February 13, 2010

"All I've ever wanted out of Althouse was a place to hang out with a bunch of cool people."

Yes, that's it. And we want to hang out with you.

71 comments:

AllenS said...

78 comments, and not one of them was from me. Was I sick that day?

WV: manamp

Lem said...

Half the time I had no idea wath Bissage was saying.. but he never said anything nasty to anybody.. at least not to me. none that i could tell anyway.

to me thats saying a lot for someone in the web!

traditionalguy said...

Bissage is a poet that graces the Althouse Blog when we are blessed that day. We miss the spark of his point of view like salt on tasteless food.

Meade said...

If anyone ever says anything nasty to Lem, they're saying something nasty to me.

And a day without AllenS is like a day without a swift kick in the pants.

Btw, a day without tradguy would be like a day without corn grits and buttermilk.

Lem said...

I remember him always cheerful..

when he told me he was from south Jersey I almost wanted to call him on it but my fear of a weak English stopped me..

and then he referenced south jersey again and again and I knew he wasn't making it up.

sorry if i sound like o'm mourning him thats not waht i mean

Lem said...

If anyone ever says anything nasty to Lem, they're saying something nasty to me.

I remember saying I wanted to meet you Meade.. I have not forgotten and I have not changed my mind.

I just.. how am i going to live up to a compliment like that?

I dont know waht to say other than thank you.

JAL said...

Lem,

Maybe The Pilgrimage will take Meadehouse to Boston sometime. (Or are you in NY? I forget.)

I bet you'll get to hang out together.

Did find a job yet?

wvc skieres
Some French Olympic athletes

JAL said...

That's "Did you find a job yet."

From Inwood said...

The topics & the comments are always outré, recherché & often risqué but the good outweigh & so I remain an habitué, & I hope, quite raisonné.

The above in honor of our “speak-as-you-spell” President.

Oy veh (vey)!

*******************



reader (you said in the original Aug 09 thread )

If the spirit world allows polygamy, I think I'm gonna ask Sir Archy to marry me when I die.

Here's for you:

STAND close around, ye Stygian set,
With reader in one boat convey'd!
Or archy, seeing, may forget
That he is old and she a shade.

edutcher said...

There are a lot of great people here and some who view every encounter as a chance to beat everyone else into submission. Irene, vb, tg, KY Liz, and people like them make this place worth visiting.

El Pollo Real said...

I always found the name Bissage quite euphonius. It always reminds me of a friendly phrase I learned long ago in my first year Italian course:

Mi scusi, mi puoi dare un passagio?
(Excuse me, could you give me a lift?)

Lem said...

JAL my friend..

I'm in NJ (very close to NYC) and sadly no I have not found a type of employment you could call a job.

I do things for people for pay (related to what i was employed for)

So yes I'm looking for work.

former law student said...

then he referenced south jersey again and again and I knew he wasn't making it up.

He also claimed to live in USDA Zone 6b. Can we triangulate and find his house?

http://www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone/hzm-ne1.html

EDH said...

I’m assuming here everything is okay, and Bissage has just taken a hiatus.

Unfortunately, given the mortal theme of the linked post, invariably “cool people” will have include some who have assumed "room temperature."

Maybe Althouse should post a "Yes, I'm still alive" thread inviting a roll call of comments from "the collection of beloved old commenters who have wandered off"? Timing it on a consistent, pre-announced date would maximize participation.

I suppose it might be uncomfortable for some who would feel pressure to explain their absence, especially if was prompted by some compelling realization or life change. But there wouldn’t have to be any rules.

Conversely, I'm not sure how a "No, I'm dead now" thread would work. Most people at one time or another will imagine themselves attending their own funeral. And a blog community would be suitable venue to perpetrate that.

But for the sincere, with the explosion of blog communities, I wouldn't be surprised to see commenters starting to write into a will or other advance directive a provision whereby their demise would be announced to certain cyber communities -- either under their real name or pseudonymous avatar.

Even more frightening, we’re probably not that far away from fairly passable artificial intelligence software, programmed in a person’s “voice,” that could generate or “follow” specified blogs ad infinitum, even after the author has departed this mortal coil.

Lem said...

I’m assuming here everything is okay, and Bissage has just taken a hiatus

are we never living down this latin lawyer dating service ;)

AJ Lynch said...

Bissage had to be from the Philly area. At times, he referenced the local paper and the Philadelphia Flyers' enforcer Dave Schultz [who played in the 1970's].

JAL said...

Was it not Bissage who mentions USDA Zone 6 from time to time?

Meade?

AllenS said...

Bissage profile--

Bissage
Gender: Male
Industry: Law
Occupation: Lawyer
Location: Mid-Atlantic Region : USDA Zone 6b : United States
About Me
Middle-aged, completely ordinary guy overwhelmed by indifference and the promise of an early bed.

Meade said...

@JAL: USDA Hardiness Zone 6b. The "b" was important to the semi-inside joke he and I shared.

SteveR said...

I miss Bissage because he is so wonderful. But I understand how things can change Over the years many have come and gone or as in my case aren't as able to spend as much time here. I've been able to feel like I could "hang out" with the cool people without getting upset with the uncool folks.

JAL said...

@ EDH --

I think people should have a list of favorite haunts, complete with passwords just in case.

For some it could be one of those sealed-envelopes-open-if-I-become incapacitated, deathly ill, die or disappear ... things.

Of course there are those who do not want their significnant or other others to know where and what they do online ... but the average denizen has some places and people who might like to know if something happens.

There have been a couple cases in recent years where family could not get onto my space or wherever to tell the "friends" that someone had died. :-(

As for the MIA -- some of us still see some of the MIAs elsewhere. It's situations like Bissage where there didn't seem to be a flap, and he has not posted on his own blog for a couple months who are worriesome.

wv subidort
Less than obvious tort reform.

Lem said...

Bissage mentioned Mrs Bissage from time to time.

If something happened to him, and I'm not saying nothing bad has happened, why cant his wife tell us?

(look who's talking.. nobody i know knows i come here)

Lem said...

As far as I know Meade and Althouse are the only two people that know each other, other than coming here.

Indeed thats how we are led to belie... scratch that..

That's how they met by telling each others secret!

OMG

Althouse is a secret government agent ;)

Jason (the commenter) said...

This is all Althouse's fault. If she had only eased up on her commenting message earlier perhaps none of this would have ever happened.

ricpic said...

Group Hug?

Everyone in the gang has something to contribute,
Every last one has something to say;
So let's not read him or her the riot act,
Come what might, come what may.

ricpic said...

Speaking of riot acts: maybe Mrs. B read one to Bissage: "It's me or that Althouse person -- choose!" Ergo his disappearance. Well, it's as good as any other theory.

PatCA said...

Wow, reading that thread I realized I have missed about three different feuds...

AJ Lynch said...

Patca:

Ditto that.


wv= pregr = good word for Valentines Day!

Freeman Hunt said...

Could be anything. Maybe not spending time online. Maybe a broken computer. Maybe surfing elsewhere. Hopefully he'll come back.

Palladian said...

Bissage's two-bit analysis of my psychological motivations certainly turned me off of any desire to read his subsequent comments. He was incorrect in his assesment of why I was nasty and why I took a break and revealed a self-righteous side that I never expected to see. He also misinterpreted my faux-hostility to him as real hostility, which is also something I never expected from someone as easy with humor as he. I thought my whole "I hate Bissage" routine was transparently absurd, but I guess it's easy to misinterpret things written on the internet.

Anyway, sometimes people need a break, sometimes they move on, sometimes life gets in the way. Every man has his reasons.

Theo Boehm said...

PatCA & AJLynch: Well, I was aware of about five of those three, but feuds can be sub rosa, as well as in the eye of the beholder.

The Trooper-Bissage feud spilled a bit over into my own semi-moribund blog, but I just deleted the provoking comment(s) amidst promises of good future behavior. Of course, it had the effect of depressing comment numbers, not to mention me. You get fewer than 20 comments, and already a fight breaks out. I really like both these guys, and don't want to be a party to anything unpleasant.

My son discovered the joys of blogging, among them flame wars in his comments section, and visits from copyright lawyers. He's now mostly on Facebook.

Maybe Bissage followed him, and no one can quite bear to search hard enough.

Scott said...
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Scott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scott said...

Can we do a reality check here?

One of the most insidious characteristics of blogging is the creation of false intimacy. The "Bissage" phenomenon is a great case in point.

We know the words associated with the User ID "Bissage". But what do we really know about him, other than what has been posted? Does anybody have his phone number? Has anyone here talked with him over a cup of coffee? Is he well-off, poor, good looking, homely, in good health, in poor health? If he was in trouble, could anyone here help him?

What is his real name?

Through a blog comment, we have a tiny, tiny window into someone's being. We may have insights that he never shares with other people, because the false intimacy of the internet draws surprising things out of people, who often will say what they might never say to your face. But without the context of knowing the person who offers the insights, we can only infer, drawing from our own experiences to fill in the blanks. How real can these extrapolations be?

That tiny window prevents us from real intimacy. Ann and Meade met each other through this blog, but at some point they decided to take their communication off-blog. They had to do this in order to make the intimacy real.

Blogs are to communication what glory holes are to sex. In fact, one could argue that a glory hole offers greater intimacy than a blog. At least with a glory hole you're touching someone through the small window. In a blog post or comment, you only have the illusion of touching somebody.

(Sorry for the earlier mispostings.)

Trooper York said...

Like Palladian I was just busing Bissage's balls in a good natured way. Although I didn't like the way he would "recyle" material that would appear elsewhere. When I was not posting here for a while I had a whole Adrienne Barbeau thing going on which I had done for years before. All of a sudden, Bissage started an Adrienne Barbeau routine.Imagine that.

That's when I called him the "Carlos Mencia" of the Internets.

Trooper York said...

I know you can't claim authorship of a bit or a routine. I mean common, the internets is big place and somebody already did it. But sometimes you just have to say, really dude, I mean seriously.

Plus he declared war in that thread and I never back away from a fight.

Scott said...

@Trooper York:

"Like Palladian I was just busing Bissage's balls in a good natured way."

That was obviously a typo. Did you mean "busting" or "bussing"? I would think that bussing would be much more good-natured. :)

Trooper York said...

Yes that was a typo. Palladian is in charge of bussing balls.

My bad.

Trooper York said...

Plus Bissage and I are totally different people! How could we possibly get along?

Scott said...

LOL

(virtually)

wv: pingr, which I think is Spanish for something.

Peter V. Bella said...

Bissage disappeared into the vortex.

JAL said...

Back to Bissage -- I think he mentioned having a teen age daughter?

And yes he could be elsewhere. (Obviously he is, one way or the other.)

As for Scott Broccoli's comments about online connections and intimacy --

Was just musing today that observing the growth of internet communities (and I don't mean facebookey ones) and how that happens and how it impacts people could be really interesting.

We don't have so many Cheers pubs around -- and some of us don't have the time, ability, or inclination to hang out there anyhow.

But somehow the internet(s)[<---- why is that "s" supposed to be there?] allows people who would never cross certain boundaries, either of civility or socially, to make, say, and do, and otherwise communicate and connect in ways really new. (Me thinks, anyway ....)

That is what I'd like to have the knowledge and skills to think about and figure out.

There's the mathematical aspect as well as the social aspect. If there are mathematical ways of evaluating game players and participation and outcomes, and bird and bee swarms, then how about internet social connections and creations?

As far as pretending to be someone else... I think that on a place like this for any length of time, the flavor and belief systems of people is hard to keep under cover or fake. Sure, I can pretend that I'm a 6"2" former QB who played for some midwest school 25 years ago, but the consistency of what I posted would break down (I am not the above ;-) ) unless I just posted "yes" and "no."

A place like Althouse (and there is no place qite like this place except this place) creates a different kind of environment than the raging hateful smacks and body slams battles on some of the other places on the net. I don't bother to go there because I don't like the senseless shouting and lack of content {Insert Jeremy here, if you will. BTW -- notice the trolls are not part of this conversation?}

Anyway. Some thoughts.

BTW -- there are some people on this list who actually have met each other.

wv unclownd
I absolutely kid you not.

(And where's that map again Professor?)

Jason (the commenter) said...

Scott: What is his real name?

He's a lawyer in the Mid-Atlantic region who prominently displays the letters "B" and "O" on his avatar. Hello! Frankly, I've been pissed that he's spent so much of his valuable time blogging when he obviously should be doing other things.

I was grateful to have a chance to talk about gay rights with him though. Glad to see the message has sunk in.

Theo Boehm said...

Excellent comment, JAL.

In the interests of transparency, honesty, and not wanting to be accused of sockpuppetry in using an alter egos, both here and elsewhere, I DID send Althouse my real name and information a while ago. That's also handy if there's ever a meet-up here in Boston or anywhere else I might find myself if coincidence permitted.

It's true these blog comments are only a tiny window, if not a glory hole, but the natural tendency to form communities overcomes a certainty of illusion, and we're usually happy enough with it. Bissage may have been protective of his real identity, but he gave us enough other clues about his life and circumstances that anyone who paid attention could form a fairly distinct picture. And I always valued his humor and looked forward to seeing his name in the comments and reading his newly-revived blog.

I suspect Althouse must have a reasonably full Rolodex of commenter information by now, what with vetting for meet-ups and other contacts people must have made. If you're a regular here and member of the Althouse vortex, as charter-member Bissage certainly has been, it might not be the worst idea to leave your online information and passwords with a trustworthy person who could at least let us know if something truly bad has happened to you. That's obviously preferable to Althouse and/or Meade having to track you down. But if you're considerate of the community that's formed here, illusory as it may be, I think we all would like to know if one of "us" is in serious trouble, however that could be done.

Not to get too grim, but everyone knows the answer when asked, for whom the bell tolls? If, God forbid, it ever tolled among us, I think a decent regard for this disembodied circle would be to let it know, somehow, for whom, in fact, it had rung.

Scott said...

@JAL & Theo:

The problem I have with the fake intimacy of blogging is that it's dehumanizing.

Here we have the issue of a well-known commenter who hasn't posted in awhile. His contribution to the community is the Bissage persona. Because it is a persona, it is something that humans can relate or react to.

But a persona is not a person -- it mimics a person. The communication firewall of the blog prevents true intimacy. It's "safe" communication. And intimacy, with touching and trust and vulnerability, is never safe.

What if the Althouse blog required that all commenters post their true name and verifiable phone number with every post? It would be very intimate and consequently very unsafe. (A) Few people would post anything, because people would feel too vulnerable; (B) The people who would post comments would be very respectful, and (C) The trolls and other bomb-throwers would disappear, because such people don't like to experience any consequences for their actions.

But, if he were brave enough to post a comment, we would be able to phone Bissage and ask him how things were going. We would be able to respond to him, person-to-person, not persona-to-persona.

When you're intimate, you can respond. With the "safe," fake intimacy of the blog comment community, you can't. It's an experience that underlines that we are alone in the world, and that's dehumanizing, and a lie.

Even calling it a community is stretching the term. It's as intimate as a bar. They remember you if you keep showing up. When you don't, a few people might express some worry, but eventually they forget about you with the passage of time. Some community!

Trooper York said...

I don't think you need to be all in a huff. It is just Bissage channeling Carlos Mencia again.

On April Fools Day (in 2009)I pulled the same gag! I got 256 comments. A record. I think it might be as simple as that.

Trooper York said...

Or being a lawyer, he might be incarcerated in contempt of court.

knox said...

Ugh, I don't like looking back at that thread. That was a low point.

Michael Hasenstab said...

Commenters who hide behind puppet names have little concern regarding what they say about others, whether here or elsewhere. There is no penalty, no price to be paid, for being an anonymous asshole.

Is it any wonder that people who usually post thoughtful comments are driven away by others who find delight in posting abusive, inflammatory and insulting comments? Why put up with it?

Change the tenor and perhaps people like Bissage will return.

AllenS said...

When there was going to be a meetup in Madison a year or two ago, I sent Althouse an email and told her my name and address. She also received a paypal payment from me. Now, if I accidently shoot one of my relatives 3 times, and it makes the newspapers, she'll be able to blog about it. There are a couple of others that know who I am. When I first signed up with my profile, if you put the curser on my email you would have been able to see my full name. How that disappeared is anybodys guess. I've thought about putting my last name on my profile.

AJ Lynch said...

It would be hard to reach a concensus for the Top Ten Best commenters here.

But I bet Bissage would be included on almost everyone's Top Ten.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Scott: The problem I have with the fake intimacy of blogging is that it's dehumanizing.

The problem I have with tautologies is that they don't prove anything, they're just a collection of different words with the same meaning.

But a persona is not a person -- it mimics a person. The communication firewall of the blog prevents true intimacy. It's "safe" communication. And intimacy, with touching and trust and vulnerability, is never safe.

Everyone hides things from others, usually even from themselves. What's scary is admitting that you can never truly know someone, you can't even truly know yourself, even if you spend your entire life navel-gazing. You will always be a stranger to yourself, an alien presence in your own skin.

I suppose the most intimate relationship, using Scott's description, would be some sort of master-slave relationship involving bondage. "That's the only true form of intimacy!" I could argue, but I wont. There are many levels of intimacy and it is ridiculous to act as if there is only one kind, and it is the kind you happen to prefer.

What if the Althouse blog required that all commenters post their true name and verifiable phone number with every post? It would be very intimate and consequently very unsafe. (A) Few people would post anything, because people would feel too vulnerable; (B) The people who would post comments would be very respectful, and (C) The trolls and other bomb-throwers would disappear, because such people don't like to experience any consequences for their actions.

So, by being more intimate, we would know a hell of a lot less about what goes on in other people's minds? Apparently people can only handle so much intimacy. We either get the intimacy of knowing other people's phone numbers (the kind of intimacy you can find in a phone book) or the intimacy of knowing what's going on in their minds. Strangely Scott is enamored with the intimacy of a phone book. I imagine he reads it diligently.

But, if he were brave enough to post a comment, we would be able to phone Bissage and ask him how things were going. We would be able to respond to him, person-to-person, not persona-to-persona.

Of course we probably never would have known about him in any form, persona or otherwise, and hence wouldn't care anything about him.

When you're intimate, you can respond. With the "safe," fake intimacy of the blog comment community, you can't.

I guess I'm not responding here. It has no effect on me and no effect on Scott. Scott looks at my comments and sees nothing but a random collection of letters.

It's an experience that underlines that we are alone in the world, and that's dehumanizing, and a lie.

It's not dehumanizing and it's not a lie. We are alone and the loneliness is what draws us to other people.

Even calling it a community is stretching the term. It's as intimate as a bar. They remember you if you keep showing up. When you don't, a few people might express some worry, but eventually they forget about you with the passage of time. Some community!

When you leave high school, break up with somebody, or even have a family member die, you forget about them eventually. You may still remember them from time to time, but life goes on and you meet new people and have new experiences.

Trooper York said...

Man, you guys must never have hung out in a bar. Or at least a good bar. You can get on intimate terms real fast.

Here's a tip on how to do it:
Dirty Martini's.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Trooper York: Man, you guys must never have hung out in a bar. Or at least a good bar. You can get on intimate terms real fast.

Sex in the bathroom is not true intimacy. But beyond that, yes, I agree with you.

knox said...

Change the tenor and perhaps people like Bissage will return.

MIchael H, I agree, but to whom is that comment addressed?

Trooper York said...

Dude not in bathroom.

What are you dating Amy Winehouse?

Oh wait sorry...George Michael?

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Trooper York: What are you dating Amy Winehouse?

Actually, my friend had sex in the bathroom of a bar with her coworker's old boyfriend. I bring it up now because my nick-name for her is Amy Winehouse. She even looks like her and dressed up like her for Halloween. And she used to be a stripper.

Intimacy! (Hope you're liking it everybody.)

Trooper York said...

Dude you mentioned her before.

You have to admit that she did get a great deal of intimacy from that encounter. Especially that she has something to remember him by.

Herpes is the gift that keeps on giving. Just sayn'

Peter V. Bella said...

Trooper,
I used to date a girl named Dirty Martini. Her favorite line was "buy me a drink, tell me a lie."

Trooper York said...

Sounds like my kind of girl.

When I was single of course.

Palladian said...

I don't like my martinis dirty but I like them nice and wet, 1 part French vermouth (Dolin) and 4 parts Plymouth gin. Perhaps an anchovy or gorgonzola stuffed olive.

Delicious!

OK, gotta go make sure there's plenty of ice...

Skippy said...

Reading this is Thanksgiving watching a bunch of miserable members of the same family picking and picking at each other. You know how it's fascinating to drive past a car wreck and see the carnage? This is carnage...but it's not very interesting, just sad. Everyone needs to take their mitts and baseballs and go home.

Michael Hasenstab said...

MIchael H, I agree, but to whom is that comment addressed?

To those who read it. I'm not trying to be coy about it.

former law student said...

When I was not posting here for a while I had a whole Adrienne Barbeau thing going on which I had done for years before

While not following the feud I have to say that many men have been attracted to Adrienne Barbeau. What guy would have watched Maude otherwise? I mean, she's no Margot Kidder, but still.

knox said...

To those who read it. I'm not trying to be coy about it.

Didn't think you were! :) ...but [almost] everyone on this thread wishes bissage well and wants him to come back. And most of the worst trolls have gone or scaled back quite a bit. So I just wondered what specifically you were referring to. That's all.

Theo Boehm said...

I suppose there's a lot philosophically we could talk about regarding Scott and Jason's comments. But I agree with Knox when she says, "[almost] everyone on this thread wishes bissage well and wants him to come back."

That's the long and short of it, and that, in itself, signals the existence of a "community," however imperfect and deluded we might be.

Michael Hasenstab said...

I just wondered what specifically you were referring to. That's all.

I was referring to trolls and to commenters who insult or deride other commenters while hiding behind the veil of anonymity.

Penny said...

"If anyone ever says anything nasty to Lem, they're saying something nasty to me.

And a day without AllenS is like a day without a swift kick in the pants.

Btw, a day without tradguy would be like a day without corn grits and buttermilk."

Wow, that Meade. He's a man's man. A man among MEN!

Doc Merlin said...

You all made me smile :-)

Omaha1 said...

Well, I was going to try to put my thoughts to verse, since I once aspired to be the Althouse poet laureate here, and have contributed poetry numerous times, including to the notorious "breast-blogging" thread.

However I found the constraints of meter & rhyme to be overly restrictive, since I want to express my true appreciation for you and your blog on this Valentine's day, a day to observe & celebrate love.

I don't understand and probably never will, why your blog and its comment community have come to occupy such a prominent place in my thoughts. I have even had dreams about your blog! It makes no sense at all to someone like me who usually possesses at least a modicum of common sense...

Anyway, thank you for your blog & all of the work you put into it. I wish you and Meade the happiest (and most romantic) Valentine's Day. We may never meet in real life but I appreciate all you have done to foster such a thoughtful & intelligent community.

I must add that I hope Bissage is OK and will rejoin us soon.

wv: andies? multiple Sullivans?

Methadras said...

I always miss the cool shit that goes on around here. It's like I leave for a weekend or two and come back and all of this drama occurs. Bissage, I thought was a good guy. You know who else isn't here anymore is Cyrus or Darcy. I think Cyrus morphed into another user, but the internet provides anonymity that is transient. I only have a problem with the leftists here, well, because they are leftists. I can deal with my fellow rightists because we can have rational discussions about our ideological/political positions, but leftists are like the smell of a basket of rotten eggs on Althouse. You know when they are here to leave the stink of their idiocy behind.