Monday, March 06, 2006

Why don't I write about (take your pick)

I often get emails or comments asking me why don't I write about this or that or the other topic. Every now and then I do take people up on one of these suggestions (for example, this post was written after someone recommended the article in question to me). So I'm not trying to discourage suggestions; not at all. But I only write about things that happen to interest me. I'm funny that way.

A different kettle of fish entirely are comments that challenge me in a very hostile way to take up a certain topic. I get such "requests" rather frequently. They remind me a bit of being called out for a duel; I expect to see the seconds come around any minute with the pistols. There's certain macho quality of "I dare you, and if you don't take me up on it, I feel free to consider you to have conceded my point by inaction."

Same answer to those challengers: if interested, I write. If not, I don't. It's really quite simple.

I'm not here on assignment. That's one of the nice things about blogging, as opposed to being a journalist or a student: I really only have to write about what I happen to want to write about.

Oh, some topics are more exciting than others. Sometimes I think I'm interested in writing about something and then run out of steam halfway. Some of those posts never see the cyberlight of day; some do.

I often don't quite know where a post is going when I begin it; sometimes it's only at the end that things come clear (or at least as clear as they're ever going to get). But I usually start out with an idea, or a series of linking ideas (often a great rush of them), or a question, or a mystery. There's some sort of spark, some "aha!" or "hmmm, I wonder" moment that begins the whole thing. I find myself writing on those little notepapers, and/or ruminating while doing other things (especially exercising). A little monologue starts in the brain, and sometimes it can be quite insistent and demanding.

You may have noticed I don't always write on the topic du jour. I like to do research and look at things in-depth, and I'm especially interested in stories of change. I like to look at things broadly and make connections, sometimes even in ways that (if I may say so) are surprising and original (I think those are often my favorites, although they can be hard to write). I enjoy uncovering some piece of history and trying to connect it to things that are happening today.

So when I get an e-mail asking me why don't I write about such and such--for example, the port controversy--my answer is that I don't write about certain things because they just don't grab me. That's not to say they're not important, or that I have absolutely nothing to say about them. It's just that it all takes a lot of time and effort to research, and I have to feel some sort of inspiration to do so--and, more importantly, I need to believe I have something fresh or unusual or personal or meaningful to say about it.

About that port controversy, I don't. And it's not a topic that's exactly been crying out for want of attention. Nearly every aspect of it has been aired in the MSM and on the blogs, and I just don't have anything to add that seems worth taking the trouble to say. I've read on both sides and, although at first I was against the deal, I now see some decent arguments that go in the other direction.

So, I'm skipping it--and many many other stories as well. I'm not running a wire service, and I'm not a newspaper trying to give readers an overview of everything that's happening. I'm not even Instapundit, although sometimes I wish I were.

I walk fast for exercise, and if the weather's not good I go to the health club and use the treadmill. It seems very conducive to thinking about the posts that do interest me. It's almost as though my thoughts go round as though they're on a treadmill, too (the treadmills of your mind?--I song I've never liked, by the way). When that happens, I know I've got my topic. All I have to do is write it.

[ADDENDUM: Dean Esmay, same subject.]

38 Comments:

At 4:29 PM, March 06, 2006, Blogger gcotharn said...

Blogging is the anti-writer's bloc, b/c "blogging" is not the same as "writing." I might blog something which evolves into "writing". Or, it might stay bloggy, which is also fun. Maybe more so.

 
At 4:48 PM, March 06, 2006, Blogger Steve said...

I consider all internet communication to be basically self expression, but I don't consider it for that reason just an "art for art's sake" indulgence.

It's good to go around and find out what different people are thinking and saying, especially if you have a relatively small circle of people to discuss various things with. I got here because I wanted to see the give and take among other conservatives with regard to foreign policy, and find this site more subdued, intelligent, and graceful than most others. In this respect I feel like I am at a salon and the hostess throws out topic for discussion. We discuss for awhile, and then it's time to go home.

It's also good to put your own thoughts out there, partly to get them off your chest, and partly to see how others respond. It's no fun if it's a job, if it gets mean, or if it gets repetitive.

Just do your thing. You do well.

 
At 5:09 PM, March 06, 2006, Blogger blogagog said...

There is a big granny smith apple right in the middle of your photo! If you would move it and take a new picture, I'd be grateful.

Thanks in advance!

 
At 6:12 PM, March 06, 2006, Blogger Sissy Willis said...

You speak for all of us who blog:

"I often don't quite know where a post is going when I begin it"

 
At 7:42 PM, March 06, 2006, Blogger aqualung said...

Of course you are not commenting on Dubai buying our ports. You are not commenting on Abramoff. You are not commenting on Duke Cunningham. You are not commenting on Tom DeLay. You are not commenting on Katrina, or torture, or illegal wiretapping of US citizens, or the refusal to give OTC status to Plan B despite the unanimous recommendation to that effect by the FDA. Or the teaching of "intelligent design" in public school science classes, or Scooter Libby, or the New Hampshire phone jammimg scandal, or so many of the other scandals, lies or outright crimes committed by the party in power. Why would you? Of course, these things do not interest you. We get that already.

 
At 8:17 PM, March 06, 2006, Anonymous rickl said...

aqualung:

Well, there's a lot of food for thought there. I'll just pick a few:

Duke Cunningham: He committed a crime and was punished for it.

Katrina: It was a natural disaster. Less than 2000 people died. Few people were injured, and those who were displaced were taken in by others. If it had happened in a third world country, the death toll probably would have been closer to 50,000.

Illegal wiretapping of US citizens: I have no idea what you're talking about here. Do you mean surveillance of people living in America (citizens or not) who are in contact with foreign enemies during wartime? If so, I'm all for it.

The teaching of "intelligent design" in public school classes: A good reason to get rid of public education and its one-size-fits-all curriculum. With a privatized educational system, parents would have more freedom to choose what type of education their children receive.

 
At 8:29 PM, March 06, 2006, Anonymous rickl said...

But I only write about things that happen to interest me. I'm funny that way.

Imagine that.

 
At 8:45 PM, March 06, 2006, Blogger aqualung said...

Wow rickl! Visit planet Earth much? YOU being all "for" something does not make it legal now, does it? You sound like the Chimp in Chief!

 
At 8:52 PM, March 06, 2006, Blogger aqualung said...

Oh, and as for the one size fits all educational idea, maybe you're right! Maybe we should offer our kids alchemy instead of chemistry, astrology instead of astronomy, and phrenology instead of neuroscience. Man, our kids will be light years ahead in the global economy for sure with that!

 
At 8:57 PM, March 06, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Sometimes I think I'm interested in writing about something and then run out of steam halfway.

That might have something to do with your multiple draft or discontinuous writing technique. Because for me, if I go back to the draft, it feels like work and then I'm not interested. I write when inspired, and the inspiration runs out pretty quick. Hence the need to get it out as fast as possible.


Again, Aqua comes again with the hilarious stuff.

He talks about Neo not commenting on stuff, and yet he has never commented on his inability to defend his arguments against my criticisms.

Probably because he is not interested in defending his arguments, so much as attacking other people.

I think we all get why Aqua doesn't take on particular people.

He reminds me of those anti-American dudes. They'll insult you, but probably not to your face. And they'll blow up your embassies, but they won't meet you out on the field of honor on equal terms.

Honor is something anti-Americans never did understand, and never will.

You don't even have to be American to be anti-American, look at the Japs, they got their own brand of honor and it is every bit as American as American honor. So to speak.

 
At 9:11 PM, March 06, 2006, Blogger aqualung said...

ymarkasar is so funny! He calls me hilarious, yet cannot deal with any of the topics I've mentioned. And I have more, like the mortgaging of the futures of our children, grandchildren and their children with 43 trillion dollars in debt. Will he respond to the fact that this president has borrowed more from foreign entities than all previous presidents before him? Will he take up the challenge as to why Bush has not vetoed a single spending bill, including the one that earmarked 230 million dollars for a bridge to a largely uninhabited island in Alaska? I've got more, but I don't want to overwhelm the lad...

 
At 9:25 PM, March 06, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Will he respond to the fact that this president has borrowed more from foreign entities than all previous presidents before him?

Dude, stop being an Imperialist. I'm not going to send young Americans to die in foreign countries just so you can avoid borrowing money from "foreign entities" instead of taking them over stock and barrel. Stop being so selfish.

Will he take up the challenge as to why Bush has not vetoed a single spending bill, including the one that earmarked 230 million dollars for a bridge to a largely uninhabited island in Alaska?

Didn't I freaking tell everyone Bush was a multilateralist and that I couldn't change that?

Dude, pay attention.

Overwhelm me? Indeed, I can be overwhelmed with words and psychological attacks, which I specialize in... that makes sense.

You should really read Sun Tzu, you might understand something of human nature. That'd help you make better arguments. I'm looking out for your interests here, but I'm not willing to sacrifice American soldiers for your Imperial policy however, my regrets.

 
At 9:32 PM, March 06, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

To my dear friend aqualung: For those who might be interested, I'd like to respond to your comment.

I've written rather extensively on torture, a topic that does interest me, here.

Abramoff, Cunningham, and the like are no-brainers. I'm against corruption, wherever it's found: Republican, Democrat, or in-between. I don't find the issue complex, interesting, or partisan.

I never could stomach Tom DeLay, from my Democrat days to my neocon ones. But writing about him has never been of interest to me, then or now. Other things you may or may not notice I don't write about: bashing Hilary Clinton or Bill Clinton (no interest in it whatsoever), likewise Ted Kennedy, whom I rather detest. I have nothing to say on these matters (at least so far) that's of any interest to anyone, especially me.

For that matter, another detestable person on the left--Noam Chomsky-- has drawn not a single post from me (a snide reference or two has sufficed), and I aim to keep it that way if I can possibly help it. Does that mean I like him? No, no, a thousand times no. Others have dedicated themselves to the task of tackling his oeuvre; I cetainly don't need to.

 
At 9:51 PM, March 06, 2006, Blogger Steve said...

Neo: Your cross-link on torture doesn't work, you have to go to the Dec 2005 archive and then search on there.

I checked it out because I wanted to hear your take. Right.

I also don't think your posts are too long, on the contrary, that's what makes this site interesting. Most other sites look like a refrigerator covered with post-its.

Aqualung, Ymasumac: Chill.

 
At 10:05 PM, March 06, 2006, Blogger aqualung said...

Neo, your link on torture isn't (a link, that is). As for chilling, when the country I love (you see , I don't equate America with Bush and his henchmen) ceases to be plundered by these incompetent, mendacious and greedy hooligans will I chill. Not before. Why be sanguine about the depredation of America? And why, Neo, bring up Clinton and Kennedy? Do you mean to equate them with Abramoff and DeLay? Nice rhetorical trick there, Neo. Nice and dishonest, that is.

 
At 11:14 PM, March 06, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Ymasumac: Chill.

Steve, who's Ymasumac? And why are you telling him to chill?

Nice rhetorical trick there, Neo.

What's so nice about shifting the rhetoric to neo?

Are you afraid to answer, here?
Nice and dishonest, that is.

Thanks for offering an olive Neo, but as you can see, it doesn't work. So take it from me. Some matters are conducted on the field of honor, while others are conducted in the dead of night, along alleyways of ill disrepute and cloak and daggers.

Anyone that finds Aqua funny and wants more, can go here.

Link

Aqua is most likely lying when he says he finds me funny, a neat rhetorical trick. I on the other hand actually find these comments here and the ones quoted by Mudville, very funny.

Sure, you could get upset like any teenager would if you took away his girlie mags, but what the hell, if you ain't going to kill them why do you care what their opinions are?

 
At 12:37 AM, March 07, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

Here's the correct link for the post in which I discuss torture.

 
At 5:48 AM, March 07, 2006, Blogger Tom Grey said...

The longer, thoughtful posts are great.

The "keeping your hands clean" is the biggest problem of Leftists. Actually doing something with force will be messy, and imperfect.

I would like to suggest a thought for you, Neo -- what are the worst things about Bush? If you wanted to be a Bush-basher, what sticks would you use?

For me, it's his wimpiness on spending. But I understand it as part of an attempt to bribe Congress to support him on other areas. But I doubt that you feel this, so I'm wondering what you do feel.

Enjoy your next walk... whatever you think.

 
At 6:25 AM, March 07, 2006, Blogger aqualung said...

Well, I skimmed the link on torture and got the gist of it. As I suspected. Another overly long-winded rationalization and apology for something the Bush administration did/does. Something it denies doing (if it's OK, why deny it?), but them came the pictures and the Fishburns. So, you tip your hand yet again. So, torture doesn't really interest you. What really interests you, Neo-con, is apologizing for, rationalizing, intellectualizing and excusing all that this administration does. And that which you cannot defend you ignore. Tell me, can you link to a post where you offer, in that in depth style of yours, any substantive criticism of Bush and his cronies? Anywhere? And don't refer to your comment upstream where your toss out the "fact" that you were initially opposed to the Dubai port deal but now you are coming around to thinking it's a good thing! What rubbish! You were against the UAE buying our ports before you were for it! What a surprise!

My God, such objectivity!

 
At 7:38 AM, March 07, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are simply jealous, aqualung. The site meter for this blog reads 384K, and there have been hundreds upon hundreds of comments. If I were a woman, I would recommend a brand of makeup to best cover the green hues so obvious on your face. LOL!

 
At 7:56 AM, March 07, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Aqualung has convinced me.

To vote Republican.

Just to piss him off.

 
At 10:11 AM, March 07, 2006, Blogger Goesh said...

I suspect aqualung would put many of us in special 'camps' to educated us in the proper ways of thinking and acting. It hasn't been that long since this blog started and I remember wondering if it would grow and how fast, and it has shown steady growth. It is a safe bet to invest in the approach and views asserted in this blog. There can be no doubt of that, the numbers tell it all. I would agree with what the Anonymous commentator said about Mr. Aqualung, i.e. plain, old-fashioned jealousy.

 
At 11:15 AM, March 07, 2006, Blogger Goesh said...

I could benefit from a 'camp' for spelling and grammar....

 
At 11:24 AM, March 07, 2006, Anonymous TalkinKamel said...

Neo, please keep writing your well-thought out, slowly written posts---and write them about whatever you like! Don't let dolts like Aqualung hector you about your subject matter, and try to choose it for you. (And, Aqua, if you want articles about the subjects you badger Neo about not writing---get your own blog, and write about them yourself. I'm sure the world will be wowed.)

Once again, keep up the good work, Neo.

 
At 1:09 PM, March 07, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

to talkinkamel and others who've said "keep going": thanks!

I certainly wouldn't let aqualung or anyone else dictate what I write. If I wanted to be told what to do, I'd try to get a lot more money for the privilege. Aqualung seems to want a job as my manager, though :-).

 
At 3:56 PM, March 07, 2006, Blogger Brad said...

Goesh is right. The mentality and worldview of someone like Aqua is the perfect storm for the mass destruction of his opponents, should he gain power. He uses the term “wingnut” so often that one would suspect a serious de-humanization of those he hates. This can only lead to violence. Also, he seems to have lost his mind due to the loneliness of his blog; his only companion is a lapdog named kung fu. Frankly, I’m worried about him, poor soul; the sky is falling and no one will listen.

 
At 6:24 PM, March 07, 2006, Blogger Alex said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 6:31 PM, March 07, 2006, Blogger Alex said...

Well, I skimmed the link on torture and got the gist of it.

Somehow I suspect aqualung does a lot of skimming.  I don't think close reading is his forte.  Is it too much to ask that aqualung summarize the main arguments of the torture piece and tell us why he believes they are wrong? Oh I forgot, aqualung doesn't have to defend his opinions--only the people he argues with do.

 
At 6:38 PM, March 07, 2006, Blogger Brad said...

Some food for thought for Aqua,

Some Gitmo Prisoners Don't Want to Go Home
http://www.breitbart.com/news/2006/03/06/D8G6CJV03.html

 
At 6:40 PM, March 07, 2006, Blogger Brad said...

the rest

3.html

 
At 6:45 PM, March 07, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Here's a tip.

< a href="" > < /a >

is the html format, without the spaces.

It makes it a lot easier for people to click on the link you send to them.

Hey Aqua, is talking back to women the only thing you can do?

You and the Islamic Fundamentalists, the American Bashers, and the destroyers of the American Constitution deserve each other.

 
At 9:31 PM, March 07, 2006, Anonymous rickl said...

Neo,

By the way, long posts don't bother me a bit.

It's your blog, so you can write anything you like.

As far as length goes, you're nowhere near Steven den Beste or Bill Whittle territory.

But if you ever want to compete head-to-head with them, then I say go for it!

 
At 11:07 PM, March 07, 2006, Blogger Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) said...

Hey Aqua, is talking back to women the only thing you can do?

You and the Islamic Fundamentalists, the American Bashers, and the destroyers of the American Constitution deserve each other.


Carina (the name of Aqualung's blog) is a female name, isn't it, or are there some cultures where it's a male name?

 
At 11:14 PM, March 07, 2006, Blogger Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) said...

Somehow I suspect aqualung does a lot of skimming. I don't think close reading is his forte. Is it too much to ask that aqualung summarize the main arguments of the torture piece and tell us why he believes they are wrong? Oh I forgot, aqualung doesn't have to defend his opinions--only the people he argues with do.

I'd hypothesize that Aqualung doesn't have the time to spare, being a critical care physician and professor of medicine (from his - her? - blog). I mean shoot, I'm only posting right now because I'm not studying for my biochemistry and immunology tests tomorrow (like I should be doing).

 
At 11:30 PM, March 07, 2006, Blogger Alex said...

And I'm studying econometrics as we speak (surrounded by books and papers). Being busy doesn't give one the licence to be incoherent. If someone is too busy to read anything (which doesn't seem to be the case with you, me, or aqualung) then one should probably refrain altogether from inflicting one's political opinions on others. If one has time to read a bit, as apparently aqualung does, then I don't think it's too much to ask that he read well and offer cogent responses, rather than the blanket condemnations we've grown to love so much. Especially when he demands so much from others.

 
At 5:45 PM, March 08, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Could be both, Justin. Either way, probes will find out in the end.

If she thinks I'm wrong, she'll tell me. If he gets angry, he'll tell me anyway. Either win, I get the info, and info is the key to any fight.

Most women I know aren't as combative as Aqua, but there are always exceptions.

Either way, it tells a story. Man picking on a woman exclusively, or a woman picking on another woman exclusively...

A lot of work is done in reading your opponent, much of that work is speculative in nature. I think the CIA needs to rely less on speculation and more on hard data.

I mean, if the CIA was more concerned with the facts and real intel, instead of being "right all the time" and saving their job security, they could get a lot more information.

I put out a few things things that are wrong, intentionally or not, just to see what reactions people come up with.

I like catch 22s, they are very lethal. Bush and the US is caught in one now, so I always thought if we could turn the tables on the other people, it might solve some things.

You are simply jealous, aqualung. The site meter for this blog reads 384K, and there have been hundreds upon hundreds of comments. If I were a woman, I would recommend a brand of makeup to best cover the green hues so obvious on your face. LOL!

Catch 22. Remember, I did tell someone here that conscientious propagandists always try to get a catch 22.

Personality wise, I've always tried to be honest, which is why I tend to tell people exactly what I'm doing.

I gave up any emotional attachements to being right a few years ago, which is a long time to me.

 
At 5:57 PM, March 08, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

You know Aqua, she has a blog of her own. If she doesn't have time reading other people, then why does she think anyone should read her blog? Catch 22.

Here's something she wrote about Bookie. Now again, most women I know aren't that combative, but of course we've all seen women fight. They can get just as angry, if not more so, than the men.

More worm than book, I'm afraid.

Well, at least the neo-conwoman has me blogging again. What can I say? She is quite something. She responds with knee-jerk tirades about Marxist professors who supposedly warped my thinking (Marxist professors?!?), and then censors me from her site. She's not just a neo-con. She's a cartoon of a neo-con. My crime? I ask questions which neither she, nor any other member of her special class of cryto-cons can answer, without altogether abandoning even a semblence of reason. (the inital one being: what does 9/11 have to do with the war in Iraq?). OK, so I use sarcasm, and she responds with condescension. I'll post some of her responses to a private email correspondence at some point soon (I can play infantile too, Bookie). You be the judge. Like I said, obfuscation and misdirection (and of course censorship) are the pillars of right-wing debate.

Yer doin' a heckava job, Bookie!


Aqua takes pride in being able to ask questions, and then saying the answers suck. She can't do that with me, because my answers are cryptic while most other conservatives are honest and not cryptic.

Obfuscation and misdirection. While I admit to such guilty charges, simply because I practice what I need to know to fight terrorists in the information war, and to understand their tactics and their strengths I must practice the same to the fullest extent possible, I don't think most conservatives have enough time to lie effectively. Their job isn't to lie, they aren't advertisers or lawyers predominantly, they aren't reporters, journalists, or writers predominantly.

Republicans don't lie for the great simple fact that a lot of Republicans favor engineering and math, and it is very very hard to lie there. So there isn't much incentive, really, while in liberal arts colleges you can lie and plagiarize all you want, and you can get successful like Ward Churchill.

Sure, it's unfair. But honesty isn't a virtue just so your enemies can take advantage of you. Like I said before, virtues are always strengths, and strengths don't make you vulnerable to people like Aqua.

 
At 5:14 PM, March 09, 2006, Anonymous gringoman said...

You were undoubtedly right to stay away from The Dubai Deal. What did my "Doing It In Dubai" lead to---aside from (not so) White Slavery, child camel jockeys, Christians whose Bibles can remain un-shredded, the ambition of Sheik Mo, the advantages of Friendly Islamo Fascism, and even why Ethiopian women fetch better prices than their Ugandan counterparts. http://gringoman.typepad.com/usa/2006/03/doing_it_in_dub.html

 

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