I thought I’d respond to some of the email I get most often here at Shot In The Dark.
Q: You come in for a lot of fairly scabrous attacks from a lot of leftybloggers. How do you deal with that?
A: My basic assumption has always been that the opinion of anyone who doesn’t revere me isn’t worthy of contempt.
Q: Hah, Merg! You are teh unethikel. You poast derring the wurk day!?!
A: Nope. In the past five years, I can think of two times I’ve blogged from the office, and both were for really big news flashes – Heller, and one other. And they were both during breaks in the action at work, to boot.
I write, usually, from 5:30AM until about 7AM. Sometimes, rarely, in the evening, although that is rare indeed. Which isn’t to say I’m not thinking about what I”m going to post; when I actually do start writing, I usually have a posting pretty thoroughly mapped out in my mind, and can pretty much do data entry. And I’m a very fast typist.
I am that good.
It helps that Wordpress – my blog editing tool – allows me to schedule posts for anytime I want them, so they can publish immediately, or at any time in the future that I want. So I can run a bunch of posts in the early morning, and spot a few more to run at noon, and occasionally schedule something for much further out.
In fact, if I got hit by a bus tomorrow, this blog would continue posting content for (checks schedule) right around two years. Although a lot of it wouldn’t make sense; in October of 2012, I have a piece about the North Dakota National Guard landing on Guadalcanal that, so far, says “NDNG Guad; Bloody Nose, M1, Jungle, town”. I could see it becoming a literary genre in its own right, really – but all in all, I’m hoping to be alive to flesh the notes out.
Still – those pieces I do on music of the eighties, and my World War II pieces, and most of my “Twenty Years Ago Today” stuff is written months – sometimes years - in advance. The current record? I have a piece about the thirtieth anniversary of Richard and Linda Thompson’s “Shoot Out The Lights” scheduled for April of 2012; it’s been completely written for probably 18 months.
I’m a little manic that way.
Q: Whatever happened to “Twenty Years Ago Today” Did you have much of a life twenty years ago?
A: No, I really didn’t.
Well, that and some of the people who were in my life twenty years ago have said they don’t want to appear in my blog.
But I can announce this; the series will be making a return in coming months. Actually, it did return, sort of; I posted my first epi in 15 months a few weeks ago. But if you like the series, I have episodes spotted out for the next year or so.
The crazy part? I started the series five years ago this month. Those five years didn’t go nearly as fast the first time.
Q: Why so much writing about the gubernatorial race? Do you work for the Emmer campaign?
A: This campaign has given me lots of opportunity to do some of the things I haven’t had much time to do with this blog – actual reporting. Digging into stories and analyzing them. In this case, the “story” is the boundless, slimy perfidy of the DFL and Mark Dayton’s campaign. Let’s just say it’s a target-rich environment.
But no, I do not work for the Emmer campaign. I keep my “Disclosures” section pretty rigorously up to date. Unlike the Minnesota Independent, I am rigorously honest about this blog’s backstory.
Q: Oh, bull. You have so much inside info from the Emmer camp, you gotta be working for them.
A: Nope. I have plenty of contacts in conservative and GOP circles – one of the benefits of doing, I dunno, a successful conservative blog and talk show for all these years - and those contacts translate into “sources”, when it comes time to report on things. But no; I have no connection to the Emmer campaign that every other “journalist” in town doesn’t have on whatever “beat” they cover. Absolutely none.
Q: You are such a shill. You are an idiot. You are stupid. No intelligent person can believe what you do.
Q: Why don’t you write more about music? It’s what you do best.
A: Why thanks. But throughout the history of this blog, I’ve written about whatever crossed my mind, when it’s crossed it.
That said, I have a solid two more years of “This Was The Year That Was” posts, about eighties music, coming up. The pace is dilatory, but I’m kinda jazzed about the actual articles.
Q: You are wasting my time. You have no expert knowledge of Minnesota politics.
A: You came to me, jagoff. Not the other way around.
Q: What was that Gubernatorial prediction again?
A: Emmer 47, Dayton 44, Horner 8.
Q: How about the CD6 race?
A: Bachmann 52, Clark 42, Anderson 6.
Q: OK, smart guy; CD2?
A: Kline 62, Madore 38.
Q: You think you’re sooooooo smart.
A: No. I don’t. Honestly, I feel like a moron most of the time.
Part of it is that kids on the Great Plains generally grow up with the sense that they really aren’t anything special; you’re not bad, but don’t go expecting to change the world, because you’re just not that big a deal. There’s even a Norwegian word for it. I forget the word – Fjøreløren, for all I know – “Janteloven“, or “Jante’s Law”, which is a constant dynamic in small-town Scandinavian life - but it translates to “knowing your place in the scheme of things”. Not getting “uppity”, to translate it to American.
Anyway – long story short, I usually feel like the dumbest person in any room I’m in.
Unless I’m at “Drinking Liberally”. Then I’m in the 99th percentile.
Q: You are teh heppocreet and you lie!
A: ”Hypocrisy” is one of those concepts that sloppy usage has perverted out of all semblance of reality in recent years. So please focus on this; on what issue do I demand that someone else make a moral decision from which I exempt myself? That would be hypocrisy.
“Lying”, again, is another one. It’s entirely possible – albeit unlikely – that I’ve made a mistake on some issue or another; bobbled a number, mis-read a quote, whatever. An error made in good faith, like “Paul Wellstone was elected in 1988″, is not a “lie”; “I bagged Marisa Tomei last night”, alas, is – or would be, were I not using it as a f’rinstance.
Which brings up an interesting question; is a statement like ”9/11 is an inside job” or “the Holocaust never happned” or “Mark Dayton will be a fantastic governor” or “the moon landings were faked” a “lie”? All are absurd – but people can say either one and honestly believe ‘em.
Q: Why are you so arrogant?
A: Please. Like you’d understand my motivations. Sheesh.
Q: Where are Roosh and Bogus Doug?
A: Not writing at the moment. They both have other things going on – and my deal with them from the very beginning was always “write as much as you want; once a day, once ayear, I don’t care”. They took me seriously on it!
Q: I like your World War II stuff. Why don’t you write more?
A: Were there other major wars going on 70 years ago today?
No, I’d love to write more of the non-political stuff. After the election, I likely will focus a lot more on some of my ancillary interests.
But this election is a hoot!
Q: Why do you bag on leftybloggers?
A: Because so many of them are just sloppy thinkers and crummy writers.
Don’t get me wrong – most of them are good human beings (there are notable exceptions); some of them are capable of a rational argument, and a few are even fairly bright. But for whatever reason, the gene pool among the great mass of lefty bloggers is just really really shallow. Like their reasoning.
In fact, I’m pondering starting a big series after the election; “Logic for Leftybloggers”. I’m thinking of going through the list of classic logical fallacies and applying them to the sorts of “template” premises you see leftybloggers falling back on all the time.
Because I’m all about the education.
Q: When are you going to update your blog’s design?
A: Good question. It crosses my mind from time to time. But I’ve got seven and a half years invested in this look, and I kinda like it.
Q: Couldn’t you go with a snazzier color scheme?
A: I don’t care about snazz. I’m a usability guy. Black text on white background is the most readable combination; Verdana is a nice, readable font. Lots of blue is relaxing and agreeable-looking. ”Friendly”, and also just plain easy to read in a hurry.
Q: Why don’t you go with a three-column layout? Everyone’s doing it!
A: Never. Never never never. I hate three-column layouts (unless you need a left column for navigation, and I do not). Hate hate hate. I mean, if you like ‘em, put ‘em an your own blog, and God bless ya, but I hate hate hate hate hate three column layouts. The content is king on a blog, especially a blog like mine that’s not part of any larger enterprise.
The western Human eye starts reading on the left, and so I don’t want my audience to have to pick their way over a bunch of links and ads and unneeded navigation and crap to get to the actual content. Furthermore, I want the left margin to the usable to provide “scanning cues” to users who are scrolling down the page looking for something interesting; clogging up that left margin with ads and lists and twitter feed widgets to try to find what they want.
The left side of the page is the most valuable real estate on the page. Putting a bunch of links and lists and crap on the left side is like putting the restrooms and service corridors at the front of your mall.
Q: How long are you going to do this blog?
A: Until it stops being fun. We’re nowhere close yet.