As some of you know, this blog will be on a semi-hiatus after April 1st with only sporadic posts over the next few months. We’re moving out of the house and looking for a new place. We are currently scheduled to go into temporary housing and may not be in permanent housing until sometime this summer. Maybe. Earlier, if we get lucky. Nothing to be concerned about. This has been a long planned move that we thought would happened in 2017 but didn’t. We’re packing our own stuff and we’re currently drowning in large and medium Home Depot boxes. It turns out that despite excellent multi-tasking skills, packing boxes and blogging do not actually mix well.
Your blogger will be on unsettled schedule for a while. Hoping that the hiatus will be short and painless but knowing that may not be the case. The blog has been around for ten years now, so maybe it’s a good time to reassess the mission. Or decamp to The Wicked Wasabi so I can get some real sleep while I raise laughing chickens with colored eggs in a farm, hey? Or you know, cartoonists and lawyers seem to be the only folks having the time of their lives these days … so that, too … but anyway, the break could help me think through what to do with the blog in the future and the hows of it.
I’ve been around a bit to recognize that things are not quite well, and I know I would feel bad giving up this watch at this time. But perhaps this is just me suffering from separation anxiety, right? Where does that put me in Abe Maslow’s hierarchy of needs?
Some of you have been with this blog since the beginning, so know that your feedback and input are always appreciated. I’ll be checking emails and Twitter periodically but apologies in advance if response time lags a little. Now take care and be kind to each other.
It’s Wednesday, and we almost forgot The Daily Démarche! Diplocats Can Hold Their Tongues in 10 Languages features a proud, sleepy kitty who is not in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s crosshairs. Real diplomats can hold their tongues in 10 different languages. And no visit to a bar can change that. A fantastic gift to diplomats and natsec friends who can carry their liquor and know better than blab over drinks in a bar.
The T-Rex Collection for our behavioral science and organizational study nerds: There are a few picks ranging from the “Push Button to EXIT” T-Rex Sign Graphic t-shirt to the “Tee-Rex Looking For Exit You’ve Been Waiting For.” Yee be careful what you wish for though. If you’ve been good and nice, Santa might just give you what you wished for … although it may not necessarily be this season. We heard that the elves are working on the next button, and they’re not sure if it’s gonna be a mustache or something more.
NASA/JPL Visions of the Future fantastic designs for science pals, who may soon get their own government approved dictionary, if the reported CDC banned words are any indication. NASA/JPL says that “imagination is our window into the future” and here are some images of imaginative travel destinations that you can wear or gift somebody. Don’t forget to check out the t-shirts’ backs.
Deep State, Diplocats and FOIA’d? For those looking for deep state unicorns, here’s one where the front features the words “there was never a deep state before” while the back features the words “until those idiots conjured one.” The navy looks lovely. And of course, the diplocats will save the world, who else can do that now? For those FOIA’d in Washington, D.C. there is the perfect wear to the FOIA marathon party! Sorry, the cocktails collection is not ready for the holidays.
For readings pals, here are a few books on diplomacy, the foreign service, and geography that friends might enjoy.
Matthew Palmer Collection
Foreign Service Books
For board game aficionados, a few games to consider as gifts to families, and friends with slow internet connection who may soon be moved to the cloud, also with slow internet connection.
Our friends at Muckrock have the magical unredacting mugs, indeed a little reminder about the importance of a government accountable to the people. Check them out.
— MuckRock (@MuckRock) December 17, 2017
For feds considering donations to the Combined Federal Campaign this holiday season, please consider supporting our friends at the Electronic Frontier Foundation – @EFF, the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world.
— EFF (@EFF) December 14, 2017
Hey folks, we’ve updated our contact info. We’ve deleted the Contactify email for this blog previously but inadvertently left one link on. Apologies for that. If you’ve sent us anything via Burn Bag and have not seen anything posted, please consider sending it again.
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Just a quick housekeeping note — as many of you know, this blog is part of Amazon’s Affiliate Program. Your purchases via affiliate links here help support this blog at no extra cost to you. It’s not a lot but it helps. We have a curated e-store that includes primarily movies related to diplomacy, the Foreign Service or the State Department, as well as a list of books, and gifts. Later in October, Amazon will do away with its e-store functionality, so we have imported the lists here. We’ve done away with a lot of stuff and pared down our selection. If you use the “STORE” tab under the blog header, you will get to this page, which is generally divided into a curated lists for movies,
t-shirts/gifts, really just mugs that we adore, and books. We hope to keep the lists small and manageable, and will update the selection as time allows it! We hope you enjoy our picks! If you have other suggestions to share, do let us know.
For now, don’t miss the After Every Trump Tweet, You Need This Screamy Owl T-Shirt, which is really what I look like every morning when I open my newsfeed and see what POTUS has tweeted. More here.
Posted: 4:36 am ET
Updated: 4:57 pm ET: Thanks everyone for the notes and the help. ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ For those asking, I don’t want to deal with a fundraising right now but I hope to have an update down the road for funding the blog. DS
This blog marked its 9th anniversary last month but we could not celebrate it so we’ll officially mark it today. Now we are nine, but who drank all the wine?
Some of you are aware that I was wrestling whether to shut down this blog, or go on a hiatus while I attend to some personal matters — I may need to sell the old house, go back to school — yada, yada, yada real life happening yada. I confess I also need a mental health break. I’m not eating right, I’m not sleeping right, I have a recurring nightmare that I’m living inside a reality show and most distressing of all, my bathroom weighing scale is screaming, “Help me!”
Since Diplopundit’s funding ended last month, I thought I’d take a break this week and while at it, also attempt to find funding for the blog from private sources. I thought maybe I’ll be back in a month or two, but then I also thought, maybe I won’t be back. I know. I know. This is bad timing for an existential crisis but the last six months have not been spectacular for my health!
Then a weird thing happened over the weekend. Some “very senior people” at the State Department interrupted my April Fools’ Day celebration. Seriously. Who does that on my favoritiest day of the year? If you haven’t heard what happened, see Aww, @StateDept Sends Official Take Down Request For April Fools’ Day Cable. Apparently, the April Fools’ cable “hit a nerve” somewhere in Foggy Bottom. Let’s just pause here for a minute. “Very” senior folks at the State Department put somebody to work on a Saturday afternoon, paid him overtime/comptime to get him to tell an aging blogger to take down an April Fools’ Day blogpost.
Holymoly macaroni! And no one thought this was a waste of taxpayers’ money?
This is the same State Department that in April 2016 celebrated its fifth annual “Free the Press” campaign to mark the importance of a free and independent media in the days leading up to World Press Freedom Day. For five years of the campaign, the Department highlighted journalists and media outlets, including bloggers who were censored, attacked, threatened, intimidated, imprisoned, or otherwise oppressed around the world. The State Department spokesperson called on governments to protect the right to freedom of expression; and emphasize the United States own commitment to promoting freedom of expression here in the United States and around the world.
Fast forward to April 2017 and the 7th Floor somebodies ordered Public Affairs to have me pull down an April Fools’ Day blogpost. Free the Press my foot! What are they going to do next, complain that the blog is “disturbing the peace” or that I’m “blogging without a permit?”
Them folks over there don’t even have people to do the Daily Press Briefing, but they have people during the weekend to try and intimidate a blogger? Over a blogpost about reused paper towels and weekly flushes. Secretary Tillerson’s advisers have some rather misplaced priorities. If they keep at this, it won’t be long before their poor judgment would soon rubbed fully on the secretary’s leadership and management of the oldest federal agency in the union. Wait, that’s already happening?
Here’s a tip for Foggy Bottom newbies: I do not, I repeat, I do not work for the Secretary of State, the State Department, USAID, BBG, or any of the federal alphabet soup. Diplopundit is a private blog. I am conducting public discourse as a private citizen. I do not get promotions, I do not have paid vacations, I just sit on the wall and watch.
Anyway, Yogi said that when you come to a fork in the road, you should take it. So I did. I don’t know yet what I’ll do for funding the blog, but I know I don’t like being bullied. Hey, I’m the watcher on the wall; maybe frazzled for now, and blogging maybe a tad sporadic for a bit — but here to stay, folks.
I’ll be on the road for the next few weeks so I plan on updating the blog about three times a week for the time being. I expect to be connected online while on travel. I will continue to be reachable via this blog and via email and will respond to tips and emails as soon as I’m able.
Be well, besties. I’m still only a mouse click away — D
Posted: 1:38 am EDT
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Our fundraising effort to keep the blog running for another 12 months is entering its 5th week (Go Diplopundit 2016). We’ve reached the halfway mark on February 10 but have so far raised 38% of the funding goal. There are still four weeks to go so we are cautiously optimistic but also realistic. We have more readers than ever before but the donation/ad revenue hybrid to fund the blog is difficult to sustain.
Last year was a gift that extended the blog’s presence for 12 months. We could still get funded (or win the lottery, hey :-)) but this year could also be an already familiar story from the past.
In any case, we will see GFM II through until March 10. This is the year when we’re going to just let the river run as the song goes. You know best whether our work is of value to you or not. If it is, and if your circumstances allow it, we could use your help to carry on for another year. Thanks!
One of our donors recently wrote to say that we are performing “an invaluable service” but that as a former FSO, our blogposts have often left him dismayed.
We wrote to thank him for his support and apologize that we have often been the bearer of not so happy news. We like to think of this as a mission to keeping it real.
For those who’ve been with us for quite a bit, it is no secret that we write about the good, the bad and the ugly. So why do we write/publish stuff that you can’t read in the official or trade publications?
- US Mission Mexico: First Person from a Border Post
- State Dept’s Bureau of Neglected Disease – Dengue+Encephalitis, What Help Is There?
- State Dept Releases New 3 FAM 4170 aka: The “Stop The Next Peter Van Buren” Regulation
- Is State/OBO’s Intense Focus on Design Excellence Driving Engineering Employees Away?
- 2014 Foreign Service Promotion Results By Gender & Race Still Behind the Great Firewall of State
- False 360 Feedback Input in a Denial of Tenure Case Makes It to the Grievance Board
There’s a good reason for that.
Real life is not like the glossy pages of an in-house magazine. If the American public only reads about the successes and the fun stuff, it will have a skewed view about what still remains a misunderstood institution. And when we only hear the happy talk, well, it disrupts the order of the universe. As they say, if the pendulum swings one way, it must always swing back the other way. In monitoring the worldwide available universe, we see yin and yang, the oscillations, the back and forth swings of life.
So we are on a mission on looking at life, the way it is, without goggles and often times with loose ends, with questions but no answers. It’s not for every one; some folks may not necessarily want to read what we write, but it’s a free country, we’re fine with that.
We’re the last stop in this corner, come by for a chat, hang around, poke us to help us do better, and we’ll try not to bore you to tears.
A quick GFM II update — we’ve reached the 3rd week mark today with $9,461 of $34k or 28% of our set goal. We still have 5 weeks to go and the highs and lows are to be expected. We’ll see where we are when we reach the halfway mark at the end of next week.
Thanks for sticking with us! — D
We’re at GFM Go Diplopundit until March 10, 2016.