Saturday, May 17, 2008

Watchers Council Winners

The latest Watchers Council winners have been posted.

The winner within the council was "Evolution" = "Growth" by Soccer Dad, pointing out the unthinking use of "evolution" by media people to mean "other people's change of minds in a direction I approve." The opposite of "evolution" in this use, I suppose, would be "hardening."

"Evolution" is just a slippery word and would be best avoided. It is not a synonym for "change." Its etymological sense is "to unroll," which has been taken to imply expansion, increasing complexity, and "progress." Which is why Charles Darwin didn't use it for his scientific work (it appears only once, in the closing paragraph, in "The Origin of Species"). He preferred "descent with modification." But Victorian belief in progress prevailed (along with the human fondness for brevity), and Herbert Spencer and other biologists popularized "evolution."

Votes also went to Lebanon Becomes Hezbollahstan by Joshuapundit, which tracks an important story from the past week that seems to me was underplayed in the U.S. media, besotted with tragic images and stories from the China earthquake and with the U.S. electoral horserace.

And to The Audacity of Newsweek by Wolf Howling, who writes a damned thorough post.

Outside the council the winner was Numb at Kaboom: A Soldier's War Journal. This is just astonishingly good writing; streaming and unconstructed, like blogs typically are, but fully flexing the power of words and silences. It shows how blogs could become history on the fly. It deserves to be read and preserved, and it redeems thousands of bad blog posts everywhere else.

Also getting votes were POLITICS: Yes, Experience Matters by Baseball Crank; Is the Criminal-Justice System Racist? at City Journal; and Holding Things Accountable for What Men Do With Them at Classical Values.

Also, here are the winners from May 9.

First place in the council went to Who Cares About Israel, Anyway? by Joshuapundit.

Votes also went to Party Like It's 1980 All Over Again by Right Wing Nut House; and Obama As Marley by Wolf Howling (Jacob, not Bob, as originally thought).

Outside the council, the winner by a landslide was Losing Our Spines to Save Our Necks, which might seem an odd sort of winner, since it was written by atheist gadfly Sam Harris and posted at The Huffington Post. But there it is.

Votes also went to Iraqis Begin to 'Despise' the Mahdi Army in Baghdad's Rusafa District in The Long War Journal; Escape From A Brooklyn Mosque at Atlas Shrugs; and The Liberal Imagination of Frederick Douglass by Nick Bromell at The American Scholar. [My comment on that was here.]

Also we are informed that Right Wing Nut House is leaving the council. I'll miss his consistently independent passions. Any suggestions for a blogger I might nominate as his successor? The choice won't be up to me, of course.