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...
Welcome to my humble blog. The FAQ will answer any questions that you…well actually, on this point I can’t make any sort of promise. The FAQ answers what it wants to answer and then it comes to an abrupt stop, without apology. What an impudent little FAQ. But nonetheless, if you’re wondering where you are and would rather spend a minute or two trying to find out, than navigating away with a simple mouse-click — the FAQ is the place to go.
This is The Blog That Nobody Reads. When it started, that was really true; now, it has something of a following, which is divided right down the middle. A large bulk of the audience thinks that’s a stupid catchphrase and urges me to drop it post haste, and the remainder finds it titillating. The consensus among them is they wish they had thought of it first. As if they were collaborating behind the scenes somewhere, they have all chosen to honor some strange virtual trademark thought to be registered to myself. Well…okay. The blogosphere, or some tiny portion of it, chooses to think of it as my brainchild. My intellectual property. Well, I think of myself as undeserving. I’m honored.
It’s not a tidbit of self-depcrecating humor; “The Blog That Nobody Reads” reflects intent, or to be more precise, lack of intent. We aren’t attention whores here. There is good reason why we are not. It hasn’t escaped our notice over the past several years, that some of the doctrines of belief most assured to draw attention to those who hold them, like moths to flame, are the ones that are wombat-rabies bollywonkers crazy. Silly, paranoid things. Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction and was completely harmless. President Bush knew that planes were about to be crashed into the World Trade Center and did nothing about it. There is no terrorist threat. Fire never melted steel before September 11, 2001. Violence is a direct and predictable result of poverty and hunger. Maybe you’ve heard this one lately: The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, the middle class gets “squeezed out.”
You know. Stupid, self-delusional crap, upon which no sane man would gamble anything important to him, under any circumstances. Forget his own testicles. Forget his limbs. Forget his children. Think of…the steam off his own excrement. Think of pocket lint. Ideas that aren’t even worth that. This is the nonsense under which people place their virtual signatures, when they whore for attention on the World Wide Web.
This is not just humorous and harmless. It ias actually terribly dangerous. You say crap to get attention — much sooner than you think it could possibly happen, the crap gets much, much crappier. And you start to believe it yourself.
We prefer to win that game by refusing to play. We say stuff, here, that makes sense. Stuff we believe. Stuff on which we would place bets.
And to ensure we remain firmly entrenched in that mode, we loudly announce — and celebrate — our complete apathy as to whether anybody is paying attention.
That is why we are The Blog That Nobody Reads.
It should be obvious by now, we do not mean this as a slight toward the people who do bother to read. We are grateful to all of them, and most especially, to our regulars whom we consider to be close friends. If there is a purpose to blogging, we consider this to be it: Making friends. Phil. Duffy. Good Lieutenant. The Bartender. Karol. Misha. Alan. Jeff. Rick. David. Daniel. John D. Infidel. “aup”. Most of these folks have me “blogrolled” or “sidebar’d” as something like “must-read” or “daily-read” or “better than the average blog” or some such. I wonder if they understand what a jaw-dropping and heartstopping compliment this is; words, as the saying goes, fail to express. And then there are the folks getting some kind of group-collaboration project off the ground, making me some unofficial “staff” type person. James. Mike. John Rambo. And, although he is much more a hero to me than any kind of real peer — Gerard, who in my eyes is some sort of living legend. If you were to thaw out a literary giant from the eighteenth century, and somehow coerce him into teaching you how to write, you’d have to adjust the advice to fit the twenty-first century. Gerard is here, now, for free, for the benefit of anyone who chooses to pay attention. He talks, I stop what I’m doing and I listen. To me, Gerard Van der Leun didn’t just hang the moon, he built it out of his own two hands and then he took up a great big machete and hacked out a place to put it. He doesn’t need to acknowledge me, I consider it an honor for which I’d pay richly, just to read his stuff.
And then…then, there is Buck.
Buck Pennington is an interesting case. His personality seems to have a lot in common with mine, except he’s an older retired fellow, with a military background, and interests in things that have not yet captured my attention, like photography. I see him as a true “peer,” sharing both my strengths and my weaknesses. I’ll leave that unexplored, since to graphically explore Mr. Pennington’s weaknesses seems to be an example of rudeness he does not deserve, nevermind that I share them; and to inventory our strengths, strikes me as a failure of modesty on my part. Suffice to say he matches me item for item in both columns. He’s always impressed me as an older “carbon copy,” like if I were to travel forward in time and visit myself, I should not be surprised to find something eerily close to him. But more to the point, his blog has become an interesting place to visit for anyone, whether you’re trading links with him or not. He’s nurtured a very pleasing balance between personal anecdotes, and unique viewpoints on the very latest news. I’ve watched his site slowly evolve into a place where I genuinely look forward to giving him a hit, without a thought about his Sitemeter traffic, just to find out what’s going on over there. If I don’t get around to it, the day is missing something. This is a real accomplishment in Bloggerland — the very highest. And I get the impression he’s doing all this without trying.
Buck has asked a question I think is interesting, and I hope a large number of bloggers take the trouble to try to answer it. The question is: How do you blog?
What if one percent of the blogosphere sat down and provided a thorough, honest answer? What if we had blogs a hundred years ago, and such an event took place? What an amazing book that would be. Think about it. HOw many episodes of “American Idol” would you sacrifice just to thumb through such a book, for thirty seconds or so?
What a fascinating book that would be.
Let me repeat. What a fascinating book. Here we are, and we have the chance to write such a thing. To write it. How lucky we are. What have you got going on, that truly deserves postponing such a thing, for even a minute. Really. Is it some sense of modesty? Surely you must understand, this doesn’t count. If you are a blogger, right now, in 2007, you are toiling away in the eye of a tempest that is sure to change the world. You think future generations care nothing about the thoughts between your left ear and your right one. Why do you think such a thing? What would you give to read what a person such as you, thought about things like this, a century ago?
You are — we all are — worth a great deal more than you think. It won’t hurt anything to take the time to jot things down.
So here’s my take.
To me, it starts with a vision. I write for a blog read by, in theory, nobody. So I’m not going to whore out my ideas, saying outlandish things just to get someone to write me up so I can appear in People Magazine. No, I’m just going to jot down my ideas. My reactions. Something happened, or someone said something about something that happened. I have a reaction, and I’m going to jot it down.
At this point, I should scribble down an example. I’ve got a great one in mind.
Barbra Streisand says we should all do our part to fight global warming by hanging up our laundry to dry in the breeze. I think she’s nuts. If I jot down that and nothing more, what I’m jotting down is simply…a vote. Some of us think Barbra Streisand is a real American icon, others of us think she’s a wonderful entertainer but her opinions aren’t worth squat. Still others of us can’t understand how she ever got to be famous in the first place. And others think she’s a craven hypocrite. I don’t think it does anyone any good to simply pick something out of that list, jot some words down around it, and move on. That would be silly. Other folks would agree, others would disagree…what’s the point? Someone coming along to tabulate everything? No, nobody’s doing any such thing.
So if there’s a purpose involved in reacting to Barbra’s statement, the purpose would have to do with exchanging ideas. First thought in my head is, is Barbra hanging up her own clothes. And if she isn’t, she’s a hypocrite. Okay, if I put that on the Internet, folks come by and read it. If they disagree, they have my e-mail address. That’s useful — perhaps there’s another angle to this, and I’ve neglected to consider it. Clearly, it’s far more productive, and a better discipline, to put my ideas out there where they can be seen by others, than to stew in my juices and just nurse vindictive feelings against some spoiled Hollywood starlet.
But a lot of the disagreement about Ms. Streisand has to do with values. If you think she’s a hypocrite, it’s unlikely a new piece of information can change your mind…and the same goes for the folks who think Streisand is some kind of modern-day Messiah. To them, she can say whatever she wants, get busted doing whatever she will…and her star will never lose any luster. It all has to do with personal values.
Which means if someone comes along, reads my stuff, and says “Right on!” — maybe they share some of my values. Maybe not. But they probably do. And if they take the time to write, then this is the beginning of what’s called a friendship. At least, most of the time.
Values are big with me. There are some folks who don’t share mine, there are others who do. I don’t think I’m in the minority quite yet. I don’t think my side is even headed there. Or maybe my side really is an underdog and I don’t know. Either way, I will say this — I do think people who have my values, need to stick together. Anybody who shares ’em, I’d like to know about them.
But I don’t have just moral values; I have intellectual values too. I think information should be handled a certain way. I think people who think and talk about what they think, have obligations to keep track of what they know and what they don’t. “Barbra Streisand is the worst sort of hypocrite” — of course I’m perfectly entitled to think that. I’m perfectly entitled to have that viewpoint without basing it on any facts. But at the same time, that would be wrong. If I think the lady is a hypocrite, I should say why. Or, at the very least, I ought to know. A real man thinks things, and he knows why he thinks the things he thinks. It’s as simple as that.
And so — pretty much just for the heck of it, you might say — I jot down what I think, and why I think the things I think. Most of the time I can’t prove the things that help me decide the things I think…most of the time, they are things I’ve been forced to conclude, based on what’s likely and what’s not likely. Proof is a luxury I don’t have. Life, you will find, is almost always like that. I would venture to say that over the last five years, we have seen this bite our own current President square in the ass. Sometimes, you don’t know a thing is so, but at the same time you don’t know it is not so. Sometimes — a lot of the time — a thing may very well be true and at the same time, it might not be true. And you are required to act on faith…and the best judgment you can muster. You are required to, in effect, gamble, whether you’ve a fancy for gambling or not.
I submit that this is what being a grown-up is all about. Doing what you want…or doing something in response to what you want to have going on, as opposed to what the evidence says is really going on…this is the domain of children. Grown-ups take in evidence, figure out what it means, and find a way to make the most of it, or to minimize the damage.
And so when I blog, all I’m really doing is opening up the hood on my grown-up engine, showing the workings as it spins away. What do I know? What do I not know? Based on what I know and what I do not know, what do I think about what is going on? And…based on what I think is going on, what do I want to do?
And this is why the blog is called House of Eratosthenes. This is why the logo of the site resembles a crude pictogram resembling a water well, with the midday sun shining through it all the way to the bottom. You see evidence of something — based on this, you devise an experiment, and you gather data from that experiment. Based on that data, you figure out what is going on. Eratosthenes himself did this, and figured out not only that the world was round, but exactly how round it was. With pinpoint accuracy, relatively speaking. That is what we try to do here. That is why we call ourselves House of Eratosthenes.
So when we blog here, we look through something…usually, although not always, the headlines in the news. Based on what is going on in the news, we form an argument. Not just the rustic definition of the word “argument,” but a composite thing that includes all of the vital elements. There are three such elements and here in The Blog That Nobody Reads, we call them the Vitals. We call them the First Triad of the nine Pillars of Persuasion, and you can follow the links to the glossary if you care to figure out what exactly they are.
Now, a lot of the time the navigation through the three pillars in the vitals, should be self-explanatory. That happens pretty frequently. In that case my own ramblings are decidedly second-rate on a scale of importance. In which case I say something like “Meh,” with a link to the story that I think is important. Posts like those are pretty short. I think of these kinds of posts as the very latest in bookmarking technology, and believe me since the Internet has come to be what it is, I’ve tried everything. I have recorded Internet addresses in text files. In Microsoft Word files. In Internet Explorer bookmarks. In Palm Pilot databases. They are all…each and every one of them…just like pieces of precious driftwood that I spot, as I float on down the river that is cyberspace, in some virtual canoe. If the driftwood is worth something, I must haul it aboard, or at the very least capture the place where I spotted it.
I think it’s fair to say at this point — no device, save for the humble blog, has worked out for me.
I create a post that says “Look at what this asshole said,” or “Pffft,” or “Geez!” or — something that has an amazing essay written around it. And from that day forward, I have it. Years later, I may look for it…and, one way or another, I’m going to find it. I can’t honestly say that about the text files or the Word files or the Palm Pilot database records.
Mmmmkay, there we have another reasons why we are The Blog That Nobody Reads. If nobody reads us, we still have a purpose. Through blogging, we manage to remember things…things we’ve not managed to remember any other way. Not long-term.
But that is how we record bookmarks. Sometimes…the post you’re reading now, case-in-point…we opine at great length. Tediously. I have been instructed to believe this has no value to anyone, anywhere, at any time. And yet I can’t help noticing — when people “grab” my stuff, give me credit for it, post it someplace where it receives significant attention — some might say an amazing, spellbinding level of attention — they don’t grab the nibbles. They don’t grab the tidbits. They grab the monster essays.
Buck wants to know how I, or rather we, blog. I am going to have to assume he’s asking about the monster essays. Nobody has anything good to say about my monster essays, but that is what people capture. That is what they link.
How does the House of Eratosthenes…The Blog That Nobody Reads…put together a Godzilla-sized essay. Actually, it takes no effort at all. I wish it did.
Good manners dictate that I skip over the first third of it. I have my baggage from the past; my inner demons. Little bits of myself, that aren’t completely at peace with other bits of myself…we should leave it at that. Lying in a peaceful slumber in the middle of the night, intertwined with the body of a woman who is far too good for me but who nonetheless spends her time in my company, now and then I become conscious of the demons churning away. Ghosts of persons no longer with us, some of whom I knew intimately, some of whom were mere strangers, all of whom I should have treated better than I did, and are now gone forever. Like Scrooge, I rise in the middle of the night and I’m unable to lie still. And eventually I stumble out of bed, my body weary but my mind on fire.
Perhaps the dead are visiting me in my dreams, and I can’t remember. But it is two in the morning, and a gorgeous naked woman is slumbering in the next room, richly deserving of my embrace until the eastern horizon turns orange. She deserves this, and I long to give it to her, but on occasion I cannot. Simply put, it is a case of insomnia. A bad one. I don’t like it. I’m trying to make a life with someone, who is ready to make a sacrifice I cannot match. I think she understands this, and I think she is hoping one day I will be able to do what I currently cannot. Tomorrow is another day. For now, I am wide awake, and it is two in the morning…
This is how I write. There is the matter of tools I use. There’s an awful lot of stuff going on in the world, and not a day passes by where something important hasn’t clicked, somewhere, or at least someone really important has said something revealing. We have people who track that stuff, and it’s a full-time job. Granted, the fact that collectively they end up doing it very badly, is what gives the humble blog a purpose. But the fact remains. It is a full-time job. I don’t have time for it all.
So I have to find a way to filter through it, making sure I don’t pluck out a few little dirt clods out of the pile and leaving the gold nuggets untouched. So I have a “big queue” and a “little queue,” the latter being a filtration of the former. You get to read the more elite, pristine one. The larger queue is the rough, unfinished stuff, the things I have time to scribble down just a one- or two-liner about, and consider at a later time for “publication.” This one is for my eyes only.
It must follow me wherever I go, so I use Google Documents for that. This has turned out to be a very helpful tool. The docs are web-based, they follow me around wherever I am, and they auto-save. So I have a large text document that is my scroll. Something interesting happens, I jot down a line about what it is, and save the link. Then I move on. This has been a life-saver, literally; it allows me to have a life.
How do I type in the stuff? There is a fellow at work named James whom I could most accurately describe as a grown-up hippie. Like me, he is a programmer. One day in the break room, he caught me and happened to make mention of this program called ConText. I’m using it to write this now; it is not a word processor, it is a programmer’s editor. You can get it here.
I start with the word wrap turned off. That way, every odd-numbered line is a paragraph, nevermind how long the paragraphs are. I write, and I write, and I write some more. YOu know the funny part of it? After I’m done writing, it’s like the blood rushes into a wholly different part of my brain lobes, from what was throbbing away while I was doing the writing. It’s as if I drifted off into a deep sleep, and Rumplestiltskin himself broken in and typed a bunch of crap, leaping out the window just as I woke up again. I swear, sometimes I’ll be reading my own stuff half-an-hour after I wrote it, and I’ll bust out laughing at a joke as if someone else wrote it. I honestly don’t understand it. It’s like some rejuvenated spirit of a long-dead ancient warrior took over my body and actually did the writing, while I did some more dozing.
And then, I hit Shift+Control+W to turn word wrap back on, and see the article the way my readers will see it. I add the links in. And then I add the pictures in. The pictures are no big deal, they’re hosted through ImageShack — and then they’re imposed over the text through simple HTML 3.0 commands. That’s it.
You see, there really isn’t much more to it than that. I’m just some guy who writes stuff, who knows what he knows and knows why it is that he knows it. Zoning out, as if he were strung out on acid or something. But not. Just rattling away on his girlfriend’s wireless keyboard, buck-ass naked, while she slumbers away buck-ass naked in a warm bed where my buck-ass naked body should be. And will be, at about three-o’clock. But for now, it’s only one-thirty. It’ll be light outside in a few hours, and the mad dash will be on to drag my ass into work in a frantic dog-eat-dog data center environment.
For now, though, things are relaxed. Things are clear. Tortured, yes…I am haunted by ghosts. Things I wish I had done differently. I am indebted to persons living and dead, but at least I have some sense of perspective. As the sun swings freely of the horizon in a few hours, I will lose that perspective and I will no longer be tortured. Life will, once again, redefine itself as an endless, pointless, wait in line at the local Starbuck’s. For the time being, although I am awake and I know I should not be, and sin hangs around my neck like a dead albatross, and in my own way I am tortured like Prometheus upon the rock, at least I understand the debt I owe to persons no longer with us. I see things as they really are. In twelve hours, I will be filing out of cubicle-land, with nine hours of flourescent lights absorbed in my body. Life, then, will achieve maximum distortion — it will look like a journey to a grocery store with a shopping list, and events leading up to that. That’s half a day from now. For now, I understand perspective. I understand people laid down their lives, so that I could live, and have things, and I owe them a debt I can never repay. And I can only hope to begin to repay such a debt, by doing my bit to make sure the next generation, also, sees things as they really are. Twelve hours from now, that will be blurry and unclear. For the time being, things are very, very clear. Painfully so.
I might as well write about it.
I am e-mailing this to some of you. I’m thinking if you were to forward it on to someone else who blogs, nothing bad could come from it, and perhaps something wonderful, will. How about give it a try?
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