More inside: the feature request September 28, 2003 10:16 AM   Subscribe

I cite this as an example, and there have been several over the years, for a number of requests for MeFi. (more inside)
posted by ZachsMind to Feature Requests at 10:16 AM (65 comments total)

I said a number.. Actually come to think of it, it's only two. Yes of course I know much of this is old hat and a tired path to tread, but just for grins let's go down it one more time, shall we?

1) Please Matt consider incorporating into the MeFi system a way to post simultaneously a small blurb for the front page, and then a more detailed explanation inside the thread itself. I cite Whedonesque as an example of form. At the same time one is composing a blurb for the front page, one can also go a bit more into detail within the accompanying thread itself. This allows the instigator of the Front Page Post and its accompanying thread to get the "first post" designation, allowing him or her to properly convey the whys and wherefores of the thread before others who type faster can interfere with potshots and insults or just premature misunderstandings.

2) Please MeFi community if you have a beef about the hows and whys of a MeFi post take it out of the blue and into the brown as I have endeavored to do in this example. Rather than going on and on in the thread itself why that particular thread sucks, simply and politely make a link from MeFi to MetaTalk and post a thread over there about the semantics and etiquette of the moment. Otherwise you are blatantly derailing the thread and either purposefully or accidently trolling, both of which could be avoided by some simple common sense.

There. I feel a bit better. Feel free to berate me below, or ignore me I honestly don't care. I feel strongly about this and have for years. It's just every once in awhile my mouth (or rather 60wpm fingers) get the best of me in here. This post is not meant in malicious intent in any manner whatsoever and I apologize ahead of time if others incorrectly take it that way. I reserve the right to post later to this thread if somehow I've incorrectly communicated my intent.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:17 AM on September 28, 2003


I agree with you, but I'd also note that in this post you included insufficient information in the lead-in to know what the story was about, at all.

That being said, a method of dividing the FPP into a lead-in and a full story would likely be welcomed by both the concise and the verbose among us.
posted by mosch at 10:38 AM on September 28, 2003


Perhaps if you want to do a lengthy "more inside" you could prepare the inside comment in advance, perhaps in Word, and then once you've done the FPP do a super quick cut and paste in order to snag the first comment position inside..... a homely, low tech-fix that wouldn't be any kind of a pain for us, and would save Matt some work.
posted by orange swan at 10:48 AM on September 28, 2003


orange swan: That's what a lot of us do, and it's been recommended many times before, but the problem is still with us, so obviously something more is needed. ZachsMind, your complaint is admirably subdued and reasonable (although I second mosch's point that it's a pretty badly thought-out MeTa post; you could at least have added "of wretched excess" after "example"). I myself would have been less so; it pisses me off that troutfishing, who knows perfectly well how people feel about overly long posts, nevertheless is so confident of his own righteousness that he knows he's an exception, because this story is so goddam important. This is one of the reasons I get sick of lefties. "How dare you complain that my bullhorn is keeping your kids awake/ my sound truck ran over your dog/ my demonstration turned violent! Don't you care that [insert Injustice of the Moment]?" Yes, yes, you're on the side of the angels (much of the time); that doesn't exempt you from civility.
posted by languagehat at 11:03 AM on September 28, 2003


Yeah, it's not that hard to do a "more inside" thing. I really should sit down and code that up.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:36 AM on September 28, 2003


"...soon afterward detractors began calling it 'the kuro5hin of metafilter.'"
posted by wobh at 11:44 AM on September 28, 2003


Not too fast, Matt. You're going to give y2karl multiple orgasms.
posted by PrinceValium at 11:50 AM on September 28, 2003


Ooh. Yeah. Good point, Mosch. In my haste to post, I didn't word the teaser descriptively enough. There is a limit to what can actually be coded into a forum such as this. Matt can't make it completely idiotproof.

Orange Swan the Word trick is precisely what I did in composing the 'more inside' portion of this MetaTalk thread (actually I use notepad but same diff). Being a bit of a vet in MeFi, I know the procedure. However, many in MeFi either don't know the procedure, or don't care to bother doing it. I understand why. It is quite awkward and cumbersome. I felt I was on a time crunch, hoping to do a small part to prevent the inevitable derailment of the MeFi thread into whether or not troutfishing knows better. Of course he should know better, but that sort of discussion is why MeTa is here.

LanguageHat, you are correct in saying that the argument of "the end justifies the means" is an inherently flawed argument, and I'm happy to agree with you on that point. However, you're wrong in saying that only "lefties" wield such an argument as a weapon. "Righties" do so too, and sometimes to much more grandiose and dangerous consequences.

Matt: I bow to the Elvis in you. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 11:53 AM on September 28, 2003


I suppose the [more inside] followed with another quick post would be the tidiest way to attempt this, yes. But his posting of 14 links may have taken too long to post after the leader, which you must know would lead to snide comments about false promises. Further, this isn't the worst I've seen, and I think that these things are just part of having an open forum like this. I appreciate that it doesn't happen more often.
posted by Busithoth at 12:11 PM on September 28, 2003


Personally, I prefer the concise FPPs that explain exactly what the ensuing thread is about. I am sick and tired of these stupid one word/one sentence/link only/no explanation posts. I thought people were crazy to complain so much at first, but this site has really degenerated into NEWSFILTER. BAH, I can read all this news crap elsewhere. Someone bring back METAFILTER! I miss it. Every day, I think more and more that I should stop checking in here, its just a waste of time.

Plus, the level of conversation here has truly degenerated to Usenet style flamewars and trolling. The only thing missing is spam.

Sorry, Matt, I know you wanted this site to kind of develop on its own, but I think too much of a good thing spoiled itself. Entropy has caught up and become almost chaotic.

At least this news-related post had some meat to it, instead of a friggin' hit-and-run headline post.
posted by PigAlien at 12:18 PM on September 28, 2003


Oh, and Kudos to all of you out there who are struggling to make worthwhile FPPs. There are still quite a few, lest I might have given the impression I felt otherwise. Its just they're awash - near drowning - in a sea of these newsfilter (I just wanna talk about the latest bleedin' headline even though I can do that at dozens of other weblogs) hit-and-run posts.
posted by PigAlien at 12:23 PM on September 28, 2003


Heck, just a character limit in the box would do it. People will be forced to work around the limitation thus (more inside) witout that much effort.
posted by skallas at 1:28 PM on September 28, 2003


A hard and fast limit is not necessarily the ticket. I'm thinking of my Yeats or Bunting posts, for one... I'd hate to lose the ability to do that every so often. There should be a consensus on how much space one can take on a 800 x 600 screen, I suppose--say no longer than languagehat's, um, diatribe above in length. People will, nevertheless, exceed it on occasion.

I must note that if it's a post on an apolitical subject, no one complains that much about length, especially if it's a tearjerker. I seem to recall a post about some family's saga of mom's bout with cancer while they sailed around the world. It was about a foot of screen and no one screamed about it in that thread. I recall mr_crash_davis made some demure comment about the length but that was it.

More inside or not, troutfishing's made a bookmark post there. Other people care about this story--has anyone gotten so many talkbacks so fast of late? He's hit a nerve there.

I must say Zachsmind really politely finessed the derail there. Obscurity aside, very well done.
posted by y2karl at 2:23 PM on September 28, 2003


you're wrong in saying that only "lefties" wield such an argument as a weapon

Didn't say that. I said "This is one of the reasons I get sick of lefties." I have far stronger reasons to get sick of righties; namely, their views on most subjects. Lefties generally (from my point of view) have a more humane take on the world, so I expect them to be humane about the way they express it. Long front-page posts are a pretty trivial example, but it's what we have to offer here on MetaFilter.

There should be a consensus on how much space one can take on a 800 x 600 screen, I suppose--say no longer than languagehat's, um, diatribe above in length.

See, I carefully constructed that diatribe to take up exactly the tolerable amount of screen—thanks for noticing, y2karl! *preens*
posted by languagehat at 3:01 PM on September 28, 2003


People claim that those who dislike television content should just hit the off button, so why can't those who want to skip a post just hit the scroll button?

Can you spell 'duplicity'? Nah, I didn't think so. ;-P
posted by mischief at 3:11 PM on September 28, 2003


PigAlien: Way to go over the top. I'm not a great NewsFilter fan but when people start running round & moaning about the end of MeFi I tend to be more supportive...

Good points, well raised Zach. It was a great post by troutfishing but I agree that it needed a better layout.
posted by i_cola at 3:14 PM on September 28, 2003


Acutally, what I find aggravating is this (relatively new) fashion for starting a whole new MetaTalk thread every time there's a tresspass in the bue. Yes, I know that's what it's here for, but MetaTalk recently has seemed more like the hallway outside a grammar school principal's office than a website community discussion. I respect that ZachsMind brought it here; had it threatened to actually derail the thread, I'dve done the same, but I thought a single comment was more appropriate.

troutfishing has been around long enough to know without a doubt that taking up that much of the front page is, at the very least, frowned upon. I didn't intend to derail the thread (and as it played out, I didn't), I merely made the observation that we have, on many occasions, talked about this and come to the consensus that "(more inside)" is the answer. I apologize for mussing up the blue, and second ZachsMind's call for some reasonable way to limit what can appear on the front page.
posted by JollyWanker at 3:22 PM on September 28, 2003


You'd get a lot more attention paid to the community discipline of Metatalk, as evinced by this and many other discussions, if it wasn't quite so obviously divorced from Metafilter.

I suggest the radical solution of:
- introducing MeTa's categorisations to Mefi
- abolishing MeTa as a seperate site
- a limit of *00 words to post to Mefi.

All of which will get shot down in flames. I know there are plenty of good reasons why *you* don't like it, but wouldn't reform like this benefit the site?
posted by dash_slot- at 4:00 PM on September 28, 2003


Metaphilter has a system which somewhat automates the [more inside] process, by having a URL description box with a limited number of characters and an extended description box that, if anything is entered in it, creates the [more inside] link to the thread. This solves the problem of having to create the thread in two different places and puts a limit on how much real restate a thread can take up on the front page.
posted by dg at 5:10 PM on September 28, 2003


For what it's worth, I'm glad Zachsmind started this thread - I was about to a week or so ago, but wasn't sufficiently fired up. One reason it's galling is that for those of us who feel there's a lot of great stuff to be found here, the tacit deal we make with ourselves is to read each FPP and see if we want to a) click on the link, b) click on the comments, or c) scroll on by, at the risk that we're gonna miss something noteworthy. Reading the whole FPP is how we make that decision, so saying "don't read it, just scroll past" isn't an option.

troutfishing's magnum opus could've gotten me into the thread with any two of his sentences. But it went on and on and on. By the time I clicked, I was ready to add a much more snarky version of JollyWanker's comment, and had become distracted from the compelling content by the bloated and, yes, indulgent format.

I also hate FPPs that have paragraph breaks, as I always trip over them visually and think initially that they're two separate posts. If you're breaking a paragraph, maybe that's a clue that you should be putting that second part inside. I know it'll never happen, but personally, I'd have no problem with a character limit of four or five lines on the front page.

As for a feature request to make the "more inside" automatic, though, yeah, it would be great, but I don't see it as a front-burner issue. Just type it out in Notepad first, get all the parts ready, post with a "more inside," then post the first comment. Even if someone manages to sneak in there and your "more inside" winds up being the second comment, big freakin' deal. Nobody's gonna be unduly confused by that.
posted by soyjoy at 8:10 PM on September 28, 2003


OK, I should have compressed the layout....

soyjoy - sorry I put you off - I should have done a compressed format with "more inside" but.....you're picqued at me, so you're going to ignore the story?

pigalien - actually, you can't really read much about the (alleged) voting fraud story elsewhere - in the mainstream media, anyway. Noise about it is bubbling up from the depths of the internet, but it's a long way from receiving much mainstream coverage, especially considering the seriousness of the allegations and the considerable supporting evidence independent researchers have dug up. So - on that count - I think the "standard newsfilter" complaint is off base

There are, as usual, plenty of newsfilter posts on Mefi - but I would define those posts as regurgitations of stories covered extensively by the mainstream media.

Does this mean that I think newsfilter posts are all bad? No, not at all. Some news bears discussion.

Meanwhile, about the damn length - I have to wonder, especially since - as y2karl noted "if it's a post on an apolitical subject, no one complains that much about length, especially if it's a tearjerker. I seem to recall a post about some family's saga of mom's bout with cancer while they sailed around the world." - whether it was just the irritation of having to press the scroll button on your browser which prompted ZachsMind to post the Meta complaint.

Or too many links? Or general visual clutter?

Meanwhile, there's another point being overlooked here - this sort of annoying work takes time. Wretchedly excessive, well researched posts with so many links don't just magically appear. There is, of course, a certain amount of crap posted to mefi (I won't point any fingers) - but such tends to be tossed off, poorly thought out fare.

I should get my own blog.

I received emails from a couple of Georgians who had close experience with the 2002 election there - which they considered to be rather bizarre. They were glad for the post.

One thing I wonder is: First of all, some issues are irreducible. So limiting the length of posts - beyond a certain point of ridiculousness that most would agree on - would have a general dumbing down effect (I would argue). So: MetaNewsFilterLite ? But isn't the intellectual fare on Mefi, and it's rep as being somewhat ahead of the curve, part of the draw, for both members and the wider public?

Languagehat - I don't think my post was inherently partisan - unless one thinks Democracy is a bad idea. When I read the complaints you spent time typing here on Metatalk ("...it pisses me off that troutfishing, who knows perfectly well how people feel about overly long posts, nevertheless is so confident of his own righteousness that he knows he's an exception, because this story is so goddam important....") I take it that you don't think the "no paper trail" voting machine story is at all important - since you didn't spend your typing energy attacking the substance of my Wretchedly Long Post in the actual thread discussion.

So you don't think the story is especially important. Well then - what sort of issues do you consider important?

Meanwhile - I'm not especially confident in my own righteousness. I'm much more confident in this story though.
posted by troutfishing at 8:59 PM on September 28, 2003


I don't think that anyone is talking about reducing the size of the post itself - just the amount of it that appears on the main page. The post can be equally verbose, all-encompassing and informative, but only the first paragraph needs to appear on the main page as an introduction to readers and to assist them with deciding if it is the sort of thing they are interested in pursuing further. Not editing, just housekeeping.
posted by dg at 9:09 PM on September 28, 2003


Blah blah. Blah blah blah! blah......blah blah.......blah?
posted by troutfishing at 9:09 PM on September 28, 2003


blah?
posted by dg at 9:10 PM on September 28, 2003


Blah blah blah!
posted by homunculus at 9:14 PM on September 28, 2003


I thought it was sassy. I like sassy.
posted by The God Complex at 9:18 PM on September 28, 2003


Skallas, beyond y2karl's wonderful posts, a character limit could also hamper legitimately short posts with incredibly long URLs included as supplementary links. An extended entry "more inside" box is a much more flexible solution, and Matt has said many times that he prefers things to be flexible.

Like his women.
posted by me3dia at 8:55 AM on September 29, 2003


troutfishing, I can't speak for everyone here, but you seem to be intentionally mishearing what a lot of people are saying. The post is worthy and important. Even all the links and words in it may be essential. But they don't all have to be on the front page.

And no, to your specific question for me, I didn't ignore the story, I read the whole thread and found it very worthwhile. The point, though, was that I was distracted from the issue by the indulgence of the format. And I think to some extent or another, that may be the case with many. So why work so hard to undercut the impact of the post when you could easily put the bulk of it inside?

And again, this may not be true for everyone, but I have the same reaction whether the post's political or "inspiring." It's purely a form thing.
posted by soyjoy at 9:35 AM on September 29, 2003


troutfishing: Oh, bullshit. That's exactly the attitude I'm talking about: "Oh, you're complaining about my thoughtless behavior? Then you must not care about the terrible, terrible things I'm trying to bring to the world's attention!" Spare me. Of course I care about the goddam electronic voting, I've been bending people's ears on the topic since long before the 2000 election (and possibly before you ever noticed it). The reason I'm pissed at your thoughtless posting is because it detracts from the topic. Capisce? Here, let me repeat soyjoy's words, so you'll focus and perhaps remember:

troutfishing's magnum opus could've gotten me into the thread with any two of his sentences. But it went on and on and on. By the time I clicked, I was ready to add a much more snarky version of JollyWanker's comment, and had become distracted from the compelling content by the bloated and, yes, indulgent format.

See, it matters how you address people. You're probably too young to remember the '60s, but I assure you leftists turned off a lot of people who might have been brought to support civil rights and oppose the war by their smug, condescending, often bullying tactics. "We're in the right, we don't have to be nice!"—I don't know if anybody actually chanted that, but it certainly expresses the attitude. Just to spell it out again for you, so you don't make any more insulting assumptions: I was very strongly for all those causes; I marched against the war, I helped shut down my college (with regrets, because I thought it was a last-resort tactic), I drove around proselytizing at other campuses, I paid the dues. But I thought my comrades who insulted soldiers and blue-collar workers and Southerners and anybody else who wasn't exactly like them (or, in the case of white/bourgeois guilt, people who were too much like them) were making a big mistake, and everything that's happened since then has confirmed me in that view. Sorry to go on about this, but it's a touchy subject.

And nobody asked you to condense your post, just put most of it inside. Straw men are another bad tactic. (On preview: what soyjoy said, including about not picking on political posts.)
posted by languagehat at 9:40 AM on September 29, 2003


dg is on the money. There's no need to lessen the size of a post, just lessen the amount of it that is seen on the front page. Give enough description to let people know what the link(s) is/are about, the put the rest in a separate "more inside" field, or until that's implemented by Matt, write out the full amount ahead of time in a generic word processing program, copy paste the first bit into MeFi to start the thread, then immediately copypaste the rest inside the thread itself. Until a separate 'more inside' field is implemented, there is the risk of having firstposters undercut you as you copypaste, but if you operate fast enough you should be able to keep that down to a minimum. I mean, this isn't AICN. People generally don't race to post to every MeFi post before anyone else can.

y2karl: Firstly, thank you for the kind words. =)

"I seem to recall a post about some family's saga of mom's bout with cancer while they sailed around the world. It was about a foot of screen and no one screamed about it in that thread."

Sometimes a post's subject matter is heart-pully and tender as well as unnecessarily long and unruly on the front page, and many feel it's just not a battle worth fighting in that instance. Cuz if you complain about HOW a post about someone losing their pet canary was posted, people will argue you have no heart. So some people do get away with more if it's a tear jerker. Some also get away with more than others simply because of who they are, and apparently if you know enough of the right people and have 'paid your dues' then you can afford to go a little long now and then with the assumption you'll be forgiven.

I don't personally feel that justifies it though. There's always a rationale behind the front page abuses. Even if a majority might agree with you on one case or another, I still think it shouldn't be done. And admittedly I've been guilty of long FPPs myself over the years. Not anymore cuz by default I struggle to avoid ever posting a FPP for any reason. I just try not to do it at all anymore.

This is something Matt can opt to force upon everybody. The more inside field is a suggestion he's considering (thank you for that) which is kinda inconspicuous. It's not going to annoy many. It's an optional field. Won't have to be used probably. It's there for convenience.

Matt could also opt to put a word count or character count limitation on the FPP text field. This would be more obtrusive and frustrating to many, however it would resolve the problem once and for all. I don't personally suggest this one though. I'd prefer we just educate one another on how to properly post FPPs and depend upon self-policing and common sense.

Because there are going to be exceptions that a majority will cater to, and though we may not all agree, sometimes it may just become necessary. I'd just like to see the rationales happen a little less often than they presently do.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:54 AM on September 29, 2003


ZachsMind: Amen.

Sorry about the '60s rant up there, everybody; I try to save that stuff for late-night drunken tirades, but sometimes my buttons get pushed and off I go.
posted by languagehat at 11:52 AM on September 29, 2003


"troutfishing, I can't speak for everyone here, but you seem to be intentionally mishearing what a lot of people are saying. The post is worthy and important. Even all the links and words in it may be essential. But they don't all have to be on the front page." soyjoy - OK, you're right. I was frustrated (not completely consciously) that this story isn't on any front page I know of (unless MSNBC online counts, but that's a notable exception). I guess the frustrated inclination to force the story was inappropriate.

languagehat - If you have been following this story for so long (and I guess I could claim the same although - to be honest - I think the Florida 2000 story took far too long to sink into my thick skull) why haven't you been posting about it?

I've been working Global Warming as an issue on Mefi for what - close to 2 years? And you know what - by golly, after posting the same links to the same National Academy of Science reports (written for Congress) on the subject over and over and over again (and providing countless other links about the science of the issue), I think that perhaps more people here would agree that the issue is real and supported by real scientific research. OK, hooray for me. No, really - even if an issue is very real, bringing it to the fore (or even the foyer) of people's minds is painfully slow work. And, as work, I've done it in every possible mood and state I can think of, and in every sort of way -well, poorly, passionately, indifferently, despairingly, mechanically, in love and also anger.

Sometimes, the person who emerges at the right place and time says the right thing in the wrong way.

Is silence better?

Given the stakes, should I not have made the post at all? When would someone else have covered the issue and bothered to do the research and dig into the story as deeply so as to produce all those links to (mostly) significant angles of the topic? Maybe tomorrow. Maybe not for a month. This sort of work takes time and can incur personal cost (this one did, a bit - and not here on Mefi). Perhaps, as such, it's grandstanding, attention-getting behavior AND also a burden - all in one messy package.

Meanwhile - did I say anything about you not paying your dues? I'm sorry that you thought I was making insulting assumptions, but I was really only observing (and I'll rephrase it here) that: you're more articulate than most here. Why not write about the voting rights story? It needs to be written about more, everywhere - on and of Mefi.

Just my opinion, of course (that Democracy in America (as it's been previously enjoyed) is under concerted attack along a number of different fronts.)

"See, it matters how you address people. You're probably too young to remember the '60s, but I assure you leftists turned off a lot of people who might have been brought to support civil rights and oppose the war by their smug, condescending, often bullying tactics......I thought my comrades who insulted soldiers and blue-collar workers and Southerners and anybody else who wasn't exactly like them (or, in the case of white/bourgeois guilt, people who were too much like them) were making a big mistake, and everything that's happened since then has confirmed me in that view." - I think that you might be surprised by how soft spoken and diplomatic I usually am. Mefi posts, especially ones not directed at any one person or group (except maybe, err, "Republicans", and especially the "Republicans don't/can't (hand) drum post)? But on thread discussions, I try to take pains to not insult people. I may not always succeed.

Meanwhile, about "The reason I'm pissed at your thoughtless posting is because it detracts from the topic." - I don't accept that criticism. First of all, people here make distinctions between individual posters and so someone else will post on the subject - and Mefi-ers will generally think: "Oh, someone other than that verbose (or annoying) Troutfishing character is taking the issue seriously." And the variance in formatting may in fact improve the extent to which the message sinks in. Along these lines, bonding - in friendship or enmity - happens most easily during shared projects (including MetaTalk threads) and memory, also, is dramatically deepened through social interaction. Meanwhile, there are several more Blogs out in the 'sphere pointing towards the story (and the collected links - maybe hundreds if you include the summary of Mefi on-subject threads) and maybe, just maybe, the buzz is now a little louder.

In closing, somehow this psychological principle (if one accepts it) comes to mind here: "Among those who infuriate us the most are those who remind us of ourselves, those who seem to us similar to how we feel we are now or how we have been in the past."

And - I'm 40. No, I didn't actively protest in the 60's: I went along for the ride and endured the fallout later on.
posted by troutfishing at 2:09 PM on September 29, 2003


But I thought my comrades who insulted soldiers and blue-collar workers and Southerners and anybody else who wasn't exactly like them (or, in the case of white/bourgeois guilt, people who were too much like them) were making a big mistake, and everything that's happened since then has confirmed me in that view.

As you know, languagehat, my recollections are exactly the opposite. Out here we had GI coffee houses and people organizing resistance within and without the army. Organizations like Vietnam Veterans Against The War got ample coverage and support in the underground press on the west coast. There was, after all, a peculiar institution called the draft then--it wasn't like military service was exactly voluntary and no one I knew ever forgot that. Your friends and acquaintances may have been hostile and condescending to soldiers but mine sure weren't.
posted by y2karl at 2:41 PM on September 29, 2003


Sometimes, the person who emerges at the right place and time says the right thing in the wrong way.

Is silence better?

Given the stakes, should I not have made the post at all? When would someone else have covered the issue and bothered to do the research and dig into the story as deeply so as to produce all those links to (mostly) significant angles of the topic? Maybe tomorrow. Maybe not for a month. This sort of work takes time and can incur personal cost (this one did, a bit - and not here on Mefi). Perhaps, as such, it's grandstanding, attention-getting behavior AND also a burden - all in one messy package.


Just go with the and you'll make people happy. The rest was a-ok.
posted by The God Complex at 4:31 PM on September 29, 2003


why haven't you been posting about it?

I don't do politics. I got burned out on it years ago. I know, I know, shame on me, but I gave it my all, and around 1970 I was sure that soon we'd be out of Vietnam and women would achieve equality and pot would be legal and... you get the picture. And none of it happened. Yeah, we got out of Vietnam, but not before we'd put in lots more men and ruined Cambodia and Laos as well, and it was because of Nixon's and Kissinger's geopolitical calculations, not anything we did. For the rest, America just dived into self-indulgence and hypocrisy, and after the brief interlude of relative decency under Carter (the last presidential candidate I voted for) we descended into the pits of Reagan and Bush and that bastard Clinton who took the Democratic party right into the toilet with the Republicans and Bush Jr (aka Mini-Me) and his gang of evil thieves and conmen... sorry, I'm ranting again. Anyway, I gave up on the whole business. I cheer on the home team (which means you, among others), and sometimes I can't help commenting in the threads, but I can't get myself psyched to make the thousandth War Is Bad! post. I can't see it making any difference, and I'm not willing to put up with the psychic wear and tear.

I think that you might be surprised by how soft spoken and diplomatic I usually am.

Naah, you're generally amazingly tolerant and good-humored in the political threads; you do go on a bit, but I'm hardly in a position to complain about that.

Among those who infuriate us the most are those who remind us of ourselves

Very astute. You do remind me of me in my agitprop days. Keep it up, and I hope it does do some good. Just don't take up the whole goddam front page! mutter, grumble

y2karl: I knew somehow that you'd comment on that. I just wish I'd hung out with your crowd; I'd be less embittered today. But note that I didn't say anybody spat on 'em!

The God Complex: Just go with the and you'll make people happy
Words to live by!
posted by languagehat at 4:57 PM on September 29, 2003


thank you trout, for the excellent post.
but next time, i guess a (more inside) won't hurt. : >
posted by amberglow at 5:09 PM on September 29, 2003


It probably would have made more sense if I'd used "(more inside)" instead of trying to use the greater than and less than symbols.

By more sense I mean sense, period.
posted by The God Complex at 5:13 PM on September 29, 2003


I just wish I'd hung out with your crowd; I'd be less embittered today.

Well. I do remember a blowhard named Doug Bale--way back in '69, he was walking down the street with a friend of mine when he suddenly grabbed a piece of cardboard and scooped up some dog shit and dropped it in a mail box. When my friend asked him what in the hell he thought he was doing, he said, "Heh, heh, just stickin' it to the Man!" As if the Man had a job with the post office or was anybody who ever wrote a letter...

Old Dougie was our very definition of asshole forever after.
posted by y2karl at 7:21 PM on September 29, 2003


The God Complex - maybe human brains are more flexible than you think?

amberglow - thanks.

Languagehat - y2karl just pegged the idiot 60's ideologue, I'd say. Dumping dog shit shit in a mail box. Hmmm. I've had some friends in the postal service.

anyway.....

"around 1970 I was sure that soon we'd be out of Vietnam and women would achieve equality and pot would be legal and... you get the picture. And none of it happened. Yeah, we got out of Vietnam, but not before we'd put in lots more men and ruined Cambodia and Laos as well, and it was because of Nixon's and Kissinger's geopolitical calculations, not anything we did. For the rest, America just dived into self-indulgence and hypocrisy...."

Stop it! You're breaking my heart. You thought humans would come to their senses....I fall into this delusion often (sometimes even while posting on Mefi) and it's always painfull to resurface into the awareness that humans are what they are. But couldn't they be more? - I think so, and so I keep whacking my head against this wall. One thing I keep in mind though is: I'll never know what my actual impact is. (think: "It's a wonderfull life").

But the 60's - aaaaah....a time of limitless potential, a time to change the world. Many Americans thought that at the time, it seems. I'd say that I grew up breathing the fumes of those feelings....

So, I grew up feeling that the world had already ended - in the sense that the crucial battles had been fought and that the end-game was completely predictable - and I still can't quite pin this sense on parental misbehavior. For one thing, humans are imperfect and judgment can be merciless. For another, existence is a mystery which defies our awareness. Our brains are little, the totality is vast.

The 60's.....I remember the feeling in the air then probably better than I should have - the sense of possibility. It's hard to separate that from mere aging, but the human behaviors I perceived then as a kid seemed often less mechanical than now....and often obnoxious, yes - but many were moving along (it seemed) at an accelerated rate.....

Emotions aside, was that a possible historical bifurcation point? Maybe. Or perhaps the possibility - sensed - was stretched in an attempt to close the gap. But - alas! - no utopia on earth was to be had......then, anyway.

So what happened? Well, in clinical terms, I could cite the Powell Memorandum and other historical tidbits - but I'm a mystic and so that level of analysis feels incomplete.

If I were to reduce it to mundane terms, I'd say that humans are bound to the instincts encoded in their genome, and so this sets a limit on possibility.

But that level of reductionism seems crude to me, for I'm convinced that humans are not the only actors in the game....beyond that, though, I wouldn't presume to speak.

In any case, thanks for hanging in the thread discussion with me. Perhaps we can raise a beer together one day....
posted by troutfishing at 9:13 PM on September 29, 2003


Thanks yourself for giving me a whiff of those days of hope and glory. I too hope we can raise a beer. Now I must go to bed and awake tomorrow in the nasty world of 2003.
posted by languagehat at 9:30 PM on September 29, 2003


languagehat - I think interesting times are ahead anyway.

But Ohhh.....that today world. Time to bed fo' me too - postponing 9/29/2003 for a bit longer.

Hey - what a good time to gaze at plants! So remote, so tranquil....I think Japanese knotweed will be around for millions of years, and Blue-Green algae has existed for over a billion, I think........so soothing - they care little for our petty schemes
posted by troutfishing at 9:58 PM on September 29, 2003


maybe human brains are more flexible than you think?

I haven't a clue. I happened to enjoy the post and enjoy most everything you put up into the blue. I just think that the effectiveness would remain intact even if you put a little (more inside) tag at the end.
posted by The God Complex at 10:03 PM on September 29, 2003


It was all fields round here when I was a kid...
posted by i_cola at 12:20 AM on September 30, 2003


...the sense of possibility. It's hard to separate that from mere aging, but the human behaviors I perceived then as a kid seemed often less mechanical than now....and often obnoxious, yes - but many were moving along (it seemed) at an accelerated rate.....Emotions aside, was that a possible historical bifurcation point? Maybe. Or perhaps the possibility - sensed - was stretched in an attempt to close the gap. But - alas! - no utopia on earth was to be had......then, anyway.

trout, i know what you mean...I think it may partially come from the practical aftereffects of the 60s which hit us as children thru the early-mid 70s (many of my teachers were very young and new and instilled great hope and empowerment, open classrooms and other learning environments were tried, we were "free to be you and me," encouraged to explore and be independent instead of just protected and sheltered from harsh things in the world, no one was ever saying "just say no," greed wasn't good, our moms worked (or started working), divorce boomed, integration was a fact (except in Boston), politics were everywhere and people successfully got rid of Nixon, ecology became a big deal, the economy was awful and we knew about it, etc...)
posted by amberglow at 5:42 AM on September 30, 2003


i_cola - that made me spew coffee. I thought you were talking about Metafilter, as in "I've been here almost since day one, and it used to be all fields. Now: all you people yapping away on MetaTalk..." Not.

I got sad when I realized you were being literal. But - you know - the "It was all fields when I was a kid" experience has also been pivotal in forming the conviction of many leaders and visionaries of the environmental movement - Dr. John Todd, for example. I heard him talk about his experience - of woods he played in as a boy of 8 or ten or so being suddenly leveled and replaced by a glass and steel office complex - and about the deep trauma he felt. It was really, he said, the defining moment of his life.

amberglow - the idealism and courage to experiment of that period puts us to shame, I think. I remember open classrooms and also when the walls - literally - went back up. Some of my little school buddies helped that along by sneaking out of class and pushing a 200 pound cart full of laminated math learning sheets (from the individualized, "learn at your own pace" math program) down a stairwell.

The walls went back up alright. In political terms.....

Well, I first learned about the Powell Memorandum last year (drum roll, *boom boom... boom boom.. boom boom.....*) and it explained a lot to me.

The God Complex - Thanks. You're a (complex) God.

languagehat - (again he goes on with the damn Meta thread, you think perchance) If we were normal men, we would fight, get bloody, and then complete the bonding process by going to a bar or a strip club to drink beer and watch football, or tits.

If we were of the New Age™ persuasion, we would shout at each other for a while, pace around a bit, glare, pace around some more, glare some more, then apologize, hug, and go off into the woods to beat drums around a fire and chant manly mythic-heroic chants by Robert Bly.

But this is MetaFilter.
posted by troutfishing at 8:35 AM on September 30, 2003


troutfishing & languagehat - I stay out of the political and environmental threads for many of the same reasons. It is just too hard emotionally to champion causes to see them trampled on again and again. Reading your comments above is heartbreaking because I see myself in both of you (though I can't claim to have been as politically active as languagehat). So now I do my bit quietly and hope that maybe someone may be inspired by my example. I raise a beer (well, wine) to you both and make a toast to peace, love and - most of all - hope.
posted by widdershins at 8:44 AM on September 30, 2003


Languagehat - y2karl just pegged the idiot 60's ideologue, I'd say.

I'd say not. It was a malicous act by by a blowhard showoff. Ideology had no more to do with it than with any rock thrown through any window. I pegged the idiot 60s idiot, nothing more.
posted by y2karl at 12:16 PM on September 30, 2003


I dunno—while it's true he was an idiot plain and simple, the new-leftie mentality of the day encouraged exactly that sort of idiocy. "Stickin' it to the man" was a widely accepted excuse for all sorts of asshole behavior, much the way "fighting terrorism" is today (among a very different population segment, of course).

*goes off into the woods to beat drums around a fire and chant manly mythic-heroic chants*
posted by languagehat at 2:30 PM on September 30, 2003


As one of those who was born too late to be into the '60s scene and too early to take advantage of the '80s "greed is good" scene, I envy those above who worked to make our world a better place, whether they succeeded or not. I know that there are a lot of people my age who idealise the '60s with a wistfulness that only those who were able to observe yet not participate can have.

troutfishing, you are spot on with your last two paragraphs and it is a sad indication of the decay of the place that men hold in society. I am and have always been in favour of equal opportunities for both sexes, but it seems that the level of equality we have obtained has been by beating men down rather than lifting women up.
posted by dg at 3:12 PM on September 30, 2003


I am and have always been in favour of equal opportunities for both sexes, but it seems that the level of equality we have obtained has been by beating men down rather than lifting women up.
How so? Men aren't hurting by any stretch of the imagination, especially white men. At least here in the US, women still earn less in the same jobs and pay more for comparable goods and services.
posted by amberglow at 3:47 PM on September 30, 2003


Sorry, amberglow, I was referring more to troutfishing's comment about "normal men" and saw it as "real men" ,rather than measurable differences in earning power etc (although these are factual and utterly wrong and it saddens me that a society claiming to equally value every member still clings to these anachronistic actions in deed if not in word). This is not restricted to the US in any way, either.

To clarify, I was lamenting the emasculation of men that I see every day. Instead of empowering women to have the same freedom as men in the way they express themselves, the way they dress and talk and the way they act in public, society has forced men to act in ways that make them more like women in order to be deemed acceptable. There are lots of behaviours and attitudes that needed to be addressed (and there is still a long way to go with this), but I feel that we have thrown out the baby with the bathwater by making it seem that all male behaviour is bad and that men should not act like men. I am aware that the concept that men and women, while equal, are different is not a popular one (and that every person within those groups is different as well), but I believe it to be true and lament the fact that, instead of embracing each individual as they are, we are replacing one set of stereotypes with another. I have no problem with any person acting according to their values, as long as they do not try and force me to act according to them as well.

There are many people (both male and female) who have a deep-seated desire to nurture by directly providing care, feeding, soothing of wounds etc and there are many who are equally disposed to acting as "hunter-gatherers" and contributing to the support of their family in more indirect ways by providing the means to obtain shelter, food and other necessities of life. Neither of these groups are wrong, but we continue to pressure men to act as "hunter-gatherers" while trying to shame them into becoming more nurturing and, at the same time, encourage women to become more dominant and to consider their own needs more without repressing their nurturing instincts. I say that we pressure men into acting as the "hunter-gatherer" in the full knowledge that many women carry out this role, by the way, but society does not expect women to carry out this role in the same way that they expect men to do so. This same society shows no surprise when a woman acts as the head of a household, works full-time, takes all the responsibility for child-rearing etc, but reacts in strange ways when a man eschews the hunter-gatherer role and takes on the primary nurturing aspect within a family group. Heaven forbid that a man should actually attempt to fulfill the sacred role reserved for women! As a single father for many years, I constantly came across people who were surprised and not a little puzzled that I was capable of acting as a parent to my daughter without assistance and comments such as "who buys her clothes for you?" were common. At the same time, it was always assumed that I worked full-time in a way that would never have been assumed had I been a single mother.

Yes, women do pay more for comparable goods and services (haircuts are a minor but obvious example) and they are also deemed to be fair targets for rip-off artists (particularly tradesmen) who assume that women know nothing about whatever their speciality is and inflate the scope of the job and the prices accordingly. In the same way, women are treated unfairly in that they are not given the same level of information about, for example, the repairs required to a car that a man would be - the assumption being that men know about cars and women do not. While it is far less common, the reverse is true, however - men are assumed to know nothing about traditional female tasks and are treated with the same level of disdain when making enquries in, for example, a fabric shop.

My stupid brain won't let me get the words out to properly explain what I mean but, in essence, I feel that the push to provide equality has become a movement to force men to act more like women or be damned while women have the choice of retaining their traditional nurturing role if they wish without being considered sub-normal, but are given encouragement to move outside that role.
posted by dg at 5:43 PM on September 30, 2003


I get you dg, but i think women are punished too, if they step too far outside the traditional roles--see Leona Helmsley, or Martha Stewart--they're seen as mega-bitches who don't quite know their place. Donald Trump or Jack Welch aren't treated that way, although they may have done much more shady stuff in the course of their business. Women who have careers and families have two full-time jobs, which is why there's been such a push for more of a role for men in family caretaking. Also, it never hurts for any human to be more nurturing, i think.
posted by amberglow at 6:30 PM on September 30, 2003


wow, this thread certainly meandered into some interesting places. I just wanted to put in my two cents to say that I think your posts are very valuable and your tireless research is impressive troutfishing. I would favor a "more inside" option because when I see a long post, I dread the way that complaints generally follow and hijack or dominate what should be a good discussion. But otherwise, keep on keepin on, trout!

amberglow, nice job taking up for women - thanks!
posted by madamjujujive at 7:05 PM on September 30, 2003


I agree amberglow, that women are often punished for stepping too far outside the traditional roles, mainly because they have to play by different rules than men. Women are also seen as being worse when they transgress the "rules" - a wife who has an affair is considered a slut, but a husband who has an affair is something of a rogue (not always, but often enough to matter).

Yes, women who have careers and families have two full-time jobs, but there is something that most people forget - men who have careers and families also have two full-time jobs, but different men divide their resources between the two jobs differently. Women are generally expected to devote more to their family than men are, but have the ability to off-load some of that responsibility to their partner should they take on a bigger work-load, where men are expected to shoulder more familial responsibility and still bring home a full-time wage.

We could all do with being more nurturing, but there are different ways of nurturing - only one of which is providing your family with the financial resources to lead the lifestyle that they wish to.

Don't get me wrong - I like women (one woman in particular far more than others), think that they have had a raw deal historically and continue to do so and in no way support discrimination of any kind. There are two sides to every story, though and men seem to be expected to take on all sorts of responsibility that most of us are utterly unprepared for by our upbringing, without any recognition of the pressure we are under. This does not take away from the struggle that women face for equal treatment, it just adds to the complication. My comment above was not meant to denigrate women in any way at all.
posted by dg at 7:30 PM on September 30, 2003


Note to self: giving up smoking and prowling on MeFi/MeTa do not mix well.
posted by dg at 7:32 PM on September 30, 2003


*passes dg a cigarette secretly*

I think men at most have a full and a part-time job nowadays (with the pt one being helping with childrearing and around the house, and that's a relatively new thing). And I don't know that men are so unprepared anymore--most people my age can cook and clean and do laundry etc...and most have lived on their own and had to do those things for themselves pre-marriage...and many were specifically taught household things by their mothers too (some feminist plot way back when i think) ; >. I think men are worse at multitasking and juggling, but that's changing from necessity too. I think women today demand more from their spouses than previous generations and are entitled to.

Also, I wouldn't describe providing financial resources as nurturing ever. It's providing at most.

and how funny is it that i'm describing heterosexual marriages? Maybe i can see it more objectively?
posted by amberglow at 9:01 PM on September 30, 2003


"Stickin' it to the man" was a widely accepted excuse for all sorts of asshole behavior, much the way "fighting terrorism" is today (among a very different population segment, of course).

Adolescent rebellion and ideology are two separate things. And for a fact, Sticking it to the man was long ago co-opted by the Man, as in the conquest of cool. In the late 60s, Columbia Records could run an advertisement promotion under the title of The Man Can't Bust Our Music. A more recent example I can recall came about ten years ago when ABC put a backwards baseball cap on their logo during their cartoon segment on Saturdays. Anti-social behavior is not an ideology. It is, however, something easily and long commodified. That's what happened to the revolution--it was picked up, packaged and sold to us.
posted by y2karl at 9:50 PM on September 30, 2003


... and we bought it, willingly and eagerly.
posted by dg at 10:41 PM on September 30, 2003


You know, if your monitor is set to a higher resolution (I'm at 1280x1024), even troutie's longest post takes up very little real estate on the page. I'm just sayin'.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:40 PM on September 30, 2003


... and we bought it, willingly and eagerly.

I hope we got a receipt for that. Eventually there are going to be quite a few folks wanting a refund for this 'revolution'. I already sent mine back.
posted by attackthetaxi at 2:07 AM on October 1, 2003


I tried to send mine back, but was told it had past its use-by date.
posted by dg at 2:19 AM on October 1, 2003


The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. All sales final; no refunds or exchanges on discounted revolutions. No exceptions.
posted by taz at 5:37 AM on October 1, 2003


The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

Why bother? Try some new Cynicism! instead.
posted by y2karl at 9:40 AM on October 1, 2003


You punk kids get off my lawn!
posted by wobh at 2:43 PM on October 1, 2003


wobh - weevils are gnawing at that lawn of yours. You need to get moles, to eat the weevils......and ferrets to kill the moles....and terriers to kill the ferrets..........

dg - I really don't know how to be a man any more...men everywhere in the US are looking for definition - like the "Promise Keepers". What is it to be a man? - "Keep your promises", they say.

Well......Promises can be suspect, and vicious thugs make promises too.

But being a single father/parent is, in my book, manly. Meaning: it's hard. (so I guess it's womanly too).

What does biology say about Manliness? ( if you believe in Evolution ) Well - our human inclinations are based on instinct. So: looking to our primates cousins, we see a constant struggle among males for male tribal domination. The Alpha males, the tribal leaders, often demonstrate brutal violence against the weak - infants, for example. Ruthless violence, it seems, brings respect from the survivors and
everyone in the tribe bows and scrapes to the capriciously vicious and grandly magnanimous Alpha Male. This scheme is instinctual and I'd bet that Hitler knew it well.

But.......Is this manly behavior?

I think I'll go off with languagehat and beat drums in the woods.

But first I have to type a much longer post - my "Testosterone makes men stupid" post, sure to cause a ruckus - so that stavrosthewonderchicken can't view it on his big screen.
posted by troutfishing at 9:17 PM on October 2, 2003


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