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    Kobe earthquake anniversary

    Posted by Sean at 14:30, January 16th, 2005

    Today, it’s exactly ten years since the Great Hanshin Earthquake, which killed over 6500 people in and around Kobe. Given the recent catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in developing Southeast Asia, it’s sobering to recognize that, even in a country known for its whizbang technology and millennia of dealing with these things, recovery goes in fits and starts. Reason ran a piece a few years after the quake about bureaucratic problems that hampered both immediate rescue and long-term rebuilding, which has an unsettling resonance given the already-emerging charges of incompetence against UN personnel handling disaster aid now.

    There are a few other parallels. Kobe is not considered a hot earthquake zone in Japan. Neither is Niigata, which just got hit with a series of big ones in October. That means that building codes and disaster rehearsals were not up to the same standards as they are here in Tokyo, and not without justification. It just isn’t rational to expend all kinds of time, energy, and money getting ready for something that’s almost certain not to happen.

    That’s not to say that governments should rest on their laurels–the Mainichi published the results of a survey last week that indicated that many local governments don’t feel prepared to deal with disasters. This year saw an unusual series of typhoons with their attendant floods and mudslides, followed by the Niigata earthquake, so the possibilities are very much fresh in the minds of municipal authorities. Many lessons from the Kobe earthquake have also been assimilated and put into practice–the city of Sendai fitted its gas lines with a different shutoff system, and when a 6.9 M quake happened in 2003, it had reason to be grateful. But no matter what the police and fire departments do, people scattered through buildings and streets still have to know how to live through the first strike long enough to be helped. (BTW, if you’re reading this from Japan, do you have everything attended to?)

    Added on 18 January: Thanks to Far Outliers for linking this post. He went to high school in Kobe (which used to have one of the largest communities of foreigners in Japan, I think), and he offers a few interesting slice-of-life details from what he remembers pre-earthquake.

    Okay, last time I linked to something of Joel’s, I changed his religion and made him the author of a book he hadn’t written. And ended up in a long discussion about green beans. Therefore, I am making doubly sure he says he went to high school in Kobe, because I know he mentioned something about Kyoto in there…um, looks okay.

    Oh, you’ve got green eyes / Oh, you’ve got blue eyes / Oh, you’ve got grey eyes

    Posted by Sean at 13:01, January 15th, 2005

    Amritas, gallantly looking for ways to show solidarity with others of his genetic heritage by sharing their aggrievedness, found a piece on plastic surgery. He can’t seem to get too worked up over it, though:

    Although I think “racial anorexia” is an exaggeration, I never understood the appeal of eye surgery or hair lightening for Asians. I don’t necessarily think eye surgery makes Asians look more Caucasian because there are Asians born with ‘double lids’. But I prefer the ‘monolid’ look (which some Caucasians naturally have!). And I don’t think light hair goes well with Asian complexions. It looks fake.

    “Racial anorexia” is the Naomi Wolf-ish word the writers of the original piece at Model Minority used to describe…um, I don’t know exactly what they’re describing, but it sounds like some sort of inferiority complex that makes Asian-Americans compulsively erase their Asiatic features. That’s what the rest of us get for recklessly walking around looking white all the time.

    I think Amritas is right about the looks stuff. The reason that the Japanese categorize eyes as 一重 (hitoe: “single-layer”) and 二重 (futae: “double-layer”) is that both kinds of eyelids are common here. And some people, like my boyfriend, have single-layer eyelids but don’t have particularly small or sleepy-looking eyes.

    He’s also right about the hair. When Asians bleach their hair and wear it in a way you might call “decorative”–meaning, punkish and playful and frankly artificial, the way people do when they dye their hair green or purple–it sometimes looks cool. The natural-looking blond shades that can be achieved with today’s dyes don’t usually flatter Asian skin tones, though.

    Speaking of skin, it’s weird that no one involved in Amritas’s post mentioned it. Meaning, you can make the case that wide, alert eyes and angular features are prized because they look white, but it’s only fair to acknowledge also how porcelain smoothness and evenness of tone is associated with Asian complexions. Come to think of it, there’s a whole general constellation of this stuff: white guys who generally go for Asian women get sick and tired of having people assume that they like ’em docile, petite, mysterious in manner, and barely-above-jailbait in appearance. I’ve seen educated urban white girls get really, really worked up over this supposed phenomenon. (I say “supposed” because anyone who thinks Mother doesn’t rule the household in Asia just as firmly as she does everywhere else is mistaken.) To the extent that stereotyped standards of attractiveness prod people into changing essential part of themselves, it cannot be said that Asians are always seen as the ones who need to change.

    Amritas’s mention of white celebrities with features that are usually considered Asian reminded me of something else: several times over the years, I’ve been at parties where the conversation spontaneously turned to the topic, “What Asian nationality are you mistaken for?” Once, at a dinner party of a dozen people, this was the topic for a good twenty-minute stretch, with guesses submitted about everyone in turn. As in, “Well, Ryu-chan, you have kind of a flat nose, so I think you look Thai.” “But his mouth isn’t drawn up at the center as much as a Thai person’s! He looks more Vietnamese to me. With those earlobes, he could be Indian, though!”

    The first time it happened, I was dumbfounded. There’s no American equivalent that I’ve seen. I mean, sure, sometimes people will say they get their cornsilk hair and welkin eyes from their German ancestors, or what have you, but it doesn’t become this big group guessing game. (Smug aside: My Atsushi was given what I assume to be the highest possible compliment: “Atsu-chan, you’d never be mistaken for anything except a Japanese.” A handsome Japanese. Weary aside: And, naturally, this became yet another opportunity for me to be told, “Are you sure you’re American? You look so European! If I didn’t know you, I’d guess you were French.” No, there’s nothing wrong with being French; but I’m not, and I don’t like the frequent implication that “looking American” means being pushily fat and having a slightly blank expression.)

    [Ten-minute pause while I ogle Robert Conrad, the murderer on this week’s Columbo , who is working out in nothing but gym shorts while Peter Falk is questioning him. Woof!]

    Amritas is probably right that the only real universal is bilateral symmetry. I think there’s a point to be made that, now that cosmetic procedures are more widely available, a lot of people are taking the opportunity to bring their features in line with the perfectly-homogeneous Karen Mulder sort of face, rather than being happy that they have a few distinguishing features. And it’s certainly true that that sort of neat-as-a-pin angularity is mostly found in people with Northern European genes. (Mulder herself, for example, is Dutch.) But there are also plenty of white people who don’t look like that and get surgery to do so, so whether idealizing it is some special kind of “racial anorexia” strikes me as an arguable point.


    Posted by Sean at 12:29, January 15th, 2005

    A few weeks back, an article about a multiple-organ transplant to be performed on a Japanese infant caught my eye. I hadn’t heard much more about it, but today, tucked in between the more lurid stories in the Mainichi, is this update:

    Five months after being born, the baby boy was diagnosed as suffering from twisted intestines, and his internal organs began to deteriorate.

    His parents arranged for Yosuke to undergo a transplant of his stomach, pancreas, spleen, liver, and the large and small intestines at the University of Miami Jackson Memorial Center on Christmas Eve.

    That’s pretty much everything down there, isn’t it, except his gall bladder and kidneys? The little guy’s recovering well, so they expect to release him soon (the article seems to imply but doesn’t actually say that it will be earlier than usual). And naturally, they have to watch for signs of rejection. It’s good to hear things are going along smoothly so far, though.

    Now don’t you ask yourself / who they are?

    Posted by Sean at 12:04, January 13th, 2005

    You would think that leftists, after 30 years of their hard feminist party-line, could think of something to call a woman they don’t like besides “whore.” Apparently not.

    I don’t know what I think of Michelle Malkin’s book on Japanese internment; I haven’t read it. Whether she’s defending the practice wholesale or simply documenting facts that refute the stock interpretation that it was motivated solely by racism, I therefore can’t judge. What she has to say on education and immigration policy, I do generally agree with, though I don’t read her as regularly as a lot of people do.

    Whatever–the idea that she’s a Bush shill is ridiculous, especially on…well, education and immigration. The most passing familiarity with her on-line oeuvre confirms that. I think she pushes the tough-chick persona to breaking point sometimes–and as you might imagine, I love tough chicks–but the idea that she’s essentially an untalented writer who doesn’t know how to think is just ridiculous.

    I’m mostly bringing this up because a few people seemed to think that the few stray hate mails I alluded to a few days ago genuinely upset me. They didn’t, except as more evidence of the decline in civiliity. They’re also why, whenever I think idly that maybe it’d be nice to have more readers, I remember what people like Malkin (and Dean and Connie and Kim and Susanna) deal with. No thanks.

    Growing up in public

    Posted by Sean at 10:01, January 12th, 2005

    Gay Orbit notes that GayPatriot appears to have cast the apple of discord in our midst with the varying opinions of its proprietors about whether it’s the new Daily Dish. Others are already doing all the wrangling necessary, so I will confine myself to two points I don’t think are being given sufficient attention:

    First, yes, Andrew Sullivan has turned into a wet noodle. It’s painful to see, and his opining now frequently ranges from the silly to the outrageous. Let’s remember something, though, shall we? A decade ago, he was using his print and television presence to show a rare face of gentlemanly, reasonable gayness. The gay marriage argument has moved beyond his early books, but back then, the opposition really did tend to confine itself to things like, “Gays have sex, not love.” At the level to which the debate had progressed, Sullivan was one of the few major figures who made rational arguments that gays were responsible enough to be fully included in society.

    This past year or so has been a test of his principles, and he’s flunked so far. There’s always hope that he’ll get it together, but he completely deserves the drubbing many of his current positions are taking. That doesn’t change the fact that he made a lasting contribution to gay advocacy; it’s unseemly to be slagging him off as if he were a terminally-empty Richard Goldstein type who’d recently found a way, somehow, to become even more tiresome. Show some respect.

    Second, Gay Patriot wants attention, and I think it’s wonderful that he and his thoughtful collaborator are getting it. I don’t like the idea that for eternity there will be a single Andrew Sullivan Chair in Non-Commie Homosexuality that has to be filled, with every other gay who opens his mouth considered leftist until proven innocent; but there’s nothing wrong with having one commentator or blog that’s the most prominent exponent of right-leaning gay thought.

    And yet…I think GP mentioned once that he works in marketing, and, well, I believe him. I mean that in both good and bad ways. GP and GPW are good at soundbites, and soundbites are useful in blogging. They get quoted, and they’re attached to a site called GayPatriot, and that does good, necessary work in demonstrating that not gays are not all lockstep leftists who look down on America.

    At the same time, I worry. I worry because the guys at GayPatriot don’t seem to recognize that you can’t stop at marketing. At times, they do make solid, worked-out arguments; but for the most part, when one of their political posts sounds good, it sounds good because you’re filling in the gaps between catchy pronouncements with actual facts or logical constructions you’ve read elsewhere. When GP, especially, needs to make a case that has no evidence to corroborate his–there’s the hilarious story of the bottle thrown at his car and the more serious allegation that LCR’s Chris Barron may have had divided loyalties up to very late in the election year–he doesn’t show much inclination to ascertain and then question his own assumptions in order to strengthen his story. (I suppose it’s possible that each of these posts was followed up with more hard evidence, but I read GayPatriot regularly and am pretty sure I’d have remembered; they both made me practically fall off my chair at the time.)

    The guys at GayPatriot also don’t seem to understand that, while they deserve kudos for publicizing their unpopular political opinions, their mindset about people is stereotypical urban-gay, and not in the good way. Here’s GP demonstrating that he’s more all-American than Andrew Sullivan:

    Andrew’s main problem is that he, along with his fellow Clinton Democrats, do not understand Red State (and the majority of) America. He admits he doesn’t like or “get” country music, for example. Funny, my iPod continously brings up Kenny Chesney on random rotation.

    I know people who grew up in rural Kentucky that can’t stand country music; there are also New York music critics who can go off for days about how wonderful George Jones and Loretta Lynn are. But neither of those is really the point–the point is that GP is fixated on the artifacts rather than the attitude. Do you use your music to make a statement about yourself, or do you figure that people’s integrity is pretty much unrelated to whether they have Cher or Reba in the CD player? And, if we’re going to use the term, which mental framework is more “Red State”? (I admit I laughed at the hockey joke, though.)

    There are a lot of nice people in the blogosphere who are looking for reasons not to think uncharitably about gays and who are very receptive to GayPatriot’s message, which is great. Some of them have day jobs as journalists and could get the site real exposure, which is also great. For now. But the more attention they get, the more likely it becomes that they will run into skeptical people who hold you accountable for everything you say and expect finely-woven arguments. If they don’t start figuring out how to provide them, they’ll make themselves and the rest of us look bad.

    Ricky, and Danny, and Terry, and Jim / Dean lasted six months–don’t forget him

    Posted by Sean at 11:58, January 11th, 2005

    Alice has a post about Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston that manages to make a simple, unadorned point. (I mean, I say “manages” because what’s unusual is that a post about those two has a point, not that a post by Alice has a point.)

    Perhaps Jennifer Anniston is a career-crazed egotist. Perhaps she suffered in silence for years and is still acting more honorably than many people would expect, despite the media calling her a career-crazed egotist as a result. The Beckhams dealt with rumours about David Beckham’s liasons with other women by restating their mutual trust in public, and having a third child. Who knows how things will work out for them. Private life in the public eye seems doomed these days, but life out of the public eye fares little better.

    No, the point isn’t new, but it does need to be made repeatedly. It used to be that people like Zsa Zsa Gabor, Mickey Rooney, or Elizabeth Taylor got married seven or eight times. They had grand, lusty, capricious personalities that fed their art (or, in Gabor’s case, her celebrity), they got the attention of millions, and the tradeoff was that the hunger that made it all possible also made their personal lives a wreck. Because everyone knew they weren’t like ordinary people, they were presented differently. One of my favorite bars–well, half the gay bars in the world, but only one I’m thinking of–is lined with pictures of stars from the Studio Era onward: Bette Davis, Ginger Rogers, Cary Grant. The literal halos aren’t there as you move forward, but the poses are still frankly sculptural and larger-than-life.

    Nowadays (I don’t think I have many gay readers, but for anyone who’s inclined to have a spaz attack at the way I’m treating stardom from the dawn of the talkie up to the early 1960s as one soupy, undifferentiated era–I know, I know; the line I’m drawing is crude, but I think it makes a genuine distinction easier to see), celebrity life and ordinary life have become closer together, and they’ve both suffered.

    Everyday people who just want to live responsible, happy lives think they can do so by imitating Elizabeth Taylor. No, of course, no one actually sits there consciously emulating her, but the idea that commitment isn’t really commitment if someone who wanders by strikes your fancy is clearly abroad in the land. Also, it’s no longer just actresses who are attended to by expensive psychotherapist quacks; self-help for every Borders shopper is a huge industry.

    That’s not a new complaint, and neither is the one in the opposite direction: namely, that the obsession with making celebrities seem “real” has made them boring. In a way, the change is a moving reminder of the way regular folks have come up in the world. Most people can’t afford live-in nannies or drivers, but even people of modest means play golf or go to health spas and what have you. We have unprecedented riches, to the point that movie-star life basically can’t be as different from just-folks life as it used to be.

    For the most part, though, it just means that stars look as schlumpy as the rest of us. Page through Vogue magazine to see what I mean–they’ll try to cover for it by calling referring to it as “relaxed chic” or “bohemian glamour with a modern edge,” but it’s really just slovenliness of costume and demeanor. I have nothing against Renee Zellweger or Gwyneth Paltrow, but whenever I see one of them referred to as today’s Grace Kelly, it makes me want to scream. There was something unassailable about Kelly; despite her composure, there’s nothing unassailable about Paltrow, and that goes double for the gosh-it’s-nice-that-people-like-my-movies Zellweger. I’m obviously not going to say that the loss of worship-worthy stars is at the same level of tragedy as the loss of the ability to value homely satisfactions. You can always reach into the past to watch Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, but you can’t reach into the past and un-screw up your life. I think the issues are related, though.

    Everything in its time

    Posted by Sean at 03:12, January 11th, 2005

    I thought I might go a full year without a single troll or piece of hate mail, but it wasn’t to be. The feedback I get through comments and e-mails generally ranges from (rare) vigorous but civil opposition to (more frequent) praise, sometimes bordering on fulsome, so I’m not complaining. It was not because I was a world-class diplomat that I attracted only thoughtful folks before, and it’s not because I’m a valiant, uncompromising truth-teller that I’ve attracted a few ne’er-do-wells now. I’ve been reading blogs long enough to know that these things happen basically on schedule; they’re part of the life cycle.

    With that in mind, I’d like to make my policies clear before the need to do so becomes exigent. I won’t tell you what civilized behavior is because you already know. If you’re seriously hesitating to send/publish something because you’re afraid you’ll cross some kind of line, you’re probably right and should find another way to get your point across. If you decide to live on the edge…well, we all have our lapses. Being very fallible myself, I don’t plan to pursue a one-strike-and-you’re-out line unless pushed, which seems unlikely with my traffic.

    But a lapse is forgivable because it’s an aberration. One’s overall record is supposed to show a desire to hear other points of view out, make arguments rather than screeds, and accept joshing with a good grace. Consistent troublemakers will be banned without remorse. This is partially inclination on my part–if I can make my dirty jokes and dishy comments in private where they belong, you can, too. There is also a practical reason: I am the public face of my company to a sector of our client base, and it’s my responsibility to err on the side of discretion.

    Some people are inclined toward dissing, and I’m not green enough to assume that I can dissuade them by appealing to their sense of honor. I will only point out that I was egotistical enough to start this site, give it a soi-disant danger-boy name, and expect that at least a few strangers would be interested in what I have to say. Considering that, the probability that I will be crushed by a single sentence that says I’m an idiot, a traitor, or a heartless jerk is very low. Just a thought.

    Added at 22:33: Okay, fine. This needed serious de-purple-ing. It’s fixed. Michael has commented on a particularly bad sentence, and it remains for those who want to see what this looked like before trimming.


    Posted by Sean at 16:58, January 9th, 2005

    I don’t agree with Michael about marriage policy, but I think he’s dead right about this:

    [We’re part of everyday life.] And it�s our job as gay people to let people know we exist, that we live and work with them, and that we�re family members. You don�t do yourself or anyone else any good when you cry �unfair� from your closet.

    You either stay closeted or get to complain that people aren’t doing enough to make your gay life easier, but not both. It’s perfectly honorable to believe that your sexual orientation is a private matter and live by it. You might (in fact, you almost inevitably would) think gay activists are idiots, but you wouldn’t bitch that society is standing in your way. I’m also not referring to what people do on-line–there are lots of reasons people don’t use their own names that have nothing to do with embarrassment at being known as gay.

    What I mean are the types like this guy a few months ago–I thought I’d drop my drink right there–who thought that he’d have an easier time coming out to his parents if gay marriage were legal, ’cause, see, then he could go with his new spouse and simultaneously come out and reassure his parents that he had someone to take care of him. He had obviously given this some thought and, in the manner of all thoroughly insane people, presented it in the even tones of one who knows he’s being perfectly rational. I’m afraid I myself may have reacted like a raving lunatic: “You think the folks are going to take it better if you present your entrance into what they consider a degradation of a sacred institution as a fait accompli? That that’s going to mitigate their anger at having been lied to for your entire adult life that work kept you too busy to socialize and you just hadn’t found the right girl?” The hardships involved in being gay make integrity more, not less, necessary.

    Tsunami aid to continue indefinitely

    Posted by Sean at 14:12, January 9th, 2005

    You knew this was coming, didn’t you?

    Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday the United States should plan to provide long-term aid to Indian Ocean countries battered by last month’s tsunami as efforts begin to shift from saving lives to rebuilding communities.

    Powell said he would recommend to President Bush “that we stay engaged, that this is a long-term prospect, that we use our money not just for immediate humanitarian relief but for economic assistance for infrastructure development.”

    “The ships can’t stay on station forever because there are other requirements and missions,” Powell said in a series of television interviews from Nairobi, Kenya, where he attended the signing of a peace deal for Sudan, Powell said the reopening of roads would allow vehicles operated by international relief organizations to replace U.S. military helicopters in delivering food and water to victims.

    “What we have to do is to make sure that we’re providing assistance based on what is needed and providing money based on what is needed, not just flooding* all of these places and accounts with supplies that may not be needed, or financial assistance that may not be required yet,” Powell said.

    One can only hope that our Secretary of State is using “other missions” to refer to the military protection of US interests and, you know, stuff like that. On the other hand, that final “yet” is disquieting. Perhaps it’s better for the mental health of all of us that the money spent to rebuild the rim of the Indian Ocean will be given out in dribs and drabs so that we’ll never know how much of the taxes we’ve disgorged went to it.

    Just so the distinction I’m making is clear: I support the use of our equipment and personnel for rescue operations and the providing of emergency food, water, shelter, and medical care. Normally when someone refers to the “international community,” I retch, but the term really does apply on occasions such as this. It makes me proud to be an American and a resident in Japan that we’re helping out.

    The problem is that these long-term rebuilding projects have a bad habit of getting out of hand. Once you get past the initial state of exigency, your construction and telecommunications projects tend to come more and more under the sway of native old-boy networks, with their attendant bid-rigging and graft. (Just about everything the UN touches ends up that way, and it’s not entirely the UN’s fault. Big, boffo undertakings require cooperation from the locals, and getting it often requires that one adopt a “cooperative” mindset oneself.)

    Furthermore, the money that does go to new roads and dams and not to country retreats for provincial governors is not well spent if the locals don’t have the mindset to use them. I am not, I assure you, taking off in the loathsome direction of saying that peoples near the Equator are inherently clannish and primitive. People are people, but acculturation counts. In fractious Aceh, at least, fingerpointing between the rebels and Jakarta over disaster relief has already begun. I haven’t read as much about the Tamils vs. the Colombo government in Sri Lanka, but I’m sure it’s not entirely a lovefest there, either. Once again, I am simply talking about conflicts that in fact exist in the relevant regions, not generalizing about anyone’s genetic inability to get along.

    The resilience we enjoy in the West comes of our valuing individual initiative, imagination, experimentation, and mobility. It seems reasonable to figure that the process could work in reverse to an extent–which is to say, when roads, bridges, and telecommunications networks are provided, people will begin to use them because they’re there, and they’ll pick up the values that produced them. On the whole, though, social progress has to happen as people’s attitudes evolve. Sudden dislocations may make some people more open to change, but they make others cling all the more to known ways of life for security. You can’t produce a dynamic society by dropping rebarred concrete from on high. In a few years, this could prove to be a real tar baby.**

    * Is that really the most diplomatic metaphor to be using when discussing this subject, Mr. Powell?
    ** Speaking of metaphors, appositeness of: Before anyone points it out, I’m aware that the tar baby is from an African, not Asian, folktale.

    Add your voice to the sound of the crowd

    Posted by Sean at 12:47, January 9th, 2005

    I almost never read something at Eric’s and think, “Oh, no, no, no, no, man–what were you thinking?” Even in this case, it’s just a short passage, but I think it’s significant to what he’s saying in this (otherwise excellent) post:

    Much as I abhor thinking the thoughts of other people (one of my favorite gripes), I like to think of the blogosphere as being above groupthink, identity politics, and the herd mentality. Ideas here should stand or fall on their own.

    Those who are easily manipulated or misled, in my view, don’t belong in the blogosphere,….

    Eric is too kind. “Those who are easily manipulated or misled” shouldn’t be running about loose in a free society; taking specific pains to exclude them from the blogosphere is redundant.

    But a big, open group of people is a big, open group of people. I sometimes have a nagging feeling I’m not a very good blogger because I don’t have the sense of belonging to a special -osphere. As I see it, people act like themselves. The medium makes parts of their personality come out that you might not usually see if dealing with them face-to-face, or in real-time phone conversations, or by letter. And given the clicking-through-links way of getting around, it’s easier to avoid the boors than it would be if we were all physically in one big room. However, I don’t think it’s all that realistic to expect less total boorishness than you get in real life. (I’m not pretending the nature of on-line correspondence doesn’t bring out some of my own character flaws, BTW; I’ve been known to fire off an uncharitable comment or e-mail in a fit of temper and have to apologize abjectly later.)

    Dean has been dealing with this sort of issue also, with interesting results. I can’t read his mind, but I suspect he was thinking about what impression it makes when you open a comment thread and scroll through 50 people named things like Stevie Nicks’s Demon Luvr. It probably does suggest that people are not having the most serious, adult-level discussion and that you can loosen your own standards accordingly.

    Actually, I just called the results of Dean’s new rules “interesting,” and I don’t know why–the discussion in fact quickly reached near-transcendent levels of tedium. The interesting part was from the tiny minority of commenters who addressed the underlying issue: Is there a way to make people behave when they’re not naturally inclined to do so? Can you do it by forcing them to use their own names or, failing that, names that sound as if they were attached to real people with their integrity at stake?

    I doubt it. Granted, credulousness and honor aren’t exactly the same issue, so maybe yoking Eric’s and Dean’s posts together will only make sense to me. My point just is that whatever revolutionary character the blogging phenomenon may have, it’s not in how it channels human nature. Once you’ve gotten used to the variations on them that the medium itself requires, the rules that apply are the standard injunctions to avoid shooting your mouth off and not take strangers at face value.