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If you never read it, consider this your last chance: "The Plank," the New Republic's staff water-cooler blog, is shuttering. Editor Franklin Foer inscribes the obituary, tracing its history as a group blog for TNR editors, to the spawning of TNR's niche blogs on the environment, health care and the economy.

To a large extent, the idea of a group blog ceased to make sense, what with the group so dispersed. So, we've decided to tenderly retire the Plank and complete the renovation of our website that began organically.

Having given birth to more specialized sites, he says The Plank has outlived its purpose as a generalist's grab-bag. (For a sense of the scattershot interests of the site, see recent posts on George Orwell's birthplace in India, John Yoo's thoughts on Berkeley communists, and 2009's best fiction.)

But at its close, the site is giving birth to one more blog--a solo site of Senior Editor and liberal swami Jonathan Chait, who sardonically announced his new site here, stating its subject matter will include "the unending supply of ignorance and venality that makes our public discourse and political system so amusingly dysfunctional."

Is TNR's shift toward the specialized wise?

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