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A Song For Rick

Posted by Bob · July 3rd, 2004 · 7 Comments

“Fools” said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows.
Hear my words that I might teach you,
Take my arms that I might reach you.”
But my words like silent raindrops fell,
And echoed
In the wells of silence

Lyrics and Music by Paul Simon

If Rick really decides to shut down the blog…where will we go?

Rick is cranky at me because I said that Republicans and Democrats play the same game. Same lies, same tactics.

He is so cranky that he has stated in subsequent articles that he no longer will bother researching and posting his usual articles. In fact, the blog itself is in jeopardy.

WE are the less because of it.

We, who believe that the truth lies out there somewhere between what the administration says and the Democrats rant, we will have no place to debate, to discuss, to educate.

OK kids, this is it. State your opinion in the comments section. Make your opinion known or risk losing this oasis of opinion on the Internet.

This is a genuine gamble. State your argument that this blog should survive.

Your silence is (potentially) deadly. Tell Rick what you think!

Categories: Blogs & Blogging


7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Rick // Jul 3, 2004 at 12:57 am

    First off, I don’t think anyone’s going to weep great tears over the “loss” of Unspun™, if and when I shut it down.

    Secondly, the way things are going, I’ll probably leave it up — although I’m very tempted not to (for one thing, it’s more expensive than just shutting it down and going with a regular Internet connection, e.g., not maintaining my own servers anymore). If I do leave it up, I just won’t contribute much. As you can already see, I hardly bother to write anything anymore. It’s just not worth it, for reasons given below.

    Third, I disagree with you to a degree over the realities of how politics have been conducted in the recent past. But to the extent that I agree with you, that provides a reason to stop wasting time on the blog.

    I still write daily; I can’t not. It’s one of the ways I think through things — by writing. I’ve done it for years, even before there were blogs. I’ve just gone back to doing it for myself in my own private journals. There’s no point to political discourse in the United States anymore. Positions are pretty well solidified and there is no utility to encouraging discussion and no ability to find a common ground. You can lead an American to ideas, but you can’t make ’em think.

    Whatever the reasons for this — and I have a number of ideas about this that aren’t worth spending time writing about (because you, Bob, may be one of the three or four people in the world who would read them) — in the end it’s not worth the effort.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: There’s no real reason for me to give a d*mn what happens to this country (or the world, for that matter). I don’t have kids. Once I’m gone, I’ve gotten all there is to get out of this world. I wrote the things I’ve written because I believe the path we’re on right now means the United States has, perhaps, 30 to 40 years left (assuming we continue on the path we’re on) before the rest of the world gets tired of us and does something about it. Bullies can only be tolerated so long. And the America of our Founding Fathers is already gone; the Administration that got its certification in the nine-vote (5:4) 2000 election has made sure of that with such moves as the USA PATRIOT Act, so named because the Bush Administration apparently believed if it could get Jefferson, Madison, Henry and the others spinning fast enough in their graves, it would generate our own energy stores and reduce our dependence on the Middle East. But if that’s what those of you with families want, why the hell should I care? Another thirty to forty years is probably longer than I’ll live; if the U.S. holds out that long, I’m fine.

    One scene in the recent Michael Moore movie — perhaps the only one that, standing alone, without need for any other fact — indicates why George Bush should not be re-elected and why, if he is, I’ll probably just turn into a follower of Ayn Rand and finally say, “To hell with the rest of you; I only have one life. From here on out, I do what’s best for me.” In that scene, Bush is addressing a group at what appears to be a black-tie dinner and says something to the effect of

    Well, here you are. The haves…and the have-mores. People like to call you “the Elite.” I call you “my base.”

    Your kids are headed back to serfdom. It’s a natural evolution; social Darwinism at its best (worst?).

    I’ll periodically write opinion pieces, but I’m done spending hours and days fact-checking and researching only to have brainwashed people who think the man whose base is “the haves…and the have-mores” is the best man to run this country and whose comments on this blog basically boil down to “Rick, you’re wrong! What you said sucks!” (Or some similar non-responsive “argument.”) Or else, if someone like you (Bob) is able to muster some kind of argument in response, they chime in with “Yeah! You go wit you bad sef! You da man, dude! High five!” (Or some other equally intelligent response.)

    Freedom is not a popularity contest. No matter how many people “vote” for the path we’re on, this doesn’t mean it’s the way to keep the kind of America that has so far endured over 200 years going. To get on that path, more of you are going to have to try something you’ve never done before: think.

    Similarly, no matter how many people vote to keep the blog open, I’m done with putting forth the kind of effort I’ve put in for the last year. And I doubt you’ll get more than one or two comments on this anyway, if that.

    Incidentally, I’ve given reasons why it’s not been “the same game.” It’s not “same lies, same tactics.” I’ll grant that with Moore’s latest movie, the Democrats are beginning to adopt — and they feel that survival requires this — the same tactics. For the record, I didn’t like Moore’s movie for that reason. But so far as I could tell, what he said was true. My reasons for not liking it was that it was primarily an emotive “argument” against the Republicans. And those very tactics, to my way of thinking, constitute acquiescence to the idea that the unthinking mob is king.

    Perhaps it is — it’s hard to argue that, at least in the United States, from a practical standpoint it isn’t — but that’s not the kind of world I want to live in.

  • 2 Mark // Jul 4, 2004 at 11:31 am


    The negative, pessimistic attitude that froths from your recent writing makes me sad. I am sad that you feel this way, and I hope that this is simply a temporary funk that will pass in time.

    Your berating and belittling of readers is a turn off. Your predictions of low or no interest is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Note the lack of comments. It reminds me of a cartoon I saw once. A patient is reclined on a psychiatrist’s couch. He says to the good doctor, “Maybe if you weren’t such an idiot, you could figure out why no one likes me!”

    I would recommend that you read Viktor Frankl’s book, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” It’s in paperback in most any bookstore. Whether you agree with Frankl’s theological perspective or not (and I do not), the strong message of the book can change lives. It had a profound impact on my life about 20 years ago, and I have seen it bring very positive things into the lives of my friends and family members who have read the book. I have given away probably 20 copies of the tome in the past 20 years. The next time I am near a bookstore, I will pick one up for you. If you get your hands on it before I see you, it won’t go to waste. I’ll give it to someone else.

    Read Frankl’s book, Rick. Then reconsider your comments about not caring about the future of this country or your fellow humans. I seriously doubt you would feel the same way. I hope you won’t.

  • 3 Rick // Jul 4, 2004 at 4:09 pm

    I already own a copy of Frankl’s book.

    I stand by my prior comments.

    Perhaps it enables folk to feel better if they “shoot the messenger” and berate me for pointing out the problems with the practice of meeting legitimate complaints about illegitimate rhetorical practices with illegitimate rhetorical devices and for expressing disappointment that the best argument against some of the things I’ve said about this boils down to an admonition that I’m being biased — “everybody’s doing it”; “they” all are playing “the same game,” but I targeted only one side.

    Firstly, I have disagreed with this assessment and feel that pushing it only complicates our ability to deal with the problem. Secondly, even if I did agree — and I reiterate that I don’t and that failing to see the difference perpetuates the problem — this “recognition” and a tacit acceptance justifies, as I said an prior posts, the abandonment of any strenuous and time-consuming efforts on my part to participate in the discussion. Why engage in it if, when all is said and done, we’re all — by inductive reasoning that includes me and those responding to me! — playing “the same game”? Why should we listen to one another under those circumstances? And why should any of us attempt to reason our way out of this morass if our attempts are just part of that game?

    To note these things makes me appear to froth with a negative, pessimistic attitude. (As if such a situation should encourage positive optimism in any of us!) So be it.

    H.L. Mencken once said, “we get the government we deserve.” Criticize me for delivering the same message, but when it boils down to it that is the basis for the claim about my “negative, pessimistic attitude.” Yet, all things considered, “froth” is a good word here. Without the underlying diseased character of political discourse I’ve been commenting upon, there would be no accompanying foamy slaver.

    It’s time for people to begin realistically thinking about what’s happening to our country. The political milieu being created by those who feel strong enough at the moment to exploit it and by voters who are complacent about its creation is injurious to us all; not just here, not just now, but for the future.

    And as to caring about that future, I believe you misconstrued my comments, which were of a more subjunctive nature. I did not say that I don’t care about the future, but rather that “[t]here’s no real reason” I should. I was attempting to point out that other people, more so than me, have some kind of investment in the future. Furthermore, if, in actuality, I did not care, the last sentence of the last paragraph — in fact, most of what I’ve written — would not make sense.

    The overall thrust of my comments concerned the amount of energy I’m willing to put into the blog, which I have come to see as a failed experiment. Rather than reading my comments as “a turn off”, I think it’s worth noting that there didn’t seem to be anything on which I could turn off.

    As I said before, “You can lead an American to ideas, but you can’t make ’em think.” I believe this today because of the failed experiment that is this blog.

    Ever mindful of the possibility that I’m wrong, I don’t plan to drain the pond; I’m just no longer willing to spend much time filling it with water.

  • 4 Mark // Jul 5, 2004 at 6:21 am


    Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Mine remains that your tone and tempo is unusually and sadly dark these days, not only about what you see happening in the country, but in your view of your blog and, as far as I can tell, most other things, as well.

    Your constant preaching about how the blog is no longer worth much of your time has dampened my interest in visiting this site. From the looks of things, I’m not alone. I don’t know what message you are trying to transmit. I know what’s coming in on this receiver: that you believe you are too good and too intelligent to waste your time on those who don’t fall all over themselves rushing to respond to your writings in the way you think everyone should. I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb in saying that I’m not the only one receiving this message.

    My view is that you are an intelligent, talented person. I also think your constant belly-aching about how others do or do not respond to the blog is a tremendous and tragic waste of your gifts.

    Just because your attempts to “make Americans think” haven’t worked out the way you wanted doesn’t mean that different approaches by others, even by you, might not work considerably better. Your writing makes you come across as someone who is outrageously full of himself. I can’t think of any personality trait that will turn more people off more quickly. That’s not the Rick I have come to know in the past year.

    Since you own Frankl’s book, I am presuming you have read it. I suggest you leaf through it again. Focusing more on how you could help others, instead of bemoaning the fact that others don’t respond to your writings in the ways you wish they would, might very well change your outlook on a lot of things.

  • 5 Rick // Jul 8, 2004 at 1:25 pm

    Just to clarify things, to make sure I properly understand your argument…

    You’re saying that readers, such as yourself, are entitled to and shall exercise the right to react to the content or form of my writing as they please, including (but not limited to) insulting me and/or criticizing my arguments as b*llsh*t without providing any evidence of that. At the same time, I am neither entitled to nor should I exercise the right to react to the content or form of their comments as I please, including (but not limited to) insulting them and/or deciding that I will no longer put into any future writings the degree of effort (in terms of research time) I have put into past writings.

    Did I get that about right?

  • 6 Mark // Jul 8, 2004 at 1:49 pm

    What I’m saying is, Rick that:

    1) You have attempted, in this forum, to persuade;

    2) Those attempts did not work out as you had planned;

    3) You come across as blaming your audience for this.

    Whether that’s the message you want to send or not, that’s what’s being received on this end — and I imagine in some other quarters, as well.

    All of us have had various degrees of success and failure in attempts to persuade others. If we’re not reaching the audience in the way we would wish to reach them, the wiser course would be to change our approach. You appear to blame your readers for the fact that they aren’t falling all over themselves to do as you wish they would.

    I know you well enough to believe that you know better than this. Am I wrong?

    I can’t believe that you aren’t creative enough to try something different, or that you are so conceited as to think that your approach is the ONLY way to go. I certianly hope I’m right.

    And I’m not saying these things to try to “insult” you, Rick. I’m saying them to try to help you. I’ve been fortunate to have lots of help from people who cared about me through the years. It’s the people who DIDN’T care about me who were willing to sit on the sidelines and say or do nothing when I was spinning my wheels in the mud.

    I’m trying to give you a plank or two to put under your tires and help you out of the hole, Rick.

    Apparently my approach isn’t working — and I should try something different if I am serious about wanting to persuade you.

  • 7 Bob // Jul 8, 2004 at 2:05 pm

    You’re saying that readers, such as yourself, are entitled to and shall exercise the right to react to the content or form of my writing as they please…

    Yes, especially in the this country, no one can force you to react any way other than you choose to.

    …including (but not limited to) insulting me and/or criticizing my arguments as b*llsh*t without providing any evidence of that.

    This is cost of your message. It applies to everyone. ALL of us have been called names and offended from stories or comments we have written. We have tried to apply reason to unreasonable people and often failed but that does not diminish the value or validity of our position.

    …At the same time, I am neither entitled to nor should I exercise the right to react to the content or form of their comments as I please, including (but not limited to) insulting them and/or deciding that I will no longer put into any future writings the degree of effort (in terms of research time) I have put into past writings.

    Yup, this is your decision. YOU decided to take the high road by not offending anyone in your responses. Then YOU decided to silence yourself, something their inane arguments could not do.

    YOU decided that continuing to present YOUR message in the manner of YOUR choosing was pearls before swine in spite of the overwhelming percentage of people who read your message AND DO NOT COMMENT.

    You cannot measure how many minds thoughtfully considered your words. And you cannot measure those same minds quickly disregarding the words of those who only trivialize and offend.

    YOU decided that the small percentage with small arguements got to run the blog.

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