` Doubtless, being the skeptic that I am, I regularly receive notifications from people who merely wish to insult me for not believing in their particular kind of faith - for example, one recent comment on an older post suggests I need to 'get an education' and should go lick my 'girlfriend'. However, I have recently been getting a lot of complaints about my posting material that was written by other people conducting their own research!
` This, I admit, I have been doing almost exclusively since I've started college (the first time I've been educated since elementary school), as the six or eight hours I require each day for this (plus my computer problems) has so far completely eclipsed my ability to spend the nine (or so) hours that I need to write on an original blog post - at least, within the span of two weeks, as my total computer time has been almost nil for the past couple of months (I also have a lot of email to catch up on!).
` In fact, my computer wasn't even working for about half the time - and the other half I was afraid to use it because it could crash at any minute, though Lou pretty much forbid me from taking it to the computer shop for a while because he needed to use it for his business (and it was in the shop for several days!). So, I let him continue using it on one condition; if it totally broke down into disrepair while he was using it, he would buy me a new one! (Good deal, eh?)
` So, the only way to write a blog post for much of this time would have been the laborious way - by pencil and paper - and then finding a quiet enough internet terminal to type it into, which is normally impossible at school or the public library! This was not something I was very willing to do, what with all the stress of ADD symptoms (which at least I finally seem to have under control) while trying to learn and study and be in a classroom with people who talk when you're trying to take a test and then being slow as molasses with homework... it's just not been good to me, though it's getting better!
` And yet, to continue entertaining my readers I always feel the need to update both my blogs within five days, so I've been putting other people's work up in my stead! I hope this is understandable to others, though I also don't claim that this is some kind of excuse.
` No, my excuse is that I didn't know enough to realize that I should be taking my blog more seriously! That must sound awfully funny because, when you think about it, why would anyone deem their blogging time more important to put above schoolwork? I mean, come on! Doesn't that sound ridiculous?
` And yet, I have finally decided that since I discovered this very month that I have a much larger reader base than I'd ever dreamed of, and since I really need to take my writing as a skeptic seriously (for this relates to how I may be perceived in the writing world, as how you do anything is how you do everything), I may as well show my best face!
` Indeed, I've come to realize this after finally catching up to my month's worth of emails and being utterly shocked at just how many people who (unlike, say, G-man) have been a), reading my blog, when there was no other indication that very many people even had when I'd had far more original material and b), deriding me for my low standards and apparent laziness. Here are some actual quotes:
...As a critical thinker, you are a PARROT! I have yet to see one post where you do your OWN research! Sorry, honey, copying the WORDS of skeptics doesn't count.` Au contraire, if this reader had been a bit more skeptical they would have found many posts I have written that explicitly explain what being a skeptic means, starting, I think, here, along with several posts about incidences in which I have demonstrated skepticism by using it in my daily life.
I really don't know if your blog is supposed to be taken as a joke, or if you are honest when you claim to enjoy critical thought. This blog certainly doesn't reveal any attempt at critical thought or scientific thinking on your part at all....it's so easy to quote someone else isn't it, instead of making an honest attempt to discover and think for yourself....
...You are disgraceful and your blog is pathetic! You claim to be a skeptic and then fail to follow through by putting other people's words up and just agreeing with them! You don't even have to think!
...Sure, other people say things, but what do YOU have to say yourself? Only a fool thinks that skepticism is all about copying the ideas of skeptics! What kind of a philosophy is that? An idiotic one. I bet you aren't even a skeptic! I bet you don't even know what that means!...
` Thankfully, though, I should add that fully three of these emails haven't been so abrasive, and I would like to bring special attention to them:
...If you really want to make a name for yourself as a skeptic, it would be best if you did more of your own material--I wonder why you haven't, because you seem like such a good writer!` Well indeed I have, although statements like these make one realize that this is when you know you've gone a long time without doing your own research! In fact, I think this post, where I not only did my own analysis on a specific screwball's claim but actually went head-to-head with the Believer in my comments section, is the last post I did any proper analysis with. (Though, I've still had a few good original posts about other things.) Indeed, before that one, I did have real critical thinking posts on a somewhat regular basis.
You have very good material on your blog, material that more people need to be exposed to, but why isn't it written by you?....
...It's easy to be an 'armchair skeptic' but I think what you need to do more is go out into the world and actually do the skeptical thinking for yourself. Not only will you surprise yourself with your own ingenuity, but you will hopefully wind up with material that is unique, not something that's probably been copied all over the internet by people who probably have no talent of their own! That's the point of being a skeptic, isn't it?
` What happened? As I've partially explained, my life got really busy, my computer started to go on the fritz, then I started school on January third, went on vacation for nine days, came back, school was even worse and so was my computer, and they continued getting worse until I got the flu and could barely do anything outside of haul myself to school then home and to bed (in fact, it's been about a month or so and my lymph glands are still quite swollen). Of course I'd meant to get back to what I'd been doing, but alas by then I was up to my eyebrows in things I had to take care of (including me) that always came first.
` I suppose I don't feel too bad about it. Similar things have happened with Joe England, author of the great Zebra Girl (now on hiatus, as you'll see), and he's been getting away with periods of time where he's neglected his much-loved webcomic completely because We the Zebra Girl Readers are so enthralled with it! Here's one of his news updates:
(Jan 29th:) H'arright. This is sudden, I know, but... Look. Folks. ...And the folk-like. Every now and again, I just have to take a break from Zebra Girl. And you know what? It's been now and again for at least a week. This last storyline seriously took over my life. I've been neglecting the forums. I've been neglecting your fan work. I've been neglecting my other websites. I've got about a hundred and seventy e-mails I need to respond to (so if you've e-mailed me anytime in the last couple of weeks and I haven't responded... that's why). I haven't even found it in me to update the news posts on this site until right now! And, of course, I've been neglecting things in my life that don't even have anything to do with computers.` Luckily, because he's got a comic, he's got tons of guest comics coming in all the time so there's no real shortage of decent filler material. And so, studying his situation of busyness - though it is different than mine, and he has a popular comic while I have a not-very popular blog - this gives me an idea; I will come up with a really great original post once a week and put in a couple of really great filler pieces in between (so my blog always stays fresh).
Now, we all know that hiatuses are a natural part of a webcomic's life. And I am sorry about this, I know they tend to suck regardless. But I'll be back in about a month! I couldn't stay away from you anyway, you guys've been great to me lately and it's really inspiring. And thanks to that, I've been nominated for Best Black and White Art again in The 2007 Web Cartoonists Choice Awards! That's awesome, and you're awesome for helping me out.
` But these won't be all things written by other people - in fact, I have a bunch of drafts that have been sitting for a while, waiting for me to use them (and me usually forgetting about them).
` Whaddaya say? Does that sound like a good way to organize things? No more parroting! No more parroting!