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Why I Blog

I had a call today from a reporter at the Christian Science Monitor who wanted to discuss climate skepticism.  What a disaster of an interview I am!  He would ask an open-ended question, and off I would go into feedback theory and then to acoustics and then into helicopter dynamics and back to the ice age and then to temperature measurement in Tucson.  I try to follow 6 trains of thought simultaneously and the result is a mess. 

The poor reporter was quite friendly and ended with "I am not sure where we are going with this story" which is the universal reporter speak for "your interview was such a mess I am not sure how we would ever use it."  LOL.  Only by writing, with the implicit governor applied by the keyboard, am I able to organize my thoughts well.  Which is why I have never invested in a computer dictation product - I shudder to think what I would find on the page after a session.  Which reminds me of the early Doonesbury cartoons with Duke when he was a reporter at the Rolling Stone, when he would come into the his editor's office and claim to have dictated some really powerful stuff, only to find a garbled drug-induced mess, which was obviously a reference to Hunter S. Thompson, who... oh crap, I'm doing it again.

Posted on August 31, 2007 at 11:21 AM | Permalink


You do get pretty loquacious sometimes, even when blogging. :) But hey, that's why we love reading you.

Posted by: Anna | Aug 31, 2007 11:58:57 AM

I know what you mean. I suspect if we were born in 1985 or later, we'd be Ritalin kids.

Posted by: Anon E. Mouse | Aug 31, 2007 1:53:37 PM

Yeah, but "Fear and Loathing On the Campaign Trail '72" was a masterpiece anyway. (I think his other books were crap.)

Posted by: DWPittelli | Aug 31, 2007 7:18:56 PM

Oh yes, that sounds familiar. It usually starts off with one little innocent topic and then, in order to explain your position correctly, you somehow have to cover 6-8 other topics, but since your brain already is in over-drive, you do not select but rather pack all thoughts together. The result can be confusing to outsiders, even a later you...

Posted by: Max | Sep 1, 2007 1:59:44 AM

"Context: the sum of cognitive elements that conditions the acquisition, validity, or application of any item of human knowledge."

(Ayn Rand. It's the best, most technically precise, definition of the term that I've ever seen. Go look that word up in a dictionary and observe the sort of mush you'll find for your trouble.)

It can be a hell of a lot of work to assemble and maintain a context. What more is that the imperative can be very pressing, given both the importance of the issue that you deal with around here, as well as the thoroughly disintegrated conduct of what passes for most peoples' "thought", these days.

When it comes to "reporters", I really wouldn't expect any more of them than the average Sterno-bum on the street.

I don't think you're the problem, man.

Posted by: Billy Beck | Sep 1, 2007 6:22:29 AM

The reporter is the product of almost twenty years of educational neotenisation and academic lobotomy. He is like a different species to you. You are attempting communication across a "gulf of species."

For the reporter to actually understand you well enough to package your ideas for the public, he would need to be in possession of a matured brain and a well-developed mind. Such a thing is most rare.

Posted by: Al Fin | Sep 1, 2007 7:27:31 AM

I am right there with you! There's a reason why the word "verbosity" appeared in the name of my first three blogs, and that's with the keyboard constraint.

Posted by: Jay | Sep 1, 2007 12:49:54 PM

Keyboard constraint?? What's that? Ha!

Posted by: la petite chou chou | Sep 1, 2007 10:36:14 PM

It was quite useful reading, found some interesting details about this topic. Thanks.

Posted by: John | Sep 2, 2007 7:55:23 AM

It's not unusual to have such problems communicating ideas in an interview.

I was once asked how I came about a particular position, and I said that such a position was a result of a summation of the technical knowledge of Western civilization.

While you may come to a conclusion based on a widely varied synthesis of knowledge, education and experience, the interviewer was looking for sound bites and neat little phrased that would fit into a tightly-edited product suitable for consumption by the masses, often colored by the interviewer's particular prejudice on the subject.


Posted by: mostly cajun | Sep 2, 2007 7:56:59 AM

I like that publication, but I hope that they don't misrepresent (intentionally or otherwise), what your positions are.

The media does that often, especially to conservatives!

Posted by: Aakash | Sep 2, 2007 1:37:24 PM

The media lacks the frame of understanding to comprehend a conservative position. Conservative is ungoodspeak.

Posted by: Walter E. Wallis, P.E. | Sep 2, 2007 8:04:39 PM

Hunter Thompson's best book was the Hell's Angels one. And I bet that doofus who opined above hasn't even looked at it. And it's not just I who says that. It's Tom Wolfe and most of the New Journalists.

Posted by: TCO | Sep 3, 2007 6:15:07 AM

Wonderful to hear this range of thought on my poor, misunderstood profession.
Brad Knickerbocker
The Christian Science Monitor

"The only qualities essential for real success in journalism are rat-like cunning, a plausible manner, and a little literary ability."
-- Nicholas Tomalin, British journalist (Sunday Times of London) killed covering the Yom Kippur War in 1973

Posted by: bradknick | Sep 4, 2007 8:27:20 AM

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