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Amygdala will move to an entirely new and far better blog template ASAP, aka RSN, aka incrementally/badly punctuated evolution.
Tagging posts, posts by category, next/previous post indicators, and other post-2003 design innovations are incrementally being tweaked/kludged/melting.
Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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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.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
I'm sometimes available to some degree as a paid writer, editor, researcher, or proofreader. I'm sometimes available as a fill-in Guest Blogger at mid-to-high-traffic blogs that fit my knowledge set.
If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it --
you are welcome to do so via the PayPal buttons.
"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
"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?"
"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).
"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)
"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."
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 cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
This is the 8376th post on this blog, which will mark its 6th Anniversary on December 30th.
I'd declare this whole month a Pledge Month, but it wouldn't be practical, so I'm calling it a week, with a likely option to extend it for a second week, before giving up in utter despair if my nightmare happens, and I only get a smattering of response during that time.
I hope you'll help me out during Gary Farber Pledge Drive Week. There's no particular reason you should, but I ask for your help, please, if you care to give it.
It's been almost a year since I wrote this on January 11, 2007.
I, in panic-stricken fashion, semi-coherently explained my situation of lifelong recurring clinical depression, as well as other health issues, and that I'd finally decided to apply for Social Security disability, having rightly or wrongly put off that option for decades.
I, with utter shame, loathing, guilt, self-hatred, and a feast of other negative self-directed emotions -- as is my wont -- asked for people's help, and an amazing number of people did help, in many ways, including the most important way to help, which was with hard cash. At the time, I said I was afraid I'd need to ask for help again within three months.
Now it's almost a year later, and I've just paid the December rent of $500 and the phone bill ($35), and I'm now down to a total of $241.00 in my bank account, and $22 in my pocket.
I explained originally that I expected the Social Security disability process to take this long, and that I'd need help again by now, and so I do. It's That Time I Warned You About. I'm asking for your aid again. I only hope people will again be generous. I pray, in my own secular way, that you will.
(The horrible fear that has loomed larger every day and night in my consciousness, and in the pit it creates in my stomach, in the past year is that you won't, in sufficient numbers, again. My fear is that one can't go back to the well again. That I'll wind up with only a few donations, and a few links, and just a bit of response, and have no idea what to do to survive with my disabilities and inabilities and problems until such time as my disability claim is approved. Terror over this has been the dominant theme in my life in recent months, and all I can say is that I'm hoping you'll help it go away, at least for a while.)
The bad news was that it turned out I didn't have the required 27 credits of work, with 20 in the past 10 years, in the Social Security system to be eligible for Social Security Disability.
(I am paid somewhat into retirement; at present, having just turned 49 on November 5th, I'd get $229/month if I took "retirement" at 62, $318/month if I "retire" at age 66 and 8 months, and $403/month if I wait until age 70. I'll jump off that bridge when I get to it.)
As I intended, I've been proceeding through the process of applying for SSI, and, as predicted, being denied, and appealing.
I have no idea how much longer it will be, but I'm planning on another year, at least. (Maybe longer, maybe another year or even more beyond that, but presumably that'd be around the limit; if I'm lucky, only another year, or maybe even less.)
I won't bore people with all the figures and possibilities, nor my worries about them, but it turns out that the maximum amount I could get directly from SSI for my disability is $623/month. Which isn't easy to live on.
On the up side, some states supplement that.
On the down side, Colorado doesn't. (I may end up looking into moving in the future, if I can somehow possibly afford it. Big "if.")
Then there's an, as expected, unbelievably complicated series of rules about how the money goes away, mostly, if you have any other source of income, including gifts. On the other hand, there are paths to working.
There are other complications I won't detail.
The bottom line is that it isn't remotely as simple or permanent a step for more, well, security as I'd hoped, but it's still a step, a crucial step, and the best path available to me at present, to continue to take this day by day, step by step, and do my best to get approved for SSI disability, and continue to proceed from there to figure out how best to stabilize my situation long term, and keep away my nightmares of dying alone in my apartment, unloved, or being homeless again, or in threat of eviction, or worse.
And I still have major dental problems, and other health problems, but that's another story. Well, it's the same story, but again too boring to detail.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: For now, three things: Donate. Donate. Donate.
Most of all: Subscribe. Subscribe. Subscribe.
Subscriptions are most important, and far far far better than donations, if you don't cancel them without warning, because they lend predictability to my extremely uncertain life, and act as a substitute for an "income," as most people call it.
You can use the PayPal buttons if you have a credit card -- no PayPal account necessary, though it only takes moments to acquire one for free -- at the top of the blog to donate or subscribe.
The other thing you can do is if you're a blogger, help me by blogging a post linking here, and explaining why people might want to help. (I have little idea, myself, so I'm grateful for your words and notions.) It's absolutely crucial that as many people as possible blog and link right now, ASAP, because one thing I've learned from past donation drives is that they're entirely driven by other bloggers posting; hardly anyone reads my blog on their own.
I'm utterly dependent on and hoping people who linked last time will link again. Dare I hope that people who didn't link last time will this time?
This part, like the other part, is all up to you. I completely hate that, but there it is. Help?
If you're a blogger, I ask if you might write a post linking to this one. That's one of two ways a blogger can help.
Among the blogs that linked last time were: Pharyngula, Crooked Timber, Orcinus, Obsidian Wings, Coturnix, Meryl Yourish, Michael Froomkin, Unfogged, Julian Sanchez, and over twenty other blogs, which Technorati, in typically broken fashion, lists three pages of, but will only keep showing the first one, keeping me from relisting all the others, sigh. Hell and damn. Apologies to all those other bloggers who linked last time. Maybe later I can reconstruct a list with research, but I'm too anxious to tackle that just now. There were a bunch, including, if I'm not mistaken, Pharyngula, Matt Yglesias, Ezra Klein, Digby, and various others, whom I hope will link again.
If you'd rather not help, that's perfectly reasonable, but, hey, help someone more deserving, at least. There's no shortage of such people around the world, and if you prefer to help one of them, I understand completely.
But if you would like to help: The fundamental thing you can do, whether or not you're a blogger who can link, and if you can't, or don't desire to, subscribe, is to make a donation, whether one-time, or more than once.
$5 donations are always welcome. As are $10, $15, and upwards. Or in any amount. (But subscriptions are even better! Although it's fine if you can't, and prefer to just donate!)
Please forgive my chutzphah if I observe that, of course, the most astonishly helpful donations last time were the surprisingly large ones, which came from a surprisingly large number of people, who were generous enough to send individual donations of $75, $100, $200, $250, $300, and even a couple of $500 donations.
If you're willing to go that far in helping me out: wow. You're a saint.
There's something ironic about it being hell being dependent on finding some saints, though. But I'm hoping there are still enough of you out there.
HOW IT WORKS: I received a huge amount of help, in the form of donations, during the last two weeks of January, only during those two weeks.
Only a dozen donations came in the two months following, and then only four donations during the next entire six months, and then another three donations in the last two months.
That's it. Donations come almost entirely only in one large burst driven by you, a blogger more prominent than me. It's all driven by the links in other blogs, which only are visible a day or two or so, and once they're gone into archives, almost no donations come in again.
And the record shows that only about one person out of every thousand who comes and reads the linked post here ends up choosing to donate. It's that low a response rate, though I'm grateful it's no worse. (Yeah, I know that response rates to traditional snail mail charitable organizations is even lower, as it is for, eww spam.)
So, practically speaking, the only way to make this work is one big two-week period of Gary Farber Pledge Drive. I hope you'll consider linking and blogging, and I hope you'll consider subscribing, or regularly donating, or simply donating once, and I thank you with all my heart for it.
Subscriptions are fantastic because they mean I can semi-count on a known amount of money coming in in succeeding months. A few $50/month or $25/month subscriptions coming in each month makes a huge difference. Even a $5/month subscription is helpful.
If I know the money is coming in, it also makes a huge psychological difference for me, in lessening my ever-present panic and anxiety and tendency to be fall into states of despair and despondency. It's the single best thing you can do for me, if you feel that generous. Subscriptions bring me a bit of peace of mind, as well as material support.
Unfortunately, my subscribers are the people I've treated worst, and whom I owe the greatest apologies to.
This is because of, again, my psychological quirks/dysfunctions, although triggered by an oddity of PayPal, in this case.
PayPal sends a e-mail notification of every donation. But not of subscription sign-ups, cancellations, or payments.
When I first asked for donations, a number of years ago, I was absolutely horrible for the first few months about not thanking people. I was simply too psychologically incapable of addressing the topic of asking people for donations, and getting them, and I just putting off dealing with it, and as a result, for the first few months, I ended up not getting around to thanking almost anyone, which was horrible and completely wrong of me, of course.
Also, of course, is that my inability to cope with doing most things I need to do is my entire psychological problem: that's my disease. I'm a morass of fear, depression, and anxiety, which combine to make me engage in avoidance behavior for the overwhelming majority of basic essentials of life, which I find myself frequently completely unable to cope with. And things connected to money are among the things I'm most anxious about, although any obligation of any sort makes me anxious, other than very frivolous ones.
It's very hard to explain this sort of irrationality to other people. Insofar as it makes any sense at all, it takes a lot of detail, and that immediately goes back to the who really cares, other than me, and maybe my therapist -- maybe -- fact.
However, I have made progress over the years, learned some coping mechanisms, am in therapy, and do go in and out of good and bad, better and worse, periods. I was able to start coping with sending out thank-yous for donations, in response to the PayPal notifications, after the first few months, and have been doing so regularly ever since for the past few years: sometimes promptly, and sometimes, if I'm not coping with e-mail, after a few days, but rarely longer than after a week.
But I fell down on dealing with subscriptions.
First, I stupidly actually never even realized, or it didn't sink in, that I wasn't getting those notifications, for months.
But then, after I sorta realized, I still didn't cope with responding to subscription sign-ups, cancellations, or payments, at all, because it required me to check PayPal frequently, and my utter anxiety at money issues made it very difficult for me to do that. I tended to only do so every couple of months, and to then overlook and not deal with the subscriptions.
Look, it's crazy behavior on my part: that's all there is to it, and not much more explanation. My whole problem is that I can't deal with the anxiety produced by endless numbers of perfectly normal situations in normal life, and thus I can't, or only with great difficulty, do a lot of things normal people do normally. The more anxiety it causes me, the more I have trouble doing it, and the more I have trouble doing it, the more anxiety it produces, and as a result, I can go years not doing essential things, until I'm homeless.
Over and over again. That's the cycle, or set of cycles, micro and macro cosmic, that I'm dealing with.
Bottom line is I have no excuse for pretty much never thanking or acknowledging people who have been the most wonderful by subscribing, and it's hardly surprising that several people signed up, didn't hear from me, and quit.
That's typical of my self-destructive inability to deal with many things, unfortunately.
So, everyone who as every subscribed: God, I owe you thanks, and oh my god, I'm sorry for my lack of previous thanks and acknowledgement. I have no excuse.
I will try to do better on working a system of regularly checking PayPal for subscriber sign-ups, cancellations, and payments, at least once a month, and to start responding to those and thanking people for them.
WHAT I'M OTHERWISE DOING: Pursuing therapy, and treatment. I've had a generally bad year, but I've made some progress, nonetheless. I continue to learn new techniques which have some effectiveness in hindering some of my dysfunctional behaviorial/thinking loops. I'm still trying anti-depressants, and working on diet, more exercise, and so on. I think I'm pointed in a fairly good direction. I've had good days, and small successes.
I continue to live a simple life: my only entertainment spending continues to be Netflix and the library, and very occasionally, a $5 or $10 computer game. I still lack a better internet connection than dialup, or any tv beyond fuzzy broadcast (much though I have to say I'm increasingly frustrated by that first in particular). Almost all of my spending beyond rent and phone and Netflix goes for food. I'm still in my tiny studio apartment, with the rent raised $25 in the past year to $500, with no lease.
I otherwise frankly can't talk about a lot of stuff, beyond my natural reluctance, because I now have to deal with a variety of legal issues having to do with the requirements to stay eligible for SSI, what work one can and can't do, what help one can and can't legally accept, and so on. I have to expect that my blog posts may be entered into the legal record. Please keep that in mind as regards my likely not answering a variety of questions, although I'll otherwise try to be responsive within my large natural limits, and ability to cope. Where I can work, I obviously will.
The last six months I've found rough in that I saw this day coming every day, and every day and night I dreaded it more and more, and found myself more and more in the sloughs of despondency and self-hatred over having to ask for help again. For months I've told myself to start work on drafting this post, and I've procrastinated and procrastinated and procrastinated,
I told myself to not wait until I was almost out of money, but to give myself a cushion of a couple of months.
But I couldn't make myself do it. So here I am, drafting it on Sunday, for Monday posting. Hell, after I write something like this, I can't even bear to reread it again.
But what's that matter, or anything else about the details of the inside of my head, or my emotions, to anyone else?
That's why my blogging has been progressively less and less in recent months, though. It just became harder and harder to feel decent enough to post coherently, and as a result, lately I've been averaging only about a post a week or so, the minimum necessary to let you know I'm alive, and not enough to pay my way in the entertainment or information I link to. It's been intensely frustrating to me to want to blog on hundreds of stories, but to simply feel unable to cope with simply focusing enough to write something sufficiently coherent.
Apologies for that.
All I can do is hope that I'll get enough of an enfusion of donations and subscriptions and blog post support this time to keep me upbeat for at least a few months, and hope that I'll be better able to blog more again thereafter. No promises, just hopes. Wish I could offer more. Always.
Wrap-up: I've been understandably asked at times why someone should help me. And, truth be told, I can't think of any particularly good reason. So I certainly don't expect help from anyone: if you've done it before, you've arguably done your part. If you've not, there's no good reason you should start, and not help someone more deserving instead.
As well, I'd like to note, as I did on another blog the other day, that I'd be the first to admit that sometimes my blog comments are muddled, wrongfooted, unclear, confused, rambly, irritating, annoying, condescending, insulting, aggravating, superior, cranky, or outright dickheaded. And that's my reaction sometimes.
Though I'm lucky if I can manage all those at once.
So although I'm actually very loveable in a number of ways, if you get to know me, I don't claim to be all loveable all the time.
And if I didn't agree, there are more than a few people happy to point it out.
And goodness knows, I can't begin to find the words to offer proper thanks to the several and various people who have donated several, or in a few cases, many times, over and over, sometimes when it wasn't at all easy. I thank you, thank you, thank you; I am endlessly grateful and thankful and all I can ever do is try to pay as much of it forward as I can.
So all I can do is offer thanks if you do choose to help out, whether for the first time, the second, the third, or after far more, and I will try my best to be worthy of your help, crappy job though I will likely do of it.
So, this week, and perhaps next week's mantra: Gary Farber Pledge Drive Week: We Try To Be Less Annoying Than PBS.
ADDENDUM, 5:20 p.m.: If you use an email address for your PayPal account from which mail bounces, I can't get a thank you to you. This means, among other people, the person using AOL with the initials "JC."
Response so far: 12 donations, for a total of $325, and two $5 subcriptions. It's a start. Thanks to y'all!
On the positive side, Netflix has both Battlestar Galactica: Razor, and the first three disks of The Wire, Season 3, arriving tomorrow, so with luck that'll help distract me from my anxiety.
ADDENDUM, 10:13 p.m.: Several links so far, for which I'm most grateful, but several major bloggers I was really hoping would link, that I dropped a note to, haven't yet. This is making me feel all doomed and nauseated, even though I know it's premature yet.
But, still, when people post all day, and don't get around to linking to you, it doesn't make it likely they'll do it the next day, although it does happen on occasion. Here's hoping.
ADDENDUM, 12/04/07, 4:26 p.m.: I've been trying to stay away from the internet most of the day, due to anxiety, and that's my plan for the next day or two, but current response is... not so good. About another ten or tweleve donations of low figures. Vastly appreciated, but far less than where I need to be. Going away from the internet again for a while, 'cause y'know, not good right now to focus.
UPDATE, 12/05/07, 4:04 p.m.: I've been offline all day, hiking around Boulder. Okay, strolling. My plan is to mostly be offline again until tomorrow, continuing to try to minimize worrying. Currently the Drive is still pretty much on the low side. The current total is ~$2300, and it needs to be a couple or few multiples of that, since trying this again in only two months isn't apt to work.
Meanwhile, I'll be sending out thank-yous again tomorrow to all you kindly and wonderful people who have contributed so generously. Feel good about yourselves! And equal thanks to those who have blogged!
ADDENDUM, 6:22 p.m.: Although trying to stay offline, I can't help but note that most of the links from blogs that have linked have moved to their second page. Perfectly understandable. I'm down to under 40 hits an hour. If anyone feels like moving their post back to the top, that would be fantastic.
ADDENDUM, 12/06/07, 11:34 a.m.: Hits continue to average only ~30/hour, and I've only had two donations this morning. The present stage of the Drive is clearly over, and I regret to report that total is around ~$2600, which is about a third of what I need it to be. Although a number of new subscriptions do help.
Gary, have you gotten any professional help with your SSI application? Are you at the reconsideration stage, or have you filed a request for a hearing before an ALJ?
My organization does some of this work in Illinois, so I know a little about it. In my experience, things go a lot better if you have representation. You might want to check out any Colorado legal services organizations; you are surely under the income limit and can get free help.
Based on what I know about your health problems from reading here occasionally, you should have a very strong case for SSI. It's the type of case my organization would most likely take if you walked in to our office.
I'm only sad you didn't apply sooner. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to ask me questions or anything.
De-lurking to donate. (That was me a couple of minutes ago, if you're keeping track.)
Y'know, it seems to me if your landlord knows you're in such dire straits, and you're trying to get on SSI, he or she would do something to help you out...like lower the rent, maybe? (Cutting it in half might be too much, but that's what I'd do.)
Would a letter-writing campaign of some sort to the landlord do any good? Maybe I'm grasping at straws, but it seems like that sort of thing would do better to help you out in the long run.
Retrospectively, I probably made this post too long for some folks to read. If I'd made myself draft it sooner than yesterday, I likely would have cut some.
Of course, then I probably would have gotten more questions on stuff I'd left out.
Anyway, thanks, but there's no chance my landlord, like most landlords, would give a damn about lowering my rent. I mean, I can't even get him to give me a lease after having lived here as a good tenant for four years.
This is the guy whom I'm lucky didn't evict me after all for no reason whatever. (Although I've had no trouble since, at least.)
Unless you consider having been "disrespectful" by dint of having complained a little to the fill-in handy-man about the then existing small outdoor swimming pool (since filled in and paved over -- that'll teach me!) having a broken and unfixed water heater for two years as good cause for eviction.
And one thing I probably should have repeated, although I mentioned the last time, is that, as folks mentioned here and here, although you can find the same on any site with professional advice about applying for disability for mental illness, everyone who applies is automatically turned down, and their appeals are usually turned down, and have to be appealed. This is why it's such a long long long process. And I am being advised.
I've spent most of the day offline, and am likely to do the same tomorrow, if not the next day, because it's making me too anxious otherwise, and I feel a lot better taking long walks and otherwise trying to not think about this stuff.
But yes, I've looked into Section 8 housing, which is mostly great if you're definitely planning on getting on a waitlist for fifteen or so years, and no, Medicaid gives no aid whatever to single male adults who aren't qualified as disabled in Colorado, as I've mentioned many many many times.
Good luck with the fundraising effort. I put up a short post telling folks that they should come by and help you out. Since today is my birthday, I also told my readers that anything tossed in my tip jar today to mark the auspicious, revered day of my birth, I'll split with you. (Realizing full measure that thus far, half of nothing is still nothing...)
A thought: on the few occasions where someone's linked to you because of something you wrote and I've clicked through, I encountered the banner at the top of the page and haven't read further. It's off-putting.
I've gone through severe bouts of depression in the past, and so I can understand how the simplest of tasks can be daunting. I can sympathize.
$2600 is a good amount to have raised over 2 days. I'm not sure how you could've expected more given how little traffic the blog gets and given that most visitors are more or less strangers. Perhaps if you keep up the blogging, you'd have more people from whom you might expect donations. I understand how debilitating depression can be, but it others are simply not going to respond in the way you would like absent some reciprocity on your part.
I originally found you through Kevin Drum's blog about a week ago, & investigated further from Blue Girl, Red State. I gotta say reading your most recent post was almost like reading my own diary far as my own mental & physical health & income issues go. I'm grateful to say I made it to age 63 & drawing Social Security. It's enough to get by. Good luck with your efforts. And BTW, I'm also single, not looking, & finally realize I'm probably better off that way after years of wishing & hoping. Seems I never was very good at making wise choices in that dept.
You seem to put a lot of thought into what you write; it makes me think. Anyway, Just want to say - Welcome to my home page. You will probably be hearing more from me in comments. Especially about politics.
Friendly comments are always welcome and sought after here, Bob. I'm happy to have intelligent disagreement, and any kind of reasonable feedback. Sometimes it's a bit frustrating writing posts with little or no response.
Thanks for the kind words from those making them. I'll be making a fresh update post on Monday.
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