Not a Troll, But What?

Whether you are a Tolkien fan or spend any time with blogs or forums on the internet, you know what a troll is, right? Someone who intentionally stirs up trouble on the comments section of a blog or on a message board. Trolls also cause trouble in Tolkien’s Middle Earth. They’re nasty, and when you get a bunch of them together, they tend to start a fight.

But what about someone who just keeps hanging around, even if they’re not wanted, just because they want attention? What do you call them. They’re not trolls—they don’t cause any trouble. In fact, sometimes, they don’t say anything at all. If you are a blogger, you know who they are, those people who run pell mell through the blogosphere liking random pages in hopes of upping their page views and readership.

I don’t know if any of Tolkien’s characters fit this description, but one of Jane Austen’s is close. If you are familiar with Austen’s Pride and Prejudice—either the movie or book—you are familiar with Mr. Collins. He just wants to be important, but he’s not. He wants to be the center of attention, but most folks just want him to go away. I know he’s not exactly the model I’m looking for, but as the book is fresh on my mind and Tolkien doesn’t offer me anything better, it will have to do.

If you’ve blogged for any length of time, you have your Mr. Collins. In fact, if you randomly look at people’s blogs, you’ll see them all over the place: those little avatars of the same people—over and over and over again—liking all kinds of people’s blogs. And when I go to their blogs and see their ideologies, I know if they actually read my blog, they wouldn’t like it!

I have one that is especially funny. Yes, I know I may be sending him traffic; that’s ok. He started liking my posts several weeks ago. As I usually do, I at least visit the visitor’s site (even if he or she didn’t actually visit mine). What I found was some form of religion that vaguely claimed to be Christian, but was far from it. Secret codes, visions of angels—and only positive comments!

I engaged him on his blog in a friendly manner, but when I pressed him on whether or not he considered Jesus as fully God, he blocked me from commenting and removed some of my other comments. But since that time, he continues to “like” almost every post I make—on both of my blogs! So he is a Mr. Collins, simply looking for page views, trying to be popular in a world—despite his visions of angels and cryptic codes—that is full of more interesting characters—there are Darcys and Elizabeths spread all through the blogosphere!

The question is, will he like this one?


Father’s Day and the New York Times Part V

The fifth contributor to the New York Times’ “Room for Debate” series on fathers in the parenting conversation is Jed Rubenfeld: a law professor at Yale, an author, and the husband of Amy Chua, who authored Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom. His is by far the shortest column.

I need for someone to tell me that this really is meant to be humorous. That was my first impression, but when I came to the end, I got the impression that he was serious. But surely I am misreading it. For if he is serious, he is not helpful and paints a picture for fathers which is harmful for both them and their children.

He begins by saying that dads should stop complaining about women doing most of the work because that is the “last best bastion of patriarchy that we have left.” That was where I was first sure this was a humor column.

Next he gives three simple steps for dads to follow, and when they accomplish these three, they can “hang up the spikes.” Each of these needs to be accomplished when the kids are young (I am assuming pre-school age and younger). 1) Be all powerful so your kids feel safe. 2) Be all good so they know right from wrong. 3) Give them a sense of the deep magic (are we in Narnia?) and joy of the world before they start learning.

That’s it. Feel better dads? I didn’t. Do I want my kids to feel safe and know right from wrong and have an awe and joy in life? Sure. Is this the way to go about it? Definitely not. And to top it all off, he says when your kids get older, they will see through this facade. But that’s ok, because the truth makes them stronger. Right, this has to be a humor column, doesn’t it?

He finishes by saying that “…if, to be a good father, you have to start as a god but end as a man, I’d still call that a bargain—the best I ever had.”

So what about when they’re seven or ten or sixteen? As long as I start well, does it not matter how I finish? And we wonder why some people don’t think men should be engaged in the parenting conversation. This from someone who admits that his wife does all the work.

Surely, surely, he intended this for humor. Maybe he should read some Dave Barry.

Why #2?

I actually turned around and came back for this picture:







I suppose there are two reasons for the #2: Someone got mad at the some bodies at #1 or the some bodies at #1 wanted to expand their reach. Either way, the sign struck me as oddly humorous.

Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters

This second book in Riordan’s Percy Jackson series is not quite the book the first one was, but do seconds often meet up to firsts? The humor seemed a little more forced than the last book, or maybe we are just getting used to his style, and therefore, it it not as funny. Still, there are plenty of fun monsters to battle, another quest to attempt—sort of, a few twists and turns, and a god who finally appears to be on Percy’s side. The book got better as it went along, and the new characters (Tyson, Hermes, Polyphemus)  were a welcome addition to the cast. Riordan added a love-to-hate character as well: Tantalus. Not sure if we will see him again, but the grasping the burger at the end was a priceless addition to the story. The writing is certainly not White or Wilder or even Andrew Clements, but the story is fun and clean, and one gets to learn a little mythology along the way. We are looking forward to starting Curse of the Titans tomorrow night due to the cliff hanger at the end. To Riordan’s credit: didn’t see that one coming!

I won, I won…well, sort of.

Jeff held a contest. I got third place!

Several years ago I won a Church of Rhythm CD from a Christian radio station. I knew why Ivory soap floated. I also won a door prize once somewhere, but I don’t remember what it was. Neither of those took a whole lot of talent.

But this contest—this was huge. You can go here to see all the competition I was up against, or you can go here to see the extremly talented people who edged me out. In the spirit of the Olympics, I must say that I was proud to represent my country in this hard fought, emotional struggle.

I want to think my parents for teaching me my alphabet as well as some wonderful English teachers like Mrs. Butler and Mrs. DePriest* who challenged me to grow in my vocabulary. This great accomplishment would not have been possible without people like that. And thanks to Jeff, as well, for spending the time and energy it took to organize, conduct, and judge such a demanding competition.

If I am not blogging for while, it’s because I am busy writing lesson plans for next week and preparing for the classes I will be taking this fall waiting for the late night talk shows to call.

I wonder if Jeff will provide an html code to put on my blog?

*In all seriousness. After 12 years of regular school, 5 years of undergrad, and and 3 years of grad school, those two ladies were two of the finest teachers I ever had. I actually had the privilege of teaching alongside them both a few years ago. I spent a lot of time in high school in Mrs. DePriest’s home. She modeled Christ for all of us who hung out there with her son. They are both retired now, and I hope they are enjoying every minute of it.