Deconstructing Lawrence Velvel’s Blook

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Blook Looks

by Cheryl Hagedorn

Cheryl Hagedorn authors Blooking Central, which examines
published books to discover what makes for a blookable blog.

It’s not that Lawrence R. Velvel, Dean of the Massachusetts School of Law, isn’t well known or that the web isn’t littered with his essays that makes talking about his blook difficult.  It’s just that beyond this bit about the book deal from Publishers Marketplace, there’s nothing to be found regarding the blook’s construction.

31 March, 2006
STANDPOINT: 2004-2005, the best postings from, to Doukathsan Press, in a nice deal, by Massachusetts School of Law (world).

In fact, the deal suggests that Velvel slapped a cover on all the posts between Jan. 1 2004 and Dec. 31 2005, and sent it off to Doukathsan for printing.  (I’m guessing that 2004-2005 means two years’ worth of posts – the blook has 500 pages.)The blog Velvel on National Affairsis self-described as “A progressive blog setting forth the personal views of the Dean of the Massachusetts School of Law on national events.”  Trust me, these are not grandma’s posts about her garden nor a collection of postcards with secrets plunked on a blog, ala Frank Warren’s Post Secret.

The lengthy entries found at Velvel’s blog are essays.  Carefully crafted and, no doubt, reread and revised many times before posting.  They are just the stuff of a blookable blog.  But what about the order of appearance in the dead tree version?  Were they left in chronological order?  Considering the many blooks I’ve examined, I don’t think so.

In fact, in his post on August 11, 2006, Velvel refers to page numbers in the blook:

But there are, of course, many other opinions that are themselves dishonest or reward the dishonesty of parties. Last year I wrote about the Arthur Andersen case, in which the Supreme Court wrote a ridiculous opinion letting Arthur Andersen off the hook for its dishonest misconduct.  (The post is dated June 20, 2005, and is printed at p. 460 of Blogs From The Liberal Standpoint: 2004-2005.)

Okay, so my guess that the blook covers two years was correct.  Good.  But that doesn’t tell us much about organization; the post is 2005 and it’s near the end of the book. But then he continues:

I also wrote about the judicial approval of the government’s dishonest screwing over of soldiers who were told and thought they had signed up for the reserves for only a one year trial, but later were told that the fine print had them hooked for several years and so they were going to be sent to Iraq.  (This post is dated December 6, 2004 and appears at p. 14 of Blogs From The Liberal Standpoint:  2004-2005.)

Thine Alabaster Cities Gleam book coverThe post he refers to comes from late in the first year yet appears on page fourteen. That’s enough to convince me that posts were collected topically, not chronologically.  Something which I was unable to discover is whether or not the blook includes all the posts from that two-year period.  If not all made it onto paper, I’d love to know how Velvel decided what to put in and what to leave out.  I also found it curious that the blog carries no hint of the blook in the sidebar. On the other hand, Velvel’s Thine Alabaster Cities Gleam merits a cover image and description as well as a link to Amazon.

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