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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?

I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.

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"The brain is wider than the sky,
For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include
With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson

"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin

"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton

"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan

"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule -- and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken

"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt

"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley

"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss

"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire, the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind; and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon

"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon

"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon

"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority. They show disrespect for elders and they love to chatter instead of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize their teachers."
-- Socrates

"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook

"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook

"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization. We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr

"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion

"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson

"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices, intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation; a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition -- to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand

"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri

"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams

"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France

"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke

"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology; it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant

"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville

"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis

"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis

"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis

"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon, but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant

"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand

"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal

"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.

"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible, and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus

"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814

"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort, are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true, the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated. This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944

"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News

"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas

"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
-- Cicero

"Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue." -- François, duc de La Rochefoucauld

"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it." -- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson

"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example." -- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower

"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance." --
H. W. Fowler

"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place." -- Kate Wilhelm

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein

"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms

"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho

"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).

"Nothing would be done at all, if a man waited till he could do it so well, that no one could find fault with it."
-- Lecture IX, John Henry Cardinal Newman

“Nothing is more common than for men to think that because they are familiar with words they understand the ideas they stand for.”
-- John Henry Cardinal Newman

"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
-- James Madison

"Those who are free from common prejudices acquire others."
-- Napolean I of France -- Napoleon I of France

"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.

"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.

"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128

"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)

"American life is a powerful solvent. It seems to neutralize every intellectual element, however tough and alien it may be, and to fuse it in the native good will, complacency, thoughtlessness, and optimism."
-- George Santayana, Character and Opinion in the United States, (1920)

"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days

"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs

"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign

"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden

"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
-- Batman


Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit. He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.

The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cute panda. Don't you love pandas?

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Contents © 2001-2013 All rights reserved. Gary Farber. (The contents of e-mails to this email address of Gary Farber are subject to the possibility of being posted.)

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world

[Blogroll now far below the sea line! Dive, dive, dive!]

You Like Me, You Really Like Me

Gary Farber! Jeez, the guy is practically a blogging legend, and I'm always surprised at the breadth of what he writes about.
-- PZ Meyers, Pharyngula

...Darn: I saw that Gary had commented on this thread, and thought: oh. my. god. Perfect storm. Unstoppable cannonball, immovable object. -- Hilzoy

...I think Gary Farber is a blogging god. -- P.Z. Myers, Pharyngula

...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow

‎"Gary Farber is a gentleman, a scholar and one of the gems of the blogosphere." -- Steve Hynd,

"Well argued, Gary. I hadn't seen anything that went into as much detail as I found in your blog." -- Gareth Porter

Gary Farber is your one-man internet as always, with posts on every article there is.
-- Fafnir

Guessing that Gary is ignorant of anything that has ever been written down is, in my experience, unwise.
Just saying.

-- Hilzoy

Gary Farber gets it right....
-- James Joyner, Outside The Beltway

Once again, an amazing and illuminating post.
-- Michael Bérubé, Crooked Timber

I read Amygdala...with regularity, as do all sensible websurfers.
-- Jim Henley, Unqualified Offerings

Okay, he is annoying, but he still posts a lot of good stuff.
-- Avedon Carol, The Sideshow

Amygdala - So much stuff it reminds Unqualified Offerings that UO sometimes thinks of Gary Farber as "the liberal Instapundit."
-- Jim Henley

...the thoughtful and highly intelligent Gary Farber... My first reaction was that I definitely need to appease Gary Farber of Amygdala, one of the geniuses of our age.
-- Brad deLong

Gary is a perceptive, intelligent, nice guy. Some of the stuff he comes up with is insightful, witty, and stimulating. And sometimes he manages to make me groan.
-- Charlie Stross

Gary Farber is a straight shooter.
-- John Cole, Balloon Juice

I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber

Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
-- Ogged

I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow

One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.

One of my favorites....
-- Matt Welch

-- Virginia Postrel

Amygdala continues to have smart commentary on an incredible diversity of interesting links....
-- Judith Weiss

Amygdala has more interesting obscure links to more fascinating stuff that any other blog I read.
-- Judith Weiss, Kesher Talk

Gary's stuff is always good.
-- Meryl Yourish

...the level-headed Amygdala blog....
-- Geitner Simmons

The only trouble with reading Amygdala is that it makes me feel like such a slacker. That Man Farber's a linking, posting, commenting machine, I tell you!
-- John Robinson, Sore Eyes

...the all-knowing Gary Farber....
-- Edward Winkleman, Obsidian Wings

Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged

We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!

Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!

Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog

Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog


Gary is certainly a non-idiotarian 'liberal'...
-- Perry deHaviland

Recommended for the discerning reader.
-- Tim Blair

Gary Farber's great Amygdala blog.
-- Dr. Frank

Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott

Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit

My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal

If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.

Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks

I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes

Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this?
-- Natalie Solent

You nailed it... nice job."
-- James Lileks

Gary Farber is a principled liberal....
-- Bill Quick, The Daily Pundit

December 2001 January 2002 February 2002 March 2002 April 2002 May 2002 June 2002 July 2002 August 2002 September 2002 October 2002 November 2002 December 2002 January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 December 2011 January 2013

Blogroll is Always In Progress:

Roger Ailes
Alas, A Blog
The American Street
The Aristocrats
Avedon Carol
Between the Hammer and the Anvil
Lindsay Beyerstein
The Big Con
CantBlogTooBusy The Center for American Progress
Chase me Ladies, I'm in the Cavalry
Doghouse Riley
Kevin Drum
Fables of the Reconstruction
Gall and Gumption
Gin and Tacos
House of Substance
The Hunting of the Snark
If I Ran The Zoo
Lawyers, Guns & Money
Lotus: Surviving a Dark Time
Matters of Little Significance
Nancy Nall
Charlie Stross bastard.logic
Daniel Larison
American Conservative
American Footprints
Andrew Sullivan
Angry Bear
Balloon Juice
Beautiful Horizons
Bitch Ph.D.
Brad DeLong
Crooked Timber
Cunning Realist
Daily Kos
Debate Link
Democracy Arsenal
Edge of the American West
Ezra Klein
Glenn Greenwald 13th Floor
Hit & Run
Juan Cole
Kevin Drum
Lawyers, Guns and Money
List Project (Helping Iraqis who worked with us get out)
Marc Lynch
Mark Kleiman
Katha Pollit
Market Square
Matthew Yglesias
Megan McArdle
Metro Green
Pam's House Blend
Paul Krugman
Philosophy, et cetera
Radley Balko
Sadly, No!
Southern Appeal
Stephen Walt
Steve Clemons
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Taking It Outside
Talking Points Memo
The Poor Man
The Progressive Realist
The Sideshow
U.S. Intellectual History
Unqualified Offerings
Volokh Conspiracy
Washington Monthly
William Easterly
Newsrack Blog
Ortho Bob
The Poor Man
Prog Gold
Prose Before Hos
Ted Rall
The Raw Story
Elayne Riggs
Sadly, No!
Texas Liberal
Think Progress
3 Weird Sisters
Tristram Shandy
Washington Monthly
Ian Welsh
James Wolcott
World o' Crap
Matthew Yglesias
Buzz Machine
Daniel Larison
Rightwing Film Geek About Last Night
can we all just agree
Comics Curmudgeon
Dum Luk's
Glenn Kenny
Hoarder Museum Juanita Jean
Lance Mannion (Help Lance!
Last Words of the Executed
The Phil Nugent Experience
Postcards from Hell's Kitchen
Vanishing New York
a lovely promise
a web undone
alt hippo
american street
city of brass
danger west
fierce urgency of now
get fisa right
great concavity
happening here
impeach them!
kathryn cramer
notes from the basement
talking dog
uncertain principles
unqualified offerings
what do i know
crooked timber emptywheel
ezra klein
The F-Word
glenn greenwald
schneier on security
ta-nehisi coates
talking points memo
tiny revolution
Roz Kaveney
Dave Ettlin
Henry Jenkins' Confessions of an Aca-Fan
Kathryn Cramer
Monkeys In My Pants
Pagan Prattle
As I Please
Ken MacLeod
Arthur Hlavaty
Kevin Maroney
MK Kare
Jack Heneghan
Dave Langford
Onyx Lynx Atrios
Rittenhouse Review
Public Nuisance
Scoobie Davis
Nathan Newman
Echidne Of The Snakes
First Draft
Rising Hegemon
Cab Drollery (Help Diane!
Southern Beale
The Kenosha Kid
Culture of Truth
Talk Left
Black Ag=Q< Report
Drug WarRant
Nieman Watchdog
Open Left
Meet the Bloggers
Dispatch from the Trenches
Crooks and Liars
Campaign for America's Future
Iraq Today
Daily Kos
Lefty Directory
News Hounds
The Brad Blog
Informed Comment
UN Dispatch
War and Piece
Glenn Greenwald
Schneier on Security
Jim Henley
Arthur Silber
Julian Sanchez
The Agitator
Balloon Juice
Wendy McElroy
Whoviating (LarryE)
Scott Horton
Tennessee Guerilla Women
Looking Glass
Charles Kuffner
Brad DeLong
Busy, Busy, Busy
Oliver Willis
The Carpetbagger Report Shakesville
Down With Tyranny
Professor B
Monkey Media Report
The Grumpy Forester
Ian Welsh
Pacific Views
Booman Tribune
Matthew Yglesias
The American Street
Media Bloodhound
Liz Henry's Composite
The Heretik
Arizona Eclectic
Sisyphus Shrugged
Interesting Times
Talking Dog
Liberal Desert
Under the Lobsterscope
Seeing The Forest
Sean Paul Kelley's The Agonist
King of Zembla
Mark Kleiman
Liquid List
Elayne Riggs
No More Mr. Nice Blog
Fanatical Apathy
Blue Gal
Mark Evanier
Roger Ailes
Suburban Guerrilla (Help Susie with money!)
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People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost, Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry, Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny. It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out. And She of whom I must write someday.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I really hate it when people have bad impulse control. Specifically, bad verbal impulse control. I have lots of bad impulse control, myself, over other things, though not completely so, and arguably I do get better about those as I get older. Mostly.

Why do I hate bad verbal impulse control?

Like most things in life, for the classic reasons: childhood and parents.

My father was a crazy manic-depressive. Bipolar is the modern term. One result was that he was fairly unpredictable; how he'd react to any given statement or event on a moment's notice was what was unpredictable. At any given moment, he might be sweet and generous, or he might snarl and smack you, or start screaming, or start yelling and cursing. Or, of course, much worse.

I won't bore you with a list of acts he did at one time or another that would horrify you, but they would, trust me. Some involved some violence. Some involved bodily wastes. Some simply involved threats.

They were enough to get him fired by the NYC Board of Education during the beginning of the 1970s, a time it was almost impossible to get fired short of killing someone, and even that probably wouldn't suffice if you did what your UFT rep told you to. But since he was depressive as much as manic, he couldn't, so he didn't, so he finally, after years, was fired, even though his mental illness only counted as a disability he couldn't be discriminated against for.

The threats of violence against colleages and superiors didn't help, though. Nor the felonies.

My mother wasn't crazy like that. She wasn't crazy in a technical sense. She was just very brittle, had empathy problems, no control over her temper, and had no business raising children.

She'd been abandoned by her parents, herself, in very early childhood in the Great Depression, and pretty much grown up as a wolf, partially cared for by living literally out of a closet in the home of a friend' parents, basically being used as their slave, and otherwise living on the streets; it was, as I got the few bits and pieces of the story I was able to pry out in later years with great difficulty, Dickensian at best.

Parenting models she didn't really have. A temper, she did. Although she had many other strengths, and tried very hard, and I give her much credit for various efforts and aspects, she really wasn't suited to being a parent.

But my concern here was that her temper was also something that she didn't have a lot of control over, and when it broke, as children are wont to break it -- and I won't say I couldn't be an extremely irritating child -- in fact, take every irritating quality you see in me today, and multiply them by about a thousand, and you may start to get close to how annoying I could be with my questions and relentless logic and arguing, but probably not close enough -- she'd start screaming.

So I grew up in a household of unpredictably screaming parents, whom any given act or statement might provoke at any moment, no matter how joyous or peaceful or loving the previous moment had been, into screaming rages, cursing, threats of violence, and occasional violence, though fortunately rarely resulting in direct physical violence on a person, and almost never seriously so; the violence was almost always simply of the physically smashing things, throwing them, upsetting tables over end, that sort of thing; the violence applied directly to people was largely simply of the sudden and unpredictable smack/slam, not the bone-breaking or more calculated sort.

But the point I make is the unpredictablity, and the harshness of it, and I was a child who was always extremely empathetic towards other people's pain, and the idea of it, and sensitive about noise and violence and, as a result of all this, to harsh language.

The environment was always uncertain. My parents were always fighting, always screaming at each other, or in hushed whispers, trying not to Let The Children Hear, but the apartments were always so tiny that we could hear every word, and on the occasions I couldn't easily, I learned at a very early age to creep down the hall to listen, because the more information I had as to what was going on and what the issues were and the level of current stress, the better able I would be to predict what the level of stress the next day would be, and the faintly safer or better able to protect myself, I felt I'd be. And, of course, what was going to happen: when would come the divorce, what worse might happen, what violent or terrible outcome might come next, I felt I needed to know, given the constant onslaught of lost jobs by my father, bad news, thwarted dreams, bouts of crying and and fighting and so on.

Soon enough they did divorce when I was age 12-3, though matters weren't much better, given the subsequent kidnapping attempts, the moves in hiding, the property destruction, and the like.

I had wound up as a result of this and more always feeling a need to be independent -- though constantly terrified -- and thinking for myself wasn't optional. As a result, I pretty much did what I wanted, and dealt with the consequences. After 13, I said that I'd gotten bar mitzphahed, religious education was now over; my parents were divorced, and my mother was working, and I was largely on my own, anyway; not that I'd ever felt much otherwise, unfair as some of that feeling might be.

By 15, it had always been clear to me that my mother and I had no intellectual mutual understanding, and I'd always felt that she had a near-complete lack of ability to emotionally connect (which I did feel she made some efforts to overcome, but simply wasn't capable of doing, due to her own problems; if I ever blamed her for this, I let lots of it go after some time). I moved out, and in with my 22-year-old girlfriend.

I did that after endless periods of her screaming, as she'd screamed at me through childhood, that she wished she'd never had me, that I was a fucking awful child, that I was a monsterous child, that I should fuck off and die, that she fucking hated me, and so forth and so on.

I kept hearing this in later years, and eventually took her at her word that she never wanted to ever hear from me again. Through the Seventies, Eighties, and Nineties, our contact was always intermittent, anyway, sometimes going years with no contact, and when we had it, it never went more than a few encounters without renewal of that sort of thing. Last time we had contact was more than a decade ago, now.

This all left me fairly emotionally crippled as an adolescent and post-adolescent. For years when faced with people being angry, I'd lock up in paralysis and fear, as it meant to me that they were about to be violent and were being scary. And, in any case, the only way I knew how to deal with the anger of others was to shut down emotionally, and when pushed, to freeze; if pushed enough, for a few years, almost literally catatonically.

Eventually, I grew out of this, and learned better coping mechanisms, but it wasn't until the end of my teen years that I really started, and it wasn't until my early twenties that I really started to learn how to cope more usefully with displays of anger, and specifically with being yelled at and cursed at, and at people uttering extreme emotional content at me.

You know the sort of thing: "fuck off!" "Go fuck yourself, asshole!" "I hate you, schmuck!" "What a fucking asshole you are!"

That sort of thing.

I started engaging in written exchanges with people in science fiction fanzines and "amateur press associations" (think of them as printed newsgroups/bulletin boards/blog comments, distributed weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, occasionally in person, mostly by mail) at age 12. So I always dealt far better with hostility in print than in person; it was far less scary and threatening and far more dealable with.

And among the other early coping mechanisms I'd had along with emotionally freezing was reacting with logic and reason. Sure, often to the point of being unreasonable and unhealthily so -- these were coping mechanisms, not Magic Cures. Sometimes being Mr. Spock, though involuntary, would be a form of passive-resistance, but often it was simply that there was no other available choice beyond paralysis, which was even less good (and frightening in its own way).

But I was always intensely verbal, and rational, and into using words and reasoning to try to derive answers and explanations to things. And so I was also always intensely argumentative if the argument interested me. That I could also tie people into knots was just a trivial side-benefit at times, and one whose downside I didn't start to see until post-adolescence and starting to try to really develop relationships with other people.

But displays of major hostility, verbal attacks, still frightened and upset me greatly, though by the end of my early twenties I was also starting to be able to access my own anger, which had always been locked underneath, of course.

And it was because I'd always felt that anger in response to feeling attacked that I always continued to maintain emotional control; one of my core reponses was that I knew how badly I felt when verbally attacked in anger by someone I cared about, and I felt that I would never want to make anyone feel the sort of hurt and despair and pain that it had always made me feel to feel so frightened and offended and rejected and attacked by someone I cared about.

Of course, dealing with simple insults and attacks from people I didn't care about was something I'd been dealing with all along, as well, so I had a split track in always developing a thick skin with insults from those I thought not caring about, and being utterly rawly exposed to those I did care about.

And arguing with people in print from age 12 on only gave me thicker skin for surviving the back-and-forth of debate and the insults of those I thought litle of.

But I always maintained that sense that I would maintain control over what I said back to those I cared about, and never wrong them in the way I felt wronged.

Eventually, of course, I started to understand that there were worse things in the world than people screaming at each other, that it didn't actually mean the end of the world or the relationship or that violence was about to erupt, or that they wanted to, in general, emotionally flay me, or were even remotely aware of how it made me feel.

And so I got somewhat better at coping with it and judging it.

Although all this probably also handicapped me from seeing as much as I should see as to how other forms of being verbally cutting, in more clever and intellectual ways than simply calling people names, can hurt others.

And I've always had a lot of patience with some things, and have mostly only gotten more patient with some things as I've gotten older, though not with all things (some I've probably gotten less patient with as I've come to think even less of them, and as life grows shorter).

So, two tracks, again, when dealing with arguments with people I care about, from a little to a lot: patience in the short/mid-term with waiting for their anger to expire, and forgiving them for it is one track.

But I also have the other track. After one major relationship with a screamer, I resolved never to have another longterm serious relationship with someone who couldn't mostly keep their temper, and didn't have some control over what they'd say in extremes. And as I got yet older, I got even less tolerant with putting up with that sort of thing in people I'd have much contact with. Thus, if it were with a boss inclined to scream, I'd be more inclined to quit. A roommate/housemate, more inclined to move out. A friend, more inclined to give increasingly serious and lengthy explanations of all this, and warnings that if it kept happening, I would not put up with it, and that ultimately if it didn't stop, I was simply going to cut them out of my life, as it wasn't worth it to me and my need for as much emotional well-being as possible.

Not all that long ago, for instance, I finally, after some years, dropped contact with someone I'd gone through this dynamic with as a housemate and friend; much as I was inclined to be forgiving through endless examples, I kept up the warnings that this had to stop as the emotional upset it gives me otherwise wasn't going to balance out the good bits. And she kept reverting to screaming, and I cut off contact. She'll probably read this and once again figure it's about her, but of course, it's not; it's about some blog comment exchanges, and it's a chance to once again put all this in the record, and explain for the future, when I can point to it in an entirely unrelated instance with an entirely different person, that this is who I am, this is my history, and this is why I react really really really badly to certain forms of verbal interactions, and to certain forms of verbal hostility, and why I really wish people were more and better able, as a rule, to keep better control over what they say when mad and not have to say things and regret them and expect that an apology, no matter how immediate, will make up for it.

Because as much as forgiveness is extremely important to me, and as much as I practice it, and as much as a grown-up now, like all people, I do still have the child inside me, and I still do get that upset when Some Things are said to me, and I do have to at least fight with my inner child, or give him time, to get past the great surge of emotion it usually provokes in me, the great hurt and pain and anger and resentment and sadness and all those other products of the surging sea of emotion from childhood that still toils not far beneath my surface.

Naturally, flares of anger at and between friends is normal, and trying to avoid it entirely would be unhealthy and unreasonable. So mostly I do cope with it reasonably well in recent decades. And mostly, so long as it's not too frequent or too serious or too close-cutting, it's something simply to regret and get past.

And mostly that's what I do. Not to worry over-much beyond that, so long as the caveats are kept in mind and not exceeded. And I don't worry over-much in return about venting somewhat from time to time in cutting or sharp form, though I do keep it below a certain "fuck you" level unless I think we're seriously close to I-want-to-get-off-here-thanks level, or I somehow really do lose control (drink too much, say, which fortunately I've not been doing of late, but maybe otherwise great pain or sickness or exhaustion or something might be a factor, since I still have a lot of those).

But it still does upset me, and I do still have to fight the impulse to respond equally vehemently, or to go off and sulk for months (though sometimes I'll still do that, or at least for weeks or days, though often I'll just plan to, and only do so for hours, or a day or two) and I do usually still manage not to, and that still does tend to send me round the somewhat unreasonable circle of "but if I can maintain control despite being that hurt and angry, why can't they?," though fortunately I've long been grown-up enough to intellectually recognize that the actual answer to that is that most other people are emotionally healthier about this sort of thing than I am, and so it reasonably doesn't mean so much to them, and so they reasonably don't expect people are going to react to it the extreme way you tend to, and so they reasonably don't need to maintain such extreme levels of control as you often (though not always) do.

But, of course, intellectual understanding of something isn't the same as emotional understanding.

So sometimes what I'll do is write all this out to myself, again, for the millionth time (long-time readers will have read this same essay in variant form some hundred times or more over the years, and probably at least a dozen or so times in this blog, I suspect), to help remind myself of how it works, as well as to let other people know.

So, really, I'd really appreciate it if anyone who wants to be friends would try to remember -- assuming they give a damn, of course, which is hardly going to be everyone who reads it, and that's fine -- that I'm somewhat screwy this way; I don't expect to be unreasonably catered to very much, and if it's too much trouble for you, that's fine, or at least to be expected, too (okay, if I care about you, it's not fine, but there's only so much I can do, just as there's only so much you can, or want to do, is all).

Anyway: calm explanations that I've made a stupid mistake and said something stupid mostly work reasonably well with me, and I'm generally apt to then say "oh, gee, stupid mistake on my part; awfully sorry for that stupid thing I said; I'll try to remember that; seriously sorry about that."

And if I'm trying to engage in my typically clumsy way in making casual friendly chit-chat, which from my clunky, poorly socialized, perspective tends to involve a lot of self-centered "hey, here's what I think/how I react/my experience" sort of offering, which is put forth in hopes that others will offer their's in return, and then we can exchange notes, and compare reactions/experiences/views, and it will all be part of being friends and continuing to get to know each other, rather than being some sort of "here's the way it is, and you should agree with me," as that sort of offered response by me not unreasonably often is taken, simply because I'm so goddamned clumsy at dealing with other people, and trying to be friendly, and am just so damned incompetent at it much of the time, well, that's usually what I'm trying to do.

Just sayin'.

I misunderstand other people a lot of the time.

And sometimes I'll then say insensitive or dumb things. Not intentionally. Not because I've recognized that people were talking about one thing and I was trying to be deliberately uncaring, but because I misunderstood the point of the short and cryptic remark.

And the fact that various comments are made in a blog thread before I've made a comment doesn't mean that I've read those comments before commenting; especially not when they were in the last five or fifteen or twenty-five minutes or two hours that maybe I was doing other things during before hitting "comment" again.

It's not much fun for me, either, when I misunderstand people. Honest.

ADDENDUM, 12:01 A.M.: one of several reasons I don't tend to follow trials or news of crimes-against-persons is because I'm simply going to be very upset by them, and apt, I expect, to learn nothing of greater value, and I don't see the value in learning details or gossiping about them. That may be dumb of me, but it's not a product of being indifferent to people, and it damn well isn't a product of insufficient empathy.

Thus I tend to stick to reading about issues, and away from reading about terrible things that have happened to individual people.

As I've written before, I also intellectually appreciate the virtues of horror fiction, but if I'm not being paid to work on it, I avoid it, and have no interest in horror movies, either. As I've written, I can't even watch tv shows like ER these days, or the various forensic detective shows, because they all upset me too much, whether because of the graphic violence, or the emotional violence.

It's not something I need in my life, it's not something I'm entertained by, it's not something I get a vicarious thrill from, it's not something I need to learn from and find edifying, it's not something that fascinates me, and it's not something that's going to help me or anyone.

This is a problem of over-empathy, not under-empathy. But if you assume otherwise, thanks muchly for your own generous understanding.

ADDENDUM, 1:52 a.m.: I don't believe I've ever in my life told anyone "I hope you die."

Or took someone misunderstanding "I didn't need to read this" as meaning "here is an example of a story you don't want to read" for some reason, as deliberately having misunderstood.

I at a quick glance at the link found the names of people I didn't recognize talking about something I didn't understand and guessed that it was partially some reference to some cable tv show and misunderstood that to be the reason why we shouldn't want to read about it.

So I dutifully didn't read any more, since that's why it was, I thought, linked to, and I thought I had read enough to conclude "okay, I guess it is something we don't need to read."

Then not reading more about it, and then cheerfully offering in a comment that, okay, I didn't want to read about it, and finding out in response that in fact I had completely misunderstood, and the point of the post was entirely different, I wouldn't have said anything more, save that I offered a typical usage point in closing/passing. And left, figuring that was that, too bad I misunderstood and said something dumb.

And came back to find that I was being cursed and vilified. This on a blog whose last comment thread I'd been in a few hours before had made vicious fun, as is the norm there, of someone who had complained that a focus on document formats was dreadfully insensitive when someone he knew was having a hip operation, and where extreme mockery is the norm.

But, hey, obviously it wasn't a simple misunderstanding on my part. No, it's clearly that I'm a failure as a human being, don't care about a terrible incident I knew nothing about, and was deliberately or otherwise simply being insensitive to something I had no idea was the topic of discussion, and had initially been told wasn't worth reading further more about. Clearly it's that I don't care about rape or murder or terrible treatments of people in the court system or whatever other horrific details of the case make it, apparently, even more sickening/nauseating (I still don't want to know more).

Yes, that's it. Clearly. I just don't care about people. That's what I meant all along. It wasn't a misunderstanding, it was my callous indifference.

Excellent lesson in caring empathy and good communication. And groupthink. And understanding.

But I'm done apologizing for having misread something, and accidentally said something insensitive. I didn't need to read that.

I don't need to go places where I tend to delude myself into getting comfy and feeling friendly, and wind up being told things that will make me feel punched in the stomach and that I'll stew over and obsess over and be depressed and distraught about for weeks. I'm over-sensitive, and, yes, life is too short.

ADDENDUM, 4:44 p.m.: Since no one there has linked to this post or mentioned it, I have to assume that either no one, in fact, reads me, or if anyone does, they figure this isn't worth mentioning to anyone else. Thus confirming my conclusion that clearly my presence is not desired. So mote it be.

ADDENDUM, 3/23/06, 10:41 a.m.: Okay, I'm finding that the system isn't accepting comments at the moment; I just keep getting the same password request, and the comment form just keeps reloading each time; I have no idea why, but I can only assume it's the usual Blogger-being-broken shit has been going on of late, and that patience will cure it. But in case you were wondering; it's not just you, and it's not, so far as I know, anything specific to this blog.

UPDATE, 3/26/06, 10:35 a.m.: Since comments are working again, I've posted what I wrote on Thursday morning and couldn't post; responses are welcome.

UPDATE, 3/31/06, 7:31 a.m. But no responses forthcome. Presumably it's lack of interest, rather than lack of ability. Well, I kinda figured. Makes me sad, though. I'd have liked to have had further discussion, and some back and forth, and then gone back to chatting at Unfogged. That would have been my desired outcome. That's what I was hoping for by having written all this.

But: only two people bothered to post on this, out of dozens of members of the Unfogged collective. Conclusion: all of those folks don't give a shit whether I show up. And even the two posters' interest only extends a couple of days.

Result: I'm sad. Really. But, as a rule, by some people's standards, I care too much about online relationships, and perhaps relationships in general. I tend to care a lot, and, well, anyway.

I'm still open to being shown I'm wrong. Show me the wuv. I really don't ask for much. Honest. (Bothering to read this is kinda minimal, you know.)

3/21/2006 10:27:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 12 comments


You are too nice.
I'm not defending everything Cavallo did and don't know all about this case (anymore than they do) but the underlying sentiment IS off.
The day a defense lawyer doesn't take a perfectly legal step in the defense of his client because it is misogynist is a dark day. Defense lawyers owe their duty to individual clients, not social causes. What he can't do he can't do - but not because its misogynist.
BTW: Watch most of these folks change their tune when a woman is accused of murder and raises a battered woman's defense.
There have got to be (and are) underlying principles governing fair trials that don't change depending on the genders of the accusers and defendants.

By Blogger slickdpdx, at Wednesday, March 22, 2006 12:54:00 PM  

Hi Gary. I clicked over here from the Unfogged referrer logs. I don't actually read your blog most of the time; I don't read that many blogs.

LizardBreath has expressed regret for her initial intemperance several times in that thread and others since. I called out omgb. But even though I didn't think you meant to express callous disregard for a rape thread, the way you blundered in when the rest of were reeling in disgust, complete with a style of usage criticism you have that never comes off as the joke you intend it to, was very irritating, and it *sounded like* callous disregard. Even though I knew it wasn't, I think some other people, like ogmb, might have mistaken it for such in the same way you mistook Labs's meaning. LB and SB tried to explain to you calmly what you were doing in comments 13, 14, and 19, and you did not take the hint. Then LB got pissed off.

As for the guy with the friend who needed hip replacement, he didn't just say, my friend needs a hip replacement, please sympathize, he scolded Becks for being trivial on her own blog! That's why we made fun of him--has he really never complained about something silly in his life? He was trolling. Do you see the distinction? It's about context, and understanding the mood, and adapting your tone to match it. So when everybody's in a silly bitch-fest, that's the time to do your silly bitching. When we're like, holy fuck, what raping and rape-promoting scum, that is not the time to wander in and say how bored you are by it all.

I agree with you that people responded to you disproportionately and meanly, but you can't say, "just explain it to me calmly," when LB tried and you didn't listen. You're welcome back on Unfogged. I'm sorry commenters were mean to you. But I'm about to throw up my hands in despair at ever communicating to you these aspects of tone that you don't seem to grasp.

As for you, slickdpdx, much of the stuff described in the pinko feminist hellcat links is not, in fact, legal. It's possible it was misreported, so if you want to raise that doubt go ahead, but it's absurd to raise the defense "it's all legal" when the linked material discusses organized campaigns of harrassment and the release of the victims medical records to the media. Furthermore, defense attorneys' professional ethics don't exist in a vacuum, and sometimes interests and responsibilities conflict. The use of the word "slut" to describe the victim may be both legal and good for the defense, in that it inflames the misogynistic passions of the public, and thereby the jury, but that doesn't make it okay. Would you be similarly blase to see a white lawyer refer to a black crime victim as a nigger because he knew the jury was racist and it might help his client? It would be legal, after all, and consistent with a zealous defense.

By the way, "Watch most of these folks change their tune when a woman is accused of murder and raises a battered woman's defense"? That's classic bullshit argumentative maneuver employed against feminists, pick a straw position, ascribe it to them, and then don't argue with whatever they're actually saying. You can't accuse someone of inconsistency when you invented their inconsistent position.

By Blogger Tia, at Wednesday, March 22, 2006 5:02:00 PM  

Its not B.S. In any case where people know each other, all kinds of crap comes out. In any case of assault or murder, all kinds of smear the victim goes on. I bring up the battered womens defense not as some kind of "men's rights" proponent, but only because it is true that SOME change their tune depending on the gender and the crime. You may not. Good for you. I believe it is disingenuous to suggest that battered womens issues don't create some tension in the movement against domestic violence or for victims rights.
I agree that lawyers are not compelled to do things just because they can - I mean only to take issue with the idea that loyalty to a social cause, whatever it may be, should be nmore important to them than their loyalty to their client.

By Blogger slickdpdx, at Wednesday, March 22, 2006 5:19:00 PM  

"LB and SB tried to explain to you calmly what you were doing in comments 13, 14, and 19, and you did not take the hint."

When I wrote comment 16, comments 13, 14, and 19 didn't yet exist.

I then read comment 13, thought "oops," but was still startled at the notion that the point wasn't "you don't want to read this," and thus reacted with surprise at being told that if I wasn't going to read what I had been told not to read (I thought), I shouldn't comment, and made comment 18.

Oh, and noticed the disinterst/uninterest point and noted it. And that was that. I don't keep only one tab open, and breathlessly refresh Unfogged every five seconds; I do read other blogs; if I didn't read other blogs, I wouldn't have been reading Unfogged.

I've explained that I made a mistake. I apologized for making a mistake. It was an innocent mistake. If people want to take it differently, I can't help that. I wrote at length about this last night; if people are uninterested enough in what I have to say to not read it, I can't help that. I'm certainly not going to show up to where I've been told to go the fuck away from to further notify them.

"Even though I knew it wasn't, I think some other people, like ogmb, might have mistaken it for such in the same way you mistook Labs's meaning."

And yet I didn't actually tell Labs to fuck off, or that I had no interest in him, or that he should die, or, in fact, insult him in any way.

The idea that I should "take a hint" from things I didn't read is pretty irritating, though. The idea that I should be expected to have read stuff not yet posted when I wrote, is also annoying; the mind-reading that I must have read something just because it was posted in between comments I posted is just wrong.

"But I'm about to throw up my hands in despair at ever communicating to you these aspects of tone that you don't seem to grasp."

You can throw up your hands and despair at me all your like, based on your not reading my blog and not knowing me. You wanna get to know me, archives are there. Bottom line is that it's fairly hard for me to grasp tone of things I've not read. If Unfogged is only for people who check every few seconds, or minutes, for every one of the 150+ comments per thread, and can't tolerate more casual readings, again, clearly doesn't work for me.

But Unfogged obviously doesn't need me to be popular and successful. So enjoy. You'll know where to find me. I know not to go where I'm not wanted, where I'm considered an "asshole," where the presumption is that I must be a misogynist insensitive asshole. (I thought I was doing well to keep coming back even though that was never withdrawn, let alone apologized for; I should have taken the hint.)

I like to hang out where I'm friends with people. Not where, at best, I'm on some sort of probation and considered an asshole by some and maybe not entirely by others. Not where I'm going to be hoping I'm friends with people just because they're not calling me names at that moment, and I'm going to wind up feeling extremely hurt and upset (which I've explained at great length here).

Thanks for taking the time to comment here.

By Blogger Gary Farber, at Wednesday, March 22, 2006 5:25:00 PM  

Notice, by the way, that I didn't even note specifically what I was talking about, or where, until after the "I hope you die" and such; I was just going to leave the post as a generalized bit of talking about myself until that point, hours later, when I was so stunned that there didn't seem any reason not to mention specifically what I was talking about. I was already inclined to think that few, if any, were interested enough in me to read what I write, anyway (time was that Unfogged used to link to me a lot; that time is long past).

By Blogger Gary Farber, at Wednesday, March 22, 2006 5:31:00 PM  

I didn't see this until Tia linked to it; otherwise I would have responded earlier.

First, let me say immediately that there is no defense for what ogmb said to you.

Second, I clearly should have let the thread stand where it stood instead of posting my comment to which you linked. However, I was not making a judgment about your character and I certainly do not believe any of the things you took me to believe about you in your 1:52 addendum. I was declaring a disinterest. As you wrote earlier in the thread:

I'm just saying that we all pick and choose what we're interested in, and that's all, and nothing more.

Third, had you explained your disinterest in trials in the terms you use in this post -

one of several reasons I don't tend to follow trials or news of crimes-against-persons is because I'm simply going to be very upset by them

- rather than the terms you used in that thread -

And trials. I don't follow trials. Never have been interested in trials. Even the Chicago 7 was only mildly interesting as a comedy. The whole OJ thing? Never followed any of it. When there are riots about something, I'm interested in the phenomenon; spending time on other details? Life is short.

- I would not have taken such exception to your comments, as that is a completely understandable reason not to follow trials and one expressed by more than one commenter on the thread who said that they did not read the linked post because they couldn't bear to (as I couldn't, after having read about that trial before).

Fourth, I agree with you about this:

I really wish people were more and better able, as a rule, to keep better control over what they say when mad and not have to say things and regret them and expect that an apology, no matter how immediate, will make up for it

And so, even though I do not expect an apology to make up for this, I'm going to apologize for my comment anyway. I'm sorry.

(I also apologize if the formatting doesn't come out right on this comment. I can't seem to get preview to work.)

By Blogger eb, at Wednesday, March 22, 2006 7:15:00 PM  

I should be sleeping, but I just caught up on most of the thread being referenced. You're definetly a voice I like having at unfogged, and all indications are that the vast majority of other commenters there feel the same way, though people will of course get annoyed with and mock each other.

Also, oomplaints about thread length are neither here nor there as to this incident, since essentially all the "drama" was in the first 22 comments.

By Blogger washerdreyer, at Thursday, March 23, 2006 1:05:00 AM  

I read the thread over on UNFOGGED, and my reaction, then as now, is, geez! What the fuck?

I still don't get why there was a bad reaction, and still seems to be, to what Gary posted.

I just don't get it.

Maybe my reaction comes from actually working and living here in Washington, D.C. among *real* power and consequence.

By Blogger Tim Kyger, at Thursday, March 23, 2006 6:44:00 AM  

I tried to post this last night but couldn't make it work:

Gary, just for the record, you'd certainly read at least some of those comments when you posted 20, which was as much of a problem, under the circumstances, as everything else, and which, I gather, was the thing that really pissed LB off, because it was inappropriate under the circumstances (those being, to be excruciatingly explicit, that you were already accidentally conveying a flippant disregard for our collective disgust and horror); sometimes pointing out a usage mistake to someone who probably knows the difference is not the most important thing in the world. I'm really just trying to explain what happened, so if you do decide to come back at Unfogged, you'll better understand what causes these flare-ups, not that, again, the behavior of many of the commenters was justified. Anyway, I've apologized for the behavior of the commenters and criticized them where I thought necessary, which is all that's in my power; LB has also apologized and criticized others where she thought necessary, which is all that's in her power at this stage. (I see on preview eb is also apologizing and criticizing others where necessary.) You certainly don't have to come to comment; I just wanted to let you know that LB's intemperate comment did not reflect some sort of collective desire, or even hers, that you go away. I like reading your comments at Unfogged but I'd like there to be a way for us all to understand each other better, so that relations could be more pacific. But maybe you don't want to come back; do as you will.

By Blogger Tia, at Thursday, March 23, 2006 6:47:00 AM  


A couple of things.

First, as I've said a number of times in email, I'd like to see you back at Unfogged, and to drop this all with no hard feelings.

Second, this:

I then read comment 13, thought "oops," but was still startled at the notion that the point wasn't "you don't want to read this," and thus reacted with surprise at being told that if I wasn't going to read what I had been told not to read (I thought), I shouldn't comment, and made comment 18.

reflects massive tonedeafness. Comment 13 told you that the subject matter of the post was a brutal rape, and asked you not to comment about it if you weren't interested. You read comment 13 (because you quoted it), and immediately made two more flippant comments that continued to ignore the topic under discussion. I'm sorry I swore at you, but I didn't get angry with you over something you didn't read, I got angry with you because you ignored my request in a comment that you did read not to comment about a brutal rape if you weren't interested.

Third -- This:

I've explained that I made a mistake. I apologized for making a mistake.

is untrue. You haven't apologized anywhere, either in the post above or in our emails. I don't want or expect an apology, but it's a little annoying for you to say that you're done apologizing when you never started apologizing.

Fourth -- This is petty, but my use of 'disinterest' to mean 'lack of interest' rather than 'impartiality' is not a solecism - it is conventionally used in that sense. I don't mind being corrected on usage generally, but when the correction is itself incorrect, surely it wasn't necessary to make it in this case.

By Blogger LizardBreath, at Thursday, March 23, 2006 7:47:00 AM  

How about those rapes that aren't brutal? I'd like to hear about one.

By Blogger slickdpdx, at Thursday, March 23, 2006 8:01:00 AM  

Since comments seem to be working again, here's what I wrote on Thursday morning and couldn't post (and didn't want to jam my main page up with):

EB: "First, let me say immediately that there is no defense for what ogmb said to you.

Second, I clearly should have let the thread stand where it stood instead of posting my comment to which you linked."


"Third, had you explained your disinterest in trials in the terms you use in this post [...] rather than the terms you used in that thread [...] I would not have taken such exception to your comments...."

Doubtless not, and others wouldn't have been upset, but I wasn't trying to explain my general desire to not follow trials in the context of knowing there was a discussion of a trial at point, let alone one having to do with a brutal rape, but simply as a continuation of meandering about the topic of stuff I tend not to read, since, to repeat yet again, my (mis)understanding was that the topic was "things we don't want to read."

It's hard to over-emphasize that I understood the post to be about "things we don't want to read."

Let me say again: if I'd not thought that I'd been given an example of something I shouldn't read, I might have, you know, actually read it; it's not my practice to comment on things I don't understand, or to comment about something I lack knowledge of. But if I'm told that we don't want to read something, here's an example of something we don't want to read, don't read this, then stupid me, I'm apt to take that at face value.

Yes, this was entirely a misunderstanding by me. Yes, I was stupid. But innocently stupid, not indifferent-to-other-people stupid.

So I wasn't talking about what turns out to be the actual subject of the post, a specific trial and terrible crime. If I'd known that that was the topic, I'd just not have read it, just as I often don't click on links at Unfogged and most blogs, and I certainly wouldn't have commented.

And to the degree I wound up explaining in my post one reason (there are others) I tend to avoid following trials, I'm rather grumpy, because I frankly sort of resent feeling like I need to explain that, no, I'm not a shit of a person, I actually have empathy; I'd like to think that if someone is a friend, they'd know that without my having to explain it, and I tend to take the notion that I have to explain it as suggesting that they're not someone who regards themselves as my friend, and since Unfogged isn't primarily a policy talk-shop any more, if it's not a place to go to hang out with friends and potential-future-friends, mostly, I don't know why I'd want to hang out there. Does this make any sense?

The notion that people leap to assume that I'm the sort of person who is indifferent to terrible suffering and rape, and is misogynistically uncaring is, you know, pretty darned offensive.

It's saying I'm presumed to be a quite horrible person. I don't know why anyone would not first stop and think "gee, wait, if Gary is sounding like that, I know he wouldn't be like that, so what's going on here?," not "oh, well, what a shit-headed indifferent ass he's being" -- if they actually had the least regard for me.

That's why I'm so damned offended and insulted and hurt, aside from the "there are lines that really bother me when crossed verbally" issue. Capiche?

I'm saying this not so much to you, individually, by the way, but to continue to try to explain this to anyone reading, particularly anyone from the Unfogged collective.

"I was declaring a disinterest."

You wrote: "A couple of sentences in, I learned that the comment was in fact by Gary Farber. I lost interest at once, and stopped reading. I don’t care about Gary Farber. Life is short."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to be declaring that you don't care about me, and have no interest in reading anything I have to say, because you don't care about me, and presumably don't like me. Maybe I'm misreading that, but that's what those sentences seem to say.

It's difficult for me to take that as some sort of neutral disinterst (and I'm also unclear as to whether you mean "disinterest" or "uninterest," which is why I think the distinction matters greatly, which is why I disagree with LB that although many people use the terms interchangeably, it's not a distinction worth making; I regard that usage as a misuse and a blurring of a valuable distinction in usage, though usage choices are, of course, arguable), or as anything other than a statement of hostility, or, at the very least, as a statement of a lack of friendliness.

On the internet, I exist only in the words I write; if you're not interested in reading what I have to say (overall; I'm not saying you need to be interested in everything I write, or when I'm on topics you don't care about, of course), and have no interest in me, you're saying you have no desire to interact with me, and no liking for me, and there's no point in my trying to talk to you. This is not what I take as an indication of friendliness in any shape, means, or form. Am I getting that right, or wrong, or what?

"And so, even though I do not expect an apology to make up for this, I'm going to apologize for my comment anyway. I'm sorry."

I meant what I said, but that doesn't mean that I didn't want an apology or don't appreciate an apology, so thank you for that. But if you still have no interest in anything I have to say and no interest in me, that doesn't seem to leave us much after that. But please feel free to clarify.

Washerdreyer: "You're definetly a voice I like having at unfogged, and all indications are that the vast majority of other commenters there feel the same way, though people will of course get annoyed with and mock each other."


"Also, oomplaints about thread length are neither here nor there as to this incident, since essentially all the 'drama' was in the first 22 comments."

I wasn't making a complaint. I was simply noting that I'm when I'm reading Unfogged comments, I'm not necessarily checking for updates with any frequency; as an extension of that, I don't think it's reasonable for there to be an expectation that a reader/commenter will be doing that, or any conclusions drawn that a commenter must have been doing that and therefore must have read a given comment subsequent to the one they've responded to.

"I still don't get why there was a bad reaction, and still seems to be, to what Gary posted."

What I wrote was taken as having been written with knowledge that the topic was a brutal rape and some terrible court-related aftermath (I gather), Tim, and that I was either expressing deliberate indifference, or that I was being wildly tone-deaf by blithering on about the topic of things I wasn't interested in (the latter view, unfortunately, seems to still be a prevalent understanding, which is something that's still bothering me).

Tia: "Gary, just for the record, you'd certainly read at least some of those comments when you posted 20...."

Yes, I'd read up to #13, as I said; I can't tell if you're indicating you don't believe me, or what point you're trying to make here. If you're trying to suggest that I'd read #19 when I wrote #20, you're wrong; I'd point out that they were posted simultaneously at 06:49 PM, but that really wouldn't be relevant as I might just as well have not read it if it had been slightly earlier and simply not gotten to it yet. The notion that everyone reads everything carefully in linear order and ponders it before posting something in such threads, let alone in such fast-moving threads, is just wrong, and is part of the mis-reading here. That's not me being tone-deaf, that's you assuming a shared context that's unreasonable to assume, in my view.

"... I'd like there to be a way for us all to understand each other better...."

So would I, and it would be nice if it didn't include the presumption that I'm mostly a tone-deaf ass (both in reading and writing), although it's true that I can be a tone-deaf ass at times. Smug agreements that: "And is Gary Comic Store Guy?

gets it exactly right" (47/103) are not exactly inoffensive, either, thank you very much. Funny, that.

"But maybe you don't want to come back; do as you will."

Thanks for your permission. Personally, I'd prefer to have my feelings assuaged, and to, should I feel a desire to, and a comfort level permitting, come back. But not if, as I said, it's just going to produce another go-round alone these lines yet again. I'm trying to figure out what's involved vis a vis who, and what, for now.

LB: "...reflects massive tonedeafness. Comment 13 told you that the subject matter of the post was a brutal rape, and asked you not to comment about it if you weren't interested. You read comment 13 (because you quoted it), and immediately made two more flippant comments that continued to ignore the topic under discussion."

Repeat: I had not read any comments when I wrote #16. I then wrote #18, which wasn't in the least "flippant," but simply a "huh? what?" Then I wrote #20 two seconds later, essentially continuously. And that was that. Then I absorbed the substance of what you wrote in #13, and thought "oh, whoops, big misread, drat."

And wouldn't have said anything more, although I probably would have then explained my mistake, except that then I read "Gary, shut the fuck up and go away," and so I did.

No flippancy on my part. No tone-deafness; a moment or two of shock, and my usual speed-reading/speed-writing, yes, and one fuck-load of presumptions by you and others. A bunch of misunderstanding on both sides.

I understand that you and others read it differently. But that's what happened.

"...I got angry with you because you ignored my request...."

But I did not ignore your request. You thought I did, yes. But I didn't. I don't know what else to say. I can't lie and say "oh, yes, I read your request and then ignored it" because that's not what happened; it's only what you thought happened.

And I most certainly did not "comment about a brutal rape."

"You haven't apologized anywhere, either in the post above or in our emails."

I wrote in this post "and I'm generally apt to then say 'oh, gee, stupid mistake on my part; awfully sorry for that stupid thing I said; I'll try to remember that; seriously sorry about that.'"

Since that apparently wasn't clear, and it's fair to say that that wasn't directly clear, let me clearly say this: I'm very sorry that I misunderstood what the topic of the post was, and I'm very sorry that I made a couple of comments that because of my misunderstanding were inadvertently out of place and, if presumed to have been written in the context of understanding what the actual topic was, would have been dreadfully insensitive and tone-deaf and offensive. I'm sorry that due to the speed of the subsequent discussion I had already then made another couple of quick comments before reading further comments and understanding what was going on. I apologize for my errors in all that.

I don't know what else I can apologize for, but if there's something I can be reasonably held responsible for that I missed, I'm perfectly willing to further apologize for it.

"This is petty, but my use of 'disinterest' to mean 'lack of interest' rather than 'impartiality' is not a solecism - it is conventionally used in that sense."

It is, indeed. And there are no Absolute Authorities in English as to what's Correct or Incorrect; I'm not maintaining there are, or attempting to draw on such a non-existent authority; I simply maintain that the distinction between "uninterest" and "disinterest" is also one with considerable history, and that I find it an extremely valuable distinction, worth preserving, and thus I make use of it and at times will note that I think it's worth making and preserving. You can, of course, disagree with me, and you won't be being Objectively Wrong, but we'll merely be disagreeing about a point of usage, as is wont to happen, and there's usually not much further to go with that then to agree to disagree, though if there is in this case, you are welcome to continue the discussion of the usage.

Certainly it wasn't an important point at the time; it was purely an off-hand remark, made before I understood what was going on in the conversation. There are drawbacks to my reading and writing so quickly.

End of what I wrote on Thursday.

It's probably too late for you, Tia and LizardBreath, and others, to absorb into your system that you were wrong in your understanding of what happened here, since it's now been close to a week (I write this last paragraph as I finally post) that you've presumably gone around thinking "this is what happened," but you in fact were wrong, and I do hope you absorb that, because otherwise we're never going to be on the same page on this, and that would be unfortunate.

By Blogger Gary Farber, at Saturday, March 25, 2006 9:37:00 AM  

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