blogging without authority

I am not an authority on … really, any subject. It’s making this blogging run pretty difficult so far.

I started writing about skepticism today, but ran into several problems. For each sentence I wrote, I ended up doing an hour or so of research. Also for each sentence I wrote, I went back and rewrote earlier sentences to cut down on verbosity or to retreat from making claims that I didn’t think I could defend.┬áSo I’m facing the blogger’s perennial crisis: what can a total layperson write about? There are only so many self-analytical posts a person can make.

My style of writing tends to follow a long, verbose narrative. I’ve been told that I write in a way that “sounds like I’m talking to you”. The biggest downside to this is that I need to put real effort into being concise. The biggest upside is that thoughtful expositions flow easily, and I’m rarely at a loss for volume. I should try to use it to my advantage.

My position as a layperson means that I should be able to write introductory guides to things, but to what? Math topics? Programming? Science? Art? Hm. I didn’t think that this would be a real problem; it seemed like once I got started, the ideas would flow on their own, but it isn’t the case.

I guess I’ll just write whatever comes to mind.

I watched V for Vendetta today, and throughout the movie I became increasingly interested in revolutions and oppression and conspiracy. Not an impressionable mind at all! Last year, there was a tremendous amount of political unrest around the world, so I was wondering about what to expect this summer. I just spent an hour watching youtube videos and searching google for people’s opinions about global unrest in 2012, and it comes off as a lot of alarmist crap.

There’s a lot of crackpot-ey sounding financial people talking about the US dollar collapsing at some point in 2012, but it seems like that would just make the cost of living higher for us, and things would stay pretty much the same. I’ve read about political unrest being tied to the price of food, and I checked out the global food price index:

I call the big one bitey

The big spikes are May 2008 and 2011, with some notable little jumps in 1996, 2004, and 2006 (as well as 2009 if you discount the gulf it’s sitting in). I looked up “civil unrest” with those years, but didn’t find evidence which convinced me that there’s a strong correlation. I don’t really recall hearing about widespread political issues in 2008, but maybe there were.

So, like most people, I’m unable to tell if there’s going to be riots and whatnot this year. Watching V made some part of me want to throw off the shackles of my oppressors, but then I stopped to ask myself: what shackles? What oppressors? I am fortunate enough to have been plopped into a privileged position via my gender, ethnicity, and career-disposition, so from my point of view, if I’m in a society that needs to be overthrown, it has power in a very subversive sense.

Wandering into that ground where I have no authority, I can’t help but be reminded that a warning to take from 1984 was about a society where totalitarian rule isn’t even noticed. People can be so tricked by the system that we don’t even notice the walls of the prison. In the story, the machinations and trickery seem obvious, but not to the users of newspeak who dare not commit thoughtcrimes.

I guess I’m just feeling that occasional ennui that hits when one realizes they are perfectly free to choose what to say (as long as it isn’t hateful, taboo, or media-sharing instructions), where to live (in their country, provided they can pay for their housing), and what brands to purchase.

/down-note. Hopefully I’ll write about something fun like learning about integrals tomorrow.

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