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‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on August 31, 2015

Five years ago, I wrote a post marking my “Five-Year Blogaversary”. That five-year mark was measured from August of 2005, when I originally began blogging, posting on politics and current events as part of a now-defunct group blog. (I explain a bit more about this in the Five-Year post and in the About the blog page.) Recognizing that these milestones are dated a bit arbitrarily, I still feel a need to note the passage of another five years.

Calling this post my “Ten-Year Blogaversary”, even with the tongue-in-cheek awareness of what a blogaversary is or might be, strikes me as inappropriate. Two main reasons:

  1. I have not been actively blogging for most of the last four years. I allude to this in my About recent changes page. There are quite a few reasons why I haven’t kept posting, but they fall in to two broad types: the good (e.g., I had some other really important and rewarding things occupying my time) and the bad (e.g., I anticipated being in a very different place with my career–one that would present a natural synergy between me doing my actual work and me blogging about some of my favorite topics). Either way, this reflects a kind of failure, as I like writing on self-imposed deadlines and I would benefit from doing more of it. As I mention a bit mysteriously elsewhere, this will change in the near future (maybe not exactly in the form of more blogging like this, but that’s still a possibility).
  2. My wife and I just had our first wedding anniversary earlier this month (we were married in August of 2014). Going forward, this will continue to be a time of year when I celebrate important anniversaries, but the non-blog one is the more important of the two. Indeed, the difference is so vast, the juxtaposition so staggering, that mentioning a blogaversary (except perhaps briefly in jest) in this context is disrespectful. Not to mention weird. What even is a “blogaversary” anyways? I understand what it means by analogy to “anniversary”, but…did I make up that concept as a joke once and now I’ve been utilizing it for over 5 years?

I’m a bit impressed that anyone still visits this site, because I haven’t posted with discipline and regularity (here or on other sites like Facebook or Twitter) since the primary elections in 2011-2012 that determined Mitt Romney would be the Republican candidate to challenge President Obama in the 2012 US Presidential Election. However, some reflection on the past five years is needed.

My discussion of the political beliefs of William Shatner (the incomparable actor known for his portrayal of Captain Kirk, TJ Hooker, Denny Crane, The Priceline Negotiator, among others) remains by far my most visited and most searched-for post. In this spirit, I promise that to the extent that this blog continues in any fashion whatsoever, I will ensure that it remains a leading source for information on William Shatner’s views on politics. I vow that there will be more discussion of William Shatner, not less.

Yes, I remember the valuable insight of The Simpsons on the nature of promises (especially political campaign promises) embodied in the speeches given by the aliens impersonating politicians:

Tonight I say, we must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom…

Even so, the people demand more blogging about William Shatner, so that seems like as good a topic as any (especially when it connects the arts, broadly defined, to politics, again broadly defined).

As for topics other than Shatner, I feel that I had a good run of reasonable and interesting posts in the year or so immediately following the five-year blogaversary. I’m fond of my two-posts series, “How terribly strange to be seventy” celebrating the 70th birthday of pioneering musician Bob Dylan, and then the 70th birthday of his slightly younger peer and sometime-rival musician Paul Simon. In hindsight, I think the one about Dylan is too dry and terse, while the one about Simon is too personal and discursive. I also feel that my post about the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War was very timely and necessary, and while I’m proud of it, I appear to have written it with the wrong tone, in that I sounded much more hesitant that my knowledge of the subject necessitated and more casual than the gravity of the situation deserved.

Objectivity regarding one’s own writing is difficult (understatement of the year, nominee). However, combining the metrics of: 1) how important was the information I conveyed, 2) how useful was the analysis I presented around that information, and 3) how well did I express myself via the written word, I would say that the best blogging I did in past five years would be found in my posts about prominent economic commentators weighing in on the second “Quantitative Easing” debate and about Arnold Kling’s thoughts on the solvency of Social Security. Please note that Arnold Kling blogs at a different site now from when I was quoting him then.

While I’m sorry for the mistakes I made that reduced my potential blogging time and output over the past few years, I’m not ashamed of what I did get to write, and I’m very glad that I have the chance to do even better going forward.

There will be new and interesting things coming to this site (or equivalent) soon. Thanks for your patience, and please stay tuned! Some of the pseudo-mysterious ways that I’m hinting at changes (mainly to this blog) will only make sense with some time.

And because important milestones in my life always seem to connect to the works of Tennyson somehow (although fortunately not The Charge of the Light Brigade, in this instance), here’s the inspiration for the title of the post, from the famous final third (public domain, via Wikisource) of Tennyson’s Ulysses:

   There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil’d, and wrought, and thought with me—
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

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Never Forget

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on September 11, 2011

World Trade Towers, 9:03 am EDT, 9/11/2001

The Pentagon, 9/11/2001

United Airlines Flight 93 Crash Site, Shanksville, PA

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Apologies for the lack of posting

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on December 31, 2010

Like the title of this post says, I’m sorry for the lack of posts this month. I have been far busier than I expected to be, even during my vacation. However, I have some good stuff prepared for this blog in the new year, so check back over the coming weeks and months for some actual content.

Have a safe and excellent New Year’s Eve!

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Five-Year Blogaversary

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on August 31, 2010

This month marked the fifth anniversary of when I began blogging–August 2005. I first started blogging at Mankind Minus One, a group blog set up by some of my friends from high school. Although that site no longer exists, you can visit Mankind Minus One using the Wayback Machine, by typing <http://mankindminusone.com&gt; (without the brackets) into the Internet Archive, or see here. Technically, my first post on that site was a meandering piece introducing myself, written on August 24. 2005, which can be seen if you scroll to the bottom here. My first real post was a short article about the anniversary of Leonard Bernstein’s birth, on August 25, 2005 (exactly five years ago last Wednesday). After Mankind Minus One disbanded, I moved my posts here, to Chicago, Athens, and Jerusalem, in January 2007, and began blogging on my own. Although I have rarely kept to my intended schedule of posting at least once per week, I have greatly enjoyed having a place to share my opinions and analysis with the world. I will now briefly look back on some of the highlights of my blogging career.

Tyler Cowen once wrote (I can’t find a link)  that good blogs have recurring features, like a regular “cast of characters”. Although I haven’t been anywhere near as prolific a blogger as Tyler, I have tried to follow his advice in this respect. My recurring features include the not-quite-weekly “Remark of the Week” series, longish posts of assorted links called “Festival of Links”, and the occasional “No Hiding Place”, wherein I highlight the misfortunes of corrupt politicians and other public figures. If you see an example of the creative use of technology in a developing country, be sure to share it with me in an email or comment so I can blog about it in my (so far abortive) continuing series called “Lasers in the Jungle Watch“.

An entry from early in my blogging career of which I am particularly proud is my post about George W. Bush nominating Ben Bernanke to replace then-Fed chairman Alan Greenspan (see also here). Although at the time Mankind Minus One did not have a huge readership, I was one of the first on the blogosphere to post this story, and perhaps the first to include the commentary that the nomination of Bernanke carried none of the stench of Bush’s (eventually withdrawn) nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. For this timeliness, my post was cited by the (now apparently defunct) BlogPulse Newswire, a metablog that highlighted important topics and breaking stories discussed on other blogs.

I am also still proud of my two entries (written about a year into my solo blogging career) contrasting the politics and rhetoric of two prominent economists, Paul Krugman and Herbert Gintis (see here and here). Although the conventional wisdom would hold that Gintis is farther to the left than Krugman, I sided with Gintis after he wrote a negative review of Krugman’s book, The Conscience of a Liberal. In that review, Gintis critiqued Krguman’s advocacy of extreme partisanship, writing, “This book epitomizes what is wrong with American liberalism.” While I admire Krugman’s contributions to the theories of international trade and economic geography, when opining on political matters, Krugman is just as shrill and vapid as the right-wing talking heads–like Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck–that he so much despises. Gintis, on the other hand, has a deep and abiding conviction that we must study social problems scientifically–from many angles, approaches, and viewpoints–in order to glean truths that will help us to ameliorate or solve those problems. My trend of attacking Paul Krugman has continued more recently, in my post defending Congressman Paul Ryan from Krugman’s (and Andrew Sullivan’s) charges of being a “fraud”. (And lest my Obamaphile friends forget, Krugman was a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton against Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries, he maintains that Hillary lost due to sexism and media conspiracy, and he remains, in many ways, an opponent of President Obama, albeit from the left.)

Speaking of Glenn Beck, by far the most viewed post in the entirety of my solo blogging career is the one in which I discuss William Shatner’s political views, as revealed in an interview with Beck on Headline News (back when Beck worked for CNN). I was fortunate enough to watch a re-broadcast of that interview while staying in a hotel room in DC a little more than two years ago. Shatner, the Emmy-award-winning actor who portrayed the protagonists of Boston Legal and the original Star Trek, holds a set of nuanced but unusual political opinions, and while Beck sometimes tried to steer the interview towards his personal talking points, their exchanges were unique and revealing. I found an online transcript of the interview, and filed it away for a few months until I had time to blog about it. Fortunately for me, when I finally blogged about that interview, Shatner’s autobiography Up Till Now had recently been released, and Beck was moving his self-titled show to the Fox News Channel. Even more fortunately, the stars of Shatner and Beck have only risen since then, as Shatner’s autobiography was a best-seller and Beck’s TV program has gained in viewership. Just this past Saturday, a rally at the Lincoln Memorial in DC hosted by Beck (along with Sarah Palin) attracted tens (or perhaps hundreds) of thousands of participants. Perhaps these developments account for the fact that my post on William Shatner’s politics is the most viewed post on Chicago, Athens, and Jerusalem, by an order of magnitude. Another possibility is that many people are interested in finding out what William Shatner’s political views are, and there are few other sites on the Internet that clearly and directly discuss Shatner’s political opinions. With this in mind, my secret plan to attract more traffic to this blog in the future is to……blog more about William Shatner! Shatner’s popularity might even increase further, as he will return to network TV this fall with the show $#*! My Dad Says, which is in fact a television show based on a Twitter feed–a clear sign of the times. So expect–and be prepared for–more posts about the one and only William Shatner.

I will close with a few announcements.

First, if you like what you see, please leave a comment and introduce yourself. If you are one of my friends who reads my blog posts as “Notes” automatically imported into Facebook, please take some time to visit my main blog site, chicagoathensjerusalem.com, and post comments there. If you find it easier just to comment on the Facebook Note, I will of course read those comments as well, but the main site could use a few more (non-spam) commenters.

Second, I would like to address the requests I have received from my friends on Tumblr to use that site more often. Chicago, Athens, and Jerusalem has served me well, and I will if anything devote more time to it, not less. I will continue to post on my Chicago, Athens, and Jerusalem Tumblr occasionally, especially for short items that don’t require or deserve a full blog post. I may in fact post there with a slightly greater frequency, as blogging here and posting items to Tumblr may be complements not substitutes, to put it in economic parlance. Furthermore, an RSS feed of my Tumblr posts will remain visible on the sidebar of this site, an idea I got from fellow WordPress.com blogger Robert Talbert–a nice guy with many interesting things to say over at his blog Casting Out Nines.

Finally, while I do not wish to issue any corrections or retractions for my first five years of blogging, I do wish to sincerely apologize to economist and journalist Tim Harford for repeatedly misspelling his surname.

Thanks for reading! Here’s to five more years!

Posted in Announcements, Personal | 1 Comment »

Happy New Year!

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on January 1, 2009

Happy 2009 to my friends, family, and readers!

Regardless of how good or bad your 2008 was, I hope that your 2009 is better!

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Blogging Holiday

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on December 20, 2007

I have been blogging Not At All the past week or so for two reasons: 1) my parents and sister will be out of the country from Christmas until after New Year’s, so I’m spending time with them before they leave, and 2) my laptop broke, so keyboard time has been severely reduced. I’ll be back soon.

Only two weeks until the Iowa Caucus!

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The Merging

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on January 29, 2007

Hello friends, well-wishers, and random internets people! With the impending discontinuation of the group blog of which I am a member (www.mankindminusone.com), I have decided that I wanted an individual blog to serve as a clearinghouse for the various things I write on the Internet. I also wanted to repost some of my older pieces that were lost during a server crash, and merge various posts of links and articles that I made on social networking sites. If my Mankind Minus One colleagues can engineer some other collaborative venue for expression, I will probably join it and this blog will remain secondary (make no mistake—I am extremely grateful to Max and Zach for their efforts, and I am sorry that MKM1 didn’t work out better for all of us). However, if I do not join another group project, expect this site to transition over the next year into a full blog, in the style of a quasi-daily (or weekly when workload is heavy) journal on the topics listed above, with the occasional post of random musings.

More content and hopefully some design changes will appear over the next few weeks.

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