Indigo Insights

Monday, November 01, 2004
Just because somebody asked - - -

Dear Word Detective: I have been encountering this expression in magazines and on the net. A sample use might be, "Jimmy Carter's most recent diatribe against Bush deserves a thorough fisking." Apparently, "to fisk" means to analyze closely. Formerly, "fisking" meant "scampering about." What can you tell me about the new usage? -- Ronald J. Wieck, via the internet.

Dude, we are so there. I do know what "fisking" is, and even where it came from, but I'm rather ashamed to admit that I do. It's a symptom of spending too much time reading web logs and too little time "fisking" around outdoors.

A "web log," for the benefit of those of you who didn't pay any attention to the Macarena either, is a web page set up as a sort of personal journal, where the proprietor can record his or her thoughts, feelings, hopes, fears, cat pictures, bad poetry, links to other web logs and opinions on world events for a daily audience numbering from one to 100,000, with the readership of most web logs leaning heavily toward the former. Web logging (also called "blogging") was more or less invented back in 1999 by a fellow named Jorn Barger, whose Robot Wisdom Weblog ( differs from its progeny by actually remaining, after all these years, interesting.

So now there are a gazillion "blogs," and many of them are political, usually maintained by people who care passionately about politics and have all sorts of novel ideas, but for some mysterious reason cannot get published in mainstream media.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on Planet Earth, there is a British newspaper called The Independent, which employs a columnist named Robert Fisk, who reports from all sorts of exotic locales, especially war zones. Mr. Fisk, who holds a very skeptical view of U.S. foreign policy, has, on a number of occasions lately, written things that have aroused the ire of various politically conservative "bloggers." These folks have responded by reprinting his dispatches on their blogs and adding their own paragraph-by-paragraph commentaries dissecting (and purportedly debunking) Fisk's facts and opinions. Those of us who occasionally shout at our television sets will recognize the impulse behind this sort of thing, but few of us go to the trouble of typing out our rants and posting them to the internet.

In any case, this "he said, I say" method of criticism has now become very common on the net, and when applied with large helpings of both vigor and venom is now known as "fisking."


>^..^< For the Troops. And for your musical enjoyment.

>^..^< Jeff, a new generation blogger. Go over and welcome this young man.

>^..^< Yellow Ribbons

>^..^< Too late for Halloween, but a good read.

>^..^< Another dog-loving blogger calls her blog One Happy Dog Speaks. VW (naaaaa; too easy) says she doesn't blog in pajamas. She's thinking about this for her blogging outfit.

>^..^< Denny, GOC I, recommends this link because Charlieb asked him to. I recommend it too. And this.

>^..^< Thanks to Dog Snot Diaries and Black Five for spreading the story of Sergeant Joseph Bozik. Can you help?

>^..^< Another kind of hero.

>^..^< A tip of the old sun bonnet to Meanderings for this:

Our Future Is In Their Hands

A college student challenged a senior citizen, saying it was impossible for their generation to understand his. "You grew up in a different world," the student said. "Today we have television, jet planes, space travel, nuclear energy, computers..."

Taking advantage of a pause in the student's litany, the geezer said, "You're right. We didn't have those things when we were young; so we invented them! What are you doing for the next generation??"

Kind of scary when you think about it!