29 July, 2008

Soliciting Opinions

I feel like I'm getting stuck in a rut. Religion, politics, politics, religion, tiny bit o' science, pinch o' writing, religion, politics, lather, rinse, repeat.

Beating up on right-wing fuckwits is losing its lustre. The more I beat, the longer the queue gets. I'm beginning to think they like it, the sick little masochists.

So I'm opening a thread here. Get your opinions heard. What brings you to this blog? What do you want more of? What topics would you like me to tackle? What candidates do you have for the Smack-o-Matic? Do you want me to hold up more of my navel lint for your inspection, or would you rather I keep personal life bullshit out of it? Does it even matter to you lot what I yammer about, or is my brilliance so astounding that you'd read my grocery list and count it the high point of your life?

(Yes, my tongue was firmly in my cheek at that last. Couldn't you see the bulge?)

Just give me some bloody ideas. Throw me red meat. Send links, if you've got 'em. This blog isn't for me - it's for you. So tell me what you want. Even if all you want is religion-politics-politics-religion etc., that's just fine - there's certainly no shortage of material. I just want to make sure all my darlings are getting what they need.

As long as you don't ask me for porn, we're all good.


Anonymous said...

Tempted to ask for porn just to get it out of the way, but meh, someone lamer than myself can do that.

Really, I've found the politics stuff to be a little... I don't know, you haven't seemed like you've been enjoying it as much recently, on this end. It feels like you're reciting from the One Line Russian History Book; "Somehow, things got worse." And that's cool, if it's just me that's burned out, and not you. But, hrm.

Personal life stuff I don't mind, though I find that certain personal things get weird, as some folks have a drama hurricane that would require a wiki to follow with any regularity. So, as long as it's not a labyrinth of drama, that's fine.

Introspection and mildly inebriated philosophy works and is always interesting. Anti-religion rants are fun, but ever since Crackergate they've become tedious; the same argument comes from one side constantly, and it's stagnated.

... As for a grocery list, honestly, I think that could get interesting, especially if you have any cool recipes. But I like cooking and happen to be terrible without a recipe, so I suppose that's why that is.

That's just what I figure, though. I'm really not the sort who goes about and hunts down new news things, so I can't help you on that front.

Now! Back to lurking.

Nicole said...

I don't know if you're at all interested in it, but I'd like to hear a bit about your local politics. You've focused on national politics for a while, and with it being an election year I feel like all I read is coverage of the candidates and stuff like that.

I'm curious how your local politics fit into what's going on nationally and globally?

"What else sparks Dana's interest?" might be the appropriate question here.

Anonymous said...

To be completely honest I like whatever you write, I like your style and flow, Something I have yet to master. I tend to ramble on and on and then have to go back over what I have just written and add punctuation and tidy up the long sentences as you can see. Thats probably because I mull everything over in my mind (the one I recently described to PZ as a Drift line) and then I blurt it all out like a good Catholic wife having her 14th child.
Have you given thought to mixed drinks, after all snark is best read with a warm buzz, maybe your favourite Tequila recipe.

george.w said...

I really enjoy your writing, and somehow you have a talent for lifting the rocks and stomping the roaches as they scatter.

Here's a topic I'm planning to work on and I'd love it if other bloggers would give it a try as well: right-wing cynicism. The main thing that seems to irritate the right about Obama is that he speaks in the language of our better selves, trying to awaken in us the part of our nature that has just been holding its eyes shut and thinking "it has to end sometime, doesn't it?" They hate the thought of human beings having motives besides power and material wealth.

In other words, they're deeply cynical. I happen to think cynicism is a spice, not a main course. Heinlein aside, people DO have a better nature that can be awakened. And we'd better awaken it because the forces in play are now approaching apocalyptic. Dog is not going to save us, so it's up to us.

Glynis Cooney said...

Personally I enjoy the politics and religion rants. There is quite a lot to rant about and it has meshed completely with where my mind has been this summer. This may be controversial but, why is Obama getting off clean here?

"In effect, they [progressives] convinced themselves that he was a transformational figure behind a centrist facade.

They may have had it backward." Krugman in the NYT.


Obama has signed on to support wire tapping, possible unilateral strikes against Iran, and brought aboard Walmart butt-boy Jason Furman and others of his ilk as top advisors. Is he more of the same (without all the rapture bullshit of course)? You've done a wonderful job looking at Tweedle-Dum, what about Tweedle-Dee?

Okay, that's the thorn in my side at the moment.

george.w said...

(a bit off-topic)
Glynis, the article you cite begins; "...Is Barack Obama going to be a Ronald Reagan of the left, a president who fundamentally changes the country’s direction? Or will he be just another Bill Clinton?"

First of all Clinton did transform the country. We got competent, professional government agencies, progress toward better environmental laws, and a balanced budget. Our military actions had some humanitarian rationale. How much transformation did you want?

Obama is a human being; he will be transformational in some things, centrist or downright off-base in others. How much transformation is possible in one administration? He has to get elected somehow.

More importantly, look at the alternative. No, I mean it; look at him, closely. He's an utter disaster in the making. If our downward slide is not already unstoppable, he'll speed it up.

Glynis Cooney said...

Hi George,

I always welcome a differing point of view. Sure the article is a snooze, the Op-ed is from the Times for gods' sake. I pulled a quote from that piece which is what I wanted to draw attention to since I thought he said it better than I could. The point that I was trying to make is that Obama is universally being hailed as someone who perhaps he is or is not going to be.

What are our expectations of Obama? It seems as those in support of Obama fall into two camps. The first claim that he is an agent of radical change and squirm in their seats over issues such as his support for FISA- repeating that if Tom Hayden says Obama is a progressive he must be. The other group fall into the "we are just so grateful he's not them" that they are willing to sit on the sidelines and overlook the stupid and the dangerous. Why should he be off limits?

Since you don't know me, I will make clear(er) that I do not support the current administration and sure, I find McCain and his buddies abhorrent. I simply feel that is not enough to excuse the opposition, or to allow him a free ride on the rhetoric of appealing to peoples' desire to feel good about themselves.

I think the comparison to Clinton is apt, but I have used up too much space here already on this.

Seems blog-worthy to me, but as I said in my original post, it may be too controversial. Slaying sacred cows (or turning the skeptics eye toward) may be best left to religion and the right.


I have a bunch of less sensitive topics I'll post later Dana. Been missing the Dojo and have a slew of things you should shine your sharp wit on...

george.w said...

I must fall into a third category then; realistically I like Obama a lot, I'm very upset by his FISA vote, but I don't expect him to be a saint as I didn't expect Clinton to be a saint.

I think the meme of "Obama as savior" is mostly a right-wing caricature of the left. I'm glad someone speaks to our higher nature for a change, even if I categorically don't believe in messiahs. I'd pay real money to see him just light up a cigarette, blow some smoke into the camera, and tell McCain to go screw himself. But as entertaining as that would be, it would mean McCain would be our next president. So telling McCain to go screw himself is our job.


Cujo359 said...

Is this what you're referring to, George W.?

As for what you should write about, Dana, I agree with Atheist Chaplain - whatever you want to write about. In the end, that's what you'll be able to make interesting. Goodness knows I'm having trouble finding things I'm interested in writing about lately, but I suppose that will pass. It usually does. The FISA business took a lot out of me, and just being completely disgusted with things isn't a good subject for long.

Meanwhile, holster the Smack-O-Matic if you don't have a good use for it, and, to quote Admiral Adama, "go with what you know". If that isn't working for you, go with something else. Or take a few days off.

Glad I could help. Tongue, cheek, etc.

Paul Havlak said...

Well, there's always animal porn. Blow the whole notion of what's natural wide open.

Or recreational chemicals -- breakfast, it's not just for tequila anymore.

Or -- and my girlfriend and I were just discussing this last night -- how some social scientists are doing actual experiments to figure out what works for better relationships. Yes, you can build more emotionally healthy families using the science of people like John Gottman, instead of floundering around with cryptic ramblings from past millenia.

Big items -- contempt and withdrawal are clear signs of a relationship on the rocks.

Which brings us back to politics...

Blake Stacey said...

I like hearing about what makes other writers (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, whatever) tick. Not only does it make me feel like my neuroses aren't entirely peculiar to me, but also — and this is my dirty little secret — I've had a lot of fun collaborating on bookish projects, and I've always got one eye roving about, looking for possible co-authors.

Unknown said...

I would like to see stories about how you feel personally about things and why.

I read mainly because I agree with the opinions mostly (99.999%) and the style of writing. It's so matter of fact that it clears up a lot of stuff. Also, more funny. There is never enough funny in this world.

Anonymous said...

In these parts lurked a blogger called Hunter
who couldn't have been any blunter
loved to dish out a spanking
especially when religion got her cranking
but politics made her a punter

John Pieret said...

Well, if we can't have porn, how about some tasteful sex?

If we cant have tasteful sex, how about more drink recipes? (Enough of those and we could get some porn!)

If we can't have porn, tasteful sex or more drink recipes, how about fuckwitery in history? Take a break from pounding today's idjits and find some in history to reprise a well deserved beating on.

If all else fails, try variations on what you're doing now. Take one story, say, instead of what sometimes seems like dozens, and give it a really thorough going over. Find some lunatic on the web (I hear that a few can be found) just for some sport ... who knows, a (one-sided) flame war could break out. Conversely, find some good cause, political or not, and hump it for a while.

But why ask me? If I had any good ideas, I'd be bigger than PZ Myearshertz ... or maybe not.

Woozle said...

I don't know if this is exactly what you're looking for, but it should provide some good conversational grist (not to mention tooth-grinding from certain quarters).

We should have an annual event, tentatively entitled International Dogma Rejection Day (or International Symbolism Repudiation Day, or...). On that day, all participants will perform some act which demonstrates their rejection of the value of some symbol, dogma, or article of faith -- perhaps while affirming the importance of the thing it is supposed to represent (in some cases, you may have to stretch quite a bit to find something).

Basic ground rules: nothing illegal or dangerous; common sense should be followed. The target is rules that are solely based on dogma, because they are obviously in desperate need of some smackdown.

You've probably guessed where I'm going with this. Stealing a consecrated wafer would be out -- but if you attend a sympathetic church and can remove one with the priest's permission, then it's a go. (PZ reported receiving, among the thousands of rabid "you'll burn in hell" emails, 2 calm ones from sympathetic Catholics who saw the cracker-worship as idolatry and therefore to be condemned. I'm avoiding for now the whole question of whether ownership of a communion wafer is transferred during the ceremony, though it still seems to me that it is and that issue does need to be resolved at some point.)

Using wafer destruction as the example (and it need not be religious; stomping on flags or the sacred images of our cephalopod overlords would be fine too -- whatever sacred cows have ticked you off lately), the participant would then go and write a blog entry celebrating whatever it is that the wafers stand for, which would be... uhh.... well, they're supposed to be Jesus's body turned into bread, so... fast food? Cannibalism? Self-sacrifice? The fact that the answer to this question isn't more obvious just shows how meaningless and pointless the symbolism is.

By this act of senseless destruction plus writing, we would actually be making a contribution to understanding the meaning behind the symbol -- much more of a contribution to understanding than mindless following of a ritual could ever be.

The event should take place every July 24, the anniversary of PZ's inaugural wafer-desecration blog post. (Or it could be June 29, the anniversary of the original "abduction" -- but that would put the heat on Cook, who never really asked for it and doesn't have the clout to deflect it.)

What say you all?


Also... I liked pretty much all of what george w. said, and Blake's suggestion intrigues me as well.

*braces for Pieret's response*

Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog for only a short while. I don't think that I am a good judge at this point as to what you should or should not write. I simply want to say that I enjoy your blog and your writing style. I look forward to reading more

Chaos Lee said...

I think it would be positive move to reflect on issues of a more personal nature. I'm not saying give us a up to the minute account on your comings and goings... rather just perhaps more about Dana's world itself.

I admire the beatdown you give to fuckwits who are legion, and the critical eye and razor wit as you vivisect cultural retardedness. But I vote for you to venture forward more.

In the end, writer whatever you fucking want, readers come and go but the prose itself must first and foremost fulfill the writer.

You'll just excuse me if I've excused myself from reading on all the political elements. My bile duct is at maximum flow and I could sooner puke up a buick than stomach how pathetically sad the current state of affairs is.

george.w said...

Cujo359: "Is this what you're referring to, George W.?

Thanks for the link. Sorry for the late reply; had to wait until I had time to properly read it. And yeah - that's exactly what I mean.

SWE said...

I came for the Carnival of Elitist Bastards, and stayed for the political vitriol. Lately I have been skimming with my reader, but that has more to do with my lack of time for internet based reading, not with content.

Your drink recipes are nice. Why not combine drinks, religion, politics and a contest? Using what you know about this crazy person, design a drink to be named after them. Contest winners to gain fabulous prizes which, while not tangible, would be a point of pride.

I like the nautical jargon, so please feel free to include more references to keel hauling and plank walking and bilges.

John Pieret said...


Why substitute your symbolism for theirs? Stomp on the idea, break it into little intellectual pieces, drive a logical nail through it and dump grounds of derision on it. Why turn your opposition into some sort of ritual with its own special day (and, no doubt, St. PZ as a patron)?

It's never seemed to me like a good strategy to attempt to defeat your opponents by becoming more like them.

Now, that wasn't too painful was it? ;-)

Woozle said...

Seems to me that canonizing PZ would be a bad idea... especially if he found out ;-) I think he'd be inclined to feel just a bit... patronized?

Why substitute my symbolism for theirs? Fighting fire with fire.

"Becoming more like them"? My symbolism is harmless and doesn't bother anyone who doesn't worship the symbolism I want to remove. Furthermore, it at least attempts to celebrate (if possible) and discover (if necessary) the reality behind the symbolism -- which should be what's important, right?

Personally, I'm not really into ritual, including invented days like this -- I always want to celebrate Towel Day, and Talk Like a Pirate Day, but I always forget... and often can't summon the enthusiasm, as nifty as I think those counter-rituals are... so it's not that I want a ritual to call my own or something.

It's more that the cracker-worshippers have seriously pissed me off. They need to understand the difference between reality and fantasy, and I don't get the impression that words are going to do it. For one thing, they seem strongly inclined to censor as "offensive" or "rude" any ideas they don't like, be they the Creative Minority Report or Conservapedia.

I should probably shut up about this whole issue, but it's really eating at me... errm, I mean it gets in my craw... errm... (I'll surely go to hell for my punnishment, in any case.)

Efrique said...

Er, what's your stance on grocery-list porn (with a labyrinth of drama, or without)?

I thought the Sunday Science thingamies were a great thing to bring in.

I enjoy most of your posts. The political and news posts are often interesting, but I like that you mix it around a bit.

It's a bit hard to predict what people will enjoy. Heck, a lot of the time I can't predict what I will enjoy. It's one of those things I guess.
(My histogram post got crazy traffic; I kinda wish I'd made it a bit more polished now. It may well be my biggest post for hits. I'd never have guessed it.)