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Diary Follow-Ups


Some follow-ups on my monthly diary:

•  Yes, Tennessee is a nice place:


Having been born in Georgia and spending most of my life there, I have some comments about Tennessee.

We moved here to my wife’s hometown of [name of town], Tennessee five and a half years ago to escape the zone of destruction which is Atlanta. [Some unkind remarks about Atlanta, making it sound like the place is about due for another burning.] This part of Tennessee is like Atlanta fifty years ago. Most people here are still native born Tennesseeans. They wave to you driving down the street, they speak when you meet on the street, clerks in stores are friendly and helpful. It’s even pleasant to visit the courthouse or city hall to pay taxes. Getting a driver’s license is as bad as anywhere.

There’s no income tax, though not for lack of trying.

The government here is slightly more intrusive than in Georgia. Of course, this area went for the North in the War of Northern Agression, so what else could I expect?

I can see why it was voted a nice place to live. We may have to leave to be near our son in our declining years, but we won’t want to.

[Me]  I await with resignation the furious e-mails from people angry that I have revealed the secret of Tennessee’s niceness, thereby opening the place up to hordes of uncouth, un-assimilable refugees from Blue America.

And I’ll add that one of the finest American ladies I know lives in Tennessee. If she’s reading this, she knows who she is.

•  I momentarily forgot one of the rules of writing for the web, which is: Never attempt anything orthographically cute or clever. Our material passes through the hands of editors, and those hands are itchy. They want to edit. It’s what they’re paid to do. When a contributor sends in flawless prose, with nothing in it that needs editing — as is invariably the case with my copy — the editor makes changes anyway.

Thus, a word in the cleverly lipogrammatic section of my diary got changed from “murmur’d,”, which is what Georges Perec wrote, and what I submitted, to “mutter’d,” which kills the lipogram stone dead. Thanks a lot, pal. (The diary has since been corrected.)

The hunt is on for the offending editor. When I find him, I shall lobby Jonah to ban him from the grotto for a month.

Editors are of course a valuable and essential part of any publishing enterprise. I love editors, really I do. Really. God bless you every one! To the writer who enjoys a bit of wordplay, though, editors are dangerous. They want things right. Occasionally, for some effect he is trying to achieve, the author deliberately wants things wrong. You can’t imagine the trouble I had getting this piece past the NR editor (see the pre-antepenultimate paragraph). Or things like this (last paragraph).

•  From a reader:

Mr. Derb,

I read your December Diary over coffee here at [place of work]. Its seems nothing regarding the financial crisis makes it onto NRO without a caveat pointing out how a primary cause was the government-sponsored extension of credit to those who had no business buying real estate. It’s become such a talking point on the right … pops up everywhere.

But really? Lehman gets leveraged at over 30/1, the ratings agencies are bribed to slap AAA on anything, etc etc, etc and the primary cause is the goverment made them sell loans to poor folks? Clearly this didn’t help, and deserves to be mentioned as a factor, but the frequency which I see it referenced on right of center publications is silly.

[Me]  I’m afraid I disagree. Go out into the streets and coffee-shops of your city and listen to people talking about the financial crisis. Not one in a hundred will mention the PC aspect. Not one in a hundred has ever read or thought about it. It may be common currency on conservative blogs, but the citizenry in general have no clue. Our business is to bring things to their attention, things the mainstream media and bigfoot politicians would rather were not brought to their attention. Hammering away on a point, perhaps louder and more repetitively than is warranted from a strictly analytic point of view, is what we do. It’s our job. It’s called “polemic.”

On the PC aspect of the recession, Steve Sailer has been out in the lead, starting way back around here. There are many follow-ups, and Steve gives full coverage to skeptical counter-arguments. It’s a thing everyone should be talking about. Wellnigh no-one is in fact talking about it. Are we wrong to keep pushing it forward? I don’t think so. Bad policy is bad policy, however well-intentioned. (The worst policies usually are well-intentioned. Indeed, at the head of a list of Seven Deadly Political Sins, I’d put the mistaking of good intentions for good policy. It’s a plague.) Our job is to identify bad policies and smack our political enemies over the head with them. That’s what we do.


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