Friday, February 02, 2007

This Post is Top(ic)less

Mentoring. Agony. Salon. Geoff and Schad are idiots.

Fun stuff to do: I’m volunteering with the Vancouver School Board as a mentor for a gifted 12-year old who wants to be a writer. Our first meeting is tomorrow. Any suggestions?

I’m not ready to give up on the Agony Lab just yet, but I’m wondering what it needs to generate more interest. My goal was to post brief creative-muscle-toning exercises that could be completed in less than an hour. Maybe dialogue was a bad choice at this point (too hard)? Or is it too simple? Too much information? Too much direction? Or is it just that no one wants to look at the fish? Any input would be welcome.

This is the guy who writes Salon’s advice column:

How it came about was I endured some failure as a writer trying to make money as a writer, and had to work at other things for five years. During that time I wrote but not for money. I wrote on the subway, alone, in a notebook, sitting by myself in the crowd. I wrote to save myself.

It turned out that writing to save myself was the best way to write. Here is why, I think: Our writing is the voice of a person who is innocent, powerless and in need of protection; our writing is the voice of a person who needs to be heard as he or she really is. It is deep stuff is what I mean. And shocking as it is to say, the person who is writing this -- the person I am today -- is the kind of person toward whom I once would have leveled pitiless scorn.

—Cary Tennis
Have a look at Salon’s other articles. Notice the tab at the bottom for “blog responses to this article” or whatever. Wow. Perhaps we ought to expand our range.

Thoughts on the Schad/Geoff thing: It looks like a contest to see whose dick is bigger, doesn’t it? It’s just dumb to back people into corners. It really limits their options. Geoff’s interpretation of fray-law seems a lot narrower than Kevin’s, but I think he’s trying harder than Kevin did to “be good”, and I think that’s a problem.

Note to Schad: I could never be married to you. You don’t know how to apologize.
Note to Geoff: If you win you lose, if you lose you lose.
Note to both: Find a way.


topazz said...

I find myself going over to salon more and more too. But I still like the fray's setup better than "The Well"...

Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

In other news, I rented Season 1 of The Office to watch tonight. Again.

Today, I booked 3 round trip tickets for my three 16 year olds to go to Ireland, along with 2 of their cousins the same age. All 5 of them are going to stay with my cousin for two weeks over there, the one who visited me last summer with her kids.

God help her. But they're all good kids. (hahahahahahahahaha)

I was supposed to go to Ireland with them, but it all got changed around - the kids like it better this way, and actually - I'm going to be free and clear for TWO WHOLE WEEKS this summer, plus another week when they go away with their Dad.

Hmmmmm. Gonna be a veddy veddy different (good) summer, I'm thinking.

Dawn Coyote said...

I haven't looked at the Well in a long time, but I've never been able to sustain an interest in it.

This week I watched the first two episodes of Rome (thanks, Schad - very Machiavellian). I've got the first disk for the first season of Deadwood waiting. I'm working my way through the most recent Sopranos, and waiting until I can check out Carnivale.

Have you seen Supernatural? Mother of Christ, but those boys are hot! And the show's not too bad, either.

Question for Ender: You're a thoughtful guy. You're not great at apologizing, but you're not incapable of it, either. You have a strong sense of right and wrong, and you tend to be hard on people, but you capable of sober reflection and genuine humility, too. What would you do right now, in Geoff's position?

No obligation to answer, of course.

symbnt said...

Real quick: Hard to imagine myself in Geoff’s position (banning a quality poster to the determent of the fray because I have an irrational aversion to seeing uninterrupted capital letters in subject lines), but assuming that was me, and I somehow managed to recognize that what I cared about should take a back seat to what is good for the fray…

You know what, I can’t do it. I just can’t. I mean, there’s hypotheticals and there’s lala land, and we’re clearly dealing with someone free diving in the latter. Geoff’s interests and those of the fray differ greatly. Umm, I’ll bet he hasn’t noticed. He’ll tell you he cares, but if he truly did, he would be able to ignore the mountains of negative feedback his actions have generated. I’m sure he’s dismissed it as to be expected. But seriously, at this point that’s just an excuse to hide from the fact that the fray has rejected him and his vision. What’s perhaps the most damning truth is that prior fray editors didn’t benefit from the reservoir of respect that Geoff started the job with, i.e. he twice as far to fall to find himself envious of the way we took pity on his useless predecessors.

As for Schad, I can’t blame him and I don’t fault him. I’ve done similar in the past, and you can bet I wouldn’t be around today if a fray editor judged my value to the fray by my willingness to supplicate myself to his whims. Ultimately, that’s what Geoff is oblivious too. Apply his standard for Schad retroactively, and the fray would be free of every poster who has ever the fray worth reading. From ghost to moloch to meletus to geoff himself. We’ve all had occasion to test the boundaries, and none of us were sorry we did.

Dawn Coyote said...

My take:

Schad (among others) baited Geoff. Geoff could have (wisely) chosen to laugh it off, but instead he took the bait. Schad (unwisely) chose to write Geoff at his personal email in order to make a (peevish) query. Geoff (in one of the most unskillful moves by an advanced player I’ve ever seen on the fray) failed to respond to Schad’s overture in a helpful manner. As you pointed out, following that non-response, this is quite damning.

Still, if we assume that Schad and Geoff are both adults, then they’re both culpable. Geoff is more in the wrong than Schad because he’s abusing his office. Yet this all seems fairly uncharacteristic of Geoff. I haven’t lost faith in him—I’m still hoping he’ll mellow out some. And haven’t we all made errors in judgment and then steadfastedly refused to budge on them? I realize that Geoff must now serve a higher standard, while the rest of us are free to carry on being bastards without much fear of reprisal. I imagine the adjustment must be challenging.

If I were Geoff, I’d email Schad, re-iterate the reasons for the banning, and suggest that he not repeat that offence(s) in the future. Then I’d unban him. But Geoff doesn’t appear willing to back off his position much. At this point then, the default solution is for Schad to email Geoff at his Slate email account, proffer the understanding and contrition that Geoff requires, for Geoff to unban Schad, and for everyone to carry on with a clearer understanding of Geoff’s boundaries. While I don’t see any immediate cost in doing this, the long-term outcomes don’t look very good. I do hope Geoff’s self-interest prevails.

(and, yeah – apply the Schadenfreude standard retroactively, and BOTF would not have been)

topazz said...

Notice Geoff deleted Ender's reply to ghost with the link to his fray mock-up...what's so top secret about that? I thought it was a good thing.

Jesus. This is starting to smell like a 24 episode.

topazz said...

ps: if anyone wants the link (I still have it in my history on this laptop) please email me privately with an apology (or if you've never offended me - flattery will suffice) and I'll be happy to oblige.

Keifus said...

Salon: I wore out on Salon five years ago. Liked the movie reviews, but found the articles deeply predictable & quality opinion writers were dropping like flies at that time. If they had a discussion column, it was hidden and/or sucky and non-intuitive. Recall bouncing hard at early efforts to join it.

Dawn: I'd love to see the agony lab float. Dunno why people bagged last week. Was going to suggest "describe something" for next time.

Schad/Geoff: Geoff posts a lot of "just because I do X doesn't mean you should think Y." Horrible, horrible marriage cred right there (not like there's danger of that).

But it hardly begins or ends with the Schadster. Botf didn't get the little cultivating it needed, and also got over-pruned. My favorite fucking playground...but I'm tired of posting around the middle finger wagging in my face. So it'll be the silly social hangout Geoff envisions. Way to go.

K (enough for me)

sydbristow said...

topazz: that's funny. it's also here, or by googling slate chantay (as I found it)

august said...

hey dawn,

agony lab

I'd suggest fewer parameters. A three-way is difficult enough without bringing villains and superheroes into it. Basically, you could have said "conflict is a key to dialogue" or "write an argument in which spam figures prominently" or even just write something using some random word. The fun for me is seeing how the group we have comes up with rifs on a common theme (like Iron Chef). Keep it simple, and the writing will probably still allow you to draw some interesting conclusions.

I think part of Ghassan's problem is that so many of the players in the tragedy say things so farcical that farce becomes tough to spot.

Here's a stupid way of dividing up the world: shame and guilt. You feel guilty if you do something wrong. You feel shame if you get caught. Not mutually exclusive, but often differently deployed in different places. "It's a culture thing." Anyhoo, I can see a high shame axis that makes laughing at somebody (or, more accurately, a situation) much, much more grievous than it would be for cultures with a lower shame and/or higher guilt rating.

Dawn, glad you got something out of my utopia post. I'm still feeling rather muddled.

Ghost's quiz -- I credit ghost with crafting questions in such a way that the reasoning behind the answers might be apparent. Not sure if that makes sense. Compatibility would not so much depend on answers, but on method. To the extent that nature of quiz invites explanation of way person reasoned through (or, er, didn't), I'd imagine you could predict pretty accurately whether any given pair would be capable of having a useful conversation.

General observation: hipparchia rocks.

Dawn Coyote said...

08/K: thanks for the input on the Agony Lab. I'll rework it a bit. No obligation to participate, of course.

08: the shame/humour thing is interesting. I've probably got a higher baseline level of shame than most people, and, while I can laugh at myself, I have a hard time with being teased (though no problem with teasing others).

K: thinking about marrying fraysters made me think, unforgivably, of that Howard Stern feature: Marry, Fuck, Kill.

I've reconsidered: cornering people is not always a bad idea. It depends on what your goals are.

topazz: syd's right: that's funny.

Thinking about ghost's quiz: Happiest memories. I don't think my memory is particularly reliable as a model of past happiness. I know I've had moments of absolute, plugged-in, sympatico bliss with people (friends and lovers), but the happiest moments I easily remember are mostly those involving things with a high degree of novelty, excitement and (aesthetic/sensory) pleasure: travel, scuba diving, skiing, etc. It pains me some that I hardly recall the early years of my friendship with one of my favorite people in the world, who I've been close to since I was 8 (while she remembers everything). I tend to remember painfully bad times with people more easily than I remember good times. I think this would be different if I had kids (novelty/excitement factor would be high).

I liked Moloch's answer for shift in values over the last five years.

free will/determinism: I've appreciated the threads on this over the past couple of years. Perturbation is interesting as a confounding factor - even in marraige. One enters marriage with postive forecasts and an abundance of faith, failing to notice the tiny foundational flaws that will grow into fissures (alliteration not intended).

computers:humans :: symbiogenesis:Earth (tick tock)

Keifus said...

computers:humans :: symbiogenesis:Earth

Geek! A once-favorite quote for you:
"[R]obots and paleface are joined by a reciprocal bond. First, as a result of an accumulation of mucilaginous slime on some saline shore, beings come into being, viscous, sticky, albescent and albuminous. After centuries, these finally learn to breathe the breath of life into the base metals, and fashion Automata to be their slaves. In time, however, the Automata, having freed themselves from the Albuminids, eventually conduct experiments to see if consciousness can reside in any gelatinous substance, which of course it can, and does..."

in The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem. (Thank you, Amazon)


TenaciousK said...

K: You read this Harlan Ellison classic? It's in a similar vein, if you haven't. It's sort of famous.