And now from the guy I hated to write about to more guys I hate to write about — principally, the one at God of the Machine, a weblog whose title alone has, by my count, at least a triple historical and etymological entendre.
And that gives you just an inkling of what goes on in the text.
For example, in the four most recent entries I could find, blogger Aaron Haspel (1) writes about a visit to Seaworld in the style of the nation’s new poet laureate, Charles Simic, (2) critiques the objectivist view of economic interventionism, arguing with the late libertarian economist Ludwig von Mises and author Leonard Peikoff, (3) differs with Canadian blogger Colby Cosh’s review of television’s “The Sopranos” and (4) writes four haikus on movie offerings of the Netflix online DVD rental service.
In the blog’s center column, Haspel posts snippets from a wide range of news, literature and pop culture, all of them interesting.
If that’s not enough, I found a 2001 Google item in which Haspel is giving advice to one Suu Quan on how to “jar a package,” a computer programming concept I do not pretend to understand, but Haspel does: “Your basedir should be the parent directory of utils, not ‘utils’ itself. If you try jarring from the command line, you will see the same result,” Haspel advises.
His stuff is, in a word, magnificent. Reading it will jar your mind — and make you much more fluent with Google, Wikipedia and whatever online dictionary and thesaurus you prefer.
I should say something about the blog’s title: As those of us old Latin students know, deus ex machina means ‘God from the machine,’ but Haspel gives it a double entendre twist in his title. The third twist, however, is not so obvious and comes from the old Romans themselves. Because they borrowed the phrase from the Greeks, in whose language the word mechane means not so much ‘machine’ as ‘crane’ — as in ápo mechanes theós — the device on which the old Greek theater producers used to crank a god from the sky onto the stage to save the day.
I found God of the Machine in the blogroll of our Sept. 20 feature, Outer Life, the product of another excellent writer. And I should have opened this entry with the phrase ‘guys and gals’ because Mr. Outer Life’s blogroll, listed as ‘Better Sites,’ includes weblogs written by women.
Frankly, these guys — and gals — are out of my league. I mean, I’m pretty well read — not so much fiction because I’ve seen enough of it in nonfiction — but Mr. Outer Life and his colleagues leave me at the first-grade alphabet chart.
But not to worry. They’re all good writers, and that means they communicate very well indeed. Some of their references can be, well, a bit arcane, but that’s OK because their writing will explain the obscurities to a reader willing to go along for the ride, including the side trips to reference sources.
So in conclusion, I might just as well phone the rest of this one in and give you some of the links:
• The American Fez, written by Stephen Baldwin, an author you’d never find on Google because of the born-again actor of the same name.
• Topic Drift, a weirdly irreverent site written by one Esther Wilberforce-Packard.
• Quiet Bubble, which promises “a refuge from the brisk pace of on-the-spot blogging and the desperate need to be Relevant” and lives up to it.
• A Girl Just Like You, a thoughtful and truthful site that definitely is not ‘girly.’
• Barbellionblog, whose entries range from 1903 to 1916 — yes, because it is a blog made up entirely of the complete works of English diarist W.N.P. Barbellion, a pseudonym used by Bruce Frederick Cummings because he felt his Kafkaesque writings would damage his family’s reputation. He died at age 30 of multiple sclerosis.
• Zen and the Art of Speedskating, which is strangely appealing, despite a lot of content about, yes, speedskating.
As for God of the Machine, he gets craned into our blogroll of well-written sites. But please look up the rest on Mr. O.L.’s blogroll. I hope you enjoy all of them as much as I do, although you may end up as I have — very tired.
Because you too may be looking up stuff all night.
– Sid Leavitt
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