April 2008

I am going back to school soon, but I have worked for over two years now as a tech monkey for a mid sized ISP in the middle west. In doing so, I have had occasion to hear all manner of business sob stories and vituperative rants from across the copper wires.


Two short things

1) A request: Colin, what’s it been like being on the ground in Pennsylvania with the _six weeks_ of primary madness there now finally coming to an end (sort of)? And how do you feel about Hilary’s win? That kind of sounds like a weird formal interview question or something (“how do you feel about world peace?”) but I’m curious.

2) English nerds, this is for you: lately I’ve been obsessed with FreeRice.com, where you answer vocabulary questions. For every word you get right, 20 grains of rice are donated to the UN World Food Program. It’s all my weird word nerdiness finally put some good use!

A few years ago cuasabon and I, along with our erstwhile co-imbiber Mr. MoosyFate (I don’t know what his stance is on his name and how public it should be.) got very into infusing vodka. We had almost as many bottles going under he bar as there were commercial products on the top. Like all experiments there were winners and losers. None of the sun dried tomato trials worked very well as I recall. A few rose above the heap and still sit in my bar to this day.

The past few days I have found myself getting more and more enmeshed in the day to day crap that is the primary season. There’s nothing substantive to report, and there hasn’t been for over a week now. The media continues to ignore the actual issues on which these politicians are campaigning, and that leaves them with only the horserace, who bowled what stories. Seriously, there are segments of our news media that want the candidate’s bowling skills to play into the race. Do they think the next president is going to have to challenge Kim Jong-il to a bowling match over nuclear proliferation? It would be hard to find a skill or issue LESS relevant to a person’s ability to be commander and chief. We sure are hell aren’t going to give them time to get any bowling in when they get into office. Hell, John “Forever War” McCain would probably tear his bicep if he tried bowling. He’s pretty spry for his age, but the body takes a long time to heal at that age, and the trail can be pretty punishing.

In all of this, I have wasted a lot of time. I’m not proud of it, but I can come back from the experience with a little knowledge about how I will spend my time in the future. I will never again read a comment thread with more than twenty five replies. I will not just read the first few and move on, I will ignore the thing in its entirety. Twenty five is about the point at which one can with certainty expect the conversation to degenerate into sheer idiocy. I know that I will miss out on some things by doing this, and it seems to be a little at odds with the blog itself. We want people to post here, and have conversations, and spirited arguments. But something about the nature of blogs guarantees that somewhere around post twenty five, someone is going to stop actually making sense, and start spouting nonsense.

This is not a hard and fast rule. Idiocy can begin with the first reply, but you know it’s not worth the investment of time at twenty five. You have to think of information as risk reward in the great sea of data known as the internet.

Am I being too lenient? Should I cut off at twelve? Maybe you think it’s safe to wade as far as thirty replies into a thread. If you do, go check out the New York Times blog comments, pick something good, like a post on Obama in the politics blog, or Gore’s new ad campaign in the science blog. Feel free to come back and tell me what you think, just don’t be the twenty sixth reply.