“Specksynder” is an old Dutch whaling term used for the chief harpooner on a whaling voyage. More literally it means “fat cutter.” It’s also a reference to Moby-Dick.
Choosing the word as the blog’s namesake is meant as a declaration of purpose: we’re after big fish here (whether we can catch them or not), we’re seeking out clarity in an increasingly confusing world, and we have a (hopefully forgivable) fondness for Melville and nautical metaphors.
The byline references former Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.:
“I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.”
Holmes was a major figure in the American philosophical movement known as Pragmatism, a school of thought of increasing relevance in today’s complicated, pluralistic world, divided as it is by cultural and ideological conflict.
To the extent that there’s an overall theme to this blog, it’s the progressive ethos expressed in Holmes’ quote. We live in a time period of rapid change. New questions need answers, and old answers need to be questioned.
No whales were harmed in the making of this blog.