Saturday, May 27, 2023


   Yes, I look in the Spam filter. Occasionally. Okay, every day. Why? Boredom, I suppose. Curiosity. Amazement, really, that people — a good number of them, actually — read stuff they hate, regularly, just to top up their outrage tank, apparently. And then they write to the author, dutifully, informing him how much they hate his work. Expecting ... what? Not agreement, surely. To inflict the distress in others that makes them feel powerful, alive. Even though they never quite think through the writer's reception — well, mine anyway. "Oh no! The people I sincerely believe are imbeciles and traitors don't LIKE me! Boo hoo!"
    I never write them back. Okay, almost never. Rarely. I try not to answer the citizens of Spamland because, what would be the point? They're never chastised, only encouraged. "Aha! That response was just what I expected from YOU!" 
    Though sometimes I just can't help myself.  This, from Don Jones, or someone calling himself Don Jones:

     Are you seriously telling me that most Americans don't know anything about Black American History? Are you also saying we should know more about Black American History than our own and others? What are you trying to say? Shouldn't you guys be finding out why all our laws, rules etc. pertaining to equal treatment of all American citizens for all these years aren't being obeyed? Get to work, try doing something constructive.
    To which I answered:
     Yes, I am. I’m saying it IS your own history. And no, I don’t expect you to grasp that. Not when it’s so easy to be confused and aggrieved and pretend like somebody’s doing you wrong.
     As for “what are you trying to say?” please allow me to quote the great Samuel Johnson: “I have given you an argument, sir. I am not also obligated to give you an understanding.”
     And no, I won’t explain that to you either.
     Thanks for writing.
    See how much fun that is? I had almost forgotten one of my favorite Dr. Johnson quotes, which I used to send quite frequently to boggled readers. After all, why does something have to benefit the confused and blockheaded? I benefit. Isn't that enough? Writing to such readers is like wishing upon a star. It's not that the stars care. But you have a little moment, making the wish, and that's something.


  1. Dr. Johnson had their number. Whenever I've seen an absolutely wack opinion presented as fact, I ask for a credible source. I've never gotten a credible response.

  2. Just like those who still insist the 2020 election was stolen. “Show me some proof,” I say. Response? Nothing credible.

    1. Better yet, ask them to place something of a wager on it.

      (Disclosure: This is a tactic suggested by noted polymath David Brin, not my own.)

      I have never had any RWNJ take me up on that. Never.

      Alan - longtime reader, occasional commenter

  3. Way back when they would give you these tests in school. One of them measured reading comprehension. Some people had good comprehension. Some people had great comprehension. Some people not so much.

    So my point is sometimes people read something and don't really understand it .
    to completely dismiss a response that asks questions in hopes of getting more information so that maybe they would understand where it is your coming from is not really too much to ask, is it?

    I feel that I have posted comments and sent emails about columns. Where man you get pissed off and I'm like what? I'm just asking a question. So in the hopes of people having more civil conversations, I suggest that we're a little bit more patient with one another and understanding.

    1. That's called being oblivious, Franco. If I'm pissed off at you, then you're acting like an asshole, and not being aware of it is a big part. I'm all for civility. But if you think this guy's confusion is a genuine desire to understand, well, I'll refer you to the first sentence. If your feelings are ever hurt here, I encourage you to go someplace where your feelings will be safe and warm. I run this blog for people who like it. It isn't an opportunity for me to be schooled by every reactionary bigmouth asshat who thinks he has come up with a clever defense of the undefendable.

    2. đŸ˜‚Brilliant. Made my day☮️

    3. I came to understand people like Franco much better once I learned about "I'm just asking a question" and sealioning.

    4. Dude...glassbowls are soooooo transparent. Play nice.
      As Major Frank Burns so famously said: "It's nice to be nice to the nice."

    5. People like Franco? You don't know me. You just imagine you do. Then comment based on a false narrative. I'm a forthright person.

  4. You're a better man than I am, Mister S. A lot more tolerant of people who dislike me online. For a quarter-century now, I've been tilting at windmills yelling at clouds, ordering the sun not to come up or the tide to come in.

    There's always another jamoke in my face, mostly because I can be such a snarky curmudgeon, and have been since Day One online. "Oh, hell. You don't LIKE me or my opinion? Boo freakin' hoo! Here's a tiny violin. [Forget] you, glassbowl, and the whores you rode in on."

    In my younger days, I would always...always...write them back. I was addicted to the adrenaline rush I got from keyboard combat. Not a healthy thing. Like booze or smokes. I spent hours at a time in flame wars and pissing contests. Now, in my geezerhood, I usually just block them. I wish today's websites had what used to be called the "ignore" feature. Now I have to do it manually.

    I know feeding the trolls never chastises only encourages them. But much of the time, I just can't help myself. Which is why I have been suspended and eventually booted from so many pages and sites that I can't remember them all. I have a long Facebook rap sheet and I've been in and out of Facebook Jail. I could probably write a book about my online that nobody would care to buy or read. Already have the snappy title: "I'm With the Banned."

    But I like it here. I like and admire our proprietor a great deal, and the marvelous opportunity he affords me to continue my observations and pontifications. So I conduct myself in an appropriate fashion...and will continue to do so. I have been good.

  5. For today's Saturday fun activity, I'm going to guess that that's Gen. George C. Marshall in the photo atop the blog. I don't actually think that's right, but I *really* don't think it's Spiro Agnew!

    If it's not too bothersome to ask, might you fill us in, NS? Who, where, why? Maybe it's a Postmaster General, to accompany the "Mailbag" post. : )

    1. Sure, it is Brigadier General Nathan William MacChesney, on display in the Union League Club Library. A Chicago lawyer, he created the model restrictive racial covenant used to redline and segregate all Chicago. Funny, I used him, not knowing who he was, just thinking he had the kind of grim, focused malice reflected by our letter writer. Turns out I'm right. Thanks for asking — that's the kind of fact that is good to have in your pocket for a slow news day.

    2. Huh. Interesting. Thanks for the reply. That's not really the kind of thing one would like wrapping up one's Wikipedia entry, nor is it something that you'd think the Union League Club would be very happy about. No wonder he looks glum.

  6. I have been chuckling for ten minutes over your response to "I was just asking a question?" Placing a question mark at the end of a bigoted statement does not relieve it of its assmillinery.


Comments are vetted and posted at the discretion of the proprietor.