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Daily Archives: April 17, 2013

Why a Blog From Me?

It all started with some things I’ve learned about myself on Internet discussion boards and Facebook.

I love discussing topics that I’m passionate about. I do not like shouting matches and name calling over topics I’m passionate about.

I love to discuss these topics with people who have different opinions from mine. I do not like discussing them with closed-minded people who prefer to talk in the latest media sound bites and talking points than in reasoned positions. (And I do not even like discussing these things with argumentative people who agree with my conclusions.)

 I love to be challenged in my lines of reasoning and clarity of expression. I do not like ad hominem attacks.

 When my opponents follow sound reasoning, I am willing to concede when they make logical points…but this does not necessarily mean that I have come around to agreeing with their conclusions. And that means I believe the same thing about you. If you agree with one limited point that am making, I won’t try to extrapolate from that and push you into a corner.

 And I have discovered that there are not very many places on the Internet where I can have discussions with people under these conditions. Time constraints are one issue for me. Because I’m pretty busy, like most of us, I don’t usually have time to type out well-rounded replies, so I tend to post short replies. What happens more often than not is that my short reply is misinterpreted because of background info the reader did not have, or because the reader would attribute a motive to me that was simply not true. I once posted something that was critical of some new government policy, and a reader accused me of being a bleeding-heart liberal. Wow.

 Even if I do manage to have a reasonable, profitable conversation with one person, some well-intentioned but ill-mannered bull in a china shop inevitably butts in and derails the entire conversation.

 I decided that I was simply going to have to have my own little corner of the Internet where I could attempt to control the chaos. So…welcome to The Grinning Dwarf Pub! I hope to provide a place where divergent viewpoints can be discussed civilly. Yes…I expect to talk about politics and religion! (I thought about naming the place Oil & Water!) Help me prove that we can talk about controversial topics with civility and grace. And since anybody who knows me also knows I can never be serious about anything for too long, expect a smorgasbord of topics…not just politics and religion. (Baseball season is right around the corner. And music/book/movie/TV show discussions are always on-topic here!)

 The next two or three blog entries will be giving some background about me. This will be important later. Most of you who have been invited here know me from way back and there will be nothing new there. On the other hand, some of you who knew me 20 or 30 years ago might find something new in the way I see things now. Some of you who only know me from the Internet might benefit from this. And in the future, if others decide to join in, they can be directed back to them to see just where I am coming from.

 I intend to keep these entries relatively short, maybe 500-600 words each. Some topics will be broken down into several posts to adequately cover.

 I intend for reader’s comments to be an important part of The Pub. In fact, I would expect to ask some of you to contribute regular blog entries before long. More on that to follow.

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Posted by on April 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

 
Aside

Bottom line…I wanted to make a place where all of my good friends can mingle, get to know each other…and even me!…a little better.

 

Facebook has been a great thing in my life. I think the same is true for everybody who reads this blog, as well. Through FB, I’ve gotten back in touch with old school friends. And not just friends I graduated high school with, but good friends from early grade school days who moved away and I’d never heard from again. In my book, that alone makes Facebook a winner.

 

But that’s not all. I’ve also been able to get back in touch with co-workers I’ve lost contact with over the years, especially from the California Conservation Corps. Louis L’Amour said “Trail dust is thicker than blood,” and after spending a summer on a Backcountry trail crew with the same 20 people or so, you really do feel closer than a family. But then life happens. The next thing you know, it’s been years since you’ve heard from the people who for one moment in your life were closer than brothers and sisters. You try the last address/phone number and find out they’re gone. Moved on. But guess what? Years…decades…later, they’re now popping up on Facebook! Woo-HOO!! Another win for Facebook!

 

I’ve discovered a side benefit to this one. While looking for old CCC buddies, I’ve discovered the whole wide world of everybody else who has been in the CCC, or at Del Norte Center, or on Backcountry trail crews. People who I have never met face to face have shared experiences with me from simply having been though the program. There is a bonding and camaraderie there that I suspect is usually found only in military unit associations or high school/college alumni. I have tried to organize CCC/Backcountry alumni associations before…have discussed them with Peter Lewis…but given the transient highly mobile lifestyles of so many CCC/Backcountry alum, there was no infrastructure intact to really make it happen before Facebook. Another score!

 

And then…as if that weren’t enough…I’ve made friends on the Internet at various discussion groups and forums over the years. I’ve caught up with some of those Internet friends on Facebook and now, with all of the Facebook ‘sharing’, I feel like I’ve come to know them more as true friends, even though we have never met face to face.

 

So the sun shines brighter and the coffee smells richer because of Facebook, right? Well there have been some drawbacks.

 

Where do I start?

 

Facebook is really optimized for Twitter-length posts. I know…technically, you can post more than 140 characters. But it is designed mainly for communicating in short, pithy comments.

 

How can you have substantive political conversations in Twitter posts? You can’t. This usually isn’t a problem when you are talking to people cut from the same political cloth as yourself. However, I have friends from a pretty wide political, social, and theological spectrum. I have found myself more than once trying to reply to status updates, only to give up because a complete response would require at least 500 words…and usually more like 1500-2000 words! And when we have to make short replies like that, assumptions are made on both sides which cause hard feelings and bad blood. Yuck. Basically, I needed a place with enough room to develop my thoughts. So…here we are!

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2013 in Uncategorized