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.

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