Saturday, October 13, 2007

On Blogging in General, My Approaches To It, Remembering Two Musical Legends and Three Major Influences, Etc:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

[This thread was predominantly drafted back in early September but due to time constraints was not able to be finished until now. -ISM]

I would be remiss in not mentioning at the start of these musings that September 3rd was the birthday of blues legend Freddy King. I wrote in some length on him last year and encourage readers to review that thread to learn more{1} about the late great "Texas Cannonball" (may he rest in peace).

On the subject of blogging, there are many ways of going about writing on a blog or in other online mediums. I have gone over this a few times in the past and probably will in the future the approaches I use to draw ideas for blogging. One of them is that I am by nature a bit of a contrarian and always have been. That in and of itself is a departure from most people but frankly if you are not to some extent unique -either in your views, your approach to explaining your views, how you go about discussing the subjects you want to discuss, etc.- then it is difficult to be perceived apart from the general mass of those with similarities in their outlooks as yours.

The blogging medium itself is one that I consciously recognized early on{2} had a number of ways to do it and I did not want to approach the way many others do. Or as was noted in a weblog posting within the first year of blogging and when the weblog was still in an early part of its growth:

[Blogging a bunch of links] is not something that interests me for many reasons - though I do have my days on occasion when I am in the mood to mostly post links without much commentary.


I can track stuff down with the best of them but my problem is that I cannot simply post a lot of links and not comment on them. And my reason for this is [due to] the tendencies of the media to try and paint people [of a generally conservative disposition] as either criminal or weird. And if I can do my part to make "a dent in public discourse" then I will do that. But one way I cannot do that is to simply be a vending machine of links.

For if I did do that too regularly, why would I provide any incentive to actually read Rerum Novarum and not Instapundit??? And why read Instapundit and not the two columns on the front page of Investors Business Daily??? I could deconstruct this into near-infinity so I will stop at this time as I am sure you get the idea. My goal is simply to muse on whatever strikes my fancy. In short, there is a reason that you will seldom see breaking stories at this humble weblog.[...]

I tend to prefer to let others bring up breaking issues and then I respond to them. There are tactical reasons for this as well as practical ones. Part of the reason is that I am too critical of journalism in general of rushing to print anything they think can make a story and then if they err on A1 - which happens more frequently than most people would believe, they correct themselves on Q14 where no one sees it.[...]

I find if I let others break the story, I can benefit from their efforts and also circumvent the problems that can come with seeking to "break" a story before anyone else. And of course letting others hash out the main points provides an opportunity to approach the subjects in a way that is to some degree different than anyone else.


Criticism is sometimes justified but usually those who make a habit of it are incapable of separating legitimate criticism from childlike rantings. I believe we do a reasonable job of that separation here; however that does not mean there is no room for improvement of course. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa June 11, 2003)]

I should probably note that even early on I was not predisposed to post a lot of links without commentary but I did it to a greater extent early on than I subsequently have. There are a few reasons for this but rather than go into that now, there are many strengths to the approach I take. One is that it makes it easier to focus on the real underlying issues of a subject and not so much of the trivial surface stuff that most people focus on. However, one of the problems with imposing on oneself a degree of contemporary ignorance of media overexposure is that stuff one would be interested in if they heard of it gets lost as well. The strengths I could list for my overall approach to these matters are legion. The weaknesses while few are nonetheless worth noting and I will give three such examples at this time of news stories I did not hear of until weeks after the fact.

The first example is this thread from the New York Times from a couple of weeks two months ago:

Max Roach, a Founder of Modern Jazz, Dies at 83

Now the only reason I know of this link is that I saw on the cover of a jazz periodical at the library an article about the late great Max Roach, God rest his soul. That got me to do a google search and the above article was found on him. I am a music connoisseur of many styles but one style I like where my overall knowledge is not that good is jazz. Having said that though, one cannot be even minimally familiar with jazz and not know about Max Roach. He was unquestionably the greatest jazz drummer ever. Indeed, his influence went beyond jazz with some of the greatest rock and roll drummers of the '60s and '70s being unquestionably influenced by Roach either directly (i.e Ginger Baker and Neil Peart) or indirectly (i.e. John Bonham, Keith Moon).

Within the last couple of days weeks we saw pass on also the greatest tenor since Enrico Caruso, Luciano Pavarotti. As he is much better known than Max Roach, I will not say much on him that has not been said by others far more competent to discuss that genre of music than myself. I refer of course to fellow musicians including his opera peers and fellow Three Tenors performer Jose Carraras and Placido Domingo who were involved in a musical memorial and who (along with numerous others) spoke fondly of him here. And it seems fitting to include a clip of the great Pavarotti (RIP) so here is one of him singing Nessun Dorma. In three words: he was phenomenal.

Also a missed news story in that time span was the death of Michael Jackson (may he rest in peace). Those familiar with your host's love of beer, wine, and other spirits may well know whom I speak of -suffice to say it is not the same fella who owns Neverland Ranch. Lovers of fine beer will hopefully join me in lifting a glass to his memory -if not for Michael Jackson and the world of fine imports he either exposed me to or encouraged me to seek out and try, my knowledge of beer would be so much less than it is to say nothing of my appreciation for the truly good stuff which is most assuredly not made in America.{3}

Finally, there is the passing of Arthur Jones -founder of Nautilus and a certified renaissance man in many respects. The influence he had on my intellectual formation -both directly and particularly by the influence he had on one of my major intellectual mentors- cannot be emphasized enough. He was one of those who taught me and others who fell under the sway of his influence to not passively accept "conventional wisdom" on anything and indeed that lesson (learned at a young age thankfully) has served me well lo these many years later.

It is my hope that these great men (both the recently as well as not-so-recently deceased) will rest peacefully with the souls of the faithfully departed in the bosom of God for their utilization of the tremendous gifts they gave to others. Perhaps if I had been a little less media ignorant than I had been in the past couple of months{4} I would have caught these events sooner. But even if I had been, the possibility of missing them was still a significant one and considering how much garbage one has to sift through to find the wheat amongst the chaff. (Due to the overstressing nature of 24/7 news cycles.)


{1} For those interested in more about Freddy King, here and here are a couple links of him playing live.

{2} After I adjusted to it and the degree of freedom here which as I admitted back in May did not happen automatically or without a degree of "growing pains":

[L]ife itself is a process of growth and development across a broad continuum. This includes weblog writing and interests.

We have no problem admitting that it took a bit of time before this weblog really started to take a discernable shape and some of the features and/or principles which have become standard or typical over time were in the "finding their feet" stage early on. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa May 15, 2007)]

{3} This is not to deprecate some of the microbrews that are made in various locales mind you; only that my operative presupposition with beer is that foreign brews are to be preferred whenever possible except for Japanese beer which has the singular distinction of being the only nation where the mass-produced beers are worse than those made in America.

{4} I have been gradually imposing a greater media ignorance on myself than I normally have and deliberately for reasons I may touch on at some point later on. I have actually explained recently.

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Points to Ponder:

The process of establishing precise definitions is rigorously demanding; which is why the mystics and skeptics (most people, today) turn away from the realm of the intellect. Concepts are the tools of thought; the better your tools, the better, i.e., more precise, the closer to the actual facts of reality, will your thinking be. [Mike Mentzer]

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On Vilfredo Pareto and Notes on Applying A Basic Economic Principle to Life In General (Including Blogging):

Sometimes with a weblog such as Rerum Novarum which is not updated daily, the appearance can be given that there is a haitus of sorts when in reality there is not. It bears noting briefly at the start of this posting because in a 24/7 news and media cycle, going days on end without posting anything new is hardly in keeping with the weltanschauung of many who are involved in media endeavours -be they of the msm or alternative media variety. To keep the plate adequately mixed here subjectwise -both for my own interest as well as that of the readers- it requires some degree of pacing. I almost never make a scheduled haitus unless it is absolutely necessary.{1} But I also do not like to rush posts as they are formulated and with more thought out expositions, that can take some time -usually days, sometimes weeks, and in a few cases, months.{2}

Life has a way of not giving enough time to get done everything one wants to do -be that in business, with blogging, whatever- and your host is seeking to reapply a principle he has long believed in but not always observed as faithfully as he should have: namely an old economics principle by the late Italian-French economist Vilfredo Pareto. In all spheres of his life in recent months, your host has been trying to reapply this principle where it had fallen into disuse and that includes with blogging. But before explaining how we intend to apply it, readers should be familiarized with the principle in question first so that they can see where we are going in raising it at the present time.

Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923) had come to realize a principle that he first set forth explicitly in 1906{1} pertaining to the issue of economic distribution. He had observed in Italy that 20% of the population owned 80% of the land and resources. Initially he thought that this was due to inequalities of economics but various studies he conducted in nature solidified that hypothesis into a probable theory and it became evident that this is the natural order of things. In other words, whether it is 80-20, 85-15, 90-10, or 95-5 the overwhelming majority of productive results come from a small percentage of outputs.

I discovered this principle years ago with weight training where my training partners and I would through doing a mere fraction of the work that others around us were doing would continue to make progress while they stagnated.{3} And over time I have found that it applies to so many areas but I do not want to get away from the subject in question which is applying Pareto's Principle to all areas of my life -particularly those areas where I have unconsciously let it lapse in recent years.

None of this means I will necessarily blog any more than I do not generally speaking. Well, maybe a bit more if there is more time in the day as a result of getting the other areas of life more thoroughly organized under this principle -a process that is taking a while in lieu of the layers of inefficiency that I had allowed to seep into various aspects of my life.

Oh, I should note before wrapping up this posting that one thing I am considering writing on is the application of this principle to economics and explaining the fallacy behind economic approaches which seek to create equality in outcome as opposed to merely equality in opportunity. But that is a subject for another time.


{1} As it was back in July of this year for a couple of weeks.

{2} It seems in the past six months there have been more than the usual number of these kind of endeavours -including about a half dozen which are in various stages of completion as of this posting and the recent posting on baseball milestones. (The bulk of the material of which was composed over two months prior to its posting but required significantly more than the normal rearranging and revising before it was ready to be posted.)

{3} I have since realized through further study and personal experimentation just how little is really required in this area for maximizing results volume-wise. Like everything, it is not how much you do which is the determining factor but doing it precisely right; ergo a ten to fifteen minute weight training routine seven times per month done correctly results in magnified progress far and above ten times the amount of work in the same time period, etc.

Once the tendons in my foot heal enough to allow it (they were severely strained in April of 2006 and only in recent months appear to be close to fully healed) and I shed a few more pounds, it will be time for perfecting these matters further both with my return to training and some friends and associates who have asked for assistance in maximizing their results in minimal time in the coming months and year.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Points to Ponder:

A single idea, if it is right, saves us the labor of an infinity of experiences. [Jacques Maritain]