Corrections to the blogosphere, the consensus, and the world

Monday, June 29, 2009


Lifted from comments (well, to be precise, from comment)
This is nothing to do with your post, but I can think of no other way to ask you a couple of questions, merely out of curiosity:
Why, after five years of regular posting in an interesting and literate blog, have you had so few comments?
Why do you give away so little about yourself?

Well, taking them singly,

1) Why have I had so few comments (and, I imagine, so few readers)?

False modesty (or modesty of any kind) aside, the most direct reasons would seem to be that
a) I don't advertise or cross-list much, so to find me at all you would have to be searching for something I've covered
b) I'm not in fact all that regular a poster; to be a power in the land you have to blog daily, or at least twice a week, or people get irritated at all the wasted clicking and stay away.
These are probably less important than the personality factors, such as
c) I don't particularly mind whether I'm read or not: in actual face-to-face conversation I'm a competitive monologist who feels that unexpressed opinions cause kidney damage, and this attitude translates beautifully to blogging.

2) Why do I give away so little about myself?

Even by the standards of this blog, I'm not particularly interesting. I'm literate because I've spent most of my time here reading, which is not in itself interesting; I have posted on a door at home the quote from Logan Pearsall Smith "Some people say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading."

The most interesting thing in my life last week wasn't anything internal, it was experimenting with making my own lard.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Specificity can be overdone

An argument at work between the Welsh and those other sheepshaggers from across the Tasman, centering on a long name competition between Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwll-llantysiliogogogoch ("The church of St. Mary in the hollow of white hazel trees near the rapid whirlpool by St. Tysilio's of the red cave") and Taumata whaka tangi hanga koauau o tamatea turi pukakapi ki maunga horo nuku poka i whenua kitana tahu (the 'place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as land-eater, played his flute to his loved one').

I mean, are there really so many churches in Wales that you actually have to distinguish them in such detail? Are there really Welsh folk complaining “Yes, I know you said The church of St. Mary in the hollow of white hazel trees near the rapid whirlpool by St. Tysilio's, but you didn’t say which cave, and I’ve been waiting for two hours in the blue cave”?

Similarly in NZ.

Terminator Statism

Reflecting on Terminator Salvation, I think the underlying implausibility is seeing the struggle unfold in a world that is battered but otherwise fully operative, able to provide fuel for the resistance helicopters and steel for the Terminator forges. As it is, the Terminators would seem to run into resource constraints pretty quickly. I'm not saying that they couldn't get the WA mines working again, but that would involve having terminators that were basically civilians, driving dump trucks and the like rather than throwing people across the room in that terribly unlethal way that seems to be their only fighting skill.

But then, why do you have big terminators anyway? Wouldn't having more small ones be better at wiping out the human race? Or, even better, gas, radiation, or genetically engineered swine flu strains, not requiring any big iron at all? The only reason I can see for Skynet insisting on robots is that it was after all for a time part of the US Defence Department, and it may have been corrupted by having to process aircraft carrier accounting.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Sexual Revolution will be Postponed to a Date to be Fixed

Letter to the Age
Yesterday’s Target wordpuzzle, as always, challenged us to make words out of a central letter, in this case C, and 8 other letters, in this case UNT ENOER. I see today that YESTERDAY’S SOLUTION omitted one possible four-letter combination that appears in my dictionary. Frankly, I resent being demoted to ‘very good’ from ‘excellent’ by your newspaper’s prudery.

Here among friends I can confess that I was actually dropped to Good from Very Good. I missed ecru, cretonne, and nonce, among others.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

the pillars are toppling

Takedowns of the placebo effect and the Hawthorne effect on the same day (well, I read about them on the same day). Must check further.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


A note so that I can find when I need it Brad De Long's fascinating account of how the world changed around 1870 to switch to a wealth growth path.

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