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« Free Reads -- "Theory" in crisis | Main | Policy Break--Traffic Congestion Charges »

April 19, 2003

Web Surfing

Friedrich --

William Shawcross is best known for his book "Sideshow," in which he made the case that Nixon and Kissinger were responsible for the destruction of Cambodia. So it's fascinating to read this recent speech of his here, which is full of admiration for America and even recognition that, like him or not,  GW Bush is some kind of effective leader.

I guess the French still do wine, cheese and fashion pretty well, though a friend living in Paris tells me that French cooking has gone to hell. But do they matter on any other subject? Yet the French seem to be having an even harder time than the English getting used to the fact that they aren't playing in the majors any more. Jackie Wullschlager in the Financial Times makes some sense about the decline of France here. (Both of these links via the ever-resourceful John Ray, here.)

Are there surfers who aren't aware that, "the conservative news service," provides and updates links to the work of a couple of dozen right-ish columnists here? Too much! But isn't that always the way on the Web?

Denis Dutton (editor of Arts and Letters Daily, here) thinks that Theodore Dalrymple is one of the best essayists since Orwell. And, hey, I'm on board with that. It's a good week for Dalyrmple fans. In the Telegraph, he reviews a new Peter Hitchens book that attempts to explain why the crime rate in Britain has been on the upswing, here. For City Journal, he writes about Rhodesia and Zimbabwe here, and about Cairo here.

An interesting old-media/new-media moment occurred a few days ago when I received an email from the editor of City Journal letting me know that the new issue of the magazine was available online. I was flattered that City Journal knew of the existence of 2Blowhards. But once I was done puffing myself up, I of course realized that he'd no doubt alerted dozens and dozens of other blogs too. What I wound up feeling was intense admiration for his marketing resourcefulness. City Journal (here) is an excellent magazine, by the way. Its ideas were behind the Giuliani approach to crime, it features some rowdy and brainy, fresh voices on politics and the arts, and it's one of the few places in America that publishes such first-rate righties as Dalrymple, Roger Scruton, and David Watkin. Tell a leftie friend about a great article you've read in City Journal and have fun watching her get really, really furious.

The Stumbling Tongue has some provocative musings about computer games as art here.

Movie buffs Ian Hamet (here) and Tim Hulsey (here) are both fans of Hayao Miyazaki, the Japanese animator known for "Princess Mononoke" and the current "Spirited Away."

Colby Cosh has been thinking about fast food and the decline of McDonald's, here, here, and here.

April is Poetry Month, and Mike Snider has noticed (here) a few telling things about the poems that are being highlighted by Poetry Daily.

Kevin Michael Grace (here) and Kelly Jane Torrance (back posting again here) are having an interblog discussion about Evelyn Waugh's "Sword of Honor." Oops, make that "Sword of Honour."

Back blogging again too is Polly Frost, here, who took a break to produce a play she's written. She's already posted on "Ghost Ship" and camp movie classics -- but her blog address has changed, so update those links. I notice that she's also been doing some extensive redecorating of her Web home. This here will give access to Polly's many offerings -- which include a gorgeous author shot, erotic horror fiction (hot stuff!), humor, and a tempting-looking forum (here) where she's inviting visitors to gab about movies, books, music and food.

I confess that I  get a naughty thrill out of  reading Ann Coulter, here. She's certainly aggressive, over-the-top and a loose cannon. But does she lower the tone of the general discussion? I'm not so sure, given what a pro-wrestling spectacle it is already. In any case, I take Coulter as a go-for-the-throat political comedian and frequently find her hilarious. Plus, some of her points are genuinely good, and her descriptions of the media-elite world jibe pretty well with what I, from my worm's-eye perspective, experience of it.

Writing has traditionally been about the writer telling the reader something. Blogging seems to change that equation. As much as I enjoy putting on the occasional show, I find that blogging encourages interaction more than monologuing; it tends to be more like a conversation than a lecture. Linking is one of the big reasons for this. When you link to someone, you're providing a service. And yet ... and yet ... (dirty blogging secret), it's possible and fun to make your own points while directing traffic to another posting or article or site. (I could be kidding myself, but I sometimes suspect I get more of my own stuff across in these blizzards of linking than I do in my more complete-unto-themselves postings. All that invisible HTML changes the nature of the writing. ) In any case, you're shaping content in a more interactive and responsive way than in traditional writing. (At least I am.) I don't know of anyone who does creative linking better than the edu-blogger Joanne Jacobs. A complete vision comes across, yet you'll almost never catch her doing any showboating; she seldom writes anything that seems like a self-contained mini-essay, and she almost never goes into lecture mode. Reflective and superficial aesthete that I am, I find this an innovative and exciting development in writing. Luckily, Jacobs is also brilliant, fresh and free in her thinking, so I get to enjoy real meat and substance too. A minor disadvantage for anyone who wants to link to Jacobs is that she's so non-egocentric and helpful that it's hard to pick out individual postings to highlight. So I'm stuck lamely (but admiringly) recommending her entire site, here.



posted by Michael at April 19, 2003


Did you laugh when Ms aggressive, over-the-top loose cannon Coulter said that the NY Times building should be blown up?

Posted by: ROBERT BIRNBAUM on April 19, 2003 10:15 PM

Sure, like I've laughed at many of the political jokes of Mort Sahl, Dick Gregory, Cedric the Entertainer, Roseanne Barr -- and Will Rogers, Mark Twain, and Jonathan Swift too, come to think of it. Well, maybe not in that class, but still pretty funny, or so I thought.

It was a joke.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on April 19, 2003 11:37 PM

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