DAILY BRIEFING
Editorial Considerations

Jan. 22 - Now that I'm blogging as much as I'm almanacking, I'm sniffing out the blogosphere in the hopes of finding like-minded souls. I do this because it's apparently required by the laws of blogging etiquette—a concept I'm sure someone, somewhere, has contorted into some awkward neologism like webiquette or blogiquette.

Bloggers, it seems, link extensively to one another, fostering "communities" bounded by shared interests, perspectives, ideologies, musical tastes, religious beliefs, sexual preferences, favorite dog breeds, and so on. These communities are sometimes formalized by "webrings."

The wild west analogy seems to work well in this virtual world, with individual blogs analogous to homesteads: someone rushes out onto the open plain, stakes out a little territory, plants their flag, and establishes relations with any neighbors to whom they can claim some kind of intellectual kinship.

They then cover their property with signs (links), pointing to all such neighbors' properties. This way to Harry Jackson's Bulldog Blog! This way to Mary Smith's Daschund Diary! Dogboy's Schnauzer Symposium right this way! Eventually most properties become little more than clusters of signs... think Burma Shave.

It seems to be especially important to have a blogroll, a list of links to your preferred "neighbors," who are presumably supposed to link back to you. This helps generate "traffic" which helps reinforce "self-esteem," which in turn fuels one's capacity for adding still more links to one's page. (Requiring still more neighbors to link back to you.)

Content is thin on most blogs. A typical daily entry is something like this:

January 22
Didn't get enough coffee this morning. Can you believe Maureen Dowd's latest? Seems to fit the Unified Theory of Dowd! BTW, the fish are sick again, so it's off to the vet for now.

What we've actually gained: the knowledge that our blogger wants more coffee and has a couple of sick fish.

Most blog entries don't amount to much more than a sentence or two of personal observation serving as the mortar with which to bind a few links to news items, syndicated columns, and other people's blogs—which themselves only radiate out to still more blogs.

So I'm not going to throw myself into the blogosphere after all. I won't be maintaining a blogroll or getting caught up in link exchanges. But I will try to keep linking to interesting, relevant, and ridiculous directions.

And I haven't yet given up all hope of starting a webring of expatriate American humorists with pregnant wives.

* * *

Speaking of pregnant wives, the other day I mentioned that I'd try to avoid discussing the less attractive sides of pregnancy. I cited astonishing flatulence as one such topic. The DMG reminds me that this phenomenon seems to be associated only with the first six to eight weeks of pregnancy, after which it (mercifully) subsides.

We begin week eleven tomorrow, so we're well out of the woods on the flatulence thing.

Thank God.

(The DMG's reaction to my having mentioned the flatulence associated with early pregnancy did, however, prove instructive as to why it was that none of the pregnancy books we've looked at seemed to mention it. I myself will never mention it again. In fact, I'd like to pretend I never mentioned it. So pretend you read it here.)

* * *

I woke up at 7:15 this morning and there was actually light in the sky. The worst of the gloomy Danish winter seems to be behind us. It wasn't nearly as bad as everyone had led me to fear, but I have much more sympathy for the mania with which Scandinavians abandon themselves to the joys of summer. I can't wait for the insomnia of June.

* * *

It was on this date in 1807 that U.S. President Thomas Jefferson exposed a plot by his former vice-president, Aaron Burr, to establish an empire in the southwestern part of the continent.

Burr was eventually acquitted as a result of Chief Justice Marshall's "tree-falling-in-forest" ruling that treason wasn't treason unless someone was there to see it—along with someone else who saw the same thing. The vice-presidency was never the same.

From that date forward, retiring vice-presidents have been compelled to either retire into the political obsolescence of private life, where we can safely ignore them, or into the presidency, where we can keep an eye on them.

* * *

Today is the birthday of Grand Duke Ivan III of Moscow, better known as Ivan the Great.

He was born in 1440 and became Grand Duke of Moscow in 1462. Although Moscow was a lot of fun, it was not yet Russia. Ivan was determined to remedy that shortcoming as quickly as possible: he had tsars in his eyes.

To enlarge his dominions he began nibbling at his smaller neighbors, paying an annual tribute to the Golden Horde of Tatars to keep them from nibbling at him. Having eventually swallowed most of his surroundings, Ivan decided in 1480 that it was time to stop paying the Golden Horde.

The Golden Horde reminded him that it was time for their annual tribute. Ivan ignored them.

The Golden Horde sent him polite reminders in the mail, but he ignored these also.

They sent reminders on brightly colored stationery embossed with the words PAYMENT PAST DUE, but Ivan, alas, remained indifferent.

Finally the Golden Horde marched against Ivan and he marched his own troops out to meet them. The two armies met, faced off, and simultaneously retreated.

This was a victory for Ivan, in that neither he nor his descendants ever paid tribute to the Golden Horde again. But it was also a defeat for Ivan, who was therefore denied the rank of tsar.

(The first real tsar of Russia was his grandson, Ivan IV, "the shooting tsar.")

* * *

Today is Discovery Day in St. Vincent.

Linda Blair turns 44 today. She and Ivan share their birthday with Steve Perry (1949), John Hurt (1940), Joseph Wambaugh (1937), Sam Cooke (1935), Bill Bixby (1934), Piper Laurie (1932), Ann Sothern (1909), D.W. Griffith (1875), and Sir Francis Bacon (1561).

Happy Thursday!

2004, The Moron's Almanac™

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