Thursday, December 30, 2004

Your comments and questions

Don't you know
They're talkin' bout a revolution
It sounds like a whisper
Don't you know
They're talkin' bout a revolution
It sounds like a whisper--
"Talkin' Bout a Revolution" words & music by Tracy Chapman

What an amazing bunch of e-mails [that] have come in lately.

I was too wiped out Monday night to do anything on them and then Tuesday was spent going through your e-mails for the Sontag post. So here's a post that's e-mails and replies when they're needed.

We'll start with the "Year in Review" [].

Sally e-mails that she was upset to see Eminem included in the mentions. I think Cedric did a great job of explaining his reasoning. I also think that Cedric was taking the spirit of the site to heart. Ben and Shirley echoed that in their e-mails. Sally also feels that "Destiny's Child are just puppets and you should save that anger for people who deserve it."

Brian: "It was so nice to see Destiny's Child on this list. I can't think of anyone more deserving of a worst of award. Kat's Korner [see] really got me thinking. I'm sick of giving my money to people who don't give back. The idea that my hard earned dollars help someone like Destiny's Child live a more insular life and they can't even take a moment to give back means they either have blocks of ice for hearts or they're Republicans. Or both."

Fight for Peace: "'Solider' is the worst song not just of this year but of the decade."

Cedric: "Those gals need to remember who they are and they've obviously forgotten. I'm looking for an Aretha to come along and put it back to the real. I'm sick of hearing people say 'I'm keepin' it real' while they showcase their cribs and sport their bling, bling. What am I, the peasant in the village supposed to fall down at the hem of the royalty? I don't think so. Destiny's Child, you ain't speaking for me, so shut up already."

Vanessa: "I was bothered that Bill Moyers wasn't noted since he'd just retired. I was wondering if there was a reason you didn't write something on him."

If by "you," you mean me personally, I didn't write a great deal of those. Those were our awards. Me, personally, I probably wouldn't have thought of Moyers even if the awards post hadn't been rushed. Not because he isn't deserving but because it long ago became too painful for me to watch NOW with Bill Moyers knowing he would be leaving. (I did watch his final show.) (So Bill Moyers wasn't a large part of my life for most of 2004.) I went with what had been sent in and what I'd written already on scraps of paper. I'd hoped to spotlight various writers at the New York Times. But when the date changed on when the post would be done,
I didn't have time to write anything new other than transitions and the post on Cokie Roberts. (Everything else that wasn't sent in, unless I'm forgetting something, was written on scraps of paper as I prepared for what I thought would be the January 30th post.)

If you thought of him before hand, you could have e-mailed ( something on him and we would have happily put it in.

Erika: "I was so glad to see that Medea Benjamin got the person of the year and think that Trevor summed up the reasons for the choice beautifully."

Jobi: "I didn't know any of the picks for song of the year. Where was I in 2004?"

"Mosh" did get heavy play right before the election. Patti Smith's "Radio Baghdad" is an album track. Prince's "Cinnamon Girl" was a single and Prince made a video for it.

Kara: " deserved to be named the organization of the year. They're standing up for us and saying, 'No, you're not going to sell us out.' I enjoyed all the winners and the named losers as well but I think was especially deserving."

Gore Vidal Is God: "Yes! Rolling Stone has gotten so much better it's not even the same magazine it was a year ago. I might have felt that the award should have gone to Vanity Fair but then they go and put Arnold & Maria, the Shrivers, on the cover and they blew all the good will they'd built up. I didn't realize the Anne Robison [host of former prime time show The Weakest Link] look alike, Ed Needham, had left. Thank God. If I wanted to read Blender or Maxim, I would read those mags. I subscribe to Rolling Stone and just when I thought the old gal was dying, she sprang back to life."

Keesha: "That The New Republic thinks they can attack liberals right now with their move to push the Democratic Party to the center on the heels of their cheerleading into war shows how truly out of touch that rag is. I realize that most magazines are 'lifestyle' magazines but TNR thinks they can sell us what we should believe in. Not happening. They were useless in 2003 and they were useless in 2004. One mea culpa don't mean much when you're still a Republican trying to pretend you're a Democrat."

DeWayne: "I felt the choice of Slate for worst online magazine was harsh. Yes, it does blunder but you don't have to view an ad to read it the way you have to when you read Salon. And there's some really goodwork done there."

Tobias: "You listed a magazine called Bitch. And you've used 'damn.' Are you relaxing the language policy."

Bitch is the name of the magazine. It seemed to be a back-handed way to draw attention to a magazine but print its title as "B----." I did use "damn" in a post but didn't figure that would
get anyone in trouble. A reader who didn't want to be named also objected to the language
from the Eminem songs. I didn't think "pee pee" or "ass" was going to get anyone in trouble. We do try to maintain a 'work-environment safe' page. With Kat's Korner, I especially regret that because she had a great opening line that there's no way we could post. (She's reworked it and the latest Kat's Korner should post later today.) I loved it and loved reading it. But there's no way that opening line would pass the work safe environment. However, with "---"s sprinkled throughout the opening sentence, it lost it's power.

I have no problem with cursing, swearing or foul language (as anyone who's heard me speak can attest) but we do try to make sure that we're as safe as we can be on this site. Using "---"s or saying "It rhymes with rich" seemed a pretty meager way to recognize a magazine. Had Bitch been considered a pornographic one, we wouldn't have cited it. But it's a solid magazine that speaks to many. I'm sorry if anyone was offended by the word but if someone e-mails it in next year, it will go up again.

Holly: "What the heck was Jane doing on the list? What's next 17?"

I haven't read 17. But Jane was nominated by a reader and it did run a piece this year (widely available on the web, or at least noted) by Carly Simon on the need for reform in drug laws.

George: "Why are you promoting the 'news' magazine show Extra?"

The television show didn't make the list. Extra! is a bi-monthly magazine put out by FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting). To learn more about Extra!, please click here

????: "What is Little Blue World?"

Little Blue World is a fanzine focusing on Tori Amos. We are committed to music at this site and Amos has been one of the stronger voices during bleak musical times. In addition, Little Blue World promotes many worth while causes.

From the web site for Little Blue World ( you can find the topics
in the current issue:

The Path to Healing: How Tori's personal experience of healing after rape inspired the founding of RAINN.
Silent No More: RAINN's efforts bear fruit as sexual assault rates fall and reporting goes up. Things are Pretty Good for a Calendar Girl: LBW interviews five of the artists featured in the 2005 RAINN calendar.
Walking With Scarlet: The best of the bootlegs from Scarlet's tours.
When Old Loves Return: Our reviewer falls in and out of love with the work of Melissa Ferrick.

Krista: "I can't believe that I got David Cobb's name wrong. I want to tell everyone I'm very, very sorry."

Krista wanted that printed. I don't see [that] there's any need for her to apologize. It was a mistake (one I should have caught before I typed up) and those things happen. It's been corrected.
The fact that you took the time to recognize two people who wouldn't have been recognized otherwise (no one else e-mailed regarding them) is more important than the fact that one of their names went up wrong initially.

Brad: "I've tried to check out Intervention Magazine repeatedly. Every time I click on the link, I get an error message."

That's my fault. Thank you for pointing that out. The closed parenthesis is acting as part of the link for some reason. It's been corrected.

Linda: "You didn't close the parenthesis on Ms. Musing or Why Are We Back In Iraq?"

Considering what happened with Intervention Magazine, that might have been a good thing. But they are now closed and thanks for calling that to my attention.

Robyn: "Kit Seelye does make a good blogger. I have no idea what happens when she goes to write a story but I appreciated that she was high lighted. She's not one of my favorites by any means but if someone does something worthy of note, I'm all for recognizing her."

Gina: "Highlighting the 'good' in Kit Seelye may qualify as your biggest Oprah moment thus far."

Yazz: "'As rude & nasty as we want to be?' And then you give an award to Kit? I think someone's trying to hard to be fair."

Staci: "I think Julian Bond is the last inspiring person on the planet. Thank you for highlighting him."

E-mail on Yukos

Jackie: "I looked up Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky and tell Krista she's right. He's yummy!"

E-mails on the alternative weekly round up [see]

Trevor: "I read a funny piece online about a straight man posing as the parent of a gay son and later as a gay man himself. I was surprised you didn't link to that."

That story appeared in at least two alternative weeklies. I did see it. But it also had a photo of a man, from behind, in chaps with nothing else on and his rear clearly exposed. It was an interesting piece but due to the photo and the fact that there were some articles (and the poems) that I thought were worthy of emphasizing, I went with something else.
That doesn't mean I made the right choice. If you can find the link for the piece, I'll be happy
to post it.

Barbara: "I wanted the alternative round up to be longer. It seemed shorter than last time."

Which is a good argument for linking to the story Trevor mentioned. It's also true that there wasn't a great deal of focus on politics in a lot of the weeklies last week. Or the weeklies that I checked. If you read a story and you think it should be linked, do what Billie did (which started this now regular roundup) and e-mail it to the site. I'll be doing one of those posts today and I'll see if I can find some more things. Ms. isn't a weekly but it is alternative and I might include something from it if there isn't a great deal to choose from.

Brandy: "The Joan Baez post [see] is my favorite post thus far. Thank you and thank Liang for requesting it."

Rob: "Joan Baez and Michelle Phillips [see] in one night? Is the site going to become a fanzine?"

The Michelle Phillips post was planned for some time -- that the section of her book (California Dreamin') would be quoted. It's what got Kat interested in doing Kat's Korner, our need to reclaim music. On Saturday, I was very tired and had a huge headache from the columns of Daniel Okrent. People had been e-mailing afraid that we would take a vacation the way some sites were doing. With that "on deck" already, it was easy to pull it and post it. If it helps any,
I think it's the weakest post I've posted. Not because of Phillips' words but because of the meandering preface to them (by me) and because in the resources listed at the bottom, I go
into a long, drawn out thing regarding John Phillips' Papa John.

All I needed to say about that book was, "I didn't enjoy Papa John, but you might." To spare anyone from spending money on a book that I rank as one of the worst book purchases of my life, I tried to explain what I didn't like about the book. (I still remember that day and thinking, do I get a cassette or do I get a book?) Then I felt like I was ragging on the book (yes, Yazz,
the fairness factor surfaced) so I attempted to point out some things that might be of interest. In the end the whole thing was a mish mosh of bad writing on my part.

I think my intro and then my meandering detracted from Phillips' very strong writing. (Michelle Phillips.) I'm not going to redo it. It's out there. It's proof of how bad I can be.
Won't be the last time but hopefully it won't pop up all the time. But, again, let me stress that I think Michelle Phillips' points were valid (and well written). If you missed it or couldn't wade through my intro (I don't blame you), try re-reading it but only focus on the parts that are in bold print. (Those are Phillips' words in bold print.)

E-mails on mistakes the Times refused to correct [see,]

Trina: "You say that the Jackson's record releases weren't that different from other artists mentioned. Could you clarify that?"

Yes. The theory pushed in the article, or one of them, was that Janet Jackson's then forthcoming album was too long in the making and that other younger artists were releasing albums much more quickly in the time since Jackson had released her last album.

Christina Aguilera had her first big hit album with her self-titled release in 1999. She followed that up with Stripped in 2002. (There was a Christmas album in between, but those are stocked only around Christmas and seasonal albums aren't the same as regular albums. I can't imagine Rolling Stone, for instance, trumpeting a season album as a "true" album. And I've read Rolling Stone for many, many years.)

In 1999, Britney Spears had a hit album with . . .Baby One More Time. (Apparently it's okay to sing "Hit me, baby, one more time" as long as you don't remind parents that's the actual line.) She followed that album with Oops . . . I Did It Again in 2000. In the Zone came out in 2003. (Her "greatest" "hits" album came out in November of this year, after the Feb. Times' story.)

Janet Jackson's The Velvet Rope came out in 1997. Jackson followed that up with All For
You in 2001. In 2004, she released Damita Jo. Spears's In the Zone came out three years after her previous album. Aguilera's Stripped came out three years later. (And since she's not releasing anything today, her next album will come no sooner than three years after Stripped.)

The theory put forth in the article was that Jackson had waited too long between albums, unlike the newer 'stars' Christina and Britney, and that this was another way she had become out of touch with the market. (And let's note too that this article which focused solely on sales appeared in the "Arts" section. Comparisons between Jackson, who attempts to say something, were made with the likes of Britney Spears, who's yet to develop a thought, original or not. And the writer of the piece wasn't concerned for a minute with discussing the art involved in Jackson's work, only with the sales . . . and sex in the so-called "bad Janet" phase.)

The too-long-for-this-release theory is false since her last two studio albums echo the release of the last two studio albums by Spears and Aguilera: all three waited three years. Hope that clears it up.

E-mails on "Daniel Okrent, Step Down" [see]

Marci: "Do you really think he'll step down?"

I don't know. I would hope that he'd have enough integrity somewhere inside to realize he crossed a line that cannot now be erased and as a result he's of no help to readers. But I have had enough false hopes in 2004 that I won't bet on it.

Rob: "Thank you for writing it. I've been waiting for some time to see him taken to task and to get the double helping on Sunday started my week off with a bang. I had no idea when I asked that you write about his outing of 'George' that you'd attempt to re-read all of his columns. I thought you'd just add something as a paragraph to something else. Hope it wasn't too much work."

Rob, fate will never return the hours of pain I endured in reading through all of Daniel Okrent's past columns. Seriously, the outing took place before this blog started. I didn't see the point in just addressing it in terms of "Oh, this happened in October." I was also trying to nail down some legal questions as best I could because I do wonder if any thought has been given to any potential legal ramifications over this.

I kept thinking of a guy who saved President Gerald Ford from an assisination attempt and how the press reported that the guy was gay. I was wondering what happened with that. I tracked it down in two sources where it was an aside (at best) and they contradicted each other. But the guy felt he was a private citizen and that saving the life of a president didn't mean he gave up his right to being a private citizen. I want to stress again that I'm not a lawyer and I'm not saying that 'George' could win on any of the issues/questions I raised. I was saying that to a lay person, these looked like issues of concern. If they are issues of concern, I'm wouldn't be surprised if the Times attempted to argue that they print Okrent as is. (He mentioned that in one column and I don't feel like inflicting more pain on myself by looking it up. He said something to the effect of 'other than spelling and . . .' some other thing, the paper kept their hands off his columns.) I don't know that the Times could seriously argue that because I would assume that they'd be asked would they, indeed, print anything he wrote as long as it was spelled correctly?

On "Regarding Sontag: Her Words and Your Words" [see]

Clark: "Why do you think the Times avoided mentioning her sexuality since I've read about it quite often and as you pointed out she even discussed it with The New Yorker in 2000?"

Actually, Craig Seligman pointed that out in his book Sontag & Kael -- a book the Times reviewed in their Sunday Book Review when the book came out.

We don't make it a practice to out anyone. We're not a 'breaking news site.' We're more of a review/resource in terms of news. Marcia raised the issue (and it's worth raising) as to why the Times avoided mentioning it in the obit on Sontag. I had seen an obit online at Yahoo that mentioned it. [Marcia had seen the same obit on Yahoo and noted it in her e-mail.] [Oregon tracked that obit down online and we have a link to it -- see].

That was one source. Selig commented on it in his book. That was our second source. The Adovcate obit was our third source. Three printed sources make it public knowledge, in my opinion. (Granted, The Advocate mentioned it as a possibility. Click on "Regarding Sontag . . ." link provided above and scroll down to the notes at the end.)

I don't know why the Times didn't include it. Maybe they felt it was merely 'speculation?' Maybe they didn't feel it was worthy of noting? Maybe they felt they were concentrating on Sontag's work?

If it was the last one, I don't remember reading in the Times' obit that Sontag had done more to increase America's appetite for literature from other countries (beginning with her focus and appreciation for French writers). So I don't know that they were 'focusing' on the work. I also would suggest that since Sontag and the woman in question (I'm not trying to be discreet, I'm trying to avoid a typo that I'll have to come back and correct later, the woman is named in the posts cited above) collaborated on a book, this did reflect on "work."

E-mails on typos

Gelman: "Don't you feel that with all the typos you continually make you should just pack it in? You don't seem too bothered by them since you've stated you're really only interested in corrections if it's someone's name you've mispelled. I read you and think, what is this person, dyslexic!"

I do make a number of typos. As for my lack of concern over them, that probably results from the fact that I am dyslexic. The last time I was truly embarrassed over spelling was when I was a senior in high school and had to go the board to write something for a presentation. The title I was writing included the word "business." At first I wrote "buisness." People laughed and thought I was kidding. After studying it intently, while someone hollered out, "Come on quit kidding around, spell it right," I tried another version but was already frustrated.

Wrong combo again and my embarrassment and frustration only increased to the point that I couldn't have spelled the word correctly if I was spelling it aloud. I probably beat myself over that for a full week. Life, like your patience with my typos, is too short. I'm fine with using a spell check but as I've noted, the spell check that comes with this blog has a tendency to stop midway or else freeze. If it freezes mid-check, I end up losing whatever post I've just worked on. When I read, I read with one eye closed and focus more on recognition. I transpose letters, numbers and words all the time. It's nothing new to me (and nothing I'm now going to get worked up about) so if I seem casual in my response to typos, that's probably why. (And if I go too long with something, even the one-eye-read trick, which was a focusing trick I was introduced to early on, doesn't help keep letters in order.)

I do read over it (usually reading it aloud) but I'm going by recognition and if the letters are all (or mainly) in the word I'm recognizing it more often than not and [not] realizing there's a mistake there. (I probably could also attempt to take the time and care I do when reading something that someone else wrote, either in an e-mail or on the printed page.) I've stated several times that this isn't the site for proper spelling and grammer. (And when I type numbers in a post, I type incredibly slow from the source I'm getting the numbers from because I know I can easily transpose them.) There's a point that's being made when I'm writing (whether it's on the Times or someone's e-mail or whatever) and that's really what I think is more important than working myself into frenzy over something I have questionable control over. I appreciate that you have a need for order. I accept that my posts, like the world around us, are chaotic.

I did attempt to import a working post into WordPerfect. That's great for spell check but when I then tried to copy and paste it back into the blog, I found that I lost all italics, all bold print, all font differences and that a period was followed, with no spaces, by the first letter of the next sentence. Thirty minutes spent redoing hyperlinks and the above convinced me that it wasn't worth it.

If the spelling errors are too much for you, then you probably shouldn't be coming to this site because life's too short for you to visit one that you know ahead of time will cause you frustration. (And that's meant as an Oprah moment, not as sarcasm.)

Krista felt really bad when the correction on David Cobb's name went up. I've told her it is no big deal and it isn't. I've also told her that I should have checked the name before posting it (and I should have). My attitude is that we're sharing here and if we get something wrong [,] in terms of a fact or the spelling of a name, we'll correct it. But otherwise, life is just too short and there's so much more to address and focus on.

Brianna: "I see the same people quoted over and over. I write all the time. Do you just select certain people."

Until this e-mail, you never responded as to if I could quote you and how you'd like to be cited. Rob wanted the Daniel Okrent post for some time. That was a much needed post because this site's policy regarding quoting and how to refer to people came about partly as a result of the outing of 'George.' Some people put in their e-mails "you can quote me" and that takes care of that. Those people (Kara and Ben to name two) are more likely to be quoted because they've given permission.

There may be a million Brianna's in the world. But if you're speaking of some group or event that you care about, you might not want someone that knows you and your interests to recognize you. We don't practice outing of any kind here. (Other than outing bad writing!)
Not sexual outing, not political outing, not musical taste outing, etc. "I" wrote a poem about a bad marriage that was very personal and based on a real experience. When we ran"I"'s
poem, we first got permission to and permission for how to refer to "I." We don't want "I"'s spouse reading it online and then being upset with "I" because of our actions. So the policy is that you've given permission to be quoted and you've come up with your own name to be quoted by. It can be your real name, a nickname, whatever. It doesn't matter as long as no one else is using that on this site and it's not a swear word. That's why we quote people "named" Gore Vidal is God and ?????. Or Alabama and Oregon. Or New Reader.

Brianna: "I think you show favoritism with who you quote from e-mails and would just like to see if you'll admit to that."

I showed favoritism yesterday and that's the only time I can think of when I have. Beverley
e-mailed a very nice e-mail saying she'd read the Sontag post and enjoyed it but had read her section of it and then gone to her saved copy of her e-mail to see who had made the mistake. She then joked about how she guessed she hadn't read her e-mail closely enough before sending. There was an "s" left off one word and there was another word that had "often" at the start with something else attached. I had no idea what that word was and couldn't find it in the dictionary but I'm not the vocab expert and Francisco and others frequently use non-English words in their e-mails. She did not ask for a correction and was so nice (and funny) about the whole thing that I went ahead and did a correction on it. I probably showed her favoritism but other than that, I'm pulling a blank. If someone gives permission to quote but asks that I clean it up,
I do try to put in a missing word in "[]" but only if they've asked. If they mention someone by first or last name only, I do try to put the other name in brackets so that everyone knows who is being spoken of. And I'm trying to provide links lately when someone mentions something. We're reviewing the press, events and music here and I want to be sure that everyone is able to be part of the discussion. That hit home when someone wrote in asking "Who are the Mamas & the Papas?"

They were before my time but my mother played them over and over and, having heard them repeatedly growing up, I must have assumed (wrongly) that most people would know of them.
That was a mistake on my part. So when we did the"Mama was a Heavyweight" post, I tried to include resources in case you were new to the group and interested in learning about them.

Yazz feels I'm "too fair" to the New York Times and he may be right. But as for favoritism, I'm only thinking of doing the one correction.

Brianna: "You never quote hate mail. Don't you get any?"

Hate mail as in "You _____ liberal, you should go ___yourself and die!"? Yes, that does arrive. On a slow day, it accounts for about fifteen e-mails. I don't get too worried or worked up over it. I also don't see the need to quote from it. We get so much e-mail that is worthwhile that there's really not time to quote from the rantings of the right wing. (And they have plenty of sites they can go to heard to be heard from.) We did quote Sue in Waterbury. Twice. But only because she thought she could influence what was covered or, rather, not covered. She can't nor can any other hate mail.

If by "hate mail," you mean e-mail that's critical of this site in a negative way, if it's sent in, we'll quote it. (And I don't see criticism -- negative criticism -- as necessarily being "hate mail.") If the person says they can be quoted. I responded to the person who pointed out the David Cobb error in a lengthy e-mail in which I apologized for my error in not checking the name first and I asked if the person wanted to be quoted (an award had been created for me in 'honor' of the mistake). I never heard back from that person. Had I heard back, I would have quoted his e-mail. (It's now been deleted and the print out trashed. There are too many
e-mails coming in each day to save one on the hope that ___ will respond and say, "Yes, quote it!")

I'm blanking now on who it was (Rob?) that wrote about the coverage on web sites turning everything into an outrage. (The person was quoted, with permission, so you can look through the posts to find it if you're interested.) The person drew a line between this site and others.
I responded that I wasn't sure that a line could be drawn and that we were probably as guilty of that as anyone else. The person wanted that left in if the e-mail was quoted from. So it was
left in.

If it was Rob, he doesn't try to kiss up to the site in his e-mails. He'll say so when he feels time is being wasted focusing on something he doesn't feel is important (in strong language). But I didn't think we deserved the exception and I didn't think we needed to quote an e-mail that could be read as "we're so great!" when in fact we're just as guilty as anyone else. It's not necessary to kiss up or praise to get quoted, no. But we're not going to waste time quoting from hate mail sent in by people ranting about how awful the left is.

Brianna: "I always hope you'll talk about something interesting! And I never get that. Do you have a life or are you just some machine that automatically types these posts? Why don't you talk about your daily life and exciting stuff!"

My most intense sexual experience would have to be . . . That sort of thing?

Sorry, I'm not interested (and can't imagine anyone else would be). I was really excited when I read your e-mail and got to the part about "I always hope you'll talk about something interesting! And I never get that." because I was thinking the next sentence would be some issue or cause or event that you felt was being ignored and I'm quite aware that I miss many topics.

Our finest posts (I feel) are the ones based on the e-mails. The second best ones are the ones that are requested (like "Questions for a Questionable Simon Rosenberg," "When NPR Fails You Who You Gonna' Call, Not the Ombudsman," "Daniel Okrent, Step Down," "Where Are You Now, My Son?" . . . The only one that I came up with all by myself that has the least cringe factor for me is "Should This Marriage Be Saved?"). So I was very eager to read what you felt we hadn't covered but needed to be covered.

And then I read (if I'm reading it correctly) that you wanted personal details about me. As a feminist, I agree that the personal is political. But I think what feminists in the late sixties and early seventies were trying to do was highlight injustices and show that these topics dismissed as "personal" and not belonging to "public life" discussions (or worthy of them) were in fact universal conditions and problems. Somewhere along the way, People and a host of other magazines popped up (as well as numerous self-help programs) and suddenly the personal was just personal with no attempt to put it into context. If you had a problem, it was because of you and had no reflection on anything outside of your own head.

I'm more than willing to share anyone's personal e-mail that they are willing to have quoted but if I reference a personal event [of my own] it's either because I think it puts something in perspective or I'm very tired when I'm writing.

There's a debate that some of the people who come to this site are having elsewhere about various blogs and whether some are diaries or journals or what. On my end, I'm not attempting to write a confessional diary. Nor am I attempting to give a litany of my daily events or social calender. I see our community as a review of the media and of events (from a left perspective) and I'm trying to improve our ability as a resource.

If you're wanting a laundry list of sexual partners or some sort of daily planner, you will not be satisfied with this site.

A number of you write in for personal information about me. I see no point in that. Some of you are convinced of certain things while you read. I feel I can be whomever you want.
[For Susan, I'll throw in a song.]

Tell me who you long for
In your secret dreams
Go on and tell me
Who you wish I was
Instead of me
I'm not necessarily
The girl you think you see
Whoever you want is exactly who
I'm more than willing to be
-- "The Girl You Think You See" words & music by Carly Simon and Jacob Brackman

"You must be from a 'red' state to write about the 'red' states and understand them." (Actually, e-mails prompted that series.) If it helps someone to think that I'm from some area, that's fine. Others have attempted to figure out my gender. Considering the lack of represenation for female bloggers on the web (and in coverage of the web), if I were a woman, would it be prudent to say so? Would our conversation stop for some because "that's a female blog!" If I were a man, knowing the system was rigged so that I would benefit from announcing my gender, would it be selling out to admit it?

(I will say for the five of you that keep writing insisting that "You are Ellen Willis!" that the comparison to a writer as talented as Willis leaves me flattered but I'm sure it would insult her.)

If gender's the most asked question, race is the second most.

Gender and race (and a host of other issues) can impact the way we may view an issue. I am sure that many personal things have impacted on the way I see a great many things. But I'd prefer to leave it open-ended so that the statements don't come back to relying on me personally and can instead deal with the issues that are being raised. I also feel that there's too much focus on the personal and have worried from the Friday I signed up for this blog that the blog's focus be on anyone who bothered to read to it and the issues as opposed to being about myself.

I've said before I have no plans to ever pop up on a radio show and that "the story" of The Common Ills is the story of us: our thoughts and our concerns. I hope that makes sense but I'm tired so who knows how this will read. On the plus side, Kat's posts are very much personal posts and a new one may already be up or will be up shortly.

[Note: There's some problem with the blog today. A post isn't showing up right now -- we've had that before. In addition, words are often falling on top of each other -- exampe: "ontop of eachother." I've corrected that in this post and in Kat's Korner. Kat's Korner is Kat's space and I don't feel comfortable amending a note to her post. I've also added several words to this post where Shirley pointed out there was a little confusion. All but one is in "[]" and the only one that's not is in a parenthetical section where I felt the use of "[]" in it would make it more confusing.]