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November 19, 2004

Free ice cream

Johansson3.jpg

Look, it's Scarlett Johansson! What was I thinking? Oh, that's it... I was feeling the onset of the testy post that arrives when bloggers reach a critical mass of traffic. You know, when you have 50,000 people visit your blog in a month some of whom were presumably entertained in some way, attract precisely zero dollars in donations (just as the month before) and then yet another ingrate decides s/he has the right to direct your editorial policy while using your comment feature to advertise their blog. It is the testy post that results from putting a lot of work into something, having that work shat upon from a great height and which is the provisional alternative to deciding to call it a day. Seriously.

James Lileks famously reminded Glenn Reynolds that Instapundit is not a public utility. True. Yet this simple fact seems to escape people raised in a culture of complaint. Here are some thoughts on etiquette that may prove useful to bloggers getting stick from that tiny minority of extre... or rather, of readers with bad manners.

A Small Victory's Quarterly Notice About Owing You Something, INDC Journal's A Plea for Civility and La Shawn Barber's Corner's Comment Policy make useful interventions. But I cede the floor to Stardate 20040827.2353 posted at USS Clueless and the following passage in particular.

I've learned something interesting: if you give away ice cream, eventually a lot of people will complain about the flavors, and others will complain that you aren't also giving away syrup and whipped cream and nuts.

Too true. Ghost of a flea is a blog written and published at my time and expense for reasons I am not certain I can properly articulate. Most of the time it is a labour of love but it remains labour nonetheless. If you spot something here and choose to write about it please have the common courtesy to offer a link in recognition of my work. If you are an argumentative soul regularly outraged at my ramblings I suggest you vent your feelings at your own expense elsewhere. And if you find all this free ice cream is not to your taste please feel free to read something else or, better yet, write something more interesting. I am certain the world will beat a path to your door and bask in your fascinating thoughts. When I shut down the Flea it will give people something else to read and if you are especially lucky you can pay for the bandwidth they will use to tell you how boring your work is.

And then... I would probably find it difficult to quit for the same reason Occam's Carbuncle discovered with a week's hiatus.

When I suspended posting last Friday, it was with a view to deciding whether there was any purpose to continuing this weblog. After spending a week as a spectator in the blogosphere once more, it is my considered opinion that my feeble efforts here are entirely without merit or consequence. Naturally, therefore, I will be resuming posting. I return not so much refreshed as nearing dangerous levels of repressed bile saturation.

And then... My editorial continues with thoughts on sexism, freedom of speech and Kylie Minogue's perfect bottom.

And then... And then there is Theresa Zolner who posted a picture of a bare-breasted woman suckling a dog the same week she attacked the Flea for posting pictures of Kylie Minogue. This strikes me as a grotesque distortion of taste and a violation of elementary sense. While I am delighted to say I cannot fathom Theresa Zolner's reason for her behaviour, I can find no other explanation than an attention-seeking sublimation of her feelings at having been banned from my comments section after leaving one too many comments in poor taste. Taste is a difficult thing to define but I can only prefer Australian pop singers over Theresa Zolner's bestial image. I can't speak for Theresa Zolner's patients - let alone Theresa Zolner's Christian ethics - but I would never show photos such as the one she posted to any of my students. I imagine they have all seen pictures of Kylie Minogue. While Theresa Zolner has since posted a rambling apologia for her decision to post an image of a bare-breasted woman suckling a dog, I believe the image is inherently grotesque, aesthetically indefensible and speaks volumes about her judgement in posting it. Her subsequent attacks on the Flea are as difficult to take seriously as the remainder of her rhetoric.

Theresa Zolner has repeatedly claimed to like the Flea barring the Kylie pics. Perhaps this accounts for her hyperventilating attack on my writing, my morality and my professionalism for the affront of barring her noxious comments from appearing here. As for myself, I was blissfully unfamiliar with Theresa Zolner beyond her trollish comments and what little I have seen since leaves an unpleasant taste. In fact, if not for Theresa Zolner's contribution to Canadian culture I would have never imagined anyone would breast-feed a dog let alone publish a picture of it to their "conservative" weblog. Such is the miracle of liberty. Australian pop singers or bare-breasted women suckling dogs: your choice.

I would not normally reward a troll for spamming my comments section let alone for complaining about it once they were barred. But this one case may as well stand as an example to anyone writing a successful blog for the kind of petty, parasitic nonsense that arises as a side-effect. Anyone wondering why Theresa Zolner is only one of many people banned from commenting at this blog only has to look at that photograph to understand the sort of poor judgement and poor taste I will not tolerate in this forum. That from self-appointed judges of my publication, or indeed of Kylie Minogue, such Theresa Zolner or from anyone else. Healer, heal thyself.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at November 19, 2004 09:32 PM

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Comments

And just so we are clear about something: I am not asking for donations. If you decide you would like to make one that is fine too but please hold off for awhile until I cool down.

If you think this post if about you: it might be. But you are not the only idiot I have had to deal with today so don't feel special.

Finally, Ms. Johansson is there as a beacon of joy for every cool person I have met through this thing. I really do take requests.

Posted by: Flea at November 19, 2004 09:55 PM

Blogging is something you either have to do or do not do. There are some careerists out there, Andrew Sullivan comes to mind. But the great majority have to do it because they want to because there really is no other cogent answer to why one blogs. I quite sincerely hope you continue to want to, Nick. I'd miss your take on the world, not to mention my sole source for all things Kylie..whom I've loved since the Locomotion days.

Posted by: Dr_Funk at November 19, 2004 10:54 PM

What is this, existentialist dilemma week for the Red Ensign Brigade? First Occam's Carbuncle, now Ghost of a Flea?

I rather think that blogging satisfies some sort of exhibitionist tendency we all have in common. Only... I didn't start mine with that intention.

Why does one write? Certainly not for the public notoriety, and not for the shower of gold coins that has descended upon us all.

Bah. One nice thing about a bully pulpit is that one can take aim at the people one likes.

I'll be very sorry if you decide to call it a day, Flea, but it's your call (and your toil and treasure). I wish that people would remember that.

Posted by: Ben at November 20, 2004 08:20 AM

I, for one, am grateful for your work, Nicholas. (And grateful for the nice eye candy every few days. Like today. Gracias.)

And though the lack of a credit card prevents me from donating to your site (long, depressing story), I'll be happy to swing the occasional DVD your way. Thou hast a wish list, sir?

Posted by: rick mcginnis at November 20, 2004 08:30 AM

Dang, Flea, I don't know what to say. Producing a blog is indeed a labour (albeit of love!) but there are times when I think I could just write one off-line and thus do without the grief.

Dr. Funk recently left a supportive comment at my place too. It would be so very wrong to deprive so stout-hearted a Canadian of all things Kylie, and I would miss your insights and archaelogical news items.

Hey, Ben must have posted while I was previewing. No fair! (And maybe I better pay Alan a quick visit.)

Posted by: Debbye at November 20, 2004 08:32 AM

Thanks, everyone, for the kind words. This week my work was lifted without attribution, I spent a morning going back and forth with someone who seems to think he deserves a link on my sidebar and I continue to deal with a troll who only moments ago tried to spam my comments despite being Blacklisted for her rudeness. And all this as public figures level scurrilous charges of racism at my friends and every one of us comes under greater scrutiny from the lamoids of the MSM as we speak out and find an audience. Such are the perils of popularity?

Posted by: Flea at November 20, 2004 11:13 AM

And another thing: anyone wishing to leave me editorial advice should read the above post again. Yet another comment I just now deleted told me what I should write about, how much I must enjoy a debate I never invited with views I do not respect and advertised a blog I do not read or link to. Check. Check. Check. It is as if I am speaking in an air pocket. Frankly, I have had it. I can delete faster than you can type and there is plenty more room on my Blacklist.

If this persists I will move to a comment registration system or shut down comment altogether. This is not a forum and I am not interested in debating my views. Don't like it? Go read something else.

Posted by: Flea at November 20, 2004 01:03 PM

Give 'em hell, Flea. While the normal rules of behaviour tempt us to be polite, civil and respond to every e-mail and comment running a blog really is different.

You will never convince someone he doesn't belong on your blogroll or his editorial advice is not superior to you own. As usual, Rumsfeld has some useful advice that may even be relevant:

“If you are not criticized, you may not be doing much.”

“Keep your sense of humor. As (World War II Army) Gen. Joseph Stilwell said, ‘The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind.’”

“Control your own time. If you're working off your in-box, you're working off the priorities of others. ”

Posted by: Trudeaupia at November 20, 2004 01:32 PM

We are the monkeys! :)

Posted by: Flea at November 20, 2004 01:35 PM

Shutting down comments would take something away from this blog, as the level of commentary is quite thoughtful and entertaining, devoid of much of the "me too-isms" found at other "popular" blogs.

Spam, editorializing off-topic idiots deserve to be removed...I hope you find the proper balance.

Posted by: Ray at November 20, 2004 01:53 PM

Scarlett Johansen?! WHere's Jessica Alba? You promised Jessica Alba and you do only one picture? This blog sucks. MORE JESSICA ALBA! NOWNOWNNOWNOWNOWNOWNOWNOWNOW!

Man this blog is going downhill.

Oh, and I'd like a waffle cone, with that little chocolate tip at the bottom.

Posted by: Bill from INDC at November 20, 2004 02:19 PM

People with an axe to grind, a gripe to pass, a snarl to share- these people are, unfortunately more likely to post something than people like me who read your blog and merely go away enriched, with something to think about, something to appreciate.
I've been reading blogs only since Rathergate (I am so bummed I missed out on these great resources before that), and a good dozen or so rapidly became my faves. Yours is one of them. I know you're not asking for atta-boys, but this is simply a good time to say thanks. I am sure for every one of the idiots there are at least three people like me who don't have anything more profound to say than 'thanks.'=)

Your blog is yours, my friend. You don't have to have idiots in your house if you don't want them there. You don't have to let people come in and use your floor for a toilet, and you don't have to let people use your blog for spewing their verbal waste, either. You know that. We know that. The only people who don't know that are the kinds of people who spew waste where it does not belong. Let them read Miss Manners.

Now, when are you serving the butter brickle, huh?

Posted by: WendiSue at November 20, 2004 02:33 PM

Scarlett Johansen is a fine choice, but you could have found a much better picture of her...  I am very disappointed in you.

By the way, I hate ice cream...  it hurts my teeth.

Posted by: Watcher at November 20, 2004 03:05 PM

Ok. So that's an order of Jessica Alba in a chocolate tipped waffle cone, some butter brickle and Scarlett Johansson a la mode. No wait, that last one was not a la mode. Let me get my pad...

Posted by: Flea at November 20, 2004 03:44 PM

Scarlett Johansen - ooohhh...oh, did you say something else?

Posted by: fluke_boy at November 20, 2004 03:56 PM

Ummm, I'm not really into wimmin.
I think you need to post some pics of guns and more guns. :)

I don't like the icecream you're offering, I want some deep deep chocolate with a side order of chai nog.

LMAO!

Posted by: mshyde at November 20, 2004 08:00 PM

You tell 'em. The Flea is one of the best.

Posted by: Curt at November 20, 2004 09:30 PM

Nick, I'm just amazed that you can blog as much as you do without it driving you batty. If I don't get a break from my blog now and again I tend towards erratic behavior.

Speaking of which, I've mostly retreated into my home photo studio for the next week or two. :-)

Posted by: Sean at November 20, 2004 10:53 PM

This is crap. Why isn't that girl nude!

Posted by: GOPackers at November 21, 2004 05:33 AM

Yeah, and what's with this tired "free ice cream" analogy? How cliche. Besides, I hate free ice cream. The good stuff's never free. The last time I got free ice cream from a stranger was at the garlic festival in Gilroy, CA. The free ice cream was garlic flavored, which tastes every bit as bad as it sounds.

Posted by: Xrlq at November 23, 2004 09:30 PM

All I can say is: Thank you. She is exquisitely beautiful and your blog is wonderful.

Posted by: Steven Malcolm Anderson at November 24, 2004 12:15 AM

I do not even have a tip jar on my site, as I eagerly blog in the thought that maybe the crap I publish causes a few to chuckle, that I might dazzle a few with my unique style of snarky wit, or because I love to spout out my opinions whether people really care to hear 'em or not. Livin' a lonely, solitary existence, it is my greatest opportunity for societal interaction outside of the employment arena. Regrettably, however, despite the fact that I continually clamor for a higher degree of visitor interaction, my paltry 250 visitors, the majority of which are jes' misguided Google searchers, continue to come, to read, and to leave not a sign as to what they thought about my prose.

To me, the most regrettable thing 'bout bloggin' is spendin' several hours composin' a unique, creative post and not have anyone even notice.

Posted by: Tig at November 24, 2004 12:41 AM

"Inmature." Nice.

This blogging thing is pretty weird. I cannot decide whether it's a calling or a disease.

Don't take any s*** from anyone.

Posted by: Attila Girl at November 24, 2004 12:49 AM

Well I've never posted here before, but I must say I agree with you on all points involved.

I can't speak for the rest of the Blogosphere, but I only recently discovered Wizbangs track back tool. So for about the first 6 months of my blogging I wasn't able to link anyone at all (the Geeklog system we use doesn't have that ability. Never thought we'd need it until this year)

We set up a registration system on our site, for the reasons you listed. Trolls, spam comments, and the usual craptastic disagreeable gronk with whom a cold drink of water and an original thought would probably kill.

For what its worth, I love reading your stuff, and I hate it when folks decides to make themselves Editors in Cheif of someone elses work.

And plagrisim bites period.

Hope things calm down for ya

Peace out.

Posted by: BloodSpite at November 24, 2004 04:38 AM

Scarlett is a pleasure to look at. But (at the risk of being an argumentative soul) I never get it when friends give me that dreamy look and say her character in Lost in Translation was a babe. Who the hell arrives in one of the world's most dynamic cities only to mince around the hotel room and hang out with a sad old man?

That movie drove me crazy.

Posted by: cicada at November 27, 2004 09:43 PM