1. Who I am and why I started the Weekly Sift.

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.


  • weeklysift  On September 22, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    I’d rather see comments about specific posts attached to those posts. Comments on this page will be periodically deleted.

    • Emma  On September 3, 2014 at 8:21 am

      With respect to “Not a Teaparty…”, one error. It was Bush who took the election to the Supreme Court, not Gore.

  • Pamela V'Combe  On March 21, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Dear Mr. Muder, I have been able to follow 90% of the events regarding last year’s Arab Spring, but have not integrated the Syrian facet into my overall framework about the Middle East. Have you written about Syria, and if so, would you be kind enough to forward the week that your essay was posted.

    Thank you for your attention to this request.

    Pamela V’Combe

    • weeklysift  On March 22, 2012 at 8:01 am

      I haven’t written about Syria. That’s a major hole in the Sift’s coverage. At the very least, I’ll try to find somebody else’s analysis to put in next week’s short notes.

  • Pamela V'Combe  On March 22, 2012 at 8:11 am

    Thank you for your effort. Since this is World Water Week, it may make sense to discuss fracking.

  • jayne4obama  On August 14, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Thank you for this – I shared with my email list and asked them to share as well. We will be outspent by hundreds of millions of dollars this election cycle so WE must be the media for Obama and Democrats running for Congress and the Senate. We NEED Obama to be re-elected and with as many Democrats as possible to help him finish the job that he only has started.

  • Duncan Potter  On September 18, 2012 at 9:56 am

    I just read “Dealing with the distress of the privileged”. Kudos. One of the best things I’ve read in quite a while.

  • Wayne Self  On September 25, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Doug, it’s Wayne Self over at Owldolatrous.com. I’m the guy who wrote the Aesop’s Fable piece that you used in “The Distress of the Privileged.” I’m glad it did so well!

    I’ve started a new venture at my site called Owldolatrous Press, featuring other soulful, thoughtful contributors. I’d like to talk to you about partnering up in some way and promoting one another more purposefully. Not sure how to reach you, though. Assuming my email address shows up for you when you receive this comment, please email me directly! Thanks.


    • weeklysift  On September 26, 2012 at 11:36 am

      This sounds like a marvelous idea. You can write to me at weeklysift at gmail.com

  • JB  On October 3, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    I absolutely love the Sift, and I’ve been linking and re-linking people to it, and various articles in it. Which brings me to this point: it’s really damn hard to find articles in it, once they’ve passed their week. Have you considered putting a search button on the sidebar? In a wordpress blog, it’s not hard!


  • Brent  On July 17, 2013 at 3:05 am

    WOW. I had heard of the Powell memo; see, i just turned 50, here in Madison, WI, & I still get carded at bars on State st. I only recently EVER voted, but I’m interested in politics because, ya know, politics is REALLY the shortest path to money & power….You got the best political links I’ve seen & I got BOTH sides, by the dozen…(gotta admit, The Blaze has some interesting news…where FOX doesn’t), but the Dems only send emails asking for MONEY.
    Keep up the GOOD Work.

  • Judy Schroeder  On February 23, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    Just to say thanks for such an insightful summary of racism and the disrespect toward this President. When he won the first time, I said to friends that we would need to figure out how to defend him, which never happened past the first volley. But documenting the patterns and raising the naive question “what do you call this?”, might help. Thanks.

  • skinnercitycyclist  On August 15, 2014 at 7:09 am

    Please stop sending me updates there is no way I can find to stop gettung updates please UNSUBSCRIBE ME

    • weeklysift  On August 15, 2014 at 7:36 am

      I feel your pain, but I believe subscriptions are between you and WordPress. I don’t think I have any control.

  • David  On August 15, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    FYI–the Confederate battle flag is not the Stars and Bars. Otherwise, I liked your reflection on Reconstruction.

  • Milton Allimadi  On August 27, 2014 at 4:10 am

    Greetings. Can we repost the weekly sift on http://www.blackstarnews.com? Especially Not A Tea Party?

    • weeklysift  On August 27, 2014 at 7:38 am

      As long as you put in a link back to the Sift, I’m happy. The more people see the articles, the better.

  • Pat Dunlap  On August 30, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    My daughter sent me your article, “Not a Tea Party, a Confederate Party.” I hold a doctorate in history with a focus on the ideas that produced democracy during the Enlightenment. My grandfather was a southern historian who helped to found the Mississippi Historical Society. His father fought for the Confederacy. I’ve read and reread the versions of history that emerged from the Confederacy and recognize them as equally twisted as are today’s Tea Party versions. I’ve been trying to get this concept across for years, but you’ve hit it right on the head. BRAVO!


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