Sunday, June 02, 2013



Ty: We may or may not have a roundtable this edition but we are doing a mailbag of sorts.  First off, one reason to do this is to remind people that our new e-mail address is Please note that change.  I'm Ty with The Third Estate Sunday Review and I've got Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review;  Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report;  and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. participating in this feature.  For a change, we're going to talk about the receiving end of e-mails.  We may have time for a few of your e-mails as well.  Elaine, I want to start with you.  Saturday, you posted  "Mike posts and people whine to me" which was about how Mike wrote "The long day (and veterans issues are much more complicated than I ever knew)" Friday night and you ended up getting all these e-mails about it.  For those who don't know, Mike and Elaine are a couple, they have a daughter.  They also each have their own websites.  Elaine?

Elaine: Well the post said it all but basically, I didn't appreciate the fact that if people had a problem with Mike's post they felt the need to gripe at me.  These aren't my readers, I'd never heard from them before.  Usually Sunny goes through my e-mails and she tells me who wrote about what.  I'd never heard of or from these people before who felt the need to (a) gripe to me about what Mike wrote and (b) blame me for violating doctor-patient confidentiality. I shouldn't have had to have pointed out that Mike's friend was not and had never been a patient of mine.  Mike made that point in his own post.  In addition, Mike writing about a patient that one of my ex-lovers forced C.I. to deal with is not me breaking doctor-patient confidentiality.  I wasn't treating that person, I never treated that person, I didn't write about the story until Mike did and then I only wrote about to explain to people what doctor patient confidentiality is.  Everyone -- unless they're Christian Scientist or something -- is a patient.  Because you got a flu shot last winter does not make you my patient and make me unable to share an observation I have of you.  Just because I'm a doctor and you're someone's patient does not mean you and I share doctor-patient confidentiality.

Ty: Mike, did you get any of those e-mails, any of the people griping to Elaine gripe to you?

Mike: Not one.  I checked right before we started this discussion because Ty asked me when I told him I hadn't to check again and be sure -- even check the spam folder.  As Ty advised, I did.  Nothing.  I didn't have one complaint.  I did have mail about the post but none of the people writing were griping and none of them were the ones who wrote Elaine.

Ty: C.I., this has happened over and over to you.  Mike wrote about that this past week in "Norman Pollack, Ian Murphy."  Where something goes up somewhere and you're the one people run to.  I mean, not just 'people.'  When we did our series of articles calling out The Nation magazine for having less than 1/3 of their bylines by females -- in the magazine -- The Nation finally responds by e-mailing you.  That's so offensive, let me make clear before we go further.  Now this was Ava and C.I.'s baby, they were asked to do this feature -- tracking the bylines based on gender -- by some feminist friends -- and I'll say it that includes feminist friends with their own outlets and I don't mean blogs on Blogger/Blogspot or Wordpress.  These feminists wanted The Nation to be held accountable but didn't want to get their own hands dirty.  Ava and C.I. were happy to run with it.  So we had a regular feature, usually every week -- The Nation is a weekly magazine -- where we would count the bylines and then at the six month period, we all wrote a piece and at the 1 year mark, Ava and C.I. wrote the piece.  Well to try to stop that feature while it was ongoing, The Nation writes C.I.  The features running here at this site.  And The Nation writes C.I. instead of contacting us.  It is offensive.  But that's not the only time it's happened.  Okay, C.I., comment?

C.I.: Rebecca was the first person I got a complaint on.  That's not surprising, her site started after mine.  But, yes, I do get complaints on things written at other sites as I'm sure other community sites hear about how angry someone is about what I wrote.  But what I usually do when this happens -- if there are several e-mails -- is put up a note that I'm not the Mommy, don't come complaining to me, no one likes a tattle tale and I'm going to stand with the community.

Ty: And Rebecca, you wanted to make a point.

Rebecca: Right.  Elaine, C.I. and I went to college together. Ty, Jim, Ava, Dona and Jess went to college together.  Ann and Cedric are married.  Betty, her kids, Ty and his boyfriend live with C.I.  Dona, Jim and their child live with Jess and Ava and their child.  Elaine and Mike live together with their child.  There are all these years of bonds that, if you're complaining about one of us in an e-mail, you just don't know anything about.  Cedric and Wally spent over a month together in Texas in 2008 campaigning for Hillary.  Wally and Marcia spent weeks in Indiana and other states campaigning for Hillary.  Marcia and Stan are cousins.  Ruth's young grandson and my daughter are friends and the reason they're friends is because Ruth and I used each other as primary babysitters when we needed to do an errand or a doctor's appointment.  It was nothing for one of us to pick up the phone and say, "Hey, can you cover for me?"  Mike's mother is Trina.  Wally lives at C.I.'s if he's in California -- as opposed to Wally's home in Florida.  Actually, he, Ava, Kat and C.I. now spend more time in the DC area at C.I.'s home there.  Trina and Wally's mother are very good friend.  Mike and Wally are very good friends.  If I had time to go on and on, I'd be doing a diagram that went on forever.  But the point is, that everyone's connected.  This is a community.  You're not going to have much like trying to split us up with an e-mail.

Ty: Okay, before we go further, let me just do something real quick.    The Third Estate Sunday Review's is Dona, Jess, Ava, Jim and me; Rebecca does Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty does Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. is  The Common Ills and part of The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat writes at Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric at Cedric's Big Mix; Mike at Mikey Likes It!; Elaine at Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth at Ruth's Report; Trina at Trina's Kitchen; Wally at The Daily Jot; Marcia at SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan at Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah at The World Today Just Nuts and Ann at Ann's Mega Dub. That covers everyone that Rebecca just mentioned.  Ruth, two weeks ago, you did "Why did I write about Little Missy?" and the problem with the e-mail you were responding to was?

Ruth: There is a writer named Missy -- I do not want to publicize her.  We used to highlight her, those of us with websites, back during the Bush era.  These days we are not interested because she showed her true nature in 2008.  Until the post in question, I last wrote about her in 2009, June, when she showed up to say 'some of us knew Barack Obama wasn't for real' or whatever she wrote.  But in real time, she lied for him.  She was not admitting to lying.  She just showed up in June 2009 wanting to pretend like she had been a critic of then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008 when she had not been.  So 2009, that is four years ago.  It had been four years since I had written of her.  And this guy shows up in an e-mail wanting to know why I wrote what I wrote about Missy.  He does not tell the name of the post, does not give me a link to the post, does not tell me what date the post was published, nothing.  And he expects me to sit here and, from memory, know a post I wrote in 2009 or 2008 criticizing Missy.  I wrote many.  I do not remember most of them.  If you have a question or a problem with something that has been written, you really need to grasp that what you just read may not be anything we have thought about in years.  What is fresh and new to you may already be forgotten to us.

Ty: Ann, are you able to come into the conversation now?

Ann: Sure.  I actually can add to it.  I know the type of e-mails Ruth's talking about.  What I have done at my site is just ignore those e-mails.  What happens is one of two things: I never hear about it again or the person writes back.  If they write back, the smarter and nicer ones now state the title of whatever post they had a question about or issue with.  The nastier ones write me an insulting e-mail about how rude and stupid I am for not replying.  Then I get to reply, "I'm the stupid one?  There are over 1,000 posts at my site and you're complaining about one of them but don't include the title, don't include the date and don't include a link.  Who's the stupid one?"  Right now, Sunny's handling my e-mails, Elaine's assistant and friend and thank you, Sunny, for that.  I do not get a lot of hateful e-mails overall.  It's weird because Betty can tell you being a woman makes you a natural target online.  The only thing I can figure is I'm married to Cedric, when I started online we were married.  Maybe that accounts for some of it.

Ty: When you get a hateful e-mail what is about?

Ann: I take a lot of stands at my site that others might not.  Because I don't have a fixed topic.  Ruth has to cover Benghazi updates, Betty's covering NASA -- especially the land rover Curiosity, Trina covers the economy, C.I. covers Iraq.  So I can grab anything, any topic. And a lot of the times I make political calls and that tends to anger people.  I get a lot of e-mails about how I'm the reason Bully Boy Bush got into the White House because I have voted for Ralph Nader in every election until 2012 when he didn't run.  I am a Green.  And I'm not a play-Green.  I'm not one of those White people who slobbers over corporatist Barack Obama while swearing I'm a Green.

Ty: Betty, you get a lot of hateful e-mail.

Betty: I used to.  I used to get it so bad that I wouldn't read my e-mails for a month at a time.  They were making physical threats and anyway. What changed?  My site changed.  It used to be an online novel, comedic novel.  I dropped that in 2008 when the sexism was too great in this country.  Once I dropped it, people were no longer identifying me with Bettina, the character in the novel.  I would blog about my kids or whatever.  And I'm thinking, based on what Ann was talking about, I'm thinking that may have humanized me to some people who before didn't see me as a person.  I also think it died down because by 2012 it was realized that I wasn't going to be an echo chamber.  The hatred of 2008 should have made that clear.  That was probably the most difficult year in terms of hate mail.  I'm Black, I'm a woman, I've always voted Democrat and yet I wasn't going to whore for Barack -- or even vote for him. SO I got a lot of harassing e-mails then.  What I get now or more concerned e-mails.  Ann and I talk on the phone a few times a week.  And sometimes I'll note something Ann said at my site.  Something she said over the phone.  And someone will misunderstand and write in concerned that Ann and I are having trouble.  In fact, Ann gets e-mails like that too.

Ann: Betty has never been anything but kind to me.  Betty is a friend.  I have no idea why there's this concern that Betty and I don't get along.  Betty wasn't at my wedding.  That's pointed out.  My wedding was falling apart.  It was planned quickly and it fell apart immediately.  I had just met Ruth when I asked her to be my maid of honor because my friend wasn't able to make it on short notice.  Now everyone there pitched in -- Elaine, C.I., Wally, Ava, Rebecca -- but Ruth's pitching in was helping me directly, one-on-one, holding my hand and saying, "It's going to be okay."  Because everything was falling apart.  We even had to find a new venue due to a fire.  It was a nightmare.  But in terms of Betty, she didn't 'miss' my wedding because she hated me.  She'd never met me.  She was friends with Cedric and I certainly would have loved for her to have been there but it was very spur of the moment and she couldn't just say, "Hey, flying out of town so I'm going to miss work for the next days."  I think maybe, Betty, tell me what you think, people assume that we knew each other before I married Cedric and they think you were boycotting the wedding?

Betty: That's probably it because those concerned e-mails usually do mention the wedding and how I didn't attend.  I also wonder if it's a Black woman thing -- in that they want to be sure that we, Black women, are sending out a strong message of we-get-along.  I used to get similar e-mails regarding Marcia.

Marcia: Right.  That lasted for about three or four months and then people stopped wondering mainly because I'll write about anything at my site and that includes if I'm mad at someone.  So people tended to get that they didn't need to wonder if I was mad at Betty since I wasn't writing, "I'm mad at Betty."  The other thing going on here is that I am a lesbian and was never going to end up with Cedric.  But I think for a lot of readers, there was hope that Cedric and Betty would end up together. They're great -- even now -- in roundtables together.  Cedric and Betty can usually riff off one another, they have similar humor and a similar knowledge base.  I started out a reader in the community and I did think, as did others, "Cedric and Betty are perfect for each other."  And that's part of it.  I believe.  That's part of, "Betty and Ann don't fight!"  Ann's so sweet, it comes across online, that no one can hate her -- even if they wanted Cedric and Betty together. And I think that's what's at the root of the constant panic that the two of you don't get along.  Because there's never been a moment when the two of you have disagreed that I know of.  And anytime Ann's walked out on a limb -- we pitch stories here every week and every one comes in with ideas and sometimes the only person supporting your idea is you -- so anytime Ann's had an idea that had zero support or felt like it might, Betty has rushed in and said, "Great idea."  I don't know if anyone else notices that.  And I also know that Ann's always praising Betty.

Ann: Thank you for saying that, Marcia.  It's true.  It's the elephant in the closet.  Betty once tried to write about it and wrote about it very nicely but some readers still freaked out.  Betty is a great person, she and my husband were never a couple.  She is not a threat to me.  I am not a threat to her.  Betty's a gorgeous woman who can have her pick of men.

Betty: Ann's a very sweet liar.  I'm far from gorgeous.  But, yeah, I mean -- Yeah.  Marcia and Ty are gay and can't be fixed up with each other.  I think it was around the time of everybody hooking up that was going to. It was Mike and Elaine and Jim and Dona and Jess and Ava and Rebecca got married.  But love was in the air and I think some people just felt that Cedric and I would end up together.  I have no idea why.  I've lived in Georgia and now California.  Neither of those are Cedric's states.  I don't know why people wanted that.  Cedric's a great guy and Ann is perfect for him.  I've stated before that I am single mother with three kids.  I have three great kids.  I had to work to support them.  Their father has never provided child support, has had nothing to do with them since we broke up after I had my youngest.  I'm not a super hero and I can't do everything.  I was smart enough to realize that and smart enough to realize that I couldn't do a love relationship with a man and raise my children and work all at the same time.  So I've put my love life on hold.  And my kids are doing great in school, they're happy and life is good.  It's not perfect, but it's good and that's great.

Ty: Rebecca, you had a point you wanted to make.

Rebecca: Right, you said we were going to talk about the e-mails we received and I went to my blog and started looking for e-mails.  I did a post called "tear down the gates, don't appoint new gatekeepers" in April  of 2005 and there are so many smart community members and smart readers who e-mail.  There are a lot of great people mentioned in that e-mail and that includes Wally.

Mike: That's a really good point.  Wally and I are about the same age.  I knew of him and he knew of me via Rebecca's post and C.I.'s writing. And Wally and I talked the first time after I'd been blogging for about a month. I was really pissed about something and we ended up talking.  And Wally really influenced what this community is. And did so for a long time without a website.

Ty: That's true.  And maybe a good way to go out is quoting from Wally's first post.  This is from October 15, 2005:

Thank you mucho to C.I. of The Common Ills. Mucho grande.
I'm Common Ills community member Wally and I toss out things every now and then to that site. This is just a brief background or bio.
I think my older cousin Will turned me on to The Common Ills. A lot of people were talking about it but Will's the one I listen to. There was a thing on a story in The New York Times about Florida and football and that's how Will got me to check it out. I discovered the other community sites and I have to do a shout out to Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude. I've got C.I. on the phone so I'm trying not to do too many links. C.I.'s talking me through the mechanics but I have to give a shout out to Rebecca. We'd read her and C.I. for class my last year in high school. And I have to do a shout out to my buddy Mike because if he hadn't stayed on my case, this site wouldn't be starting. Mike blogs at Mikey Likes It!

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