mine deeper based upon what I find, and many, indeed most of those blogs are not high readership… so what? It matters much less than you think

Somebody should write a book on this phenomenon. Of course, as another commenter points out, it does matter if you’re trying to make a living off of your blog.

CRAIG NEWMARK: We’re living in the Singularity already.

Hmm. Somebody should write a book on the social-media phenomena he describes, and their implications.

SELF-ORGANIZED DISASTER RELIEF VIA THE INTERNET: St. Louis Facebook Group Organizes & Sends 4 Truckloads of Supplies to Joplin, Missouri. Somebody should write a book on this phenomenon.

CROWDFUNDING:

Shut out by belt-tightening venture capitalists and dwindling grant programs, thousands of entrepreneurs and artists are turning to a new way of raising money that doesn’t depend on who you know.

In fact, it’s what you do — or plan to do — that can make or break success in the world of “crowdfunding,” which allows anyone to raise money with online video and blog pitches. Through sites like Kickstarter.com and Indiegogo.com, the top crowdfunding conduits in the U.S., donors big and small can contribute to projects that catch their eye.

“At a time when it’s very challenging to get money, it democratizes the process,” said Tory Johnson, 40, a small-business expert and founder of Spark & Hustle. “People you don’t even know will give you money.”

Johnson says crowdfunding is an essential tool that she teaches in a series of regional conferences for female entrepreneurs, which is coming to Woburn on Thursday.

Why, it’s like an Army of Davids or something.

TAKING ON SEX TRAFFICKERS with an Army Of Davids.

MORE AUTHORS move toward self-publishing.

Did I mention that C.J. Burch has put his books on Kindle at the magic 99-cent price point? (Bumped).

UPDATE: Reader Peter Neal writes: “Just an interesting note – went out to look at the C J Burch .99 cent Kindle books – Amazon also showed your Army of Davids….at $9.39…..hmmmm. Regards and thanks for Instapundit – I buy stuff on Amazon thru your link in order to help contribute a little.”

Thanks for that. Well, C.J. controls the pricing on his backlist. I don’t. Maybe I should try to talk the publisher into putting Army of Davids out at 99 cents, though. Just because they don’t have to listen to me doesn’t mean they won’t, I guess.

JESSE WALKER: Resilient Japan: Three Lessons From The Week’s Disasters. And note this: “When Hollywood shows you an earthquake, an eruption, or a towering inferno, you see mass panic, stampeding crowds, maybe a looting spree. When sociologists study real-life disasters, they see calm, resourceful people evacuating buildings, rescuing strangers, and cooperating nonviolently.” Somebody should write a book about this phenomenon.

AN ARMY OF DIGITAL CAMERAMEN: Richard Fernandez on the amateur tsunami video. “Photojournalists will still dominate scheduled events, like sporting matches and press conferences, with their pro equipment and training. But statistics is against them when it comes to capturing news. The world is big and professional photojournalists are few. . . . For good or ill, the chroniclers of our times will be the event participants themselves.”

You know, somebody should write a book on this phenomenon.

DAVID KIRKHAM SENDS A REPORT FROM UTAH:

Oh the power of an Army of Davids with access to the internet! The Utah Legislature tried to sneak through an amnesty bill in the dark of night over the weekend. The bill, HB116, passed the house and the senate on Friday and was sent to the Governor’s desk yesterday. Today the Utah Tea Party arranged a meeting with Governor Herbert at 12:30 pm. We met with Governor Herbert and Lt. Governor Bell to urge Herbert to veto the bill. We brought up our strenuous objections to the bill as it is unconstitutional on its face. The bill grants amnesty and work permits to anyone illegally in the state before May 2011. Immigration is a federal issue and a state can’t grant amnesty or issue work visas. This would, of course, cause havoc with employers who had to face ICE. The most unbelievable line spoken in the meeting came from Lt. Governor Bell, (an attorney), when we raised the bill’s unconstitutional provisions, “Everyone concedes it [HB116] isn’t legal as it is.” You could have heard a pin drop…we were dumbfounded. Why on earth are our representatives even considering a bill that in their own words “isn’t legal?”

We continued flanking maneuvers even as we were in the first meeting. We sent a call out on Facebook and emails for any Republican state delegate to immediately come to the capitol to meet with the Governor at 4:00 pm. This was headed up by Brandon Beckham (who did a fantastic job). The media was called. Within 5 hours we had 100 Republican state delegates show up at the Capitol! A representative told me he had never seen 100 state delegates in one place at one time for any reason (besides committee meetings or convention). State delegates are extremely powerful in Utah. They each represent (very roughly) 500 people in their neighborhood. (We organized the state delegates last year to defeat Senator Bennett in convention.)

In the attached photo we asked everyone who is a state delegate to raise their hand before we went into the meeting (delegates were still arriving when we took this photo). We wanted the media to know we are all state delegates. The meeting with the Governor was standing room only. Unfortunately, the Governor’s staff asked the media to leave (why do they always want to conduct business in the shadows?) We apologized to the media and told them we weren’t the ones asking them to leave. One camera man replied, “We know. We KNOW who asked us to leave.” The meeting was tense and emotional, but polite. If Governor Herbert signs the bill, he will pay a heavy price at convention. We told him, “The moment the ink dries, the 2012 elections are on.”

The photo in the Salt Lake Tribune was taken as everyone was arriving, right before they asked the media to leave.

Here’s the story and photo.

LATEST ZERO TOLERANCE IDIOCY: A Virginia middle school student has been suspended for . . . opening the door for a woman whose hands were full. Really, why not just abolish public education, if this is what it has come to?

UPDATE: Reader Christopher Bell writes:

I was struck by the juxtaposition within a few of your posts highlighting ridiculous ‘zero tolerance’ policies where no sense seems evident and prison rape where officialdom is quite content to look the other way. My less optimistic friends would suggest this is a sure sign of a society in self-obsessed decline, but could it be that it’s just driven by a growing bureaucratic class used to operating in the dark with an unearned benefit of the doubt from too many citizens busy trying to get by?

Following the Porkbusters model, we need not just an Army of Davids, but Armies of Davids to tackle more and more of these issues and expose more of this to light.

Yes, we need a zero-tolerance approach to bureaucratic idiocy and self-dealing.

ANN ALTHOUSE: Help! I’ve been drafted into the Army Of Davids!

Plus, The Wisconsin Protesters Are Losing Their Grip On Reality. Their leaders told them that it would be a quick victory, but instead it’s become a quagmire.

ERIC LIPTON RESPONDS, and the verdict is in. “Eric Lipton and the New York Times owe Tim Phillips, Americans For Progress and Charles and David Koch an apology, and they owe their readers a correction.”

UPDATE: A reader emails:

The story of a NYT reporter bastardizing statements made by a conservative is an excellent example of why cell phone cameras, digital recorders and the like are necessary instruments for any conservative in the public light. There should be a record of everything so that the truth has a chance to embarrass the S.O.B.s. The Army of Davids can’t travel without today’s version of a slingshot with which to repel the Goliaths.

The reporter makes it a point that he doesn’t record his own interviews. How convenient! It’s as if he wants to create no record, no paper trail, no evidence of actual malice. That’s fine. But now that the ground rules are abundantly clear conservatives must do some heavy lifting of their own.

To all potential 2012 GOP candidates for President, listen well: Record every encounter with the press. Tape everything. And then try to push back, twice as hard, when the inevitable attacks begin.

Good advice. I had some related thoughts here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails:

In this post, http://pjmedia.com/instapundit/115783/, your reader says politicians should record every encounter with the press. In fact, conservative politicians should record every moment of their day, not just encounters with the press. There is too much opportunity for misleading clips or snippets to derail a potential campaign. And more important than recording everything is keeping it. The price of storage has decreased to the point that days and days of decent resolution footage can be stored for little money. I own multi-drive NAS that can store a few thousand hours of 720p video. The cost was less than $2500 with the drives. Campaigns by conservatives will need to be able to fight the active opposition they can expect from the news media, and there is no better way of doing so than with video.

BTW, I work in the news bureau of a major international/financial news service. The comments I have heard are astounding. The only saving grace is that since I work with financial journalists, there are several libertarians/conservatives in the mix. Sadly though, there are none in the regular news units.

Please do not use my name if you decide to publish this.

I understand.

BIAS IN ACADEMIA: AN EMAIL:

I email you from time to time, either with links to my blog, or with comments about your posts. Every time, I say “don’t use my real name”. This is solely because I am an academic, and I positively fear my colleagues learning my real political preferences.

In Megan Mcardle’s story (that you link) she has the following passage:

Haidt notes that his correspondence with conservative students (anonymously) “reminded him of closeted gay students in the 1980s”: He quoted — anonymously — from their e-mails describing how they hid their feelings when colleagues made political small talk and jokes predicated on the assumption that everyone was a liberal. “I consider myself very middle-of-the-road politically: a social liberal but fiscal conservative. Nonetheless, I avoid the topic of politics around work,” one student wrote.

I have used this comparison myself, it is apt, and it doesn’t just apply to students. You hide yourself in plain sight. You make comments that are carefully crafted to allow you to make small talk, and which will allow your colleagues to think you’re in agreement with them, but which nevertheless satisfy your own sense of integrity. You never lie. You just make comments and allow them to draw their own conclusions. A classic example is the way I’ll make comments about politics, saying things like “I don’t trust politicians, period.” My liberal colleagues will nod and agree. We’re all in agreement, they believe. It gets easy after a while. You make comments about Marxist ideology that are really rather neutral, such as how you see similarities between Marx’s views, and something else. You leave it unstated that in fact you think this is appalling, while they nod and smile at the continuing relevance of Marxism in today’s society. Everyone is happy. I don’t feel quite so happy when someone says something about “stupid fucking conservatives” (I’m quoting exact words here), but I just nod, and say “ugh-huh”.

I’ve just been watching the first series of Mad Men, and I’m struck by the gay guy Salvatore Romano, and how similar his behavior is to me, only I’m hiding my politics, not my sexuality. There are also the classic moments, whereby fellow believers in academia carefully try to work out if you are one of “us”. I remember one guy who heard me comment on how some architecture reminded me of something I read in The Fountainhead, which was enough to alert him. Later we went out for a drink. I remember the nervous moment (for both of us) where he finally came out and asked me, “so what are your political / economic beliefs?” I chickened out, tempered, and said, “well, perhaps more to the center than most academics” and countered, “what are yours?” Reassured, he was willing to admit to conservative leanings. Then I was willing to admit it too. Then at last we could talk about our true feelings, with it clearly and openly stated that (of course) none of this was ever, ever, ever, to go beyond our own private conversations. (I also learned to never ever, in future, mention Rand within hearing of any academics, in case I accidently revealed myself again.) In another case, the vital clue was our shared interest in science fiction, and over the weeks there followed careful probing concerning which authors we liked, until we eventually discretely revealed ourselves. Now he lends me books saying “don’t let any of your colleagues see you with this.”

When (if) I get tenure, I toy with the idea of coming out of the closet. I don’t think I will though. Perhaps my job will be more secure, but I have to live and work with these people for years to come. I prefer to work in a friendly environment. I don’t want to be the token conservative, and I don’t want to be the one who speaks at meetings while everyone else rolls their eyes and exchanges meaningful glances.

Needless to say, don’t under any circumstances use my real name if you choose to refer to my email. Thanks!

I’m happy to teach at a place where you can be both openly gay and extremely conservative — as one of my colleagues is — and not worry. It’s too bad so many other institutions fall short of this standard. But, you know, as with the gays, you need people who have the courage to come out of the closet before it’s really safe.

UPDATE: A reader emails: “Your readers account of being a conservative in academia’s closet made me wonder about three things. First, is such an account more likely to spark new tolerance for conservatives by the left in academia or a witch hunt to identify the conservative heretics? Second, how is the covergence of the higher education bubble, more state legislatures going to the GOP and a hard left academia going to play out in the state schools? Third, how does the ‘Army of Davids’ work when ‘David’ is in the closet?” Depends on when he opens the door, slingshot in hand.

But yeah, smart administrators understand that intellectual diversity on the faculty is a good thing, for purely self-interested reasons alone. Back in the 1990s when I was writing a lot of second amendment stuff, somebody tried to get my dean to fire me, saying that I was fomenting domestic terrorism. But my dean told me that he was glad to have me writing that stuff, because when alumni or legislators talked about ivory-tower liberal faculties, he could just send ’em a copy of my “Critical Guide To The Second Amendment.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Don Surber emails: “Friends of Dorothy, meet Friends of Ayn.”

AN ARGUMENT FOR PHILANTHROPIC BOOK BUYING. I’d just like to note that An Army Of Davids is still in print.

BLOG COMMENT OF THE DAY: “The idea that suppression of freedom will make human nature angelic is the fable of the leftists. Freedom as practiced for two hundred years in the USA produced the kindest most generous and most prosperous society the world has ever known.”

HMM: “The Distributed ‘Party of We’ Is Already In Control.” I don’t think that’s quite right. I think that claims that “code trumps law” are premature, at least. Power, ultimately, grows out of the barrel of a gun, not a modem.

On the other hand, there is a certain Army of Davids quality to the analysis: “This really is a moment when centralized top-down legacy systems are coming into conflict with distributed, decentralized, bottom-up systems — and not understanding them at all.” That’s clearly true.

JESSE WALKER: Looters And Leviathan: Hobbes Turned Upside Down. “If Robb’s scenario turns out to be true, Egypt has inverted the Hobbesian story of the state: The police are spreading disorder and the voluntary sector is containing it.” Somebody should write a book on this kind of phenomenon.

MORE ON THE DECLINE AND FALL OF BORDERS:

Borders was a major force in redefining Americans’ reading habits, selling millions of books in places where they had once been scarce and helping scores of novels to become movies and subjects of national conversation. Now, Borders faces a pool of potential customers who quickly spread culture themselves, one viral video or status update at a time.

Somebody should write a book on this phenomenon.

KATIE GRANJU: The Problems With Amy Chua’s “Tiger Mother” Hypothesis.

If Chua’s suggested parenting methods really work to create superior abilities in the children raised in this way, then the methods should be applicable to any area of activity or initiative. And while Chua smugly points to “tons” of studies in which Chinese kids are shown to make better math grades, I am going to have to checkmate her by noting the fact that there aren’t any Chinese kids playing in the NFL. Does the fact that such a high percentage of highly paid, very successful professional atheletes are African American mean that African American mothering is “superior” to Chua-style parenting? Obviously, I am engaging in a bit of pretzel logic here, but so is Chua, and she’s trying to use it to belittle and demean other cultures, stereotype her own culture, and of course, to sell books.

Speaking from personal experience, I’m pretty sure the last of these predominates. Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: No, I’m not talking about experience with Amy Chua — she came to the Yale Law faculty after I left and I don’t know her personally. I’m referring to the pressure put on authors to sell books. In particular, I was told that you should always have some outrageous statement that can be used to build publicity. In An Army of Davids, for example, I should have predicted that newspapers would be dead within a decade — or, better yet, within five years. Trouble is, I didn’t actually think that, but it would have generated a lot of buzz . . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Charles Murray: Amy Chua Bludgeons Entire Generation of Sensitive Parents, Bless Her.

CHANGE: Book publishers see their role as gatekeepers shrink. Somebody should write a book on this kind of thing. But Neal Stephenson and Greg Bear are following in the footsteps of C.J. Burch. Here’s Burch’s blog report on the process.

AN ARMY OF DAVIDS: Private Citizen Goes Undercover, Performs Sting On High-Ranking Nazi.

A BOB ETHERIDGE /PHIL HARE / BARON HILL ELEGY: Video Killed The Congressional Star. “Army Of Davids 3, People Who Forgot Who They Work For 0.”

WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Crazed Democrats in Virginia attack opponents, throw signs. The “D” stands for “Desperate.”

UPDATE: Utah Tea Party reader David Kirkham writes:

As fast as we can put up these Matheson = Pelosi signs they tear them out. This is on some of my property. Every morning I drive by and the Republican signs are knocked over and I pound them back in. Someone has a special dislike for the Matheson = Pelosi signs as they are invariably STOLEN. Notice the wire stands in the right-hand side of the photo are missing the Matheson = Pelosi signs. (I placed a Matheson = Pelosi sign beside it so you knew what I was talking about.) This is happening ALL across Utah. But, thanks to Freedom Works and a zillion Utah Tea Partiers, we put them up faster than then can take them down. We have now covered the state with these signs. They are outnumbered. :)

ANOTHER UPDATE: Kirkham follows up:

Thanks!

I am off to pound in 500 more signs :)

Funny, this is the first year I have EVER pounded in signs. I love it.

And that story, repeated all over the country, is the true measure of the Tea Party movement’s impact. Which in turn puts me in mind of this passage from Zombie’s pre-election blogging:

Just a thought:

“Shooting bullets at a cloud of gnats.”

That seems to be the best way to characterize the Democrats’ attempts at following Alinsky’s directive to “Pick the Target, Freeze It, Personalize It and Polarize It.” How can you do that if your opponents have no leader?

First they tried to “freeze, personalize and polarize” Rush Limbaugh, then Sarah Palin, then Glenn Beck, then John Boehner, then Karl Rove, then Glenn Beck again, then Christine O’Donnell, then Rand Paul, then Bill O’Reilly, then Sarah Palin Again, then Glenn Beck again…but it just isn’t working. Because the Tea Party is not a political party and it has no identifiable leader. Must be frustrating for the Alinskyites! In a pinch, they can always fall back on “You’re all racists!”

But the gnats keep swarming, unfazed.

Yeah. Somebody should write a book on this phenomenon or something.

WAS MOORE’S LAW INEVITABLE? “They could not believe their eyes. The curve said they could have machines that attained orbital speed… within four years. And they could get their payload right out of Earth’s immediate gravity well just a little later. They could have satellites almost at once, the curve insinuated, and if they wished — if they wanted to spend the money, and do the research and the engineering — they could go to the Moon quite soon after that. . . . It is important to remember that in 1953 none of the technology for these futuristic journeys existed. No one knew how to do go that fast and survive. Even the most optimistic die-hard visionaries did not expect a lunar landing any sooner than the proverbial ‘Year 2000.’ The only voice telling them they could do it was a curve on a piece of paper. But the curve was right. Just not politically correct. In 1957 the USSR launched Sputnik, right on schedule. Then US rockets zipped to the Moon 12 years later.”

UPDATE: Reader Eric Schubert writes:

You see the parallel between the conclusion in the hyperlinked paper about the power of self-organization and the acceleration of change in transportation, and the current situation with the self-organizing Tea Party movement and the acceleration of political change, don’t you? Can we call it “Santelli’s Law?”

What a fascinating observation. Someone should really write a book on this phenomenon. And they should definitely make it available on Kindle!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Yeah, the link’s not working now. I don’t know why — it was fine when I posted this morning.

MORE: Reader Geoff Mayer sends this link to the cached version.

CHRIS MUIR makes me famous. Say, did I mention that the book is now available on the Kindle?

THINGS YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED THIS WEEKEND, if you were off, you know, having a life or something:

An Army of Davids is now on Kindle. Hey, if I don’t point it out, who will?

A growing distance between Main Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

More momentum for the “Repeal Amendment.”

My Washington Examiner column: I Told You So. With a warning for today’s GOP leaders.

Stuxnet jumps from computers to humans.

Giving taxpayers an itemized receipt. I question whether this will boost support for government.

The dimness of our “educated” class.

Drone warfare as force protection, and drones as strategic air power.

Earth to Beltway: It’s the uncertainty, stupid.

A constitutional amendment to limit spending?

Environmentalists’ eliminationist rhetoric. I’ve written on this topic before.

Some terrific stem cell news.

Fisheries: Iain Murray says Obama’s right and the critics are wrong.

How to save California.

GM’s IPO: A Government “Pump-and-Dump” Scheme?

Hipster heartache: Velvet Underground Drummer Now A Tea Partier. One who is “furious about the way we are being led towards socialism.”

Ten Great Nontraditional Movie Vampires.

SAY, I JUST NOTICED: An Army of Davids is now on Kindle. Seems kinda . . . fitting.

UPDATE: Reader Kristin Theerman writes: “Thanks for posting the update that Army of Davids is available on the Kindle. I just bought my copy… (I would have bought sooner but I’ve only bought digital book content since buying my Kindle). I rarely write or post any comments on your PJTV content, but I’m a big fan. Instapundit.com is my favorite online destination for staying caught up on things that matter to me. Can’t wait to read your book, and thanks to my Kindle, I don’t have to…” Instant gratification! Thanks, Kristin. (Bumped).

BESTSELLING AUTHOR SETH GODIN gives up on traditional book-publishing. I’m not sure I’m ready to go that far — Army of Davids was pretty good to me — but I can see his point: “I like the people, but I can’t abide the long wait, the filters, the big push at launch, the nudging to get people to go to a store they don’t usually visit to buy something they don’t usually buy, to get them to pay for an idea in a form that’s hard to spread … I really don’t think the process is worth the effort that it now takes to make it work. I can reach 10 or 50 times as many people electronically.”

DANIEL HANNAN: India’s relationship with the Anglosphere will define the twenty-first century.

Indeed. Fortunately, there’s an Indian edition of An Army of Davids. So we’ve got that going for us, anyway. . . .

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Citizens’ Group Helps Uncover Alleged Rampant Voter Fraud in Houston. “Most of the findings focused on a group called Houston Votes, a voter registration group headed by Steve Caddle, who also works for the Service Employees International Union. Among the findings were that only 1,793 of the 25,000 registrations the group submitted appeared to be valid. The other registrations included one of a woman who registered six times in the same day; registrations of non-citizens; so many applications from one Houston Voters collector in one day that it was deemed to be beyond human capability; and 1,597 registrations that named the same person multiple times, often with different signatures.” Read the whole thing.

Imagine that — ordinary citizens getting together to do things that existing institutions can’t, or won’t. Who could have seen this kind of thing coming?

NPR: “Who Is The Tea Party? There’s No Short Answer.”

Plus, how the Tea Party organizes without leaders.

In American politics, radical decentralization has never been tried on so large a scale. Tea party activists believe that their hivelike, “organized but not organized” (as one calls it) structure is their signal innovation and secret weapon, the key to outlasting and outmaneuvering traditional political organizations and interest groups. They intend to rewrite the rule book for political organizing, turning decades of established practice upside down. If they succeed, or even half succeed, the tea party’s most important legacy may be organizational, not political.

What an amazing phenomenon. Someone should write a book on it.

It’s like there’s some kind of a Third Great Awakening going on. . . .

“AM I A DOG, THAT YOU COME AT ME WITH STICKS?”

“They talk about me like a dog.”

Reader Melissa Lambert emails: “I think the Army of Davids are getting to him.”

UPDATE: “They talk about me like a dog, talk about the clothes I wear. But they don’t realize, they’re the ones who’s square.” So there.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jim Treacher: “Dogs are capable of learning.”

Plus, “You just threw that in, then. But why?”

“Something weird happens when presidencies go wrong.”

MORE: Ed Rendell: “Obama feels sort of unloved.”

MORE STILL: An earlier manifestation. Plus this: “That’s why Presidents usually act Presidential. Not so much because it’s dignified. But because it’s smart. That’s something that Obama, with his limited experience on the national stage, hasn’t figured out yet.” If you make your presidency all about you, it will be a small presidency.

Plus, from the comments at Althouse, Obama, The Thin-Skinned President. And a lack of experience taking criticism. “Not surprisingly, Obama’s thin skin leads to self pity.”

STILL MORE: What goes around, comes around.

Ben Cunningham: “We don’t have a President, we have a paranoid, petulant child.”

Reader Brett Rogers writes: “For all the talk about Obama being Spock, Spock never whined. Plus, Spock was good at math . . . ”

And reader Pat Gang is offended by my reference, above: “No man who wears ‘mom jeans’ has any business channeling Jimi Hendrix.”

WALTER JON WILLIAMS: “If all goes well, in the very near future Denmark will become the fourth nation to put a man into space.”

I met him once, some years ago when I spoke at the University of New Mexico. More recently, I like his This Is Not A Game, a novel with Army of Davids angles.

IN POLITICO KENNETH VOGEL WRITES about Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom’s The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations as a Tea Party manual. It’s an interesting book — making many of the same points about horizontal knowledge and diseconomies of scale as I made earlier in Army of Davids — and the application to the Tea Party movement is obvious (even to why the Big Media folks are always trying to name a Tea Party leader, so that the movement can be tied down and destroyed). But has the book really become a manual for the Tea Party, as Vogel claims?

UPDATE: Reader Andrew Medina emails:

I’m not sure how many Tea Partiers have read it, but I know one thing for sure. Such movements are more of a state of mind and being than political movements with structure.

If one branch of the Tea Party stops, another one will pop up because it’s members don’t stop ever believing in what they believe. The left’s attempts at astro-turf fail because of this.

As further evidence to this I submit Anonymous and the hacking community. Its not an organization, its a state of mind and being. Anons will always be Anons, with or without the ‘chans. Hackers will always be hackers, with or without computers.

The Tea Party has truly succeeded where others have failed because the Tea Party’s essence is a state of being that is self-contained within each and every member of the Tea Party.

Good point.

BLURRING THE LINE between amateur and professional. Hey, somebody should write a book on that!

ASTRONOMY REBOOTED: “Crowd Science” Reaches New Heights. “Today, data sharing in astronomy isn’t just among professors. Amateurs are invited into the data sets through friendly Web interfaces, and a schoolteacher in Holland recently made a major discovery, of an unusual gas cloud that might help explain the life cycle of quasars—bright centers of distant galaxies—after spending part of her summer vacation gazing at the objects on her computer screen.” Gosh, somebody should write a book on this phenomenon or something.

I WROTE ABOUT SOME COOL STUFF that amateur astronomers are doing in An Army of Davids, but it just gets cooler: Amazing shot of ISS and Jupiter… during daytime!

NFL FILMS’ LOST TREASURES: Football junkies rejoice! Around the beginning of the year, Hulu added a whole boatload of NFL-related videos, including lots of material from NFL Films, the league’s in-house film division. NFL Films began in their early ’60s, and in the early naughts, put together a fascinating 40th anniversary retrospective called “Lost Treasures” that ran for a while on ESPN, and then disappeared. Fortunately, now they’re back, albeit online.

Boomer mythology tends to smash cut from the days of Camelot straight to Woodstock, but there’s a reason why it was called the counterculture. Something like watching a real life Mad Men episode, or flipping through James Lileks’ archives, the episodes of “Lost Treasures” give a real sense of the game in the 1960s, and the primary culture in which it existed.

Plus the innocence of seeing  a very small Army of Davids (to coin a phrase) armed with 16mm cameras and reel-to-reel tape recorders makes for quite a contrast with the sprawling operation  of its modern-day equivalent, whose Mt. Laurel, NJ facilities I toured a few years ago, after interviewing their principals for Videomaker and TCS Daily.

THE FUTURE OF LAW FIRMS AND LEGAL EDUCATION IN AN ARMY OF DAVIDS WORLD: My Hofstra talk from last year is now a — short and interesting! — law review article on the subject. (Bumped).

ANDREW BREITBART’S D.C. TEA PARTY ADDRESS: You Are The Media. Amen, brother. Somebody should write a book about that!

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: Climate Change As Malthusian Panic Attack. “My guess is that Malthusian panics are part of humanity’s coping mechanism. The problems to which Malthusians point are almost always real problems, but the solutions they advocate are usually not the way out. Malthusians classically go for big interventionist fixes, when humanity’s most efficient method of solving problems is to nibble them to death rather than swallow them whole. Billions of people change their behavior; innovators perceive the economic rewards of addressing a growing problem and little by little, bite by bite, we nibble the problem down to size. In its lunge for the grand global solution, the climate change movement was making the classic Malthusian mistake.” Yeah, but the problem with the bite-by-bite, Army of Davids approach is that it’s not a good source of power for politicians.

ON NEIL CAVUTO, BLOGGER ADAM SHARP explains why I’m always encouraging people to have small cheap videocameras.

Here’s his blog, Sharp Elbows.

GIVE CREDIT TO THE JAWA REPORT. I wrote about Army-of-Davids-style antiterrorism in, er, An Army of Davids. And it’s working.

WHY WRITING IS HARDER THAN BLOGGING: “Oddly, Eggers is motivated by his sense of how short life is. All that time getting going and thinking about how short life is? Oh, the pain. Blogging, by contrast, is the continual relief from that pain.”

Writing books and other long pieces is harder than blogging — I think you have to load a lot more stuff into RAM before you can really work on it. When I was writing my last book (Army of Davids) I worked solely at the computer in my study, and kept my browser closed when I wasn’t actually doing research. I do the same thing, generally, when I’m writing law review articles.

HOW THE INTERNET won Massachusetts for Scott Brown. Well, it was actually people, who by using the Internet to organize, helped Scott Brown win. Somebody should write a book on this phenomenon.

JOHN FUND: Scott Brown: ‘People Aren’t Stupid’ — ‘And leaders should figure out they’re better informed now than ever.’

You know, somebody should write a book about that principle.

DAN RIEHL: How An Army Of Davids Could Win MA For Scott Brown.

And, yeah, the polls look good for Brown, but don’t get cocky. Remember, if it’s not close, they can’t cheat.

SO A LOT OF PEOPLE are recycling their best blog posts of the past year and such. I can’t even imagine what those would be out of all the posts this past year. But here are a few columns I’d like to mention one more time:

This April 15 piece on the Tea Party movement from the Wall Street Journal has held up well.

Why Guns Are Better Than Butter. Technically from 2008, but 2009 began with the election in November, it seems. . . .

The Hidden Cost of National Healthcare. Sadly, on target.

The importance of self-reliance and resilience.

Media Criticism, Chicago Style. Best read together with this cautionary piece on tax audits.

What happened to ClimateGate denialists.

More to come this year. Stay tuned!

DAVID BROOKS CATCHES ON to that whole pack-not-a-herd thing:

At some point, it’s worth pointing out that it wasn’t the centralized system that stopped terrorism in this instance. As with the shoe bomber, as with the plane that went down in Shanksville, Pa., it was decentralized citizen action. The plot was foiled by nonexpert civilians who had the advantage of the concrete information right in front of them — and the spirit to take the initiative.

Gee, somebody could write a book about this phenomenon and its implications. Related thoughts here. And, in light of Brooks’ talk about resilience and complex systems, I’m going to point people here, too.

UPDATE: Reader Michael Kennedy writes: ‘Brooks completely misses the point of the Napolitano criticism. It was not because her agency failed. The State Department was the failure but she came out and said things that are obviously untrue and ludicrous. The next day, she came out and said the opposite. She acted the fool.”

MARK STEYN:

On September 11th 2001, the government’s (1970s) security procedures all failed, and the only good news of the day came from self-reliant citizens (on Flight 93) using their own wits and a willingness to act.

On December 25th 2009, the government’s (post-9/11) security procedures all failed, and the only good news came once again from alert individuals.

Somebody should write something on this phenomenon. Maybe even, you know, a book!

PATTI SMITH on what’s happened to Rock & Roll:

After being away from the music scene for more than a decade and a half, Smith said she’s glad to have found, upon returning to the stage, that rock ‘n’ roll is anything but dead.

“I think that in the current state of rock ‘n’ roll, we actually have two states,” she explained. “Obviously, the state of the music business is in shambles, but … the state of the people, I think, is fine.

“We’re in a very democratic era of rock ‘n’ roll. It’s not an era of rock gods. You don’t have the, you know, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Grace Slick — there isn’t really the pantheon of rock gods and goddesses that we had in my time. But we have something equally as interesting, and that’s the fact that rock ‘n’ roll is really, more than ever, the people’s cultural voice.

“You go on MySpace or different websites, and there’s thousands and thousands and thousands of people making their own music, expressing themselves, exchanging files and deciding how they want to hear music and how they want to distribute music. Everything is changing, and I think that’s fine. Rock ‘n’ roll was a revolutionary cultural voice that was people-based, and I think the people have taken it over.”

Power to the people! You could write a book about that phenomenon.

REASON TV: Exclusive Footage: DC Cop Brings Gun to a Snowball Fight!

UPDATE: Reader Kevin Greene emails:

A fundamental shift is occurring. The people are ridiculing the government. “Don’t bring guns to a snowball fight.”

Look at all those video cameras. There is simply nowhere for this arrogant police officer to hide. No way to lie his way out of it later on.

The watchers are being watched.

Interesting concept.

UPDATE: Ann Althouse thinks this is unfair to the cop. “There is a difference between a snowball fight and throwing snowballs at moving vehicles. In a snowball fight — like this cool one in Madison a couple weeks ago — you have voluntary participants playing at fighting with each other. Throwing snowballs at cars, on the other had, is surprising people who happen upon the scene and it’s distracting them — and doing so at a time when it is particularly difficult to drive. . . . ‘Brandished’ is a heavy word and ‘brandished… at’ connotes that he pointed the gun at people, which he did not.”

Fair point, but I believe that a civilian who behaved similarly would have been charged with “brandishing.” There was poor judgment by all concerned (and those who threw snowballs at the cop violated Niven’s Rule — “don’t throw shit at an armed man”) but the standards should be higher for sworn officers who carry guns, shouldn’t they?

CLIMATEGATE AND AN ARMY OF DAVIDS: My Sunday Washington Examiner column is up.

ROGER SIMON on ClimateGate and Talk of “Transparency.”

UPDATE: A reader emails: “I now have a sense of what it was like living under Communism in Eastern Europe. The state-owned (in our case, establishment) press won’t report on reality so people had to turn to Samizdat to learn what’s actually happening in their world. It’s rather amazing. Also, having an Army of Davids go through these emails will pay dividends for years.” Well, Declan McCullagh at CBS has done a good job. But big-media folks seem to be slotting most of what coverage they do for the web, not for print or broadcast.

But word seems to be getting out.

CLIMATEGATE:

If these were internal Exxon-Mobil e-mails, the trial lawyers would be racing out the door with only one pants-leg filled and every Green press flack would be demanding this lead the evening news and front every newspaper above the fold. If similar e-mails came from the RNC showing racism or homophobia, the New York Times would not demur in the name of privacy, it would call for the GOP to go into federal receivership.

Since there’s federal grant money involved, might there be False Claims Act suits? That’s not my area, but I’d be interested in hearing from someone who knows.

UPDATE: A reader emails:

Please just identify me as a “government attorney” or something like that if you choose to post this.

In response to your question about whether the Climategate scandal could lead to a false claims case, the answer is probably no. A “false claim” generally means a false statement with a negative impact on the public fisc–a padded bill, an understated tax return, etc. Thus, it’s not enough to show that Research Institute X lied and received public money; the Institute’s lies must have caused the receipt of public money. Maybe that can be shown here (e.g., false statements in an accepted grant proposal), but I haven’t seen it yet.

However, if this does turn out to be a good false claims case, the judgment would likely dwarf the amount of grant money involved. Damages are automatically trebled, and defendants are also on the hook for penalties of $5 to $10 thousand for every false claim submitted. So, if Institute X filed semiannual grant applications for ten years and received a total of $5 million in government grants, their false claims liability would be $15.1 to $15.2 million.

If the case is brought by a private whistleblower, he/she would be in line for a qui tam share of up to 30% of the total award under the federal act (it’s 50% under California’s act). Using the hypothetical numbers above, that would mean a little over $4.5 million. Not a bad day’s work.

BTW, thanks for bringing up the False Claims Act! One of my personal pet peeves is that this nifty statute gets far too little attention. It is one of the most powerful fraud-fighting weapons in the government’s arsenal, but it is also one of the least known. Moreover, its power derives largely from its free market nature–it enables private individuals to fight large and politically-connected entities who might be able to quash or defang an official inquiry, and it promises lucrative rewards if they are successful. It creates an army of mercenary Davids, if you will.

Also BTW, there’s lots of info about false claims litigation at the Taxpayers Against Fraud website: http://www.taf.org/

Well, it’s too early to say, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out that false information led to grants. And yes, though I’m not an expert on False Claims Act stuff, we wrote about it a bit in The Appearance of Impropriety, and I’m glad to hear that my impression that it’s underused is correct.

ARMY OF DAVIDS TRAINING: Jim Hoft, Dana Loesch, John Loudon Speak At The Show Me Institute’s Blogging Conference.

ARMY OF DAVIDS TRAINING in the show-me state.

POPULAR SCIENCE: Singularity University Grads Plan to Help a Billion People in 10 Years.

I’ve been getting a lot of singularity-related email lately, and it’s reminded me of two quotes from Vernor Vinge’s Rainbows End, describing the state of the world in 2025. First the upside: An Army of Davids success in fighting disease:

The first bit of dumb luck came disguised as a public embarrassment for the European Center for Defense Against Disease. On July 23, schoolchildren in Algiers claimed that a respiratory epidemic was spreading across the Mediterranean. The claim was based on a clever analysis of antibody data from the mass-transit systems of Algiers and Naples.

CDD had no immediate comment, but in less than three hours, public-health hobbyists reported similar results in other cities, complete with contagion maps. The epidemic was at least one week old, probably originating in Central Africa, beyond the scope of hobbyist surveillance.

But there’s a downside:

Every year, the civilized world grew and the reach of lawlessness and poverty shrank. Many people thought that the world was becoming a safer place . . . Nowadays Grand Terror technology was so cheap that cults and criminal gangs could acquire it. . . . In all innocence, the marvelous creativity of humankind continued to generate unintended consequences. There were a dozen research trends that could ultimately put world-killer weapons in the hands of anyone having a bad hair day.

That’s looking like our future, all right.