Monday, July 21, 2003

The Origin of the Term "Mail" in "E-Mail" and Best Blogs

Best Blogs and E-Mail Origin (RSS Title)

Nr. 5 - July 21, 2003 - posted by Andis Kaulins - - Copyright © 2003 by Andis Kaulins

Looking for the best blogs? Here is a start. We will be adding to these as we go along.



The Blog Matrix Top 250

The Blog Matrix Top 250 blogs by
permalinks, incoming entry links as well as by alphabetical listing and by geographical location.




Top 100 Technorati


Technorati Link Cosmos
ranks blogs by the number of blogs that link to a blog site.



The BlogRolling.com Top 100

Blogrolling lists daily the top 100 links displayed by BlogRolling users.



Popdex Top 100

Popdex has a list of the top 100 blogs of all time as gauged by link citations.




Blogdex - The Weblog Diffusion Index - by MIT Media Laboratory

Blogdex keeps a list of the hot news topics being spread in the weblog community.



Daypop.com Top 40

DayPop features "The Daypop Top 40" as a "list of links that are currently popular with webloggers from around the world".



UserLand Rankings

UserLand Blogs
ranked by page-reads are found at Salon.com.



The OxBlog

Three Oxfords (Chafetz, Adesnik and Urman) run the OxBlog and have divided their best blogs according to names (and political sentiments) of past Presidents of the United States, the meaning of which is found at OxBlog. The selected blogs are among the best of the best, it just depends on where you stand.



Andrew Olmsted

Andrew Olmsted has a blog where links are given in terms of baseball categories: Contact Hitters, The Big Bats, RBI Guys, Pinch Hitters (From the Left, From the Right), Pinch Runners, Starting Rotation, Long Relief, Closer, Hired Guns and Disabled List.



Mark Glaser's Guide to the Blogosphere

Mark Glaser divides the most influential sites up pictographically (creative) in terms of conservative, liberal, blogging, or journalism.



Cal Ulmann "Where HipHop and Libertarianism meet"

Cal Ulmann has a nice list of best blog links divided by topic, including super blogs, libertarian bloggers, conservative bloggers, war blogs, foreign policy blogs, liberal bloggers, hiphop blogs, group blogs, college student bloggers, and other cool blogs.



aChanginTimes (ACT) - Veralynne Pepper

Veralynne Pepper has a very libertarian blog, but I very much liked the well-selected quotations from Bob Dylan and others.



Forbes.com Best of the Web and Best Blogs

Forbes Best of The Web contains a selection of best blogs and

Arik Hesseldahl has a Best Blog Special Report in Forbes.com from which we have sifted the following lists (plus our added description of the blogs to assist you to find the blog you may need):

Best Technology Blogs


Slashdot, IT specialist, motto "news for nerds, stuff that matters"

Techdirt, corporate IT intelligence

Gizmodo, the gadgets weblog

Kuro5hin, motto "technology and culture, from the trenches"

Reiter's Wireless Data Web Log - the wireless world

Best Media Blogs

Metafilter motto "we're all in this together"

Blogcritics motto "A sinister cabal of superior bloggers on music, books, film, popular culture, and technology - updated continuously"

Gawker is a blog on the New York City scene

Romanesko - Poynteronline, motto "everything you need to be a better journalist"

Best Economics Blogs

Arnold Kling - EconLog, motto "This week's issues and insights in economics"

ArgMax, motto "Economics News, Data, and Analysis"

The Knowledge Problem, motto "Commentary on Economics, Information and Human Action"

Zimrad Ahmed, a high tech blog

Stephen Kirchner, current events from an economic perspective

and here are some additional top blogs - take your pick according to what you need....



The Volokh Conspiracy - united they stand


The Volokh Conspiracy
has some extremely bright people cranking out their thoughts. The most recent discussion involves the official French decision to require the little-known French term "courriel" (based on "courrier") to be used by government bodies and official documents instead of the term "e-mail". There is currently something seriously wrong with the ruling groups in France and Germany as far as their nationalistic language attitudes are concerned. As Volokh reports, about 2 million uses of the term "e-mail" on French internet pages (according to Google) compare with less than 100,000 uses of the term "courriel". This is what happens when clueless linguists have a say in important affairs.


This recent French attempt at pseudo-cultural tyranny on its own people reminds of the former East Germany's unsuccessful fascist attempt to get rid of the foreign word "pizza" and to supplant it with a Teutonic equivalent which has long since disappeared from usage. The recent inane German discussions over German language orthography and spelling (Rechtschreibung) are a similar constant reminder of the intellectual backwardness of much of modern Europe and its academicians and officials in such matters.


OK - so where does the word "mail" in the term "e-mail" originate as a matter of etymology (i.e. a trace of the word's roots)?


Based on the etymology found in the exceptionally good American Heritage College Dictionary, 3rd ed., which also has a special appendix of alleged Indo-European roots, the clueless mainstream linguists allege that the English word "mail" comes from a middle English "male" meaning "bag, pouch", and this in turn from some unknown Old French word and that word in turn from some unknown Old Germanic word. Incredibly, the English term "male" (where "pouch, bag" would make more etymological sense), allegedly derived from the hardly similar Latin masculus - do they think that the letters "sc" just got lost in the woodwork? Nonsense. Do the linguists have their glasses optically crossed? I would have thought that English "muscles" would be related to Latin masculus, which is then the same as the very ancient Latvian muskulis "muscle" and mezglis "knot", thus describing a muscle as a knot of tissue and providing us with the root origin of the term masculus, which has nothing to do with the original English term "male". Rather, even in ancient Egypt the min- (as the later English term men or man) applied clearly to the male anatomy.


Casting further doubt on the current etymology of e-mail is the fact that the Scottish word "mail" means a rent, payment or tribute, allegedly rooted as a term in Middle English "mol, maile" and Old Norse mal meaning "lawsuit", which puts us back to law, where we belong. This Scottish "mail" was thus a type of message notification, just as modern e-mails are, but only in the strict legal sense.


In fact, the ancient Latvian term "mele" can be considered close to the original Indo-European term and explains the origin of all of these message-type "mail" terms, since Latvian MELE means "tongue, language, oral notification" and this explains Indo-European message-meaning variants of "mail" which have survived over thousands of years down to the present day in English and/or other languages. Indeed, the Latvian diminutive "melite" then gave us our word "mouth" as the weak "L" disappeared over time. "Mouth" did not derive from "men-" as the linguists currently claim. Preposterous. The word MEN derived from "men-" which is why we call women wo-men and not *wo-masculus. Similarly absurd is the scurrile French "courriel", which, if based on an original term "courrier", goes back beyond the French language to Old Italian "correre" and Latin "currere" meaning "to run" which is what ancient pouched male couriers did in ancient days prior to the invention of writing in passing their messages "by tongue, i.e. spoken language" to the receiver. For the French academicians to now claim that "courriel" is more "French" and "mail" more English just shows the idiocy which pervades the upper echelons of many academic and political institutions of our modern nations. No wonder the world is often in such a sad state of affairs. These are NOT the brightest of the bright nor the best of the best, you can be sure.



Andrew Sullivan

Andrew Sullivan, in contrast to the French linguists and politicians, has a very bright blog, but I find the white text on dark blue background to be stressful for the eyes. Sullivan recently wrote correctly: "I feel like I'm living in an alternate universe. I turned "The Today Show" on this morning, and while there was a piece from Iraq by Brokaw (who's coming around on this issue, I think), the next story was, of course, about Kobe Bryant. Is anybody there at all? Does anybody care? What is wrong with the world these days, or is it just the media? Couldn't we start some sort of news channel that really DOES deal with what's going on in the world - the important, earth-shaking events going on in the world currently?"


My answer to Andrew is: it has always been this way, and be happy that it is. Whenever your average man starts mixing his confused ideas into the political sphere and starts getting too involved as a "concerned" political or religio-politico being, the result is always the worst sort of extremism, because the average intellect of the average man is not high. We see this all around the globe. As Berlusconi is quoted as saying "the average man has the mentality of an 11-year old". My comment: Berlusconi is an incurable optimist. If you plug in the word "intelligence" in Google's search box, the first link that comes up is the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) and the second is the search for "extraterrestrial intelligence" and the third is "artificial intelligence". I would call that striking out in three pitches at the plate, 0-3. If we refine our search to the initially hoped-for term of "human intelligence" we get only about 100,000 hits. Human intelligence is not an active commodity on the web. "Artificial Intelligence" gets about one million and half Google hits and UFOs get nearly 2 and a quarter million hits. And you wonder about our world? Instructive reading here is Arthur R. Jensen and his "The Limited Plasticity Of Human Intelligence" where human intelligence is discussed realistically, according to the evidence of many studies. One might also look at Quotable Quotes to see how the subject of human intelligence fares in the quips of the world's best thinkers.



David Harris' Science and Literature

This also fits in with David Harris' Science and Literature blog of July 18 2003 entitled "darn good intelligence" which I guess is a contradiction in terms in that verbal context. (By the way David, there is too much red on that page - hard on the eyes - I suggest a color "redesign"). So let us not expect too much of our fellow humans. We are all just a few very small steps up the evolutionary scale from the chimps. The people hopping around on your TV screen - often like or even worse than the apes - are us. Expect no wonders where none can rationally be expected.



Jay Manifold - A Voyage to Arcturus - A great President Polk

Jay Manifold's A Voyage to Arcturus impressed me by the July 16, 2003 blog which noted that Polk was one of the most unpleasant and yet the most successful (and unsung) U.S. President ever. I too have long argued that Polk was a great President, under whose leadership the US territory increased more than under any other President (see Robert Ardrey's The Territorial Imperative)



Eric Lindholm - Viking Pundit

Viking Pundit - Eric Lindholm, blog motto "the only conservative in Western Massachusetts". I just agree with much of what this man writes.



Anthony Adragna - Quasi Pundit

Anthony Adragna makes a nice "link" between politics and Harry Potter, suggesting there may be more to J.K. Rowling than the wise old owl Hedwig has told us - Hedwig, what do you have to say about this? - shades of the double-meaning Lewis Carroll? - laying it between the lines? (as reminiscent of Peter, Paul and Mary)



Jason Kottke - a Weblog Wunderkammer

Jason Kottke - Kottke's weblog wunderkammer - A great site for info on books. See his July 8 material on the Virtual Book Tour. I particularly like his website objective of making sense of "material that connects the insights of science and culture, rather than using one to dismantle the other".



Danile W. Drezner - An Untenured Perspective

Drezner has a blogsite where the motto is "politics, economics, academia, globalization... all from an untenured perspective"



William Sjostrom - Atlantic Blog

Atlantic Blog - - William Sjostrom, the blog's motto is "thoughts on politics, economics and the culture"



David Horowitz


David Horowitz - Especially telling is the July 13 blog posting on "How the left destroys inner city schools" - I am very much for helping people, but the ends do not justify the means if the long-term results are contrary to the original intent. When things do not work as planned, they must be changed ... immediately, otherwise you are throwing good money after bad.



The New York Times 50 Best Websites include one blog (Gawker.com)


The New York Times Techtime in an article by Maryanne Murray Buechner looks at the "50 Best Websites", 10 each in 5 categories: The Essentials, News & Information, Entertainment, Lifestyle and Strictly Broadband.



Gawker.com


Gawker.com is a blog that made it into the Times top 50, but only because it is a gossip blog which concentrates on events in the Big Apple. But hey, if this blog had existed in the days when I lived in the City on East 61st Street, I probably would have read it.



NetryBlog/Seki


NetryBlog/Seki discusses the ranking and future of the most highly ranked blogs.




Marc's Voice - Marc Canter - in his blog, this man does not canter, he gallops

Marc's Voice
has - in our opinion - a futuristic vision. See also Canter.com




Blogroots - Best Blog Resources

BlogRoots

Monday, July 07, 2003

The Blogger Effect at Google

Google Blogger Effect (RSS Title)

Nr. 4 - July 7, 2003 - posted by Andis Kaulins -
- Copyright © 2003 by Andis Kaulins

In his article, "Use the blog, Luke", see The Blogger Effect, Steven Johnson in his Salon.com article discusses how the ranking algorithm at Google tends to rank blogs higher than other URL counterparts due to their penchant (strong inclination) for linking to other blogs. Many of his remarks are also applicable to the other search engines as well.

Since blogs are constantly linking to other blogs and often doing this on a daily basis, this puts blogs high in the Google rankings. Google ranks those sites higher which are linked to more frequently by other sites, especially those with a high ranking themselves. The result is that so-called "popular" blogs can easily rise in Google's algorithmic rankings through clever URL placement in the blog scene. The frequency of linking aspect is nothing new. In his "Fear of Links" article, on Salon.com, Scott Rosenberg has noted that modern journalists who profusely use links in their reporting have derogatorily even been called linkalists.

To see how Google works - by no means flawlessly - in ranking by quantity, one need merely plug the term "http" into the Google search box, which results in the following top 50 sites (duplicates removed) in the order of their Google ranking (out of a total of 267,000,000): Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, AltaVista, Adobe, My Excite, Amazon, CNN, Lycos, Go.com (Infoseek), Map Quest, Netscape, New York Times, RealNetworks, HotBot, WebCrawler, IBM, World Wide Web Consortium, USATODAY, Internet Movie Database, Macromedia, Hewlett-Packard, Washington Post, Northern Light, Tucows Downloads, MetaCrawler, WinZip, Apple, Google Groups, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Dogpile, United Nations, Sun Microsystems, Weather Channel, Symantec, Barnes & Noble, CNET, AllTheWeb, WorldBank, ZDNet, Monster.com, WinAmp, Apache.org, Slashdot, eBay, American Red Cross, AskJeeves, Intel, Gnu.org, AOL.

If one enters "www" in the search box, this gives a far greater total of 962,000,000 sites and the top 50 list changes somewhat. Try it out.
As a website or blog owner, one is virtually "one in a billion".

Once we take out the major search engines and software makers from the "www" and "http" searches, Google rankings show that news and current events rule the Google ranking roost. If we search for the major sites in the United Kingdom, for example, by entering "co.uk" in Google, the top-ranked URLs are the BBC, the Guardian, the Times Online, the Telegraph, the Register, etc. It is thus small wonder that the most popular blogs focus on recent events.

In terms of the world of blogs, the Google search entries "blog", "blogs", "blogger", "web log", "web logs", "weblog", "weblogs", "pundit" and "pundits" result in an eclectic mixture of URLs which is in part far removed from the actual popularity or quality of the best blogs, although a few of the best do manage to creep into the top listings, e.g. the blog of Lawrence Lessig, at Stanford Law School, my own alma mater. As noted at Microdoc News, Google is set up more to find a particular document, rather than an organized set of documents, and hence Google also has trouble tracing blogologues (i.e. blog dialogues) in the blogosphere (i.e. the world of blogs) as well.

Another problem with Google and the blogs is that a reference to a blog, even if critical, automatically raises that blog in the Google standings. There is of course no way for Google as yet to sort our positive and negative references to blogs. Hence, one should ponder critical statements about a blog carefully. As every cat that turns its back on its owner knows, aloof silence is often a better short-term weapon than active negative recognition. Of course, in the long term, this strategy too has its limitations. Formidable opponents can not be ignored forever.

Google is aware of many of these and similar search engine problems which are discussed in length at WebmasterWorld.com.

Interestingly, if the words "Google blogs pundit" are entered in the Google search bar, Google returns as the number one ranked URL a posting at a very bright 20-year old's Pundit Ex Machina blog, where the owner has intentionally not entered a single link onto that particular blog post and notes that blogs feed Google and vice versa. It is very interesting reading for anyone wishing to understand the blog world and its symbiotic relation to the major search engine.
As Sean Kirby, the author of Pundit Ex Machina, notes in a later posting, Google will be adding a separate tab for blogs soon, presuming they can figure out a sensible way to automatically distinguish a blog from a normal URL.

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Quo Vadis Blogs ? = Where do the Blogs Lead Us ?

Quo Vadis Blogs (RSS Title)

Nr. 3 - July 5, 2003 - posted by Andis Kaulins -
- Copyright © 2003 by Andis Kaulins

Blogs, the WWW and the Internet


Let us start out with the simple fact that the Internet has become a universal worldwide communicator and resource library in digital from. In his article, Is Google God?, Thomas L. Friedman writes that there are now already hundreds of millions of searches per day on Google alone, only 1/3 from the USA and 2/3 from the rest of the world in no fewer than 88 languages(!). The world community - thanks to the World Wide Web - is turning increasingly to the internet for fast, effective communication and for finger-tip accessible information - all kinds of information - public, business, personal, or private.


One of the newest sources for communication and information are "blogs", an internet-specific form of publication that started out as online personal diaries or weblogs, i.e. (we)blogs - which have since then evolved into a unique new aspect of cyberspace. As Howard Kurtz wrote in the Washington Post (April 29, 2003) about the intrusion of blogs into political elections: The pundits are blogging. The journalists are blogging. And now the candidates are blogging." According to the New York Times and Thom Weidlich: even "the corporate blog is catching on". As David Glenn observes in Scholars Who Blog: "the soapbox of the digital age" has even drawn "a crowd of academics" to it as well. The academic blogs are among the best of the best blogs and links to them can be found at Henry Farrell and at Rhetorica.


HISTORY and EVOLUTION of BLOGS


Nice histories of blog evolution are found at "Journal vs. Weblog" by Ryan Kawailani Ozawa and at Weblogs.com by Dave Winer of the Scripting News blog, the oldest running blog. As Steven Johnson writes at Salon.com, blogs have become mainstream in less than a decade, ever since Justin Hall at Justin's Links and Carolyn Burke started the apparently first documented hypertext online diaries - which led to the blog revolution. Since then, the number of blogs has increased to over half a million ... and is rising rapidly.


BEST OF THE BLOGS and WEB RESOURCES FOR BLOGS


An excellent collection of links for blogs is found at MSNBC Weblog Central
edited by Will Femia. It contains links to Best of Blogs, Weblog Resources, and Weblog Indexes.


To better understand blogs and their pundits, let us look at some popular blogs. According to The Best of the Blogosphere, two of the best and most highly rated blogs on the internet are - not coincidentally - both run by active, verbally brilliant and up-to-date law professors - Eugene Volokh of UCLA Law School at Volokh.com and Glenn Reynolds of the University of Tennessee Law School at Nr. 1 ranked InstaPundit.com. Prof. Eric Muller at UNC Law School has recently made waves at IsThatLegal? as a newcomer.


What makes blogs so popular?


Muller has stated that the blogs offer "immediacy". This may not be the exact right word in terms of dictionary definition since blogs are an intervening or mediating agent which immediacy lacks, but the general direction of Muller's statement is surely quite correct.


The most preferred blogs have their finger on the button of current events. They intelligently and near-to-immediately discuss actual happenings in a direct and vital manner that is often missing in most newspapers and other so-called serious media.


The traditional media often try to mask their blatantly subjective or sometimes sensationalistic hype-type reporting of news events, as if they were presenting "the absolute truth" to the public. The attraction of blogs to the reader is that blogs generally do not try to camouflage their allegiances - quite the contrary, they often flaunt them. Straightforward opinions thus often make blogs livelier and more thought-provoking than commercial journalism. Bloggers are the missing story-tellers of the modern age, and who does not like a good story? Harry Potter, we know you are out there.


The fact that blogs run by legal beagles rank so highly on the blog scene surely also reflects the current condition of our modern society politics as being increasingly dependent on the rule of law (or its absence!). As always when bandits try to destabilize established society, "law men" rise invariably to positions of special status in the community. Law and order become prime concerns of ordinary citizens everywhere.


Our interest in current events arises out of a deep sense that our own well-being and security are endangered by widespread lawlessness and terror, which demonstrably lead to chaos and misery in the world, rather than to order, prosperity or a better future. So, in some way, the best political blogs most certainly contribute indirectly to a sense of security that the "right" things will be done by those who control power. We experience through the blogs that we are glimpsing a part of the immediate world scene in the making through the eyes of insiders (or those close to them), who are involved in events which may affect our own future but over which we ourselves have little or no control. Through the blogs, we "participate" in these events.


Another reason for the popularity of blogs - Feedback


There are many popular blogs on the internet and there are thousands of reasons why a particular blog is popular, depending on the subject matter and opinions presented. We will get to these in future blogs, but let me close here with one reason to be involved in blogging - feedback. Bloggers often note that it is satisfying to interact with people from all over the world, people you would otherwise never have any contact with. Below is the first feedback to reach me regarding the PunditMania ® blog:



* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


From Veralynne Pepper and ACT, July 3, 2003


Wow! I didn't know just what I was looking for until I found it. No. I don't claim to be among the best or the brightest, but I'm smart enough to seek them and their ideas.


I publish A-Changin' Times (ACT, The Blog and ACT, The Zine) and I know I'll refer to your site often in seeking reprintable wisdom.


I'd love for you to visit http://www.achangintimes.com just for fun and I think you might enjoy http://wilsonsalmanac.blogspot.com, as well.


It's nice to know you--you're one of my "favorites."

Love, peace and clarity,

Veralynne Pepper




* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I did look at both links in detail. In spite of the fact that the opinions represented there do not run along my own political thinking in many areas at all, I enjoyed the design of the sites and the excellent short quotations found on the ACT pages. These have enriched my life. We need not always agree with another. We can disagree and still benefit from our fellows - I think this is an important thing to understand about human interaction and the value of the blogs generally. Humans differ in their opinions - thank goodness for that. Blogs are a means to look inside other peoples heads, and this is a modern blessing. Keep cool and enjoy the ride of life. Give it your best shot - always.



Andis Kaulins, Owner of the PunditMania ® Blog, July 5, 2003

Thursday, July 03, 2003

PunditMania - the blog for the brightest of the bright and the best of the best

PunditMania Blog (RSS Title)

Nr. 2 - July 3, 2003 - posted by Andis Kaulins -
Copyright © 2003 by Andis Kaulins

PunditMania

PunditMania is a new blog at
PunditMania

Will it be able to live up to its market logo of being the blog for the brightest of the bright and the best of the best?
We shall see. It is a tall order.

Stay tuned for Blog Nr. 3 - where we look at some of the internet's top-ranked blogs - we blog the bloggers.

Andis Kaulins, Owner of PunditMania ® Blog, July 3, 2003

The Pundits of the Blogs : From Word of Mouth Bloggers to Internet Impresarios

The Pundits of the Blogs (RSS Title)

Nr. 1 - July 3, 2003 - posted by Andis Kaulins - Copyright © 2003 by Andis Kaulins

The major tool of the pundits of the blogs is language. We thus begin with an analysis of the origin of the word pundit - a term used to name some of the best of the blogs or describe their makers.

In modern times, the word pundit means "a learned man, an expert, a critic, a source of opinion, one who can speak with authority on some subject of importance". However, the word can also be used in the sense of a pundit who is a "self-appointed authority". Indeed, many bloggers fall into this latter category, commenting with self-alleged expertise on subjects of their choosing. Is this desirable?


Who today can we truly characterize as a learned man of authority? Espoused knowledge is not enough. Nicholas of Cusa wrote that a truly learned man admits to "learned ignorance". What he meant was that "knowing" necessarily brings the recognition of "not knowing". A know-it-all is not a pundit. Through the internet, massive amounts of factual information are available today to everyone - yet, it is their wise selection and analysis which is crucial to judgment.

The blogger or pundit of our day is a different breed of human than the pundit of yesteryear. Mainstream linguists claim that the term pundit derives from Sanskrit panditah meaning "learned, scholar" and this in turn is viewed as a word derived from the Dravidian language.


Another etymology for this word is suggested by the Baltic languages (Latvian and Lithuanian), the most ancient of all still spoken Indo-European tongues and very similar to the above-cited Sanskrit.

What does Baltic tell us about English pundit and Sanskrit panditah?
The Latvian root term pant- means "verse, stanza, paragraph" and the term pantot (whence pundit) means "to recite verses or paragraphs", which is what learned men of past eras did, for that was how history and knowledge were passed on orally from generation to generation before the advent of writing. An ancient pundit was a story-teller.

Word of mouth bloggers thus preceded modern internet impresarios.
So, what are the new stories? We will find out in future blogs.




Andis Kaulins, Owner of the PunditMania ® Blog, July 3, 2003


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