Alex Biles / Uncategorized

A Mouse is Born (Alex Biles)

On 1/27/11 1:15 AM, James Alexander Biles wrote:

Hey Alex,

I’m starting a blog and seeking collaborators. I realize you already have an web endeavor of your own started which looks pretty sick. Nonetheless, I wanted to offer you the opportunity to get in on this.

Potential topics to be discussed are policy, economics (which I know you’re good at), reviews (books, TV, movies, music), casual observations, sports, Ann Arbor happenings, and culture in general.

The end goal is to create a McLaughlin Group blog, but among college-aged individuals. And to eventually make it one of the best and most prominent student-run blogs on the Internet.

A similar style of the blog I envision is, only with a more artistic tilt for ours.

Besides a creative outlet, I think this blog could be great for many reasons. We could certainly bump our collective profiles if we offer compelling content.

If we produce quality content and occasionally make some noise in the blogosphere, I truly believe this could be a successful blog that could give us opportunities for networking and greater things.

Your contributions to the blog could range from once a week to multiple times a day — depending on your schedule and on your mood.

Anyway, I’m extending this opportunity to all the competent writers/political geeks I know. I’d love if you could contribute. Definitely let me know if you’re interested, but if not, it’d be great if you could spread the word. Thanks.


On 1/27/11 1:41 AM, Alex Schiff wrote:

Hey Alex,

Thanks for thinking of me for your venture, and the compliment on the work I’m doing with Benzinga. Still a lot of work to do on design and tech but the editorial pieces are starting to fall into place.

Unfortunately, my bandwith is pretty much tapped out between school, Benzinga, helping my dad with his start-up and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life.

I love helping things get off the ground though and would like to help in any way I can. If you ever have any ideas you want to bounce off of me please don’t hesitate to ask. I may have some people that would be of interest— not necessarily for political but maybe for something else.

My suggestion to you is to go big on this. Think bigger than just a blog like marginal revolution since those have somewhat of a ceiling for their success. I actually have a business idea centered on this space that I’d love to have someone run with — perhaps you might be interested in taking it for a ride?

Let me know your thoughts, and we could meet for lunch next week or something if it’s of interest.


Above you is the original e-mail exchange between fellow New Student Union co-founder Alex Schiff and I regarding the project. Even in the wake of delays and missed deadlines, a healthy amount of personnel shifts, totally necessary (totally necessary) Italian escapades and nights when I should have been drinking and working on NSU instead of just drinking, you can see we’ve come a long way.

They say men can’t give birth. And they also said two dudes couldn’t make babies. But they were wrong. Me and Shifty are living proof.

Of course, our lovechild is not a human. It’s the engagement and creative efforts of many humans — taking the shape of a mouse. See, mice are born blind. In the beginning, they have limited comprehension of their environment. But gradually, they gain the ability to explore their surroundings. They build networks with other mice buddies and grow from tiny pinkies into fuzzy, gray and glorious vermin.

OK, not the greatest analogy ever, right? But that’s the point.

Back in January, I envisioned a couple of college buddies and I debating entitlement reform on our quaint little blog. Little did I realize that just a few months down the line, I would take on the task of building the foundation for a network of talented writers from over a dozen campuses around the country.

I had no idea that I would be setting the stage for readers from across the world to gain exclusive access to interviews with bands, public policy experts, or a 2012 presidential candidate (stay tuned!).

Am I clueless about what I’m doing some of the time? You’re darn tootin’. But has that led me to abandon whatever the hell it is I’m trying to do? Hell no. When I’m not dropping the ball, I’m in a constant frenzy over ways to improve NSU and gradually turn it into a slick, well-oiled machine that will enhance the experience for everybody involved.

If you’re going to rip out and light fire to any word in Alex Schiff’s message, it should be “ceiling.” The end result of putting your own ideas into practice is as unpredictable as the quality of Nicholas Cage films is predictable. And I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s that very unpredictability that motivates me to dedicate hours of just about every day to NSU.

It requires patience. It’s being able to tune out the naysayers. And most importantly, it’s being able to navigate through pitch darkness. That’s what Steve Jobs did and if I’m able to have one-tenth of one percent of the impact he has had on people’s lives, I will die pretty damn happy.

I hope you all enjoy the site and the slew of awesome content to come as much as I’ve enjoyed helping bring it to you (a lot). With that said, I must thank a very special group of individuals who have allowed us to get this far:


Alex Schiff, for keeping me in line and for his failure to ever engage in uninteresting meal-time conversation.

Adam Feldman, because you know code and stuff. Also, your relentless pursuit of ridiculously useful and occasionally obscure information is like a spoonful of honey in society’s proverbial sea of maple syrup.

Chase Lee, Colleen Ladd, Courtney Zott, Danielle Ryan, Gary Johnson, Jake Fromm, Jason Isbell, John Roemhild, Hunter Burk, Katie O’Donnell, Kelley van Cleve, Liz McLaughlin, Maggie Smith, Maize and Blue Deli, Mallory Flynn, Maria Andersen, Mia Za’s Cafe for constantly feeding us, Micah Akuezue, Noel Gordon, Prateik Dalmia, Sylvia Lai, Tom Pavone, Will Freeland, along with each and every one of my family members andfriends who have encouraged me in this endeavor. You guys are cool, too.

For anybody else who I may have forgotten to list, and who has helped get NSU off the ground, you know you who are. For your support, I am grateful.

And double thanks to Wilco for inspiring the title of this piece.

It’s time to kick ass.


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