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« Another Posting I'll Never Get Around to Writing | Main | Signs of Intelligent Life »

April 03, 2003

Web Surfing

Friedrich --

2Blowhards visitors will want to check out  Tim Hulsey's new blog, My Stupid Dog, here. Tim (self-described as gay and conservative -- deal with it, world!) is brilliant, can write rueful and precise circles around most of us, and lugs around enough movie and books knowledge for a half a dozen normal buffs. Tim only began taking his thoughts public about a week ago, but he's already one of the brainiest culturebloggers around.

Will and Jane Duquette are a California couple who run a wide-ranging and meaty website, here. The blog is only part of it; there's also Ex Libris, their own book-reviewing publication, as well as much else. Marvel at how much reading the two of them do, and how freely and intelligently they discuss it. A special treat: Felicity McCarthy (usually of Goliard Dream, here) has begun reviewing books for Ex Libris.

Do you have much interest in Dave "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" Eggers? I don't. All that narcissism, the whimsicality and arbitrariness, the fatigue-crossed-with-a-caffeine-high, the self-regard masking as modesty, the supposedly winning frank bragadoccio, the bullying, and the ever-lurking threat of a temper tantrum ... Lordy, I've only got one life to live. I do admire his industry and entrepreneurship, though. These days, Eggers is semi-sponsoring a new lit mag, The Believer. Felix Salmon (here) gives the magazine a good going-through.

Have you run across soundboard sites? They're web sites where sampled sounds from movies and TV are available. Click and hear Arnold say "Hasta la vista, baby" -- that kind of thing. I can't explain why, but these sites make me crack up. Here's one. Experience Eminem's immortal "Fuck you, go home," then marvel at Sarah Michelle Gellar's classic rendition of "duh."

Setting the World to Rights (here) is fresh out of the oven and very promising: British free-thinkers who claim to be real-world libertarians. So far, that seems to be exactly what they are; they genuinely seem not to have that nutty utopian gleam in their eyes that the dogmatic libertarians so often get. Will it last?

H.D. Miller, a Yalie and a military man, thinks it's too bad that more elite college types don't have some experience of the military, here and here. "The social and intellectual elites form their opinions about military personnel in the absence of first-hand experience; form their opinions based upon prejudice and hearsay," he writes.

The BBC reports here on a study that has shown that the oldest known DNA lineages are from East Africa -- "The most ancient populations include the Sandawe, Burunge, Gorowaa and Datog people who live in Tanzania." Mucho genetic diversity in that part of the world, apparently.

Thomas Sowell has a go at the ideas underlying affirmative action here. (A good long interview with Sowell can be read here.) Sample column passage:

Being admitted to a selective college does not make anyone become a better student, any more than joining a basketball team makes anyone taller. In reality, affirmative action increases the chance that a minority student will fail where the standards are higher, instead of succeeding where the standards are at a level that matches the student's academic capabilities.

Bernard Lewis in the Natioinal Post (here) writes about the mistaken assumptions we tend to make about Arabs and their forms of government. Sample passage:

People write today as if the kind of political order that prevails in Iraq is part of the immemorial Arab and Islamic tradition. This is totally untrue. The kind of regime represented by Saddam Hussein has no roots in either the Arab or Islamic past. Rather, it is an ideological importation from Europe -- the only one that worked and succeeded (at least in the sense of being able to survive).

No matter what you think of David Hockney's art (I often like it), he's one of the most thoughtful and articulate of contempo artists. Here's an absorbing recent piece about Hockney by Andrew Marr in the Guardian. Sample passage:

"It's too boring, that's the point. It's not real enough... No wonder people are bored -- they can't see how rich [the world] is, how beautiful it is." He has concluded after many trials that computers, faxes and all the glossy gear of the digital age are simply not sophisticated enough. Printing ink is not paint, and lacks its subtle gradations. Nor can any machine reproduce the complex and delicate movements of "elbow, wrist, body-weight and those pressures" produced by freehand drawing. As for photographs, they have lost trust, now we all know they can be so easily digitally altered; and they are a less-good picture of reality anyway.



posted by Michael at April 3, 2003


A clarification.
Will and Jane Duquette live in Pasedena, CA and have three incredibly cute little kids that he regularly writes posts about. They are not from Australia tho Will recently went to The Land Down Under for a two week business trip and is posting a day by day journal of his trip on the site. It's a stitch. Will is Lord High Chief Editor of the site. He accepts reviews from others including Deb English, Craig Clark and now Felicity McGrath. Deb is in Wisconsin, Craig is out east somewhere and Felicity is in sunny California. I will let him know you plugged his site. He will be pleased.


Posted by: Deb English on April 4, 2003 9:49 AM

Hey Deb, thanks for the correction, which I'll make in the posting itself. I wonder what it was on his site that made me think they're in Australia ... Maybe I was leaping to conclusions from a note he made about their trip.

Where are my fact-checkers when I need them?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on April 4, 2003 10:33 AM

I checked out Tim Hulsey's "My Stupid Dog" blog on your advice, and found it to be all you describe and more. Very impressive. Thanks for the tip.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on April 4, 2003 11:32 AM

Hey, who was it who said that any publicity is good publicity? I'm not complaining. ;-)

Posted by: Will Duquette on April 4, 2003 4:01 PM

That soundboard site is great too. Duh!

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on April 5, 2003 3:54 PM

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