Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
I Know Why It Looks Like This
I think I just figured out why the New York Times stock price has been doing what it’s been doing. (Thanks for the graphic, Bullwinkle Blog!)
Yeah yeah, you don’t care what my thoughts are on the New York Times stock price, and why it’s been doing what it’s been doing. Well, in a round-a-bout way, that’s kind of the point I wish to make.
Maureen Dowd writes in “The Incredible Lightness of George W. Bush”,
The open-microphone incident at the G-8 lunch in St. Petersburg on Monday illustrated once more that W. never made any effort to adapt. The president has enshrined his immaturity and insularity, turning every environment he inhabits � no matter how decorous or serious � into a comfortable frat house.
No matter what the trappings or the ceremonies require of the leader of the free world, he brings the same DKE bearing and cadences, the same insouciance and smart-alecky attitude, the same simplistic approach � swearing, swaggering, talking to Tony Blair with his mouth full of buttered roll, and giving a startled Angela Merkel an impromptu shoulder rub. He can make even a global summit meeting seem like a kegger.
Catching W. off-guard, the really weird thing is his sense of victimization. He�s strangely resentful about the actual core of his job. Even after the debacles of Iraq and Katrina, he continues to treat the presidency as a colossal interference with his desire to mountain bike and clear brush.
In snippets of overheard conversation, Mr. Bush says he has not bothered to prepare any closing remarks and grouses about having to listen to other world leaders talk too long. What did he think being president was about?
The world may be blowing up, and the president may have a rare opportunity to jaw-jaw about bang-bang with his peers, but that pales in comparison with his burning desire to return to his feather pillow and gym back at the White House.
And that’s really the point I want to make. The New York Times has a lot of stuff in it, including Dowd’s opinion. Some of it I can read online for nothing, some of it I can register to read, but for which I am still not expected to pay any money. The opinion of Maureen Dowd, oh, that right there is the Mother’s Milk. That right there is the Keys to the Kingdom. I must pay for this one, and if I’m not willing to pay for it, I shouldn’t have it. That other stuff, I can have for the asking.
Good logic? Well, let’s look into it.
What kinds of things do we call “news”? What, exactly, am I selling to you when I print up a newspaper, and you buy it? Let’s see…President Bush may have brokered some important deals at the G-8 summit, and then he might have rubbed Chancellor Merkel’s back and gotten that hilarious reaction out of her (which unbelievably, I’m told, some people have not actually seen so here is your link). Anyway, I could tell you about the deals to which President Bush agreed, or I could tell you about the Merkel incident, or I could tell you about both. If I choose to tell you about both, I put the deals in one section of my paper and the backrub in a wholly different section of my paper. Or not. In making that decision, I use the very best judgment I can muster. This is the job of the editor, and it is one of anticipating what it is you are going to want. It is an objective of “superior mediocrity”; there is no standard for excellence in what I’m doing, only adequacy. What I’m endeavoring to do, is avoid the catastrophe of you buying my paper, reading it, and then being told elsewhere about something you would like to know, and learning about it for the first time even though you bought my paper.
This is why newspaper editors aren’t very happy people, I think. There really is no way to be an excellent newspaper editor. The very best newspaper editor, out of all of ‘em, is going to be the best because he makes the decisions most generally expected of him; if he wants to be better than some other editor, he has to wait for that other editor to make an anomalous decision, and then make the equivalent decision himself without the anomaly. There is no other way to compete. It is a profession of superior adherence to orthodoxy, a profession of non-deviance. Non-deviance, from a standard that isn’t actually defined anywhere.
But my objective is to define why the New York Times stock price is slipping, not why newspaper editors in general are unhappy.
So I may deliver to you, some facts, and I may categorize those facts in such a way that you, a reader endeavoring to learn certain things, may easily find them. This is valuable. But it is on a downslide, because if you don’t learn about the Merkel Massage from my paper, you may learn about it from a zillion other places. Now, if it’s two centuries ago and you and I are both travelling on foot, in opposite directions, and meet up — now we’re having a different conversation. I know something you don’t know, and within minutes we’re exchanging precious things. We will alter our travel schedules for it by setting up that night’s camp on that spot, and probably form a lifetime companionship. Life goes on, however, and in 2006 news isn’t quite that valuable anymore; at least, news from a particular source is not that valuable anymore.
Okay, next. I may form an opinion about the state of affairs, from the news. And therein lies my critique. The New York Times appears to be run as a kingdom, like any other printed newspaper; a kingdom in which those who gather the facts, may ascend to the rank of mere knights, whereas those who form opinions from the facts, soar to the highest levels of nobility. Bush is a frat boy. Bush is anti-intellectual. Bush does not take his job seriously.
These all may be true, but here in real-life-land, they’d still be relatively worthless. I’m sure the hardcore left-wing moonbats would have to agree with me about that. Fresh off their latest gut-chuckle from watching the Merkel-backrub video yet again, propositioned to sacrifice their opportunity to have learned about the clip in exchange for simply getting Maureen Dowd’s take on it second-hand, there’d be few takers.
Yet The Times acts as if Maureen Dowd’s personal opinion is the premium product amongst their offerings. If the New York Times is a watch shop, this is the thing that goes in the lockable cabinet, which you may not inspect until you ask for the help of the staff.
And then there is the point of Dowd’s column. One of those shining, jeweled opinions about the state of affairs, that isn’t even an opinion about the state of affairs. It’s yet another European-style opinion, encrusted with that wonderful lodestone, the word “should.” The opinion about what other people should do. The opinion of what Maureen Dowd would be doing if she were President, which she is not.
If the Dowd product is the creme de la creme from the New York Times catalog, said lodestone is the creme de la creme within that product. In real life, this is the most ordinary out of the ordinary.
This is worth even less than the inference drawn about the state of affairs. This is exactly like the beverage order of the person in line behind you at your local Starbuck’s. To a consumer of the New York Times, this is simply a personal preference, formed by a person who is not him. Nothing more.
My own FAQ addresses this in attempting to answer the question I get most often, “Why do you call yourself ‘The Blog That Nobody Reads’?”
Humility: I have a blog. That doesn’t make me more correct about things, or even for that matter smarter, than someone who doesn’t have a blog, or even someone who’s never heard of a “blog.” My blog started out as a way to make notes on things, and record hyperlinks supporting those notes, on the web where I could get to the information from any location. It was never really even designed, as a primary objective, to be read. People are reading my blog now. I notice other people, who are watched by lots and lots of people and know they’re being watched by lots and lots of people, gradually swing around to the supposition that they are smart because of this, and therefore don’t need to research the opinions they have. Hey, look at all the people watching me, I must be right. I don’t want to fall into that trap.
This is reason #1, out of many. Anyway, Maureen Dowd, it would appear, has fallen into that trap. Along with her employer.
Now all of the above, you might say, is just a windy rant about how I shouldn’t be forced to purchase a Times Select subscription just to get Maureen Dowd’s opinion. But my personal opinion about what the Times should do, is worth nothing more than Dowd’s opinion about what the President should do. What might be worth just a little bit more to the nobodies who come by to read my blog, I suspect, could be the connection I make between this and the steady trend of increasing alienation between the Times, and the people who read it. This still isn’t worth much, because I’m not the first person to notice it. And of course, there’s always that troubling possibility that I’m completely wrong.
But it’s an accurate reflection of what I, myself, am after when I crack open a newspaper. And I suspect I’m not alone. Stuff that happened, I’d like to know, and I’d like to know early on. What I’m to think about what happened, you know what? I can figure that out for myself thank you very much.
That’s life. But fortunately for the nobility of the newspaper empires, such as Duchess Dowd, real life is not reflected within their kingdoms. The nobility, therein, manage to pull in much bigger paychecks, and I suspect claim much better parking spaces, than the knights who figure out what’s actually happening, and thus offer a substantially more valuable product. The Kingdom is supposed to be plugged in to what “everybody” is thinking, but if it were, the knights would be enjoying positions of prestige and power, while the nobility would clean up after their horses. But the walls are up, and the cloistered court is in place. If the nobility manages to appreciate this, I have doubts about their gratitude being shared by the New York Times stockholders.
Update: The left-wing website Common Dreams gets ahold of an editorial in a paper from my old stomping grounds, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which in turn tries to draw a parallel between the Merkel thing and that other deal where President Clinton received sexual favors from a much-younger female subordinate, while on the phone to members of Congress about troop deployments to Bosnia, and coached his secretary to tell investigators “we were never alone, right?” And perjury before the grand jury, perjury in the Paula Jones civil suit, obstruction of justice, and abuse of power. The editorial also makes an argument that our current President’s behavior constitutes sexual harrassment according to some busybody United Nations rulebook. Draw your own conclusions.
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