Thursday, August 26, 2004

Troubled Times's official first post and FAQ!

Welcome to my blog. If you are reading this, you probably either (A) are a friend, acquaintance or possibly a mortal enemy or (B) entered some really strange search string into Google. But whatever your reason, pull up a chair, kick off your shoes and enjoy. And please, please, please comment if anything I have written or implied strikes you as interesting, or boring, or stupid, or brilliant in a paradigm-shifting sort of way . . . I really want to make this think interactive and part of a two way conversation.

Now, on to the FAQ. Well, OK, maybe these aren't exactly frequently asked questions, but I'll ask them and answer them all the same. It just seems like a good idea. And if you have any further questions about me or my blog, feel free to drop me an email: stevendjoss [at] I won't bite your head off, that is, unless your question is really stupid.

Q1. Who are you, where are you going?

A1. Do your homework.

Q2. Is that a quote from the Simpsons or are you just being a complete jackass?

A1. The former.

Q3. Why name your blog Troubled Times, anyway? Are you some sort of nihilist who wears black turtlenecks and pants and hangs out in coffeehouses all day smoking cigarettes reading Dostoyevsky? Or is it a reference to a movie?

A3. The latter. Go and rent the classic 1992 Tim Robbins black comedy and political satire / mockumentary Bob Robertsthat this blog is somewhat of a tribute to. The protagonist in the movie, a crazy left-wing muckracking journalist named Bugsy, works for a magazine called Troubled Times and hopefully this blog will similarly expose the truth for all to see. Hopefully, I don't meet the same cruel fate our protagonist Bugsy does.

I actually have a fairly positive outlook on life (one might say I'm cautiously optimistic), as my friends and family can attest to. This, despite the fact that the US - by far the wealthiest and most powerful empire in all of history - is currently being governed by a bunch of Right-Wing neofascists. That being said, however, as a journalist my gut instincts do often tend toward skepticism and cynicism, which I think can be healthy in the appropriate doses.

Q4. Your writing and editorial selection don't exactly seem to be "fair and balanced". How can you claim with a straight face to be an unbiased journalistic source? Doesn't this destroy what little credibility you have?

A4. No, I'm not fair and balanced. Then again, neither is FoxNews. But seriously, I fully identify myself as coming from the progressive / left-wing of the political spectrum, and my writing choices, the sources I use and the conclusions I reach fully reflect this fact. I have had good friends of mine who know me well ask me, after reading my blog, whether I am a socialist. I do not identify myself as a socialist; it may be more accurate to refer to me as a social democrat although I don't fully identify with that ideology either.

Q5. Do you accept submissions? How much will you pay for them?

A5. Absolutely, preferably via email. Please attach the article as a Microsoft Word document (as I use a Mac, please make sure to end the file name with .doc; e.g.: myarticle.doc). I'll take a look at your manuscript as soon as I get a chance and if I think it's a good fit and I'm interested in publishing it here, I'll be in touch with you. Be forewarned, however, I won't be able to pay you as I currently receive no income via advertising, etc. I guess this is a labor of love.

Q6. I absolutely love your writing . . . would you be interested in doing freelance work for my amazing publication?

A6. Perhaps, email me with your proposal and we'll take it from there.

Q7. If you link to a particular website in one of your posts, or in your list of "recommended websites", does that mean you endorse all of the views expressed therein?

A7. My linking to a post on another website does not confer the Steven Josselson Seal of Approval. Some websites or magazines tend to write on some topics from a vantage point that resonates with me, but on other issues I completely disagree with. A good example is Z Magazine on the Israel-Palestine crisis. Another is the Center for Research on Globalization and their conspiracy theories regarding 9/11. I don't think "Bush knew" or that it was an inside job.

So, the answer to this question is no.

Q8. Why are you wasting your time with a blog in the first place considering no one knows who you are or cares what you think. Besides, it doesn't appear that too many people read your writing.

A8. I admit that this project is motivated by pretty selfish reasons. I tend to read a lot of interesting articles on the Internet from a wide variety of sources and develop opinions about what I read. I used to have a Word document with a long list of web addresses, but thanks to Blogger, now I can maintain a searchable database of all these articles and my thoughts on them. Hopefully this will prove to be a good resource for me when I write my first book.

The fact that this database/bibliography and my thoughts on them is available for public consumption is a secondary concern for me.

Q9. I read one of your posts yesterday and linked to it. Then, this afternoon I read it again and there were a bunch of changes/additions/subtractions to the post that you didn't explicitly note. What's up with that?

A9. Look, I'm a busy guy and would rather spend my limited time researching and writing rather than keeping tally of each and every change I make to my posts. In other words, my policy is to make changes to any of my posts at any point without bringing it to your attention; sometimes I'll even go back months later to update a post. I do try to keep my changes to a minimum and usually don't make changes so substantial that it changes the entire point of the post. (Note: This post has actually been edited several times)

Also, another practice of mine that many readers no doubt find annoying is that I'll often read a couple articles, start writing a blog post about them and then save it as a draft. Then, I might come back a few days, or a few weeks later and finish writing it, often incorporating fresh research into the post. And I don't necessarily change the time stamp, so something I publish today may appear much further back in the archives. So if you ever wonder why a long post suddenly appears out of nowhere dated a few weeks back, now you know.

By the way, same theory applies to proofreading. I am fully aware that there are tons of spelling and grammatical mistakes littering my writing and while I try to use spell check if I have the time, I only have limited time and sometimes thinks slip through. If you are interested in serving as a volunteer proofreader for my blog, give me a shout, but I'm not really expecting any takers.

Q10. I'd love guest post at Troubled Times, maybe even on a regular basis. Are you interested?

A10. Quite possibly, yes. In fact, I'm very interested in adding several people to my roster here as regular guest posters, preferably with different areas of expertise and interests. Just e-mail me some writing samples (see A4 for instructions), or better yet, email me the address of your blog. If I think your contributions would be a good fit and complement my own work, I'll drop you a line. Please note, I don't care if your opinions are different than mine - in fact, I think that could be a plus - but if you are a Right Winger or libertarian it probably wouldn't make much sense to have you contribute here.

Update (7/15/07): Also, I think this will be kind of a cool time capsule that I can look back at in 15 years and review how my views have evolved. That is, if the Internet is still around then.