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Clawing Through
the Blog Fog

Blogs are roadblocks on the information superhighway. No, that’s too nice. They’re billion-car pileups on the information superhighway.

They’re touted as democratic, and, yes, they do indeed afford you some magnificent choices on how to waste your time. And democracy’s all about choice, right? You can choose to be dumb enough believe the random nonsense and gossip posted on blogs. Or you can dutifully propagate a blog’s errors and banalities by forwarding them to the most clueless people on your mailing list, and exchanging further opinions about the errors and banalities. These friends in turn will forward the questionable content to their friends, some of whom reblog the blog, further clogging the superhighway, with the six degrees of separation imploding into a mountain of intellectual wreckage.

Or, if you’re a skeptical sort of blog addict, you can sort through the “Comments” to see if anybody has discredited, challenged, or corrected that nonsense. Then you can waste even more time adding your own lame-ass comment. 

Why rush to a reliable source in the first place, or, God forbid, a library, when you have such a fabulous menu of time-wasting options? That would be, like, soooo retro, so ’80s.

But I must admit it was nice to see Barack Obama rise above the blog-fog and take the nomination.

First they claimed he was a closet Muslim, some sort of covert operator, because he attended a Muslim school. Then they had him hating whites and disavowing his white ancestors. Or saying he never had a “real” job, etc., etc. Completely ridiculous, as anybody knows who has bothered to actually READ THE GUY’S BOOK. But it’s probably asking too much for blog-readers and Internet addicts to stagger out of their bleary-eyed blog-fog and read something besides what’s on  a computer. 

Contrary to all the Internet rumors, a big chunk of Obama’s book is dedicated to portraying his white mother and grandparents, in a well-rounded, loving way, but one that also gives criticism where it seems due. Considering the admiration and affection he shows for his white mother, it’s surprising some bloggers haven’t labeled him a mommy’s boy and tried to snuff his campaign with that revelation.  They probably have. Oh right, he did attend a Muslim school for two years. What they don’t tell you is that he also attended a Catholic school for two years, and that neither group inspired him to get religion at this point in his life.

Despite such examples, people keep saying that blogging is a wonderful new method of sharing ideas.  But actually it seems very old, way more retro than the ’80s. I experienced blogging way back in the 1950s, as a kid, first in Buck White’s tavern, and then in other bars deep in rural Wisconsin. In that enlightened province, kids were allowed in bars, a fabulous idea in that it enlarges their view of the adult world in a way that Little League and organized soccer cannot. Back there in the sticks, every beer guzzling, whiskey-chugging windbag of a barfly had an opinion on every topic from the durability of manure spreaders to methods of nuking the Russians. One half-baked opinion idea would be contradicted by another, and that second opinion would be expanded on or challenged by another, and so on, up and down the bar and along the pool table, and on over to the urinals.

Even the most crackpot notions could cycle beyond the taverns, through the feed mills, barber shops, and hardware stores, and some would even reach the status of the definitive “Well, they say . . . “ Of course the wiser locals, like my sage, self-educated uncle, recognized that most of these opinions were tributaries to an endless stream of bullshit that fed into reservoirs of bullshit. The doubts he expressed about the wisdom of the adult world were dramatically confirmed one day by our high school science teacher. Some point of basic chemistry or physics had come up, and somebody in the class opined, “Well, they say . . .”, at which point the teacher slammed an eraser at the blackboard and wailed, “Who in the hell is THEY?” I can still see the chalk dust flying off that eraser.  Cloud of unknowing, a fog of blog.

But there IS one major difference between antique rustic bullshit and the blog of today. Back then, the lamest of opinions of clueless windbags never got far beyond the community. Now, they are transmitted through the entire galaxy. Oh marvel of progress!

In conclusion, and I must somehow conclude: Obama’s book is as well-written and engaging as any modern political autobiography. It even compares favorably with the autobiographies of some big names in our history like Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Ulysses Grant, and Frederick Douglas. And it isn’t burdened with the orgies oversharing and sleezy revelations demanded by our dismal modern culture of therapy, talk shows, reality shows, People magazine and related rags. If we spent as much time reading these guys as we do with People, etc., we might raise our collective IQ a point or two. Who knows, some people might even turn to the guy who is ultimately responsible for the modern plague of oversharing: the father of all autobiography, Saint Augustine. Somebody could even start up a chat room to help figure out how we’ve come all the way from his “Confessions” of 400 A.D. to those of Paris Hilton today.

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