Thursday, August 06, 2009

What We Are Not, and What We Are

This is the piece I need to do, about once a year, in which I take a close look at what we're trying to do here, and why. We need to set ground rules for ourselves--which we'll try not to break unless we give notice--and keep ourselves motivated and our dear readers' expectations managed..

We Are Not the News
The main problem with trying to do news here is that we don't have the time to provide immediate, fact-checked reporting. We will take our time, think once or twice, research as much as we need to do to feel right about what we're writing, and do exactly as much editing as we want. So don't expect me to be all over the latest event.

Much less are we going to be a local news reporter; we have too little appreciation for the trade, and much too much respect for the local powers of retribution. Crime and punishment, real estate development, and the tourism trade are three subjects we cannot abide, and that will eliminate 90% of any local stories, anyway. As for the others, they're probably in litigation, or else, in the case of the scandal called our public schools, I have no information beyond what's in the local newspaper.

We Are Not In Anyone's PocketWe aren't offered, nor are we taking, any ads, any sponsorship of any kind. We can endorse people, policies, artistic endeavors, articles, or sports teams for that matter, but we'll do it because that's what we want, not because of any binding agreements or requirements. We aren't getting paid.

We Ain't the Elements of Style
I always hated Strunk and White, and this is part of my revenge. Yes, there are typos here and there, and passive voice, and sentence fragments. We're trying to write like people talk (not "as people talk")--OK, how educated people talk. The typos have increased, no doubt, as we moved from desktop with large monitor to the Dell Inspiron Mini (see if you can guess when!) It's a small price to pay, though, as I see it, which is with the laptop perched on my lap, feet up, in the easy chair, in front of the TV: I'll spend a lot more time with the blog, so hopefully a net benefit to all.

These Are Our Politics
I remember shooting the breeze late one work evening (would've been about 1994) with Hamid Biglari (physicist of Afghan background, turned finance guru)*--for some reason he asked me to characterize my politics, and I said "Utopian Progressive". He thought that was pretty amusing--first, that a guy in banking could be so far from the mainstream, second that I would admit it.

I supported the re-branding of liberals as "progressives" in later years: they needed to get rid of that late-19th-century ball-and-chain. That doesn't mean that I'm comfortable with them in my camp, though. What we share, hopefully, is an understanding that the arc of human destiny is away from the struggle-then-die mode which has characterized most peoples' lives for most of our history (and prehistory), toward something presumably better for more of us, more of the time.

Our politics are, and intend always to be in this blog, guided by three principles: internationalist, futurist, and humanist. With regard to the first, it's not about globalization of trade--which may be a useful tool for development, but is not the objective in itself. We aim to take the broad view, the long view, and to put the course of the collective project of humanity above all else. Feel free to hold me to this.

Yes, we're one of those big, nasty "secular humanists" your pastor may have warned you about. Hey now baby, get into my big black car/ I wanna just show you/ What my politics are.
"Politician", from Cream: Goodbye

We Are a Monthly of Informed Speculation and Whimsy
That mission statement should be pretty much self-explanatory. The blog contents are ordered by month; what's posted intra-month is provisional. After the month is over (plus a couple of days), I generally won't go back and change what's out there (if I do, I'll put it in a comment).

We Have a Record, but We're Not Breaking Any
Our goals are fairly modest: express ourselves on the subjects we choose, clarify our thinking, hopefully persuade a few people around the margins. We welcome dialogue, though few have chosen to sully the pristine contents of our pages with their inputs. In particular, we'd love for readers to point out our past errors--and correct analysis and predictions, if any--and any inconsistencies. We may try a bit more self-promotion in other forums to try to bring in more readers, but just doing this blog is pretty heavy promotion of self, as it is.

*Shameless namedropping, yes: Last I heard, Biglari was the head of McKinsey's financial practice, but this was his first consultancy project. I praise his success, and hope he hasn't gotten himself into too much trouble these days.

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