David Rodeback's Blog

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Infamous Scribblers and More

Notes from the Great Northwest, you might say.

Infamous Scribblers

We (your humble blogger, MFCC, and the fam) arrived this afternoon on Camano Island, north of Everett, Washington, which is no less picturesque for being a peninsula instead of a real island. It hardly seems to do the scenery justice to tell you that the shore and the islands are green, Puget Sound is blue, and the sky is a different blue. But so they are.

There are three pairs of bald eagles hereabouts; I watched one pair fishing this afternoon.

This evening, after assorted barefooted offspring (mine, not the eagles') had tired of dodging baby crabs in the channel -- just before the channel itself was overwhelmed by the incoming tide -- I sat in a comfortable chair outside my rented cabin, atop a low bluff overlooking the water. The sun had set, leaving a chill in the air, but I am well insulated -- not least by male ego -- so I fared well enough as long as there was light enough to read.

The reading is my point. I picked up a book at Barnes and Noble in Meridian, Idaho. It wasn't a random selection. It was on my much-neglected reading list.

Eric Burns' Infamous Scribblers: The Founding Fathers and the Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism is a delightfully written, insightful book, judging by the several chapters I have read. Benjamin Franklin (a.k.a. Silence Dogood) makes an early and memorable appearance, in a time when freedom of the press was more wished for than real. My interest in the book is three-fold:

  • It is well written. The author's Preface by itself is one of the more delightful pieces of short writing I have read lately.
  • It is about a topic and period of American history which particularly interest me, the American founding.
  • I find myself making interesting and arguably useful comparisons, as I read, between early American journalism and my self-appointed role as blogger, a participant in what is still a nascent form of journalism.

With any luck, I'll get to read it some more tomorrow, while sitting in the same chair.

(Mostly) Syndicated Scribblers

Meanwhile, here is a handful of op/ed columns I have enjoyed recently, mostly from some of the big names.

  • Two good tributes to Tim Russert: Thomas Sowell's and Robert Novak's.
  • A thoughtful George Will piece from the intersection of immigration policy, education, and the economy.
  • Jonah Goldberg writes of the demise of freedom of speech in Canada.
  • A nice Rich Lowry piece on the Declaration of Independence, George Washington's colonial army, and so forth.
  • David R. Stokes admires Winston Churchill's way with words.

Back to American Forkish things next time, maybe.

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