February 9, 2014

The morning chocolate conversation.


The coffee was not enough. I had to top it off with chocolate. And now more than an hour has passed since the first post of the day. I feel I should have served up some meaty political posts, delving into... oh, who knows?... some right-winger demanding that his crowd get heated up over the income tax in New York, which is causing him to abscond to Florida... or some left-winger assuring his flock that the John Doe investigation is really, really, probably going to get Scott Walker, just you wait. But I did not do that. My words did not go down on this blog. They evanesced. There is no archive, only vague memories of a conversation. What on earth did we talk about?

Ah! I remember. The conversation started with the observation that in blogging, there is always one post on top of the other, the new surmounting and obliterating the old. I'd been blogging about betamax3000's elaborate "Desolation Row" parody, about which he'd said, at last night's Bookshelf Café:
I Would Like to Think 'Internet meme Row' Will Inspire in Althouse a Sunday Morning Proustian Memory Flow, but - Alas - It Will probably Just be Swept Along With All of Yesterday's Other Pixels.

The Internet Paints Over Itself Each and Every Day.
And I was saying — to Meade, here in nonvirtual reality — that's a subject that bedeviled me in the early days of this blog. Like here, I'm chiding myself in 2005 for taking the trouble to update something written in 2004: "Don't I realize the old posts sink into oblivion? These old posts don't really exist at all." I visualized each new post physically weighing upon the posts underneath, pressing them endlessly into the murk.

Now, I tend to think — and this was the beginning of the hour-long conversation — that blogging is like life itself, with everything happening now, here in person, but better, because we can all talk at once, have the feeling of immediacy and spontaneity, and still be able to hear each other, almost in the present, and because of the archive, at any time, if we happen to care to listen to what has gone before.

I imagined a theater full of 2,000 people, with everyone talking out loud, expressing their thoughts at once. No one would hear what anyone was saying and it would just be an annoying variation of everyone sitting there silently and thinking. Blogging is the equivalent of having the superpower to go to everyone in that theater and to close enough to hear that person and to repeat time, the same few seconds, over and over, until you'd gotten around to everyone and heard what each one had to say. No, it's even better than that, because you have a way to find the words you'd most like to hear, and to jump from one part of the theater to another at will.

You might think it would be better to write a book, that could exist and last and be read for 100 years, but perhaps in that 100 years, there would be no more readers than will read this blog post in the next 2 hours. And what of this conversation — this conversation from an hour ago, which I wasn't planning to blog about — this conversation that evanesced? There's no archive at all, unless I can pull it out of my memory and blog it now. There was all that and many more observations, including much talk of this panel discussion of 4 comedians where (at some point) they get to the topic of using what I will refer to as "the N-word"...

... and we talked about what it means to be "edgy," the subjectiveness of the edge with respect to comedy as opposed to the edge in slope snowboarding (and our own subjectiveness about what we were calling "the edge" as we nearly got into an argument), and how Michael Richards got into trouble by thinking he could be Lenny Bruce (and what was it Lenny Bruce did anyway? was it the same as the way Dustin Hoffman did it in "Lenny"? (NSFW)), and how comedians in a panel discussion are not the same as comedians doing standup, and panel discussions seem like they are supposed to be friendly conversation, but really involve a lot of competitive hostility, which maybe is what Chris Rock was doing to Louis CK in that part of the panel discussion that Meade described, but I still haven't watched, but I've been on plenty of academic panel discussions and I have a bit of a superpower to detect passive aggression, and that's why I like to do things in writing, from my remote outpost in Madison, Wisconsin, where the second post of the day, 2 hours after the first, is way overdue.


surfed said...

Desolation Row was a tough swallow in real time much less a parody of it 50 years down the road. Query - who among us have real lives and live for life now rather than a parody meme to far - however clever?

betamax3000 said...

Re: "The Internet Paints Over Itself Each and Every Day..."

We Recently Had Several Walls Cut Apart to Replace Some Questionable Old Plumbing, and When the Walls were being Repaired Our Contractor Showed Us a Chip of the Guest Bedroom Wall, Where You Could See All the Layers of Different Colors of Paint that the Room Had Been Through the Years Before We Moved In. Each Color was Somebody's Desire at One Point or Another, and Here We Were, Seeing Their Choices That Were Probably Arrived at Through Great Deliberation, Painted Over, to Later Be Deliberated Again. The Mysteries of Knowing One's Own Home Could Certainly Fall Under Althouse's "List of Easy and Impossible Enterprises." Hoping We are Not Built Over an Old Indian Graveyard: I've Seen That in Movies and It Always Ends Badly.

PS. Blogger is Running VERY slow out here, if this Comment Makes it Through I Might Attempt a Reply to Surfed's Query...

Hagar said...

I make hot chocolate with dry milk, Ghirardelli's Chocolate Mocha, and a spoonful of Folger's instant coffee.

Bob Ellison said...


now resolves. Didn't used to.

Oso Negro said...

The layers of old posts driving the new down is occasionally distressing to the reader. A person isn't always done with the ideas as quickly as they sink to the bottom of the blog. You combat this to an extent with your tags.

A similar phenomenon is felt within individual topics on the blog. That sense that if you have a comment you had best make it in the first 30 responses. Too often when the responses run on past 200 the later responses have degenerated into some version of "yes, you did!" and "no, I didn't!" between certain of the regulars.

Finally, there is the question about how long the proprietress hangs in on the responses to any one post. Does she read every last response? Or does she tire, and move on to the next topic. She never says, and Meade isn't talking.

rhhardin said...

I'm listening to one of 73 saved Mark Steyn guest hostings of Rush (12/22/2010) picked at random.

They don't paint over.

madAsHell said...

CalRod under glass.

Bob Ellison said...

Oso Negro, I know what you mean. It must be very difficult to encourage reasoned discussion that goes deep into the comments and doesn't discourage, for example, newbies to the blog. There are probably lots of lurkers out there with interesting points who don't bother to comment for the reasons you describe. I sometimes think of commenting but suppose that the comment won't be worthwhile to anyone because the thread is too long, my comment is too off-topic, or the thread has moved so far away from the original discourse that the comment itself will seem off-topic.

I just looked at http://www.littlegreenfootballs.com again. Ever since Charles Johnson turned suddenly left, his comment section has been a crazy echo chamber, and his posts get hundreds of comments routinely, even though he hasn't broken any news or contributed meaningfully to political discussion since RatherGate. That's what happens when you just lie back on the pillow of comfortable blog-celebrity.

At the other extreme, you've got places like...hmm; I was going to cite the Volokh Conspiracy as an example of a place where you'd better do the reading before rushing in to comment...but they're now a WaPo site? Wow! I guess I should get in more.

lemondog said...

Haven't used the Wayback Machine in a very long time. Tested to see if a randomly selected Althouse post would appear.

Captured on the Wayback Machine

Post dated:
Sunday, September 03, 2006
Still wallowing in the 60s.

Howard said...

My first thought was you could (not advise, just musing) compile and edit the blog into a book. My next thought was that some (not mine, certainly) comments might make it in to a book. My third thought was does Althouse own the comments? Brief googling did not reveal an answer.

betamax3000 said...

Surfed asked: "...Query - who among us have real lives and live for life now rather than a parody meme to far - however clever?"

If I Am Parsing This Correctly, My Understanding of Surfed's Point is That Putting Together this "Parody" (Disagree with this Description, but that's another issue) Negates Having a 'Real Life' and is a Sign of Not 'Living for Life Now.'

It Is Always Interesting To have Someone You Have Never Met Question the Validity of Your Life's Reality By Something You Did at 3:00 in the Morning. The Palpable Bitchery is a Plus, Unless it Was Simply Meant To Be Snide.

I'm Going to Beat the Dead Horse on a Few Levels:

Level One: My 'Real Life' in the Now of This Past Week. Saturday Morning Through Wednesday Evening: Travelled from Seattle Down to California to Be With Family -- Spent Sunday With the Family, Watched the Super Bowl, Took an Ambling Drive with My Father Through Where My Parents Lived (Dad is a Widower) Before I Was Born, Good Stories to Hear Him Tell. Went to the Hospital Monday Morning as My Brother-In-Law Had Cancer Surgery. More Hospital Visits, More Time with the Family, Especially His and My Sister's Children. The Surgery Looks to Be a Successful First Step (Fingers Crossed).

Wednesday: Took the Train back to Seattle. Track Problems, Later a Panel Falling Off the Train, Two-Plus Hours Late, Beautiful Scenery, Met Interesting People, Great Alone-Time with My Wife.

Thursday: Visited My Mother-in-Law, Helped Out with a Few Things Around the House (She Had Shoulder Replacement Surgery the Previous Week).

Friday: Visited Friends, Celebrated Life, Ran a Few Errands, Continued Reading on "The Whisperers," a Book on Soviet Life.

Saturday: Worked on a Piece of Music I Am Composing For Some Friends' Performance Project, Played Instruments, Recorded, etc. Slow-going on Some Parts, My Keyboard Skills are Rudimentary. Had Insomnia During the Evening / Early Morning, Made a Juxtaposition of the Internet as Cross-Referenced with a Dylan Song to Relieve Some Stress, Perhaps the Way Someone Might do a Crossword Puzzle. Went Out and Looked at the Snowy Landscape, Went Back to Sleep.

Woke Up to Find Althouse Liked My Post, A Nice Surprise. Had My Reality Questioned, Not So Nice.

Level Two: As Per Althouse's ""List of Easy and Impossible Enterprises": What is Real Life? Working a Job I Like to Support a Family? Check. Spend Life with the Woman You Love? Check. Have Various Interests That I Find Time to Explore, Not All of Them on the Internet? Check. Plan for the Future? Check. Surf? Hope That's Not a Requirement for a Real Life, Never Been Close Enough to Beaches to Develop that Skill.

Level Three: Surfed, I'm Sure You Have a Full-Enough Life That You Have the Time to Spare to Judge Others (a Great Internet Past-Time That I Try to Avoid); as Such, My "Fuck You" Shouldn't Affect You in Any Significant Way.


tim maguire said...

New posts don't sit atop old ones, pushing them into the muck of forgetfulness, time does. They will sink whether you continue posting or not.

Cliff said...

Slam the right or the left, but make sure to use much venom and hyperbole to win the internet.

Inga said...

Well that's a relief, I always suspected Betamax was a real human, now it's verified.

Ann Althouse said...

". My next thought was that some (not mine, certainly) comments might make it in to a book. My third thought was does Althouse own the comments? Brief googling did not reveal an answer."

You have the copyright to your own words. The question would be whether copying them would fall within the fair use doctrine or some implicit license to use them. If you wanted to repurpose your own comments, I certainly wouldn't be able to say that you've violated a copyright of mine. But I am not your lawyer and I am not an expert in copyright law, but I think that's a good orientation to the problem. I studied copyright law more than 30 years ago, and I don't really keep up with things.

Obviously, my blog has me copying other people's writing continually, in order to comment on it. I haven't noticed any lawsuits -- e.g. from the NYT -- claiming that I can't do that. I think this is considered fair use, and I think those who might think about arguing otherwise don't want to see what happens in public opinion or in court if they attempt to litigate it.

That's just my general sense of things, not a legal opinion that you should rely on.

surfed said...

My eyes glazed by stanza/para two. I'm guessing I stand corrected, not that I'll ever really know. Going sailing. Think I'll run downwind for awhile... Have fun Betamax3000. We'ere playing different games in different leagues my friend.

Ann Althouse said...

"If I Am Parsing This Correctly, My Understanding of Surfed's Point is That Putting Together this "Parody" (Disagree with this Description, but that's another issue)…"

I was going to be pedantic about the technical meaning of "parody," but I decided it was distracting. Most people use "parody" now to mean putting new words on an old tune, even when the new words are not making fun of the original words. The right word might be "burlesque," but that is an immense sidetrack, replete with clowns and strippers.

Naked Surfer said...

... And I've been putting out fire
With gasoline

See these eyes so red
Red like jungle burning bright
Those who feel me near
Pull the blinds and change their minds

Putting out fire
With Gasoline ...

surfed said...

Stuck my nose into the wrong cafe didn't I? What a long defense by Betanax3000. I struck a nerve without intending to.

betamax3000 said...

Re: "replete with clowns and strippers."

They are Always Worth the Sidetrack, No Matter How Immense.

@Surfed: Good to Know a Truthful Answer to an Insulting Question You Directed Wasn't Worth the Time to Read the Response; I'm Guessing it wasn't Really a Query, After All, You Already Had the Answer You Needed. Clumsy Reading on my Part.

I Sometimes Suspect That People Who Say That They Didn't Read All of a Short Item Actually Did, But Want To Beg Off the Issue. Or They Really Do Read That Slow. Not That I'll Ever Really Know.

Anyway, Dismissed Twice, Enough for Me. Thanks for that Bit of Fortune Cookie Surfer Zen at the End (I Did Make it to the End, Despite Any Eye-Glazing I May Have Incurred). Aloha, Mr. Hand.

Lyle Sanford, RMT said...

In 200 years people will be coming here (i.e. blogs of this era) via search and so it seems the current sequence of posts will hardly matter.

Thanks for using "evanesce"! Always loved that word and its sound. And thanks also for all the O.E.D. posts.

Carl Pham said...

Of course the Internet paints over pop pablum almost instantly, just as real life does. And there's quite a lot of the stuff. Reduce the cost of production and lower-quality ore is exploited.

This is why when I was writing I did it with paper on pencil rather than typewriter (there were no computers, or rather, they were the size of refrigerators). I found that typewriting was too easy. The low cost of putting down a word meant I paid insufficient attention to whether it was the right word. With paper and pencil, words are costly, and their unit quality naturally goes up. In the context of blogging, I imagine the same could happen if one strictly limited each post to, say, 500 words.

Naked Surfer said...

“Level Three: Surfed, I'm Sure You Have a Full-Enough Life That You Have the Time to Spare to Judge Others (a Great Internet Past-Time That I Try to Avoid); as Such, My "Fuck You" Shouldn't Affect You in Any Significant Way.

I’m suddenly feeling like an expert in taking bullets that don’t have my name on them (beats me who “Surfed” is, and I hate letting good bullets to go waste). So please let me do something to earn this headshot – just this once. Other than ambient narcissism, for which no bullet is needed, just throw a rock in any direction my way. But, well-aimed bullets – those deserve a target.

Artimes the huntress was so palpably loving and beloved by forest creatures that Artemis never had to hunt because all the creatures came before her and presented themselves as willing prey, considering it an honor to be killed by her.

Betamax, on the other hand (and I can only take limited doses of Betamax – the dosage levels are a real bitch), is the kind of hunter ... you don’t know you’re dead until a few days later. Let’s see, today’s the 9th ....

Naked Surfer said...

Chocolate is a good remedy. It’s said to heal heart-hurts after Dementor attacks. Though a good Dementor attack or two is probably a good thing - so many things need killing.

I tried the Cowen IQ up-ping test, really did. I tried to revisit Wellesly and feel the valid feelings of those shocked by underwear man. Trying to make their feelings less black and white, god v. devil, right v. wrong, and just try and feel the shades. I feel like I got a fair way along. Fair dosage level. I ran into the mess of an ice-cave wall acting as a hard constraint, that is, something called the press and the blogs that are already twice removed. I decided I needed to meet the girls themselves and feel the feelings first hand. To up my IQ. I knew I would need to go either encyclopedic or selective-narrative to cherry pick paradigmatic cases, or both, or something else.

I lost my mind.

Such healing in Silence.

surfed said...

@Naked Surfer - Thanks. I think. @Betamax3000 - Peace.

The downwind run is complete. Its a beautiful day here in early spring North Florida devoid of headshots, arguments beyond my ken and my favorite Bob tune wafting up through the cabin..."if not for you, the winter would have no spring, couldn't hear the robins sing, I wouldn't have clue, if not for you."

southcentralpa said...

I cannot believe you don't use natural gas ...

betamax3000 said...

@ Surfed:

Peace to You as Well. Had a Nap, Came and Revisited: When I Fly Off of the Handle I Certainly Do it Olympically. I Hope you Accept My Apologies -- I Was Definitely Overboard (Boat Reference, That).

@ Althouse:

My Apologies to You as Well: Sorry to Derail the Good Spirit of Your Post.


RigelDog said...

OK that long metal spoon in the chocolate pot is driving me crazy. The heating element is red-hot; I'm waiting for the spoon to respond to the laws of physics and burn the crap out of someone's unlucky fingers.

Ann Althouse said...

The spoon never gets hot at all. I heat the milk to just before boiling.

Ann Althouse said...

"I cannot believe you don't use natural gas …"

We've been through that topic before, but I'll just say:

1. It's out in the middle of the room where I think open flame feels dangerous.

2. I like the sleek, modern look of what I got.

3. The widespread preference for gas seems to me to be based on feelings about seeing and controlling flames, especially while frying the hell out of things.

4. We don't need that feeling, and we're more into long slow cooking, so the control we want we have, more than with gas, I think.

5. I think the gas fans are a bit primitive, wanting open flames and I don't think they're being very scientific about the reason for wanting it. For example, they still have to use a pan and it takes some time for the pan to heat up and cool down, so adjusting the flame doesn't suddenly change the temperature of the cooking surface. I understand the feeling of control people get, however.

6. You can keep the uniform glass surface very clean and you can see how clean it is.

Saint Croix said...

The discussion between these four master comedians is awesome.

What is up with that attack on Seinfeld? Clearly he likes Chris Rock, they did a car segment together, there's no racist vibe whatsoever in his work.

traditionalguy said...

Betamax talks over the heads of some, but he is the Rembrant of the comments and is greatly admired by all who paint with words. More please.