Just Shelley

A winter evening

Gary awakened in me a nostalgia with his compelling description of a cold afternoon and a wait for a ride home:

She’s here. One minute early, you smile and grab each other closely by the arm for warmth and then briskly walk off into the crowd telling tales of the day. Before long you’ll be home, eating, living, loving, safe. Warm.

Perhaps I’m worn down a bit by the heat and humidity of my new home, but the thought of cold, brisk air appeals to me. Tonight I feel oddly homesick for the home I had in Vermont. For the home I had in San Francisco. For the home I had in Boston. For the home I had in St. Louis before things changed. For Gary’s home.


You free blogging shits



“During that weekend, I came to the realization that I’ve been mulling over ever since: a lack of money is hindering the growth and potential of blogging. Free — or personal — blogging can only take us so far.”

“By paying great bloggers to produce weblogs, we remove economic constraints and enable them to devote their energies full-time to producing compelling content and creating outstanding weblogs.”

“If we can demonstrate that these blogs are worth the cost it takes to maintain them, we will enable the creation of many more compelling, useful blogs. The key to success lies in the creation of great blogs for these sites — blogs that will contain practical and engaging content and drive traffic to their respective hosts. One sure-fire way to do this is to hire bloggers.”

“There’s a vast group of people out there now who are experts in finding the news and links, capturing its essence in short snippets, and churning it out hour after hour, day after day.”

Meg’s latest and greatest at O’Reilly. (There’s a delicious bit of irony associated with the page–can you spot it?)

Want my opinion of the article? You know me, here’s a blank ___________ fill it in.

Better yet:

Hello O’Reilly!


I’ve written several books and articles for you, which unfortunately, don’t pay me enough so that I can focus on writing full-time. Too bad, really, because I love to write and spend a considerable amount of time on said books and articles.


However, after reading this latest article by Meg, I came up with an idea: why don’t you hire me as a professional weblogger, thereby freeing me from having to look for a new contract. Instead of writing articles and books full-time for you, I can weblog.


After all, I can research and link-comment-post with the best of them.


Sincerely, your author,


Shelley Powers


The Intelligentsia

There is little I dislike and despise more than the intelligentsia–people who consider themselves the intellectual elite of whatever society they’re currently occupying.

Rather than disagree with a statement, they disparage the speaker. Rather than countering an opinion, they trivialize it. And to ensure that all recognize their elevated position they wield the putdown with masterful skill.

Want an example? One of the best, or should I say worst I’ve seen recently was the following:

The problem, essentially, is that Dave came into this debate late, and he’s not up to speed. He’s a smart guy, God knows, and as entitled to an opinion as anyone, but a lot of people have been wrestling with these things in somewhat more depth. Vague, general statements about playgrounds and bullies are merely inapt analogies, not arguments.

While I may agree with Glenn Reynolds–the owner of this statement–that Dave should not have resorted to name calling, such a coldly deliberate and condescending putdown could only have been designed to permanently undermine any opinion that Dave might have on this issue. In ivy-covered school terms since Glenn is a Yalie, Bad Form.

Dave’s use of name-calling may have been inappropriate, but surely Dave at least deserves respect as a participant in a debate about an issue that impacts him.

Of course, this begs the question: do we have to respect one another? The intelligentsia would answer with a resounding “No!” However, I have found that the respect we give to those who disagree with us is largely proportional to the confidence we feel in our own arguments, and our ability to argue. And this translates into the language we use. For instance, saying “I can’t reason with you on this issue”, is an honest expression of frustration and implies no underlying disdain of the opponent; saying, “you’re incapable of reason” is a putdown, pure and simple.

Contrary to first impression, the intelligentsia has nothing to do with being intelligent or educated or well-read. For instance, Loren from In a Dark Time is all three, and freely shares his love of poetry and books and other forms of writing in his weblog. Loren has the potential to be intimidating, yet when I leave his weblog I don’t leave feeling less than what I am because I’m not as well read or as educated as Loren.

The reason why I am not intimidated by Loren’s writing is that he has an ability to share greater knowledge without condescending to the reader. This ability not only takes writing skill, but also an empathy with the reader, something Loren has, but the intelligentsia can never have.

Empathy. Empathy is the true delimiter between the intelligent and the intelligentsia. If we’re empathetic with others, it becomes extremely difficult to disdain, to trivialize, to putdown.