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...
This blog, which nobody actually reads anyway, is frequently targeted for advice on how to mold and shape the writing so that more people will read it. By far the most common tip that is e-mailed to me, is to pick up a copy of Strunk & White. I consider that to be an “umbrella” category though, because Strunk & White cover a lot of different things, and the folks who say I need to use it very seldom elaborate on where I failed to follow it.
Occasionally someone will offer a little more detail and tell me I’m comma-crazy (rule 5). Guilty. Repentant. Working on it.
Other folks tell me I need to confine myself to active-voice (rule 11). I plead not guilty. Passive-voice is something that, now and then, I do drag out of the tool drawer and crank up, and perhaps the nerves of some readers are gotten-upon by such a thing. I can see everyone has their own idea of what a healthy active-passive quotient would be. One hundred percent passive voice would produce a migraine in the noggin of the most patient consumer. We, here, hold the ideal ratio to be somewhere around seventy-thirty active-passive. Maybe eighty-twenty.
Faithful Strunk & White scholars insist on nothing less than one-hundred-zip, it seems. Passive-voice, the oracle has decreed, must go the way of the dodo bird.
We hold the use of active-voice, here, to be a somewhat parallel experience to being a nice guy and trying to get yourself a date. Everyone understands there’s an old cliche about nice guys finishing last; some of us uphold it as a serious fact, and others regard it as a joke and nothing more. There’s a rather clean gender-division along that line, by the way. But the wisest and most reasonable among us, regardless of our plumbing, understand it to be a humorous chestnut with more than a grain of truth to it. If you want to be competetively nice, you must defer. If you want to be competitively deferential, you must withdraw your preferences and opinions. If you wish to competitively withdraw your preferences and opinions, you decide nothing; and if you aren’t deciding anything, why does the object of your affection need you around?
Beyond a point of dimininishing returns, being a nice guy deprives your lady of your personality. And then you become boring. Well, active-voice works the same way — and “one-hundred-zip,” by definition, is beyond any point of diminishing returns you’d care to pencil in.
But there’s something else. In the same way that nice guys often end up not breeding, active-voice seems to be burdened by a consistent gelding-like failure to establish any kind of legacy. Memorable quotations, more often than not, use passive-voice. Ralph Waldo Emerson never said “Simple minds have a hobgoblin, and it is consistency.” Oscar Wilde didn’t say “The artist paints a portrait of himself and not of the sitter when he paints with feeling.” Within the pantheon of immortal quotations, there are remarkable exceptions but the ratio seems to be inverted overall. Maybe sixty percent passive-voice, in violent rebellion against Strunk & White Rule 11. Maybe more than that.
I view it as a metaphor, an icon representing other things we do in the human condition. We seem to have a predilection for holding each other to rules, which in turn are designed for no higher purpose than to keep any one person from becoming distinguishable.
Another thing I notice is that when we give advice, we’re prepared for only two outcomes: The advised follows our instruction, or else proves himself incapable of following advice. The middle-of-the-road possibility — that the person advised is open to advice, or is even searching for advice, but it turns out your tidbit somehow didn’t make the cut — is something for which it seems very few are prepared. We expect to miss the mark when we apply for jobs, or spit at floating leaves from a high bridge, or take a lady out on a first-date. But not when we offer advice on things other people have written.
Having said that, however, I hope people don’t stop offering advice. The revelation that the advisor is, himself, being observed and his behavior is being used to refine some theories and help support others, can have a chilling effect.
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