S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Friday, April 25, 2008

More Confessions of a Collector

Writing a blog post at least once a day has been the goal here at South by Southwest since I began this little blog site in April of 2005. I will soon hit the 1000 posts mark, and it will probably be a cause for celebration. I confess that, like most of us who are addicted to blogging, we don't need much of an excuse to celebrate. I also confess that I collect a lot of stuff to use for writing my posts. Today's post is a reprise of that theme.

Confessions of a collector was from my "creative" blog of 2/6/06, Making Good Mondays. In that piece I discussed the things I actually collect such as books, antiques, original art, Native American crafts and neck scarfs. Today I'll concentrate on computer collecting. Inveterate collectors have certain things in common. Most of us like Internet items that have these traits:

  • Valuable - Information is only valuable to me if it is trustworthy, properly cited with sources, timely, well-written and pertinent. Good journalistic principles assure that search engines will routinely gather my posts.

  • Not valuable - Outdated information is not valuable if readers would have already learned about the issue in as much detail as they desired. There is no value in this fast-paced medium for old material as primary to the post. Information from questionable sources devalues a post, as does sloppily written copy.

  • Cheap - Avoiding "cheap shots" is not always easy. A good "rant" is not made better with cheap ingredients such as profanity, typographical or factually debatable errors, or excessive quotes. Unfortunately, I am unable to work very quickly so posts come at a high per-hour price.

  • Free - Freedom to say what we want without overly censoring ourselves is one of the main reasons to blog. And thank goodness the Internet is still (relatively) free. I am free to read to my own biases, free to skim a piece too quickly, but not free to cheat my longtime readers.

  • In categories and containers - I collect items about the categories of writing, George W. Bush (unfortunately, he remains an obsession), the Constitution and Congress, politics and foreign policy, leadership, the Middle East and the European Union, war, space and spying. I include tagging through Technorati and well as Blogger's labels.

  • Miniatures - Word counts become an important compromise between thoroughness and writing succinctly. Breaking up long sentences helps the flow. I try for 250 words but rarely make it. I rarely use ALL CAPS to avoid "shouting."

  • Multiples - Aggregators became favorite collectors for me for multiple reasons. Regular automatic updating, ability to save items, category sorting and ease of use are pluses in my eyes. I also use multiple browsers with capacity for multiple tabs, as well as multiple favorites/bookmarks/blogrolls. I regularly use a MyWay home page, or Boglines, or iGoogle/Google Reader, or Yahoo!

Here are some of my favorites in today's Bloglines headline collection:

  • Understatement of the year: "Skepticism toward Bush claims about Syria and North Korea," is the title from one of the absolute best bloggers around, Glenn Greenwald at He begins, "There are multiple reasons why substantial skepticism is warranted concerning the Bush administration's claims that the structure which Israeli jets destroyed inside Syria last September was a nuclear reactor Syria was developing with the aid of North Korea. Such skepticism, however, is difficult to find in most (though not all) American press accounts, which do little other than repeat Government claims without challenge."

  • Best pun: "John and Katrina Broke Up," by Julia at Firedoglake is the headline leading a good story about Senator McCain's recent misbegotten trip to New Orleans. The tour had about as much authenticity as his so-called poverty tour. To quote, ". . . I'll just point out that whatever he may say for the campaign cameras, John McCain's real concern for the people who lost either almost all they had or their lives in Katrina hasn't changed much from the day the storm hit."

  • Big bad news: Informed Comment's Professor Juan Cole on April 24, 2008 headlines, "5 US Troops Killed; Turkey Bombs N. Iraq; Iran Backs al-Maliki against Mahdi Army." The post includes a regular feature, McClatchy reports political violence in Iraq for the midweek. Iraq just will not go away as the source of the biggest bad news of the past five years.

  • Best teasers: "Think Fast" is a great regular round-up feature on Think Progress. Steve Benen who writes the popular Carpetbagger Report always does well with his Mini-Reports/quick hits. Memeorandum is the best quick read of all the latest political stories.

  • Biggest heart: Slate Magazine's Ben Yagoda's book review shows "Cartoons Go to War" -- Bill Mauldin's unflinching vision has yet to be beat (slide show essay). I scrap-booked Bill Mauldin "Willie and Joe" cartoons in the 1950s.

  • Biggest Pessimist:"Dangerous Russian space landing raises alarms at NASA" is the headline from one of the very best news sources on the Internet, McClatchy Newspapers. NASA's Associate Administrator, William Gerstenmaier, testified on the near-disaster before a House space subcommittee yesterday. This must be fixed!

  • Biggest Optimist: At the (4/25/08) New York Times John Broder headlined, "Using New Math, Clinton Contends She's Ahead." To quote: "Seizing on her Pennsylvania primary victory, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and her surrogates are renewing their efforts to have the disputed Michigan and Florida convention delegates seated and pushing the argument that she now leads in the total number of votes cast when the tallies in those two states are included."

  • Biggest Value for spy watchers is from "emptywheel" (4/4/08) at Firedoglake: "Warrantless Wiretap Memos Timeline." Dates of significant events start October 4, 2001 and end February 17, 2006

I have to confess that it is a big job to maintain all these resources. But when it comes time to write each day I always have a good collection of items from which to synthesize one of my posts. On to 1,000.

View my current slide show about the Bush years -- "Millennium" -- at the bottom of this column.

(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)

My “creativity and dreaming” post today is at Making Good Mondays.

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The Future Was Yesterday said...

I used to chase and check and worry about the validity of a source.

Now I just go to South By Southwest! If it's there, I know it's good.:)

1000! My goodness, you are mouthy!:) Good luck on that goal!

Carol Gee said...

Hi Future -- with the tardiness of this reply one would think I collect unanswered communications. Sorry for that.
Thanks for your flattering words. I do try for quality, but I notice a few more "typos" getting through these days. And I occasionally lose a word, even if I am generally mouthy. ):
I'm having a bout of insomnia, on my way to the 1,000.