On The Couch With A Riehl Original
Along with the myriad of blogger templates available (and blog 'experts' and blog 'consultants'), it seems that more and more, bloggers fall into the 'template' category, all resembling each other, all variations of the same theme. As the blogosphere is expands at a furious pace, it has become ever more difficult to find an original blogger. Far too many bloggers are only too eager to imitate the style and format of successful bloggers. Originality, in both thought and style, are becoming a rare commodity. There is also a whispered truth that is ignored. The blogosphere is becoming the MSM, entirely predictable. In many cases, bloggers are resorting to the same tactics as the MSM, resulting in the dimunition of blog and blogger credibility.
Riehl World View is an exception to the ocean of template bloggers. Author Dan Riehl's efforts are refreshing, if for no other reason than he blogs about his interests- not necessarily what he thinks his readers want to see. His blog is hard to categorize- there is a mixture of politics, crime, human interest stories and technology. Make no mistake, though- Dan's efforts are not about a digital potpourri, a sweet, one size fits all, a something for everyone, affair.
Riehl World View is one of those blogs that is greater than the sum of its parts, because of it's author. Like that favorite undergrad professor in college, Riehl World View readers come to read and hear the authors thoughts and ideas. They come in with the understanding they won't be catered or pandered to. What is understood is that they will leave knowing or understanding a lot more than they did when they arrived.
Dan succeeds because he exercises a certain discipline. He remains true to himself, doesn't imitate anyone and it is apparent that he remains a perpetual student, not just willing, but anxious, to learn something new, every day. In the end, of course, the proof is in the pudding. Riehl World View has large- and well deserved, loyal readership.
In other words, Dan and Riehl World View, remain original.
Some of your recent posts deal with the future of blogging, if in a roundabout way. How do you see the future of blogging?
Complex question. One has to separate the technology from the form. In some cases blogging will remain just as it is - individuals posting thoughts, opinions and stories for small audiences of friends and even family. In other cases, the new publishing technology will foster the growth of new media endeavors and new writers.
There are two revolutions going on - one in personal communication and one in media, both being fueled by similar technology. Whichever aspect of that one focuses in upon, I'd say that future is robust.
Audio and video will be more obvious soon. Imagine having the ability to do your own nightly newscast from your living room, or televise the birth of your child to relatives around the world. When I was young there was a big hub bub over a MSM piece on "How a Child is Born." Anyone could effectively broadcast such a thing today and no one could prevent or sensor it. Imagine that. Eventually, someone will.
In your opinion, is there a 'clash of civilizations' between the right and left in this country?
No, not at all, though the powers that be would like us to think so. America was founded upon the precept of representative government so the majority of the population could go about their own business as a matter of course - tuning in as necessary. That vast majority most likely sits somewhere around just barely right of the center as presented, ignoring most of the nonsense politicos fret and fume over every day.
What we see isn't a clash of civilizations so much as a clash of thought leaders on the left and the right - much of it simply preaching to the choir, not the middle that doesn't come to church until election day - and much of that only when they feel the need to make a significant change in direction - such as was observed in the Reagan revolution. It came time to shake things up and they did. Nothing will get them engaged to the degree voter initiatives might like to predict as possible. Americans hate politics as a rule.
Is there a political 'middle' in America?
Obviously, I feel there is as per above. The problem we have is one of dialogue. The far Left and Right appear to have hijacked the nominations processes in the sense that they now favor both side's extremes. But it doesn't work out that way, as common sense still prevails within the party elite. While declared moderates don't have a chance, the informed man or woman who wants to be president knows how to play the game.
Consequently both Bushes and Clinton were far more moderate than you'd expect given the nomination processes they won. It sets up disappointment in party extremists, yet seems to serve the country as a whole. You'd think the "middle" has hardly any voice in our political affairs, yet it always wins the day out of sheer numbers.
Let's talk about education. What are kids learning/not learning in high schools and colleges? How do you feel about school vouchers. Why?
To some extent, we've forsaken practical learning in favor of what social scientists theoretically believe is for the common good. As an example, instead of emphasizing discipline as a means of instilling a sense of communal obligation at a practical level, schools refrain from structuring students more than they feel is necessary, yet allegedly teach people to get along better.
We've replaced the practical with the theoretical and I am far from convinced it's entirely a good thing.
Along with the basics, Math, English, Science, etc, I'd like to see more emphasis on America's culture in a positive light, as opposed to almost bringing an apologist's approach to teaching our national heritage.
The world was a tough place in the 16 and 17 hundreds. And some tough folks established a new nation, kicked some butt and created an economic, cultural and industrial empire. That looks like success deserving of acknowledgement and even celebration to me.
I believe school vouchers are an extremely misunderstood concept. The idea behind them isn't to undermine or dismantle public education, but to shore it up through making it compete. Organisms, as well as institutions, improve themselves through competition. Without it, you inevitably wind up with entropy, which is, to some extent, what we are seeing in our system of public education.
You edited a college newspaper. How did that experience shape your view of academia? Did the experience influence your politics?
Absolutely. I was politically neutral until I had a run in with post-sixties liberalism and realized how close to fascism it actually is. As apart from Classical liberalism, which saw individual liberty as a means of building upon what was, neo-liberalism is more unhinged, to the point of almost being parasitic in nature. It's focus seems to be to tear down, as opposed to build up, or out.
In the extreme, one might think it would lead to anarchy. But because it must live within a state, ultimately, it will always have a sort of ruling class. I'd hate to wake up to an America controlled by a self-perpetuating elitist class, populated mostly by a bunch of allegedly free-thinking useful idiots who self-pleasure themselves by feeling enlightened. Today, our leadership is certainly self-perpetuating enough as it is, but the emphasis on socio-economic mobility in America always allows someone to get in the game, if they so choose. Flattening society out, which contemporary liberalism embraces, tends to limit one's ability to transcend economic and class structures.
To get back to your question, my experience taught me that the core principles which make America great already exist, they don't need to be invented, re-invented, or even significantly enhanced, but preserved and respected - hence my move toward conservatism, which I experience as more preservationist, than anything.
You post a lot on crime. What is it about crime- or the reporting of crime, that fascinates you so much? Why the Holloway story?
I enjoy puzzles, particularly ones of human nature. In a sense, crime is precisely that. I also enjoy it because others find it as intensely interesting as I do and because I enjoy sharing my work, as opposed to working in a vacuum - it just seemed to work when I started doing it. How many opinions, pro or con, on Bush or the war do you really need to read in one day if you enjoy reading blogs?
The Holloway case created tremendous attention, naturally that was a part of my staying with it - but there were other factors. Aruban society was more open to alternative media than was America, at least at the time - that's changing in America. So, it presented me with an opportunity to actually do significant reporting, and not just a chronicling of events.
What are we doing right and what are we doing wrong in the war on terror? How about Iraq?
I think we could do much better at understanding our enemy - and I don't mean that in the manner many liberals might suggest. The enemy we face respects strength, determination and bold and swift action. When we hand-wring, they interpret that as weakness. Some would argue, well, we have to be better than them. Personally, I think winning, and, more importantly, being alive is being better than them.
As difficult as the sacrifice is we've made and continue to make in blood and treasure, I think we're trying to walk a fine line between being civilized and being effective and are doing it pretty well. But, then, I don't get my news from the NYTimes - so obviously some might disagree.
You've got an hour to meet with anyone on Capital Hill, who would it be and what would you talk about?
A hot young babe on a Senator's staff and sex - mostly anything else would probably be an unenjoyable waste of my time.
You have written on judicial activism, the ACLU and Affirmative Action. That's some dance card. Do you ever tire?
It's probably more ADD than anything. In a sense, I'm a topical-ist, if that's a word. I see a great many things of interest and I try to put them out there, on the table, as it were - to get them into people consciousness. I like to think of myself more as an enabler of thought, or presenter of ideas, than an advocate of a particular position. Consequently, I don't need to give tremendous amounts of time to any particular topic to explore it in depth to be effective at what I want to achieve with the web log.
That changes at times when one item surfaces which I feel warrants deeper discussion and I try to switch gears, or more likely, link to someone more of a mind or type to take on that challenge. I think too far ahead of myself to write a great deal of deep analysis. By the time I have done it in my head, I'm already too bored with it to write about it and want to move on. There's a teaching method in there somewhere, but it places a great deal of trust in the reader, I think, and I actually like that.
Who's the funniest guy on the planet?
Hmm, tough one. As comedians go, Eddie Izzard was the last guy I saw who totally broke me up. If I wanted to give you a smart assed answer I'd say Howard Dena right now. But what's genuinely funny is so illusive and changeable, I suspect the crown probably rotates a great deal. Here's a funny observation - why do we think it has to be a guy?
Where's the idea 'get away from it all' place for you?
Seriously? Inside my head. It's where I do most of my traveling.