Tuesday, December 21, 2004

What I'm up to

My favorite writer in the blogosphere is Bill Whittle at Eject, Eject, Eject. A couple of months ago he wrote:
The front line now, at this critical time, is in the hearts and minds of our own people. That’s where the real battle is now. That is our weakest point, our breach, our point of failure. We have not made the case to enough people and time is running out.

So maybe now, at this absurd point in this new kind of war, we’re the crack troops, we old and useless pajama patriots reduced to printing up pamphlets to sell war bonds to the weary, to make the case for holding on to an unglamorous, uninspiring, relentless grind because that – not Normandy and Midway – is the face of war in this gilded age of luxury and safety and plenty.

Maybe that’s our job. Maybe we can help cover some small gap in the lines.

We’ll see. But for now, I will take up the sword of the pajamahadeen, and rise up: just another citizen-wordsmith, trying to put words and ideas where they are needed: into the stumbling gaps, exasperated expressions and defensiveness of a brave and exhausted man under a lot of pressure.
Whittle is right. Like him, I believe that we are now in the middle of a terrible fight, a fight for the soul and the survival of our civilization. One battlefield of that fight is right here, in the exchange of word and idea that is the real heart of that civilization. Here millions of men and women shape their views of the world. Here they inform or deceive themselves, sharpen their minds or dull them, and for good or ill choose what side they will take in the battle. What happens here, matters.

We've recently finished an election, one of the "hottest" in my lifetime. Passions have been high and there has been a lot at stake. The blogosphere has been ablaze. The right guy won, in my opinion. Nevertheless, the fight of ideas has not remotely ended. It has only changed.

But the troops are tired, maybe. We need some reinforcements. And, um . . . that's me.

(Melodramatic? Self-aggrandizing? OK, yeah, maybe. Think how Bill Mauldin might have drawn it. Willie and Joe, hard veterans of a hundred battles, look at a scrawny new kid who has never heard a gun fired in anger and who has no idea what is ahead. "I'm your reinforcements," he says. Comical. More comical, if true.)

This blog is supposed to be my own meager contribution to the debates of the day, great and small. It is also supposed to be a tool for me to sharpen my own thinking. Ideas that I present here will get straightened and corrected and refined; others, perhaps, will simply be discarded. Now and then I will try out a line of argument that I do not endorse simply to see where the holes are. I will try to be honest about what I'm doing. I hope the process makes for good reading.

In the first incarnation of this site, I blogged anonymously. The advantage of this was that it gave me the freedom to try out half-baked ideas without unnecessarily offending my friends or -- let us be blunt -- taking any real heat for controversial ideas. But on this key issue, I have changed my mind. So, gentle reader, let me introduce myself.

My name is Ben Schumacher. I teach physics at Kenyon College, a small college in Ohio. My wife of twenty years is a mathematician at the same institution. We have two daughters and two cats. My real expertise is in quantum information theory, a smallish area of theoretical physics and mathematics, but my interests include history, politics, world affairs, technology, theology, science fiction, movies, music, and a bunch of other things. It is probably safe to describe me as conservative in my general philosophical and political outlook; more about me will very likely become obvious as this project progresses. This blog will go light on the quantum mechanics and heavy on current affairs, with an admixture of cultural and spiritual commentary. In short, you may expect a thoroughly amateur production.


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