July 14, 2002
The Biter Bit

Brendan O'Neill's post (link may not work yet) on what's wrong with the Blogosphere has been getting some attention lately. Steven Chapman (formerly 'Daddy Warblogs') selects two paragraphs for praise:

The Blogosphere is built on opinion. But what is so great about having an opinion? As Clint Eastwood once said, 'Opinions are like arseholes - everybody's got one'. And like arseholes, we don't need to see (or indeed hear) them every minute of the day.

Opinions are ten-a-penny, and are usually little more than prejudice anyway. Research, argument and hard graft, however, can sometimes turn petty opinion into considered judgement - but research, argument and hard graft are notable by their absence in the Blogosphere.

Although O'Neill describes his writing as "sometimes error-prone and over-long", Chapman limits his disagreement to two parenthesized sentences at the very end:

(And whaddaya mean, "overlong"? This is rich indeed coming from Brendan "Why Write Two Paragraphs When Nine Will Do" O'Neill!)

I have a further objection. If you're going to criticize bloggers for bad writing and bad spelling, you should first make sure that your own prose is beyond reproach.

In the first paragraph quoted, Eastwood surely said 'ass-hole' not 'arse-hole'. Perhaps O'Neill's use of single rather than double quotation marks is meant to imply that this is a paraphrase, but why not quote exactly? Readers in any English-speaking country will understand.

In the following paragraph, what is "hard graft"? Neither of the common meanings of 'graft' makes sense here, since O'Neill is not writing about political corruption or the improvement of fruit trees. Shouldn't this be "hard craft", the strenuous labor of practicing one's chosen profession with enough skill to make it worth while? It doesn't make much sense otherwise. And it's not a simple typo, since he repeats the phrase.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at July 14, 2002 12:12 AM