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The Information Jacuzzi - Part I

Back in 1996, when mobile phones looked like giant calculators, and a social network was a just group of friends, comedian Dave Barry published a book called Dave Barry in Cyberspace. He devoted a chapter to the newly popular “World Wide Web,” which he titled, “The Internet: transforming society and shaping the future through chat.”

Sometimes truth is stranger than comedy. Internet chat and its heirs—blogs and social networks—are in fact transforming society and shaping the future in ways that no one imagined in 1996.

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Bigger Than Davos: Genghis Speaks!

The movers and shakers are congregating! The masses stare with wide eyes and baited breaths as the world's most luminous luminaries pool their luminescences to create a blazing beacon of illumination. The planet itself tilts with the weight of their intellect as the center of the universe coalesces in a remote village for three portentous days.

No, no, not Davos, not Switzerland. Those businesspeople have all the luminescence of a three-day old jar of fireflies. I speak of Charlottesville, Virginia, of course, the National Journal Conference for Schools of Public Policy and Affairs at the University of Virginia.

This year's national journal conference promises to be biggest event in the history of national journal conferences due to the anticipated appearance of a very special speaker: Michael J. Wolraich, blogger, author, mover, shaker, philosopher king, and co-founder of

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Evaluating the Teachers

Unlike New York City teachers, most Americans have no say in how their employers evaluate their job performance. The process, if there is a "process," usually emerges from an obscure H.R. task force that bases its guidelines on whatever trendy corporate gobbledygook some associate vice president read in the latest issue of Human Resources Executive.

Once the process reaches its lofty conclusion, the employee has to live with the consequences. A glowing evaluation may mean a raise and promotion. A scathing report may trigger demotion or even termination. The processes are not necessarily fair. Bosses often use them to justify whatever they wanted to do all along. Good bosses treat their people fairly. Bad bosses exploit their power for petty politics.

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The Republican Suicide Strategy

A suicide bomber walks into a bar. He shouts at the bartender, "Gimme the money, or I blow this place to bits!" The worried bartender hands him a wad of cash, and the bomber departs.

The next day, the suicide bomber returns to the same bar. He shouts at the bartender, "Gimme the money, or I blow this place to bits!"

"Are you nuts?" answers the bartender. "If I give you money every day, I'll go out of business. Plus, you're scaring away the customers."

"I tell you what," replies the bomber, "Gimme the money, and I won't come back until the day after tomorrow."

Welcome to the art of negotiation, Republican style. Since the election of 2010, the United States has narrowly averted three Republican-built suicide bombs: one government shutdown, one debt default and one fiscal cliff. We have two more scheduled for February: across-the-board spending cuts and another debt ceiling expiration.

Read the full article at

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Boehner's Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad New Year

John Boehner has a situation. A week ago, he failed to reach a deal with President Barack Obama to avert the dreaded Fiscal Cliff.

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What Should We Do to Stop Massacres?


Maybe Wayne LaPierre is onto something. So suggests DF in his latest blog, What Can We Do to Stop Massacres? Isn't it at least worth considering, he asks, LaPierre's proposal to station armed "responders" at our schools?

It is worth considering. An armed officer presents a defense and a deterrent. It seems indisputable that LaPierre's proposal would help protect our schools against violent attacks.

But would it stop massacres? Not unless we placed multiple armed responders at every park, playground, pool, day camp, playing field, Sunday school, daycare center, shopping mall, or any other place where children gather.

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Susan Rice, America's "See No Evil" Ambassador

Forget about Benghazi. The whole imbroglio was little more than an election gambit gone sour. Republican leaders, frustrated that their charges failed to wound Obama in November, have vented their fury on his choice for Secretary of State.

But Susan Rice's record as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. raises other more serious concerns. The New York Times published two articles today, a news story and an op-ed, which question Rice's judgment concerning several African dictators.

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China's Corruption Conundrum

"We must be vigilant," proclaimed Xi Jinping, China's new paramount leader. In his inaugural speech to the 25-person Politburo, he warned that rampant graft and corruption would "doom the party and the state" if it continued unchecked.

He has a point. From petty graft in far-flung villages to the regime-shaking Bo Xilai scandal, rampant corruption has fueled the social unrest that the long-toothed oligarchs fear so much. Payoffs have bumped China's vaunted high-speed trains off their shoddy tracks. Graft has nibbled away the roots of its famously fertile economy.

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The Change We Weren't Waiting For After All

The pundits are pondering. They mention mandates and movements, margins and maneuvers and meetings in the middle. They wax wisely on who won and why they won and which way the wind will waft on Wednesday.

We love to mock them, these prattling experts and prognosticators. And yet we listen, we read, we react. We can't help ourselves. We want to know what it all means and what will happen next. We are determined to squeeze great meaning from great events. We are all pundits.

But the truth is that the great election of November 7, 2012, was all but meaningless. It represents neither a pivot point nor a portent. A poor candidate lost to a strong candidate, as as he was expected to do. A diverse majority of Democrats in the Senate will continue to play a weak hand weakly. A militant majority of Republicans in the House will continue to obstruct, ignoring calls for moderation as they have done for two decades. The federal government will hobble feebly along.

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Live-Blogging the Debate! Gloves Off! Pants Off! OK, Pants Back On! Just the Gloves!

Gentlemen, your objectives are clear.

Obama: Get those nuts on the table or the pedestal or whatever it is you're using. Wait, it's Town Hall style. Just thrust out your pelvis then. You're big! You're bad! You're mad as hell and you're not going to take it any more! (It's OK, it's just pretend.)

Romney: No apologies! Keep on rolling out those double-speak plans and fake studies. Americans suck at math! They do not care if man means what he says so long as he says what he means. You know that I mean.



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Personal Information


Michael Wolraich is a non-fiction writer in New York City. He co-founded dagblog and has contributed  to the Atlantic, the Daily Beast, New York Magazine,,, Reuters, and Pando Daily.


Wolraich is also the computer genius who maintains dagblog's state-of-the-art software, but he denies responsibility for technical glitches and advises users to "quit sniveling." In his spare time, Wolraich raises peach mold and performs live impressions of the law of gravity.


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