Friday, July 27, 2007

BP Profiles; Ruthie Zaftig

Described by Crushed as 'earnest and thoughtful - someone I could see myself sitting in a cafe with discussing the Bush administration', here is Ruthie's profile. She blogs here.

I was born and raised in New York, but I've lived in Minnesota for several years, where I attend a state university. My major is journalism, my minor is philosophy. I'm a senior in college, I'm in the midst of applying to grad schools, and I hope to end up back on the east coast within the next few years. I'm a single mother to a two-year-old son. I'm 22 years old.

Why do you blog?
For many of the same reasons that I chose to pursue writing as a career: I enjoy it, I think it's worthwhile, and it's cathartic. I like the (relative) anonymity of this medium, and the fact that I can inject my posts with my own opinion, something I try to avoid in news writing.

Why did you join BlogPower?
I joined blogpower primarily because James asked me to. But it grew into a great way to connect and network with other small bloggers around the world... I've discovered some wonderful blogs and formed some great friendships via blogpower. It was definitely worth it.

How do you find the time to work, raise Little C and blog?
I don't sleep. I sleep about five hours a night, sometimes slightly more or less, but it's always been that way, even before I was a mother. During the school year, my most productive hours are usually between 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m., when Little C is asleep and I can (theoretically) get lots of work done. Often, too, I blog because I enjoy it more than the work I should be doing, like balancing my checkbook or studying for an exam.

What is your best and worst blogging experience?
I wrote an open letter to NBC after the Virginia Tech shootings that someone linked to from the NBC message boards. Suddenly, I was getting thousands of hits in the span of a couple of hours. A lot of people emailed me about it. Some of them were nasty, but most people had positive things to say, along the lines of, 'thanks for writing this, NBC's producers should read this-- they were out of line.' It suddenly felt like I was writing for the benefit of other people, instead of just for my own indulgence.

I haven't had a particularly bad blogging experience yet. Every so often someone (usually anonymous commenters) will leave a profane or nasty comment, or email me something inappropriate, but that rarely happens. It isn't enough of a problem that I've felt the need to enable comment moderation yet, anyway.

Who are your favourite small bloggers?
I'm not sure what constitutes small, but I enjoy Crushed by Ingsoc, Thunderdragon, Sinclair's Musings. I think Westminster Wisdom is a consistently well-thought-out and clever blog, even when I disagree with its author. I've also recently discovered a blog called Rethink which is easily one of the best blogs I've ever read. (ed - Sinclair's Musings and Rethink are new ones on me - others enjoy them?).

Which sites do you visit every day?
I check my university email, Facebook and NPR's website. I don't always have time to get around to all the blogs I like, which is unfortunate. That process can take up to an hour and a half, because I get absorbed in it.

Why are there so few female bloggers?
Female bloggers have a big share in the market of celebrity/entertainment blogs and then there's the whole 'mommy blogger' phenomenon. Every so often I think my blog dips into that territory. But there seem to be far fewer female bloggers with political, theological, philosophical, or academic blogs.

I think there are so few female political bloggers for a couple of reasons:

1. Women, on the whole, aren't as interested in politics as men are. This isn't true of all women, of course, but anecdotal evidence would suggest that many women find politics simultaneously unsavory and boring, especially women who have their hands full raising families.
2. The blogosphere sometimes nurtures a sort of petty, argumentative culture that many women find off-putting. Women tend to avoid confrontation more than men.

Why Rudy 2008?
When I was a little girl, New York was filthy and dangerous. Now it's visibly cleaner, safer and more vibrant than I ever remembered it. My support of Rudy has very little to do with 9/11, although his leadership during that crisis was something to be proud of. He cut the legs out from under the mafia, nearly single-handedly. He wasn't afraid of the Gambinos or the corrupt unions. Murder rates dropped in half. He's blunt. He's Italian. He's a New Yorker. He reminds me of my grandfather.

Are you an Italian-American or an American?
I'm an American of Italian descent. My family has been in the U.S. for three generations, counting mine, and the fact that we're still so close to our immigrant roots has had a great deal to do with my upbringing and the person I became, but ultimately I'm an American before all else.

What is your favourite post?
I think it would be 'The Postmodern College Student,' which I wrote after reading a couple of books by Francis Schaeffer.

Generation Y; self-indulgent loafers or those with their priorities right?
For the most part, as much as I hate to say it, my generation often disappoints me. I don't know if I'd put it as strongly as 'self-indulgent loafers', not necessarily vaguely principled, but taking the path of least resistance. I read a study a few months ago that concluded that my generation is more narcissistic than any that came before us. That does not surprise me.

What are your favourite three books?
I don't think I could pick three. I've read and re-read Pablo Neruda's 'Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair' more times than I can count. 'The Elements of Journalism', (by Kovach and Rosenstiel) is a great book about journalism, easy to read, highly enlightening and totally useful to anyone in my line of work. Anything by C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Tolkien, Isabel Allende, P.J. O'Rourke, Ignazio Silone.

I read the 'No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency' series to my grandfather before he passed away. I would come to visit a couple of times a week and read to him by his bedside, one chapter at a time. So Alexander McCall Smith's books will always have special meaning and fond memories for me too.

What was the last good film you saw?
Stranger than Fiction. I was really surprised by the depth of Will Ferrell's character, and the departure from his usual goofy, one-dimensional frat-boy role. I also liked that all the characters were named for mathematicians, and that one of the characters was a watch.

Which film character do you most relate to?
Miss Kenton in 'The Remains of the Day.'

What major political issue have you changed your mind on?
The death penalty. I've come to the conclusion that I can't be simultaneously pro-life and pro-death penalty. Besides, the system isn't reliable enough for me to feel comfortable allowing a person's life to be ended or saved by it. Better a guilty man live than an innocent man die.

Who are your political heroes?
I'm a big fan of Abraham Lincoln, because he was (somehow) a principled pragmatist. Cesar Chavez, who was a Mexican-American version of Martin Luther King Jr and I'll also say Nelson Mandela.

If you could have any three dinner guests, who would they be?
Jesus, the theologian Francis Schaeffer (he died the year before I was born, and even though I know his wife I've always wanted to meet him), and my late grandfather.

What would be your 5 Desert Island albums?
James Morrison: Undiscovered
Nek: Una Parte di Me
Lauryn Hill: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Maroon 5: Songs About Jane
Maroon 5: It Won't Be Soon Before Long