I’m Now Officially an Ex-Blogger

March 14, 2007

I wanted to wait a day or two with this to avoid being in the embarrassing situation of posting a serious post right after announcing my exit. But I’m dropping off the blogosphere, entirely. I’ll keep reading a few blogs, comprising a subset of my current blogroll, but I’ll probably not comment except by email, and certainly not keep posting here or on Appletree.

The one exception is that I committed to hosting the Carnival of the Godless here on April 1st, and I intend to stick to that commitment. So this is actually my penultimate post.

Everything I said in my almost-exit post still holds, except that this is final. I’ve gotten my book count from 6 to 9 since I last complained about not reading, and frankly those last four days have felt so good, so relaxing, that I almost feel dumb for not having quit earlier. I’m not going to Yearly Kos or any other blog-based event, unless it’s non-boring (i.e. unless it shows me the back of my own ear).

If you still think I post good stuff and should stay, there are other places for you. The big one is of course Majikthise, hands down the best blog on the sphere, with a blogger who’s one of the few people who have made me feel dumb in comparison. 3QD similarly has highly intellectual posts about every issue known to (wo)man. But other than that, the treasures are among the small players.

– A short list of global injustices includes slavery, genocide, malnutrition, gaming consoles, and the fact that Stentor’s Debitage isn’t getting more traffic (recent highlight: conservative moral relativism).

– Lynet’s Elliptica is a lot like this place, only without the news-related rants you can get off Google News and the bitter impatience (recent highlight: laughing at Luskin).

– If you know Feministing, think of Bean’s A Bird and a Bottle as like Feministing, only fluffless, incisive, and massively underrated. As an added bonus, Bean is the only blogger I know who talks about the Abu Ghraib-style abuses occurring in domestic US prisons (recent highlight: girls in custody).

– The anti-fundamentalist, anti-stupid posts on Skatje’s Lacrimae Rerum are a gem, and the longish comment threads tend to only generate more gems. Plus, Skatje’s a conlanger, so it’s even better (recent highlight: a tragedy in one act).

– Tyler DiPietro’s Growth Rate n lg n is what I strived to be back when I was blogging on UTI (recent highlight: John Hawkins and the predictability of recurrences).

– Jessica and Jenny claim to be Just Dreadful, but in fact they show how spontaneous feminist blogging should look like (recent highlights: Jenny on the Phoenix New Times and Jessica on a failed abortion and an undiagnosed pregnancy).

– Bruce’s Crablaw is how (soft-core) libertarianism should be: focused on reckless government waste, investment in the future, and stupid restrictions on personal habits (recent highlight: Maryland’s truck nuts bill).

– Katie is more than just a Liberal Debutante – she’s a burgeoning ecology/feminism/science blogger who’s not delusionally infatuated with any of the three and who’s about to start doing some serious paleontology blogging (recent highlight: Guatemala sinkage).

– The East Asian blogging and the simple explanations of arguments I intended to engage in can be found on Battlepanda (recent highlight: Gore the energy hog).

– In my almost 7 months of blogging, I didn’t nearly link to Eteraz and its highly reflective posts about Islam and Middle Eastern politics as much as I should have (recent highlight: the future of Islamic theocracy and political liberalism).

– If you think liberals are historically ignorant and therefore need to be softer toward fundamentalists, give Accidental Blogger Ruchira ten minutes to set you straight (recent highlight: informed choice or Dawkins’ deluded?).

Niche Blogging

March 13, 2007

The blog advice posts tend to emphasize the need for a niche, a specialty. Katie talked to me for over an hour trying to convince me to just find one and blog about it. The problem is, I’m not into that kind of thing at all. Or, rather, I could be, but I’d have to switch niches every two weeks to avoid getting insane. Talking to people who take the time to read my posts is worthwhile, but I don’t think they’d give me a lot of time for that at Bellevue.

My posts are an eclectic mix of math blogging, heterodox feminism, dystopian warnings of the religious right, economic policy, and Middle Eastern politics. All of these interest me just enough to have a small community of commenters interested predominantly in them – e.g. Foxy, Bean, Tyler, Bruce, and SLC respectively. So I can’t neglect any of them, which again deprives me of the niche. Being right tends to help matters, but in more serious politics it’s only an impediment.

Which again brings me to why I’m probably hours away from writing that post I owe Lynet and then officially saying I’m done. I have 33 blogs on my roll that cover among them all the topics I talk about, only generally in more detail and without segueing to entirely different issues. There’s no room for a math/secular/feminist/policy/ME blogger; that’s what feeds are for. And if it’s the writing style that counts, isn’t that independent of the particular issues covered?

Yearly Kos Ticket for Sale

March 11, 2007

As I said in my previous post, I’m becoming increasingly sure dropping out of the blogosphere is a good thing (well, after I finish the posts I owe people). As such, I see no reason to attend Yearly Kos, which means I have a $100 registration for the convention that I have nothing to do with. At least I haven’t reserved a flight ticket or a hotel, which would cost me another $739.

It goes like this: if you want to attend the convention, feel free to use my ticket. It’s only $100, down from $225 currently available. I burned $50 on it yesterday at a fundraiser, but that out of my own personal stupidity, so there’s no point in inflicting that cost on anyone else.

So you can freely get a ticket from me for less than half the minimum price. But the catch is that usernames for convention registration are based on email addresses, so there’s no way for me to transfer the registration to an account you solely control. I can give you the password and promise I won’t reset it unless you ask me to, but I can only give you my word.

So a possible solution is that I’ll give you the password and you’ll pay me only once you’ve received your badge at the convention. Once you have a badge, even if I shut you out of the account it won’t matter.

Any takers?

That’s It for Me, I Suppose

March 10, 2007

I’m seriously contemplating dropping off the blogosphere. At the very minimum, I’m going to start purging the big bloggers from my ‘roll – there’s never any good discussion on most of them anyway – and concentrate on talking to people who actually take the time to listen. Because, frankly, there’s no point.

A blogger can have forty times my traffic and still be politically irrelevant. The supposed purpose of political blogs is to exert influence; a good rule of thumb is that if your name isn’t Markos Moulitsas, Josh Marshall, Glenn Reynolds, or Michelle Malkin, you’re failing to do that.

I suspect there’s an underlying “It’s fun” reason for every blogger – it’s certainly there for me. Not being a real masochist, I can’t in good faith call the ritual that is participating in any of a number of low-grade echo chambers as fun. The people who run those echo chambers don’t want discussion; they want fellation. I can understand how the notion I’m willing to do that can arise, since after all I used to be in a fairly long-term online relationship, but I don’t do that anymore; any blogger who wants me to fellate her needs to first know me in real life fairly well.

I could write endless sarcastic posts about the rules of the echo chamber. In their most exaggerated form, they appear as radical pathologies; make no mistake about it, even echo chambers that begin as non-radical invariably radicalize, mostly due to the effect of extremism. But even in their weaker forms, they are deeply pathological, turning serious political and social discussions into exercises in hive formation. Unfortunately, there isn’t much of a market for anti-blogosphere blogging. I still write to an audience.

I’m not doing this because Ilyka Damen is an ageist. I get age-bashed fairly regularly, albeit less than I used to (I attribute that to stopping reading blogs that tolerated that sort of behavior, incidentally). The reason Ilyka got a post of her own is that I decided a fair amount of time ago that I shouldn’t take shit from people just because they publish their bile on blogs I read regularly.

Nor am I doing this strictly because of traffic concerns. That my traffic’s down by a third from a month ago is immaterial; even then it was about two and a half orders of magnitude less than what I needed to make a difference.

To make an understatement, I’m behind on my reading. I should have read 19 books by now in calendar 2007 to be on track to go through 100 books this year; I’ve read 6. But even that isn’t why I’m doing this – I was horribly behind on my reading even when I was on UTI and spent maybe three hours a day on the blogosphere.

It’s not any of those; it’s that there’s no point. Amanda likes to say that she bans people who bore her. I have to take her word for it when she implies that hordes of ideologically uniform commenters don’t bore her. But they bore me. In fact, the only thing more boring than that is what passes for outreach or serious left/right debate, which typically involves regurgitating simplistic talking points or holding pissmatches about non-issues.

On to more practical concerns. I signed as the Carnival of the Godless host this April 1st; I intend to make good on that. Likewise, even if I drop off the blogosphere entirely, I’ll keep managing the Carnival of Mathematics, since if there’s one part of my blog I’m going to keep, it’s the math.

The Galois theory series has about three posts left: compound extensions, including the proof that two Galois extensions of K whose intersection is K are linearly disjoint; roots of unity and cyclotomic extensions; and the original motivation of the theory, solving polynomials by radicals. None of those is terribly important theoretically, not for the level of number theory I’ve written about.

The radical pathologies series is far more incomplete, with six more pathologies to go, including several fairly important ones (namely, paranoia, theoretical thought, and schismaticism). Fortunately, my overview post has some basic outlines on each; the individual posts flesh the arguments out more, but the overview is good enough for a lot of purposes.

I still owe Lynet a clarification on lived experience and everyone a post on Jews and oppressed groups. The latter is probably going to make my next 3QD post, regardless of whether I shut down Abstract Nonsense and withdraw from Appletree or not. The former is going to become a post here, again regardless of this blog’s fate. People who take their time to respond thoughtfully to what I say deserve at least that.

I’m going to keep fleshing out Eternal Night. I haven’t gotten any further responses to it; if it remains that way, I’ll go back and make wholesale changes based solely on the one I’ve received. I started writing it before I had a blog.

And I still have my two email addresses (plus my two university emails), of course. If you want to alert me to a post of yours, or something like that, feel free to use them.

UPDATE: it’s probably worth mentioning that you shouldn’t ask me which blogs I specifically refer to when I attack echo chambers. I’m not going to go into specifics, for reliability reasons. I can think of a few blogs that are clearly white and a few that are clearly black, but there’s a gigantic gray area of blogs I keep changing my mind about based on ephemera; all I know is that the mean remains a very dark shade of gray. But for what it’s worth, if you’re too small to maintain an echo chamber, I’m not talking about you.

Just to be Sure:

March 8, 2007

I hope you’re not letting my less constructive commenters deter you from commenting.

Or, rather, I hope you are and the relative paucity of comments lately is not an indication that I have fewer regular readers.

Name All the Countries

March 7, 2007

You have 10 minutes to name all 192 UN-recognized countries.

I got 154 the first time and 166 the second time; 173 countries I got at least once.

Email Policy

March 6, 2007

Because of the Eternal Night files I’ve sent people, I think now’s a good time to explain my email policy. I will not under any circumstance reproduce an email you send me without your permission. I may use small quotes or talk about the general content, but unless specifically authorized will not associate a name to the content.

The two exceptions to the rule include link-alerting/blogwhoring, in which you send me an email alerting me to a news story or a post of yours, when my standard practice is to hat-tip, and if you post the email in a public place (or if it’s an open letter), in which case it’s like a post on another blog.

As a corollary to that, I tend to keep personal issues personal, unless there’s a very strong overriding interest. The social cue hivemind question is a good example: I didn’t mention anyone’s names, and given that the situation has been resolved peacefully (i.e. it seems like an honest mistake caused by multiple cancellations), I won’t.