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The comments are the heart of Blogcritics, a wild, after-the-storm river; wide, deep and dark, glistening with flotsam and jetsam.

Blogcritics Comments of the Week 3


ONE of the distinguishing things about Blogcritics, something that makes it very different to old school mainstream media, is that we’re all available, contactable and interactive.

We have some great writers and personalities here, both on the editorial side and the vital wider writer community; it’s great, thrilling actually, to see them actually interact, through the Comments, with our readers.

The articles posted on BC, although complete in themselves, are like the opening remarks in a conversation; sometimes formal, often irreverent, rarely dull. If you want to shoot the schnizzle about your favourite new band, game, TV show, sport and movie or get seriously political over the hot button issues of the day, THIS is the place to come.

“The comments are what make Blogcritics a community.” Eric Berlin

“Have I said recently how I see comments as kind of the heart or psyche of BC? No? Well, I see the comments as…” Christopher Rose

“I take comments moderately seriously” Dave Nalle

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As an immigrant, there are always many little adjustments to be made, some obvious like language or money, some unexpected and unforeseen. Making my new life here in Southern Spain has forced me to shed a lot of old skin and learn just how arbitrary are the seemingly natural ways of things.

One timely example, this Monday 12th December 2005, with just twelve days til Christmas Eve (or Noche Buena, “Good Night” as they call it here) is the giving of gifts, which in Catholic Spain doesn’t happen until the 6th of January, the twelfth day of Christmas!

The Comment of the Day for today is from our own Matthew T. Sussman, who added the following Comment #15 to the Why Happy Holidays Is a More Respectful Greeting Opinion piece penned by Purple Tigress, who prowls the streets of Hollywood.

Political correctness is a very sincere intention. It’s trying to suck any possible connotation that would offend somebody.

But should the standard of PCness be “offend as few people as possible?”

Because in 10 years, will “Happy Holidays” be offensive to atheists like Michael Newdow who celebrate nothing in December?

So will our PC phrase then be “Happy December?”

But maybe that will be offensive to sadists and machochists who dont’ want to happy, they feel pain.

So maybe our PC phrase will become “Have an enjoyable December?”

But maybe there’s a group of people who don’t like December.

So maybe our PC phrase becomes “Have an enjoyable month, whichever you choose?”

Do you see how these syllables keep numbing the intent of the message? All because we didn’t want to offend anyone.

George Carlin had an amazing piece about PCness. One example he used was “shell shock,” a condition where soldiers buckled under too much pressure. Two syllables.

Then it became “battle fatigue.” Two words, four syllables.

Then it was “operational exhaustion.” Two words, eight syllables.

Now it’s “post-traumatic stress disorder.” Four words, eight syllables.

We keep adding syllables to the same concept, wasting time to describe “shell shock.”

Now, you asked me if I want to revert to a discriminatory society. Of course I don’t. I’m not a racist. People deserve equal treatment.

Equal treatment. That’s important.

But political correctness is mutually exclusive from equality. PCness is simply a ruse to avoid awkward conversation from those different than you. And frankly it’s a waste of my time and yours.

I learn nothing about you if I say “Happy holidays,” “Enjoy your time off,” “Have a good winter break” or “Seasons greetings.”

But if I saw Purple Tigress on the street and said “Hey, Merry Christmas Purple Tigress!” Would you be offended and leave it at that, or would you correct me and say “Oh, I don’t celebrate Christmas.”

Suss: “Oh, what do you celebrate?”

PT: “Well, I’m Jewish, so I celebrate Hanukkah.”

Suss: “Well then Happy Hanukkah.”

Not only did I learn more about you, but I have a conversation starter for you next time.

Now, you do make a point saying that people give you a weird look. Obviously that’s a reaction thinking that everyone celebrates Christmas (which they don’t) and as they progress in life they’ll come to realize that people celebrate all kinds of things. But simply pumping vanilla into a December time greeting doesn’t cure the cancer, it just puts layers upon layers of gauze over the problem.

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BlogCritics is all about writing, a skill that is becoming ever more challenged in our fastpaced soundbite world. Unlike most other destinations, virtual or actual, BlogCritics even has it’s own writer’s academy where talented but technically challenged pipsqueeks are polished and pointed in the right direction.

In addition to and in support of that, there are posts about writing on site and my good virtual buddy Alisha Karabinus, a fine writer despite her dubious musical taste, recently wrote an excellently informative and entertaining post Want To Write? Toughen Up!, which drew this Comment of the Day for Tuesday 13th December 2005 from our man in Mexico, alpha, as Comment #3:-

Too true. All of it, Alisha. Writing is bad, photography worse. Everyone pulls it apart, adds their 2 pesos worth or, on the internet, can be as mean as they care to be.

I, too, happily had one of those professors (a night class at a lousy, Southern university in which I wasted two years) who made one really great impression: you cannot write unless you can allow your audience into your thoughts and feelings.

You tell a great story about how to write and why one writes and how important it is to slough off the barbs that come along while waiting for the occasional perceptive comment or beam of understanding.

I only wish I had learned the lessons you teach a great deal earlier.

I believe that makes alpha the second person to be awarded two Comments of the Day. Congratulations.

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I am always disappointed when the moment comes that I have to edit or delete comments and the way that is handled is kept under constant review. This reluctance to act hasn’t prevented a couple of complaints over in that rowdy basement hangout known as Blogcritics.org Politics, but so far the article here in Blogcritics.org Culture that has generated the Comment of the Day for Wednesday 14th December, Women and Sexuality: Let’s Talk About Sex by recent recruit to the volunteer BlogCritics editorial team Erin McMaster, has only had one comment deleted. I’m not sure if I’m more pleased or surprised.

Moving on, the wise words that caught my eye today belong to one diana hartman, a Kansan girl currently in Germany with her Marine husband. Without further ado, I give you Comment #17:

men and women discuss many things by a different set of rules, not just sex…it’s a difference between them, not a bad thing for either…

i don’t know too many reputable men who will bring the depth of their lover’s vagina to a round of drinks but i’ve sat at many a table ‘o coffee where the women were discussing girth, length, and a myriad of other details…we woman share information — it’s probably borne out of the evolutionary need to protect each other and preserve our own safety, i don’t know…
i’ve chosen a few lovers over others because of information i got from my girlfriends and didn’t squirm at the heads-up because no one likes to be surprised by super-long, super-short, or small body livestock…
the depth of women’s conversations have long shocked many of the men i’ve known and i think that’s because men prefer to stick with the surface issues…the rest is too close to what many men perceive as weak and vulnerable…if you’re discussing a particular man’s ability to help with orgasm, it’s a good bet many many many feeling words are already on the table — and most men aren’t up for or into that…

it’s kind of funny that what erin is suggesting is still taboo for some is the same thing others are suggesting is bad manners…if you’re not the kind of person to go in depth, pardon the pun, then good on you, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that those who will discuss it are doing something wrong…

it’s been my experience that, and i don’t say this as a rule, women who don’t like to discuss things in detail weren’t taught that it was okay to do so…perhaps they were taught instead to attach some level of shame to it — and themselves…for the record, shame does not equate with modesty…the latter is a form of discretion whereas the former is a form of secrecy…sex is no secret…

guys that don’t like how detailed women get are really something — this, from some of the same people whose gender group takes a great deal of pride in things like the volume of their belching, the length they can spit, and how much under-the-covers offense they can create with their own gas…

i can spit a goodly length but not being 11 yrs old anymore has done wonders for my topics of conversation…i’ll take a lively round of oral sex tips over who can chug a beer the fastest any day of the week…

I don’t know why ms hartman loves the lower case so much but am happy to follow her convention.

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Well, it’s only Thursday and so far this week we’ve already highlighted comments made to posts about Christmas, Writing and Sex. Now it’s the turn of that hot button issue, the Death Penalty in the USA.

The In The Middle series of articles showcase the real art of political debate, as two people with more or less diametrically opposed views have at it, with intelligence, restraint and even wit!

Comment of the Day for Thursday 15th December 2005 came from the wise keys of Chantal Stone as Comment #14 on the latest Phillip WinnEric Berlin face off In The Middle: The Death Penalty.

I think Eric made the best point when he said:

“I believe that legally sanctioned executions send a poor message to ourselves and to the world about what we strive to be as a civilized people.”

That’s it right there. There is no room for the death penalty in a so-called civilized society. How far have we really come if we still kill criminals? There are better solutions (hard-labor, alternative ways of rehabilitation) out there, we just need the courage to execute (no pun intended) them.

Ms Stone becomes the first casual visitor, as opposed to blogger, to contribute two Comments of the Day. Congratulations Chantal. If you are interested in writing more than comments for BlogCritics, Chantal, send me a message via editoratlarge [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Most of the time the comments to a particular post follow a predictable pattern before, as all conversations do, coming to a natural end. Sometimes however, comment threads take on an unnatural life all their own and today we look at one such.

Back in May 2003, one of the most senior and possibly sinister members of the BlogCritics “cabal”, my part-time musical guru (by which I mean he’s right part of the time, lol), the one and only Al Barger, wrote a brief – though of course perfectly formed – five paragraph piece on The Miracle of Fatima, the widely, if inconclusively, recorded events experienced by large crowds of people at Fatima, Portugal in 1917.

This modest article didn’t attract a single comment for over five months and didn’t get it’s fifth until September this year. By the end of November there were only twenty-five and now BOOM! over four hundred and counting.

The vast majority of these have flowed from the keys of the self-professed re-animated mother of Jesus Christ, Mary reborn literally who, if nothing else, has displayed a persistent, if complex, vision encompassing everything from her family life, the events of Fatima, repeated copyright theft and the perils facing the world today.

For the second time ever, the Comment of the Day award this Friday 16th December 2005 goes to someone commenting on their own article, as Mr Barger chipped in with this as Comment #425:-

I want to thank the mother of Jesus for honoring my humble little column with her holy prophesy and analysis. Besides the holy nature of it, these comments are a pretty fair little literary souffle.

Thank you, Mary Reborn Literally, your work is appreciated.

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Another revered and ancient post, this one from August 2002, is The Many Lives of Les Paul by Ed Driscoll. A former East Coast guy, Ed went west in the late 90s and writes on technology and music.

Over three years after being written, this affectionate Les Paul post generated the following charming story as Comment #73 from one Eldon Lee Jr., in their one and only visit to BlogCritics. I wonder if he’ll ever know it was Comment of the Day for Saturday 17th December 2005?

From talking to my dad, prior to the 30’s, Les Paul would perform with groups near his Waukesha WI home with his guitar and banjo. Banjo you say? I was told he played the banjo because it was louder and could be heard in a dance band. Maybe that lead to his development of the electric guitar.

My dad was a trumpet player and always enjoyed it when Les Paul would come to Michigan / Indiana to play with them as a guest artist. Then they could sit and talk music at the breaks. My dad died in April 2005 at the age of 97 still talking about his enjoyment of Les Paul the musician and the person. Eldon Lee Jr.

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Having covered correct Christmas protocol, the Art of Writing, Sex, the Death Penalty, the Miracle of Fatima and Les Paul in the course of the week, so I thought we’d round things off with a little TV.

One of the highlights was the finale of the Donald Trump hosted The Apprentice, which kept the controversy and excitement going well after the end of the series. Personally, I think the winner did the right thing; after putting up with a lot of bs, he deserved his fleeting glory.

Not everone agrees of course but South Carolina’s Rodney Welch certainly does, and picks up the coveted Comment of the Day for Sunday 18th December 2005 for these words added as Comment #22 to young New Yorker Chris Evans‘ controversial Randal Pinkett Shocks and Appalls In Apprentice 4 Finale

Eric, I guess I just have a different take on it than you. I think Randall’s choice is better than the options you offer, and i think by sticking to his guns what it revealed about him wasn’t something chicanerous or underhanded or sneaky. In fact, the more I think about it the more ethical Randall’s decision seems, and the more right. I would have had much less respect for him if he had caved under spotlight pressure and shared the victory he fought for with Rebecca. He had the King Kong-sized balls to do the right thing and risk looking like a jerk.

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