Thursday, June 6, 2013

Taking Stock and Afterthoughts

As a blog administrator, with my admin pages set to “25,” having again accumulated a full page, or batch, of 25 essay titles, I again feel entitled to indulge in a “taking stock” essay. What’s new?

Taking Stock
In this new batch is an essay on Fading Blogs. (February 2013) Since posting it, I have found a new reason to suspect blogs are fading in popularity: This is my first page without any comments for any essay. It’s also the first time I’ve needed to activate the “captcha” feature, where you need to “prove you’re not a robot” by typing in letters, and while that can be an obstacle for some people, I don’t think that’s why I have no comments.

For this latest page, I won’t share which of the 25 essays are my three best, or the three most important, or my three favorites; I will say which three according to hit count are the most popular by far:
A Young Girl’s Guide to Wars and Drugs (March 2013)
Community Health Centers (January 2013)
Recent Anecdotes (December 2012)

The Young Girl’s one came about after I had commented on Chicago critic Roger Ebert’s blog, and then some other commenter had replied to say my comment made no sense. I decided to ignore Chicago and compose a long and careful essay for my dear readers. And then, to my surprise, it turned out to be one of my most popular; I don’t know why.

And I don’t know why the other two are so popular, either. The Anecdote piece, right on the border of two admin pages, is another “taking stock” one: I had felt I deserved to indulge in a series of anecdotes instead of a proper essay. Maybe sometimes people prefer anecdotes, eh?

Queerly, for the previous page of 25 essays, there’s a piece with good many hits that’s also on the border, one where I took a stand against making web links: No Links is Good Links. (July 2012) I had assumed my stand would put me as a boring “minority of one” so it’s interesting to see the post so popular. As blogs are fading, I wonder if the laziest readers, the ones who “need” their links handed to them on a silver platter, are fading away too. My opinion remains: I still don’t believe in making links.

Also new is how my statistics, or hit counts, are up: partly, I hope, from new readers but mostly, I suspect, from being discovered at long last by the spammer crowd. Who knows, maybe my web address is registered at “spam central.”

As for the numbers, who needs crowds? I believe even just a few readers are enough to feel a sense of meaning for my work, feeling inspired to keep trying my best. And because I keep trying, I think my writing is getting better—Hurray!

I came up through journalism: cramped columns for hasty readers are just like little screens for hasty bloggers. As a news reporter I favored short declarative sentences, or breathless timesaving run-on sentences. Now at last I am getting used to calm writing for patient people, using complex sentences with several clauses. Maybe as blogs fade the remaining readers will have a longer attention spans; maybe one day I’ll have the nerve to write long dense paragraphs, the same as for “real” prose on real paper—Or maybe I’ll just abandon e-blogs for books… Here’s Neal Stephenson (see footnote) on page 270 in Some Remarks:

“Books, though, and the thoughts that go through the heads of their readers, are too long and complex to work on the screen—be it a talk show, a PowerPoint presentation, or a web page. Bookish people sense this. They don’t object to it. They don’t favor electronic media anyway. So why should they make a fuss if those media Photoshop them out of the national scene? They know how to find each other and to have the long conversations that nourish their bookish souls.”

Lately I’ve been posting re-runs. Why? Partly because if I am “posting weekly” then it’s embarrassing to have any years with more than 52 essays. Mainly because ever since a future prime minister, Justin Trudeau, speculated—or made excuses—that within America, terrorism’s root cause is individuals seeing everyone else in society “as their enemies,” I have been thinking about membership and belonging and volunteering for Muslims. Some of my previous essays, about such human needs, have interested me lately.

I have no sympathy for any male Muslim who lives in his mother’s basement and confines his “caring” to his own little clan. If that Boston bomber, a boxer, had volunteered to help children of various faiths to learn how to box then his short selfish life might have turned out differently. I have noticed how people headed for jail never volunteer….

For my previous post, deliberately left off, as the post already had lots of ideas:

~For Han Suyin being “a very nice person”: not only had I felt so, but two clerks from Canadian Forces Base Jericho, Corporals Jan Wong and Sonia Kramer, had gone for tea with Suyin and really liked her. (Born Sept 12, 1917, died Nov 2, 2012) (blast from the past link)

~Why should anyone in a Muslim country value and believe in the UN’s 1948 declaration of Human Rights? After all, Arab religious leaders and royalty could claim that “rights,” just like “democracy,” is “western,” hence dirty and tainted.
So why? Because: The opposite of a king’s “divide and conquer” is a feeling of respect and dignity for everyone, including females, a feeling that has to start somewhere. And I would say rights are a part of the feeling of “everyday community and citizenship,” meaning: a part of political community. (If that sounds familiar—Remember the headline for this web site?)

“…The overt corruption commonly found in the new states reveals the full consequences of the absence of political community. Only from the latter can effective norms arise, norms felt in the consciousness of each citizen. Without political community there can be no effective norms, and without the norms that arise quite naturally from the values and beliefs of the community, the state is no more than a machine. It is then that the coup t’etat becomes feasible since, as with any machine, one may gain control over the whole by seizing hold of the critical levers….” …Coup d’etat by Edward Luttwak, (1979) p16-17

~ I believe a society could be religious and be optimistic and face forwards into the future. Here is a quote from science fiction writer Neal Stephenson, after the Egyptians had plundered and destroyed their best technology and their library:
“…It’s when a society plunders its ability to look over the horizon and into the future in order to get short-term gain—sometimes illusory gain—that it begins a long slide nearly impossible to reverse.” …Some Remarks subtitled Essays and Other Writing, (2012) p 185

Sean Crawford
June 2013

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