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It is so incredibly easy to drop a couple of weeks without writing, when you are constantly creating original material for a blog. Gentle readers, please accept my apology. I really hadn’t intended the absence to be so long!

Aside from the joys of work (and, yes, there are joys), dealing with a master logic board replacement in my laptop (fortunately still under warranty, and quickly turned around, but, still, five days away from the keyboard), and the normal bits and pieces of everyday life, the key reason I’ve been away from this blog has been that I’ve been involved in a very deep set of email exchanges covering a number of topics, with several long messages passing back and forth each day.

This, in turn, was emphasized this morning to me while commuting, as I listened to last Friday’s A Point of View on my iPod. Lisa Jardine, in this BBC radio programme, talked about letter writing, its conventions over time, and the sense of confidence (or the expectation of its violation) that was a part of “polite society” from time to time.

So, while I shall, over the next few weeks, share some of the results of the email exchanges, I shan’t be doing anything that exposes my written interlocutors!

But Jardine also made me think, this morning, about the whole question of writing in public. Why do writers do it? Why do thinkers do it?

In particular, why do I do it?

Robert Anson Heinlein, in both his essays and his later fiction, made his reason quite clear. Having started to write for money, he discovered, once he no longer needed to “churn out the words” to keep his nose above financial sea level, that he could no longer set writing aside. It had become a monkey on his back, demanding its daily dose of words. Activity could set it aside for a short while (Heinlein’s favourite in this regard being the erecting of mortarless stone walls) but the pressure to hit the typewriter would grow and grow, just as the “minimum acceptable amount to scratch the itch” grew, year by year.

If you are reading this posting on the blog’s website, as opposed to in a feed reader, you are no doubt aware that not a shred of advertising appears here, nor are you asked for donations, nor did you have to pay to access this content. That was a personal decision of mine, to write for my sake as opposed to for financial reasons. The comments that my posts have attracted have been exceedingly rewarding, and that was the payment sought for my efforts.

The failure to write for several days would normally put the same “monkey pressure” on me that Heinlein described. Writing several long pieces a day in email, however, more than satisfied the monkey. As a result, two weeks (more or less) slipped by, with no words here.

Now why tell you all this? This is how we are, all of us, day by day. Even those who maintain lists of to-dos, organize their time, and tick the items off day by day, miss noticing what they’re not doing in the rush of doing.

You can tell, of course, the blogger who has a to-do list of topics to be written about today. Their quality can often be uneven: ticking off the list takes priority. (Some writers, and I am not one of them, are sufficiently gifted that even their mediocre efforts are far above the average. Still, a keen eye reveals the pattern.) Others merely have the to-do to write, and their content varies from the essential and satisfying to merely a near random commentary on the stimulus they themselves received today.

This is not a complaint. It is merely an observed “true fact” about the intersubjective human realm.

It is up to each of us to set our priorities for the time we have available. Enough said.

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I have had the pleasure of writing a number of blogs over the years. Two of these are still online: Worth the Fee to Read It and Changes Galore, both of which are now closed to new postings. Even earlier blogs, such as Radical Tory and Sees, Shoots and Leaves, are now offline. Some of what I consider my better pieces over the years can be found at my personal website’s essay pages, along with my old radio broadcasts.

In the fall of 2009 I decided to relocate myself across the country back to my hometown, and to seek out a second career. Both of these changes are now complete. It is therefore time to return to writing — and this blog is the vehicle for it.

One thing I’d like to make clear to my readers right from the beginning is that this blog is a matter of “thinking aloud” — or, since you’re reading it, and not engaged in a verbal conversation with me, a “thinking in plain sight”. It’s my hope that you will be moved comment in a serious and intellectually engaging way. From this, you, I, and all those who don’t comment but do read have a chance to learn.

For that, dear reader, is what this effort is about: my learning, and yours. I’ll be writing on the subjects that are most interesting to me, which means you’ll see some philosophy, some history, some economics, some science and no doubt some politics. But my interest is not in defending some group of partisans, nor attacking another such group. If I use terms such as conservative, liberal, socialist and the like, they’re meant in their political-philosophical sense, not to identify parties nor partisans.

I keep this blog, incidentally, in Co-ordinated Universal Time or UTC. Partly this is because I’ve lived in multiple places and have spent far too many years travelling this planet on business to spend a lot of time thinking about “my home time zone”, but partly also it’s because I would hope that, over time, the readership for this effort would also be planetary in scope. By sheer happenstance certain parts of the globe have a home time zone that matches UTC at least part of the year, but I don’t mean to favour them, just as I don’t favour the place I live now.

That’s the other thing I’m going to try to do with this blog: reach out beyond the concerns of my community, my province and even my country. Often, of course, I shall illustrate a deeper point by using examples of local interest for, as George Grant once observed, love of the Good begins with love of the particulars closest to oneself and works their way up the chain of Being to the most abstract Form of Good. I’d certainly welcome tales from other lands and places, however, either to support or oppose the idea I am writing about. In other words, this blog is as much yours, dear reader, as it is mine, and you are very welcome to the comment pages!

Enough rambling … it’s time to begin.

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