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July 31, 2010


I'm from Norwich, which is a little city in the east of England with a big cathedral and a lot of trees.

When I was born, me, my sister, and my parents lived in a bus:winter 1976-1977
(That truck was our old house - we were moving.)

But we moved to a house when I was 2. Boooooring.

Now I live in a Victorian house in Alameda, California, and I just got a new job as a software engineer in San Francisco that's going to mean taking the ferry to work. I don't like boats, but I do like looking at the ships being loaded at the Port of Oakland, so maybe it'll work out.

Your turn.

I'm a Vermont transplant in the Northern Virginia area working as part of the modern military-industrial complex, well indirectly cause I'm on overhead.

According to a google search I came to Obsidian Wings and posted my first comment in 2006, though I'm sure I read for about a year or two before that because I remember some of the election back and forthing. Or I fail google.

The name? Well I came onto blogs back in '02 as a fresh out of college guy with an interest in politics, and knowing that he didn't know enough but smart enough to make arguments from both sides. Initially I hung out on the right wing blogs (Right Thinking from the Left Coast is where I got my start), but thanks to the early Daou report gradually shifted to one where I wasn't having the same fight every day all by my lonesome.

I'm a navy brat, born in Almeda CA, lived in mostly odd, uninteresting (except to me) places and have practiced law in Houston since 1980. Married 35 years, 2 adult children. I'm here for the give and take. It's the only site I visit and I am here often.

JD--this is a good idea. I hope others join in. I'd like to see the occasional open thread where we exchange recipes, wine recommendations, etc.

I am here at this ungodly hour because I love golf and our tee time is 7:50 this morning.

I'm that rarest of Californians -- I'm living in the town I grew up in, about 30 miles east of San Francisco. Of course, in the 1950s it was a little farm town with just a couple of subdivisions, and now its a suburb of 35,000. Which means that it's the same location, but not quite the same town it was then.

Trained in Aeronautical Engineering and Anthropology at Berkeley. So naturally I've spent my career playing with computers.

No idea why we've got all these folks in California signed on at this hour. I mean, on a week day we might be calling the east Coast. But on a Saturday???

I grew up on the outskirts of London, went to university in Norwich (so hi, Jacob. Loved that city and could easily have settled), moved to Australia in 1986 and have lived in Sydney ever since.

I started reading OW in, I think, 2002 – certainly some time in the run-up to the Iraq invasion, and with the express purpose of finding some American voices that were dissenting from that headlong rush into madness – and have looked at it most days since. I've probably commented less than half a dozen times in all those years, but that's true of most blogs I read: I'm more interested in picking the eyes out of whatever conversation is going on than putting my views out there. And there have been some bloody interesting conversations here in that time.

I don't read every post and thread as obsessively as I once did, but I think that's because to a non-American, US politics is just less horrifyingly fascinating since Bush left office. Plus we've got our own election here at the moment.

Anyway, over the years this blog has entertained and educated me more than probably any other, and for that, many thanks to all the posters and the legion of commenters

"Getting to know you
getting to know all about you..."

Hey, cool thread.

Born in Queens NYC, raised in white-bread suburbia on Long Island, live in white-bread suburbia now, just outside of Boston MA.

Been a gigging drummer since about 1970, when I was probably 14. Playing and thinking about music is what I do, mostly. That, and my marriage, are what I'm about. The rest is cool, but is more on the surface.

Write software for a living, but I'm not really into the geeky gadgety side. I like practical problem solving, creating end user value, and shipping product.

Started hanging on political blogs around the time the USA Patriot Act was passed. Spent a lot of time on conservative blogs, especially RedState, just to try to figure WTF folks were about. Made some friends, really, on RS, but the place became increasingly, unreflectively partisan.

It just wasn't fun or constructive anymore.

Found ObWi somehow or other and enjoyed the broader range of points of view, and the consistently intelligent and respectful (yes, really!) conversation. So, here I am.

I call myself a lefty these days, but that's mostly due to context. Politically what I'm really into is self-government in the public interest, and having powerful institutions be on strong leashes.

Gotta run for now, I look forward to reading everyone else's thing here.

I'm an Air Force brat, born in 1980; we lived in the US, with one overseas tour in Japan. For you California folks, my dad was stationed at Travis AFB, for two years. I currently live in Illinois.

I took my bachelor's in History; I have yet to use my degree. It did help me land a promotion, though, so it's been somewhat useful.

I'm a long-time lurker, since 2007 (I think); I know it was well before the '08 election. I very rarely comment, but in the past used some variation of "Lemons". I don't remember how I first found this site, it's been so long.

Much like Warbo, this site has educated and informed me greatly, since I started reading; thanks to everyone, posters, admins, and commenters alike.

Also, any post by Eric Martin that include pictures of his kid are, by definition, double-plus good.

Very nice idea. I'm a medium length old timer here, I teach at a private uni in Southern Japan, was raised in the deep south, the nick is a homage to those Roadrunner cartoons that had latin names for the Coyote and Roadrunner. I sort of run a shadow of this site (it's in the sidebar as Taking it Outside) that's supposed to be a place to vent about the meta. It's also supposed to be a dessert topping and a floor wax, so feel free to drop in.

In the 1960s I was cloned from a anti-nuclear activist in a small unofficial biological laboratory by a rogue Canadian scientist.

I went to school in a haunted house, took my degree in a chapel, and got my first job post-graduation counting infected people.

I learned to read when I was 3, went on my first demo when I was 7, discovered science-fiction when I was 11, became a feminist when I was 14, became a gay liberation activist when I was 17, and sent my first e-mail when I was 23.

I live with two cats and several thousand books in a house that was built 111 years ago. I volunteer for an abortion rights group. I bake excellent bread. I'm a vegetarian.

I've been commenting on Obsidian Wings since it was founded, but for the first couple of years I deliberately never identified my gender, sexual orientation, or nationality: when I finally got tired of being assumed to be a straight American man, I came out as a British lesbian. In a haiku.

I was born in Rochester, NY but was promptly whisked off to Berkeley, CA where I resided for about 6 years (still a Raiders fan, sadly).

Then, like russell, I moved to white-bread suburbia on Long Island where I lived until the age of 18. After that, I moved to NYC and haven't left since (outside of a couple of summers in Burlington, VT where both sibs attended college, and my sis went to med school).

I've now hit the age, 36, where I've lived as long in NYC as all the other places combined.

My mother grew up in northern Minnesota and Alaska and is of Scandanavian descent (her dad was a Swede her mom a Finn). My dad is an Italian from Queens, accent and all. He was a brilliant civil rights lawyer in the 1960s and 1970s, but that is a long, fascinating story.

For all you Aussies, my aunt moved to Melbourne about 35 years ago and still resides in that nabe. And I used to blog at Tim Dunlop's old site, The Road to Serfdom.

I've been a practicing lawyer since 2000, focusing on Internet, technology, telecom and intellectual property law.

The first blog I read was Legal Fiction - publius' site - in 2003/2004 (where I first met Brett Bellmore). Publius inspired me to start my own site, Total Information Awareness, from which I moved to the aforementioned Aussie site, American Footprints, the Progressive Realist, Obsidian Wings (obviously), with guest stints on Spencer Ackerman's old Think Progress site, Kevin Drum's site when he was still at Political Animal and The Belgravia Dispatch.

I may start at a new site soon, but I can't disclose the name yet.

I have a terrible bloggy wanderlust.

I first starting reading this Site around the time I started blogging, and fell in love with Hilzoy's beautiful mind instantly.

I kind of hate the fact that since I've come on, both she and publius left. I couldn't even fill the space left by the absent pinkie toe in one of her shoes.

I was an ObWi reader for a while before I started posting comments in '08. Then I got sucked into the vortex. Many were the mornings that I woke up to see the blue & white columns staring back at me, damn them.

I read around a fair amount, but the comment threads most places fall into one of two categories: "YES THIS!!!" x 10,000, or endless boring wars between opposing trolls. So ObWi was this strange little corner where people wrote in paragraphs, and I kept coming back here. It took me a while to be comfortable posting under my real name (and I couldn't maintain a pseudonym for long) but then I got over it. If anyone's not going to hire me over something I said, I didn't want to work there anyway.

It's very hard to provide a place where people can have an argument. Really. A pile-on, or a shout-fest, those are easy. But an argument is a much trickier thing to foster.

I was born and raised in Dallas, mostly the lower income side of town. I turned 13 in 1969 and became a hippie just as the allure declined for most.

I have now suffered through disco, punk, wall of sound rock, grunge, rap and hip hop and still only own a variety of late 60's and early seventies folk and folk/rock music in the belief that someday hope will return to our culture, or counter-culture at least.

In the end my most compelling view of life is that I don't like people, as a group or in groups, but almost every person has a side I find fascinating and worth caring about as an individual. (I am obviously really bad at cocktail parties)

Based on that, I find OBWi the place where I get to interact the most with persons, rather than people. Although I get frustrated that the relative anonymity of it forces everyone to be a "label" to others too often.

I do miss Hilzoy and publius, and many of the commenters that have moved on, but this blog remains one of the most sane corners of the internet.

I was drawn to ObWi by Sebastian after encountering him in a Political Animal comment thread (back in 2005 when Kevin Drum was the host at PA). The comment threads on PA were something of a shouting match and ObWi was a most welcome breath of fresh air.

I hail originally from New York City, but moved to the SF Bay area long ago. I am a software guy, lucky enough to start with computers back in the days of the dinosaurs (I had e-mail in the '70s).

Lately work (computer security, large scale distributed systems) and music (learning piano as an adult) have kept me busy, so I don't visit ObWi that often and I haven't had much to say, just the occasional free association link.

I think of the people I've met here as my friends, and I hope you feel the same towards me.

Born a Displaced Person in Germany, 1946. Immigrated to US (yes, legally - thanks, President Truman) at the age of three. Have lived extensively in South - mostly Nashville (is there an occasional commenter named "John in Nashville?" Hi, John) and now in Cambridge, MA for about 15 yrs.

Math undergrad, MBA, later ABD in Finance. Mostly retired from career mostly in small business (The Engine of Our Economy!!!) mostly in software, with a few years wasted working for big companies.

Tournament bridge player, photographer, beginning (measured by skill) piano player.

I often comment at Volokh, because they badly need help, but ObWi is "home blog." I come here for actual insight and to converse with friends, several of whom I've had the pleasure of spending time with in person as a result of ObWi.

Like Eric, my kids are half-Korean and, if I say so myself, gorgeous. Like Jacob, I'm a software engineer who recently took a job in SF and rides the ferry there (from Marin), but I love it -- not being confined to a seat for the duration is an awfully civilized way to commute.

Born in South Jersey in 1964; grew up in the Philly area and did my Bachelor's at U Penn. Moved to NYC in 1987 and I've been here ever since, except for a 3-year stint in Minnesota and 15 months of fieldwork (see below) in France.

I have an MA in French studies and I'm ABD in linguistic anthropology. I spent 11 years in grad school, including the aforementioned stint of fieldwork. It was an amazingly enriching and mind-expanding experience, but I hit the wall at the write-up stage and couldn't finish my dissertation. Which makes me, according to Matt Groening at least, the bitterest person in the world.

Drifted in post-grad-school purgatory for several years before landing a job as a project manager in the translation biz two years ago, which has turned out to be quite a good fit for a language geek like myself.

I play the electric bass and I was the bassist and lead vocalist in an indie band in Minneapolis for three years. Discovered choral singing in my mid-30s and that's where I get my musical jollies these days, although I still cling to the idea of putting together some original songs with GarageBand, bedroom-wizard style, and putting them out on the Intertubes, just to see what happens.

I met my partner (12 years my senior) in the fall of 1994 and moved in a year later...we never had a ceremony or civil union so we're considering this year our "15th anniversary."

I love cooking and eating (all kinds, but Indian is my favorite cuisine if I had to pick one). I love my 2 cats. I love to travel. I like NYC just fine, but if I could live anywhere in the world it would be Paris.

My niece starting calling me "Uncle Kvetch" at my brother-in-law's suggestion (bless his heart) because I've always been fairly curmudgeonly. I often think about dropping the pseud and commenting under my real name. For one thing, I'm not Jewish (Italian on my mom's side, Irish & German on my dad's, raised Catholic), and as an ex-aspiring anthropologist I do have to be sensitive to issues of cultural appropriation...

I'm basically a social democrat of the Western European variety, and as such I struggle on a daily basis with the fact that I don't have a "home" in the US political mainstream, and that the exceedingly thin gruel of the current administration (as I see it) is probably as "good" as it's going to get in my lifetime. I've been a political junkie throughout my adult life but I often flirt with the idea of just stepping away from blogs and politics altogether, and devoting my attention to things that don't regularly leave me grinding my jaw with frustration.

Other fave blogs: alicublog, Crooked Timber, Unqualified Offerings, TBogg, The Poor Man, Sadly, No!, Greenwald, Atrios...but I tend to comment here more than anywhere else.

Why ObWi? Dunno, really...I just keep coming back, despite my regular misgivings about the "point" of it all, as described above. I feel like I've already gone on too long so it's probably a topic best left for another day.

I was born in Warren, Michigan in the late 50's, in a suburb that grew up right after WWII. Great place, all the families were having kids at the same time, you never lacked for playmates. Along came the Detroit riots, which stopped a couple blocks short of our house, and we moved out to the country for safety. (Who knew whether they'd riot again, and get further?)

Enjoyed my teens in the country, gardening, hunting, hiking. After I returned from college, and got an engineering job with a local firm, I bought the family property off my parents, build a new house with my own two hands, (150 year old farm houses may be quaint, but who needs 6'6" ceilings?) and settled down, planning to live there all my life.

A marriage, followed closely by a divorce, (Seems I was just a get out of debt quick scheme.) and a couple of years later I married the true love of my life, the lovely Merriam.


Not long after I got laid off, and had to move to South Carolina to find work, which was a rather nervous time with Merriam 8 months pregnant when we arrived. But we got a lovely, healthy boy out of it.

In the last year I've been treated for two cases of cancer, and I'm the happiest in my life, with my family beside me.


I'm an increasingly conservative libertarian, and tooling engineer, who used to compete in Battlebots. Too bad I'm in an apartment, now: No place to set up my shop and build the new robot I've been planning...

I would have started off the style of Jes' intro, but she beat me to it, and hers was better than mine would have been, so it worked out more optimally this way.

Another South Jersey guy, but who lived in Phoenix for a few years as a kid. After doing really well in high school, I barely got a degree in electrical engineering, having to fight through truckloads of beer, thousands of cubic feet of pot smoke, some other stuff, and general laziness at Rutgers.

I got turned on to Legal Fiction by jrudkis and followed Publius to Obsidian Wings. I had read a really good post on Obsidian Wings a couple years before that on the Terri Schiavo case, just a one-off after googling. But I did remember it when Publius announced that he was moving here, so I was an easy convert.

Embarrassingly enough, I initially got into political blogs after becoming somewhat enamored with centrism, whatever I thought that meant at the time. It all worked out in the end, now that I don't have a problem with being called a liberal or a progressive or an islamo-communist, defeatist, bleeding heart, naive sissy. It's all good.

I've been married for 14 years, have three kids and am a pretty bad (bad actually meaning bad, not the good Run-DMC bad) blues, rock, and metal guitar player. I'm smart but not well-read, and can be goofy. I try to stay in good enough shape that I can realistically choose to get in really good shape in a couple of months, though I probably never will.

I aspire to write singles ads involving my weighing myself before and after bowel movements, as well as making a mockumentary video about a narcoleptic boxer who falls asleep while training and during fights.

My pseudo is a bastardization of Jurgis Rudkus from the Jungle. I found the book to be compelling, and try to emulate Jurgis’ attitude of “work harder.” I hope my efforts are better rewarded than his. Where ever I used the pseudo first, the right spelling was taken.

I am originally from South Jersey, grew up with Hairshirthedonist, but I categorically deny everything he says we did. I did not have a misspent youth. But I will divulge that we once cut school to go to a Reagan Rally and hear him speak. Now he is a naive sissy.

I spent a decade in the Active Army following college, moving around a lot including 3 years in Germany and an occupation of Kuwait following the Gulf War. I went to law school and have been more or less practicing for 10 years, moving from a large litigation firm to small company corporate counsel, and I am fulfilling that role in two companies now, one construction part time, the other Defense R and D. I hope to never have a job with billable hours again. I joined the Army Reserve following 9/11 mostly because my friends and former subordinates were going to war, and I did not want them to go without me. I had an opportunity to excel in Iraq running convoys from 2006 to 2008, and will likely be mobilized again this year, but stay stateside.

5 kids ranging from 17 years old to 2 years, 4 girls, 1 boy, and an amazing wife, I currently live near Seattle, and I think I am very lucky to live the life I do.

I followed Publius over here from Legal Fiction. I stay mostly for Eric’s FP posts though I am stuck in the “me too” loop, and I am enjoying Jacob’s view of America.

Greetings (and not from your draft board)....

I am a touring Biker/Poet and commentator who currently lives by the side of the Susquehanna River in the Southern Tier of upstate New York.

I have been reading and sharing on ObWi since before we lost Andy.

I expect (and usually get) regular updates and analysis of issues that concern me but apparently don't concern the media at large and anyone who lacks critical thinking skills.

Keep up the good work, guys...You, too responders!

I was born and raised in Beverly Hills, CA; back in the day when it was just a toney town, not a TV show; moved to New York for business reasons (art business) in 1981, and have been here ever since.

I started following blogs just before 9/11; and that event, for which conventional "news" reportage seemed so inadequate, turned me into a committed blogophile.

I came to ObWings early on (via a rec to read something Moe Lane had posted: back when he was still sane), and stayed mainly because it was Hilzoy's main venue: reason enough, IMO to follow anything....

And I'm still here!

I'm a relative oldtimer here, back from almost the very beginning. Remember edward_ ? Miss you!

I grew up a very nerdy kid, in a household in San Jose, California where nerdy was embraced but not coddled. (My mother used to send me outside to play with a timer: "You can't come back in and read until the timer goes off...") but the reading was encouraged with twice weekly trips to the library where I was allowed to check out the maximum limit each time (20 books, which were usually read before the return 3 days later).

I had a set of Japanese grandparents who it turns out (to no surprise to anyone but me) wasn't really related to me See Grandma Kimi

I grew up in one of the precursors to what are now the mega-churches. I didn't discover that I was gay until I was 19, where in typical (at least for me)repressed intellectual fashion I woke up one morning and realized that if I were gay, that would explain a lot. I wasn't asexual (hooray!) I was homosexual (hooray?!). I'd fortunately already had my crisis of faith with the Christian religion, so that discovery wasn't as traumatic for me as it was for many.

I've lived in San Diego since college and it is a city I love. Conservative by nature, which is to say not at all happy with the radically crazy Republican party.

I come here because people help me question and refine my ideas.

Boy do they ever! ;)

jrudkis: I am enjoying Jacob’s view of America.

I have a book called "How to be an Alien", written by a guy called George Mikes who was a Hungarian who came to Britain in 1938 and ended up staying. The book has an affectionately exasperated tone, which is what I aspire to, though I'm sure I fail all the time. I love America, but you guys are nuts. Really.

Anyway, I think I can sum up my entire view of America with this imaginary but vaguely plausible conversation with me as a small child:

Me: I love spaceships! Are there English spaceships?
World: No. They were going to make them... but then they decided they couldn't afford it.
Me: Oh. Are there other spaceships?
World: Sure! The Americans loved spaceships and built lots of them! They even sent rockets to the moon!
Me: Do they still go there?
World: Well, no. Americans don't go to the moon anymore. They haven't since before you were born.
Me: Oh. Do you think, if I went there, they might send a rocket to the moon?
World: ... I don't think so, but I suppose you can try.

Turns out I think manned spaceflight is largely a waste of money, but anyway.

I stumbled on ObWi at about the same time I stumbled on to the Internet: some time in early 2004. The first blog I participated in was the blog on the Clark for President site and I probably found ObWi from there.

Like many oldtimers I miss familiar voices. OCSteve, Bedtime for Bonzo, Jackmormon...I guess blogs are like neighborhoods in that you get used to chatting with certain folks and miss them when they move away. But nothing is as constant as change.

I'm an artist and I live on an island in Puget Sound. I'm very active in dog rescue; in fact, I'm on the board of a no-kill shelter and I walk dogs there three or four days a week.

My moniker comes from my now deceased cat. He was called Wonkie from the British slang term that means "slightly defective", a quality we share.

BTW I really admire Sebastian for showing up all these years to get his ideas questioned. That willingness to be challenged is a rare trait.

I try to stay in good enough shape that I can realistically choose to get in really good shape in a couple of months, though I probably never will.

My mantra exactly. Ironically, the best shape of my life (aside from High School during soccer season) was probably when I tore my ACL in 1996 and had to rehab it. Since then, I've been a roller coaster exerciser.

I often think about dropping the pseud and commenting under my real name. For one thing, I'm not Jewish (Italian on my mom's side, Irish & German on my dad's, raised Catholic)

Funny, the pseud made me assume, with a fair level of certainty, that you were Jewish.

I like NYC just fine, but if I could live anywhere in the world it would be Paris.

Paris is my second favorite city to NYC. In some ways, I like it more. But my lack of French skillz keeps me honest. I also love San Fran.

PS: I once had the pleasure of meeting ral in person.

PS: I once had the pleasure of meeting ral in person.

Actually, I have also.

Besides that, several of us in the Boston area have occasionally gotten together for dinner and it's been a lot of fun.

As a result, I'd encourage other ObWi clusters, in SF or Seattle or NYC or wherever to do the same.

Iowa boy, born in the earliest 50's and raised in the small town in which my family has lived for generations -- the same small town that's so lovingly mocked in Meridith Willson's The Music Man -- and indeed, I played in marching bands all through secondary school. Spent much of my young manhood hunting, fishing, canoeing in what were then the wildernesses of SW Ontario, and sailing on Iowa lakes -- inland one-design racing in summer, and DN-class iceboats in winters with good ice.

Along the way I've been a paperboy, a janitor, worked in an aquarium store and a state liquor store, been a warehouseman in a pig food plant and a laborer in a cement plant and an assembler in a motor-home plant, drove deliveries, dug trenches for telephone cable, have taught sailing to adults and reading to third-graders.

Nascent end-of-the-sixties hippiedom abrubtly ended when I got drafted at the end of 1972. Two years of the Field Artillery in Germany broadened my outlook considerably, and taught me the difference between American "beer" and real beer.

I got one of the earliest degrees in Computer Engineering and decamped to Silicon Valley in 1981, and have lived there since. Built mainframes at Amdahl for 13 years, then tiny game boxes at 3DO, then WebTV boxes, then the Xbox 360 at Microsoft, and for a couple years now I have been working for yet another computer systems company (and a far better place to work than Microsoft).

I started writing on the Net in 1986, on Usenet newsgroups such as sci.environment, rec.arts.books, and talk.origins -- I got sucked into the 1995 firefight between alt.religion.scientology and Scientology, and put some real work into that for a couple years. I remember when Jorn Barger coined the term "weblog" to describe his new project, and I was reading r.a.b the day Mike Godwin first posted Godwin's Law. Today I read and comment on over a hundred blogs; ObWi is one of my very favorites.

I'm a deep environmentalist, an inveterate reader of "literature" novels and SF and historical fiction and natural history non-fiction and some history, interested in all the earth sciences, anthropology, paleontology, politics, history, archeology.

The kids are grown, the grandkids getting there; I'm starting to make moves toward returning to the shores of my ancestral Iowa lake, there to tramp the shores in fall windstorms and winter blizzards and to catch a few walleyes in spring and sail a little in summer.

joel hanes: I'm starting to make moves toward returning to the shores of my ancestral Iowa lake

Clear Lake?

Bernard Yomtov: Born a Displaced Person in Germany, 1946

Today's edition of "The past isn't dead. It isn't even past."

I've been a roller coaster exerciser.

That doesn't technically count as exercise, though the vomiting will help keep your weight down.

Bernard Yomtov! I've been wanting to ask you a question that you don't have to answer.

Did you edit a good book on Defense by Mike Lawrence?

I'm a computer programmer who lives in New Jersey and whose habits were set back when it was a bit less risky to use your real name on line.

I've always been a political liberal, but being old enough to (barely) remember the excesses of the 1960's and having once considered "The Public Interest" to be the best public policy magazine out there, I was more of a pragmatic liberal than a strongly ideological one. That's changed, starting perhaps when William Buckley's "Firing Line" was replaced by "The Rush Limbaugh Show," and continuing with the impeachment of Bill Clinton. A defining moment came when the Republicans nominated George W. Bush, and it dawned on me that many of the Republicans who had professed to be upset that Clinton would look the American people in the eye and lie to them had in fact been lying about their opinion of lying. I now thing that the conservative movement is most accurately viewed as a form of pathology rather than a group of people animated by a political philosophy that is worth taking seriously.

I started discussing politics on line in the mid 1980's on USENET, back in the days when only a limited number of people could get access to the internet, and I wasn't one of them. I initially started reading Obsidian Wings because of Hilzoy, who may be the best blogger I have ever read. I still drop by because even without Hilzoy, the level of discussion on this site is quite good.

Ugh :

> Clear Lake ?

yes. For many years my extended family has always had one or another lakeshore place. I grew up in Mason City, but weekends at my grandfather's place on the north shore were one of the several paradises that composed my incredibly secure and fortunate childhood. After I went to the Army my parents moved to the south shore near the island, and I loved that place too.

Wow, what a great idea!!

Coming so late to the thread, I'm probably about to commit a lot of me-tooism.

I don't remember when I came to ObWi, but whenever it was, it was because the pre-Atlantic Sully linked to something Hilzoy posted. Don't remember what, but I remember being overwhelmed by her logic and obvious commitment.

I'm slightly pre-boomer (June 1945), and until today I thought I was the exception in the ObWi world. I guess my assumption was that blogworld was a young person's space into which I was intruding. At least here, based on the posts above, it isn't necessarily true.

Born and mostly brought up in and around Boston. Brookline HS and Boston U. My dad, who stayed in the reserves after WW2, was called up for Korea. Since he was using his pre-war Harvard degree driving a furniture truck, he decided to stay in the service, so in the 1950s as a kid spent three years each in Germany and in Aberdeen, MD. Was too young to realize it at the time, but went to very segregated schools in MD, even though most of the kids were Army dependents and the town was receiving federal re-imbursement.

Apparently I was always a process liberal. I remember being upset, at the Saturday morning matinee westerns, when the bad guy got shot instead of being captured and standing trial. As I've said before, the last Republicans I voted for were Frank Sargent for MA governor and Ed Brooke for senate in the early 70s. By today's standards, both would be to the left of Bernie Sanders and waaaayyyyyy to the left of Obama, who I supported enthusiastically. I think today's GOBP is scary and delusional and laughable and all the other things we call it, and I wish it were a real opposition party.

In the 5th grade in MD, I took a form the teacher handed out and checked that I wanted to play trumpet. I didn't know why then and don't now. But it led to some success in HS (band, orchestra, marching band, all-state, youth symphony) and majoring in music in college. Unfortunately it came too easily to me, so while my freshman-year standmate practiced his chops off and ended up just retiring from the Boston Symphony, I glided through, spent more semesters on academic probation than I can remember, and eventually got my degree after five calendar years (including two summers). Married my first wife, a college classmate and each other's first sexual partners, in 1969, divorced in 2.5 years, no kids, no harm, no foul.

In the summer of '68, when I was no longer a full-time student, received my greetings from the president. My dad used a connection to get me an illegal post-dated enlistment in the reserves, in a unit with many members of Boston pro sports teams. Served my six years of weekends and summers, got out in '74. Kept waiting for the FBI to show up at my door and take me back to the army for a year in 'nam, but I guess they're not going to bother.

I've been in all kinds of businesses, but spent almost 20 years (mid-70s to mid-90's) doing classical and public radio in Boston. I expect if I used my real name, some of you would remember it.

I have been very involved with both concert and marching bands, largely in support of my daughter, who grew up in a really good suburban system and then went to UMass and played in the remarkable marching band there. I have hosted, served on the board and written program notes for bands for decades. Thus my screen name: when my daughter first got us on AOL in the mid-90s, all the variants of JP Sousa I could think of were taken, so I went to the next best things.

Married to my current wife 33 years in August; she is a trained concert and operatic soprano who never had a career for various reasons having mostly to do with disability. One child, aforementioned daughter, 29, lives in DC area with her new husband (last October); they both work for major media (not MSM) companies. She reads here but hasn't posted that I remember, is a semi-regular commenter over at TNC.

In '96, after 2+ years without a full-time job, I went to work for a major financial services company, first in Boston and since 2001 in RI. It is not one of the big bad companies that nearly croaked us all; indeed I hate Goldman, Chase and that crowd probably more than most of you do.

I expect not many will have read all the way to the bottom, especially as I am so late to the thread. Thanx for the invitation.

Funny, the pseud made me assume, with a fair level of certainty, that you were Jewish.

Yeah, exactly. And coincidentally I've had people mistake me for Jewish on a pretty regular basis in real life as well. My last name isn't "typically" Jewish but in my experience most of the people by that name (in the US at least) are, in fact, Jewish. And then there was the Jewish co-worker many years ago who told me "Well, you have brown hair and brown eyes and you worry a lot, so I just figured...."

I could easily switch to a moniker that would avoid this complication (Sourpuss? Crankypants? Grumpy McGrumpington?), but having established something of an "identity" over the years, that raises its own issues. It's a tough one.

I've read ObWi for years and comment now and then. (I think there are quite a few like me, so all you regulars actually are performing before a pretty big audience.)

I'm a semi-retired physician who does pediatric critical care medicine (aka pediatric intensive care). I spent a couple of decades as a professor of pediatrics and researcher in molecular cell biology at a big medical center -- wrote the usual papers, book chapters, and did all the other usual stuff. Now I live in Santa Fe, NM, and write medical books for general readers.

I'm pretty far Leftie (red diaper baby, actually) by nature but I really like ObWi for the intelligent diversity of opinions. I think what first caught my eye was the sig line -- "this is the voice of moderation . . "

efgoldman :

> concert bands

One of the finest experiences a person can have is to play in a serious band and to perform the First Suite in Eb by Gustav Holst.

I was born in the suburbs outside DC, till my parents moved us up to a subdivision surrounded by farms for five years in PA, then back down further out from DC, though I think the DC/MD/Northern VA sprawl has reached that far now. I've been on the internet since the late 90s, back when 14.4 modems were top of the line, and may be the most sterotypical nerd around here.
Went to college once, for "computers or something", which didn't really motivate me, worked crappy retail jobs for a couple years, decided it sucked, and finished my Associate's at community college over several years part-time and working. Then moved down to GA, closer to my wife's family, and am just finishing my civil engineering degree at Georgia Tech, only about a decade later than I could have.
Some degree of politics has always floated in the background of my life, if for no other reason than the outrage of Moral Guardians every so often at me, my friends, our hobbies, our music, our books, or the like. But after that came the internet, and plenty of attempts at Stupid Internet Laws, including the DMCA, which both parties had plenty of blame for. I went through the distressingly common Heinlein inspired quasi-libretarian phase, but came out of it due in part to the way it ignores other power besides government.
I forget when I first came here, but it was a long time back, as a lurker. edward_ was around, I remember when Andy first started posting, and Katherine's series on the evils of torture done in our name. That last was probably it, and her posts, and hilzoy's, and the level of discourse (full sentences alone are startlingly rare on the internet) kept me around, posting very infrequently. More often than not arguing with von or Sebastian or the conservative commentators, but.
I've been trying over the past few years to be deliberately idealistic, even if it makes me sound naive. Partly because cynicism leads to defeating any chance of improving things, and partly because the Bush administration taught me I was an idealist, by how I angry I got at their casual trampling of truth, justice, and the American Way. And because lots of our biggest problems have happened or gone from little to huge because we've thought small, and said we can't afford it, or can't do that right now, or similar excuses.

Oh what a good idea, Jacob. I hate writing these things but I like reading them, so OK.

I'm another San Francisco area techie type, having finally got sick of New York at the end of 2002. (I still feel pretty attached to NYC but it just wasn't my pace, and after the disaster it was literally making me sick, and it's just so damn beautiful around here.) I'm from a family of Midwestern itinerant actors, so I have a really inconsistent accent. I write obscure Internet-related software, and I'm also an RN, although I haven't practiced for a few years. I write and draw comics when I can, but I'm really unproductive. Politically I'm an impractical mash-up of green socialist, anarcho-Quaker and general mystical crank, although I am running a very small business now so I guess I should be getting some Republican credentials any day now.

I've been hanging around here since shortly before or after the start of the Iraq war; it felt really necessary to hear from people in other places who were paying attention to things, because the Bay Area can really be a weird bubble. I still tend to think of this as Hilzoy's and Andy Olmsted's place, no offense to anyone else. Eric, it's weird to think I'm a year older than you-- even though lots of my friends are having babies now, somehow I always feel like anyone who has a blog and writes well is automatically more of a grown-up than me. I am raising a giant puppy at least, but will refrain from posting 10,000 cute dog pictures.

I don't comment so much anywhere these days, although I do talk some at Balloon Juice where my potty mouth and inability to formulate a coherent argument are less of a problem. I originally started hanging out there more because B**** O*** Bill was driving me nuts here; of course he moved over there right away, so that'll teach me. (BTW, I think I was posting here under my real name at first; it's easy to find on my website if anyone cares. This is a pen name I use for comics.)

Thank you all for making this a good place.

I'm another Iowan on this thread: Ames. Iowa was a wonderful place to grow up, very "Our Town"-ish.

I'm a 40ish high school math teacher who teaches in the District of Columbia Public School system.

I've probably become more liberal over the years, especially on stuff such as torture, Gitmo, and other things that my country appears to have decided to do.

I grew up in New Jersey, went to a small quaker college (Haverford College) and then moved to Washington DC in 1994 and have been here ever since.

I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I first linked here because there was a link here from a Bablyon 5 site talking about Andy (before he passed away).

I'm mostly a lurker, but will comment occasionally, especially on education issues.

I think what first caught my eye was the sig line -- "this is the voice of moderation . . "

Kitty with a rifle is what did it for me.

Kitty with a rifle is what did it for me.

Yeah, same here. I guess that answers the "Why ObWi?" question pretty handily: Because the force of the Kitteh compels me.


Hey, I went to Haverford, too -- class of '74.

I was born in 1969 in Painesville, OH. Raised an Army Brat, I lived in Massachusetts, Virginia, Arizona, Germany and Missouri all before the age of 12. I also spent a lot of time without my dad at home, as he was deployed to Vietnam for part of each year from 1967 to 1974.

When my parents split up in 1981, my mother, sister and I moved back to Northeast Ohio, where, aside from living and working in Northern Virginia and Washington, DC from 2000-2007, I have lived ever since. I live in Cleveland Heights, a "streetcar suburb" of Cleveland, which afford me the wonderful ability to bike downtown to work.

I've been married for 19 years as of this month. We have no kids, but four cats ranging in age from 10 to 18. I'm an avid collector of Star Wars memorabilia, and I play bass and guitar in a cover band. Over the years, I've been in several original bands in various roles, and have released a number of CDs.

In my day to day life I work as a marketing writer for this place. I'm a vegetarian (well, a pescatarian, anyway), and over the years I've become increasingly liberal, probably 180 degrees from what I was 20 years ago.

Alpha Sigs & MacGuffin (1501)


Did you edit a good book on Defense by Mike Lawrence?

Yes. At least I think it's good. It's called Dynamic Defense. Lawrence has always been angry, or maybe only disgruntled, that my name on the cover is clearer than his. I also edited a couple of books by Kit Woolsey: Partnership Defense at Bridge and Bridge: Matchpoints.

How all that happened has to do with the publisher being a friend, and various financial situations.

I've used much of my personal background and formative experiences to 'splain how I get to think the way I do, so some here may recall some of that.

Born in what some call the worst year of the depression, I grew up outside Atlanta in an area that seemed quite rural at the time. Initial college years at Georgia Tech w/o getting a degree, followed by an Army stint at Fort Bragg, NC that included some interesting preparations for deployment during the 'Cuban missile crisis'.

Then back to a career managing operations and software development in financial institutions, a period as a regulatory policy analyst with a federal financial institutions regulator, followed by more than a dozen years as a senior executive in a non-enforcement bureau of the Treasury Department.

Along the way, I met and married my spouse, who emigrated from South American and became an American citizen. Married for 44 years, we have 3 children and 7 grandchildren who are spread out across this country between Virginia , in the east, and Utah and Arizona, in the west.

While all this was going on, I managed to complete requirements for an AB (Applied Statistics) and an MS (Accounting) in the evenings.

I enjoy participating at ObWi from time to time and I frequently have to take my punishment with a smile.

I am happy, at this stage in my life, to be in relative control of daily events as they affect me and my family.

I like to read, and one of my favorites that relates to interactions at this site, is Steven Pinker's chapter on Politics in 'The Blank Slate'.

Kit Woolsey: Partnership Defense at Bridge

That's one of my favorite bridge books (among those not written by SJ Simon). Is Yomtov your real name? I always assumed it was a nom-de-internet for something like "Holliday".

"...I could easily switch to a moniker that would avoid this complication (Sourpuss? Crankypants? Grumpy McGrumpington?), but having established something of an "identity" over the years, that raises its own issues."

Yes, we would all just assume that you were actually Senator John McCain.

Nice bass, Phil -- I play a Fender too. 8^)

Mike Schilling,

Yes. It's really my name. Glad you like the book. I had almost nothing to do with the technical content, BTW. I think maybe one or two of my suggestions at most were adopted. Most of what I did was work on the explanations, wording, etc.

Another internet tradition that I had totally missed out on, well, I am just your basic lurker who occasionally feels compelled to make a comment or two. With regard to the folks above from the bay area, I did live for a year in Oakland just a block off Telegraph Ave. and the bay area is still one of my favorite places to visit. Now I live further to the north, well into Ecotopia.

I only go to a few blogs and came to ObWi fairly late but in time to be entranced by Hilzoy’s formidable intellect. I seem to remember being very impressed when JD began to make regular forays into the comments and I still think that “what Russell said” should become an internet catch phrase. I do appreciate the kitty but it does not seem like she has too much to do here, however, unmoderated comments will inevitably become a mess. I visited DKos long before it was the Great Orange Satan and followed Billmon when he set up the Whiskey Bar and the comment section there got so full of ad hom and trollishness that he felt obliged to eliminate it before he eventually burned out. Nowadays the comments at DKos, even with self-moderation, are often not worth the bother.

ObWi is an exception, the posts and commentary are high quality and I would hope that is not simply due to confirmation bias. I do really appreciate the conservative commenters with whom I almost always disagree (case in point: McTex concerning the ‘mosque at Ground Zero’, I mean, really?) but, nonetheless, I commend them for contributing, it definitely adds to the mix.


I think your tone is great. I like British coverage of the US, whether BBC or Economist or some link to the Sun or Guardian. It seems far less hampered by partisanship, or is at least a different flavor of it. Seeing your observations is like that.

I think I see Seattle far better than a native: they lose the wonder of the natural gifts, and are used to the problems that should be addressed diferently. I think I see both clearer (or at least from a new perspective). I love it here, and simply cannot believe I see Eagles on my commute. So I think I understand a little how you feel.

For the rest of you, the Pacific Northwest is terrible, rains all the time, and don't even come to visit, let alone stay here.

"For the rest of you, the Pacific Northwest is terrible, rains all the time, and don't even come to visit, let alone stay here."

They keep saying this, but the week and a bit I spent there visiting a friend a couple years ago were sunny and nice the entire time.

Lots more me-too-ism this late in the day:

Like Phil, I was born in northeastern Ohio (Ashtabula) in 1950. Unlike Phil, I spent my entire childhood there. My mom and two of my siblings and their families are still there, so I visit often.

Like Uncle Kvetch and Eric, I am half Italian; my dad's parents immigrated 100+ years ago. My mom came from rural Baptist "old American" stock, and I loved visiting the farm country where my grandma lived her whole life. My life was deeply shaped by the fact that my parents, and my early worlds, were so different.

Like GoodOleBoy, I've often told bits of my background in ObWi threads. Since I'm by no means well-informed about politics or economics, I tend to comment only when my own experiences or feelings seem (to me at least) to inform what I want to say.

I have a Ph.D. in English, but like many ObWi-ers I make my living doing technical work, mostly for a company that researches and sells cost-of-living data for cities all over the world. I do some programming, some technical writing and editing, and some bridge-building between the technical people and everyone else. I have also taught, most recently as a sabbatical replacement in a linguistics department. If there were any jobs in that field, I might have chucked everything and gone after another Ph.D. In the real world, however….

Like Jes, Uncle Kvetch, and Sebastian, I'm gay, a possibility that didn't even come onto my radar screen til college. Before it all became clear to me I had gotten deeply involved with a man with whom I eventually had 2 kids. Then we got married so we could move to Maine. (Long story.) Then we got divorced. The kids are grown up -- one has been teaching English in China for two years and one is out of college and looking for a job. (Not in Maine, if she has her way.)

I go to Cambridge often for work, I visit Ohio regularly, I travel a lot for work and play (the UK, Brussels, and China in the past two years; many trips to Ireland when I was younger). I consider Maine to be my home, but I'm a little at loose ends here these days. Since I'm single and can work anywhere there's internet access, I'm free to do all the wandering I want, but there's going to come a time when I want to be more settled. Where that will be is an open question.

Despite the fact that I make my living at the computer, I'm not apt to leap at the next new thing, so I'm not like those ObWi-ers who started on Usenet a gazillion years ago. I got hooked on blogs when I stumbled on Andrew Sullivan's commentary about Terry Schaivo. I probably came here from a link at the Daily Dish, though I don't remember for sure. I do recall that it was when Andrew Olmsted died, and the primaries were under way, and I was hooked.

Sometimes I wonder why I'm still here, since before blogs existed I wasn't particularly interested in politics. Mostly it's because of things people have already mentioned: smart, well-informed people engaging in reasonably (especially by internet standards) civil conversation. I learn a lot. I'm fascinated by the medium itself, by the way conversations wander (often into the "meta" realm), and especially by the strange pseudo-personal-ness of commenting. I like and dislike people ("people"?) here just as heartily as in the meat world. Tony P. has reminded us more than once that we don't necessarily know who's behind the handle, but our ObWi Boston dinners suggest that people and "people" match up pretty well. This thread is a nice expansion of that notion.

Seb: I was allowed to check out the maximum limit each time (20 books, which were usually read before the return 3 days later).

Wow, our library's limit was 4. No fair!!


Uncle Kvetch: I've had people mistake me for Jewish on a pretty regular basis in real life as well. My last name isn't "typically" Jewish but in my experience most of the people by that name (in the US at least) are, in fact, Jewish.

My mother's maiden name was Rose. (The aforesaid rural Baptists....) Her brother, my uncle, was called "The Cleveland Jew" when he was in the military, because a lot of people knew "Rose" only as a Jewish name. Meanwhile, there were lots of Italians in my home town named "Rose" (I assume from "Rossi" or something like that).

From another angle: I didn't know anyone who was Jewish til college. When I went home with Jewish friends, I concluded very quickly that Jewish mothers were very like Italian grandmothers.

Especially about food. ;)

I am a bit late to this game. I didn't tune in until late afternoon, too late to be at the start of the thread. I read the others, and kept a running list of points to make about myself.
1- I was directed here by Andrew Sullivan. Whatever his flaws, his staff reads a lot of stuff, and will point you in some good directions.
2- I write my own blog... http://chamblee54.wordpress.com. This blog is usually written in third person, and does not use the word "I". Chamblee54 features multi colored fonts, and lots of pictures. The pictures often have nothing to do with the text. The slogan is pretty pictures and ugly opinions.
The slogan used to be a quote by Hunter S. Thompson, "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro". I used this for a while until someone pointed out that I was misspelling weird. I found this rather nit picky...I was quoting Hunter S. Thompson about weird. However , I learned my lesson...you can't have weird without we.
3-I come to ObWi looking for ideas to write about. I always give credit. ObWi is full of links to good places.
4- Chamblee54 is a pseudonym, which is different from anonymous. I was born in 1954, and live just outside Chamblee, GA. This is off Peachtree Road, 2 miles outside the Atlanta city limits. If you look at the pictures on my bio page, you get more clues to my "real" name. If you see me on facebook, you see this drivers license identity.
5- I am a native Georgian. My mother grew up in Atlanta, my father was from North Carolina. Both families have been in the United States long enough to lose all claim to ethnic identity. I am Caucasian, single, college educated, and looking for a job.
6- I started Chamblee54 in 2005. It was on blogspot at first, then something happened and I could not access google. By this time I was posting lots of photo shopped pictures, and writing in fonts other than black. In February of 2008 I moved to wordpress, which is a superior product to blogspot/google. I toy with the idea of getting my own domain, but am too slack to make much progress in that direction.
7- I recycle material shamelessly. This will probably be a post at chamblee54. I haven't decided what pictures to put up with it, but it will have nothing to do with me.
8- One of my hobbies is photo editing, using an open source program called GIMP. I have three main sources...my own photographs, The Georgia State University Library (http://www.library.gsu.edu/spcoll/pages/area.asp?ldID=105&guideID=552) and The Library of Congress ( http://loc.gov/pictures/). If I live to be 100, and work full time at photo doobering, I could not exhaust these resources.
9- Politically I am skeptical of all moving lips. My religion is none of your business. The Wars in Babylon and Stan land are total disasters. These Wars are part of a triple whammy...the other parts are the banking meltdown, and the deepwater horizon...from which America may never fully recover.
10- I am a retired drunk. I decided in 1988 that was the easiest way to do things. That just might be the reason I am alive today. I detoxed from reefer in 2005, and don't miss it that much. I still resent the laws against that benign weed, and consider the war on drugs except alcohol to be one of the core problems with America today. As for pills and powders, I never did develop a taste for them. This is probably due as much to social retardation and cheapness as virtue, but it has the same effect.
11- It was once said that if a man is not liberal when he is twenty he does not have a heart, and if he is not conservative by forty then he does not have a brain. That was said a while back, before the meanings of the L and C words got to be so distorted. When you have people claiming to be small government conservatives, but who want to keep 300k troops eight time zones away ( and pay for it with tax cuts), you know that something is seriously askew. Maybe I don't have a brain or a heart, but I do have a gut. ( When a skinny man gains weight in mid life, that is where the pounds go). I hear things from politicians of all labels, and believe a tiny percentage. ( When Barry Goldwater ran for POTUS, the unofficial slogan was "In your guts, you know he's nuts". For the Richard Nixon re election, it was " Don't change dicks in the middle of a screw.")

I'm an historian with an interest in photography, poetry and politics. I've lived on both coasts and in the middle, not to mention substantial time entirely off the continent. Theologically agnostic, but the God I'm agnostic about is Jewish, and philosophically pragmatic.

My first political memory was repeating something bad about Nixon that my father had said to my mother. I didn't entirely understand it, but it seemed like a grown-up thing to say.


It is entirely true. You were probably told you were in the PACNORWEST, but in fact it was Acapulco. Alcohol can blur things. Trust me, don't move here: we are full, and it rains constantly, except when it snows.

Trust me, don't move here: we are full, and it rains constantly, except when it snows.

I'm with Nate. I had two stints of hiking in the Olympic Mountains and along ONP's coastal strip many years ago, plus a week's visit to Seattle in Feb. 1985. The hiking trips were full of sunshine. Even in February I didn't see much rain. I considered the Olympic coast to be, without contest, the most beautiful place I had ever seen, and for a long time I (we) meant to move there.

When I first came to Maine it felt similar: mountains and breathtakingly beautiful coastal landscapes and evergreen trees flowing down the hillsides. But Maine was the miniature version. The mountains weren't as high, the evergreen trees weren't as tall....

Settling here took the edge off my yearning to move west of Seattle (Forks? Port Angeles?), but hearing jrudkis "protest too much" is making me think I'm overdue for another trip. And who knows what could happen then!

Wow, am I late to this party! Great idea, Jacob.

Most of us have probably gleaned a reasonable amount of detail about the "real" lives of our fellow commenters over the years, but it's nice to have this compendium, isn't it?

My background is straightforwrd: I was born in Greece; my parents immigrated to the US when I was nine. I went to prep school on a scholarship, then to MIT for a BS/MS in mechanical engineering. Instead of doing a PhD, I went to work for a Boston high tech company. In the 7 years I worked there, I had lots of contact with Japan. For the next 7 years, I worked for the old DEC just outside Boston; my foreign exposure was to Germany during that stint. For the past 16 years, I have lived in Watertown, which is next door to (and older than!) Cambridge, and been self-employed. To be fair, the difference between self-employment and unemployment is hard to discern at the moment. Anybody need a machine designed?

There's a series of turning points embedded in the above. Had my parents not moved to the US, partly to give my brother and me a better shot at higher education, would I now be a tenured professor at the National Technical University in Athens, like my cousin?

Had my junior-high principal not urged me to apply to Andover (of which I had never heard), would I now be less of a misfit -- too snobby to be a good Greek, too Greek to be a proper snob?

Had I listened to my high-school college counselor and not turned down Harvard in favor of MIT, would I now be a wealthy investment banker who tinkers with machines for fun, instead of a mechanical engineer looking for work to do who kills time by arguing about high finance on the internet?

Had I listened to my master's thesis advisor and pursued a PhD, would I now be a twice-divorced multimillionaire Silicon Valley entrepreneur, instead of a never-married journeyman engineer who "owns his own job"?

Who the hell knows? All I know is that I never had a coherent plan for my life. If I ever had an explicit ambition, it was to be precocious. Too late for that now:)

Oh, and had Andrew Sullivan not linked to Hilzoy back when I was reading him, would I ever have met any of you people? I like to think so, because it would be reassuring to believe that some good things were just meant to be.


Trust me, don't move here: we are full, and it rains constantly, except when it snows.

This just sounds so much like me saying: The best thing that has happened to California in my lifetime was having an earthquake during a World Series game here. There's just too many people here already -- that probably convinced a few to stay away. One can hope. (And never, ever, point out that the biggest earthquake in the history of the US was centered in New Madrid, Missouri!)

It does to rain here all the time. I like the rain but to other people it can get depressing or annoying. We usually have a week of sun in the mid winter and a couple of weeks in the summer. It canmake memories confusing; I can't use clothing as a way of reminding myself what time of year it was when something happened.

I'm hoping that our weeks of sun are nearly over because to me over seventy is too frickin' hot.

I grew up in the East coast and have memories of the drama of the eyepopping fall color. I spent many years in Iowa, a state which I believe is beautiful especially when seen from a bike, and I have spent lots and lots of vacatinos camping all over the West. I really could not say tht one region is more beautifl than another. All I know is the climate here--the interminable overcast days and moderately cool temperatures--suits me.

First let me say to Janie and Uncle K, I'm 100% Jewish, and my paternal grandmother's name was Rose, and that is also my daughter's middle name. Yes, Italians are the same as Jews, only with better food.

Neither my mother nor her sister went to college and nobody in my father's family had gone to college before him. My father's father got up at 4 AM every day for forty years to drive a bakery truck in the Bronx, mostly so that my father could be the first in his family to attend college.

I don't know exactly where HE got it, but I inherited my father's perfectionism. (From my Mom I got my penchant for worrying) It's one of my defining (and most frustrating) qualities. I also followed in my father's footsteps by attending Cornell with the intention of becoming a veterinarian (we both have a deep-seated love of animals). Also like him, I changed my mind in the middle. Unlike him, however, I didn't go on to study business. I studied something a lot more practical: philosophy. So naturally I ended up in the insurance business ;) That was of course after I figured out that I'd never be a professional soccer player.

I'm very thankful that I at least followed him to Cornell, because that is where I met my lovely wife of about fourteen years. There are not many places that a nice Jewish boy from suburban New York could meet the daughter of an oil man who grew up in Singapore, Bangkok, Tokyo and Houston. Ain't life wondrous?

Anyway, I've been fortunate to be successful enough to own a home in Connecticut, not far from New York City, where my wife and I live with an eight year old daughter and four year old son.

We enjoy trips to visit my parents in Florida, and my wife's folks in Texas (divorced and re-married Dad) and Cape Cod (divorced and re-married Mom), as well as all the usual suburban rituals of dance classes, piano lessons, soccer practice etc.

I don't remember how I first came to ObWi, but one taste of Hilzoy's formidable intellect, and I was hooked. And the other front-pagers were impressive as well, including those that are currently carrying the torch. I am a pretty dyed-in-the-wool liberal so I don't know how much weight this comment will carry with them, but: I find that the conservative arguments on this site are more cogent than almost any I've found on the intertubes, including most of the leading conservative ones. And no blog I read keeps the conversation as smart, civil and informed as this one, and for that I'm very grateful, even though I don't comment very often.

And can I just say to those like Eric and Brett who've posted the pics of the kids, those are some darn cuties - I could look at those all day.

I enjoy participating at ObWi from time to time and I frequently have to take my punishment with a smile.

You, along with the rest of the conservative minority here, wear it well.

Many thanks for putting up with the heat.

Ex SDS'er, semi-hippie. Left and joined the Wobblies when PL ruined the student left.
Never voted for a Republican in my life. Looks as if I never shall.
Laughed at Ronald Reagan. Look what that got us.
As a hard bid public works building construction PM, I am surrounded by wingnut "self-made men" sucking off the public teat. This I find amusing.
I visit IOZ to get some perspective.
I like Kunstler, but his rants against hispanics never fail to anger me.
Obiwings gives me a chance to try and tone it down. Results are spotty to date.
Thullen rocks.
I live in the 48th Soviet of Washington, a state with a regressive tax system that Haley Barbour would love.
Having grown up next to a public golf course, I have the golf bug. There is no known cure.

Boy, I'm really late to this one...

I remember when Jorn Barger coined the term "weblog" to describe his new project

I was going to say that 'Legal Fiction' and 'Total Information Awareness' were my first blogs, but I had forgotten about 'Robot Wisdom Weblog'! Doesn't seem very long ago...if you don't measure time in WORD COUNT.

I grew up in the Chicago burbs. Utterly addicted to music and playing instruments (esp. piano) from a very young age. Studied music seriously and intently and formally until sometime in my early 20s, at which time 'formally' dropped from the list. Played every kind of music I knew of - hard country, Afro-cuban, funk, Renaissance-Baroque, 20th cent. 'classical', etc. Figured I ought to be in NYC, and moved there; joined a band within the nascent 'New Wave' scene (this was around '78), struggled to make what was then called an 'album' in what was then a very expensive and rare place called a 'recording studio'; went homeless-broke (twice). Found other ways to lose money in the recording business (as an owner) in the coming years.

Decided I had to find a way to support my music habit. For some ridiculous reason, decided that the radio business would be my 'stable career'. I loved (and still love) the medium of radio/audio, but somehow didn't realize that American commercial radio was the natural enemy of the musician, esp. as it devolved in the 80s-90s. So, of course, I ended up doing fairly well in it, playing music I mostly despised - for 15 years. Eventually worked in Chicago, NYC, on a network, and in Japan. Segued into freelance voice work, and writing scores for video and film, video editing, etc. and did that for another 15 years. It was great while it lasted - it was indeed the perfect set of jobs to support my music (and other interesting things) habit.

Everything fell apart a few years ago. Video business, scoring business, voice business - even my fallback, radio - all changed so dramatically that they weren't viable anymore, at least for me. You can still DO all of them, but you probably won't get paid. Music and film and writing and information supposedly 'want to be free', but if food and shelter also want it, they don't seem to want it enough.

Now I write music and teach piano and computer music. I'm working on a big suite for concert band at the moment, and having fun doing it. Lots of people with Band backgrounds here, I notice! I've lived in just about every part of the US (except for the Pacific NW!), but have been back in the Midwest for several years. We recently moved from my beloved Chicago, and now live in an exotic place called Indiana.

As aforementioned, I followed Publius and Eric here. It had been stimulating for me to argue with lawyers and other well educated people - it forced me tighten my arguments and writing style (not nearly enough, but some!). Don't comment here as much as I used to, but still enjoy lurking - ObWi is sort of a home. Politically, I'm an anti-ideologue, or I guess you could call me a particular kind of 'materialist': taking an ideology (any) quite literally is, by definition, problematic. The current GOP is a case study of that phenom., but the conventional Liberalism of the '60s had aspects of it as well. I'd probably be called a social democrat, for lack of a better term, and one with a very strong civil libertarian core. Aging has not made me more conservative because, like most Americans, I always was conservative - not to say 'authoritarian' - about some things. I try to age gracefully, and am rather depressed at the spectacle of my country resolutely, cock-assuredly, choosing to not do that.

I was lucky enough to meet and marry a wonderful woman (also from S.America, McK) a few years ago - second marriage was the charm. Day to day happiness makes everything else much easier to bear, and the good things sweeter - a true cliche, so to speak.

I enjoyed reading these!

I've been reading ObWi for years, but I only occasionally delurk and post a comment. I suppose this is as good a time as any.

I first found ObWi just after Hilzoy started, I think. I'd encountered Sebastian in the comments elsewhere (Drum's, iirc) and eventually decided to track him to his home and see just what sort of place produced an actual reasonable conservative. Like somebody above said, I fell in love with Hilzoy's beautiful brain, plus the unusually high level of commentary here, both in quality and tone.

I'm a Navy/NSA brat, born in 1973, spent the next 18 years moving back and forth from the Maryland suburbs to little semi-secret bases in Europe. Majored in Anthropology in college, only to discover upon graduation that familiarity with emic/etic perspectives and hominid anatomy weren't actually useful skills (nor were joint-rolling and Sega Hockey, unfortunately). Who knew? I currently work as a lab technician at the National Cancer Institute in Frederick, MD.

I grew up in a pretty conservative family (Military + Methodist = Republican). I somehow ended up an athiestic liberal, pretty much center-left like the majority of commenters seem to be. I'm a Democrat, but I'm not entirely happy about it.

This is great, but it still hasn't answered my two most burning questions about ObWi: how Jesurgislac and Slartibartfast came up with their handles.

Little help?

Uncle Kvetch, if the question is just "huh?" I don't recall how I deciphered Jes's handle but she didn't have to chuck a sword at me.

As for Slarti, see Douglas Adams (the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy).

Now, how they happened to choose these handles, that I cannot answer.

Lewis C: Fellow philosophy major. And thanks for the kind words.

Oh jeez...I read The Hitchhiker's Guide many years ago...too many years, obviously, but that's no excuse.

And a little searching just now solved the mystery of Jes's handle, except for the part where she refers to it as a Monty Python joke...I know my Python but I'm not sure what she's referring to...

Feeling rather dense here...

I know I'm late--is there any gin left?

Born in the Bay Area (Walnut Creek), where my dad taught English in the high school in Pleasant Hill. Raised in east central Illinois, where we moved after a brief but snowy interval in the Boston suburbs.

Washed out of grad school in Philadelphia(English--intellectually I was in over my head, which is not a situation to which I respond well; emotionally I was, shall we say, extremely challenged by classroom teaching. Or maybe it was just freshman comp, but why take a chance?). Working now in the university libraries and serving as a non-commissioned officer in the labor movement (shop steward, local exec board member. I just helped negotiate a contract that, in these economic times, I find deeply embarrassing. But I'm keeping the money). I got into politics through the union, then into and out of DSA. I'm finding organized politics more frustrating than I can stand these days, so I'm thinking of exploring other avenues for compulsive do-gooding. Or maybe just learning to play the cello.

I'm married (late in life, but well worth the wait), with two cats and aspirations to a dog when our lifestyle becomes suitable. Brett is one cancer ahead of me; I had a melanoma removed almost two years ago, and I just had a year-long course of interferon infusions/injections that left me with mild flu-like symptoms. But that's over, and so far so good.

I came here for hilzoy and stayed for, well, everyone else. I had the usual "I'm not worthy" reaction to hilzoy's posts, and the style here is not a good fit for my usual "empty snark in 25 words or less" commenting style, and anyway most of what I have to say gets said more clearly and elegantly by one of youse before I show up. But I like it here.

If anyone is interested in a Philadelphia-area meetup, I'd be happy to make the arrangements.

John Spragge, Canadian systems analyst, pilot, peacemaker, mariner...

I work on database retrieval and internet access, and wrote one of the early (1993) web servers driven by a database and scripting. I do peace work and First Nations justice advocacy through Christian Peacemaker Teams. My reasons include family history: my great(x3) uncle singed the Manitoulin Island treaty on behalf of the Crown, so the Canadians who talk about reneging on the treaties propose to dishonour my name. Not the most important of the reasons I work for justice, but a reason none the less.

I comment here, when I can get the security wall to forgive me for joining the great Facebook unplug of 2010, because I like the people here and I believe I sometimes have something to say.

Oh, and if you want to know something particular about my writing: I use e-prime, the form of English that eliminates the use of the verb to "be".

@ jonnybutter
I'm working on a big suite for concert band at the moment, and having fun doing it.

Would you care to say whether it was commissioned, and if so, a hint of by whom?


"Suite for Concert Band". Would you care to say whether it was commissioned....?

Not commissioned, alas. I'd been told repeatedly by colleagues that there is never enough new music for band, so I wrote a movement, which spawned another, which resulted in a plan for a 5 movement suite, very loosely patterned after Bartok's 'Concerto for Orchestra' (i.e. 'Concerto for Band'). It's fun and challenging writing for only instruments which (other than percussion) require the player to breathe. Makes ostinato-writing interesting...

I played in a concert band when I was Jr High School, but didn't have the option in High School, so the only memories which stick out are, a.) playing a lot of 'after beats' (I played horn), and b.) playing the lovely Holst E flat suite. Glad your daughter found the experience compelling. I advise most of my young piano students to play in band if they can. Piano is devastatingly solitary sometimes...

I had no idea that there was as much of a well developed Concert Band literature as there is. Pleasantly surprised.

If anyone is interested in a Philadelphia-area meetup, I'd be happy to make the arrangements.

Totally, and especially if Belgian beer or a reasonable facsimile can be involved. (Though I have to admit that I fear being the immature, relatively unaccomplished doofus of the group in meat-space. Maybe I can manage being the likable-enough and, thereby, tolerable class clown.)

P.S. I vote for Northern Liberties/Fishtown, unless someone wants to hang out in my suburban backyard in Jersey.

When I comment (not so very often), I sign myself "Older". Because I am old . . . old . . . very old. Older than you, and older than you . . . how old, you ask? When I was young, we had to power our cell phones with bicycle generators. (Uphill both ways, of course.)

I think there may be someone else using "Older" for a handle. I'm the one from Oregon. Where it may or may not rain (did you know we have a drought, often a serious one, every summer?)(and our bad winter weather is ice storms, in which you car may become glued to the pavement overnight by ice an inch thick), but the clouds make up for it. Most of the year, night falls an hour or two earlier than the sun actually goes down. It can lead to fatal depression in susceptible individuals.

I find it to be a very congenial climate. We have really cold weather with snow and ice just often enough to remind us of what life is like in other parts of the country, and really hot weather every year, for just long enough to remind us of what life is like in other parts of the country, and the rest of the time it's not bad at all. And the bad weather is what saves us from being California, which would be nice except for all the people.

So, let's see. I am, after several false starts, happily married to a wonderful person who is of course much younger than I. I am sorta semi retired, and have in the past been a musician, a statistician, a mail carrier, a teacher, and several other people, but I forget which ones. I have raised nine children, some of whom are still living.

I was attracted to ObWi by the writings of people most of whom have now left, and of course, by the kitten with the rifle.

I have sometimes regretted that I wasn't an authentic red-diaper baby (my father having left the Party quite a few years before I was born). In my time I have been a Socialist, a Libertarian and an Anarchist. I seem to be a Democrat at the moment.

The way I heard this business of a person who lacks either a heart or a brain does not identify "liberal" or "conservative", but said, "Anyone who is not a RADICAL at twenty". I am definitely less radical than I used to be. I was once a burn-it-down extremist. In my defense, that was when I was nine years old. These days, I have some idea of just how hard it is to make anything better, especially without side-effects that are worse than the problem you have solved.

The kitty with a rifle is definitely what drew me here. I stayed for the posts and comments.

I grew up in Oregon and have pretty much stayed here, except for some time in the Navy. I would definitely be interested in a Pacific Northwest ObWi gathering, and would be willing to travel to Portland, maybe Seattle in a pinch, but I'm lazy, so make it easy for me, people.

I'm a Quaker, I think, except for that tricky believe-in-God part, but I know I want to be counted as at least a friend of Christ, and I have been gathered to the Light a time or two, whatever the experience really means.

I've been married for 26 years (my wife was twice my age when we met, but I am catching up to her), have raised four children, and may yet begin raising a fifth. At fifty, I look back on my life and conclude that I have really gotten everything I could reasonably ask for, except a successful career, and I think I still have a few years left for that.

Interesting to see another Quaker in the mix. I have the impression that a straw poll of ObWi readers would find a larger proportion of us here than in the population overall. What that means I have no idea.

I was borne in the UP of Michigan and was weaned on a diet of pasties and hotdish.

Oh. You probably want more. Read my first book in Elkhart, Indiana. Spent a hellish year of my childhood in Valdosta, Georgia where for all I know they are still reenacting the civil war. Read a great deal of Asimov's various fiction and nonfiction (nearly all of that in physics and chemistry). Was offered a swimming scholarship at a small school with a tiny engineering and physics department, elected instead to lifeguard for beer money at Purdue majoring in physics, changed majors before classes even started to engineering, and wound up a EE.

Nowadays I make my living doing navigation system design and analysis, along with work in various flavors of optimal estimation. I work for a defense contractor and have done that kind of work since 1983. I've done missile defense and aircraft targeting systems; they're interesting to me in completely different ways.

If defense were to shrink to a shadow of its former self, I'd have to regroup and try something else. Fortunately my wife is an insanely competent financial analyst who is better at accounting than most comptrollers (she's held a job of that title for some time, so that's not an idle claim) and if we needed to switch roles for a while, that could be done.

Married once, failed, gave up any hope of the ideal mate, promptly met her and married 5 months later. We've been married for coming up on 17 years, and have two adopted girls.

I read Rand when I was in middle school and high school, and some in college. I don't consider myself an Objectivist, though. National Review was a coffee-table staple in our house. I used to vote exclusively Republican, but lately I can't stomach either party. I'm not nearly as well-read as the average OW reader; I might not even have read as much science fiction as the average OW reader. I have taken an interest in history of late, so I'm always open for a good read in that department.

I water-ski on off-Fridays when I can, and I'm still not bad. I have a friend with a boat and he was given an O'Brien World Team Comp slalom ski that is practically identical to one I skiied on back around 1978. My kids and I do Tae Kwon Do; the 14-year-old gets her black belt this fall and the 9-year-old and I test for red and red senior, respectively, next month. I should make black belt right around when I turn 50.

I've been commenting on OW practically as long as it's been around. I did a brief stint as a front-pager back when I had my own blog (courtesy of Dodd Harris). These days I mostly spectate and swat trolls and spammers, but occasionally allow my goat to be gotten. I used to have a lot more to say than I had interest in what others had to say; now things have balanced out a bit more. I think. More than ever: my name is not important.

I lurk.

Once a year or so, I pen a comment. This is it.

I grew up in one of the arguable centers of the universe, Ann Arbor, although I mostly remember it as a tree-shaded town. The first book I really remember being read to me was the Black Stallion, picked up in the library when it was still a Carnegie library in the basement of the high school.

Since then I have traversed the state in wild and glorious adventures. I aim to be Immanuel Kant, stay at home and be brilliant -- while it worked for him, I am having limited success.

I came to OW drawn I think by references from Moe Lane. I remember Edward, and the shout outs and shout downs with Tacitus. Mostly I fell in love with Hilzoy, and mourned (how I mourned) the death of Andrew Olmsted.

Another one who fell in love with Hilzoy. I started my internet experience with Usenet back in 1993, and couldn't live without it now. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, but with a deep interest in American politics, I came to ObWi looking for the progressives I knew must be out there during the Bush years. I have 5 kids, 22-6 years old, and I work as a technical editor. Mostly, I lurk, but ObWi is always on the checklist.

PS: I also blog occasionally at Newshoggers. I left this out and it's bugging me, because I meant no slight and really like the crew over there.

I'm not nearly as well-read as the average OW reader;

Must be an EE thing.

Oh, typically, I forgot a lot:

I was the fourth of what was to be six children; my mother was Catholic and thought she wanted 20 kids, then tried to slow down and failed because she didn't understand how birth control was supposed to work, and was trying to comply with Catholic guidelines (which basically are ineffective anyway). Somehow, my parents' amazing fecundity (six births in a space of six years and two months, with ineffective attempts at slowing down or stopping during the last three pregnancies) was not passed down to me. If not for their cluelessness, I would not exist.

My brothers and sisters are, variously: two mothers/housewives/waitresses with HS diplomas; a former aspiring rock musician that now owns his own successful business in Denver and plays in whatever band needs him at the time, for grins; a freelance accountant/enterprise software consultant who's working like a madman (also in Denver) to put two kids through Notre Dame; and an SAT/Oracle/unknown-to-me other enterprise software consultant who is, due to the economy, currently a direct employee of a large corporation in Akron while his wife and kids live in Denver.

I'm proud to be a brother to them, and an uncle to their children.

My kids are both adopted from China. The eldest of them has cerebral palsy and an indominatable spirit. For a girl who could not walk until she was 2.5 years old, it's a miracle and tribute to her doggedness and commitment that she's making black belt. The whole martial arts thing was her idea, and she dragged me in after her.

The younger of the two is blessed with a quick mind, an agile body, and flexibility that makes me think she could write her own ticket based on athletics alone, but won't need to. Older child has to work hard at practically everything; younger has it easy. The having-it-easy part carries its own burdens, though, and we have to put the brakes on her periodically, to make sure that she examines the consequences of her actions, and also smells the flowers (in other words: it isn't enough to perceive and observe. You need to appreciate).

It's a privilege to be father to both of them, and to see their lives unfold.

Must be an EE thing.

I didn't say that I don't read. Just that my reading has been more recreational than edifying.

(Though I have to admit that I fear being the immature, relatively unaccomplished doofus of the group in meat-space. Maybe I can manage being the likable-enough and, thereby, tolerable class clown.)

I can do "creepy uncle" or "amiable zany."

P.S. I vote for Northern Liberties/Fishtown, unless someone wants to hang out in my suburban backyard in Jersey.

As someone who sucks at the withered teat of public transportation, I would prefer the Northern Liberties option. I don't know the area well at all, but I still dream about the meatloaf sandwich I had at the Standard Tap, so there's that.

I didn't say that I don't read.

Huh? Neither did I. I just made a very similar comment about not being well-read, which I thought was funny since we're both EE's. Hell, participating on this blog would be impossible for someone who didn't read at all.

...but I still dream about the meatloaf sandwich I had at the Standard Tap, so there's that.

It takes very little force to push me in through the door of the Standard Tap. Pushing me out is another story.

Neither did I.

More to the point, I read a LOT. I just don't hold that the vast number of scifi/fantasy books I have read qualify me as being well-read.

You probably weren't arguing counter to this, either. This is one of my bad habits: arguing when there's no one to argue with.

i'm cleek.

originally from upstate NY (via north-central PA and the NH/ME coast), now in central NC.

this is my first comment on a political blog, after a 10-day fast from all political blogs. today's quick skim of my standard pol-blogs shows that nothing has changed; July's idiots are now August's idiots and Augusts' scandals look a lot like July's scandals. nobody has learned anything, nobody has changed their mind about anything. Obama remains a hero, a failure, and the greatest threat ever to America. the government continues its mission to concentrate wealth in the hands of the wealthy, perhaps hoping to enrich them to sufficient concentration that they will spontaneously being a fusion reaction which will power America into the next century.

i am not optimistic.


"I am your king."
- "Well I didn't vote for you."
"You don't vote for kings."
- "Well how'd you become king then?"
"The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why I am your king."
- "Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony."

Je Surgis Lac (I rise from the lake)

As for why I chose it, well, it seemed like a good idea at the time....


I love you temporarily, cleek.

Je Surgis Lac (I rise from the lake)

OK, got it. FWIW, the character of the Lady of the Lake is far and away the best thing about "Spamalot."

One of the finer scenes of the Grail.

Context is everything.

Je Surgis Lac (I rise from the lake)

Watery tart!!

Moistened bint!

Slarti, thanks for the Grail link; I had never seen it. (Yeah, I know, I know.)

It's an echo (at the very least) of the scene in Man and Superman where Mendoza's bandits sit amidst the picturesque Spanish mountains arguing about politics until the rich Englishman comes along in his motor car.

Always nice to get a laugh in the middle of the work day, not to mention a reminder of Shaw. :)

i've been lurking/learning here since t.schiavo.

enjoyed hilzoy, of course, but i stay for the comments and read almost all of them.

NH seacoast, married 25 years, two grown children. i am undereducated, enjoy science, history and philo. love Sad Bastard music esp. buckner, e.smith, kozelek, i was a college radio dj for way longer than i should have.

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