Friday, January 09, 2004


That's me, according to the Myers-Briggs personality profile, based on Jungian typology. You can find a description of the INTJ type here. Here's some of what it says:
To outsiders, INTJs may appear to project an aura of "definiteness", of self-confidence. This self-confidence, sometimes mistaken for simple arrogance by the less decisive, is actually of a very specific rather than a general nature; its source lies in the specialized knowledge systems that most INTJs start building at an early age. When it comes to their own areas of expertise -- and INTJs can have several -- they will be able to tell you almost immediately whether or not they can help you, and if so, how. INTJs know what they know, and perhaps still more importantly, they know what they don't know.

INTJs are perfectionists, with a seemingly endless capacity for improving upon anything that takes their interest. What prevents them from becoming chronically bogged down in this pursuit of perfection is the pragmatism so characteristic of the type: INTJs apply (often ruthlessly) the criterion "Does it work?" to everything from their own research efforts to the prevailing social norms. This in turn produces an unusual independence of mind, freeing the INTJ from the constraints of authority, convention, or sentiment for its own sake.
Go ahead and give the test a try. It doesn't take long. There's a slightly different version you can also try. According to the Kiersey typology, I'm a Mastermind.

If you look at this page you can see that blogging is a perfect activity for an INTJ like me:
# Be willing to back up your statements with facts - or at least some pretty sound reasoning.

# Don't expect them to respect you or your viewpoints just because you say so. INTJ respect must be earned.

# Be willing to concede when you are wrong. The average INTJ respects the truth over being "right". Withdraw your erroneous comment and admit your mistake and they will see you as a very reasonable person. Stick to erroneous comments and they will think you are an irrational idiot and treat everything you say as being questionable.

# Try not to be repetitive. It annoys them.

# Do not feed them a line of bull.

# Expect debate. INTJs like to tear ideas apart and prove their worthiness. They will even argue a point they don't actually support for the sake of argument.

# Do not mistake the strength of your conviction with the strength of your argument. INTJs do not need to believe in a position to argue it or argue it well. Therefore, it will take more than fervor to sway them.

# Do not be surprised at sarcasm.

# Remember that INTJs believe in workable solutions. They are extremely open-minded to possibilities, but they will quickly discard any idea that is unfeasible. INTJ open-mindedness means that they are willing to have a go at an idea by trying to pull it apart. This horrifies people who expect oohs and ahhs and reverence. The ultimate INTJ insult to an idea is to ignore it, because that means it's not even interesting enough to deconstruct.

This also means that they will not just accept any viewpoint that is presented to them. The bottom line is "Does it work?" - end discussion.

# Do not expect INTJs to actually care about how you view them. They already know that they are arrogant bastards with a morbid sense of humor. Telling them the obvious accomplishes nothing.
Of course, other factors are at work in the individual. For example, I'm cripplingly shy in public and suffer from depression. I'm also deficient in self-discipline, as readers of this blog have learned, and ambition. So, you will not match your "type" one-on-one. There will be differences; sometimes major ones.

Still, it's nice to know that one of my idols, Thomas Jefferson, is also INTJ.
Your Daily Fear

I found this chart which shows total market debt as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product, and it's one to ponder. (WARNING: Do not go to the main site unless you have a high tolerance to anti-Semitic and conspiracy stuff. Some of the items could be very offensive.) It purports to show that the current stock market is a parallel of the boom market just prior to the Crash of 1929.

I did some Googling around and found out that the chart is a cleaned up version of the one found here, on the Gabelli Mather Fund site. The page describes the thinking of one Henry Van der Eb, CFA.
In the autumn of 1998, the U.S. Federal Reserve bailed out a teetering global economy, a collapsing U.S. stock market, and a prominent hedge fund, with three successive reductions in U.S. interest rates. The spreading financial crises were stopped, but the unintended consequence of the aggressive rate cuts was a quick return to stock mania psychology, a revitalized stock market bubble (Charts 1, 2 & 3), and rising residential real estate prices.

The rippling "wealth effect" from excessive stock and real estate valuations has overstimulated U.S. consumer spending and pushed the savings rate below zero. This has shifted the Fed¹s focus to an "inflation alert" with concerns over labor shortages, rising wages, commodity inflation, and slowing productivity. As a result, the Federal Open Market Committee raised short-term interest rates on June 30th to prevent the inflation on Wall Street from moving to Main Street. Additional rate increases are expected unless potential inflation is quickly defused by an economic slowdown.

Mr. Greenspan is now center stage with the most difficult balancing act of his career. By gradually raising interest rates, he is attempting to gently deflate the largest stock market balloon in financial history in order to cool consumer spending, slow the economy and prevent inflationary pressures from building. Complicating this task is a burgeoning U.S. trade deficit, a weak dollar, and Y2K uncertainties. Only twice this century has a central bank tried to restrain stock market speculation that had become a national obsession. In both cases, the U.S. in 1929 and Japan in 1989, interest rates were raised, stocks topped and no one worried about inflation for a long time.
We know what happened next, of course, but here we are five years on and the economy seems to be rebounding, although the dollar is at historic low levels internationally.

Not sure at all about this, but that chart is something to see.
Journalism Is A Religion

Jay Rosen has a very deep and carefully documented article titled, Journalism Is Itself a Religion. He makes some telling points about how journalists and editors and those who train or educate them, have turned journalism into the secular religion. He backs up every point he makes with examples. For instance:
James W. Carey is in my view the finest press thinker we Americans have. He teaches at Columbia J-School; and he joined the panel that night before the alumni group. Like Bollinger, Carey holds to a different belief about the meaning of the sacred text: the free press clause in the Constitution. The United States, he tells us, was founded on a certain image of what public life could be under conditions of freedom and openness. This was codified in the words of the First Amendment. Carey interprets them in a strange way. Not "hands off the press," but this:

The amendment says that people are free to gather together without the intrusion of the state or its representatives. Once gathered, they are free to speak to one another openly and freely. They are further free to write down what they have to say and to share it beyond the immediate place of utterance.

For the people to write down what they say and share it. From this right that belongs to all citizens, Carey derives both the original meaning of press freedom, and the most urgent purpose of journalism-- to amplify, clarify and extend what the rest of us produce as a "society of conversationalists." Public conversation is not the pundits or professionals we see on talk shows. It is "ours to conduct," as Carey puts it. The press should help us out. Here emerges his different faith. For when "the press sees its role as limited to informing whomever happens to turn up at the end of the communication channel, it explicitly abandons its role as an agency for carrying on the conversation of the culture."

How many journalists would say that their most basic task is to "inform" the public? Most, I think. Carey denies it: people inform themselves, he says. Yes, they need reliable news. But news should keep the conversation going among them. How many journalists believe that their profession, journalism, is the "only one mentioned in the Constitution?" Carey denies it. What is mentioned, he says, is the people's right to publish what they discover and think. Press freedom the way the press promotes it derives from that larger right. "The ultimate justification for journalism and the First Amendment is that together they constitute us as a civil society and set us in conversation with one another," he says.
Read the whole thing. It's not too long and will really open your mind.
"That really makes somebody! Things are going to start happening to me now."

Yeah, I'm somebody now. The Memphis Flyer's Annual Manual is out this week and in it is an article about blogging, with some quotes from yours truly, Kevin of LeanLeft and some other guy named Atrios. (Just kidding there.) You can read the whole thing online.

Overall, I thought it was nicely done, though short, and pretty fair. I do wish he'd put more local emphasis in it, as there are quite a few more Memphis bloggers worth your time. (Check the Rocky Top Brigade list. There's also Signifying Nothing and Fishkite.) It's also frustrating that the online story didn't have embedded links in it! That's so basic it's inexcusable.

Chris Davis, the writer, did make a rather facile metaphor between talk radio and blogging, which I tried to refute. Talk radio is still the one-to-many model, like newspapers and television, with some interactivity built in via the call-in feature. But that's a very limited feature. There's only so many minutes in an hour, even less after commercial time and the host's own talk. Plus there's no way to build dialogue, nor is there any way for the listener to follow up if the particular caller is interesting in their own right.

Blogging is the many-to-many model. There's no time or space limit. With commenting, you can invite dialogue and criticism that's not controlled by the host. With linking, you can build communities of interest and point the way to original sources of information or relevant further information. It's anarchic, sure, but democratic in a way that the benevolent totalitarianism of talk radio isn't.

There are some talk hosts who are trying to incorporate the two. Neal Boortz, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and many more see how one complements the other. But of the ones I mentioned, only Boortz will use the Web in the way it's best used and let his talk show be informed by what he receives there. Rush and Sean are still pretty much the talk show with a Net adjunct.

The day is soon coming when a blogger takes to the radio. But I suspect his program will be so information-dense and fast moving, so reliant on the listeners paying constant, total attention, that it won't be a success as pure talk radio is. The Net lets you move at your own pace, clicking where and as you will. Radio is someone else's pace and by requirement linear. Move too fast or jump around too much and you lose people. This is a problem that local host Mike Fleming faces, and he handles it poorly. He constantly refreshes the topic after every ad break, to bring new listeners up to speed, and he sacrifices time doing it. Then he races through callers, often cutting them off when they are too slow or addressing something they didn't mean so he can move along. He also tries to cram in several topics per hour, making things confusing to listeners, and again making the show race along. I've many times heard callers ask what he was just talking about, as they have clearly just caught up or tuned in. He's wasting time and attention.

Davis could also have mentioned how the blogosphere has been fact-checking print journalism, holding broadcast media accountable, and generally making the major media culture look bad. Blogging has opened up the previously closed world of journalism to everyone, and it's making journalists, editors and publishers very nervous. I liken it to the way that doctors used to be seen as gods, until their closed world was opened up to examination. Then we discover they are people just like anyone else, with all their biases, foibles, mistakes and egos. It brought doctors down to a human level, but made medicine a much better practice for it. The same is going on with journalism now. Remember, for all their pious blather, there is no license, certification, testing, requirements or specialisation mandated to become a journalist. Anyone can do it, and thanks to blogging anyone is. As with everything else, marketplace competition is making journalism better.

It would have been nice to have this touched on in the article, but Davis was space-limited (another print constraint), which I understand. It really would have helped the point to have seen more Memphis bloggers listed at the end of the online version at least. Still, I feel that I was well-treated in this encounter with the professionals and thank Chris for contacting me.

BTW, Bonus Cool Points* if you can identify the source of this post's header.

*BCPs can be redeemed with the nearest group of hip people in your area and socioeconomic/education/class group. Cool passport and a beginner's Cool permit required. Do not use BCPs without knowing what you are doing, as they can be dangerous to your Cool if used improperly. Always wear shades.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Movie Night At Midtown Books

Friday night, January 9th, is the second Movie Night at Midtown Books. Showing this week is The Hound of the Baskervilles, starring Basil Rathbone! This is not video or big-screen television, but real 16mm film projected on a screen. It's a benefit for the Wolf River Conservancy, Hope House and the Memphis Film Forum. Only a $5 donation; film starts at 7:30PM at Midtown Books, 2027 Madison Avenue, right in Overton Square. You can call 355.1735 or email for more information.

Last time was a fun evening. A couple of dozen folks showed up for The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse, Fritz Lang's obscure German film, so hopefully something more mainstream like Sherlock Holmes will bring an even larger crowd. Midtown Books proved to be a perfect venue, too, and the folks there were marvelous hosts. Hope you can make it!
Beer Wench!

For the life of me, I cannot understand why the beer wench hasn't caught on here in America. It was invented by Australian cricket fans who didn't want to miss a minute of a match, so they hired a "beer wench" to fetch their drinks for them. It's lucrative to the women and relatively less dangerous than other "ogled by men" occupations. The authorities have already thrown a wet blanket on the idea Down Under, but you would think that horny, enterprising Americans would be, er, all over this one. What's the deal?

UPDATE: Meet Cherri the beer wench!
More On The Passion

I was just surfing around the 'Net and discovered that Phil Valentine, a Nashville radio talk show host and one of the heroes of the Income Tax Wars a couple of years ago (It was he that State Representative Marsha Blackburn called with her famous cry "Rally the troops."), has seen the Mel Gibson movie The Passion. He posted his thoughts here. Sample quote:
I've been to a lot of movies but never have I seen a picture where grown men in the audience openly sobbed. We men love to pride ourselves on being able to contain our emotions and I tried to hold out as long as I could. One particularly poignant moment, where Mary watches helplessly as Jesus struggles with the cross, brought another dimension to the story into clear focus. We often forget that Jesus was also a mother's child. That's down at a level where we, as parents, can easily relate. The exchange between mother and son at such a desperate time pierced my stiff resolve like a sword. As tears streamed down my cheeks I thought, “What if that were my son?”
I predict that this movie will be huge in terms of box office and audience impact. But it will be handled by the media merely as "controversial," as they buy into the ADL's propaganda that it is anti-Semitic. You watch. They'll minimise the force with which Christians react to it and play up the conflict with their selected grudge groups. And it'll be snubbed in the 2005 Oscars.

Coming February 25.
Someone Explain This, Please

Why is it that photos like this one of Mars, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, clearly show the Martian sky is blue. Look at the limb of the planet. But when NASA releases their photos from the surface of the planet, the sky is red, or even salmon? I really do wish they would stop the "color correcting" and just show us a dusty, blue sky.

UPDATE: Friday on Slashdot, there was this thread on the topic. Mostly silly, but some good explanations about color filters, etc. There was a link to a "correct" version of the Martian panorama picture from the Spirit.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004


Hello to all the folks heading this way from the Memphis Flyer's Annual Manual. Sorry to be a bit behind on things here, but depression (keep reading on down), work stress and work itself have kept me offline of late. I had intended to return last weekend and clean the place up before company came by, but you can see how that turned out.

I hope to be back before the weekend with lots of strong opinion, foolish thoughts, strange links and all the other stupidity y'all come here for. There's still lots below to keep you busy. Click on the archive link to the left for even more!

And most especially, click on the blog links over there for the Rocky Top Brigade (Tennessee bloggers world-wide) and the Axis of Weevil (Alabama bloggers). [If you click on these links here, you'll get taken to the most recent list of members.] If you don't like my opinions, trust me there's a whole world of thought out there for you to read, covering every conceivable color in the spectrum.

Thanks again, and be right with you!