on the common ills, e-mails and blogging

surprise, it's saturday and in fifteen minutes, i'll be joining betty, c.i. and the third estate sunday review gang to work on the third estate sunday review's latest edition. but here i am posting because unlike c.i. i don't enjoy using the breaks from third during the night to rush over and post.

sometimes i want to grab a snack, or a smoke, or make a phone call. or just relax. or, yes, grab a quickie.

i want to start off talking about e-mails. i've noted some from time to time here and i get some e-mailers noting that i replied to them and mentioned them here but why didn't i write them back?

i'm not getting c.i.'s level of e-mails - thank god - but i do get a little less than a hundred a day most days. if you're wally or sherry or some 1 who's e-mailed from the start, i do reply. these are readers i really have a relationship with.

but if you're writing to ask me to talk about something and i note it here that's the reply.

i'm not online for hours and hours each day. i hit the common ills when i am online. if i missed a part of democracy now on television or didn't understand a point, i'll go there to read a transcript. i'll check out buzzflash if i have time and danny schechter's site and bob somerby's and jude and jill (and lauren) among others. but often times that's it besides blogging here and reading the e-mails.

i know c.i., and ava at 3rd estate sunday review, feel replies are important. if i'm mentioning you here, that's a reply.

i still marvel over c.i.'s taking the time on tax day to help an e-mailer get their taxes done. that's great, that's wonderful but if i even wrote back to an e-mail like that, i would just say 'good luck with your taxes.' maybe i'm not caring enough. which would explain why so many e-mails each week start off with 'you bitch!' lol.

but i'm blogging, i'm not running a half-way house or a pen-pal club.

c.i. called this morning about a blogger who is having a problem finding something to say. my input was sought. i'm happy to help and i'll repeat here what i said to c.i. if it's time to blog and i have nothing i want to discuss, i'll go to democracy now and find a headline. i've done that twice. i then credit democracy now and discuss that story.

i get a lot of e-mails asking what's worth reading online so there are times when i'll do an entry that just steers you to a story here or there.

i've never suffered from blogger's block but i have suffered from lack of time.

betty called me thursday about that. she was dead tired. thomas friedman's columns run on wednesdays and fridays. on top of work and her normal duties as a mother, she'd had to go to a recital for her oldest kid wednesday night. by the time they got home it was time to get everyone to bed and oh, by the way, i need ___ for school tomorrow. so it was get everyone dressed and go run to the grocery store and then come back and start the get everyone ready for bed again.

so there was no time on wednesday for a post. it was thursday night and betty was exhausted from work and everything else. i said 'betty, don't worry about it. just do an entry friday.'

for most bloggers i exchange e-mails with that's the biggest problem, finding time to actually pull something together.

betty's blog, thomas friedman is a great man, is such a great site because she's telling a story and she does that with her kids each night. she will read them a bedtime story some nights but most nights they just want mom to tell them a story. she's a natural writer and a natural story teller and it comes across when you visit her site. she's very talented.

but she's a single mother with several kids (i know how many but i'm not sure if she's ever talked about that so i don't want to reveal anything she hasn't) working like crazy to provide for her family and care for them. she needs to give herself permission to not feel guilty when there's not time for 2 entries a week. when something goes up at her site, it's funny and it has a point. she's parodying friedman and his rantings. i'd rather have that pure gold once a week than have her forcing herself to churn something out when she really should be taking the time to relax or go to sleep.

and i stay on c.i.'s case about that all the time. this week, c.i. was exhausted from e-mails and postings. i said 'you're 1 person, you're posting repeatedly each day, give up the guilt over the e-mails.' and i mean that.

the common ills is the first site i visit anytime i get on the computer. whether it's a heads up to some event or appearence or whether it's a link-fest, as c.i. calls some entries, or members weighing in or c.i. weighing in, that took time to put together (and is always worth reading).

but c.i. has a job and a life. and i really think some people place too many demands on c.i. to the point that if our conversation on the phone goes over ten minutes, c.i.'s going to feel guilty about not using the time to reply to e-mails or get something up at the common ills.

if you read the okrot, okrot we all run from orkot (love the title suggested by common ills member kara), it's easy to think, 'wow that probably took a lot of work to put in every one's comments and to try to put them in some sort of order.' but what you're not grasping is that for the ones that went up c.i. had to wade through every e-mail because maybe some 1 wanted to weigh in but didn't put okrent in their title. over a thousand e-mails had to be read for that.
i wouldn't do that. more power to c.i. and it's probably why those member contributions are always so great. but i don't have that kind of time and i honestly don't think c.i. should be devoting that kind of time to it.

but there are people who write me who think that they deserve a personal response. i read a lot of magazines. from time to time, i'll drop a short note to an editor or writer (via snail mail) saying good article. i'm not expecting that the writer or editor is going to reply. there's no reason to. i'm saying 'good job.' they wrote something really wonderful and i took the time to let them know some 1 enjoyed it.

that's all that was needed on either side. if i wrote katrina vanden heuvel a letter to tell her how much i appreciate the nation and her editor's cut blog, it would be a long letter. i'd hope it would reach her and let her know how appreciated she is, but i wouldn't expect that she'd say 'let me drop everything to stop and write back.' the gift she gives is what i'm thanking her for. i don't want her postpoing that gift to respond to every letter she receives.

and i pay for the nation and it's her career.

i really think people are expecting a lot from bloggers. there's no staff assisting most of us. most of us are not making a living from a site. we're putting our spare time and energy into this citizen journalism. if you like jude's writing or someone else's let them know. say 'great job at iddybud, i really love your work' but if you really love the work, then that's what you should want. not a back and forth series of e-mails.

a female blogger e-mailed me this week about a nasty e-mail she received. she was told that she wasn't a feminist. not because of the issues she wrote about or her opinions but because a woman wrote her about questions regarding college scholarship. the blogger took the time to write back and recommended that the woman visit a few web sites and said good luck.

but the woman felt the reply was 'insufficient' and that it was evidence of a masculine manner of thought because a true feminist would drop everything to assist in the name of 'sisterhood.'

the blogger was feeling so bad and i said 'fuck it.' really that's what i feel. this woman blogs once a day and she doesn't blog about college to begin with. it's as though some 1 e-mailed helen thomas asking for help with selecting a mini-skirt. just because you love thomas' writing (and i do) doesn't mean that she's your be all end all resource.

if the e-mail had come in here (sexandpolticisandscreeds@yahoo.com) i wouldn't have replied. i also wouldn't have done an entry on it. i'm not covering college scholarships and know very little about what goes on there currently.

if some 1 is replying to every e-mail query, they either have a staff or they're driving themselves crazy.

blythe e-mailed a funny story today and i laughed when i read it and i'll note it was a funny story here. but even if it wasn't saturday which is usually my time for me day and time for the third estate sunday review in the night and early morning, i wouldn't have felt the need to reply.

if some 1 e-mails asking if i could write more about something and i can, i will. if some 1 suggests a topic that speaks to me, i'll write it. if some 1 wants to know some good things to read online or even suggest some things to read online, i'll note that.

but i'm not someone's personal assistant and i haven't promised to be a pen pal.

sherry and wally (and they aren't the only 1s) get a reply because they've been here from the start and they're like friends now. but when raylene e-mails to scream at me today for not replying to the e-mail she sent friday night, i have to wonder what needed a reply. it hadn't even been 24 hours, raylene. but i don't agree with you. i am pro-choice. you're not.

i'll never change my mind on the issue so even if i had read your 1st e-mail before i read your scream-fest, i wouldn't have replied.

i don't accommodate here. i'm not harry reid. i'm not trying for 'big tent' and trying to start a dialgoue with you.

you say you're a democrat and think that means we're exactly the same except for the issue of choice. we're not exactly the same. i'm a feminist and you're complaining about working mothers. some mothers, betty for instance, don't have the choices and options that you do. it's great that your husband pulls down 75k a year but betty, for instance, keeps the roof over her kids' heads and food on the table.

i'm not interested in joining you under some big tent. i'm a feminist. i'm pro-choice. i support the right of women to work. and i fully grasp that for economic reasons and sometimes sanity it's not a "choice" for many mothers.

you worry that the horrid phyllis has been misunderstood.

i worry that she will never shut up.

you're a strange sort of democrat but that's what we get when we buy into the 'red state' myth and start trying to appease the social conservatives instead of engaging with the base.

then i've got an angry e-mail from gary who is miffed at me for not replying to his query on tuesday about my measurements.

gary, let me know how big your cock is and we'll post it here.

seriously, who are you gary? and what makes you think i want to share my measurements with you?

i read the e-mails. i'm not c.i. in that i'm not going to stay up late making sure every e-mail was read. i'll read when i have time and if i fall behind, i fall behind. but there seems to be some idea in the heads of several that because they took time to e-mail i'm supposed to take time to reply.

if you're e-mailing me about a topic you feel hasn't been addressed, i'll think about it and if i agree, i'll write it here.

but i think some of the angry folks e-mailing should stop e-mailing and start their own blogs.

quit trying to influence me via e-mails and use that voice to speak for yourself online. click on the 'get your own blog' button at the top of this page and start writing.

think about buzzflash for a minute. i imagine those guys and gals used to write e-mails asking why their favorite paper wasn't covering this or that. they could have continued doing those e-mails. instead they started the buzzflash site and they highlight the stories that matter and they and their readers write about issues that matter to them. buzzflash is our strongest site on the left and it probably came about because people decided to put their voices and interests out there.

if they'd continued to just do e-mails to papers, we wouldn't have the highly valuable resource that we now have. so i'd suggest that some of you think about getting your own sites.

i'll do like c.i. there and respond to any questions a regular reader asks me about blogging.

but, to get back to c.i., when we spoke on the phone today about this question of a blogger, c.i. was guilting over being behind in the e-mails (there were 235 unread when we spoke). c.i. had errands and engagements throughout the day and they weren't going to get read.

i went to the common ills after we'd spoken and saw three amazing entries on the new york times. the first 1 dealt with the invasion of life style stories on the front page. the second dealt with inside the paper. the third 1, my personal favorite, was c.i. taking on the tome poems of somini sengupta that pass for 'news stories' in the new york times.

and i got really mad because i started thinking 'what do people want?' do they want a sengupta piece that's funny and accurate or do they want all their e-mails replied to personally? you can't have everything.