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August 2011

July 2011

A sad milestone

Today the Typepad stats showed that my average daily page views has dropped below 100.  This is a first since the very earliest days of this blog in 2004 (though pretty quickly it rose above that, back when a lot of google searches sent people to my blog due to my first post "A Former Republican Against Bush"). 

For over a year the average really has been less than 100, but the early days when there was quite a regular audience ("blogging was so 2004")  or the days when I was coming out publicly in 2005 and hit over 1,000 readers a day, kept the daily average aloft.  Occassionally in the last year I've hit over 200 views in a day, but only when I've linked to something from my Facebook.  I get happy when I get 120 or 150.

Of course I've have chances to promote the blog and increase its readership.  I could have listed the url in my Oklahoma Gazette by-line, as many other writers did.  Or I could promote it to congregants, which I've never really done.  Partly this was because after the early days of blogging and some mistakes I made, I've generally enjoyed it not having an incredibly wide readership and, instead, remaining a place where I can generally say what I want in a small circle of friends and regular readers.  Of course Facebook seriously cut into blog readership.

I do get envious sometimes when I see the readership and continuing commenting and conversation (which used to happen here) on Greg Horton's blog, for instance.  I think my writing should spur the kind of conversation that his does.  Of course in 2004 there was a whole blog circle of us where the conversations spread over each other's posts -- then we became friends in real life.

In the late Aughts I occassionally toyed with closing this down, but handfuls of you encouraged me not to.  Plus, I still have fun with it, and believe it has given me a place to refine my writing.  I still think these things.

So, MyQuest continues now in its eighth year and will keep on as long as it remains fun.

Parkman's The Oregon Trail

The Oregon Trail: Sketches of Prairie and Rock-Mountain LifeThe Oregon Trail: Sketches of Prairie and Rock-Mountain Life by Francis Parkman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Two things immediately struck me when I began reading this book. First, that the writing style was so contemporary. Clearly Parkman was one of those writers who helped to clarify and refine the standard American style. Second, was "Why didn't I read this as a kid?" Because I really would have enjoyed it a lot as a kid.

The book is full of adventure and picturesque images of the American west before too much settlement had forever altered it.

I found some great spiritual/theological material in the book -- particularly that phrase "the protracted crossing of the threshold" in reference to a journey that hasn't yet reached the "paradise of our imaginations."

There are places where it drags, but any journey across the prairies, plains, and mountains would in places, wouldn't it?

What annoyed me toward the end was how many bison he indiscriminately killed with no sense of what was being taken from the American future.

View all my reviews

And this from the party that brought you conservation

The House GOP wants to eviscerate our nation's environmental laws, according to this article in the NYTimes about 39 appropriations riders that would do things like end regulation of mountain-top mining, stop preserving wilderness, and mine uranium near the Grand Canyon.

And this from the party that brought you the National Parks system and our first major national efforts at conservation and preservation of natural resources.  The party whose presidents signed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Wetlands Protection Act.  The party whose 1988 presidential nominee ran as the pro-environment candidate.  And the party who set aside the largest amounts of space ever for protection in the form of the oceanic spaces set aside by George W. Bush (otherwise viewed as no big proponent of the environment).

How sad to attempt to destroy one's own proud legacy.  At least it was a legacy I was proud of when I was a Republican.

Presidential Rebuttals

Comic writer Albert Brooks imagines what would have happened throughout history if it was standard practice for Speakers of the House to rebut presidential speeches.  What would have been the rebuttals of famous words from Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy, etc.?  This one was my favourite:

Ronald Reagan: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

Tip O'Neil, speaker of the House, from his speech following the president: "Is Ronald Reagan really asking the Soviets to do the work that the United States should have been doing for decades? That is the problem with this country. We have to ask our enemy to do the heavy lifting. Can we not tear down this wall ourselves? The America I grew up in certainly could have, and I would like to return us to that era. What are we going to ask the Soviets to do next, cook us our dinner?"