I started Mastersen’s Musings on January 27th of this year not knowing whether I’d enjoy it or even stick with it. Happily, I can say that I’ve become quite attached to it. This will be my 292nd essay. It has been fun and rewarding to offer longer-form commentary than other media allow, and the prospect of readership by the public at large is of course the most exciting aspect. This is the key element of blogging for me: the joy is in the sharing of ideas. Spending significant time struggling with words is not its own reward; if it were, we would not need the blogoshere. The occasional psychic, intellectual, emotional, or even spiritual connection with fellow human beings is all we have in this world; without it, there is but the icy cold of space.
I want to acknowledge some favorite people who comment frequently and who therefore build a human bridge in a dark world: there is “Angry Bert” (or so I call him because of his photo), AKA Basharr; there is Bob of bizarroworld.com; and there is Douglas Ernst of douglaserntylp. Thank you for your many comments and for being out there, and for your own wonderful blogs.
I also want to acknowledge a few who like to rhetorically hammer me (Jon Thingvold) or politely encourage me to consider a less extreme or even Liberal views (WG and natsand). As Jon has warned several times, right wing blogs (is that what this is?) are at risk of being an “echo chamber” in which ideas go unchallenged. Thanks to Jon and WG and occasionally natsand, the musings here are enhanced by opposing points of view. If you want to see Jon unleashed, read the comments section of my essay James Bennett Self-Immolates.
Regarding my most popular posts, here are the top three:
- Genius in Action: Johnathan Rhys Myers as King Henry VIII
- Has Tom Brady Seen Quiz Show?
- A Good Comment and a Reply
The Rhys Myers essay, written on Independence Day, continues to amaze me. This essay was not my most intense or well written, but it turns out that the world can’t get enough of King Henry VIII, and JRM, judging from the search terms on this subject that lead people to my blog every day (even all these months later). So if you want a lot of traffic to your own blog, write about Henry and prepare for the rush. One thing that gives me a chuckle is that the last paragraph of the essay is a bit political, and I like that so many unsuspecting people (thousands in fact) get exposed to it:
Why on Independence Day? By coincidence, my appreciation for a show about the British monarchy dovetails with the fact that the United States is a former colony of England that threw off the yoke of monarchy in favor of the rule of law. Our way of life and government is designed to ensure due process, orderly succession, and that the state is of, by, and for the people, among other enlightened attributes. A petulant monarch whose capricious and unchecked, reckless acts is the symbol and actual fact of tyranny; the Founding Fathers said: No, we’re going to break with England and chart a higher, better path and the Citizen will reign supreme. God Bless Them, and God Bless America.
The Tom Brady essay got so much traffic because it was posted on a sports message board and debated vigorously by football fans, mostly Brady lovers. I took great satisfaction in positing that Brady is the Charles Van Doren of our time because he “knew the answers” before each snap of the ball in three Superbowls; this makes him a cheater and unworthy of all his accolades, just as Van Doren was a cheater on the 1950s television gameshow “21,” though in his case he was properly castigated and shamed for it. I despise a cheater more than most things, and when one gets caught there is usually some solace. But when one gets caught and nobody seems interested in adjusting the record (three fraudulent Superbowl wins are now properly zero) then there must be an accounting.
I don’t like the NFL in general, and so this indictment is not about rooting against New England, blah blah (I really don’t care). It’s about millions of football fans being duped by the Man while trying to enjoy the new national pastime, and the National Football League summoning their inner Nixon and destroying the evidence. The charlatan is the enemy of capitalism, and therefore is a threat to us all.
The essay “A Good Comment and a Reply” is my treatise on the role of government (in fact I cleaned it up a bit in a later post called “The Role of Government“). It was prompted by natsand, a supporter of Obamacare (and, as he indicated, even of the Public Option), who replied to an essay entitled The Face of Fascism with a common line of questioning about fire and police departments (to paraphrase: “Aren’t they “Socialist” too? Why do you support those but not socialized medicine?”). My answer was far too long for a “comment” and so I made it its own essay. Many people have read it, and I hope it addresses the issue well. In summary, government can do some things very well indeed: I am NOT a libertarian / anarchist. But there are some simple measures that reveal where government will fail miserably, and again and again. Liberals please take note, this is serious business with serious consequences.
In summary on the popular essays, I do not follow a strategy of quotas and tend to write about whatever strikes me on a particular day. I find it interesting that the top two most popular essays were not about politics or economics, but about popular culture. I suppose this should not be surprising. But I generally can’t resist weaving politics into entertainment, and so I will do it right now: we live in a culture where movies, and move stars, and gossip have taken center stage, and this can only happen in a free and wealthy society. The playground we play in exists by the grace of the Founding Fathers, those anglo-saxon dudes who innovated a new order of things, and but for the grace of them we blog and blather about this and that. How lucky we are.
One happy thing in my blog evolution was my skills with the GIMP program (like Photoshop, but open source and free). Looking back to February and March, one can see the novice in my graphics, but as the year wore on I learned a few things and was able to indulge myself more fully.
I devoted much attention and care (and time) to the graphics of Obama Martian Chronicles, and they gave me immense pleasure notwithstanding their limited appeal.
The original image at right was of Captain Kirk, an excellent model of a commander, who was wearing the command color of gold (on the star ship Enterprise). I changed the color of the uniform to red, which on Star Trek was the color of the Engineering section of the ship and also the color of the guy who inevitably suffered the worst fate of the landing party in each episode.
And the following is perhaps my favorite image of 2010: Jane Fonda, a member of the Council to Destroy America, becomes jealous of Agent Marta and decides to make an attempt at her own seduction of the president:
My most influential essays, as measured by track-backs and comments, were my series called “We Defend Our Culture or Die as a Nation.” These essays – nine in all – really struck a chord, and it was very gratifying to bond with people who feel, as I do, that American exceptionalism is real, is important, and is worth defending.
The most popular was number 2, and here is an excerpt:
Perhaps the ideals enumerated in the Declaration of Independence are merely transitory to you, or our culture of self-reliance, or our culture of ethical business dealing (very anglo-saxon if you’ve ever done business in other parts of the world). These should be left to be squeezed, diluted, and changed by foreign cultures in whatever tide of humanity seeks to take up residence here? You believe we should be “riders on the storm”, going whichever way the wind blows?
My personal favorite is number 9, and here is an excerpt:
No nation – not even the United States of America – can survive a balkanization of its people. Without a unifying philosophy, a unifying language, a unifying set of principles and ideals, a nation will depart the renaissance, enter the baroque, and then finally lose all form as its fissures and fractures are left untended by a population unable to even know whether its body is blighted.
These essays are an unapologetic assertion that the American heritage and culture are superior to others around the world and others across history. Moral relativism is the dominant ideology of the 21st century, but this blog stands opposed to such nonsense and states clearly: some cultures care for their citizens more than others. I stand by this, and will debate anyone on the merits of it. The Founding Fathers were well aware of the failings of previous empires, countries, and civilizations, and consciously structured a way of life and government that would offer American citizens a new and superior way of living.
We all enjoy the fruits of what they created, and Lincoln and Reagan preserved, and we best appreciate it every minute of every day. God bless America, and our sandbox of wealth, leisure, and pleasure the likes of which the world has never seen. May it continue on and grace humanity for generations to come. In the meantime, let us enjoy the present moment, for it is only in the here and now that one experiences the endless bounty of creation.
With best wishes, good will toward men, and love for all,