Whipped cream and nuts

by Chris Bertram on September 14, 2004

OK, so this may be the first and last time I quote anything by Steven Den Beste with approval, but “this observation about blogging”:http://www.denbeste.nu/cd_log_entries/2004/08/Thanksforallthefish.shtml (and comments) struck me as right on the money.

bq. I’ve learned something interesting: if you give away ice cream, eventually a lot of people will complain about the flavors, and others will complain that you aren’t also giving away syrup and whipped cream and nuts.

(via “Dan Drezner”:http://www.danieldrezner.com/blog/ ).



Nasi Lemak 09.14.04 at 11:44 am

And, more relevantly to den Beste, if you hand out scoops of putrid garbage in a cone from an ice-cream van, people will start to complain that it’s not ice cream.


dsquared 09.14.04 at 11:55 am

I think I entered into the blogging project with lower expectations, as all sorts of social interactions had already taught me that a fair chunk of the population regard the priceless gift of my political opinions as being “not quite as good as free ice-cream”.


Chris Bertram 09.14.04 at 12:04 pm

bq. a fair chunk of the population regard the priceless gift of my political opinions as being “not quite as good as free ice-cream”.

But a fair chunk of the population think your opinions are nuts – so that’s a start! :)


LowLife 09.14.04 at 1:42 pm

Sounds like he wants to start charging for his blog. If that’s the case I’ll spend the same amount of money then as I spend time over there now.


Peter 09.14.04 at 3:06 pm

den Beste was excellent at science and engineering, and explaining why things can (or can’t) work. Which did not go over well with the “science and math challenged.” Heaven forbid that science disagree with the wishes of folks who want “to free us from dependance on oil.” It is as bad as when science disagrees with creationists (wow, that only happens 100% of the time). It appears that getting chewed up by the anklebiters over science and engineering is what drove him to quit.

I disagree totally on his support of the invasion of Iraq. But then almost all the readers of this blog would also disagree with his unabashed support of the invasion.

If you are interested in engineering and science, I would advise making a local copy of all his posts. His “essential library” also has some very good essays on why the arab world is messed up.


Chuchundra 09.14.04 at 3:10 pm

I read this a while back and it seems to me now, as it seemed to me then, that it’s nothing but a load of self-indulgent whining.

If you don’t want negative comments, don’t turn comments on. If you don’t want to deal with e-mail from your readers, then don’t give out your e-mail address.

It all seems ridiculously simple to me and Msr. Den Beste can’t work this out on his own, then maybe he shouldn’t be writing things down and putting them in a place where other people can read it.

If he seriously thinks his work is “free ice cream”, then maybe he should find someone to pay him for it. After all, if it’s really ice cream, he shouldn’t have any problem finding paying customers.


Kieran Healy 09.14.04 at 4:08 pm

Whatever about the ice cream, you certainly can’t say what he served up wasn’t nutty.


Sebastian Holsclaw 09.14.04 at 4:13 pm

Chuchundra I think you are misinterpreting the comment. He isn’t trying to get paid, he wants people not to make demands upon him as if he were a public service.


liberal japonicus 09.14.04 at 4:43 pm

Well, a broken clock is right twice a day…


son volt 09.14.04 at 5:12 pm

SdB’s analogy is pretty good, but only if you rearrange the terms a bit:

“ice cream” = a following of 10,000 trenchcoat mafia dittoheads continually slapping him on the back

“extra flavors” = absence of undesired emails and/or comments


dsquared 09.14.04 at 6:02 pm

More generally, if you set up a website one of the purposes of which is telling people that they are wrong and calling them wankers, then you have by so doing established a social norm that it is OK to tell people that they are wrong and call them a wanker. Thus, when a load of email shows up telling you that you’re a) wrong and b) a wanker, it seems odd to act all surprised.

In general, I tend to think that well-meaning passive-aggressive people tend to give a bad name to those of us who are merely assholes.


Bruce Baugh 09.14.04 at 6:09 pm

Den Beste’s science is good. His applied technology often isn’t, as witness his long expositions about the alleged superiority of the cell phone technology favored by his employer. They made sense when I first read them, but then I got to see British and Australian friends’ cell phones in action, and I went back and started seeing through more of the crap. His ideological blinders lead him to frown on any tech developed under governments or by businesses he disapproves of, basically, and this is a classic elementary failing in scientific and technical reasoning: the facts don’t care about your politics. (Or mine.)


Sebastian Holsclaw 09.14.04 at 6:16 pm

British cell phones are better? My roommate gets video on his cell phone. You guys have what? Holography?


dsquared 09.14.04 at 6:24 pm

For a long time, US mobile phones had an insane billing system (you paid for people to talk to you!) and didn’t use SIM cards so you couldn’t swap phones while retaining your phone number and address list. And the text messaging capabilities were rubbish, and the phones couldn’t be used anywhere except the USA and Israel … it was just a nightmare. Things have got a bit better over the last couple of years, but you basically lost half a decade.


Sebastian Holsclaw 09.14.04 at 6:56 pm

I more than half a decade behind. I not only don’t have a cell phone, I don’t have a fax. My mom wanted to fax me something recently and I felt like a Luddite. Sheesh my mother has a fax and a cell phone. Should I replace my tape-driven answering machine too? :)


Tom 09.14.04 at 6:58 pm

“Den Beste’s science is good. His applied technology often isn’t, as witness his long expositions about the alleged superiority of the cell phone technology favored by his employer.”

I have a similar observation. DenBeste made a post on mitigation of greenhouse gases which was completely wrong, because he didn’t have the first clue what technologies were out there. I’d say it was as wrong as me saying that mobile telephony is a non-starter because people standing on hills sending the phone messages by semaphore would have to take tea breaks occasionally.

“British cell phones are better?”

Yup. If only because they’re on a common standard (so everyone can text to each other). Market penetration of cellphones is also much higher in the UK than in the US.


K 09.14.04 at 8:08 pm

UK phones are superior to US phones, true enough. But neither can hold a candle to the Japanese.


Brian Weatherson 09.14.04 at 9:16 pm

Last I checked the US still has the “insane billing system” Daniel was talking about above. Free nights and weekends mitigates this somewhat, but it is a crazy system. I always thought the absence of texting in America was due to sociological factors not technological ones, but maybe it’s the lack of common standards.


dsquared 09.14.04 at 9:39 pm

Oh my god that’s hysterical. Pay to listen? And Kieran gets mobile phone spam calls? Jesus wept. Do you still have about three or four incompatible (as in, you can’t make calls from one to another) networks?


Brian Weatherson 09.14.04 at 10:53 pm

No, you can call from any network to any other. Although I suspect some networks weren’t entirely unhappy with the prospect of keeping all calls in house. Some networks now have free calling to other phones on their network, presumably hoping to get at least localised monopolies.

On a more important (to me) techy point, it’s now more common to find phones that will work (at hideous expense) once you take them out of the country. When I first got to America five years ago the only phones that would work overseas were not much smaller than those bricks they carried around on _Wall Street_, and I suspect not much more functional either.


Jon H 09.15.04 at 2:16 am

“British cell phones are better?”

AFAIK their TV tech is better, too, these days. Widescreen digital without the cost-inflating “high-definition” nonsense.

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