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June 20, 2007

Posted by Patrick at 07:56 AM * 105 comments

We’re delighted to see that the eminent pseudonymous liberal blogger looks and sounds exactly as we imagined she did.

Comments on Digby!:
#1 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 08:08 AM:

So, is she an experimental psychologist with a CIA background?

#2 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 08:14 AM:

I don't know, about that, Jon. What I imagined was a middle-aged woman.

#3 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 08:25 AM:

The blogosphere's been Alice Sheldoned, and the same incredulous "she's a woman?" comments are happening.

#4 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 09:05 AM:

I wouldn't exactly say I'm flabbergastedgobsmacked, but my gender-text detector had her pegged as a SNAG.

At least I've never praised Digby's ineluctable masculinity.

#5 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 09:11 AM:

Connie @ 4:

TNH told me the news, and we immediately realized that one could sing "Ineluctable" to the tune of "Unforgettable."

#6 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 09:28 AM:

Maybe I was just overtired when I looked at the original FireDogLake photo, but it never occurred to me to be excited or surprised that Digby was female.

My default mode for envisioning an androgynously named, unpictured person on the web is male, unless their commentary includes clear indications otherwise, but this is because I'm sexist pig-scum. (If I wasn't overly influenced by my own ineluctableness, I suppose I would think of androgynously named, unpictured persons on the web as, oh, Roswell aliens or something.)

Off topic, sorta: Over the years, Hilde's been occasionally told that she snagged a Peachy-Keen, Neato Guy for a husband in me by various friends. She recently told me that some of her lesbian friends have even said, "Oh, why can't I find a nice girl like Bruce?" I am amused, I think.

#7 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 09:54 AM:

I wasn't surprised by Digby's gender; it had become something of an open secret in blogdom. I was, rather, delighted by the personality that comes across in that acceptance speech; it fits both how I imagined her, and how she writes.

#8 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 10:11 AM:

She was very aplombful.

#9 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 10:17 AM:

I envy you being on that stage! I'm told your forehead can be seen at about 2:12.

#10 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 11:12 AM:

I couldn't stop grinning like a loon while watching that.

#11 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 11:17 AM:

I could swear I'd seen it confirmed on some other blog with very large readership (Eschaton? Pandagon?) several months ago, in such a way that it implied that everyone knew Digby was a woman. So whenever I read Digby, I'd been consciously aware that I was reading a woman's writing.

Maybe that was somebody else, though, and I just mistakenly applied it to Digby before.

(Yeah, I tend to assume pseudonymous bloggers are male unless they are specifically blogging about feminism. Then I assume they're female. Hooray for ingrained sexism.)

#12 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 11:17 AM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 6:

My default mode for envisioning an androgynously named, unpictured person on the web is male, unless their commentary includes clear indications otherwise, but this is because I'm sexist pig-scum.

...Or perhaps because us guys are still in the majority - though the girls are catching up fast.

#13 ::: Tucker ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 11:27 AM:

Caroline @ 11: Firedoglake, maybe? I have a recollection of someone referring to Digby as 'she' during one of their symposia.

It took me longer than it should have to realise that I was assuming Digby was male because of Howard Beale's picture in the blog's sidebar. *headdesk*

#14 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 11:36 AM:

I have Bruce Arthurs' same defaults (and yes, I've thought Hilde was lucky for decades, but that's a different issue), coupled with the problem that there is an LA area fan, who lives in the same part of town, whose name Digby.

It didn't sound like him, but some of the secondary comments about family, etc., fit (sort of) with what I know of him.

So, if you asked me to supply a pronoun... I'd default to male.

But that doesn't matter (except that I have to laugh when the, "where are the female bloggers of note" meme goes around, and even louder now... Can we say blind spots and confirmation bias? I knew we could), because I don't really care about the gender of those who write.

For reaons I can't explain, it was years before it occured to me that Charles de Lint was a man. For some reason I thought those books were written by a wooman.

Mapping someone whom one hasn't met is a strange thing.

#15 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 11:45 AM:

Tucker -- might've been Firedoglake. That sounds likely, actually.

I was just bemoaning my failing memory this morning. I'm losing names, I'm losing vocabulary, I'm losing incidents. I forget what my advisor told me to do five minutes ago. Kids, don't go to grad school. It eats your brain.

#16 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 11:55 AM:

In the vein of defaults, Therese Norén just commented (at Pandagon) that a name (Ultra Magnus) there had led her to the default that the poster was male and Scandanavian, instead of being a female of color.

The cues we pick up.

#17 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 12:27 PM:

Caroline #9: I thought I recalled something like that, too, and a commenter at FDL kicked the memory back in. It was Steve Gilliard who did the outing (and that's no surprise in and of itself).

#18 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 12:29 PM:

Argh. That should be Caroline #11. Sorry, both to you and PNH.

#19 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 12:39 PM:

Wow. That's amazing. It's almost a manifesto.

Stupid me, I haven't been reading Digby. Will do from now one though.

Gave a pretty good speech for someone "not accustomed to public speaking."

#20 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 01:47 PM:

This reminds me of the time in 1992-94 when Feorag and I effectively trolled an entire usenet newsgroup into thinking we were a gay male couple ... simply because we carefully used gender-neutral pronouns when talking about our relationship, and made no effort to disabuse people of their misconceptions.

(I bet Digby got a real kick out of peoples' expressions when she went public :)

On a darker note, given the gynophobic abuse the blogosphere can hand out on occasion, and the sort of unsavoury types the Hullabaloo attracts, I can only imagine the depths to which the flamage will sink in the near future.

#21 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 01:49 PM:

Bruce @ 18: I didn't even notice until your correction. I'd be complimented to be mistakenly attributed to PNH (even though that wasn't what happened).

Well, I wasn't reading Steve Gilliard (to my great regret) -- but it's always possible I read something of his that was linked to from one of the blogs I did read.

"Linked to from." Jeez. ("What did you bring that book that I don't want to be read to from out of about Down Under up for?")

#22 ::: Jon Marcus ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 01:53 PM:

Tucker @ 13: Me too. My first response was, "But Hullabaloo's got that picture of a guy who...oh."

#23 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 02:07 PM:

It was a very good speech, both in content and in delivery.

I think I ran across a fairly definitive statement about Digby's gender a while back, but for some reason I didn't expect blonde.

#24 ::: Jacob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 03:42 PM:

It was nice to see the person behind the blog. I've been a big fan of Digby since following some links from Atrios way back in the day and finding that hey, here's someone with interesting things to say and the time to write them. Usually the first or at least one of the first couple of blogs I check.

As to gender, well, even though I had read at numerous reliable sources that Digby was female, and I didn't rule it out, of course, I also thought that was just a pysch-out and I was right in thinking he was a guy. Well, not so much. Makes you think, dunnit?

Charlie's thoughts in #20 were mine too, though: oh fuck, prepare for an onslaught of misogynistic responses from the right. That tempered my pleasure in seeing someone I admire & enjoy reading so much stand up and speak. It's very apparent that being a woman or a gay man and having public political opinions means you will get a ton of sexually violent responses. Men might get called a wuss, or an idiot, or a traitor, but they generally don't get told how they deserve to be raped. The right is particularly bad at this, but even the left does it more than I'd like. I think Malkin and Coulter are scum, but I still don't like the different way they get treated than male right-wing pundits - usually in comments, and I'm sure some of it is right-wing trolling, but I'm equally sure that not all of it is.

Still, fuck those guys. I'm happy to know who she is.

#25 ::: Nina Katarina ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 04:13 PM:

They're likely not to be so much misogynist as age-ist and weight-ist. And if she was a young skinny woman, they'd criticize her for having boobs. Or not having boobs.

Yes, I know how these people operate.

#26 ::: LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 05:28 PM:

I'm pretty sure it was you who turned me onto Digby in the first place, Patrick, several years ago if I'm not mistaken. I've been an avid reader of Hullabaloo ever since. I'm pleased to see such a strong, incisive writer get the props she's due.

I was essentially certain she was female from fairly early on, and started coming across references to her as female a few months ago on other political blogs. So this coming out did not surprise me.

#27 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 06:54 PM:

That was one impressive speech; a progressive blogosphere manifesto, really. Other people perhaps could have written one, but she's the person who actually did it. Whoo-hoo! Yay, Digby!

#28 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 07:26 PM:

I admit to having been thrown off by Howard Beale.

I'm a bit more surprised by the award at all. Not to diminish the writing, but Digby's not a frequent-posting, crowded comment threads blogger. It's been clear that Digby's held in esteem, but she hasn't been one of the bloggers who sways mass crowds of readers hither and yon.

Clearly I'm not in tune with the wavelengths she operates on.

#29 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 07:32 PM:

JonH, Atrios says he used to write three-word posts as follows: "What Digby Said," with a link to Hullabaloo. The comments stayed at Atrios's place, but the content was Digby's.

#30 ::: "Charles Dodgson" ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 08:28 PM:

Slight correction to Linkmeister: as of a week ago, the Atrios "What Digby Said" posts were still going...

#31 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 08:55 PM:

Nina @25: They're likely not to be so much misogynist as age-ist and weight-ist.

Which will still be misogynistic, because a man would be much less likely to be on the receiving end of those flames.

#32 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 09:15 PM:

"JonH, Atrios says he used to write three-word posts as follows: "What Digby Said," with a link to Hullabaloo. The comments stayed at Atrios's place, but the content was Digby's."

Sure, but Atrios does that with other blogs, too.

I suppose Digby is fortunate in not drawing the rabble.

#33 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2007, 09:48 PM:

"Charlie's thoughts in #20 were mine too, though: oh fuck, prepare for an onslaught of misogynistic responses from the right. "

Those were my first thoughts about three frames into the speech. I admire Digby for choosing to expose herself to the horror that must be spinning up in East Blogistan even now. I don't try as hard as Digby used to do at keeping my gender from being discoverable by those who really want to know, but one of the reasons I use my initials instead of my name is to keep it from being obvious. I feel better knowing that helps to contribute to the uncertainty faced by the idiots who really, really positively have to know whether the person on the other end of the ether in an Internet discussion has a Y-chromosome.

#34 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2007, 12:51 AM:

I guess the main reason I thought Digby was likely female was that, er, she blogged so regularly and effectively about reproductive rights issues. And I felt bad about it, because why shouldn't a man be able to blog about reproductive rights issues? So I can't say I'm surprised, but I do feel weirdly bad about not being surprised.

And by "looks and sounds exactly like we imagined she did," do you mean "looks and sounds suspiciously like Teresa Nielsen Hayden?" =)

#35 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2007, 02:40 AM:

Terry Karney (14)
"there is an LA area fan, who lives in the same part of town, whose name Digby."

Not precisely. Thomas Gresham Digby lived in the eastern part of West Hollywood for years, but moved up north -- Silicon Valley, I think -- almost a decade ago. Tom is notable for saying things that seem outrageous... until you try to figure out _why_ they're outrageous, and realize that you're flabbergasted. He tends to come up with concepts that can't be explained logically, while the blogger Digby excells at explaining things logically.

#36 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2007, 03:32 AM:

Re: #35 ::: Don Fitch


The name of that (formerly) LArea fan should be "Thomas G. Digby" (the form he uses in his e-fanzine "Silicon Soapware"). His middle name might be Graham, rather than Gresham.

And I'm wondering if the blogger "Digby" took her pseudonym from Sir Kenelm Digby (1603-1665), whose "The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby Opened" (which has interesting implications of concealment, and is available on Project Gutenberg) is a delightful accumulation of recipies. Maybe I'll try "Hydromel as I made it weak for the Queen Mother", real soon now.

#37 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2007, 04:07 AM:

Don Fitch @35,

Yes, Tom is in Silicon Valley. I first met him at local (to SV) PenSFA parties about a decade ago.

#38 ::: bad Jim ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2007, 05:32 AM:

I've known for years that I can't distinguish women from men by their textuality. I did think of Digby as male, as the default, but when news of her gender started to leak it wasn't an occasion for surprise. Rivka of "Respectful of Otters" once complained that she had readers who missed that she was feminine. Apart from the usual arbitrary signifiers, or perhaps a particular emphasis on certain issues, there's no way to tell.

Way back when I started reading blogs I was very curious about the identity of Atrios, whom I thought might be female (which I thought might be not be a bad thing). I now know more about him and others than I have any conceivable need for. Here's a fresh argument for pseudonymity: it reduces information overload.

There's no way to say this without seeming silly, but I found the video of her speech more convincing and authoritative than the putatively male voice of the magisterially dispositive blog posts. Which I read daily.

#39 ::: Cliff Burns ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2007, 11:01 AM:

Dear Hayden folk:

Pleased to come across your site and blog. I have absolutely no life beyond the confines of my office so I'm always intrigued by people who go places, do things...and still have time for their work life. HOW DO YOU DO IT?

My blog on the writing life is now up and running. Google "Beautiful Desolation" and you'll be taken to an alien world, where reality is skewed and incoherence the rule of law...wait, I'm talking about my life again. Ah, well. But do pop by for a visit. I promise you won't be bored.

#40 ::: individualfrog ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2007, 11:37 AM:

I remember reading some article or something about the old MUD culture and how on some of them (maybe they were MUSHes or MOOs or whatever, I don't have any idea what the difference is) you could choose between like seven genders, and unless you were "male" or "female", they said, people would always kind of freak out about it and keep asking "but what are you really?" And it's funny, of course, because there's no more reason to believe that someone is really "male" or "female" then that they're "xyorsz" or whatever, but the people who chose a "traditional" gender weren't asked.

So when it came to digby, I tried really hard to not care, and not guess. I did see people say "everybody knows digby is a nice middle-aged lady" or something, but I ignored them on purpose. (I seem to remember someone saying "everyone knows Ezra Klein is 54", which was a joke, so I thought the digby comment might have been the same thing.) Even now it feels strange to see people refer to digby as "she". Perhaps I've made such an effort that digby will always remain in a kind of superposition in my head.

#41 ::: JohnD ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2007, 11:41 AM:

I'd pictured Digby as a guy, but, on thinking about it, I wonder if that stems from me always picturing Digby in traditional '30s crusading muck-raker mode, haggard and fiery, with motel room, shot glass, ashtray, bare lamp, and Corona manual. That's just the vibe I pick up.

#42 ::: Nenya ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2007, 12:38 PM:

John D., from her speech, I don't think she would mind being pictured that way. :D

(I say this as someone who has heard digby being quoted hither and yon for years, but only actually clicked through to the blog a few times, and while I assumed the author to be male [the sidebar picture didn't help], didn't realize that nobody else knew either. Had no idea that it wasn't known by most bloggers what gender this person had offline. Fascinating.)

Had a similar experience this spring, when the founder of an online community I'm in returned from an absence of a year or two to admit that she was, in fact, a she. She had an extremely non-gendered username, but had intentionally cultivated a male persona because, at the outset, she was worried about being harassed. Which isn't unreasonable. I was surprised at how much of a jolt it was to try to re-cast her in my mind from one gender to the other. (Independent witnessess confirm that they were in on the secret all along, so I'm not worried that it's someone trying to steal the original person's identity.) I guess I have a long way to go when it comes to gender assumptions.

I loved the speech! Very very cool. So neat to see all the bloggers up there behind her, and here her characterize the blogosphere so well. Yay for bloggers having a voice offline.

(And she does look like TNH, to me anyway. All hail!)

#43 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2007, 12:54 PM:

Don Fitch: Ah! I have been out of actifan status in LA from before Digby transplanted.

Yes, it's his, unique, perspective on things which made me certain it wasn't him, but the (recollected) parallels were still enough to make me wonder.

As to the comment about men and reproductive right, LGM is populated with a couple.

#44 ::: Carol Maltby ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2007, 01:27 PM:

Yay Digby! Magnificent speech.

Being of [cough] A Certain Age myself, I'm now wondering if "Hullabaloo" is not just for noisy excitement, but has some connections to Shindig and white go-go boots.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. ;)

#45 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2007, 01:37 PM:

I always picture Cordelia Naismith as looking rather like Teresa, despite LMB's physical descriptions of her (I ignore the fact that Cordelia isn't supposed to be beautiful, for example). I think the similarities are primarily stylistic.

By that same token, Digby reminds me of Teresa, but it's more in her content than her actual appearance, or her style, which is more...hmm. "See this? It's called a hammer. See that? It's called your head. Ready?" Teresa leads more subtly, so that the reader is just looking at roses...and then finds hirself in a place s/he could never have imagined.

#46 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2007, 01:42 PM:

It's been clear that Digby's held in esteem, but she hasn't been one of the bloggers who sways mass crowds of readers hither and yon.

I'd have to disagree with that. I can't say whether it's her raw numbers or who her readers are, but a link from Digby sends enormously more readers over to read than a link from most similarly-placed blogs.

fwiw, the same thing is true of Making Light and Sideshow.

#47 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2007, 02:53 PM:

Cliff Burns @39:

Welcome to Making Light. Can I suggest a few things?

First off, as explained here, Patrick and Teresa's surname is Nielsen Hayden. Calling them anything else is like letting the skinny end of your tie hang out, or referring to Leonard Nimoy's character as Dr Spock. It marks you as Not One of the Cool Kids.

Secondly, overtly directing people to your website is Not Done. If you want people to read your site, what you need to do is sparkle so brightly in these comment threads that people are irresistibly drawn to your site, like moths to the flame.

And third, it is traditional not to stray from the actual topic till a little later on, when the free-association skills (or, perhaps, basic weirdness) of the community causes the comment content to scatter like a herd of cats. We have Open Threads for oddities and ephemera; off topic postings are more, well, on topic there.

Note as well:
Here rules and laws apply
To prose. We can ignore
Or twist them, or reverse
The guidelines in our verse.
(Though poets are thought more
Bright when they can comply.)

#48 ::: Jeff ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2007, 02:53 PM:

I'm sure I'm not alone in skipping the comments section of Atrios and Firedoglake. The signal-to-noise ratio is pretty low. So I might read Firedoglake every so often, but it's nowhere near as much of a must-read as Hullabaloo. (Slacktivist is my blog-of-choice.)

#49 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2007, 03:17 PM:

abi @ #47 - This year of writing verse is making the process easier. You've inspired me to add:

Lurk for awhile, friend.
Learn, laugh. Post preview makes me
pause, reflect, edit.

#50 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2007, 03:47 PM:

Jeff @#48, Rest assured you're not alone in skipping those. In fact, it belatedly occurs to me that ML may be one of the few high-volume places where I read comments at all (Slacktivist being another).

#51 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2007, 04:03 PM:

The Nation now has the prepared notes of her speech.

#52 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2007, 04:23 PM:

Linkmeister @50, maintaining sanity in comment threads is murderously difficult once they come to the attention of the wider blogosphere, as I had unfortunate cause to rediscover last weekend.

My hat's off to anyone (especially TNH) who can manage it.

#53 ::: Emma Anne ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2007, 06:04 PM:

Heresiarch @34 - I also felt confident that Digby was a woman because of how she wrote about abortion. Men can certainly be pro-choice, but she wrote about in a visceral way that I have only ever heard from women.

#54 ::: Cliff Burns ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2007, 06:15 PM:


Understood. No blog pimpage intended.

But, in terms of poetry, I prefer Ferlinghetti's exhortations that poets

"...come out of your closets,
Open your windows, open your doors,
You have been holed up too long
in your closed worlds..."

Ol' Larry never liked standing on ceremony and didn't work too hard to conform to polite society. I think there's a lesson there for all of us.

#55 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2007, 06:27 PM:

Cliff @ 54

Read Abi Sutherland, on catz, just for the fun of it! (Ur in Teresa's blog, reading our poetry.)

#56 ::: barb ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2007, 06:43 PM:

Slinking out of the shrubbery at the edge of the clearing here, to note a Digby rant on Hullabaloo from yesterday morning 6/20 8:49 tagged Judge Cutie.
This news item, and its trajectory out from Digby's post, so nicely braided several of the threads running on Making Light right now that I wanted to share it with y'all. Also, the "literature is life" theme seems appropriate to ML content; not to mention the scary-weirdness.
Apparently Justice Scalia is a tad overidentified with Jack Bauer of 24. Digby's post is classic digby; she links to Crooks and Liars; at the bottom of the C&L post, there's a link to Avi Lewis at who uses gobsmacked in the opening part of his piece. Godstruth.
Carpetbaggers, Anon Liberal, Globe & Mail also were amazed by Scalia's, hmmmm, "worldview", but the Hullabaloo - Crooks and Liars - Avi Lewis segues were the sequence that flowed so wonderfully from the Making Light discussions. Use the link from the bottom of the C&L piece to get gobsmacked by Avi, or you'll founder in CBC site construction.

#57 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2007, 08:18 PM:

Cliff Burns @54:
Ol' Larry never liked standing on ceremony and didn't work too hard to conform to polite society. I think there's a lesson there for all of us.

Indeed. How noble and exciting.

Here, poetry is appreciated as another form of conversation, not as a gem of transgression to be applauded for its rebelliousness. There is no audience to admire, but rather a community of peers who will feel free to respond, often in kind.

As I touched on, this site has a set of norms. They're not arbitrary or imposed†, but simply the product of years of experience about what builds communities and what tears them apart. And that's what this place is: a community, mostly interested in discussing things ranging from truth and folly to knitting, dinosaurs and sodomy*.

If one is going to violate those norms, it's advisable to be entertaining while doing so, and poetry is one way to go about that. If you're not entertaining, then you'll be ignored, no matter how brave your decision not to conform to polite society is. If you're really rude, you'll be disemvoweled, though I have never seen that happen to a poem. Yet.

But even more admired than the poet who breaks the rules is the one who can carry on the conversation within the strictures of the verse. Rather than exaggerated rebelliousness, that is the sign of true mastery.

† OK, technically, they are imposed, but if they didn't work Teresa would unimpose them.
* I really am not going to try to explain this one. Use the site search function.

#58 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2007, 09:12 PM:

As Abi says, we live here by plain rules
not laid down by a tyrant, ones that work
to keep us civil, silence those who'd irk
our little virtual village, keep out fools
who want too much attention. We're no mules
but decent folk, who'd never want to burk
our host and hostess. Now, don't you smirk
at formal versifying, in our schools
we learned to read and write and cast accounts,
but, even more, we learned how to have fun.
So, welcome here, be friendly, take your place
with all us here; we've vast and huge amounts
of knowledge here, and long before you're done
you'll think the fluorosphere is loving grace.

#59 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2007, 09:46 PM:

bad Jim, #38, Rivka is a female name.

Cliff Burns, make yourself
Annoying and end up like
Jonathan Vos Post

#60 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2007, 10:52 PM:

Fragano - lovely and clever, as usual. But I have to ask if you are aware of the usage of phrase "cast up one's accounts" as slang for vomiting dating from at least the Regency, if not earlier?

Emesis is not something I learned in school, though educations vary. Maybe if I'd gone to a party school.

#61 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 01:50 AM:

Charlie @ #52, when I read your essay there might have been a dozen comments. Now it's at 625 and rising?


#62 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 02:00 AM:

Xopher @ 45: "By that same token, Digby reminds me of Teresa, but it's more in her content than her actual appearance, or her style,"

Since I am acquainted with both of them mostly through reading their words and then, secondarily, by seeing a picture or two, I agree. They both have the talent of making me go, "I've never thought of that before, but that's exactly what I was thinking!" Stunningly insightful ideas, written in a refeshingly lucid style.

#63 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 02:30 AM:

Charlie Stross @ 52

Now, be fair Charlie; you did that to yourself. And a grand job it was, too. I was AFK for a day or two and missed that the thread had started, took a look and found you'd turned your blog into Trollheim.

But really, as nutty and crunchy, and all-around pig-ignorant as a lot of them were, for a mob of net yahoos they were rather polite. Only 1 of them called you a dipsh*t.

#64 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 02:41 AM:

Fragano @ 58

Again, well done, and apt as always. However,

who'd never want to burk

Are you sure you didn't mean "börk, börk, börk"?

#65 ::: Seth Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 07:18 AM:

I like the speech, but when I read statements like "the netroots is... [a] revolutionary participatory democracy", I can hear Seth Finkelstein grumbling about blog evangelism.

Blogging upsets (in both senses of the word) established hierarchies, but it also creates new hierarchies. Which is not bad--I, for one, welcome our new A-list overlords--but it means that pronouncements about how we are all gloriously equal in Blogotopia need to be taken with a brick of salt.

#66 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 07:25 AM:

Abi & Fragano @ #57 and #58 - yeah!

See, I knew someone here would say something articulate and/or delightful. All I could come up with was "oh, b#&&er off."

#67 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 08:20 AM:

Mary Dell @66:

To be fair, I think the quote has a degree of applicability, but Cliff wasn't thinking large enough. What did he say?

...come out of your closets,
Open your windows, open your doors,
You have been holed up too long
in your closed worlds...*

It's not about the role of a poet in this community, but the role of this community in our lives. Really, how is that quote different from the overall mission of this blog?

Making Light is a poem in multiple verses, with different metres and occasional rhymes. Future scholars will argue whether there was one author or many, and assert that it all scans because we're dead. Schoolchildren will recite portions of it to proud grandparents. Pastiches of it will appear in parlour games. It will be the source of a blockbuster musical, with extravagant makeup and clever choreography.

* just a prettified version of "I aim to misbehave", really...

#68 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 08:22 AM:

(And thank you, Fragano. I was too tired to make verse work last night.)

#69 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 08:33 AM:

abi @ 67... It will be the source of a blockbuster musical

I'd like my character to be played by Hugh Jackman.

#70 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 08:57 AM:

Those keeping score* will note that 67 brings us back on topic, dealing as it does with the same subject as Digby's speech: the role of the blog in the larger world.

* if this is you, seek professional help

#71 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 09:35 AM:

abi @ 70... the role of the blog in the larger world

Thanks to blogs, I get news that don't have the Republican slant of printed papers, which I gave up on years ago as I have no wish to make my blood pressure go thru the roof.

#72 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 09:51 AM:

Tania #60: I'm not as familiar with the language of bucks and mohocks as I might be, so I didn't know of that euphemism.

#73 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 09:57 AM:

Bruce Cohen #64:

I am not a Swedish chef (which is a pity as I love Swedish meatballs).

#74 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 10:00 AM:

Mary Dell #66: I do my best. Thanks.

#75 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 10:08 AM:

Abi at 67-- I cannot imagine a pastiche of Making Light itself. Rather, my brain nibbles around the edges, but can't get its mouth around the entire concept. A musical, sure. But metapastiche?

#76 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 10:12 AM:

Abi #s 67 & 68: Thanks.

We take our places in the old, old play
with not much sense of being upon the stage,
we're just the honest voices of our day.

There's so much that we simply cannot say,
too many things that are wrong with our age;
we take our places in the old, old play.

At best we might some notional monster slay
that has its only life on this white page,
we're just the honest voices of our day.

We hide our smiles when spamming asses bray
their trite inanities, and hold our rage --
we take our places in the old, old play.

We laugh when watch as our good friends stray
all over the damn' map, our laugh's their gauge;
we're just the honest voices of our day.

There's always a desire to pause and stay
right here where every poster seems a mage;
we take our places in the old, old play.

Though seasons change we've got eternal May,
we're civil but we know when to engage;
we're just the honest voices of our day,
we take our places in the old, old play.

#77 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 10:15 AM:

Serge @ 71

Thanks to blogs I no longer get my news from printed media, so I don't have printers' ink on my fingers every morning. I'm sure that this will ultimately result in some exotic dietary deficiency. Do you have suggestions on what to eat to prevent this?*

* Hey, someone has to be the straightman. It's probably my turn anyway.

#78 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 10:17 AM:

Serge #69: Unfortunately, Jean Reno has been cast as you.

#79 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 10:24 AM:

Fragano @ 78... Jean Reno? I protest. I'd rather have Kevin Kline, who showed in French Kiss that he can do a pretty good French accent.

#80 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 10:26 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 77... If I want ink, I'd rather drink it straight out of the inkwell. (And no, I will not launch into my rendition of the jingle from Max Fleischer's Koko the Clown.)

#81 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 10:46 AM:

Serge #79: The other choice is Gérard Depardieu.

#82 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 11:03 AM:

Triolet On Blogging

It was a tale told much in Ur
By scribes who marked their slips of clay:
"By writing, we will rule some day!"
It was a tale told much in Ur.
Their names, alas, are lost. They may
Have ruled. Or not. We cannot say.
It was a tale told much in Ur,
By scribes who marked their slips of clay.

#83 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 12:03 PM:

Dave Luckett #82:

Wonderful! I see your Sumeria, and I think of the Nile:

Egyptian priests just sighed in their beer
at all the bloody words they had to write;
they toiled far into the Nilotic night

to say those things that Pharaoh held dear;
then looked upon the work, and at the sight
Egyptian priests just sighed in their beer.

Today, we know that bloggers far and near
with words and meanings all are making light
of tasks that gave old Potiphar a fright;
Egyptian priests just sighed in their beer.

#84 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 01:31 PM:

abi @#70: my reaction wasn't about the poetry as such, but to the sentiment he expresses afterwards. Whenever a new person drops in to say "hey, you guys are all uptight! I don't like to get hung up on manners and whatnot," I think the proper response is "great! leave!"

Except, in my case, with more cussing, because I'm incapable of expressing myself without the swears.

#85 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 01:38 PM:

ob.ontopic: Digby's blog is cool...I hadn't bothered, for instance, really looking into who says what about health care, and she's got it all laid out in one convenient post.

This is the first election in a while where I haven't been sure who to vote for (in the primary, I mean...lifelong democrat here). Usually I hate one candidate much less than the others.

#86 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 01:57 PM:

Mary Dell... Like I said before in these parts, I hope Gore runs and that he hasn't said anything official yet because he's letting the other candidates beat each other up first. I hope. I hope.

#87 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 02:31 PM:

Mary, we may be overinterpreting Cliff's closing comment a bit. Although I do agree that the sort of thing you describe is annoying, when I'm sure that's what the other person actually meant.

Seth, #65 -- I don't think calling netroots blogdom "a revolutionary participatory democracy" is tantamount to claiming that "we are all gloriously equal in Blogotopia". Although both are worth aspiring to, democracy =/= equality.

#88 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 07:06 PM:


I admit I probably came down too hard on him, twice over. He managed to flick two of my particular aversions (the "Hey! Look at me!" impulse and the notion that it's interesting to be disruptive).

On the other hand, he sparked some interesting thoughts about why I seem to spend so much of my free time here.


If you're reading this, I apologise. Come back and give us a broader sample of your personality to appreciate.

#89 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 08:59 PM:

Patrick & Abi: I have a bad habit of checking out the blogs of blog-pimpers, which contributes to my irritation in this case.

I'm dropping a sample of Cliff's over in the open thread.

#90 ::: Cliff Burns ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 10:14 PM:

It seems I have violated some internet etiquette and therefore I apologize if my remarks and the poetry I quoted was deemed deftless and boorish. Not my intention but that is the risk one runs when tapping in a hurry, time constraints and all that. I'm much better in a Con suite, face to face, there my tactlessness seems to translate better (into humor). My intentions were honorable but it seems the execution left much to be desired. I'll try again some other time. Deadlines pressing, new projects rearing their heads like something from the malarial dreams of Ray Harryhausen. I met the Nielson Haydens at a Con a long time ago and wished to re-introduce myself. I've done so and I'll leave you all to your discussion. Perhaps we'll run across each other again (hopefully soon)...

#91 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2007, 05:57 PM:

Oh, now, see? That was a fine apology @ 90.

In re Charlie's experience this week, I stopped reading the thread at about comment 550, shortly after he dropped the bombshell that it had reached a word count of 82K. A book indeed, and I suddenly realized that as a book, it sucked, unlike most threads here.

I'm convinced that comment threads (except, of course, for here) have a sell-by date of about 30 comments. Anything over that, and the chaff outweighs the wheat.

Except here, where the wheat is so damned good that the chaff is just pleasant roughage to aid digestion.

#92 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2007, 06:34 AM:

Fragano, I like that one very much. The image is priceless.

Dear me, we appear to be cynical about this whole blogging thing:

When priests of Isis wrote their Lady's name,
Or scribes in Eridu indented clay,
They knew their ancestors had done the same
Time out of mind, like them, in just that way.
Before Troy ever crowned its hill, some say
The Kings of Ur had books so old that they
Could not be read by scholars of that day -
And Pharoah's court thought that a paltry claim!

At least they dyed their skins, or baked their clay,
Or chiselled deep the stones they marked. We spray
Electrons to the void, and make a flame
Of particles, not photons, to our shame.
Alas, our electronic words will stay
No longer than this current generation may.

#93 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2007, 08:19 AM:

Alas, our electronic words will stay
No longer than this current generation may.

How true.

Here's a real-life example:

Steve Gilliard's executors are trying to collect his writings for publication, but much was on long-gone web sites and blogs and may be lost forever.

#94 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2007, 11:09 AM:

Dave Luckett #92: Excellent!

Words on bamboo slips
Master Kong and Master Mo
with care indited;

then we read their thoughts
on cheap pulp paper in books
they did not dream of.

Today we watch the
pixels of their old wisdom
crossing the thin screen

and we think ourselves
wise and sophisticated
unlike those beggars.

Are we the better
for all of this mass knowledge
or just deluded?

#95 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2007, 12:39 AM:

@82, 83, 92 &94

How Archeology Informs Email:

Time starts at 2484,
history an invisible past.
We have almost nothing from before:
most of our knowledge comes from one cache.

In that year of dirt and rats we see
Terra was under one king. He built
poison landscapes and golem armies
protecting from aliens above.

That first Terran empire wasn't first,
we guess. We don't know. He burnt all books
took all rulers hostage, and the worst
was how he killed all historians.

Yet we have 100,000 posts,
Each with a name, a timestamp, a tag
an answer. 200 words the most
they wrote in their oracle scratchings.

But they are mere last lines of stories:
spoilers to ashes, because we don't
have the questions. What prompted replies
of “it will end without disaster”?

For the sake of future history,
keep my words when you reply to me.

#96 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2007, 09:42 AM:

Another reason not to post late at night (or early in the morning, as it may be): odds are much better than usual you'll post to the wrong thread. In the right venue now,

Dark Ages scribes spent lives to save the wisdom
of philosophs renowned from former times.
Copying and recopying used their lifetimes
while error crept in, turning order random.
Invention of the press soon increased freedom,
dividing Church from Stately pow'r betimes.
The spread of words recorded, prose and rhymes,
became an acid, soon dissolving kingdom.
Now the Net spreads words to ease our boredom,
and helps us spread both wisdom and pastimes.
A few, oft those accused of thought crimes,
essay to keep words from being struck dumb.
Words, set free, return to free their speakers;
words held hard will wound when used in fight.
Words offered as gifts to make us ponder
are words we often see on Making Light.

#97 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2007, 05:57 PM:

Is there a wikipedia entry about Digby, and I just can't find it? Cause I'm not finding it.

#98 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2007, 07:13 PM:

Greg London #97: Perhaps she's not "significant."

#99 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2007, 07:18 PM:

ethan @ #98: Please, don't make me snort steamed milk out my nose. It's not nice!

#100 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2007, 07:25 PM:


#101 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2007, 07:38 PM:

Tania 99: You should know better than to drink steamed milk while reading ML!

Unless it wasn't steamed before you read it...then, I understand.

#102 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2007, 08:10 PM:

ethan - it's ok. I needed the laugh.

Xopher - yes, I should know better. Some of us learn better from negative reinforcement. Some of us being me.

The milk was steamed before I read, but I can say it was frothy when I finished. eeww.

#103 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2007, 08:22 PM:

:-P, Tania.

#104 ::: "Charles Dodgson" ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2007, 09:11 PM:

Wikipedia has lots about Digby. Digby, Devon. Digby, Lincolnshire. Digby, Nova Scotia. Horace Digby. Kristian Digby.

Nothing about a pseudonymous, L.A.-based political blogger, though. Perhaps we should pay more attention to her more significant namesakes?

(There's a power pop band by that name in Louisville, Kentucky!)

#105 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2007, 01:05 PM:

Charles Dodgson #104:

Curiously, the Wikipedia disambiguation page doesn't include the article on Jane Digby, which might be considerably more relevant.

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