The League Of Ordinary Gentlemen In 2012


Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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113 Responses

  1. Avatar James Hanley says:

    Yeah, I gotta cut backReport

  2. Avatar Miss Mary says:

    This is fun. Looks to have been a busy year for y’all. Congrats to the team that keeps this place running.Report

  3. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Two million hits in a year is pretty damn good if you ask me.

    And big ups to Mark, who wrote the two posts that garnered the most comments. I know I love it when my posts generate a lot of comments, and he must be just like me, so I’m sure it’s a thrill for him too.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Mark had the most viewed posts, I think, not the most commented on. And to his credit, of course – those were some damn fine posts. And it’s nice to know that people on other forums will read the provided links in another author’s post.

      I wonder what the most commented-on posts were. Didn’t RTod have a couple posts reach a thousand?Report

  4. Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

    Bah, those commenting numbers are skewed for Captain Kirk style commentors. I wanna see the word count!Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:


    • Avatar Snarky McSnarksnark in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

      I’m feeling a bit obtuse. What is a “Captain Kirk style” commenter?Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Snarky McSnarksnark says:

        Thank you for asking. Was wondering myself.Report

        • Avatar Chris in reply to Glyph says:

          I believe… it means… short… comments, but… it could mean… comments… with odd breaks… in the middle… of sentences.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

            And … otherwise strange … syllaic EMphases.Report

            • Avatar Chris in reply to Stillwater says:

              Among the stranger academic talks I’ve attended in my life: one arguing that there is no such thing as syllables.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

                That would be an interesting talk. I assume he’s a bright guy, so that makes me wonder how the argument goes.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Stillwater says:

                She, and I only vaguely remember the argument, which included presenting data about where both children and adults break up words, and I think, though I may be mixing it up with another talk from around that time (circa 2001), some computational modeling that supported the idea that syllable placement is somewhat arbitrary.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

                Syllable placement or emphasis is arbitrary?

                This reminds me of Quine’s view that the distinction between sentences and words is arbitrary. I guess the logical extension of that is that syllables are arbitrary as well. I’ve always thought the view was a bit of a reductio on its ownself, for some reason.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Stillwater says:

                Where we find syllable boundaries is arbitrary, if I remember correctly (this is me remembering a talk about something I don’t study from more than a decade ago, so I could be completely wrong). I do think I remember her citing Quine, but that could be me remembering what I thought of her argument, because that was early in grad school, and I was in a big Quine-Goodman phase at the timeReport

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Stillwater says:

                Everything about language is arbitrary. But there exist sequences of phonemes that cannot be pronounced without breaks, at least not by any native speaker of our language.

                For instance, in researching the difference between a consonant and a vowel, it has nothing to do with what a grammar book tells you and everything to do with how the inner workings of the human body works.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Stillwater says:

                Heh… now I’m trying really hard to remember the talk. I do know I guy, an extreme, almost cartoonish anti-Chomskyan, whose entire thing is about the natural frames on which language is constructed, which have to do with consonant-vowel sequences and how they arise out of a self-organizing system built on both the physical structure of our mouths and the motor system in our brains, and I know he was at that talk, but I can’t remember whether a discussion broke out between him and the person giving the talk (I always liked when he chimed in at talks, because a.) he’s from New Zealand, and has a heavy accent, and b.) he gets really passionate, because Chomsky sucks!, so the combination of the New Zealand accent and his passion was always highly entertaining).Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                Well … to be anti-Chomskian doesn’t mean citing biological factors in pronunciation. Chomsky is fine with that. But arguing against a word/sentence distinction is, it seems to me.

                Not that I’m a Chomskyan about language…Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Stillwater says:

                Still, oh man, don’t get me started on Chomsky and this dude’s anti-Chomskyanism. Suffice it to say, for now, that his alternative theory rests largely on just what I mentioned here: The Frame-Content Theory of speech evolution. I actually TA’d his psych of language course, in my second year of grad school. It was quite an experience (not necessarily in a good way). The entire first 4 weeks of the class could be adequately summarized with these two words: Chomsky sucks.

                He also has a book.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Stillwater says:

                Still/Chris – By “Quine” do you mean W.V. Quine? If so, weird synchronicity – I was just reading about him on wiki recently, and some observations he made on Borges’ “Library of Babel” that I am going to try to maybe incorporate into an upcoming post, if I ever get it together…also, trivia: he was the phenomenal guitarist Robert Quine’s uncle!Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Stillwater says:

                Glyph, yes, that’s who we mean, and I look forward to the post.


              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Stillwater says:

                Cool. I don’t want to get your hopes up; first of all I have been trying to get the post together for a while, and am struggling; secondly, it’s not about Quine or his ideas, as near as I can make them out from my brief encounter with an essay excerpt when I was checking a Borges fact.

                He just had a quote that seemed to fit with the posts’ theme, and I ganked it for possible use and remembered the name (and I discovered the Robert Quine connection just now, when I went back to see if I knew who you were discussing.)

                Robert Quine played with Lloyd Cole as well, and his playing on the s/t first and best solo record was a big part of why it’s so good.

                Plus, Voidoids!!! Lou Reed! As you point out, Tom Waits!

                I’m not as smart as you guys, is what I am saying, so don’t want to be uncovered as a poser later. 😉Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Stillwater says:

                When I was at Berkeley, Qunie visited and gave a talk on the reification of universals. I don’t recall what he said very clearly, but I do recall how thrilled all the philosophy faculty was to have him,Report

              • Avatar Rose in reply to Stillwater says:

                Of all digressions I might have expected on this post, one on Quine was not one of them.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Stillwater says:

                Yields a falsehood when appended to its own quotation.Report

          • Avatar zic in reply to Chris says:

            I thought that was “Christopher Walken style” comments.

            Like when . . . we. . .say something . . .that’s meaningful and cause. . .es lots of de . . . bate.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Glyph says:

          No, not Walken.

          Kirk does a lot of very brief dialogue back and forth with various characters. Spock, for example, has long drawn out multiple-sentence chunks of dialogue, where Kirk has rapid-fire low content exchanges with people. In the context of the blog, he writes a lot of comments that are the equivalent of “+1” or “This”.

          Have you ever played the original “Star Trek” drinking game? The rules are, you pick a character and every time that character says a line of un-interrupted dialogue, you take a drink.

          Kirk wins by a landslide, almost every episode. Even ones where Bones or Spock have a lot of things to say.Report

      • Avatar just me in reply to Snarky McSnarksnark says:

        I would guess one word or very short statements. But I don’t know for sure.Report

  5. Avatar greginak says:

    Wow. Very interesting stats. Great year.
    Stray observations:
    Somebody commented more than Jay….wtf???
    Pat needs a long post deconstructing these stats and especially why luxembor…urr…san marino….ummm…belgium….oh whatever silly pointless little euro state is a bad comparison.
    How do these numbers compare to other big political/ culture blogs?Report

  6. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Ugh… 4900 comments? I’ve got to make a new New Year’s resolution.Report

  7. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    I can’t speak to what anyone else might want, but I’m thinking of writing more posts and not just writing my usual tendentious comments on others’ posts. Trouble is, when I fire off some of these foreign affairs squibs, it’s … crickets. I used to write a lot of travelogue, put up photographs I’d taken. They tend to take a solipsist turn and if there’s one thing there’s too much of these days, it’s purply, introspective prose.

    Had a sit-down over a po’ boy with Will Truman in Lafayette some while back, kinda asked him about the history of the place and what I should be writing. I didn’t come away with a clear direction. Maybe someone can give me a little guidance here. Robertson Davies said “Write for one person.” That’s great advice for writing novels, keeps a book from becoming a Generic Thing.. but around here, it’s not just one person. It’s the League.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to BlaiseP says:

      I’d say that Robertson Davies’ advice is still good, BP. Maybe it’s a matter of finding out who that single person is. KnowwhatImean?Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Stillwater says:

        Erm… want to be that person? Give me a topic and I’ll give you 1500 words.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to BlaiseP says:

          Heh. No, I don’t want you writing for me. That’s too personal. But I think you can find a any ‘ole person who you sorta know on this board who inspires you to write – and you’re a helluva writer – and just write for that person. Anonymously. I mean, even if you end up being wrong about that specific person’s views you’re gonna capture something important and interesting about people’s views. And there’s value in that. Especially if it’s honestly presented.Report

        • Avatar zic in reply to BlaiseP says:

          Robotics, please, hooking things together.

          And on the hooking-things-together topic we previously discussed of Max and dancers, I wanted to share this:

          (Doesn’t say, but I know this is using Max because there’s a max patch shown at 0:28 and we met Daito Manabe at the last Max conference.)

          Daito’s a most amazing and imaginative artist, pushing the boundaries of a new art form. I find the face dancing is a bit creepy. I love the shoes and hologram dance.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to zic says:

            I’ll start work on that, right away. Takes me a few days to do the research and legwork but I’ve got some thoughts already.

            I’ve been working on something about the situation in Mali which is just busting my chops. Thing is, I used to live around the Fulani and Tuareg people who are at the heart of that mess, but I haven’t been in contact with those cultures for many years. Lots has changed, too much for me to make any assertions.Report

        • Avatar Will H. in reply to BlaiseP says:

          Here;s some food for thought; something that I’ve been researching, though I’m sure your writings on the matter would be in format other than for my purposes, the development of ideas might prove beneficial nonetheless.

          Technically, an e-mail account is property which is protected by law; as are the passwords, etc.
          The e-mail itself, however, it considered “information.”
          While on the one hand, this is similar to saying that a phonographic record is a thing made of grooves, we can easily establish that no one goes out and buys a record just to have the grooves on the disc.
          Yet the rendering of the binary data into a readable document occurs at the user end; and so, e-mails are not “documnets” per se.

          Of note:
          Back in the 90’s when Windows 3.11 and the 486 (with built-in math co-processor!) were big things, there was some doubt as to the future of data transfer. I chose the wrong path there.
          I believed that transfer implied compact packets; that compiled code was the obvious answer. To transfer code requiring compiling at the user end would require that everyone have the very same version of compiler, as well as all additional commands and updates to the core.

          I can be incredibly wrong sometimes.Report

          • Avatar Rod Engelsman in reply to Will H. says:

            Don’t feel bad. I got a book for my Nook that’s 630 Classic Sci-Fi short stories. Yeah, you read that right, 630. It runs like 7500 pages. For three bucks, no less. They’re all stories from sources like Analog, and Amazing, and other sci-fi mags that are now in the public domain.

            Lots of good stories but, in general, the predictions of future tech, which were basically extrapolations from the then current state of affairs, is not so hot. You get stuff like anti-gravity and serious space travel alongside wired telephones. Nobody that I’ve read so far has come even close to accurately predicting the direction and pace of IT development. Shouldn’t be surprising really. It’s been hard to predict ten years ahead, much less many decades.Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Rod Engelsman says:

              My favorite example of that is Heinlein’s Starman Jones, which is one of his top juvenile novels. The FTL technology it portrays requires people to do the flight calculations and then translate the results from decimal into binary (all by hand), because the computers on board interstellar spaceships couldn’t handle any of that.Report

            • Avatar zic in reply to Rod Engelsman says:


              I read Dan Simmon’s Hyperion in 1983. At the time, I described it to my boss, particularly the technology and the swath of people watching the net and voting on what they saw as they watched. Ran into him several years later, and he said, “You were the first person to tell me about the internet.” But there wasn’t an internet in 1983; it was still birthing.

              So for accurate future predictions, I’d go with Hyperion and the early Gibson novels, Neuromancer, Mona Lisa Overdrive and Count Zero.Report

            • Sometimes it’s easy to do tech forecasting, sometimes it’s hard. The really hard things are discontinuities. The broad outlines of personal computing and ubiquitous data networks have been relatively easy to forecast since the early 1980s, once it was clear that Moore’s Law was in force and far from any physical limits. The integrated circuit was a discontinuity that rendered lots of earlier forecasts obsolete. Take away ICs and much of our contemporary tech becomes impossible: no PCs, no cell phones, no 500-channel cable or satellite TV, no e-book readers, no MRI scanners,…

              Any science-aware author of speculative fiction who wanted lots of people in space had to postulate a discontinuity like anti-gravity; we’ve known for a long time that rocketry based on chemical fuels (or even nuclear heating of reaction mass) was the limiting factor in how much you could get to LEO. We’ve regressed from the late 1960s when the Saturn V could lift 118,000 kg. Currently the maximum is on the order of 20,000 kg; in the US we license individual trucks to carry more than that.

              Today is a particularly difficult point from which to make predictions. Moore’s Law appears to be slowing substantially, if for no other reason than sub-20 nm fab lines are going to be hideously expensive. I am pessimistic about future energy supplies and believe that dealing with those is going to detract from advances in other areas. The financial system terrifies me. I anticipate a number of discontinuities, but predicting those is hard.Report

            • Avatar Will H. in reply to Rod Engelsman says:

              In my defense, I’ll say that the issues with an interpreted code as the default medium of transfer (which to me, disqualified widespread use of html) are rife with Javascript; and particularly so in advertisements.Report

            • Avatar Anne in reply to Rod Engelsman says:

              dang Rod now I am going to have to get a nook or other tablet to find that collection of stories. What is the name of the collection? I subscribed to Analog and Asimov for years up until a couple of years agoReport

      • Avatar zic in reply to Stillwater says:

        I’d say that Robertson Davies’ advice is still good, BP. Maybe it’s a matter of finding out who that single person is.

        I’ve though a lot about this over the last few days. When I wrote professionally, I always wrote to a specific person; usually someone I knew well who I thought would be interested in the topic.

        On the blog <a href=""Brain Pickings, Maria Papova has a post about Kurt Vonnegut’s advice on writing. The writing style which is most natural for you is bound to echo the speech you heard when a child. he said. While I do think there’s some room to improve on one’s child-hood speech, writing to someone helps develop that natural voice because it becomes conversation. It avoids monstrosity of voice Vonnegut warns of: The one most vehemently recommended by teachers has no doubt been pressed on you, as well: to write like cultivated Englishmen of a century or more ago.

        Over the years, I discovered the most rewarding compliment I got on my writing came from friends, and it was typically, “As I read it, I could hear you talking.” A couple of times, I even heard that from the person I was talking to as I wrote.Report

    • Avatar Will H. in reply to BlaiseP says:

      This is the same complaint I’ve heard from Murali on his fine posts.
      Yours is a bit different in character though.
      Your foreign analysis posts are fairly authoritative.
      They leave little questions to be asked.

      Number of comments is no sure measure.
      Of course, you knew that already.Report

      • Avatar Rod Engelsman in reply to Will H. says:

        I agree with this. For me personally, I find Blaise’s foreign policy posts to be very fine pieces but I don’t personally know enough or think enough about those sorts of things to have any coherent comments or questions.

        Also, timing makes a big difference as well. Murali’s last post came out, IIRC, immediately in the wake of Sandy Hook and, like a lot of folks, I was contemplating other things.

        Finally, commenting on posts has a fairly quick half-life normally. I do the subscribe to follow-up comments by email thing and I’ve noticed that if I leave a comment I’ll normally get a lot of comment emails on that post for maybe a day or two, then the convo in general moves onto a newer post. I don’t do the League when I’m home from the road (that’s family time) and I’ll miss out completely on convos that come up then.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Will H. says:

        I always look forward to Murali’s stuff. Murali writes good prose, I can always hear him thinking and composing. He puts a lot of work into what he writes.

        You’re right, comments are no sure measure of worth, yet it is a bit disconcerting to hear the crickets. Others seem to write more — well — seemingly accessible stuff. It’s hard to tell if what I’m writing fits in. Oh, I’m sure someone will chime in to reassure me, yes, we do have a category for Politics and Foreign Affairs. But if y’all want more of it, and goddamnit, it’s hard work doing the research for these posts, I need some feedback. And so does Murali and the other authors who are trying to keep the League’s socks pulled up and make us worthy of more visits. It’s easy to write some flamey old thing about God ‘n Guns and ‘Bortion and get a zillion comments. It’s harder to write something informative.Report

        • Avatar Will H. in reply to BlaiseP says:

          Murali’s stuff tends to be not contemporaneous. That’s writing for the ages.
          It takes more engagement out of the reader to read such things. It also requires more thought to be able to comment cohesively.

          Yours is more contemporaneous, but less theoretical; more authoritative.
          There are things which you can speak more authoritatively on than any others here.
          Your post on Egypt was an in-depth analysis far above what one would receive from any purported news source, including the likes of New Yorker and U.S. News & World Report.

          I’ve aimed at writing for the ages myself in my little corner, and the results are odd. I never sought out a readership; they came to me. I’ve never taken pains to extend that.
          What I consider to be my best posts typically receive few comments, but still get hits three years later.
          Blogging was first pitched to me as desktop publishing– I could be a pamphleteer!– and were I to have considered it as “social networking,” I likely would have shirked.
          But when I have something to say, I’ll say it; and I tend to shoot from the hip. Not always do I have something worth saying.
          And oftentimes, the thing I feel needs saying most is that I can sometimes be a jackass, or that I have a warped sense of humor.
          I’ll break before I bend.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to BlaiseP says:

          …it’s hard work doing the research for these posts, I need some feedback.

          I always find your perspectives on foreign affairs informative. My own interests are in the longer term, as in what are the important trends and where are we likely to find ourselves in 10-15 years. I know that’s a whole lot more speculative and harder to write about.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to BlaiseP says:

      Much of my issue is that I do not know anywhere near as much on many of the subjects of the densest posts on the League and I don’t want to leave”wow! really great post! +5 Informative!” comments that don’t engage with the author.

      I read them and think “damn, I’m waaaaay out of my league here”.

      (If you want to have 200+ comments, write about whether or not ketchup belongs on a hot dog.)Report

    • Avatar North in reply to BlaiseP says:

      The problem (if you can call it a problem) BP is that your foreign affairs posts are so thorough and generally reasonably it’s hard to disagree with much. The waves of comments come when people argue but your posts are just pretty darn good and so there’s not a lot of room to comment quibbles.Report

    • Avatar Bob2 in reply to BlaiseP says:

      I suspect your foreign affairs posts get the cricket response because it’s outside the scope of the vast majority of people here. I tend to just read them and not have much to say because I simply don’t know enough about e.g….Egypt’s socio-political climate to add much of value or even argue coherently, and I suspect people here just accept what you write on the topic as authoritative as a result.
      Also, they’re finely written posts.
      They would probably generate more comments at a foreign policy oriented blog.Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to BlaiseP says:

      A couple points, Blaise. I agree with everyone who said that you’re fairly authoritative on foreign policy, so it may not be easy to think of things to add. Another factor related to that is that you’re, hmm, not the easiest person to disagree with. There are people with areas of expertise (e.g., Rose on philosophy) who are a little less intimidating when it comes to the areas of their expertise.

      I’m interested in foreign affairs – though I’m not always here so I can’t promise to comment on your posts all the time – but I worry about being off-base and getting an annotated list of the many ways in which I’m wrong. Maybe I’m just being over-timid that way.Report

  8. Avatar zic says:

    Congratulations, all. And thanks for putting up with me. I’ll try to not make this list in any way next year; to do so would be overstaying my welcome.

    Can’t say my favorites without going back through the archive, but Ramblin Rod’s coming out of the aspie closet and Rose’s Together Toes rank high in my memory of things that made me read and weep and cheer people on.Report

  9. Avatar carr1on says:

    More sideboob.Report

  10. Avatar Snarky McSnarksnark says:

    For those that missed either one (and I agree that they were the best and most effecting OPs I’ve read on the blog this year, here are some links:

    Together Toes

    Rod’s Aspie Coming OutReport

  11. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    I think the one thing I enjoyed the most from this past year was the League-cast following the election on the basic topic of its implications for the Republican Party. The participants individually and as a group were very impressive.Report

  12. Avatar DRS says:

    I would like to see more posts about topics that the poster doesn’t have a strong personal connection with so that disagreeing with them doesn’t result in the poster feeling they’re being attacked. Also: a post that’s basically a description of something that happened in the poster’s past isn’t really open for discussion and debate. More open topics that allow for wider ranging discussions.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to DRS says:


      So more posts about things the writer doesn’t know or care that much about then? 😉Report

      • Avatar DRS in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        I knew someone would post a response like this. I’m disappointed it’s you, Tod.Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to DRS says:

          Sorry. I thought the wink would save me.Report

          • Avatar DRS in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            Well, I was trying to make a serious point. I would like to participate in discussions, not group hugs between insiders.Report

            • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to DRS says:

              Can I ask you to say more? Not challenging, just as we’re looking ahead to see where we’re going to make changes, I’d like to get a clearer picture of what you’re asking for.Report

              • Avatar DRS in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Well, the example that springs to mind for me was the post a few months ago about the Progressive Movement. That would have been a great topic to have a wide-ranging discussion about the many movements that came together under the Progressive Movement: temperance, women’s suffrage, monetary policy, agriculture policy, education reform, religious views. All these had an impact on political attitudes today, all were powerful policy issues in other countries (Britain, Canada, Australia to a more limited extent) with sometimes similar and sometimes very different outcomes, and all of them are around in some degree or other today. How many societies deal with political issues was established during the Progressive Era and remains in place today.

                Instead progressive was used as a synonym for liberal and the same political discussion (or liberal bashing) took place with the same people making the same usual arguments and no real effort to understand the particular era the Progressives lived in. I’m a conservative and there’s more to conservatism than just liberal-bashing.

                I’d like to see speculative topics like “The Arab Spring Ten Years From Now: the Successes? the Failures? the Reasons?” or taking a good look at Russia’s current situation. Putin made a policy change on international adoptions last week and on the weekend a huge demonstration took place protesting it. Russians seem to be increasingly comfortable disagreeing with their authorities or watching their fellow citizens disagreeing. Putin disagrees, of course – and Russians are even more comfortable with that!

                Or taking a closer look at new issues that are coming closer. During a few abortion threads I said that the real issue coming up for people concerned about the government involving itself in personal moral decisions would be families making end-of-life decisions for elderly loved ones who were beyond help. The Schiavo case churned up a lot of sediment about people’s attitudes towards this issue and I don’t think that’s changed – yet every day these decisions are being made out of the media spotlight.

                A group of intelligent people should be able to discuss all of these issues without necessarily being an expert in any of them. That’s what the 19th century men’s club ideally would have done, IMO.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to DRS says:

                This is excellent, and exactly what I was wanting. Thanks.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to DRS says:

                which reminds me to finish that fucking I/P post. 😉 thanks.Report

            • Avatar Rose in reply to DRS says:

              Drs, I couldn’t disagree with you more. So no group hug from me. This is a general interest blog. To the degree that it has a focus, it is political. Which is about people. Which needs to be informed by people’s experiences. Hands down my favorite posts were by people passionate about their topics,

              I am a philosopher by trade, so I do recognize the value of abstracting away from the particular. The are forums for that, and what a drier place this would be if it were all like that.

              It is incumbent on those of us who write from experience and from passion not to get huffy and defensive, but engage with worthy points made by opponents.

              I see this complaint on this blog every so often. It’s ” too supportive.” As I tell my students, there can often be more sophistication in charitable readings than antagonistic ones. Discussion need not proceed only by opposition.Report

              • Avatar DRS in reply to Rose says:

                I would never say that this blog is “too supportive”.Report

              • Avatar Rose in reply to DRS says:

                Between this and the group hug comment, then, I’m afraid I’m also not sure what you’re getting at. Like Tod, I would want to know.

                I agree with you, I think, on needing a thick skin for writing the posts of your soul. People will say some awful, awful things. No matter what the topic. My two favorite still are when someone said i should have killed my son, and another called Russell Mengele. The writers need to be aware of this going in and not expect a group hug.Report

            • Avatar Rose in reply to DRS says:

              And for someone who is worried about too supportive an environment, why would you be disappointed at someone disagreeing with you?Report

              • Avatar DRS in reply to Rose says:

                I was disappointed that he didn’t get what I was saying, not that he disagreed.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to DRS says:

                I wouldn’t say “didn’t get;” I’d say that I could see too many possible interpretations of your request. It might have something to do with the fact that I read your response as more of a “what I don’t like” than a “what I’d like to see;” or it might have to do with the fact that we’ve been talking New Stuff behind the scenes for a while and so my brain is just overly full with this stuff.

                But the reason I’m asking for clarification is because I’m genuinely interested, and I’m not wanting to give you a shine-on, customer service phone bank answer.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                We value our commenters and always welcome their feedback. Now, how may I provide excellent blogging for you today?Report

              • Avatar Rose in reply to DRS says:

                DRS, I hope this didn’t come off as mean-spirited or aggressive. I certainly didn’t mean it that way! And after reading your explanation, I totally misunderstood you anyway. I apologize if I sounded all rough-and-tumble. It was supposed to be sort of jokey. Now that I read it again, it looks nasty. Totally not my intention.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Rose says:

                Perhaps because it seemed like “blowing off” and otherwise a discourteous response. (tod, I think the wink was just right, and DRS is a bit overboard in the following comment. Thansk for the call for more elaboration, I think it’s warranted)Report

    • Avatar Rod Engelsman in reply to DRS says:

      We need both. I think what made the Guns in America symposium so successful were the personal stories that added flavor (of course I would say that given that was the nature of my post :-P). From Russell’s armed carjacking episode to Mike D.’s experiences hunting we got a real range of the experiences and backgrounds that people brought to the discussion.

      It’s often not enough to know what someone thinks about a topic. Why they think that way is important, too.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Rod Engelsman says:

        This is true. But the last time I posted about guns (in a comment) folks didn’t believe me (it was about finding an illegal distillery in the woods). I’m in general loathe to talk about my personal experiences. Even when I’m not talking about my-friend-the-weirdness-magnet…

        I could give a reasonably clear depiction of a gun nut (met him during jury duty). But would anyone be interested?Report

      • My personal feeling is that the site works best when we have a base of talented writers, and allow them to write about whatever moves them.

        That being said, as we look to the future we’re trying to think of things – like how different layouts might lead to us being more things to more people. And as we add more regular contributors it’s good to pay attention to a variety of voices that appeal to a variety of different kinds of readers. So I’m trying to get a better handle on what DRS is saying than I feel like I have at the moment.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          “…the site works best when we have a base of talented writers, and allow them to write about whatever moves them.”

          Ha! Talented?!?! I’m a hack if there ever was one.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Rod Engelsman says:

        “It’s often not enough to know what someone thinks about a topic. Why they think that way is important, too.”

        Very well said.Report

    • Avatar Sam in reply to DRS says:

      Dammit. Did I just fired?Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to DRS says:

      I would like to see more posts about topics that the poster doesn’t have a strong personal connection with so that disagreeing with them doesn’t result in the poster feeling they’re being attacked.


      Well, I tried that, and got the “you obviously care a lot about this” response.Report