Choosing a name


In launching this site, I figured I’d start with a new domain name.

As I am a PhD student in rhetoric and composition, my first thought was to type in every rhetorical term I could think of into whois. I had high hopes for synecdoche and enthymeme. But practically every term available is taken. One wasn’t – – and it’s actually highly appropriate for a blog. But it would sound like I’m a long-distance runner to most.

I am a great admirer of Patrick O’Brian’s novels, and noted and were available, but I might get sued for the first, and as for the second, I imagined myself cheerfully telling someone the name of the site and them picturing a miscolored glop of semen. I already have enough trouble at parties.

Composition terms were also unavailable. Firstdraft was taken. Seconddraft was taken. Thirddraft was taken. Fourthdraft was not, but by that point I was disillusioned.

What about my name? = taken. michaelduncan=taken. mduncan=taken. mgduncan and michaelgaryduncan were available, but not snappy enough.

I returned to rhetoric. What about Available. Positive, too. Available. I’m an iconoclast (also taken) so it didn’t look bad (cough) either.

I also thought about meansofpersuasion, which is a play off of Aristotle’s definition of rhetoric. “available means of persuasion” is too long, alas. It also has a moderate/mathamathical subtext from “means” and there is a economic “means of persuasion” as well. But it’s also fairly obscure.

So my best choices after an afternoon of searching were runningstyle, goodrhetoric, and badrhetoric. Of the three, the first has a problematic double meaning and Aristotle didn’t favor it anyway. The second sounds a tad pretentious, as would bestrhetoric…

…but badrhetoric, however, has a edge to it. Especially since the difference between “bad” rhetoric and “good” rhetoric is hard to define. One man’s “bad” rhetoric is another man’s “good” rhetoric, and so-called “bad” rhetoric can be more effective than a classical speech that dots the ‘i’ in Aristotle. Plus, I kind of like starting at the bottom.

Well! I have just talked myself into badrhetoric. Both domains will work for the foreseeable future, but the title is officially now Bad Rhetoric.

Catching up, Part II


It occurs to me that my “Catching Up” earlier was entirely academic and job-related. I should fill in some of the remaining personal blanks.

I’m still with H, and I mean “still” in its positive, amazing sense.

My birthday is in a few days. I’ll be 31, which is incredible. I feel more like 23.

The post-semester break has allowed me to catch up on PC gaming. I played Oblivion through (very good and very long), Godfather: The Game (more amusing than good) and Hitman: Blood Money (excellent, the best of the series). Right now I’m playing with Rise of Legends a little, though it’s hard for an RTS to keep my attention very long. The monster computer I built over the Xmas break (so Oblivion and FEAR would be playable) has run like a top, especially after I put a Zalman cooler in.

H and I have been catching up on TV, too. We’ve watched all of Twin Peaks and kept up with the new Doctor Who. I think Tennant makes a fine Doctor; he’s not in Baker’s class, but he’s up there. I’m also finally up to date on all the HBO series I like – I’ve seen all the Sopranos, Deadwood, Rome, and Carnivale. I’ve spent some time in the boards analyzing this last Sopranos season – I think it was brilliant, which appears to be a minority opinion. Perhaps I will write something up about that.

I also hit the comics again. I read all of The Invisibles, a really fine if quirky British comic, got caught up with Powers, and noticed there is still no Ultimates #11. Sigh.

I’ve restarted Novel #2 again. It’s better than before and the story seems alive once more. I’ve restarted it a billion times, of course, and I keep changing major things. You’d think after six years I’d have a better idea of major plot points, but it has a mind of its own. I think it may be that I’m trying to write a story that is inherently episodic in the form of a novel. The resulting fit is poor. At least I know I’m fully capable of writing a long-winded book.

Catching up, Part III


It has also occurred to me that I should state my opinions on the current political climate. After all, that is what I used to do with this site, and what I intend to do so again.

The 2008 election is beyond commentary until the primaries begin. The 2006 elections will result in a Democratic pickup of seats in both houses, but it’s not a sure thing about either house switching control. There’s just not a lot of open /and/ vunerable seats. As unpopular as Bush is, and as bad as sixth-year elections tend to be for the party in power, I’d say GOP is probably going to escape with a razor-slim majority in both. I’m not as cheerfully optimistic as I used to be. Then again, I’m not a Democrat anymore, either.

Iraq is actually a little worse than I’d predicted. I remember making a huge fuss when the fatalities went over 1,000. Now we’re at nearly 2500. The rate is rock-steady above 2 a day. Nothing good there. I think I said a year ago that there would be no major troop reduction for at least two years. I don’t think we’re in any danger of that changing until a new President arrives. There’s just too much blood and institutional investment to stop, just as there was in Vietnam. President Howard Dean would have trouble even starting a pullout at this point.

The death of Al-Zarqawi is only of historical interest. The US did not kill a top leader as much as create a martyr. He is as effective dead as he was alive – maybe more so. Given, there are no shortage of martyrs on either side at this point, but a martyr that everyone knows the name of is better than a local one.

If there was something telling about this particular assassination, it is the downplaying of the other people that died in the bombing. It’s hard to say from all the different media accounts, but apparently at least one child and perhaps two were killed of the 7 people in the house when it was bombed. Most of the time, the articles and news reports don’t even mention it.

This is a particularly good example of the monkeysphere; we care about Zarqawi because the press and the government has told us his name and told us to hate him – he has personal qualities – but the other people that die remain unnamed and faceless. Insurgents die all the time in Iraq, in droves, apparently, but one man in an elaborate cell structure, where leaders are by definition de-emphasized, is magnified for drama.

I wonder if the other people in the house were hardened Al-Qaida, or he was just using a family’s house for cover. Perhaps only the father or head of household was sympathetic and part of his safehouse network, and the rest of the family oblivious, frightened, or see-no-evil.

We’ll never know, I guess. The news cycle has driven its point home – the US killed a major terrorist. Progress has been made, allegedly. Too bad, of course, that there are an unlimited amount of “major” terrorists, and they have a great training ground.