A good part of the reason I started blogging was because I went to a history conference at a UT branch up between Dallas and Fort Worth and found that, contrary to belief, many well known academic historians have found community history projects to be invaluable because of their focus and details. Photos rated high. Photos with details rate high. Interviews with participants in events rated high. Interviews with older people rated high if you cover their experience and perspective.
- Prairie Weather

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Free MP3 sites

Be your own program director. Venture off the beaten path. Live a little.

2dopeboyz: Hip hop. (RSS)

3hive: Sharing the sharing. Free and legal MP3s from over 600 underground and undiscovered artists — new ones added daily. (RSS)

Amazon MP3 Download - Frequency: Weekly. Get the latest on Amazon MP3 music downloads - new releases, freshly ripped hits, and special deals.

Audio Drums - A blog for rare, possibly overlooked, maybe forgotten gems of music with a slight emphasis on electronic and indie genres. (RSS)

Common Folk Music - A blog about music, not just folk music, but all music ranging from indie to alt-country to bluegrass, because music is for the “Common Folk”. (RSS)

Discobelle.net (RSS)

Fiddlefreak Folk Music Blog - Folk, bluegrass, Celtic, and other music of the people. (RSS)

Fingertips Music - Free and legal music. (RSS)

Gorilla Vs Bear (RSS)

Hillydilly: Simply Good Music. (RSS)

I Rock Cleveland: Indie Rock, College Rock, Alt Rock, Modern Rock, Cleveland Rock, and Rock. (RSS)

KEXP Song of the Day: KEXP 90.3 FM - where the music matters (RSS)

Kick Kick Snare (RSS)

Line Of Best Fit - TLOBF.COM | Music Reviews, News, Interviews & Downloads (RSS)

Lipstick Disco - Deep House & Disco music blog fronted by Females (RSS)

Minnesota Public Radio Song of the Day: Music lovers from 89.3 The Current share songs with you each weekday. (RSS)

Muruch (RSS)

Music Like Dirt: Music in all its many forms, mp3’s, live reviews and photography. (RSS)

My Old Kentucky Blog - a music blog that parties with unicorns. (RSS)

Nah Right. (RSS)

ninebullets.net. (RSS)

Rollo & Grady: Los Angeles Music Blog, LA Music Blog (RSS)

Said the Gramophone: a music weblog (RSS)

She Makes Music: She Makes Music focuses on the most exciting and impressive new music created by brilliant and talented female musicians. (RSS)


Sounds Better With Reverb (RSS)

Stereogum: All the MP3s on Stereogum.com (RSS)

their bated breath (RSS)

Women of Hip Hop (RSS)

YouKnowIGotSoul (RSS)

Mourn ya till I join ya

The Wheel’s Still In Spin: Focusing on new music releases and reviews of individual albums as original, fictional short stories (RSS)

A Fifty Cent Lighter & A Whiskey Buzz - This site is just a way for me to have a little fun and share a little music. I’ll highlight some of my favorite artists that I play on the radio and try to expound upon their music in ways I can’t always do on the air. (RSS)

Aminal Sound

Audiofile: Music Blog, Music Articles - Salon.com

Crossfade: The CNET music blog

Direct Current New Music - Adult pop, rock, singer/songwriters, folk, Americana, alt-country, adult alternative, soul, world music, crossover jazz and simply those artists that make us go “hmmm.”(RSS)

GarageBand.com Folk top tracks (RSS)

GarageBand.com Hip Hop top tracks (RSS)

Flawless Hustle: Urban culture blog featuring artist interviews, music reviews, legal music downloads, street art, graffiti and more! (RSS)



The Jon Swift principle: “I will add anyone to my blogroll who adds me to theirs.” Email or leave a comment to let me know.


The Hunting of the Snark

Sites participating in blogroll amnesty day

Jon Swift aka Al Weisel, may he rest in peace. Co-originator of Blogroll Amnesty Day

skippy the bush kangaroo (Co-originator of Blogroll Amnesty Day) (2012)

Vagabond Scholar (2012)
Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety. Keeper of the Jon Swift Memorial Roundup (The Best Posts of the Year, Chosen by the Bloggers Themselves)

Notes From Underground (2012)

Redeye’s Front Page (2012)

Wisdom of the West (2012)

Zen Comix (2012)

pygalgia (2012)

Mikeb302000 (2012)

The Agonist (2012)

Brilliant At Breakfast (2012)

Bacon and Eggs (2012)

« Coates and the racial reckoning | Main | Let's play Russian roulette. You start and I'll check back in a bit »

When the truth is not enough

One week from Monday I will mark eight years blogging at Pruning Shears. It’s largely been quiet - my numbers have rarely bumped above the hundreds in visits per week. I like to console myself that this is because I write really smart, well reasoned and occasionally polemical essays that don’t fit the successful clickbait models (sensational headlines with quick, breathless and highly partisan takes; inspirational drivel; celebrity sideboob). But the more likely explanation is either a) I’m a terrible writer or b) I write about things that few care to read about.

Which is fine, I’ve only run the site as a hobby and (thankfully) never had to make money off it. I write about what I want, when I want. I don’t have an assignment editor making me cover topics I’m not interested in, and over the years I’ve connected with some really interesting people (including the bloggers at Prairie Weather and First Draft). While it would be nice to have massive traffic, I pretty much have the traffic I’ve earned and I can live with that.

I can afford to do that because I don’t need to make a living off it. Professional writers, on the other hand, need to hustle. They have to publicize their work and compose with one eye on capturing the largest possible audience. They don’t have the luxury I do: of writing only about what interests me, and if no one wants to read it then fuck it. Or of writing “fuck” for that matter.

So I understand that pressure, and I also understand the amateur blogger’s desire to get a big server-busting hit. But I have a hard time wrapping my head around how one can make the leap from that to presenting fiction as fact - particularly when doing so involves confessing to crimes. Alice Goffman appeared to do just that in her new book “On the Run.” She quickly backed off when the issue was raised, yet that just raises more questions. Her statement doesn’t square with her account in the book, so which are we to believe? Will future editions of the book be rewritten to present Hoffman’s new, less dramatic account? And how does she reconcile her radically re-worked version of events with the one in the book? Both of them cannot be true.

A story this week had a similar theme. A doctor with the pseudonym Hope Amantine wrote about1 an absolutely extraordinary event that happened during her residency. Noting her extra care during a heart procedure,

My attending asked, “Why are you being so dainty with your dissection there?” I answered that I wanted to avoid ripping the cava because they’re so much harder to fix.

Big mistake.

I take it he interpreted my comment as fear, and decided upon a teaching moment. He took his scissors and incredibly, before my eyes, and with no warning or preparation of any kind, cut a one-inch hole in the cava.

I was stunned. As I tried to process what I just saw, incredulous that he would actually intentionally make a hole in the cava, and as dark blood poured out of the hole, the tide rising steadily in the abdomen, he remarked, “Well, are you just going to stand there or are you going to fix that?”

Now, whatever else you may think about this, it is not presented as fiction. She doubles down on it as fact in the comments too:

it was a different era. Time will tell if we are better or worse off today… I can tell you that since much has changed in the last twenty years, surgical residents today touch instruments much less often, and many report feeling unprepared for the rigors of attendingship when they have finished their training. Their work hours are restricted, their experience likewise, and I have seen more than a few young attendings that can’t operate their way out of a paper bag. They have been trained in a kinder, gentler environment, and that is great as long as every operation goes as planned.


When there is a computer simulation that adequately prepares surgeons for unexpected anatomy, findings, and intraoperative unplanned “events,” I will be the first one to sing Hallelujah. It hasn’t been invented yet - so until that time, you better pray that you never get a hole in a cava. But if you do, you better hope that the person holding the knife can actually fix it in less than the five minutes it will take for you to bleed to death.

When it became clear that this was not just an appalling breach of ethics or a grimly satisfied reflection on how much better things were back in the day (along with mandatory snark about how soft kids today are), but rather a felony assault, the following got tacked on to the end: “Author’s note 7/8/2015: This is a fictional article. No one was harmed, then or ever, in my care or in my presence. I apologize for any remark that may have been misconstrued.” And the author’s personal blog disappeared too.

What’s frustrating is that in both cases the authors already had compelling material to work with. As Michael Hiltzik wrote about Goffman:

Certainly much of “On the Run” rings very true, and there’s no disputing the vigor of its prose and the percipience of much of Goffman’s observation. Authorities’ exploitation of petty infractions to confine minorities in an endless cycle of fines and court dates and police harassment has been documented in many communities, including Ferguson, Mo. No one can follow news reports of police shootings and beatings of black residents of cities across America and doubt that much of what Goffman described does happen as a matter of course in the neighborhood she dubs “6th Street.”

And Janet Stemwedel on Amantine:

Without a doubt, the central question of the original post is an important one. Trainees perfecting their skills can be cautious in a way that frustrates the more-practiced people training them. That caution is amplified, understandably so, when they are perfecting their skills while working on real patients. It is true that real cases they will eventually face outside the training context may be more serious, more complex, more urgent, and that practitioners will need to deploy their techniques more swiftly and confidently.

Which is why it’s so frustrating when things like this happen. Were neither confident enough in the story they were telling to let reality speak for itself? Was there nothing else on the mean streets of Philadelphia that would have made for a dramatic conclusion? Did Amantine have no other tales of god complexes in the operating room that would have seized the reader’s attention? Both authors seem passionate about their subjects. Don’t they realize how severely they cheapen and degrade those subjects by turning in eye-popping reports that get falsified?

I really try not to judge on these things. Sometimes people are under pressures that we can’t know or understand. I’ve certainly done things I’m not proud of, and so far haven’t had any of them held up to the world for comment. I sure don’t know how well I’d handle it if they were. I don’t want to see either writer hounded from public life or drowned in shame. But I don’t want to see them get off without being called to account a little, either. The topics they’re covering are too important for them to get a pass just because their hearts were pure. And in any event, getting it right matters for its own sake.


1. The story has since been deleted from the site. An archived snapshot is still available here. Twitter user Matt Algren made a PDF of the comments here, which I’ve also uploaded along with a plain text version since one of the comments in the PDF appears truncated. Finally, a snapshot of Hope Amantine’s tweets just prior to her account deletion is here.

Reader Comments (1)


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August 20, 2015 | Unregistered Commenteruntravelledpath

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