Saturday, May 31, 2008

Another Country

Before i started working in on-line music i thought that i had fairly broad and eclectic musical interests. I grew up on Bach cantatas and jazz standards and i had explored numerous pop and art music categories. I listened to 12-tone music and Norwegian death metal and Ornette Coleman and music from Africa and Latin America. By the standards of some of the people who work in the music industry, my taste is still very shallow; but i stick to the idea that people who like music will always keep looking for new stuff.

But when i look at other people's professed musical interests, i see one very common theme. After listing a few bands, they will conclude with "i'll listen to anything, except country". It's the "except country" part that gets me. I see this so frequently that it seems like music sites should have two options: (A) country (B) everything but country. I know what people mean when they say this. Historically speaking there has been a lot of dreadful country music, and i've listened to a crapload of it. I grew up in the middle of nowhere and my dad's truck only had an AM radio. We had basically two radio choices: country and talk, by which i mean Less Nessman-style farm reports.

However, country music is a hugely important part of American music (even if it has roots in European folk music), so i'm depressed that so many people have dismissed it out of hand due to a bad experience with a Billy Ray Cyrus song. Also, with apologies to a lot of George Strait and Loretta Lynn fans, i think we're in something of a Golden Age in country music. There are several mainstream country performers that i like right now, and there's a both-way crossover happening between country and other pop categories. Music of course is always a matter of taste, but i'd be honestly surprised if a person couldn't find something on the fringes of the genre that they like.

My first case in point would be Neko Case. She's firmly in the alt. country realm, but her last album Fox Confessor Brings the Flood was indie-rock friendly (and she's also part of indie favorites The New Pornographers). There's something unique and ethereal about her voice that makes me fall a little bit in love with her every time i hear her sing. It's not too far from case to the more accessible songs of Alison Krauss like Restless and The Lucky One, but of course Krauss also has authentic bluegrass credibility (and some rock and roll cred after her recent collaboration with Robert Plant). Krauss has also did one of my favorite country duets ever, the somewhat painful Whiskey Lullaby, with country superstar Brad Paisley. Personally, i like Paisley a lot, although i can see why songs like Ticks would only appeal to someone who grew up in sight of a corn field.

My subversive attempt to get people to listen to country music is my Slacker custom station that i call Another Country, which i borrowed from the title of a Tift Merrit album (yes, she's on the station). I've mentioned my alt. country preferences in the past, and a lot of those bands appear on the station. I've got some of my favorite regular country performers (Paisley, Sugarland, Vince Gill), some more-or-less indie stuff like Okkervil River and The National, southern-ish bands like Drive-By Truckers and My Morning Jacket, old-school country like Hank Williams and Patsy Cline, and a little bit of folk (Richard Thompson, Richard Shindell). My only real criteria are that i like it and it has some tenuous roots-music connection. I've got the music discovery mode on so that related artists get pulled in, but not too much (i'm listening to White Lightning by George Jones as i type this).

I doubt that i'll gain many converts, but i sort of hope that some people will go to it and think "hey, this doesn't sound like country music" at least for a couple of tunes. Or maybe they'll be surprised to find that Buck Owens is pretty decent and not just a Hee Haw comedian. At the least they can verify more rigorously they they don't like country music.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Metal Taxonomy

Cool taxonomy of metal music from Paul Lamere, generated from tags. Not to be picky, but "brutal death metal" seems like a superfluous sub-genre. It implies that other death metal categories are too genteel. It seems like to make death metal more brutal, someone would actually have to die. That would probably be "snuff metal".

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I have a fascination with crows and ravens (corvids), especially the Common Raven (Corvus Corax) that is so abundant in my part of the world. They don't have quite the grace or swiftness in flight that hawks do, but they have an eerie awareness that shows in their eyes. This TED video by Joshua Klein shows some examples of the surprising intelligence of these birds.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Twenty Years on The Internet

I had the good fortune of starting my life as a wage slave in a small government experiment called a supercomputer center. The original idea behind those federally funded facilities (there were five) was to make expensive computing resources available to a large community of researchers (or, as we called it, a "cycle shop"). Of course, to make a centralized computer available to a decentralized community, you had to string some wires. One of our sets of wires was another, even older, government experiment called the ARPAnet. Or as you might know it, the Internet.

Infrastructurally speaking the Internet then doesn't much resemble the Internet now. You could literally enumerate all of the sites on the network and only a handful were outside of government or educational facilities. We thought T3 was a bad-ass fat pipe, and our client interfaces were telnet and ftp. There wasn't that much interest in the Internet from private companies yet, and the idea of e-commerce was a mere twinkle in the eye of a few forward-thinking lunatics.

But we had TCP/IP so in that sense it was the same Internet that we have now. E-mail really hasn't changed much, except that there was not much spam. Pornography was already firmly established (no pun intended), but it usually amounted to cumbersome reassembling of pictures from Usenet groups so it was no threat to more traditional channels. My first year on the Net saw both the infamous Morris worm, and the first notable prediction of the net's imminent death.

That pre-WWW internet was so nerdy and obscure that years later when people started talking about getting on the Internet it was as if everybody had suddenly decided to learn Morse code and take up ham radio. Still, there was the sense that something unusual was happening, and many of my colleagues from that era ended up in some sort of Internet business. I can't really identify the inflection point, but even though the ARPAnet had already been around for quite some time before i experienced it i think that it was in the period during the late 80s and early 90s that the critical mass was achieved. The true possibilities of the Internet wouldn't really become obvious until the advent of the World Wide Web and the web browser (meaning Mosaic for most of us), but there was already the feeling that this was a new, and inevitable, sort of communication.

It would have been impossible to imagine the scope and influence of the Internet back when i was reading alt.kibology and trying to write code to do socket communication. At the time, futurologists were more fascinated by the prospects of virtual reality and extropianism. The net was envisioned in far more fantastic ways in the cyberpunk novels. Although i'm sure i'd find it if i looked hard enough, i don't recall any predictions at the time that foresaw the huge, but relatively quotidian, impact of the network on our lives. Nobody said "Twenty years from now travel agents will be obsolete and you'll replace television watching with updating encyclopedia articles". Nobody imagined that we'd devote substantial amounts of time to carefully crafted on-line personas or sending random thoughts via cell phone to casual acquaintances.

I hold to the belief that technologies are morally neutral, so i don't have an opinion on whether the Internet is a good thing or not. It has been used in some good ways, and in some very bad ways. But to this point in my life it has been far and away the most interesting technology to arise. Not because i can use Google to find Demetri Martin videos on YouTube in 15 seconds, but because it has been so unpredictable. Just take my former employer Yahoo! as an example. It was amazing that a company with a 40 billion dollar market cap grew out of a couple of guys with a directory of web sites. It was astonishing that a company so successful could be so rapidly supplanted by Google especially in the area of search. It's incredible that the Internet has evolved so rapidly that a company with ten thousand employees, many of whom are brilliant, is struggling to prove its relevance less than 15 years after it was founded. Its almost possible to imagine now that nothing is permanent. Google itself might be following the same arc. Once mighty companies that dominated our time with their television programming, or got us to pay $20 a pop to mediate the process between playing music and listening to music are now dinosaurs.

The most fascinating thing about the Internet is that i have almost no idea what it will look like 20 years from now. I think it might be remade four or five times in that stretch of time. Many more fortunes will be made and bubbles will pop. The next generation of applications built on cloud computing and network storage will probably transform the way we think about using our computers. Or more probably, we will stop thinking about computers as separate appliances at all. In 20 years, access to the Internet will be as casual and ubiquitous as picking up a magazine in a waiting room.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Priceline Guy

My younger son and i were watching some stupid movie on TV and William Shatner shows up in a minor character role. My son says "Hey! It's the Priceline guy". Forgetting for a moment that he's 11 and doesn't get to watch that much television, i said "The Priceline guy! That's James Tiberius Kirk!".

Needless to say i felt ashamed by this major gap i had allowed in his pop culture education, so over the weekend we watched a couple episodes of the original Star Trek so i could acquaint him with the characters. To be fair, Shatner now looks so little like Shatner then that even if he'd seen the show i'm not sure my son would have recognized him. Also, the original Star Trek was incredibly cheesy, but i still find the stories absorbing. Just goes to show that production values aren't everything.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Rules of Parenting

My sons are now 14 and 11 years old, which i figure gives me 25 parent-years of experience. Being a father is not something i've ever studied or practiced; i think the skills that make you a good parent are the same skills that make you an adequate human being in general (and the lack thereof, etc., etc.). Still, beyond the obvious elements of providing your kids with food, shelter, and clothing there are many things that you have to learn from trial and error. The following are some things i believe in, even if i don't always adhere to them:

Your kids need an activity that they don't have a choice about

Like many parents i wanted to give my kids an opportunity to do anything they wanted to try. However, often this means that kids will go from thing to thing with never any focus. We decided that our kids would have at least one activity that they would do for as long as they were our legal responsibility. In our case it turned out to be a musical instrument, but i don't think that's so important as the experience of developing a deep skill over a number of years.

Kids can survive without constant television

My kids still get more screen time than i'd wish, but i've seen people literally amazed to find that my kids don't watch TV on school nights, and they don't have TVs or computers in their own rooms.

Quality Time is Bullshit

The idea that you can get away with spending less time with your kids so long as the time you do spend is structured and productive is absolute crap. Your kids are not a project.

Kids Can Do More Than You Think

Probably the biggest mistake i've made with my own kids is that i have not sufficiently encouraged their *big* ideas. There are many cases where i wish i had allowed their curiosity to draw them into an inquiry of some subject rather than just explaining to them the flaw in their logic. (For example, my older son "invented" perpetual motion a couple of years ago). Fortunately both of them have still done things on their own when they didn't get my help.

You Don't Have That Much To Do With It

You can screw up kids who would have otherwise been normal, but your kids' success in life will not be affected very much by either the genes they inherited from you or the behavior you try to instill. This is probably the hardest lesson to learn as a parent. Your children are completely separate people, experiencing the world and learning in their own way. They are not your chance to fix everything that you regret about your own life.

Allow Them To Fail

My parents were great, and they always stressed the idea that i could do anything i wanted to; but for a long time as an adult i wished they had put more emphasis on self-discipline so that i would have had the tools to work harder for those things that i wanted to do. It took me quite some time to realize that this was my fault, not theirs. Now as a parent i really want to try to impart the things that i've learned the hard way to my own kids. However, they don't call it "the hard way" for nothing. About the best you can do, i think, is to challenge your kids. People use this word often, but few people really mean it in the sense it was intended. A challenge needs to be something that is slightly beyond their capabilities; something at which they might fail but not something at which they are guaranteed to fail.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Soviet Union, 1983, Part IV - Memorabilia

Go here for the beginning.

These are from a small Flickr photoset of a few scanned photos and some scans of items, etc.

Technically, we weren't supposed to take Russian currency out of the country, but i wanted some as a souvenir. I thought about various elaborate ways to hide them, and then it occurred to me: i put them in my front pants pocket.


This is the Tran-Siberian railroad schedule. The whole trip was over 5000 km. We only left the train on a few of these stop, most notably Novosibirsk.


A very odd piece of memorabilia; an Aeroflot wetnap:


This is the Uzbekistan flag that i bought:


This is my hotel card from the Pribaltiskaya:


Friday, May 09, 2008

Soviet Union, 1983, Part III

Part II here.

We traveled back to Tashkent for the flight to Leningrad, which is of course once again St. Petersburg these days. Leningrad/St. Petersburg was then, and probably still is, the most European of Russian cities; both because of its proximity to the rest of Europe and its history as the stomping grounds of the Russian aristocracy. We stayed at a hotel called the Pribaltiskaya (which basically means "on the Baltic", which it is). We had to take a bus or the metro into the city, but it was worth it to stay in a fairly modern hotel.

We did lots of tourist-y stuff in Leningrad. We visited St. Isaac's Cathedral, and the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral where the czars are buried. We spent an entire day at the Hermitage Museum, which was once the Winter Palace of the czars. We took a boat trip to the Summer Palace to walk the grounds and look at the famous fountains and sculptures. To this day the smell of bus exhaust fumes takes me back to that time.

I'd taken my first humanities class during the previous school year, and so the artwork at the Hermitage was of particular interest to me. It was amazing to see paintings by Raphael and Titian and sculpture by Rodin and Michelangelo. However, after about the 30th Rembrandt painting i started paying more attention to the building than the artwork. It amazed me that people lived here. Granted it was more than just a private dwelling, but still. It was pretty good to be czar.

The Summer Palace (aka Peterhof) was equally grand, though more for the grounds than the structure. The building itself was largely destroyed during World War II and appeared to be still under restoration 40 years later. We got into an argument with our tour guide about the fountain on the grounds, because all of the statues surrounding it were of Greek deities, and yet he claimed that the figure in the center of the fountain was the Biblical Samson. I argued that it was more likely a figure of Hercules who, like Samson, was associated with battling lions. At the time i was convinced that they only claimed it was Samson in order to sell replica statues to American tourists, but it turns out i was wrong. In fact, it's often referred to as the Samson Fountain.

My most memorable night in Leningrad was a group dinner that we had at a restaurant in the city. We had several courses, including borscht, which it turns out i really liked. The waiter instructed me in the proper technique for opening a champagne bottle, and we all practiced our Russian. There was a group of Western German tourists at the restaurant and they got pretty boisterous when the Russian traditional dancers started performing. It was like something out of a James Bond movie.

The dinner ended a bit after 9pm and several us of went for a walk along the Neva. It didn't really get dark in Leningrad in May until around 11, so it seemed like late afternoon. St. Petersburg is truly a beautiful city, and this was the first time that we had to really reflect on all that we'd seen during the trip. Many of us had stark differences in political opinion, but we all had come to the same conclusion that it was almost unimaginable that they'd maintained the Soviet system for so long. There was a clear undercurrent of dissatisfaction there, and a not-so-invisible subculture of people trying to exert economic and social freedoms that they technically did not have.

We ended up back at Palace Square and just stood around talking until it got too dark, and then we took the metro back to the hotel. I had grown up with the Cold War and it was difficult for any of us to picture a future where the Soviet Union had dissolved and there was a threat worth worrying about beyond nuclear war. This was before Gorbachev and perestroika, developments that seemed almost inconceivable in 1983. In the moment, i was just an exhausted, jet-lagged teenager, but the trip really changed me. Not only was Soviet Russia a frightening vision of a society that i never wanted to be a part of, but it was also a revealing look at the difference between what i'd been taught and reality.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Soviet Union, 1983, Part II

Part I here.

From Irkutsk we flew to Tashkent in Uzbekistan, with a brief stop in Alma Ata (i remember the landing in Tashkent as being my scariest ever, but apparently not that unusual for Aeroflot). Of course at that time both Uzbekistan and Khazakstan were Soviet republics. Tashkent was a strange place to me for many reasons. It did not have much of the character of a Central Asian city, in part because of the Soviet influence and in part because the city had been substantially destroyed by a massive earthquake in 1965. In some respects it was an attractive city, but it also had a third-world quality, with some open sewers and the most apparent poverty that i'd seen in the USSR. About the only activity I remember from Tashkent is shopping. I bought an Uzbekistani flag, and a gray felt hat, both of which i still have.

We traveled from Tashkent to Samarkand, one of the most historically rich cities in Central Asia, though i was woefully ignorant of it at the time. For me this was the most memorable part of the trip. Samarkand is famous as a Silk Road landmark and as the base of Tamerlane or Timur. We visited the famous Registan, the main square of the old city, the Bibi Khanum mosque, and i remember going to the observatory of the famous astronomer Ulugbek. The buildings all had a distinctive architecture, with domes and peaked arches and extensive blue- tile mosaics. The main buildings in the square also have oddly over-sized facades, or at least the front section of the buildings are oddly over-proportioned.

We also visited a park of sorts somewhere outside the city where we could see the high mountain ranges of western Tajikistan. They were massive, and they had the same allure as the ocean viewed from the coast. I didn't think about it at the time, but i was also just a couple hundred miles or so north of Afghanistan. In fact, the only time Uzbekistan has been prominent in the news since then is when it was used as a launching point for the US assault on the Taliban.

There was a bazaar in Samarkand, and it was the first real outdoor public market i had been to, trips to Mexico notwithstanding. I saw a beggar there, a man whose legs were shriveled and useless, and he sat on a wheeled platform. It was an unusual sight in the Soviet Union. Although most Soviet citizens suffered deprivation that was severe by the standards of the American middle class, the panhandlers and vagrants common in American cities were non-existent. For reasons i can't articulate, the image of that man on his platform sticks in my memory more than anything else i saw during the trip.

It might be because i had spent the last year in the desert, but i felt very comfortable in Samarkand. Even though it was without question the strangest place i had been in my life to that point, it did not feel foreign. I still remember sitting around with some of the other people in the group on the steps outside one of the buildings, having a fairly intellectual discussion by the standards of a 19 year-old and thinking that it seemed not just normal, but somehow familiar. That began a fascination with Central Asia that continues for me today.

Coming in Part III: Leningrad.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Soviet Union, 1983, Part I

Often these days i'm reminded of something that took place so long ago that it seems like an artificial memory, like something from a movie or a particularly vivid dream. For example, it is twenty-five years ago this month that i traveled to the Soviet Union, a place that doesn't even exist anymore as a political entity. In reality, i suspect it doesn't exist at all beyond memory, since that place bears little resemblance to modern Russia. I wrote about this a few years ago, but i promised i'd revisit it some day.

In 1983 I was finishing up my freshman year in college and therefore also my first year as a student of the Russian language. The head of the Russian department at U. of Arizona organized an annual trip to the Soviet Union, ostensibly to provide students with an opportunity to encounter the language and culture first-hand. In truth, i think he just loved the place. I'd been fascinated with the Soviet Union for years, in part because of a translator that my mother's company employed who traveled there frequently and would bring me posters and other souvenirs from his trips. Although it was expensive by the standards of my family, I felt that i couldn't pass up the opportunity to go.

I was 19 years old and essentially a hick from the sticks. My only international travel to that point was Mexico and Canada, and i'd never had a passport. The entire process was exciting and a bit daunting. I'd flown quite a few times, but the flight from New York City to Helsinki, Finland on Finnair might as well have been a spaceship to Mars. I remember very little about the trip, except that there was a small area near the back of the plane where one could stand and look out a window at the ocean below. It was the first time in my life that i'd been to a place where i couldn't see even a glimpse of civilization.

I do remember Helsinki, if a bit vaguely after all these years. I can't remember the hotel or the airport, and i only dimly recall my roomate, who i believe was a veterinarian. I remember walking around the city and seeing numerous graveyards (i'd been raised in the Lutheran church and Finland is historically a Lutheran country, so many of the churches and church grounds seemed familiar to me). I ran into some of my fellow travelers while out on a walk and we stopped at a cafe and had a beer. While not an entirely new experience for me, the fact that it was normal and unremarkable was cool. I exchanged money for the first time in my life, from dollars into the Finnish marks in use at that time. I sat in a round chapel in a park where a man played violin, probably Bach given the place. I experienced my first jet lag, and since the sun sets so late i was frequently unsure of what time of day it was. It was all very strange and melancholy and civilized. It suited me well.

We flew from Helsinki to Moscow. My first taste of Soviet bureaucracy was the long wait in the customs line at the airport, which was not much different than the modern security checkpoint at any post 9/11 airport. At that time, most foreigners could not travel inside the USSR without an escort. Officially, the escort was a sort of tour guide who worked for the Intourist agency. Ours was a young blond lady whose name i regrettably can't recall.

We stayed at a hotel called the Orlyonok, which was affiliated with the Soviet youth organization. It was close to Moscow State University, which was exciting for me because МГУ was frequently featured in my Russian language textbook. My room was relatively comfortable, but i was a bit taken aback by the shower, which was just a shower head coming out of the wall near the sink and a drain in the middle of the floor. Having my own shower was a luxury though. According to some of my trip mates, all of our rooms were bugged and an entire floor of the hotel was dedicated to monitoring guests. I was also told that if i left my passport unattended i should not be surprised if it disappeared temporarily. We had our first experience of the Russian black market here when a couple of men approached us in a stairwell to see if we'd be interested in selling our jeans.

That first night we went to the Moscow circus. During a break i got separated from my group, and for some reason i decided to walk back to the hotel alone. It was still fairly light out, but the thing i remember most distinctly is how quiet it was. If you know that Moscow even then had a population similar to New York city, you can understand why this was remarkable. Personal cars were still a rarity then, and the people in the city were unusually subdued. As i walked through the park near the river, you could have heard a pin drop.

Of course, as a mid-western kid i'd been raised to believe that the Soviet Union was evil, and communism was synonymous with a pernicious style of autocracy. I certainly can't defend the pre-glasnost politics of that time, but the truth was obviously far more subtle. As i walked back to my hotel, i saw a policeman approaching (militsia). He stopped, turned, and picked up a nearby public telephone. I have no idea if he was concerned with me, or if his actions were prompted by seeing a lone foreigner wandering along near the university. But for a few moments i was terrified and uncertain. Suddenly i realized that this was how it worked. You weren't scared because of easily identifiable monsters, but because of the monsters you imagined.

In Moscow we visited many tourist attractions, including the Kremlin of course and all of the Red Square landmarks. I remember the waxy corpse of Lenin at his tomb, and my suspicion that it was fake. We visited the beryozka, the state-sanctioned shops run just for tourists, where you could buy souvenirs and things like vodka that were virtually unattainable to the average Soviet citizen. We exchanged our dollars for the colorful ruble notes at the unfavorable exchange rate enforced by the government. We went to the ГУМ, the official state department store, and we rode the ornately decorated metro. One of my fellow travelers traded a bottle of vodka for a full day of taxi service. We began collecting znachok (znachki in plural), which are basically souvenir badges or pins. I had a long conversation with a bell-man at the hotel, which i'm sure he still relates to his friends whenever he needs a good laugh.

The next stage of our trip was the real highlight: a 96 hour train trip from Moscow to Irkutsk in Siberia. We would travel continuously for nearly 4 days, across the Russian countryside, over the Urals and into Asia; and across the vast territory of Siberia. It would impress me with the size of the country and the distance of the horizon, but i'd be disingenuous to say that it was either fun or exciting. Four days on a train is four days on a train, no matter where the train might be going. The most memorable part of the trip was holding up signs reading "Mir Y Drujba" (peace and friendship) as we passed through the stations. It was on the train that i developed my hatred of local beverages. In Moscow, you could buy Pepsi, although it was formulated a bit differently. But on the train we had only Soviet-made drinks, most notably a horrid concoction called Buxaro, which tasted like Dr. Pepper infused with sweaty shoe leather.

It will probably not surprise you to hear that Siberia is cold, even in May. It was snowing at times as we approached Irkutsk. The city itself was cold, but it felt good after so many days of stale train air. We took a walk around the town, a KGB officer following us at about 100 paces, making no attempt at all to be inconspicuous. Many of the people in the city were of obvious Asian extraction, a very distinctive appearance that i associate with Mongolia and the steppes in general. I also recall the key clerk who worked on my floor of the hotel (all Soviet hotels required you to surrender your room key before leaving). She was a lovely young Russian lady who spoke five languages. I tried both Russian and Spanish on her, but i suspect that even in English she was probably more fluent than i.

The key feature of Irkutsk is Lake Baikal, the world's deepest lake. It is known especially for a variety of fish that is so adapted to the high pressures at the bottom of the lake that it will dissolve into a puddle if brought rapidly to the surface. I remember little of the surroundings, and i guess it stands to reason that the world's deepest lake will disappoint somewhat when viewed only from the surface.

Coming in Part II: Siberia to Central Asia

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Tournament 2008

Yesterday was the annual tournament of my martial arts school. I did OK, placing in 9 of my 12 events, but for some reason i came away disappointed. My younger son Henry did awesome, winning 4 of his 6 events and getting 2nd and 3rd in the others. Our school also won the tournament for the first time.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

How Not To Argue On The Intarweb

I got into a flame war in the comments section of a blog that i read recently regarding my comments on a post that the blog author had made about somebody else's blog (isn't the internet fun?). This wasn't long after Paul Graham got lambasted for his essay that made an analogy comparing normal employees vs. founders to zoo animals vs. animals in the wild, and then followed that up with an essay explaining how people should properly respond to his essays.

I found these occurrences interesting because of the indirect and yet public nature of the debates. I'm sure this went on in the regular press in more intellectual times, but certainly at a much more deliberate pace. I learned a couple of lessons from this that i think might come in handy should i ever write anything that someone else reads.
  1. If a large number of people respond negatively to something you write, you should probably consider the possibility that it was offensive and not merely misinterpreted.
  2. If you think what you wrote was misinterpreted, you should probably consider the possibility that you didn't write it that well.
  3. Be very careful about generalizing from small, non-random samples to the entire population with no interim stopping points (even if that's what i'm doing here).
  4. Do not respond to your detractors with smug blog posts about logical fallacies.
  5. Responding with "Whatever" means you lose the argument.