December 9, 2006

"If I quit blogging, it will be because I get tired of having to pay attention to the news all the time."

Glenn Reynolds says he said that back in 2002. He's talking about blogger burnout with Bob Wright on Bloggingheads.tv. The point is that the news is "fundamentally depressing," and the assumption is that blogging requires you to keep up with the news more than you otherwise would.

But you don't have to blog about the news. You don't have to provide any particular service to your readers or even try to maintain your existing set of readers. I started blogging with the idea of just seeing what struck me over the course of the day, primarily as I sat down with the New York Times every morning.

Anything might be bloggable. Something someone said, a TV show, a passing thought, a street scene, a new Supreme Court case ... and the news was just one more thing that had the potential to grab my attention. The thing I'm most likely to be criticized for, by commenters and other bloggers, is the failure to write about some particular subject. They tend to assume that the more important a news story is, the more I am obligated to write about it. So, for example, if I don't write about the treatment of the detainees or the war, that in itself constitutes a statement that I don't care or I think everything that is going on is just fine. But in fact, the failure to write may only mean that I respect the difficulty of the subject. Learning to put up with that criticism and not letting it drag me into obligatory blogging has been crucial to preserving the energy and fun of blogging.

You know, I've guest-blogged over on Instapundit a few times, and it's hard! You have the sense that people expect things to be covered -- even though Glenn never said try to blog in the Instapundit manner. Quite the opposite, in fact. But Glenn can transform into some other sort of blogger if he wants.

Hey, I wrote all this with the linked segment on pause, then went back and unpaused it only to find that Glenn and Bob start talking about me! (At about 2:16 into the segment.) That was kind of cool. Bob opines -- and Glenn agrees -- that my way of blogging is "psychologically healthiest." I wonder if they know that I am called "batshit crazy" virtually every day in the blogosphere.

And it's nice to see Glenn doing Bloggingheads. If you listen to the first segment, you'll see that he and Bob screwed up their first recording and had to redo it. I recorded a Bloggingheads with Jonah Goldberg last Thursday, and some technical snafu ruined it. We didn't find out until the next day, so there was no chance for an instant redo. It was lots of fun doing Bloggingheads with Jonah, in part because he was happy to leave the big Iraq news aside and just talk about sex, food, and religion. And yet, it was actually pretty political.

Similar to my blogging.

I certainly never set out to be a political blogger. But politics has a way of naturally leaking into things, and if you take note of it here and there -- what the hell? -- somehow you end up looking like a political blogger. And now I have all sorts of fervid polibloggers hanging over my every post -- even stuff I write in the comments section -- looking for material to gasp with horror about.

It's weird, this blogging life. But I'm just sitting up here in my lonely outpost in Madison, Wisconsin, typing a few words when something strikes my fancy.

69 comments:

AllenS said...

Your capacity to talk about everything, is why most of us keep coming back. I'll bet most commenter/readers will agree.

Ann Althouse said...

But it is an illusion, you know. The things about which I cannot talk, I keep silent.

Anon Y. Mous said...

"I wonder if they know that I am called 'batshit crazy' virtually every day in the blogosphere."

If you're going to smoke that stuff, you're going to have to expect some of that kind of reaction.

Ann Althouse said...

The things about which I cannot talk, I keep silent.

The sentence about which I couldn't write straight, I should have written differently.

Should be: The things about which I cannot talk, I keep silent about. Better: What I can't talk about, I shut up about.

Ann Althouse said...

Anon.: Some people just don't understand my sense of humor or why I would adopt a light touch much of the time and why I choose to go with my sharp edge some of the time. As they run along trying to keep up, all they can think of is to call me stupid and crazy. But the secret of the Althouse blog is that I know exactly what I'm doing.

JohnF said...

Well, you probably are batshit crazy. But healthy batshit crazy.

michilines said...

Althouse, just and FYI, I personally shut down a blogger who had her own blogspot blog and a blog on the local paper.

Just so you know.

And now I have all sorts of fervid polibloggers hanging over my every post -- even stuff I write in the comments section -- looking for material to gasp with horror about.

Nah, I just visit you every once and a while. No one is "fervid." We just look for you to show-out, as my mom used to say. You are the child I was. It is like watching a sociological study play out before my eyes. That quote I have above is your Chapter 5. Projection is an over-simpliphied way of looking at your view.

michilines said...

It's Saturday, will revenant (or whatever that commenter's name is) be lured?

michilines said...

"Fumbling with Adjective Clauses"

That seems like a good title for this thread, uhhhmmmmm chapter.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Freder Frederson said...

Maybe Glenn is so tired of being so wrong all the time he is ready to give up.

One can only hope.

While you on the other hand, can just go on about Padilla blinking messages or shooting deathrays out of his eyes or other such nonsense and the criticism rolls off you like water off a duck's back, while the rest of the world wonders if they hand out tenure at UW like cracker jack prizes. And we're still supposed to believe you were once a Democrat?!

So I guess you'll go on blogging forever.

michilines said...

So I guess you'll go on blogging forever.

Nah, Freder, this post is a signal -- given on a Saturday -- that Althouse will at least stop posting about anything political (read more pictures of old crap she hauls out of the attic and commentary on TeeVee shows).

She's done. Cheer up.

Anonymous said...

I've wondered about you in your lonely outpost there in Madison, Dane County WI, or as Gov. Dreyfus used to call it "1,200 square miles surrounded by reality." Well, just keep it up. I'm one fellow Cheesehead that likes what you do.

Madison Guy said...

Heck, you can even blog about the ice freezing over on Madison’s smallest lake. "New ice is by far the best." The lake is covered with sails flying across the ice. In the background there's a pickup hockey game. Dogs are exploring the frozen world. Life is good.

Simon said...

"I recorded a Bloggingheads with Jonah Goldberg last Thursday, and some technical snafu ruined it."

Which is a shame, but it at least provides potential extra material for the next podcast.

"But I'm just sitting up here in my lonely outpost in Madison, Wisconsin"

I'm going to suppress the natural response to that.

Freder Frederson said...
"the rest of the world wonders if they hand out tenure at UW like cracker jack prizes. And we're still supposed to believe you were once a Democrat?!"

Oh, do leave off. Like most of Ann's detractors who make similar comments, I get the overwhelming feeling that you've never read a word of her scholarship. Which isn't necessary to criticize this blog, of course (although I'd argue it provides relevant context), but you'd think that it would be exceedingly relevant before criticizing her day job. There's something pathological about the liberal need to belittle and demean everything about a person they disagree with in any regard. The slightest heresy is enough to trigger their excommunication and unpersonification. "Althouse is right wing" -- which is leftie speak to 'isn't left wing enough,' but anyway -- "ergo, she must be a terrible LawProf." You don't see how that's a non sequitur, Freder?

Simon said...

Ann Althouse said...
"What I can't talk about, I shut up about."

My mother always told me when I was younger: "it's better to keep quiet, and have people think you're a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt." That's probably wise counsel, when in doubt.

Hugo Black said...

How about "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent."

I was just thinking that when you're not in a flame war with other bloggers, most of what you post is what you've found in another news source. You're sort of like a news service, with sparse, intermittant commentary. I wonder what your quote to original material ratio is? It's interesting to see what you choose to direct your reader's attention to.

Der Hahn said...

Simon, I wish your mother's advice had been spread more widely....

reader_iam said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
reader_iam said...

The things about which I cannot talk, I keep silent.*

"What I can't talk about, I shut up about."

What I can't discuss, I don't.

What I can't speak to, I don't.

Where I can't speak, I shut up.

I shut up when I can't talk about something.

When I can't talk about something, I shut up.

That which I can't talk about, I don't.

What doesn't fit my blog format [alt.: my vision of my blog {of blogging}], I avoid.

No offense, Althouse, but that second "about" (in particular) in your revision bugs me. It crashes discordantly against my mind's ear. Purely a matter of taste, I know, so ignore away. These alternatives aren't perfect, either.

How about this, though, approaching the meaning more broadly:

I blog about whatever the hell I choose. Doesn't everyone?

---

*Strictly from an "ear" standpoint, I could live with your original, especially in a blog comment, which is basically just conversation anyway, in my view. FWIW.

**Is there such a thing as a crash that's not discordant? In a word: Yes.

michilines said...

How I wish I knew how to embed a video into comments -- since I don't, I'll leave--

thanks for the memories :)

Loyal commenters will continue to comment. New visitors will realize that you are irrelevent, and the divine will vanish -- smoke and eerie music -- into the mist of the Universe.

Nexte year you will post pics of your house in ethonal powered CHRISTMAS lights :)

Mortimer Brezny said...

But I'm just sitting up here in my lonely outpost in Madison, Wisconsin, typing a few words when something strikes my fancy.

I feel no need to suppress a damn thing. There is no reason for Ann to be lonely. Now, I have a VW van with an 8-track and a cool jug of hard cider and you and I could

[The remainder of this message censored by the blog administrator.]

reader_iam said...

Oh, Zeus! I just realized I committed a terrible faux pas. I had the temerity to comment in the same thread as a Noble Dragonslayer, who has bettered the world by personally shutting down a blogger.

I shall don my sackcloth and ashes and do penance forthwith.

reader_iam said...

michilines: You're cute, but not nearly as subtle as you think you are.

Go right along, leaving your trails wherever you go.

Simon said...

Mort -
Discretion really is the better part of valor, you know.

Anonymous said...

"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt"
--- Abraham Lincoln


Simon, I don't know how to break the news to you, but your mother "borrowed" that line ;-)

We should all thank the mysterious michilines for providing such a stunning example of Lincoln's point.

michilines said...

It must be the curse of the Weblog awards. Althouse, you won't be the first or the last to hang that bit of java script on your bloggity blogblog.

Mysterious? The link is there. No mystery.

Simon said...

Ronin:
Haha! Well, I suppose that if you're going to borrow, borrow from the best! :p

michilines said...

How's that for turning an insult into an asset.

You are mine now, ronin.

Bow and beg for mercy!

michilines said...

reader_iam,

may you pass in peace to another blog, just as you past in peace on this.

Haloscan, be not thy name. The hair of the Althouse will not be upon you, forever and ever.

Amen.

Go. reader_iam. spread the goodwill unto others and work especially upon those weak of mind and knee. Lo, they need upon it.

You get it, no?

Adam said...

Ann, this is why I like our setup at ALOTT5MA so much -- there's a lot of us, so there's no "publish or perish" pressure, and our topic range is so idiosyncratic that there's very little that people expect of us regularly, other than a few specific reality shows.

Brian said...

""Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt"
--- Abraham Lincoln

Simon, I don't know how to break the news to you, but your mother "borrowed" that line ;-)"

I hate to break it to *you*, but that quote is widely attributed to everyone from George Eliot to Mark Twain to Lincoln.

Given the enormous body of quotations falsely attributed to Lincoln, I'd demand a little more evidence that the phrase originated with Lincoln before diminishing Simon's mother's role in the perpetuating the phrase.

reader_iam said...

Are you sure you don't mean "piece"?

And hair, I know what to do with it, whether found on knee, in mind, or (wildly) up ass.

It's a matter of deciding whether it's a "bug" or a "feature." Or whether it matters, in the first place.

And sometimes just playing with it.

reader_iam said...

That, of course, was directed at Michilines.

Thanks for the fun, Michi.

vh: icoiti

Anonymous said...

Well, Brian, as Simon understood my playful intent (as I knew he would) and you appear to have misconstrued it, I'll happily give appropriate due consideration to your admonition.

michilines said...

Adam, that's a sweet way to say --come look at my bloggity blog. It'd be more mysterious if Althouse were less anal :)

reader_iam, I haven't shortened your moniker/name, I would appreciate the reciprocation.

The correct shortening of my name is misha. There is no female equivalent. You and Condi Rice are the only two who don't get it.

Hint: Michilines is the Latvian version of my given name. Russians call me Misha. You are quite dense. No wonder you comment on the Althouse blog.

reader_iam said...

Michilines:

More than fair, the point you about gratuitous shortening of name. You're right. I was wrong, and I apologize. There's evidence, right here on this reviled blog, that when corrected in this manner, I ever after respect. This I mean sincerely: By that I will abide. In bloglife as in reallife.

Michilines, you are, no matter what, henceforth.

As for my denseness, Michilines, clearly there's no cure for a condition both foregone and terminal.

I am stupid. (And more.) And that, as they say, is that.

reader_iam said...

Michilines:

Just for the record, though I'm stupid, I got the irony of your name comment.

Though, maybe, not.

'Cause, after all, as I said, I am stupid.

And that, as they say, is that.

michilines said...

reader_iam, many abuse my name. In Latvian and Russian, it is a difficult name.

apology accepted.

on a dead blog.

though I don't remember exactly who accused me of sockpuppetry. If it was you, or another, someone owes me another apology.

Not to make you all my byatch, but bow down and make that clear, k?

reader_iam said...

Sigh.

downtownlad said...

A successful blogger will focus on themselves and write whatever strikes their fancy.

I've always respected how Ann slams people who berate her for not writing on a certain subject. She can write about whatever the she feels like. It's her blog and her commenters are her guests.

I come to this blog, because Ann writes about lots of interesting subjects. I never come here expecting her to write about the latest controversy. And I don't consider Ann a political blogger either. That's silly.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, DTL.

Anyway, did everyone see what Glenn Reynolds wrote when he linked to this post?

"And Ann Althouse comments on the dangers of political blogging, and the importance of healthy alternatives. Judging from the comments to her post, some blog-readers could use a vacation, too."

Ann Althouse said...

i am: I didn't much like the two "abouts" either. How about (about): "When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed."

Anonymous said...

I try to either limit myself to a hour a day. Or I will try to have one two serious political blogs and a funny blog. This helps maintain my sanity, what is left of it.

jakemanjack said...

Althouse, just and FYI, I personally shut down a blogger who had her own blogspot blog and a blog on the local paper.

Just so you know.


What kind of leftist-Stalinist threat is that? You have been warned Ann, if you do not say what is acceptable and proper, you will be purged by the leftist PC word police.

Anonymous said...

Reader_iam After reading as much of one over-educated ESL teacher's blog as is healthy in one sitting, I thought of these lines penned by Alexander Pope a few centuries ago:

A little learning is a dangerous thing:
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring;
There shallow Draughts intoxicate the Brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.

reader_iam said...

Althouse:

We have a winner!

Just right.

Gerry said...

It's not that you are batshit crazy, it is that you drive batshit crazy.

And it is fun to watch!

Jeffrey said...

It has been a while since I've come across such juvenile trolling as we find with Michilines, who shows us what can happen when political militancy slowly deforms the commenter. In the end, they sit like Michilines with rheumatoid claws for hands as they lash out at such eminantly reasonable and laudable bloggers as Ann Althouse.

Michilines represents the very worst aspect of the blogosphere.

You should also note that Michilines does NOT have a blog -- ah, what courage IT has!

*

Jeffrey said...

Ann's colleague Nina is in Poland right now and like Ann she writes about what interests her as she moves through the day. Nina blogs about what she really loves, food and travel. Right now she's in Poland. I'll take the Anns and Ninas of this world 1000 times over the coarse, one-dimensional Michilines.

*

Ann Althouse said...

Gerry: But I really wonder what it is about me that has so much power to drive them crazy? It's kind of funny to watch. I have the theory that they think they have special power to push me back because I'm a female (and presumably need to be liked or something) and because I'm a law professor (and therefore will take special care to protect my reputation). They really think they have the power to "personally shut down" my blog, to use Michiline's phrase.

And Michiline does have a blog. It's linked in the upper left corner of her profile. Apparently, she's a middle-aged ESL teacher.

Verification word: bopds. Well, we all know "DS" around here stands for "disreputable slimeball." So bop a disreputable slimeball for me today. Virtually bop, I mean. No physical contact!

reader_iam said...

One guess what her "First visit every morning" is.

Chap said...

In my profession the famous phrase was

To Know When To Shut Up Is A Tool

Not a tool I use well, mind you, but a useful tool nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

"When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed
Say something once - Why say it again?
Psycho killer, que'est que ce?"

It's not entirely clear to me why I felt forced to write that. Ah, well.

Jeffrey said...

Ann,

Thanks for directing me to the correct link for Michelle's blog. I spent twenty or so minutes reading entries and, to my surprise, she writes about a variety of topics, not unlike you. I don't get it. Here, for example, she writes about the death of a baseball player:

Joe Neikro died. You remember Joe if you lived in Houston. He was a very good pitcher and, from all accounts, a very good teammate. Damn. Joe was the guy who taught me the knuckleball (via tv). And he lived the ‘idea’ that if you aren’t cheating you aren’t trying!

He and his brother Phil were great supporters of women’s baseball. I can only hope that lefty (as in pitching hand not politics) Mormon type old pitcher for the Astros Bob Knepper will go to the funeral.

RIP Joe. I am grateful for having seen you pitch, listened to your ideas, and you had an impact on my life. Thanks Joe
.

Now why in God's name would someone who writes a blog that is not unlike Ann's -- with a little more political commentary, it should be noted -- want to come here and trollishly call you names? Is this the same person?

Someone explain this to me.

I did notice, however, that it is a very unusual day when someone comments on her blog. I've counted a handful of responses over three months of blogging.

Is this a case of comment envy?

*

Anonymous said...

Jeffrey: Don't know the answer to the last question, but it is a way to attract traffic.

Jeffrey said...

Okay, I've done a little more reading of Michelle's blog and came across a passage from one of her blog entries in which she talks about using fable-exercises in the classroom and about one in particular in which a rabbit keeps returning to a pharmacy (you'll have to read the entire entry, I'm afraid, to understand). Anyway, she goes on to write that her friend Robert said she was the rabbit in the fable:

I had thought that the rabbit thing had come from a right-wing blogger accusing me of stalking simply because I would not stop trying to get her to apologize for calling Glenn Greenwald names. She made a reference to Basic Instincts and boiling rabbits, so I chose a name — just a little off — of a clairvoyant rabbit in a novel. I just thought it was fitting. Then I wondered over to another right-wing blog, and after having my name mangled by the other commenters of that blog, I went back to the rabbit name.

It all came together for me this evening. Thanks Roberto
.

Because I don't stop by Ann's blog every day (but several times a week, to be sure), I don't know exactly what she's referring to. Maybe someone can help me figure this out.

*

Jeffrey said...

Michelle the blogger and Michelle the commenter seem like different people. Why is she so churlish as a commenter? Is this another version of a multi-valent "derangement syndrome"?

*

Simon said...

Glenn said...
"Judging from the comments to [Althouse's] post, some blog-readers could use a vacation, too."

Seems as though Mort is planning a vacation - to Madison. ;)

BarbO said...

I go to Althouse because I like the nice mix of topics--it's where I go when I'm tired of politics.

But most of all, I enjoy Ann's podcasts. I like listening to her laughing and talking about all sorts of things when I'm out walking in the woods. It's just the friendliest, nicest way to get some exercise and enjoyable relaxation all at once.

Ann Althouse said...

Jeffrey: Interesting, but I'd recommend not frequenting her blog and not trying to understand her. The best approach to trolls is the silent treatment.

reader_iam said...

I'm the one who shortened her name last night here, in this thread (which I've done with others--"Sip" for Sippicancottage comes to mind, and 'Pick for Icepick"--I should probably stop it.). But I haven't an earthly clue as to what she's referring to otherwise.

And now:

Anonymous said...

Well, you can call me In, or Ron, but please not Inron ( or late for dinner ;-)

Anonymous said...

Ann,

It was through your blog that I created my Blog (Via Blogger). Blogging allows me to reach out to people around the country to hear my ideas and views. One of the ebst thing about the Althouse Blog is how it touches on different subjects from culture to politics and uses a light touch. I won't be political and say your Leftist Trolls have no sense of humor or civility, but this isn't a political statement. Keep posting and visit my Blog every once in a while.

Merry Christmas!

Smilin' Jack said...

Ann Althouse said...
The things about which I cannot talk, I keep silent.

The sentence about which I couldn't write straight, I should have written differently.

Should be: The things about which I cannot talk, I keep silent about. Better: What I can't talk about, I shut up about.


Best: the Wittgenstein original--"Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must remain silent." ("Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muß man schweigen)

cardeblu said...

Actually, this is the original:

Proverbs 17:28
28 Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue. (NIV)

Mortimer Brezny said...

...and you and I could listen to Boston on my 8-track player.

Don't project your own indiscretions onto the rest of us, Simon.

Billy Beck said...

My own blog is principally about what I call "The Endarkenment", which necessarily dwells on general philosophical matters culminating in a political climate today that would have Ethan Allen rolling cannon into Washington to blow great bloody holes in the Capitol dome, were he here today. I know that my readers are especially attuned to this sort of thing, be they "leading fringe" or just kooks. Take your pick.

Very infrequently, I briefly wonder whether my love affair with guitars, or posts about my band (along with various other digressions), crashes their enjoyment of these savage and bitter annotations. (For instance: just this morning, I linked Jon Krakauer's excellent article on the 1994 death of Hawaiian surfing legend Mark Foo.) I only briefly wonder about readers' disappointments. It's my place and I blog what I want to.

It's all about me. That's the thing that keeps it going. Pay attention to that in your own blogs, and you can't go wrong, no matter who reads, if anyone.

Simon said...

Mortimer Brezny said...
"...and you and I could listen to Boston on my 8-track player. Don't project your own indiscretions onto the rest of us, Simon."

Uh huh. I would have thought that Van Halen's album "1984" would have been more apt in your case, Mort: Hot for Teacher.