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August 3, 2019

Who we are
Posted by Patrick at 10:44 PM * 63 comments

Nobody reads this blog any more. But do read Kieran Healy.

A fundamental lesson of Sociology is that, in the course of making everyday life seem orderly and sensible, arbitrary things are made to seem natural and inevitable. Rituals, especially the rituals of childhood, are a powerful way to naturalize arbitrary things. As a child in Ireland, I thought it natural to take the very body of Christ in the form of a wafer of bread on my tongue. My own boy and girl, in America, think it natural that a school is a place where you must know what to do when someone comes there to kill the children.
As we used to wearily say back in the day: Read the fucking rest.
Comments on Who we are:
#1 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2019, 11:36 PM:

We read. We respond. We persist.

#2 ::: Sunflower ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2019, 12:35 AM:

What xeger said. We're still here!

The linked article called to mind an earlier ritual wth many similarities, including being a particularly USian phenomenon: the nuclear-attack drills of the 'in the shadow of The Bomb' generations. (Being of such a generation but Canadian, I was never a participant in one, but I knew of them even as a kid.) Makes me wonder if there's a connection.

#3 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2019, 01:32 AM:

I think the ritual is to help us deal with not being able to protect others. One of the paradoxes of guns is that they're sold as if they will protect us -- and they really do the opposite.

At least we don't have rituals where we are actively training all students to use guns.

#4 ::: drossdragon ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2019, 02:11 AM:

We're still here, maybe just not as verbose as before. I grew up in California during the transition of duck and cover from being nuclear protection to being earthquake protection. My niece in WA now does active shooter drills in her middle school. Same as it ever was?

#5 ::: Greg Hullender ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2019, 02:25 AM:

I still follow it on Feedly, but I haven't seen any posts in a long time.

#6 ::: praisegod barebones says ‘Hi’ to the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2019, 04:03 AM:

Still reading. Still reflecting. Still intermittently luminous.

BTW: In the event that someone’s looking in on this thread (and I know everyone’s overwhelmed, and for good reason) - there’s a request for assistance that’s about to get pushed off the ‘Recent Comments’ list.

(Offers small dish of ratatouille)

#7 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2019, 04:39 AM:

drossdragon @4: Same as it ever was?

Well, except for the whole, "maybe somebody down the hall" instead of "maybe that country across the world" part.

#8 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2019, 05:17 AM:

I've read the article now - thanks, Patrick, for pointing it out.

After I'd finished, I really needed to read Jo Walton's Moloch afterward.

Last two lines:

The Gun, like Moloch, keeps the people free.
But these are not my gods, will never be.

Crazy(and suddenly chilled in the summer heat)Soph

#9 ::: John Overholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2019, 09:48 AM:

Still reading, and thank you for sharing this, though I wish like hell it didn’t need to be written.

#10 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2019, 10:36 AM:

still reading - friends, even ones I've never met, are important.

#11 ::: jal ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2019, 11:48 AM:

Not dead yet!

#12 ::: Evan ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2019, 12:17 PM:

My RSS reader still awaits each new post, its patience infinite, and I read every new morsel it brings me, few though they be.

#13 ::: Marie Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2019, 02:19 PM:

As other have said, the magic of an RSS reader is that we can stay around even through long silences.

For the rest of it, yes.

#14 ::: Pamela Dean ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2019, 02:30 PM:

I have never gotten the hang of commenting here in a timely fashion, even now with fewer posts. But I come through every day to see what's up.


#15 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2019, 04:00 PM:

On the subject of 'still here' the lovely Welsh song Yma o Hyd has a chorus of:

"Ry'n ni yma o hyd, er gwaetha pawb a phopeth" which translates as "We're still here, in spite of everyone and everything."[0]

[0] for the translation

#16 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2019, 06:01 PM:

One of the things that makes Healy's piece so heartbreaking is the contrast between the ritual he discusses in the start of the piece with the one he describes later in the piece. I suspect it packs an extra punch for those of us who still strongly value that first ritual. (I read this shortly after coming back from Mass.) But I'd imagine it also has a different, but still strong, impact for those who once were invested in it, and the group that celebrates it, and no longer are.

In both cases, though, the piece evokes consideration of the groups and the rituals in our lives, and the importance of evaluating which ones are worth our investment.

For me, this group, and the postings and comments in it, are among the things I value (even though I lurk more than I post). I realize that our hosts have had concerns in their lives that have taken priority over this blog. But as long as they're willing to keep the doors open and allow the conversations to continue, I'm happy to invest my time and attention here. Thank you for this space, and for the conversations.

#17 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2019, 08:35 PM:

We’re not only in the wrong universe for fair, we’re in the wrong universe for decent.

#18 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2019, 09:09 PM:

Still reading, still commenting occasionally.

If this blog should fall fallow, that's OK, but it hasn't done so yet as far as the commenters are concerned.

(Praisegod Barebones, I had noticed that query too and passed the message on. It's now been taken care of.)

#19 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2019, 12:33 AM:


#20 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2019, 09:31 AM:

I drop by here every day.

* * *

To reprise my Tweet of Saturday night:

{Comes up for air after three grueling days of tending a booth at #GenCon.}

{Checks why #ElPaso and #Dayton are trending.}

{Gratefully gets ready for fourth day tending at booth at #GenCon}

#21 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2019, 09:37 AM:

Still here...quite at home and thriving in Skagitropolis now, but delaying my 1st trip to the local Wally-world.
A few years back, the annual pumpkin toss was cancelled because some piece of crap shot up a mall and got away, in Burlington just N of here. They did catch him later. I could not have attended anyway, because I was in the hospital for surgery (ever notice how they like to schedule these things for the wrong day?) but I wish my fellow hurlists could have had their day in the sun. As it was, I had the pleasure of hearing over the PA that the hospital was on lockdown, which ended next morn.
I try to remember to scope out the exits when in a place, but I don't always succeed. I've been in that mall, and found myself wondering just where that happened. Morbid curiosity is, after all, a subset of normal curiosity.
I don't read much news other than the headlines, but I thought there was something about how this latest one could have been foreseen. And it just took me back to whenever some egregious case of child abuse/neglect or elder abuse/neglect hit the front page and everyone was wringing their hands and saying why didn't we see this coming, and I can't help thinking a lot of folks could have, if they had known what to look for, or something. Not that I could have, I'm not a people person, but still.
I went through enough hideous rituals when young--the endless abuse by relatives and classmates--and I don't need this crap to worry about too.
Wrong universe for anything making sense. But I do keep up with this blog.

#22 ::: Rick Owens ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2019, 01:00 PM:

Still here, through torrents and lacunae.

#23 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2019, 03:29 PM:

Still here, still reading, occasionally commenting, hoping the parts of the human species that seem hell-bent on extinguishing us wake up (or grow up) in time to reverse/mitigate our damage.

Greetings and many thanks to our gracious hosts and those who keep the Light on here.

#24 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2019, 03:41 PM:

Still here; checking daily but mostly lurking.

#25 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2019, 06:06 PM:

Likewise still lurking (but not supporting anyone in email).

#26 ::: Irene Gillooly ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2019, 07:17 PM:

Still here. Follow you all on Feedly so as not to miss anything. Dreadful and accurate observations by Prof. Healy, sayeth the recovering Catholic.

#27 ::: Justin Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2019, 02:07 AM:

I'd like to add my voice to those who don't regularly comment here. I don't. But I've been reading both the posts and comments here for, well, literally decades (well, okay, not decades -- but a decade and a half, truth!)

I mourn the fact that the moderators of this uniquely lovely forum do not have the wherewithal to continue posting here. But that is not their fault.

If you need to care for those close to you, do so. If you need to care for your community, do so.

The only thing I'd gently recommend is to remember that your community extends beyond your personal space...especially if you've already established relationships with them.

This is not to suggest there is any obligation for anyone to engage in conversations that harm them.

I think I speak for the majority here simply to say that we value all of you and hope you are in a place where you can speak to us soon.

#28 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2019, 07:56 AM:

Still here. Mostly lurking.

#29 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2019, 10:00 AM:

Still here. Reading regularly, commenting occasionally. I miss the in-depth discussions we had here. They occasionally brought out a depth of thought in me that surprises me when I look back through the archives, and they exposed me to thoughts that were (a) significantly different from my own, and (b) expressed cogently and with frequent wit, occasional snark, and almost nonexistent contempt. Plus there were occasional outbreaks of poetry. I follow a few of the denizens here on Twitter because I miss their voices, but it's not the same.

#30 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2019, 10:35 AM:

OtterB: I follow a few of the denizens here on Twitter because I miss their voices, but it's not the same.

Likewise, plus Twitter's latest format change has made it much less usable. I've been eyeing Mastodon with interest; wondering if folks here have presences over there, and if so, which instance(s)?

#31 ::: joel hanes ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2019, 11:07 AM:

There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive.

#32 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2019, 11:09 AM:


#33 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2019, 12:01 PM:

Mastodon is a decentralized social network. I use it (under a different nym) and find it can be quite small but cozy in its own way. I joined when an organizer of one of the "instances" (a server running the software) was recruiting on Twitter, specifically to science fiction fandom.

I'd be very happy to help with invitations, for interested folks... a number of recognizable names are there, however quiet they might be at the moment...

Crazy(and missing earlier days here, but finding new rhythms as circumstances warrant)Soph

#34 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2019, 02:12 PM:

crazysoph: I'm definitely interested. Email, if useful, at linked web page.

#35 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2019, 04:49 PM:

Jacque @ 34

Done! Sorry for the dance-of-the-nyms, though!

Crazy(and of many faces...)Soph

#36 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2019, 06:04 PM:

Crazysoph #33

Thank you!

#37 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2019, 09:11 AM:

Crazy Soph, please?

Thank you!

#38 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2019, 11:08 AM:

One of the nice things about Mastodon, and which makes it functional long-term, is that you can follow (and block and mute) people who are not on the same server as you. I would be right glad to add more people to my following list. I can be found at and :)

#39 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2019, 12:18 PM:

Carol Kimball @ 37 - I have what appears to be a way to contact you (using the same nym as I'm using for Wandering Shop), via Ravelry.

carolkimball (That's you?)

Crazy(if it is, I can send you an invite)Soph

PS how are you getting on with the invite, Jacque? Did it arrive? It was time-sensitive, so did I leave you enough time, or should I send one of slightly longer duration?

#40 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2019, 05:32 PM:

I check in here now and then, looking for new posts and new entries in the latest Dreadful Phrases thread. Sometimes I look at the Open Thread too.

That's a great, true, and utterly heartbreaking article, Patrick. Thanks for linking to it.

He's right in a sense that we've chosen to be this way...but in another sense we've been tricked and manipulated into that choice by decades of propaganda by the gun industry, and their minions the NRA and GOP. It's also part and parcel of their racist agenda; remember that the NRA was all in favor of gun control when it was the Black Panthers who were arming up.

The result is that we now live in a country where a black man is shot for handling a BB gun in a toy store that sells them in an open-carry state but a white man can walk around with a AR-15 hanging unsecured over his back without even being asked to leave the store.

I could say more, but I've been teetering on the edge of despair since the Dayton shooting (the second in under 24 hours), so I'll stop here for now.

#41 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2019, 06:24 PM:

crazysoph: Yikes, sorry! Didn't realize it wouldn't keep. Haven't addressed that yet. If you could send one that would be good through 10PM MDT tonight, that would be very cool. Thank you, and sorry for the extra work!

#42 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2019, 11:43 PM:

crazysoph: Okay, I did the thing! Let me know if I got it right! Um, if you can tell.

#43 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2019, 03:48 AM:

Oddly I still check in looking for wordplay and the joy of lex - mostly to be run off by non-debatable politics.

In depth discussions are mentioned supra but lately for some very long term meaning of lately, conversations have followed the suggestion of a famous BYU type to begin with the end in mind. A shibboleth, even a team building exercise but not an amusing trifle. Perhaps it was Wilde who suggested some things are too important to be taken wholly seriously.

"It's also part and parcel of their racist agenda; remember that the NRA was all in favor of gun control when it was the Black Panthers who were arming up."

Compare with "Mr. [Roy] Innis served on the NRA’s Board of Directors for nearly 25 years and was a friend to many within the organization. For the nation at large, he was a champion of freedom who exemplified the courage of a man who follows his own convictions......In this regard, he followed a similar path to Charlton Heston, who marched in support of civil rights with Martin Luther King, Jr. in Washington, D.C. in 1963 and later became an iconic NRA president."

#44 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2019, 09:23 AM:

Yup, that's me!
Thank you.

Are you on Ravelry?

#45 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2019, 12:25 PM:

Carol, I'm on Ravelry also. (I'm away from my own machine, so I can't tell you my name there.)

#46 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2019, 01:31 PM:

Crazysoph #33

Could I possibly be invited? Thanks.

#47 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2019, 10:51 AM:

crazysoph @33 I would like an invitation. Email (rot13) is ROOvmbg@nby.pbz Thanks.

#48 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2019, 07:36 PM:

I must be Nobody then. Odysseus was Nobody. It's not without honor.

#49 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2019, 02:58 AM:

#46 ::: Fragano Ledgister

I'm not sure to where I can send the invite (it's a link, of multiple uses but a week's duration - I'd prefer not to send it in the clear) - I did a search engine search on your name, and got a multiplicity of leads. Rather than guess, I thought I'd ask for your preferred mail-drop...

Crazy(and looking forward to seeing you on Mastodon)Soph

PS I should mention I use a different nym at Wandering Shop - however, the sign-up process also will point at my account, asking if you'd like to follow it. I have to approve followers by hand but at least that means I'll know when folks arrive...

#50 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2019, 03:21 AM:

And I'd like to offer an open invitation to anyone from here to connect with me over there at (rot13ed, as I prefer to keep these identities somewhat distinct): @pnilureq@jnaqrevat.fubc

#51 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2019, 07:13 AM:

Nobody reads this blog any more.

Hey, I come back to check regularly. My complaint is that "nobody's" writing this blog anymore. :-(

#52 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2019, 07:30 AM:

Re, The article, I think it was here that I first saw someone pointing out that the real point of the TSA inspections was to normalize absolute obedience to authority:

When a uniformed officer tells you to take off part of your clothing, submit to a clothes-penetrating scanner or a body search, or go with them to a private room, you are expected to do it without complaint or protest. Any attempt at defiance will be met with escalating force, any disrespect to the officers will be punished, and any attempt at legal challenge gets you "listed" as an ally to "the terrorists".

#53 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2019, 01:47 PM:

Xopher @ 40: a white man can walk around with a AR-15 hanging unsecured over his back without even being asked to leave the store. That may be less true after the latest episodes; a white male who wanted to "know if that Walmart honored the 2nd Amendment" has been arrested and charged with terrorism. But one wonders what would have happened if he'd waited another few weeks or months....

Dave Harmon @ 52: that's a valid point, but ISTM too narrow a view; there is a stratum in the US that has concluded the best way to stay in power is to keep enough of the populace perpetually terrified of The Other that said fraction will vote for anyone who demonizes any Other and promises protection -- no matter how empty the apparent threat or how ridiculous the offered protection. The security theater of TSA is one element of this.

#54 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2019, 03:43 PM:

@51: Yes.

The owners and moderators aren't our bitches, but if they choose not to post they do give up the right to complain that no one is reading.

#55 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2019, 06:17 PM:

Crazysoph #49

My email is onagarf @ gmail dot com. I look forward to seeing you on Mastodon.

#56 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2019, 06:43 PM:

Of the last 10 posts (which is all front page show), there are 6 "new" posts and 4 resurrections/continuations of long-running threads (or 7/3 if you consider the DFD posts to be "new" and not "continuations). There are nearly 2000 comments on those 10 posts. That goes back to last October, or 10ish months.

That's nearly 200 comments/month and 1 post/month.

I'd liken this to a self-sustaining house party where guests keep arriving with food and drink while the homeowners are away dealing with family out of state.

#57 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2019, 06:28 AM:

(Moose turns up unannounced with cocoa-dusted truffles)

Will these help?

#58 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2019, 07:04 AM:

Buddha Buck #56: Sounds about right to me.

#59 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2019, 11:05 AM:

They're delicious, thanks ever so much!

#60 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2019, 06:20 PM:

Rarely posting but still reading!
#57: Yes please!

#61 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2019, 10:18 PM:

(ducks out briefly to retrieve highly necessary paper products)

#62 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2019, 10:59 PM:

An extension to my @53: if the US survives, it may some day look on District of Columbia v. Heller with the same odium that we have today for Dred Scott or Plessy v. Ferguson -- but I suspect that will be merely symptom of a more general change of mind, accompanied by a court that has some idea what the founders were thinking when they put exactly one excuse in the Constitution.

#63 ::: Rick Owens ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2019, 04:48 PM:

Adding my voices to the folks recommending Mastodon - 'tis well worth checking out if you're looking for a social platform that's there for people, not to feed people to corporate maws. Suggestions/notes:

* Instances are much like email servers, in that you can have accounts on multiple instances, and you can optionally direct traffic from one of your accounts to another one.

* Look for instances with active moderators, for reasons that should be obvious to everyone here.

* Just like on a blog, 'tis a good idea to read the instance rules (usually on the /about page) - both to avoid chewing on your feet and to get an idea what to expect on the local timeline. In many cases you can also see the last few posts on the timeline as a direct sample.

* In particular, learn about Content Warnings and how they're used, and use 'em where needed/expected.

* Use the blocking tools - they're great for cutting down the noise in your feeds.

If anyone else is a fan of (Free|Open|Net|Ghost|Dragonfly|etc.)BSD Unix, I recommend visiting - good folks there.

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