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June 20, 2006



Huh. Most of them are timestamped between 4:50 p.m. and 4:54 p.m. Must be an error.

But I'm not really going along with the openness of the JBB thread.

So, let's see: This month I have read The Handmaid's Tale and To the Lighthouse. I'm trying to decide what to read next. Probably Orlando.

Jim Treacher

You'd rather he wrote?

bob mcmanus


Rich Puchalsky

What I thought was funny was that every one of those many open threads in those four minutes had at least one comment.

Then, when they were evidently turned off, and 15 minutes later there was a regularly scheduled (?) open thread, it got more than 700 comments.

Anyone who could explain exactly why this occured probably could make billions on the stock market.

Scott Eric Kaufman

Must be the same thing that took down the Valve. Or am I the only one who can't read it? Have I been excommunicated already? I've only belonged to the faith for, like a year now!

The Modesto Kid

Hey Clancy, have you read "Bleak House"? I'm just in the middle of it now and it is marvelous. Also: recently I read "Absurdistan", which was a lot of fun, a mix of fluff and meaningful, trenchant observations. So there are two recommendations for you.


I haven't read either of those; thanks for the recommendations. I've heard great things about Bleak House.


Before the threadbot went berserk, Atrios had one of his better pointers in days: to Yglesias' post on the Washington Post review of Suskind's new book. Seems the CIA tortured Abu Zubaydah, a man we found was only a minor Al Qaeda functionary, to provide some "intel" to live up to Bush's billing of him as a major mastermind. On the strength of his ravings, we plunged Jose Padilla into endless detention and our own fourth amendment into oblivion. Also, some of the notorious torture memos were inspired by the need to cover the CIA's rear after the fact.

And those are just a few of the foul effects flying out of that Pandora's box.

I think I'll go back and re-read the makeup post now; haven't worn any ever, but surely never too late to start... Belle, have you ever tried that 'Bare Minerals' stuff?

Julian Elson

Did you read about how we captured and tortured some random, mentally ill guy who handled minor logistics for Al Qaeda, and when he came up with a bunch of plots under torture to attack the Statue of Liberty, etc, the U.S.'s security forces jumped at his every word to investigate?

Gary Farber

"Before the threadbot went berserk, Atrios had one of his better pointers in days: to Yglesias' post on the Washington Post review of Suskind's new book."

Jeepers. I wrote about this at 9:08 a.m. on the 20th. Matt wrote about it four hours later. Atrios far later.

I had a lot of added links. Matt didn't. Neither did atrios.

Way to empower the bigshots who give you less news, far later, over the little guys who work harder. Why are we supposed to bother? (That I've been blogging far longer than either Atrios or Matt is irrelevant; that I'm wondering why I bother may not be.)


Gary, you are beyond tiresome about this. I'm not going to apologize for reading Atrios and not reading your blog. I prefer short excerpts; if I want to read most of an article, I'll click over to the article.

No one is under any obligation to read you, to cite you, or to support your blogging. Hectoring people is not going to increase the chances that they will.


Julian commented on the exact same story as my comment a day earlier, without the additional links and analysis I provided, and do you see me complaining?

Gary Farber


I'm pointless. I quit.

Read Atrios instead.

Gary Farber

See here.

Adam Kotsko

It always pisses me off when Josh Marshall starts writing twelve posts a day about some obscure congressional aide -- and invariably, I have picked up on this minor scandal weeks if not months before him. The guy just has his favorites, and other blogs don't exist in his mind.

Julian Elson

Whoops. Somehow, I missed that, Nell. Sorry.

Gary Farber

"Whoops. Somehow, I missed that, Nell."

All sorts of things get missed, as it turns out.

An awful lot more people have read this than what Nell said to me in e-mail. 40+, so far, by the hits.

Basically, I've been pounded.

She said otherwise in e-mail.

But, still, the 40+ insults via the web. How great that has been.

Doctor Slack

Gary, I wonder if I'm the only one to whom your last comment there makes no sense.


After I sent an unfair and stinging email to Gary, we cleared up another matter and I apologized privately. Now I'd like to apologize publicly for losing my temper.

However, on the substance, rather than the interpersonal dynamics of the issue: Just as I'm not a fan of posts in which bloggers make a big political point about other bloggers failing to blog about particular stories, I'm irritated by criticism of readers and commenters for failing to read or cite particular bloggers.

It makes me feel the way I'd feel if the owner of a small restaurant where I eat once a week saw me eating fast food and complained bitterly, using the phrase "why should I bother?"

The fact is, it's not either-or. I check in on about 20 blogs a day. I'm an active Democrat, so a good bit of what Atrios links to is of interest to me, whether I follow all the links or not. I like his short-reference/excerpt-with-link style, which allows a reader to take in a lot of possibilities in a short read. It's a regular, early stop in my blog-reading day; something of a digest. I don't feel cheated when the check-in produces nothing of interest, because it costs very little time.

I rarely care about who blogged about something first, particularly if the difference is hours rather than days or weeks, and particularly if neither blogger adds a lot of his or her own analysis or research to the linked story. Collections of further links are only an attraction if the topic is one of my particular interests. Long excerpts from cited material don't appeal to me; I'd rather read the blogger's writing.

But I'm just one of who-the-hell-knows-how-many readers and commenters in this blog soup, and I have no idea if my tastes and approach are typical.

I come here for the cooking posts.

Gary Farber

"Gary, I wonder if I'm the only one to whom your last comment there makes no sense."

Sorry about that.

As Nell explained, she sent me an e-mail making dastardly accusations, which was, in fact, based on completely false premises, which she subsequently apologized for after I demonstrated that to her.

I'm afraid that I'm the sort of person who is impervious to insults from strangers, but who is greatly depressed, affected, and upset, by same from people whose opinion I care about. I care a great deal about Nell's opinion.

That she more or less denounced me here also bothered me greatly.

However, we're now done with that.

The more abstract issue: well, debatable.

I like to think that sometimes I add value to blog items with commentary. But too often I don't have much to add, or I don't feel up to adding it at the moment, or at other times, I choose to not editorialize, thinking my readers are smart enough to draw their own conclusions.

But often I stay up late at night, or rise excessively early in the a.m., and I more than often spend many hours a day reading primary sources, spending hours going through newspapers and magazines, hoping to find an item of interest, and thinking that if perhaps I may not having something brilliant to add, at least I've gotten to it many or some hours before others have. I've liked to fantasize that it might be a reason people might, at times, check my blog frequently.

If I'm wasting all that time, if I'm spending all those hours, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, fruitlessly, well, it's good to know that, but all I can do is hope that Nell isn't the only person telling me I'm wasting a fair part of my life being useless. No, I have to hope many will tell me I'm being pointless, so I'll stop, and try to find some even more useless way to waste my time.

I tend to do long excerpts, incidentally, because stats show that only a literal handful of links get clicked on. Of course, that's basically because so few people read me. Which brings me back to the "why do I bother?" thing. Why shouldn't I, as suggested, just give up and assume Atrios is meeting the needs of the people?

If I were less depressed, I'd give my own answer, and not feel as if The People Have Spoken. (Which isn't so; but, as I said, I value Nell's opinion.)

As I said, I'm depressed, so you should probably pay this no mind, and I doubtless shouldn't click "post." I'm sure that, as is often the case, I'll regret it. Yet I continue doing pointless things.

Gary Farber

"Of course, that's basically because so few people read me."

Actually, that's not entirely true. It's true that only a handful of people seem to regularly read me. But even when I get avalanche hits from a major blogger, only about 5% or fewer tend to click links.

Of course, I have no way of knowing if anyone actually reads longer posts of quotations, either. I can only hope.

Gary Farber

Also, sheesh, replaceable by Atrios?

Gary Farber

Not to mention that I do, in fact, write a lot of original material, as well as a lot of commentary.

So, basically, the slammed feeling.

I know Belle is busy, but I'm still hoping she's reading these threads, by the way; good wishes and meals and all.

Scott Eric Kaufman

Gary, why turn it into a competition? At Acephalous, the wonderful blog I write, I'm happy with relatively small group of devoted readers (approx. 42% according to Google Analytics) in addition to the typical Google/Yahoo haul. Why do you need more? I'm satisfied with what I have; I wager you have more. Why not be happy with the slow expansion of an already large crowd? (And if all else fails, resort to cheap gimmicks. Works like a charm!)

Gary Farber

"Gary, why turn it into a competition?"

Per se, I'm certainly not doing that.

"(approx. 42% according to Google Analytics)"

Of what?

I'd like a few hundred regular readers, basically, rather than six or so.

Why? Because I love the sound of my own voice, clearly. :-)

I'd like to talk to people and be heard. Not a mystery motive, I think.

Gary Farber

Y'know, the fact that I'm conducting this debate here, rather than in comments at my own blog suggests what I mean, I think.


Gary, no one but you has suggested you quit blogging. Several people, including me, have made the point that it is possible for someone to read your blog _and_ Atrios'. In fact, I do so.

To me, comment sections are a perfectly satisfying way to talk and be heard. I use my blog, which is read by many fewer people than Gary's (something I'm sure of despite having no site meter), to talk about things that are not likely to come up in other bloggers' comment sections. (Though, in an effort to post more often, I've started trying to turn more substantive comments elsewhere into posts.)

Scott Eric Kaufman
"(approx. 42% according to Google Analytics)"

Of what?

Sorry, that's what happens when I comment late at night. That should've read "approx. 42% of my daily hits are from returning readers according to Google Analytics." Now, I'm not sure how to slice that, i.e. whether it's the same 42% returning daily or whether people check in every third day or so, but it's good to know that I'm retaining readership, even among those randon Googlers who arrive. They come for the [something], but stay for the long haul. That means I'm doing [something] right, I think.

That said, are you sure you only have about 60 regular readers? Seems I'm always seeing you linked from high profile sites like the Haydens', Washington Monthly, &c. I also think most would agree with me that the quality of the readers is more important than the quantity; I mean, I'd prefer 50 regular commenters who say substantial stuff to 1,000 who respond predictably (a la The Washington Monthly, Atrios, Daily Kos and other cheerleader/troll communities).

Gary Farber

"That said, are you sure you only have about 60 regular readers?"

I could only wish. I wrote "six or so," not "60."

"Seems I'm always seeing you linked from high profile sites like the Haydens',"

It would be difficult to be more wrong than that.

"...Washington Monthly...."

Yes, I've gotten a single link from Kevin in five years of blogging. (There may, possibly, have been one other, a few years ago.)

Otherwise, my comments here were unbecoming, bad form, and regrettable. My apologies to all. At times I'm a dope. I'm presently hitting myself upside the head with a huge, fat, wet, halibut.

ice weasel

You know, I started a blog in late 1999. For six years it was under lock and key. At it's zenith I think there were 40 or so contributors, of which, about a dozen or slightly more were really active. I got bored with diminishing numbers and opened it up to the world a little over a year ago. Since then I've seen a total of maybe ten different people comment there. Of those maybe two or three regularly post. No big deal.

Gary, if you have six regulars, be glad. That's good.


If I might return to the subject of the original post: How is a page full of open threads supposed to be different from Atrios's normal style of "blogging"?

Just kidding. I've never seen Atrios post more than 15 open threads in a row before, and 5 is probably more like the average on a typical day, so a page-full of open threads is a bit unusual. (Still a difference of degree, not kind).

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