Category Archives: Blogging

Back Again

I have been away from my home and away from this blog for a few days.  I see lots of interesting new comments.  I will get to them as soon as I can.

Answering in Kind

I felt a strong urge to write directly to some commenters here and treat them the way that they treat me.  It really is annoying.  And hypocritical, since those writing claim to be tolerant and peace-loving–as opposed to their caricature of me as a bigot and a mean person.

It is tempting to ban such people, but I made a vow to myself that on my blog there would be true tolerance and freedom of speech.  It was my assumption that if I allowed people to express themselves freely, they would be polite and tolerant in return.  I guess I am naive in thinking so.

I had an urge to hurl wild accusations at my detractors–things that I could not possibly know about them but would claim to know.  I thought about saying, “You are a hypocrite, because you actually work for cash under the table so that you can avoid paying income tax.”  But that would be rude and dishonest and unfair.  I thought about saying, “You will not rest until every child that is conceived ends up getting aborted and until every married couple breaks up in order to shack up with people of the same sex.”  But that would be completely outrageous and utterly contemptible of me.  I am quite sure that my detractors are decent people who have a different view of things from me.  And no matter what I might suppose about them, I have no way of knowing much about their lives outside of cyberspace, since I do not know them face to face or observe their daily habits.

I have a simple request.  Don’t say that you know something about me that you do not actually know.  Isn’t that fair?  Don’t make wild accusations about me that you cannot support with facts.  Surely you wouldn’t want somebody doing that to you?

If I am a bad person, and maybe I am, I want to issue anyone and everyone a challenge.  Show me how to be better.  Lead by example.  Show me some of that tolerance and acceptance and love and peace that you think I am lacking.

Blog Block

     From time to time I skip writing on this blog, because I honestly have nothing to write about.  I am blocked, as professional writers say.  Actually, I think that professional writers seldom have the luxury of suffering from writer’s block, since their livelihood depends on their writing something at regular intervals.

     Some writers I know tell me that they write a bit everyday.  They have told me that if I want to be a good writer, I should do the same thing.  I am certain that they are right, but since I am not a professional writer, I cannot always find the time to write.   The pros tell me that when they force themselves to write, they often go from being blocked to being unblocked during the process.  Some of them say that if they write five pages, they are able to find a small bit of writing in those pages that is worth keeping.  I don’t have time for such a long, disappointing process.

     When I started this blog, it was my intention to write something every day.  I read, among the many “rules” of blogging, that you can only keep readers if you post something, anything, every day.  I think that the rule is good, but it’s just not practical for me.

     Some days find me literally too busy to stop and write something on this blog.  On other days I simply cannot think of anything to write about.  I try not to write anything unless it is useful, informative, entertaining, inspiring, or at least mildly clever.   Otherwise, I am wasting my time and yours. 

     On days when I feel blocked, I turn to the news.  Unless there is something significant or fairly interesting in the news, I just cannot justify going through the process of writing about it.  I think about my life.  Boring!  I think about whatever I have been daydreaming about lately or whatever has been buzzing and whirring in my brain.  Most of it is interesting only to me.  Some of it would be downright shocking to other people, and some of it would bore other people to death.  The funny parts are, realistically speaking, funny only to me.  I am a hilarious comedian in my own mind!

     Sometimes I think about adding to series that I have already started.  Usually those thoughts do not come to fruition.  It would take work, and I am often allergic to work.

     A typical blog post of about 500 words takes me at least one hour to write.  I have spent as long as three hours on one.  I revise as I go, sentence by sentence.  Then I revise the whole thing.  I have spent as long as an hour on a blog post only to scrap the entire thing and to start over. 

     I look for just the right word here and there.  I do my best to make sure that what I write is clear.  (I apparently fail at that goal often.)  I hear voices of writing instructors and of professional writers reciting the “rules” in my head.  One of my professors insisted that I not use demonstrative adjectives as pronouns.  One writer said that you must use vivid verbs rather than modifying a dull verb with an vivd adverb.  Okay, okay, I think as I write.

     Proofreading is another matter.  I find myself disgusted at the errors I make, most of which come from typing too fast.  I sometimes proofread carefully, but at other times I scan what I have written for errors, only to find later that I have missed several. 

     As you have probably guessed, this post came about as a result of haing nothing to write.  I hope that you got something out of it.

My Chance to Win Money

     Being the greedy capitalist that I am, I have entered an essay contest with a significant cash prize.  The contest is sponsored by Templeton Press and is called The New Threats to Freedom Blog Contest.

     You can read my essay, “Watch Your Mouth,” on my other blog.

     Please tell me what you think about the essay as an essay.  In other words, please grade it without regardless of whether you agree or disagree with its content.  Then share with me whether you agree or disagree with me.  I’m eager to read your feedback.

A Long Vacation

     Frankly, I lost interest in this blog for awhile.  I was traveling, spending time on other hobbies, and visiting my relatives.  I had gotten tired of writing about things that I care about only to have people tell me how stupid and evil I am.   I was considering giving up for good. 

     I have been feeling bad about some of what I have written here.  I stand by my opinions, but I think that I have sometimes been too caustic.  It comes so naturally to me to be critical.  I wanted to take a break from pointing out all the things that I am unhappy about.

     I have also been in and out of doctors’ offices.  Everybody is fine, but among the family have been two surgeries and a battery of tests.

Rules on My Blog

Rule #1 My blog, my rules.

If you don’t like it, move along. That includes people who are on “my” side and people who are not.

Rule #2  All are welcome.

Except spammers.

Rule #3  All are truly welcome.

I really, really want people to comment on my blog who completely disagree with m.  I enjoy reading your comments, no matter how wrong I think they are.  You challenge me.  You sharpen my thinking.  You give me something to respond to.

Rule #4  Direct attacks are not allowed.

The line is sometimes hard to draw.  For me it has definitely been crossed when you write in second person with a mean-spirited noun to name somebody or a mean-spirited adjective to describe them.

Examples:  You are an idiotic.  You are stupid.

Rule #5  Obscene and vulgar words are not allowed.

I don’t talk or write that way, and I don’t want to read that stuff.  Having a more sophisticated vocabulary is a way to show how knowledgeable you are, and it can lend more credence to your argument.

Rule #6  I will not block anyone unless they persist in breaking the rules.

Rule #7  I will (and have) edited comments to remove offensive material. 

I will keep as much of the original comment as possible and will make every effort not to delete any substantive parts.  About the only time I delete a comment is when it is blatant spam.

Rule #8  I will arbitrate between commenters if I need to, but I’d prefer not to have to.

Rule #9  Use good faith in reading and interpreting people’s comments. 

This rule is frequently broken here and on other blogs.  If you cannot do it, then the blogosphere is probably not for you.  Oh, and you’d better be prepared to be offended.  You will be.

Rule #10  Since I post pseudonymously, I respect the right of others to do so. 

Just because somebody does not reveal his or her true identity does not mean that they are wrong or dishonest in what they say.  Based on experience, it is wise to participate in the blogosphere cautiously.

Kreativ Bloggers

Thanks to Helen at Windows Toward the World for my Kreativ Blogger Award.







Here are seven things that I love:

1.  the smell of a cut lemon

2.  reading a well crafted essay

3.  hosting a party

4.  a vegetable stir fry with as much variety as possible

5.  a great number of people among my family and friends

6.  playing the piano

7.  God

I bestow the Kreativ Blogger Award on. . .

Mike at Mind of Mookie

Eve at The Third Eve

American Elephant at American Elephants

Language Lover at Language Lover’s Weblog

Jay at All In

Pauline at Perennial Student

Shirley at Shirley Buxton

What I Like About Blogging

     I have enjoyed the experience of blogging very much. It has not only been a pleasant venture, but it has benefitted me in several ways.

     Blogging has somehow made me more disciplined to write.  The writing has been a bit haphazard, but at least it has been pretty regular.  I like to write, and I want to get better at it, but I am very undisciplined.  Trying to write a blog post every day (and failing) has at least made me sit down and write something more often than I used to do.

     Blogging has made me focus my thoughts.  I don’t want to ramble or appear more idiotic than I actually am; therefore, I work to write cohesive blog posts.  I aim to write between 500 and 1,000 words per post, because I know that most people who read a blog will not read anything longer.  That framework requires careful thought and preplanning, and those are good things.

     Blogging has helped me to clarify my opinions.  Believe it or not, I think hard about the comments that people leave.  I also think about my replies back to them.  I do not usually change my mind completely, but I have modified my viewpoints somewhat in response to cogent comments.  In some cases I have seen clearly where I was wrong or where I had not looked at every angle of an issue.  Thanks, readers!

     Blogging has been fun.  I enjoy laying out a case or developing an idea or explaining a fact.  I also enjoy reading what others think about my writing.  I greatly enjoy interacting with commenters and reading their interactions with each other.  It is joyful to see that something that I have written sparks debate among other people.

     Blogging has given me some new contacts.  Especially in my genealogy posts, I have made contact with people who share a common interest (and common ancestors).  I am downright thrilled to meet such people.  I have also made “virtual” friends that have been beneficial to me in other ways.  I hope that I have (or that I can) return the favor.

     Some people say that blogging is either dead or dying.  Maybe.   I hope not.  I would have done it even if I had no hits and no comments left, and I would keep on doing it if I stopped getting any.  It has been so useful to me that it is worth it to continue, no matter what.

Giving Up

     Abortion and homosexuality are the two thorniest issues in the culture war.  I think that I will stop writing about them.  I did not want them to be the focus of my blog, and if you look at my pages and my categories list, you’ll see that I am telling the truth on that.

     I’ve observed that it is impossible to discuss those issues the same way that one would discuss things like one’s favorite movies or the fairest taxation system.  Even when people’s feelings are invested in such issues, they are not invested in them as deeply as in the two I mentioned at the top.

     It seems that on both of those hot-button topics, there is more at stake than just people’s feelings.  The way people write and talk about them, their very identities are wrapped up in them.  You cannot be dispassionate when the topic is your identity.

     It seems that for some women the “right to choose” is wrapped up in her identity as a woman and in her solidarity with other women.  Reading comments here and on other blogs on the issue, I certainly get an earful as a man.  I have no right to an opinion on the matter, because I am a man.  It has nothing to do with me, because I am a man.  I have it out for women, because I am a man.  (Never mind that most of the women that I am close to–my mother, my wife, my sisters, my church sisters, and my closest female friends–are all staunchly pro-life.  Never mind that those women don’t seem to regard me as a woman-hater.)

     What I wish is that my pro-choice acquaintances would understand is that we pro-lifers are just as invested in the issue as they are.  We believe that we cannot remain humane and decent people if we silently stand by as tiny preborn human beings are burned or ripped apart or suctioned out of their mother’s wombs.  Nevertheless, I will not write about it here–at least not for some time to come.

     In regard to homosexuality, it seems even more clear that it is not just a “topic” to be discussed.  To discuss it is to touch upon people’s identities.  It’s no wonder that people get very emotional about it.  I’m beginning to understand that I cannot discuss biblical teachings on the subject without causing a person who identifies as a homosexual to feel insulted and demeaned.

     I’m not sure what to do about it, so for now I will just stop writing about it.

     I guess that I was naive.  I thought that somehow I could write about these topics in as straightforward and reasoned way as I could.  I thought people would read what I wrote and respond with straightforward, reasoned arguments.  Not that people haven’t.  It’s just that several commenters here and on other blogs read anything on those two topics and begin accusing me of all sorts of inaccurate, unfair, and unkind things.  They start telling me, totally in error, what I believe.  They even contradict what I say that I believe. 

     You’d think that I was Hitler or something, and yet everyone I know tells me that I’m a very kind person.  Please repeat after me:  Renaissance Guy doesn’t hate anyone and doesn’t want to kill anyone.

     My next blog posts will probably be on the coming anniversary of my sister’s death, a terrible tragedy that recently struck one of my friends, a men’s group that I am joining this week, and a great book that I just read.  I hope to eventually devote time to Libertarianism and Objectivism, as I had planned.  If there are any interesting news items, I’ll link to them.  And, yes, I’ll comment on them, just so people can keep saying that I’m an uncaring, racist, misogynist pig, or whatever it is that they think I am.  Since I’m just a pseudonym, I guess it doesn’t really matter.

Rules of Blogging Engagement

     I have been reading and commenting on blogs for over two years, and I have been writing and editing this blog for nearly that amount of time.  During that period I have seen all sorts of interesting attitudes and behaviors.  Some of them sadden me, some of them delight me, and some of them actually frighten me. 

     I’m not innocent of blogging crimes, I will admit at the outset.  I have written things that I should not have.  I have been too forceful, too unthoughtful, too unfeeling.  I hope that other guilty parties who read this will admit the same thing.

     Along the way, I have developed some rules for myself, which I follow more or less consistently.  I think that they are good rules.  Some of them have been suggested by other readers and writers.  Some of them have roots in my college philosophy and rhetoric classes.  Others are just plain courtesy.  What do you think about these rules?

1.  Stay on topic.  Although you might have a different agenda than the blog owner, it is not polite to go way off on a tangent just to satisfy your need to be heard.  Write about anything you want on your own blog, but show proper respect to other bloggers by sticking to the topics that they choose.  If a person writes a blog about dogs, don’t keep posting comments about the superiority of cats.  It’s childish and annoying.

2.  Read carefully.  I myself have made stupid comments because I misunderstood what I was commenting on.  Sometimes it is my own dunderheadedness, and sometimes it is the awkwardness of the writing.  Nevertheless, it is important to summon up all your reading skills and try to clearly and carefully understand what is being communicated.  If somebody says that dogs are stupendous, don’t reply, “They are not stupid.  They are quite intelligent.”

3.  Have realistic expectations.  Most blog posts are only a few hundred words long or shorter.  They cannot discuss a topic comprehensively.  They cannot reflect every nuance of the writer’s thoughts on a particular matter.  They cannot be the definitive statement on any subject.  They cannot answer every question.  Take them as brief statements that make very limited points.  Consider them discussion starters.  If a person says that he likes dogs but doesn’t mention cats, don’t assume that he hates cats.  And don’t assume that he wants to marry his dog  or nominate the dog for president or transform himself into a dog–unless he actually says so himself.

4.  Take the words at face value.  If a person makes a statement about his beliefs, attitudes, or opinions on a blog, you pretty much have to accept that the person is sincere and accurate.  You cannot prove otherwise, unless you can point out where the writer has been inconsistent.  In that case, the writer might be able to reconcile the two statements and clarify his or her position.  If you comment, “So you are really saying that dogs are the only thing that matter in life.” you are probably misrpresenting the writer’s actual viewpoint, and that’s neither fair nor kind.

5.  Avoid the ad hominem fallacy.  It looks like this:  You would think that, since you are a Christian or Well, of course you think that, because you are a liberal.  It’s not nice to pigeon-hole, stereotype, or generalize about people.  It’s not actually a logical argument, either.  That’s why it’s called a fallacy.  Some Christians like cats, and some liberals like dogs.  Other Christians prefer dogs, and other liberals prefer cats.  Hardly anybody can be labelled precisely.

6.  If possible, back your statements with evidence.  I don’t always do that on my blog, because a lot of what I write about is simply general opinions that I hold based more on my core principles and my reasoning.  I don’t always have time to look up sources, either.  It’s a major weakness of my blog.    When I’m really on the ball, I link to smarter people and to informative websites.  Please, if you choose to challenge a fact statement, it is good to at least gnerally describe the basis for the challenge if you cannot give a reference to a legitimate source.  If your challenge is not of the factual kind, try to use good deductive reasoning for your view.  (And, no, “You’re just stupid,” is not good deductive reasoning.)  “Dogs are bad pets because they smell bad when wet” is more like it.

7.  Don’t get hysterical.  It’s a bit over the top to write.  “Oh, so you ONLY like dogs.  You said so yourself.  You probably want to send cat-owners to prison.  No, you probably want to kill them.  You’re a dog-lover, so of course you want to kill people.  You’re just as bad as the Nazis.”

8.  Be honest.  People know what they themselves think and feel, and they know what they wrote.  It’s pretty silly to lie and say that they think or feel the opposite of what they have stated.  It’s pretty silly to claim that they wrote the exact opposite of what they actually wrote.  Not only are they aware that you are lying, but anyone who reads the posts and the comments knows it, too.  They won’t look down on the person that you are lying about; they will look down on you.

     By the way, I like cats.  I don’t really have a preference between dogs and cats.