I managed to turn off my spam filter for most of the day. I went through and cleared it out, and I think I saved any non-spam comments sitting in the “to be approved,” but there was a lot of it. So, if you commented and it didn’t show up, it may have been collateral damage. Sorry about that.
In my endless pursuit of self-promotion, I thought I’d provide a link to the Journal & Courier story featuring yours truly. It gives a brief synopsis of this blog and then reposts my November 25, 2008 entry on proposed teen driving legislation.
There seems to have been a slight miscommunication, however. The article suggests that I started the blog while I was at the Legislative Services Agency. In fact, I started in 2004, about 5 years after I left that agency in 1999. However, it was my experience there that formed the foundation of what I try to make this blog about.
The Evansville Courier Press had an editorial a couple of days ago in which they were kind enough to mention this site as drawing their attention to the New York Times op/ed by Matthew Kotchen and Laura Grant about Daylight Saving Time. (And this wasn’t the first time they’ve extended such a courtesy, apparently.)
It would have been easy enough for the editorial writers to simply comment on the op/ed without mentioning this site. It’s not as if I’m the only reader of the New York Times. So, the mention was awfully considerate, and I just wanted to extend my gratitude.
Incidentally, the editorial expressed little interest in monkeying with Daylight Saving Time further, even if observing DST actually used a bit more energy, because of fatigue associated with fighting over the issue. I’m too tired to argue with them at the moment.
It’s been four years since I started this blog. The first post was a memorial to my dog Shady. She died young. By the time the fifth anniversary of this blog rolls around, it will be older than she was.
I had been dabbling with blogging on a blogger site. Mainly I was holding forth on national politics. But, at that point, like now, you couldn’t swing a dead cat around the Internet without hitting a blog complaining about the Bush administration. Not that I’ve completely given up on those roots, but with my new blog, I had it mind to focus on Indiana. Back then, that was fertile ground. Not too many people were focused on the state. Now, of course, there are a great number of excellent state blogs.
Anyway, I’m happy I got started with this blogging thing. It gives me a reason to write and discuss politics, the law, sports, and whatever else comes to mind. Something that seems endlessly entertaining to me. More importantly, from my perspective, it’s led to some pretty great commenters coming here and making it a community of sorts; a remarkably thoughtful and articulate community. I had not really anticipated that when I was firing this up.
So, thanks everyone. And maybe we’ll make it another four years.
I’m just messing around here with a WordPress plug-in called Twitter Tools. In theory, it will send notice of a blog post here to twitter. I have Twitter, in turn, set to update my status with Facebook. Entries in Twitter get posted to a sidebar here. I think it is also set to do a daily summary of twitter entries as a blog post. Probably this is overkill, and certainly I have an overdeveloped sense of self to think that folks give a $*(& about any of this.
More seriously, however, I am interested in what I’ve heard described as “ambient intimacy” and the contribution of tools like Facebook and Twitter to such “ambient intimacy.” The general idea, as I understand it, is that you become better acquainted with people through a lot of individually trivial, low impact interactions. This sort of thing might be beneficial to individuals who don’t get a lot of natural interaction on that level due to the current structure of our society. Many of us get up, go to work, interact with people at work in a limited, job-oriented sort of way, then go home. At home, we (hopefully) have some good, quality interaction with our families, but don’t tend to have the time, resources, or opportunities to just go interact with others in our community in a low pressure, unfocused kind of way. The public square isn’t as vibrant as it maybe once was. Folks don’t sit out on the front porch (if they are lucky enough to have one), and in any case, there isn’t much foot traffic that would lead to casual conversation in any case.
But, dress it up as I may, I’m basically just playing with geeky toys here.
Over at Balloon-Juice, the hosts are having a debate amongst themselves as to whether we have reached “Peak Wingnut” — a right wing blogospheric analog to Peak Oil. John Cole thinks that wingnuts have peaked and are in decline as a blowout of historic proportions seems to be shaping up for the conservative movement in the upcoming elections. Meanwhile, TimF suggests, instead, that the online right is about to experience a resurgence and that it’s the online left that has likely peaked.
John’s probably correct short term and Tim is probably correct long term. The right wing bloggers have probably peaked through the election. However, Tim suggests that even if there is a crushing rejection of conservative candidates in 2008, this will only invigorate right wing bloggers. Being in the wilderness will energize and unite them. Instead, if Democrats are in control of all three branches of the federal government, left wing bloggers will become disillusioned and fractured. On the right, you’ll see the return of the black helicopter crowd and Vince Foster conspiracy freaks.
This week I’ve had more reminders than usual that actual, real people read this blog; having met two in person and having had a couple more people I knew “in real life” mention they read sometimes. When you’re pounding the keyboard and blasting the text into cyberspace, it’s pretty easy to think of your interaction with others only in the abstract. So, it’s a nice reminder — as well as a cautionary tale — when the real world collides with the blog.
I think inhibitions are lowered on the Internet. So, if I get to feeling strongly about an issue or if a person riles me up, it’s a lot easier for me to just type out an emotional, angry response in a way I would never do if I were talking to people face to face. I had a class in college about the Internet where we discussed that the difference might be as simple as the potential for a punch in the nose in meatspace. Act out in the real world, and the potential is there to receive a “slight correction” as they used to say in the dog shock collar commercials.
With that in mind, for the most part, I strive for some degree of civility around here. And the regulars around here, by and large, seem to do the same. I wanted to thank you folks for reading and commenting and making this a fun place for me to maintain. We’re entering into the silly season of the campaign calendar now. I expect I’ll get carried away every now and again. I feel awfully strongly, particularly about this Presidential campaign. So I’m going to apologize in advance but try not to go too nuts. I suspect a lot of you are going to be going through some of the same stuff. So, to the extent you can, bite down hard, count to ten before you post, and hold on tight, I think it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Adam DuVander at Webmonkey offers reasons not to name your site after yourself. Oopsie.
My decision to call this place Masson’s Blog was deliberate. I didn’t want to come up with anything clever, because, frankly, the site’s idea wasn’t clever — it was going to be my blog. In addition, I did not want a pseudonym or other reason to believe that I was not accountable for what I write here. The “Citizen’s Guide to Indiana” is a bit of an affectation, I’ll have to admit. But I like it, so I’ll keep it. After all, it’s my blog. (Though with all my claims of ownership, the regulars around here who are kind enough to post comments and give this place a sense of community are what keep it fun for me. Group hug!)
Shaw Plew and Noah Coffey really did a bang up job organizing BlogIndiana. I was able to attend day one, but it looks like I won’t be making day two. It was, frankly, a lot more fun than I had anticipated. I had figured the presentations might be a little dry, and maybe there were better ways to spend a Saturday. But, as it turns out, I really like blogging. And, with 90% of the population, if you talk about it, their eyes will cross and they’ll start avoiding you. But, here was a group of people with the same hobby I have. I underestimated how entertaining it is to just hang out with people who have a common interest. And, blogging being what it is, most of them were pretty articulate.
I sat in on presentations by Renee Wilmeth and Ruth Holladay, which were fun. I also got to meet Thomas Cook, Bil Browning, Josh Gillespie, Donno, Jill Long Thompson campaign assistant, Samantha MacDonald, Steve Dalton, Christopher Hedges, Justin Harter, and a number of others.
My phone doesn’t take very good pictures, but here is a grainy photo of the conference:
Just thought I’d mention that my posts may be a little sporadic this week. Amy headed off to England and I’ve assumed sole care taking duties for the kids. What’s more, Amy took the laptop. Typically what happens is that, as the kids wake up in the morning with juice and and a show, I’ll surf the web downstairs on the laptop with my morning coffee. The kids get a little agitated without an adult on the same floor of the house as them; so, using the computer upstairs in the office becomes a little problematic. This is probably more about the logistics of my blogging than anybody wants to know, but there you have it.
For those of you interested in the mundane details of family life, I’ll probably be posting more than usual at the family blog, primarily to keep Amy from missing me (only a little) and, (let’s be real), the kids too much.