Monday, April 15, 2002x
posted by Mike 2:55 PM
Monday, April 08, 2002WORDS
Words are the bricks and mortar with which we build our sites. The key thing about people who like to write is, that they like to
write. If Hougton-Mifflin won't buy their work, and the New Yorker won't print it, that's OK - they'll write anyway, and put it up on
this, the world's biggest town square bulletin board.
As in all human endeavors, some are better than others. In this corner, I'll try to point out what I think is "good writing". This is partly
a subjective issue - there's no one standard of "good writing", at least not as far as the words themselves, taken individually, like links
on a chain.
What sets good writing apart from the rest, is the expression of ideas, the construction and layout of a good, convincing argument, the
marshalling of facts to support a stance. When good ideas are handicapped by bad grammar and spelling, there's a problem. Readers
have to trip over debris to get at the ideas.
MINING FOR GOLD
There may be a count of active blogs; I'd guess somewhere around 100,000. A Google search for "blog" shows 823,000; "weblog",
992,000. MIT's Blogdex, shows 14,241 sites and 1,092,797 links. (In proofreading, a day later, the Google "blog" count went up to
859,000; 'weblog", to 1,050,000. I'll check back in a week.)
Probably not more than a handful of us read all of them. There's probably a parallel between blogs and specialty-interest magazines.
The last time I looked, there were about 10,000 specialty-interest magazines, most with small circulations and dedicated readers.
Many great bloggers go for months with fewer than 1000 readers. More than once or twice recently, I've read bloggers write,
"Wow! Where did all those hits come from?". In at least one case, he followed up and found out: The Tipping Blog.
There seems to be a dozen or so people now whose blogs have attracted significant attention (and that number is most likely off by a
factor of 10 or so (which isn't at all bad in cosmology)). You know who you are; you know who they are. I'll put in links, and I'll tell
why I think they're good writers. (I don't want people to get the idea that I'm linking to good sites so I can bask in their sunshine, and
pull in a few links myself.) If I don't mention your site, it's just because I haven't seen it yet, or haven't read enough to make a call.
(As if anybody would be depressed if this uppity newcomer didn't gush over their site.)
Some, like Andrew Sullivan and John Derbyshire, are working journalists whose business - and life - is writing. Others, like
asparagirl and The Last Page work in other fields. (IT seems to be a good source of bloggers.) But they all write, most because they
want to, a few because they're driven to.
My first example of "good writing" comes from John Derbyshire. This appeared in his NRO review of The Time Machine:
The best reason to watch this latest version of The Time Machine is 19-year-old Zambian-Irish (no kidding) pop-tart
Samantha Mumba, who is exceptionally easy on the eye.
I like that one because in an imaginative use of a single word, a single image (pop-tart: breakfast-food concoction by Kellogg,
designed to be popped out of a toaster, from "tart: n. A pastry shell with shallow sides, no top crust, and any of various fillings"), he
categorizes a popular female singer/actress. (I'm certain Ms Mumba would not be amused by that label, but it is the sort of thing that
goes with the territory.) At least, JD doesn't stoop to the despicable levels of Chrstopher Hitchens - the Oscar Wilde-turned-Darth
posted by Mike 3:04 PM
Wednesday, March 06, 2002Since the term "illegal alien" has been replaced by "undocumented worker", I don't think we should stop there. Let's keep going, and make these substitutions:
"thief" or "robber" will be "undocumented property transfer agent"
"car thief" will be "undocumented automobile repossessor"
"murderer" will be "undocumented mortician".
posted by Mike 9:24 PM
Reported in today's WSJ. It's not online; here's a summary.
After Mad-Cow Scare, German Pigs, Farmers 'Enjoy' More Quality Time
The government of North Rhine-Westphalia is trying to counter the mad-cow scare. They figure that farmers can improve the quality of their pork by improving their quality of life.
In typical German fashion, they proclaimed a decree (not just a guideline)which says, in part:
Needless to say, the farmers are Not Amused.
Later on in the story we see the source of this Great Plan:
Gotta watch out for those Social Democrats.
At a state-sponsored agricultural center, one engineer seems to have a faint grip on reality:
posted by Mike 10:49 AM
Tuesday, March 05, 2002Election day in CA. More later.
posted by Mike 10:26 PM
First post. "Hello, World!"
posted by Mike 10:03 PM