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To clarify (having to clarify makes me think I should've written the last post more clearly in the first place, but then again, it's a blog, and this conversation here is fairly illustrative anyway):

Yeah, I know, the "blogosphere" really isn't that separate at all, esp. 'cause it reflects what people in the real world are talking and thinking about. At the same time, I tire of bloggers writing ostensibly for the purpose of becoming widely read and important and offered jobs by major magazines and news consortiums. I realize that blogging is a complex thing, especially since the word "blog" encompasses online journals, personal diaries, 'net 'zines, fan pages, political commentary, etc., and can't be easily defined one way or another. I can't very well dictate what anyone's aim is in blogging. Yet I see trying to become famous by blogging as an ill-conceived pursuit, especially when one neglects one's true voice for some framework of propriety, as the paper's editor-in-chief has. Perhaps this criticism is naïve, though, as it may seem that I'm saying something akin to, "Man, those guys are sellouts." Perhaps I'm a hypocrite as well, as I treasure my access log just as much as anyone does.

I still find it reprehensible, though, when people use their blogs to gain power in the political sphere by pretending to be "the voice of the common people," obfuscating their true aims so they can propel themselves to cushy jobs as mass-media commentators. As I've noted before, if you want power, say so, or at the very least don't try to pretend it's nowhere in your sights. Acknowledge the possibility that you might be trying to gain prestige and the people will love you all the more for your honesty. (Ideally, that is. Perhaps in today's psychologized, media-influenced culture, there's no room for honesty—but what a tragedy if that's true!)

I just think there's room for subtlety. Sure, part of the allure of blogging is that you can become famous and widely read simply on the basis of your having something to say. That's why blogging has taken off like it has, because it allows people to quickly and easily publish what's on their minds and, as a bonus, enter the lottery, so to speak, with their words. Yet the tactics used by these "franchise" bloggers who are out to make a buck or secure themselves a job on Capitol Hill are of the same sort that our most humble politicians use, declaring themselves the voice of the disenfranchised while seeking the lowest common denominator of populism.

As for Saddam Hussein, yes, I understand that "Hussein" could potentially be confused with King Hussein, and that "Mister" is almost too good of a title for him. Surely the man shouldn't be given that modicum of respect—but I do tire of people slinging his name about in such an informal way. Perhaps another part of my annoyance with it, though, is that I'm just tired of hearing about Iraq altogether, as I noted here.

xj, I realize that part of what you write about in your blog is politics that personally affects/disenfranchises/annoys you in some way, and that's fine. We all do that, as well we should. People talking about news is necessary, and it's not as if I can stop the world here. You can call Hussein whatever you want; that's your choice. As I noted just now, my main beef is with the people who use blogging as a tool, the people who, as politicians themselves are now starting to do, use their blogs to gain a measure of "street credibility" where they would (and probably should) otherwise have none.

Heh, broccoli. Good example, supermum. I, as a distinguished member of the blogosphere, by dint of my existence, hereby also declaim against broccoli. If blogging is so powerful, the leaders of the free world should come crawling on their knees to me, begging me to reconsider my stance.

In response to rdf's take on things, yes, it's a good thing to have someone who's actually a part of the government speak freely about what they think and confirm some of our suspicions that the government is withholding key information from us. I agree that that's a great thing—I never actually disagreed. In this particular instance, however, the representative in question was just speculating, speaking normal English for once, and suddenly the news commentators go wild—"Does he know something we don't? What does he know? Check his track record, look up pertinent facts, go go go!" Wild-eyed and rabid, they look around for the next big scandal, the next big go-to story.

The other senators/representatives are no better, finding it necessary to jump up and bark madly, gnashing teeth, denouncing him as un-American for speaking his mind. By all means, our highfalutin' city on a hill must be defended from these backwoods notions, these common men speaking their mind. Oh, tragesty, tragesty! [sic] This is what I'm railing against—the media's twitchiness and the hypocrisy of these trumped up charges senators lay on each other. What has the world come to when things like this are considered worthwhile, useful discourse?

Oh my goodness! [fans self, waves hands about, fawns] Whatever shall I do? His secretary called my secretary and he said I'm a no-good scallywag and, well, I honestly don't know what to think now! Good heavens, what will my constituents think? I won't get to go to the ball with the other sisters, and...I...just [sits down and cries, crushing handkerchief in hand]

Have I mentioned that I hate the idea of career politicians? That might explain some of my response here, too. These people are so twitchy, so concerned with what other senators and their constituents might think, that they end up doing nothing of merit whatsoever. Their names go down in history on the attendance rolls, but what have they accomplished? In trying so hard to ensure that their good names aren't besmirched by "scandal" (the scandal of speaking one's mind), they end up ensuring that their good names will hold no significance whatsoever when they're dead and gone.

They're career civil servants. (There's a poem like this—gah!—can't remember its name.) They have no legacy, for what do they do? They go along and pass the bills everyone wants them to, they vote with their religious conscience rather than their civic one, and then when they're up for reelection and someone asks them why they supported the opposite party's bill, they backtrack and recant and fudge everything until nothing they say holds meaning anymore.

Did I mention that I don't like the faux two-party system we labor under now, either?

Oh, and on the topic of interfering with the natural chain of events, I'm somewhat of a fatalist—what will be will be to a large extent, I think, and there's not very much we can do about it except hope and have faith that what happens is meant to happen for some reason. Coincidence, spontaneity, and serendipity—these things happen for some reason. I don't claim to know that reason, but that's part of the point. Sure, sure, we've got free will, we're members of this grand federation/republic, we even have blogs!. But in terms of the world, while I like the "butterfly effect" view, it doesn't work all that well. In short...Calvinism. I save my sanity to some extent by giving these things external attributions.

As far as Newspeak is concerned, I'm mainly referring to the trend I've seen copy editing and reading things online these past two semesters where people link together words that shouldn't really be linked—e.g. copyeditor. This makes me livid—while I understand that language evolves, that new words are coined all the time, etc., it's usually the worst writers who do it the most, not in the name of improving the language, but out of ignorance. Perhaps this makes me a linguistic elitist or, better yet, a language Luddite, backwards and old-fashioned in my expectations. Whatever. It still bothers me.

2:47 pm, December 17, 2003 :: the jablog years

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