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April 23, 2008


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Will Baird

"Cycad toxicity and mammalian evolution. Sorry, Will, but the data are too equivocal."

fscking tease.

Will Baird

Actually graphing the size and/or number herbivorous variants of the therapsids vs the diversity of cycads might have some interesting results.

Things to put on The List.

Martin Wisse

Oh Carlos, bless you, in all the time I've known you on Usenet and elsewhere, you've never changed.

Neither has Jordan of course.


Hi Martin! I like Michael Berube's pet name for you, because it is so very appropriate. He's a smart guy, a cultural producer.

On the other hand, you, Martin, are a cultural _consumer_.

Please keep this in mind.


I'm not a fanboy of anything but Tolkien and the Dresden Dolls, and don't want to be spoonfed, even if it sometimes seems different to you.

My sincere good wishes to your attempts to find a wider audience. You deserve it.


KW, you're not in the group I had in mind. Thanks for your wishes.

Martin, however, is.

It's interesting. Berube and I come from very different places, intellectually speaking, and yet we've converged on the same basic reaction to these people. When we see them performing the intellectual equivalent of taking a jelly donut from a store shelf, sucking out the filling, and putting it back with a pat, we feel _disgust_, and react through _mockery_.

But there are entire subcultures devoted to celebrating the sucked filling.


Carlos, I too wish you well in your future endeavors. I'm relatively new to the party, having started reading HDTD only since February. This blog brings some badly-needed intellectualism to my day, and I particularly liked reading about "your books, yourself." I'm pretty sure I didn't comment at the time because my book of the week was about pro football, or something.

That said, I'm getting the sense that you're fed up with your readership. Maybe this isn't the right forum to ask, but, uh, have we done something to anger you? Is HDTD aimed at a readership of which I'm not cognizant?


Marcia, there's a lot of overhang in this blog's readership from the days I used to post on Usenet, which was basically Google Groups before there was Google. Some of the old guard was and is great! In fact, I first met Doug through Usenet, and Noel too. Also, my opinion of lawyers and taxmen has vastly improved.

But some of it, well. Somehow on Usenet I accumulated a group of readers who decided to measure themselves against me. Some of them were fawning, and some of them were baiting (and some were stalkers), but they all craved my response. I don't think 'craved' is too strong a word. They had a psychological need to hear my opinion, positive or negative, I think mainly because of my forceful tone in prose.

As you can imagine, I found this really creepy. Some weirdo in Christchurch or Cincinnati feels better about himself by making me angry? Someone here is a headcase and it ain't me.

Or, conversely, some guy in Portland or Peoria takes my word for something like a cult disciple, even after I've told them for days, months, years! the importance of finding things out for themselves?

I had hoped, by joining Doug and Claudia's blog, that I would find more people to talk with, and not talk at; and also that maybe the crowd with the big L branded on their foreheads would find some other venue; and that maybe, just maybe, a little bit of Doug and Claudia's good karma would rub off on me, since they first encountered each other in a really unlikely place on the Internet.

It hasn't happened yet. I don't think it's going to.

Martin Wisse

See? Exactly the same response as you would've given ten years ago, just with the name of the authority figure changed. It's good to see some things remain constant, when so much has changed since then and not for the better either.

Will Baird

I think you have a double curse here, Carlos.

First, it's the medium. Blogs ain't no stinkin usenet. Or even close. Alas. It provides a wonderful update as far as being able to format and include information that simply can't in ascii. OTOH, it requires a lot more work than merely popping off a post on usenet because you do have to take the time for the formatting, etc. However, I do believe the real killer is the fact that there's no threading. RSS feeds and posting links to and fro as 'responses' are not the same.

I'm working on this. It's progressing. It also has a lower priority atm than the big project I am getting funded right now. When Team Phoenicia's over and one then I'll move back to this as the higher priority. That said, I have some working stuff that's gooooood. Just buggy.

Speaking as one of the designated sycophants: you're a touch too authoritative. The times I have followed up on your comments or thoughts or posts, I rarely find anything remotely credible that challenges what you've said. Now, I have copious amounts of things that I have on a list to follow up, but so far so good. [reading & for fun research time has been reduced to 10% of before marriage and child. *weeps*]

That said, I am almost 100% a consumer when it comes to anything that you, Noel, or Doug post on economics. Completely guilty as charged. And I can't claim the A**H*** Geek Defense (*rolls eyes*).

Admirers are good, Carlos, but I do agree people that are up for some solid peer level discussion are better.

Noel Maurer

Uh. Martin, the cryptic chip shots are very unbecoming. Politeness requires that you explain your beef with Mr. Yu for our audience.

Seriously. As a man given to unnecessary on-line rudeness myself, I feel qualified to point it out in others. Over to you, Martin.


Noel, it's fairly clear, once you realize Martin considers *himself* one of the authorities I am supposedly rejecting.

Okay, you can stop laughing now.

Take a guess which Simpsons character Berube has him pegged for. Hint: it ain't Lenny.


Thanks for the explanation, Carlos. I have this feeling I'm sitting back watching the worms fly out of the can now.

Spike Gomes

I suppose I'm one of the fawning ones in danger of not being able to think for themselves that you describe in the above, Carlos.

I debated the utility in replying to this post. Replying in it's own way would be a verification of what you're saying, but then I realized that you're right in a certain respect. I am guilty of being one of those who put you on a pedastal and aspiring to be like you. I also realize in the last couple years of my life how short I've fallen in that regard.

Unlike others, I couldn't hack being an academic even in the rather easy discipline I chose, and I've realized how much this branch of the life of the mind doesn't suit me. I don't have the hard shell that most people do, nor the brain wattage or agility necessary to crank data, debate forcefully or pick up languages easily. People that you were highly critical of seemed more successful and talented than myself. They did things effortlessly that I stuggled for weeks to do.

In that regard I've decided to take another course in life. I'm leaving the world of the campus and heading to Japan to do a business job that requires little of me as a scholar and a researcher. In my free time I'm going to go back to something I've given up for several years, namely writing fiction and poetry. I've cut back on blog-reading and all that other detrius of online intellectual life. I'm debating on leaving all that behind completely to those better abled to handle it mentally and emotionally.

What I do take unction with is how you dismiss those who haved failed in this regard as "headcases". I own up to my problems with depression and craving for external approval. Recognition of such does give me a pass for my failure, but I think I would provide some fodder for understanding the mistakes and missteps I made in the past. Cast your eye a little less balefully on us who failed. Some of us were trying and had only the best intent at heart. The failure itself was a good lesson learned.

So now I'm moving on to other things. Perhaps it's not what you'd approve of, a life avoiding the full weight of the world's concerns, teaching businessmen English and writing things that are driven from within rather than without. Still, I think I'd be happier there and a little less burdened. The best thing is, I don't care about what anyone thinks about it anymore.

Spike Gomes

Errr that's "does not give me a pass"

Should have proofed it better.

Martin Wisse


I have no beef whatsoever with Carlos, though he seems to have issues with me. I stand by what I said: I've seen Carlos do this thing before, on Usenet and elsewhere and I do genuinely appreciate his style, if that's the right word.

Apart from that, if Carlos overreacts to a friendly jab in this way perhaps it is for the best that he leaves blogging to the thicker skinned.


Marcia, you know it.

There really are no words.

The New York City Math Teacher


You know me. We've corresponded at least 9 years. Israel, Heinlein/fascism, circumcision, coronary magma.

The key is self-satisfied wounded and sessile sanctimony. Life is too short. As in "What is the economic value of a Cheeto?" and other performance art. It's the gormless inconsequence of the exchanges that burns and enervates, both transitively and intransitively.

Carlos ceases to caper for the basement battalion; great! (although I am interested and amused by the breadth and depth of his syntheses). Atropos trims too soon, and we all have calories to burn productively.

Dennis Brennan

Spike-- consider a career in law. Seriously-- it's like academia, but with a point; and the pay can be better.

Spike Gomes


No thanks. If I'm too thin skinned for academia, then I'm hella too thin skinned for law. Besides, I'm actually looking forward to what I'm going to be doing, even if I do have occaisional anxiety attacks about it. I mean the past 3-4 years haven't been to kind to me and I'm looking forward to leaving it all behind. All the books, all the endless debates over beer, all the politics. Where I'm going all I'll have is a few suits in the closet, doing one of the few jobs I don't feel like a fraud doing, and have a blank page before me (well, a clear Microsoft Word screen).

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