On Not Speaking Ill of the Dead

When famous people die, it seems to me increasingly common to read commentary in the blogosphere that begins something like this:

I know we’re not supposed to speak ill of the dead, but in Smith’s case, I can’t believe everyone is making him out to be such a great guy when he was obviously a lousy bastard! Let me set the record straight . . .

This pattern of acknowledging a social taboo and then violating it is often the first sign that the social taboo is on the way out. So it may be with this one. But before we wave it goodbye, I thought it might be useful to see what we might say to restore some appreciation for, or at least observance of, this longstanding rule of civility.

Read the rest of this entry »

Barack Obama Broke My Blog (and other excuses for not writing)

After an absence of four solid months (except for one trip to the Poetry Corner), there are at least two strong temptations that I’m trying to resist.

The first is just to let it all go; to stop.  That would undoubtedly be good for the other pursuits that occupy my time, like family, work, and hobbies.  But I can’t do it.  Read the rest of this entry »

One Final Shoe Drops: Redistributive Justice

Well, we really are living in the Age of the Blogosphere, because some jamoke found an absolute screaming bombshell of a radio interview.  It’s up on Drudge (www.drudgereport.com) and it’s an interview with Obama from Sept. 6 of 2001.  If there were any thoughts that the Joe the Plumber comment on “sharing the wealth” was an unfortunate choice of words in the heat of the moment, it is time to cast those thoughts aside.

Obama is a socialist.  Plain and simple.  He wants to do economic justice via confiscation and redistribution.  He thinks it would be fine if the courts did it, but isn’t sanguine about that route — legislation, in his opinion, is the more reliable route.

It is a legitimate position, a defensible theory of government.  The jury is still out on whether it can produce a just and viable society.  Until recently, it felt like something closer to capitalism was winning the day, but with what’s going on in the financial markets, the argument over the proper “amount of government” has certainly gotten more heated.

It is okay to agree with Obama on this, and ok to vote for him because of it.  But let’s stop pretending he’s something other than a socialist.  That is FLAT OUT what he is.

Twenty Questions About this Blog — UPDATED with photo

Believe it or not, I’ve had some questions about the blog in side correspondence lately. Like: What’s up with the new look and feel of the website? Who are Tim Peach and Brian Freeman, anyway? Why are the comments so long? How many people read this?

To find the answers, I sat down with Mark Grannis, the founder of the blog. What follows is an unedited transcript of the interview. Read the rest of this entry »

What’s up with this blog lately?

As Tim Peach was kind enough to point out in the comments earlier this month, things have been quiet here for quite some time. Some of you have inquired personally to see whether I am quitting, whether I am dying of an incurable disease, etc. Some have even been kind enough to tell me that they miss the blog, or that they have something they want to contribute.

This unplanned “Christmas break” was longer than I would have liked, but it has presented me with a good opportunity to reevaluate the time I spent here during roughly ten months of continuously active posting in 2007. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Blogs. Comments Off on What’s up with this blog lately?

A word from the Love Monkey-in-Chief

One of the unexpected pleasures of handling the administrative functions for this blog has been the opportunity to look at daily reports on how people find us on the Internet. Many still find the blog by typing in the address, or by subscribing to an e-mail feed, or by using a feed reader like Google Reader. However, as the posts and comments on the blog have increased, so has the traffic generated by search engines. I was reminded of this on Oct. 29, when someone found Reasonable Minds by searching for “amateur love monkeys.” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Arts and Letters, Blogs, Media. Comments Off on A word from the Love Monkey-in-Chief

The Cult of the Amateur

In a post a few weeks ago, I promised some thoughts about Andrew Keen’s polemic against “Web 2.0” culture, entitled, “The Cult of the Amateur.” Keen, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who has only recently become skeptical about the social impact of the Internet, takes as his jumping off point the famous T.H. Huxley image of an infinite number of monkeys with typewriters. Huxley says the monkeys would eventually produce Hamlet. Keen says the Internet as we know it today is putting that claim to the test. But the results, according to Keen, are not encouraging. Far from elevating our culture, we Internet monkeys seem to be telling lies to each other on blogs and posting videos of ourselves in various states of undress on Youtube. No sign of Hamlet yet. Read the rest of this entry »

The Thinking Blogger Award

The Thinking Blogger AwardThank you to Matt Haverkamp over on The Digital Perm for tagging Reasonable Minds with the Thinking Blogger Award. Matt is plugged into the blogging community in a way that I’ll never be, so I’m flattered to know he thinks highly of this blog.

The purpose of the award is to spotlight blogs that inspire readers to think. Read the rest of this entry »

Get Reasonable Minds by E-Mail

OK, I’m still pretty new to this blogging thing, so every now and then I find out about some new feature to add. The latest one I’ve learned about is the ability to get blog posts delivered to your e-mail inbox automatically, free of charge, via Feedburner. That’s useful for sites like this one that aren’t necessarily updated every day, and it’s particularly useful if you’re not the sort of person who uses an aggregator to check 15 or 20 blogs each morning, just to see if there’s anything going on. (I have some reason to think many readers of this blog do not know what an aggregator is, and the e-mail option is perfect for them.)

If you want to sign up to get the latest posts and comments from Reasonable Minds delivered to your inbox, look to the right of this post and click on the second little box down from the top — the one that is captioned, “Feedburner subscription.”

Of course, if you are the sort of person who uses an aggregator, click on the one of the doo-hickeys in the third box from the top. If your favorite aggregator isn’t listed, and you want to add our feed address manually, it’s


Happy aggregating.

Posted in Blogs. Comments Off on Get Reasonable Minds by E-Mail

“Senior Administration Official” Tells All

When a journalist cites a “senior administration official” for some piece of information that is being provided anonymously, many readers probably think of Woodward and Bernstein meeting Deep Throat in a darkened parking garage somewhere. That, it seems to me, is what the journalist is hoping you’ll think of. And with some people, that makes the information seem more credible; with other people, less credible.

But what many people do not know is that the anonymous source is frequently a government insider who is speaking in a large, well-lit government office, surrounded by reporters whose questions he or she cheerfully answers. Jess Bravin calls attention to the phenomenon in today’s Wall Street Journal, wryly challenging his readers to see if they can identify the “senior administration official” who is quoted anonymously in this White House press release:

Let me just make one editorial comment here. I’ve seen some press reporting says, “Cheney went in to beat up on them, threaten them.” That’s not the way I work. I don’t know who writes that, or maybe somebody gets it from some source who doesn’t know what I’m doing, or isn’t involved in it. But the idea that I’d go in and threaten someone is an invalid misreading of the way I do business.

Why does the government do this? I’m not sure. Maybe in this particular case, the Vice President felt it would not be Vice Presidential to respond to this particular criticism personally. (Though I must say, the “senior administration official” quoted above goes on to make what seem to me to be newsworthy remarks about his recent meetings with Karzai and others in Afghanistan and Pakistan.)

But it is even harder for me to understand why the press willingly goes along with the whole ruse. They pretend they want their readers to know absolutely everything of importance, but in fact they actively conceal whether the speaker to whom they are referring is, say, one of many policy advisors with no real decision-making authority, or is instead the Vice President of the United States. If these are the watchdogs of our republic, then our republic is in real trouble.

Posted in Blogs, Bush Presidency, Citizenship, Media, News. Comments Off on “Senior Administration Official” Tells All