June 14, 2005

The blogging life.

Blogging, I assume I'll wake up each morning, utterly empty-headed one moment, but very soon thereafter in possession of three or four ideas juicy enough to share with thousands of people. If it happens often enough, I don't worry that it will continue to happen, just like I don't worry that the next time I feel like standing up, the will to do it and the accomplishment will occur simultaneously.

What if there is no new flow of ideas? Maybe some day, some physical ailment will suddenly afflict my brain, and I'll mean to stand up and the familiar response will not take place. I'll be left to marvel that I ever knew how to do that. It won't surprise me. I plan to think: yes, this is the sort of thing I always knew could happen to me and now it has.

By the same token, I could open up the laptop and the newspaper some morning and find no inspiration, nothing coming out of me in response to that. I'll think: of course, that was going to happen sooner or later.

Guestblogging over at GlennReynolds.com this week, I'm having something of that feeling. I have ideas that I feel good about putting here -- that cat-borne parasite that makes you act like a cat, for example. But I'm inhibited from putting things over there. Nothing jumps out and seems right. I have a different threshold about what to put over there, where I'm a guest and writing under someone else's name. This place seems so cozily familiar by comparison.

Over here, I have a nice group of commenters. There are no comments at GlennReynolds.com, but I do get email. It tends to be quite different from the response of my readers here. Today, someone wrote an email that ended: "Neither you nor Jethro will respond because you're both whores, liars, and cowards." ("Jethro," in this emailer's parlance, is Glenn Reynolds!) What made us "whores"? Just blogging about Kerry's college grades. Yesterday's post about Clinton led someone to write: "Are you proud of what you've written? Brother, you are sick. This is the best of your sick, sick life. The horror..."

Now, I've got to go collect my thoughts, command my brain to think. It should respond, but maybe... Who knows?


chuck_b said...

The EFF's new Legal Guide for Bloggers seems up your alley, and Glenn's too. You could extemporize on that for a few paragraphs, easy-peasy.

tommy said...

As of yet I haven't let having nothing to say impair me.

I have no examples of your having nothing interesting to say so I don't know how that would work.

Who knows, it might be liberating.

leeontheroad said...

whores, liars, and cowards

oh nice. So brave to email someone with insults, after all. I wonder if the emailer's mother knows she or he uses that language. Maybe it's the parasite, though. Perhaps this person used to be one of those nice folks in Wisconsin who tried to put collars on feral cats. Probably not, though.

Miranda said...

What ever happened to respectful disagreement? Why all the hate and foul language? I just don't understand why people feel the need to belittle others on the 'net.

I may not always agree with you on specific issues, but I value your insight and find your blog one of the more facinating outposts on the world wide web.

EddieP said...

Professor, since you enabled Comments on this blog what's been your experience? I remember you were somewhat concerned about how much BS might appear and how much time you'd need to police it. Comments I read here seem respectful. I hope that continues. I'm surprised at the email you are receiving at Glenn's other site. Does he have to put up with a bunch of nitwits there? All the best,

Ann Althouse said...

Eddie: The comments have been great, exceeding my most optimistic expectation. I had comments about a year ago, but I didn't require registration. They were awful, the worst experience I'd had blogging.

Leland: I rarely blog just to point something out. I need to feel I have something new to add. And on GlennReynolds.com the form is to write a longish post, so that raises my normal threshold.

Mark Daniels said...

I'm sorry that in venturing away from your cyber-home, you've had to endure that garbage, Ann.

But your guest-blogging gig gives real insight into what mainstream celebrities endure on a daily basis. In fact, while I hope that I would never use the kinds of nasty invective you cited, your experience also chastens me for the indifference I often feel regarding the actual humanity of celebs. A little of Jesus' Golden Rule ethic---"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"--would go a long way toward improving public discourse, not to mention the often tasteless late night talk show monologues, in this country.

May the commenters on your blog always display respect for you and others, even when registering differing opinions. It's possible, as someone has said, to disagree without being disagreeable...or hateful.

Joe said...

Jethro's a whore?

I always figured Miss Jane Hathaway.

Ann Althouse said...

I should correct my previous statement that the comments a year ago "were awful." Most of them were just fine. A few were awful. A small minority ruined it for everyone.

Iron Teakettle said...

I got an "Instalanche" not too long ago from what I thought would be a a very provocative post that Instapundit linked to -- abolishing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in the military. I was very pleasantly surprised at what a polite bunch of readers Instapundit has. In all the comments there was just one uncouth word which, in context, just meant the commenter was at a loss for a strong enough synonym for "nonsense". I suppose that there is a more diverse readership at MSNBC.

TWM said...

Jeeeze, and I was concerned I might offend you by disagreeing to vehemently.

When reading the civil, reasoned, and even polite comments left at the more conservative blogs by mostly, but not all, conservative posters, one can start believing that all people respond this way.

But then you get a "whores, liars, and cowards" post -- usually anonymously -- and you remember how the other side acts.

ronin1516 said...

Well, takes all kinds to make the world go around. However, since before the last election, and since Pres Bush was reelected, the invective from the left has become more extreme. and I dont understand it. Even in polite circles here in Ann Arbor, it is shocking to see otherwise reasonable people go completely unhinged whenever pres Bush, or the Republican Party, or the current war mentioned.

Smilin' Jack said...

Now, I've got to go collect my thoughts, command my brain to think. It should respond, but maybe... Who knows?

Only your brain can command your brain to think. So first you have to command your brain to command your brain to think. And so on. Think about that. ("UW Prof. Ann Althouse was found in a coma-like state....")

Jonathan said...

I think there's an Internet parasite that infects some commenters and turns them into rude jerks. Maybe it originally came from cats?

On our group blog most of the regular commenters are pleasant. A few seem to be in some kind of comet-like orbit where they pop in every month or two, deposit a verbal turd and then disappear. These are more than offset by extremely thoughtful out-of-nowhere comments by people we've never heard of, and we've recruited some of our regular contributors from this latter group. The overall tone of comments tends to depend a lot on which sites link to particular posts. There are some real hornets nests out there.

Daniel J. Solove said...

You write: "What if there is no new flow of ideas?" I recently coined a term for this anxiety -- I call it blogiety.

Kathleen B. said...

I hardly think that rudeness is the province solely of the left (notwithstanding the emails quoted by Prof. Althouse, which are truly obnoxious and lame.)

Try this one, if you are feeling so superior TWM: http://minnpolitics.blogspot.com/2005/02/jd-guckert-and-powerline.html

but I am sure a sweeping generalization about "the right wing" would be totally inappropriate.

I too agree that the discourse in the comments on Prof. Althouse's blog are generally great - respectful and interesting. It does make me sad, however, how many of them seem to fall into "the left is X", "those others are Y" (X and Y being something very bad of course). It just totally undercuts your credibility.

dick said...


All you have to do is follow the comments to the article you referenced and you will see the difference between the left and the right in their comments. You will not see onthe right that the guys are scum and deserve to have their heads chopped off nor will you find someone trying to figure out how to take away someone's livelihood nor will you find the whole Roveian responsibility for anything they do not agree with nor will you find anyone recommending that the privates shoot their officers and NCO's as a sign of being anti-war.

Ann Althouse said...

Daniel: I'd prefer blogsiety or blogxiety. But that implies worrying. I'm not worried. For me, it would be maybe ablogsia or dysblogism or blogopause.

Kathleen B. said...

dack: except those comments are just talking to each other. If we are going to go down the path of wingnut echo chambers, then nothing tops the Free Republic. I don't have the time myself, but if you really think you won't find "the right" saying exactly the stuff you commented on (or worse) then you are seriously deluded.

However, my point was the response to the "other side" from Powerline ("Blog of the Year"), and that is what we were talking about. and that is what you conveniently avoided. in a debate it is called conceding the point, I believe.