The Weekly Sift is written by Doug Muder, a 50-something ex-mathematician who lives in Nashua, NH and hates writing about himself in the third person. (So enough of that.)
Writing and journalism were my original ambition from back when I was editor of my high-school paper and had an after-school job at my hometown daily, the Quincy Herald-Whig. (I ran pieces of paper from the newsroom to the composing room, where skilled workers operated linotype machines. I also tore sheets from teletypes and matched them with the paper tapes that ran the linotype equivalent of a player piano. Don’t get me started.)
In college I fell in love with another subject — mathematics — and went on to get a Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. My thesis was on algebraic geometry. (You don’t really want to know what that is.) I later did work on codes and information theory for the MITRE Corporation, where my wife Deb still works. (The only relevance mathematics has to the Sift is that Supreme Court opinions are easy reading to anybody who is used to mathematical proofs.)
My mid-life crisis didn’t involve co-eds and sports cars. Instead, I went back to writing. I co-authored some Dummies books and some massive tomes about how to use Windows and the new-fangled Internet.
Eventually I started getting articles published on more interesting subjects like politics and religion (though I still haven’t managed to publish any fiction to speak of, unless you count this). It hardly paid anything, but Deb was OK with that. She is the behind-the-scenes hero of the Weekly Sift.
I got into blogging because we moved to New Hampshire. Let me unpack that a little. Early in 2003, I realized that Democratic presidential candidates were just begging for my attention. As voter in the First Primary, I had a level of access that my friends could only dream about. So I made a project out of seeing all the candidates. And then it occurred to me that if I wrote about it, I could take my friends on a vicarious journey.
It started as email, but (to anyone who has the genetic predisposition to write) email is just a gateway drug. Before long I was blogging on Daily Kos as Pericles. (In his heyday of 2004-2005, Pericles was a mid-level Kossack. My posts made the Recommended List occasionally, but not consistently.)
The Weekly Sift started as a way to get some momentum on Monday mornings. The idea was that I’d bookmark interesting links during the week, and then on Monday I’d do a post about them. Those posts kept getting longer and longer, until finally capped them at 3000 words a week and gave them their own blog — this blog.