By any other name…

There have been a number of discussions about the ethics of blogging under a pseudonym, and whether a blogger using a pseudonym was in some way less credible than a blogger who used his or her real name.  It has come to the surface again because of the vindictive outing of an Alaskan blogger by a politician who didn’t like what she had written.  This was particularly ugly, because the only purpose to the outing was to hurt the blogger.  It was a petty and childish action.

I don’t know why this blogger chose a pseudonym, and it doesn’t matter.  It was her decision to make and should have been respected.  The only time the identity of a writer is relevant in evaluating an argument is when the author presents him or herself as an expert.  If the author is not claiming special expertise, then the position the author is taking can and should be evaluated on it’s own merits, not the reputation of the author.

There are many reasons to use a pen-name, or maybe I should say a keyboard-name, some serious, some trivial.  My choice of nom d’blog began as entirely trivial.  I like the name.  I am not especially worried about anonymity, and most of the people that I know regularly read my blog know who I am.  But I do have some non-trivial considerations.  As a teacher I like keeping a certain distance between my teacher hat and my private opinions.  I do not write about my students in an identifiable form, but maintaining a separation makes that even a bit more secure.  I am generally willing to discuss my political positions with students, when it is relevant to the class discussion, or outside of class, but I am not particularly interested in having my students Google my name and come up with everything I have ever posted to drag into class discussions when it isn’t relevant.

I am not easily intimidated, and would not change what I have written if I knew it would have my name attached to it, but I have found some interesting features to pseudonymity.  I use the same name to comment on other blogs, some with much higher traffic than my own, and so have interacted as Shadowcatdancing with a variety of people, and have found them sometimes making assumptions about my age, gender, etc. that have brought home the fact that they must judge me on my words alone, without any of the cues that we use to so conveniently pigeonhole people in face-to-face interactions.  I has been downright educational.  And I don’t want to give that up.  At lest, not yet.

It would not be difficult to track me down, and eventually some student will undoubtedly do so.  When it does I will likely be a little annoyed, but it won’t change what I say, and I won’t start using my “real” name, because, as I said before, I like Shadowcatdancing, and it is as much my name as the one on my birth certificate.



Watching congressional hearings leaves me with a new appreciation of just how intellectually limited some of our elected representatives are.

Funny,  I don’t remember feeling that way when I watched the Watergate hearings.  I grant you I was only in Middle School at the time, but I spent my days that summer glued to the TV, and I have come to the conclusion that there are few Barbara Jordans in the House today.

I couldn’t watch the whole thing.  Being a grown-up this time I had to go to work, but the questions asked of Liddy in the 30 minutes or so I could watch seemed to in many cases miss the point.

One Repesentative used his time to lecture Liddy about how he should give the money back.  Meaning, it seemed, that he thought AIG should give back to the treasury the amount they had given out in bonuses, as if this would make everything alright.  He clearly failed to understand what everybody is pissed about.  Far more than being concerned that taxpayer dollars are going to pay these bonuses, people are pissed at the idea that people who nearly destroyed the company are being rewarded outrageously.  The company returnong money to the government will not satisfy anyone who is outraged by all this.  The people who are pissed, and that appears to be the majority of the population, want the people who got the bonuses to return the money.  It would be nice if they also showed some evidence of understanding why we are so pissed, but that may be asking too much.

Liddy appeared to understand, better than the clueless congressman, but he did not make these bonus deals; he inherited them.  He is not getting paid for his work to save AIG, and said he paid the bonuses because he considered the risk of not paying them too great.  What exactly that risk was was not made clear in the time I could watch, and the few questioners who had their turn did not ask for clarification.  It may have been explored in more detail later, but if it was, it has not been picked up by any of the news shows I have seen.

So far, I am not impressed by Congressional outrage.

I miss Barbara Jordan.

So Go Already!

A spoiled five-year-old gathers up teddy bear and blankie and goes to a parent, who is busy cleaning up the messes the child has made, and says, “If I can’t have all the cookies I want I’m going to run away!”

The parent looks up, says “Good-bye!” and goes back to work.

There is nothing left for the spoiled child but a temper tantrum, “I mean it!  I’m leaving!”

The Randians are engaging in temper tantrums all over the internet.  They have threatened to ‘go John Galt’ and to their great dismay are discovering that the grown-ups are too busy cleaning up their messes to pay attention to them.

Randian philosophy has always been essentially childish, rooted the the five-year-old’s wail of “Mine!” and unwilling to accept adult responsibilites.  It glorifies selfishness and narcisism, cooing “Greed is good,” only slightly less repulsively than Gordon Gecko.  They don’t want to share their toys.

So to all those ‘creative elites’ who are stamping their feet, holding their breaths until they turn blue, and yelling that they really mean it, they are going away, there can be only one response.

Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.