Page One story in the NYT today, so you know it’s important: A Call for Manners in the World of Nasty Blogs. The story is pegged to some recent high-profile (in blogland, anyway) incidents of over-the-top bad behavior and all manner of associated shittiness, between bloggers and the people who read them. (This was a theme of the letter to the editor I wrote a few days back. Ten days to be exact, and it’s still unacknowledged. It’s like it dropped into a well. They get three weeks; they’re busy people.)
It’s hard not to read about some of these incidents — death threats; grotesque, sexually suggestive abuse; vile Photoshopping — without wincing. That, and counting blessings. I developed a thick skin in my time as a newspaper columnist; I heard it all, and I mean all, so I know that the guy who prints your home address and suggests the world’s felons come to your place and rape you is most likely a pathetic, Cheeto-stained soul who hasn’t left his own house in 15 years or so. (Also, that rapists surf another part of the web when they’re looking for victims.) On the other hand, one of the problems a thick skin brings is the sense that everyone needs to have one, and where would we be in a world full of the thick-skinned? Someone needs to stand up for decent behavior.
To reiterate: I am extremely grateful for all the people who comment here, for the high level of discussion that goes on, and for the singular fact that when we occasionally descend into the gutter, we keep things good-natured and amusing. I haven’t had to ban anyone. My policy, if I have one, is pretty simple: Don’t piss off the proprietress, keeping in mind the proprietress has seen it all and is hard to piss off that much (most days). First-time commenters need to be approved, but I approve 99.9 percent of them, and after you’ve been approved once you’re in for good. The only people who keep knocking on the door after being turned away, other than spammers and damn their robotic little souls, is one guy who occasionally submits vile, racist screeds from an IP address of a well-respected member of the Fort Wayne corporate community, but his secret is safe with me.
I installed Google Analytics only recently (as in, last night), and for years I’ve tried very hard to ignore my site statistics. A journalist asked me recently what sort of traffic I get, and I honestly don’t know. I get over 1,000 page impressions most days (thanks, AdSense), and I suspect fewer than half are unique visitors. (It’s this sort of attention to the bottom line that for years endeared me to my newspaper overlords.) All I care about is that I’m still having fun, and you all are a large part of what makes it fun.
How was your Easter? Mine was fine, if a bit chilly, and I take solace that it was a bit chilly in huge chunks of this great land of ours. We traveled to Defiance (Alan’s family homestead). I drove. I was looking forward to catching up on my reading en route, but Alan had a headache knocking on the door, so I took the wheel. It made me think of all the couples I’ve known, and their who-drives policies. For some, it’s a question of whose car it is, but for others — a lot of others, and I’m stunned by how many — it’s not even a question. The man drives. The man always drives. Either the man is a control freak or the woman is one of those who feels unladylike with a man in the passenger seat. I once heard Dr. Laura Schlessinger say that not only does her husband always drive, she insists he open the door for her, and she’ll stand there until he does. (This is why Mr. Dr. Laura will likely welcome death with open arms.)
OK. A brief bit of bloggage and then on to watch Google Analytics run my numbers, so to speak:
When Gene Weingarten writes the cover story in the WashPost Sunday magazine, it’s always worth your time. This week he sets up violinist Joshua Bell — playing a Stradivarius — as a D.C. Metro busker, and asks:
No one knew it, but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the Metro in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made. His performance was arranged by The Washington Post as an experiment in context, perception and priorities — as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste: In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?
The story is a stitch. Only in the WashPost.
Also, TBogg on Johnny Hart, pointing out that once upon a time, “B.C.” had a reason to exist other than Hart’s religious obsessions. (I loved it as a kid.) Please, please, please, can the strip die now? Please?