Thursday, March 02, 2006
Saturday, November 12, 2005
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Great Blogs of History
President Harry Truman was a blogger, Howard Dean's campaign harbinger by more than half a century, and far more successful. While 1940s MSM was erroneously printing the "Dewey Wins" headlines, Truman's twice daily postings were persuading millions of last minute wafflers to pull the lever in his direction. Salty language aside, old Give 'Em Hell Harry (the name of his blog, BTW) had a gift for brief, pithy, and ultimately persuasive posts. And he beat not only Mr. Dewey, but also gave a good thumping to the virtually hegemonic paper press of his day.
Perhaps the most prolific blogger in history, aside from Milton, was William Shakespeare, whose "Avon Calling" site contains virtual terabytes of script, impromptu poems, and a sheaf of sonnets dedicated to the "apple" of his eye, an obvious reference to the iMac G1 upon whose keyboard he clicked and clacked his way to fame. Shakespeare's other blog, "Best of the Bard," contains original manuscripts for not only his best known works, such as A Midsummer Night's Dream and Macbeth, but lesser known plays and poetry the writer obviously held in high regard, even if their pageload stats did not reflect great popularity.
My favorite historical blogs thus far -- and this is probably because both writers were so naturally suited for the format -- are Samuel Clemens' "Ne'er the Twain" and Will Rogers' "Wait a Minute." Clemens wanted, needed, an alter ego for his alter ego, hence the title of his site, whose content ranged from a sweet but serious eulogy of President Lincoln to substantive policy suggestions for his brother, who was a territorial secretary under Lincoln. Clemens stayed mainly with politics after that, disdaining humor in his blog as much as he did seriousness in his novels.
Will Rogers named his blog no doubt after his famous quip about Oklahoma: "If you don't like the weather here, just wait a minute." But his blog was more than quips. Like Clemens before him, Rogers wrote weighty opinion pieces, his "Wait a Minute" title having to do with serious cultural observations. His writing reminds me somewhat of a more homespun Cal Thomas (and he surely had better hair in his profile pic).
And speaking of alter egos, there was a blog called "Altar Ego" by none other than Moses' younger brother, and Israel's first high priest, Aaron. Humorous and nostalgic, the prophet's not-quite-so-famous sibling wrote like he was amassing material for an unauthorized biography. There's the tale of Moses the Egyptian prince, trying his best to fit into Jewish culture, yet not abandon the regal bearing he would need as the leader of a nation. Aaron also writes about the introduction of music and dance into daily worship, thanks to Miriam's innovative use of a tambourine and a few folk steps in worshiping God.
I don't know why we'd never thought of it before, except perhaps that my brother was so weighted down with matters of state, and I with all the new rules of polity in my department. I suppose we simply stopped thinking creatively for awhile; there had been a lot of dictation to process. But praise to the Name, Who used a woman to teach us a lesson in thanksgiving!Other Notables:
Ludwig von Beethoven didn't start publishing "Mother's Mistake" until his podcasting days were cut short by a hearing problem. An avid pro-lifer for both theological and highly personal reasons, the great composer was for a time better known for his Web commentary than his symphonies.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart also maintained a site, "Sissy Me," but was mostly into podcasting. His blog, in fact, consisted almost exclusively of pictures, so many that it looked like he might be storyboarding a new reality series on debauchery and dissipation. Nonetheless when he wrote, even on a whim, he was easily better at it than most.
Albert Einstein evidently found blogging as complicated as driving a car, because he apparently never learned either. While he was quite focused when dealing with equations, the great thinker rambled almost incoherently when trying to blog. What few posts still exist in his ill-named "Pure Energy" archives are dictations, and probably heavily edited at that. Most intriguing is an unfinished post entitled "The Square Root of Two; Why One is Not the Loneliest Number."
Ogden Nash, as one might expect, kept his posts short and rhyming, a veritable mother lode of Burma Shave sign material. Cute samples from "Og's Blog":
From Amazon I copied codeAnd then the next day:
To put a sidebar by my ode
But soon it fouled up Net Explorer
Why can't Microsoft give us more?. . .er.
Bad code nixed;Anyone familiar with Arianna Huffington's "Huffington Post" would get a kick out of Edgar Cayce's, "Cayce & Company," old Ed's "collection" of blogs by all the people he claimed to have been in other lives. (Makes me wonder if he still got group rates when he traveled alone.) It was no surprise to see a few posts from Ra Ta, one of Cayce's better known Egyptian preincarnations (why do these people always claim at least one Egyptian?), but I have to admit I got chills when I read a scribble from someone he claimed he was going to be, and "signed" by a little girl named "Shirley M." Spooky old Edgar definitely had "company" all right.
Og's Blog fixed.
By now you're probably asking the $64,000 question: WWJB. What Would Jesus Blog?
So am I. I've uncovered posts from Isaiah, King David, even the Apostle Paul (who says he did not write Hebrews, but knows who did). Yet I cannot find anything written by the Savior, which I suppose is as it should be. After all, He obviously preferred to let others record His words, which would have kept Him free from having to try to find places to go online, etc. Nevertheless it's fun to speculate about how our Lord might have blogged. For one thing, I think He'd have used a Blackberry for most posts. He would not, if you think about it, have had to worry much about "Blackberry thumb" or carpal tunnel problems, and not traveling more than 200 miles from home during His whole lifetime, would have kept a good signal, while not incurring a lot of roaming charges. Besides, He'd probably let St. John use it most of the time, while He concentrated on proclaiming beatitudes and the like.
As for content, St. John ends his Gospel with "these words:
"Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written."Maybe not, but I'm betting that Google could. Somewhere out there, in an electronically dusty corner on one of Blogger's older servers, sits volumes and volumes of answers to the questions everybody always asks. "What did He look like? How tall was He? Why do we have bellybuttons?"
So I'm going to keep looking. And if, in the meantime, I come across other interesting blogs of yore, I'll let you know.