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“Post something, already…”
December 18, 2003 — 2:42 am

So requested the other Shrubblogger a couple of days ago. I think of things to post all the time, but I never get around to writing them — or even just linking to them. It seems like a cliché to say I’ve been busy lately, but it’s true. A full-time job with an increasingly demanding freelance gig on the side; dealing with a broken-down car and buying a new one, getting a new copy of my birth certificate FedExed to me so I can get a Virginia driver’s license so I can get my new car registered in Virginia; spending more time than I have in recent memory (barely) exercising and acquiring and preparing food now that I’m well into an Atkins diet and can’t depend on cheap & easy Chipotle burritos any more; just getting miscellaneous crap done before my 10-day sojourn in Portland, OR . . .

But it’s still a cop-out. Pretty much everyone is busy, but they still manage to update their blogs. After all, I’ve watched six movies since Friday night (not that you’d know it by my lists over to the right — all of which are hopelessly out of date). Are the movies really more important to me than the blog? I guess so — revealed preference and all. But I will endeavor to reveal a tweaked set of preferences in the future.

So, what to post about? Current events? Yawn. No, thanks. Movie reviews? Too time-consuming. The game of Microsoft Hearts I played a few days ago in which all the final scores were multiples of 11? Sure. The scores came out to 22 (mine), 55, 88 and 121. I once won a game of Hearts with zero points as a final score; I also won once with 99 points — shooting the moon on the last hand.

What else? A few weeks ago, influential libertarian blogger Jim Henley (if we keep repeating it, it will stick — remember Howard Stern, king of all media) said “phooey” to term limits, augmenting his distaste with a longer entry (the permalink is screwy; you may have to scroll down a few pages) over at Liberty & Power. I’ve been meaning to respond to this myself, even though my colleague Paul Jacob released a response of sorts first. Jim’s criticisms, though wrongheaded, deserve more consideration than we can fit into a two-minute radio spot.

That letter over to the left, incidentally, would have been written in April 1990, most likely mailed on either Tuesday the 17th or Tuesday the 24th. The “big day” was senior prom, and I don’t recall whether it took place on the third or fourth Friday of that month (I’m guessing the fourth). The one girl I wanted to go with said she would be out of town . . . so I decided to go out of town, too, driving with my dad from Portland, OR, to Provo, UT, to pick up my brother from his first year at BYU. I missed an entire week of school, and while I was gone I heard that my would-be date would be, in fact, in town. She ended up going to the prom with someone else and I ended up crossing three states in a minivan with my dad, my brother and lots of luggage.

I’ve never written much about spam because it’s never really bothered me. It’s a little annoying, but even though I get well over 200 spam emails per day it just doesn’t rile me. Every time I download my mail I spend a few seconds deleting the spam and it’s gone. I’ve never even bothered with a filter. So why go out of my way to write about a benign minor annoyance? How do you find a good angle on writing about something like that? (Tim) Wirkman Virkkala has done it for me. An excerpt:

Now, I know — it would be easier if all we ever got in life was precisely what we wanted, and nothing else. In such a world, we would never have to engage in sorting, filing, destroying, massaging, etc. All data would be provided to us with precision, perfectly matching our evolving desires.

Utopia! We do not live in such a dreamed-of state when we drive to work, watch TV, or talk to colleagues around the water cooler — or fend off neighbors at the local store. Much of what reaches our senses, and takes up our time, is stuff that we don’t find all that interesting. And so we devise strategies for dealing with unwanted advertisements and coffee-cooler bores. We cultivate sophisticated manners. We engage in strategies to avoid the uninteresting conversationalists; and we position ourselves to gain better access to the fascinating sources of entertainment and information. It all takes time. It does take up some of our precious attention. It’s something we have to live with.

And it is not something we can control well, ahead of time. If everyone were to cull unwanted data before it hit them, they would learn almost nothing. And those people who are most successful at suppressing unwanted data? There’s a word for them. They are called bigots.

I’ve pointed to J-Walk Blog links recently; should I add more? Mr. Walkenbach points us to some great celebrity detouching doctored photos, reveals the source inspiration for the cover of Frank Zappa’s excellent Weasels Ripped My Flesh album, and quotes the lamest blog advice I’ve ever seen: “[F]or the love of God, do not write about yourself. . . . Pick a real subject or series of subjects and stick to it — if you have to use the word ‘I’ more than once a week, you are doing something very, very wrong.” If all blogs followed that advice, I’d stop reading them almost entirely.

OK, I guess this all amounts to “something”. More to come, sooner or later.

— Eric D. DixonComments (0)

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Eric D. Dixon

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