I condemn your irredeemable node to the bowels of hell, bitch!

As I write this I am kind of a newbie on E2. I have been made pretty welcome and my writeups have been well received for the most part. But every so often I get a downvote, and have to wonder what the hell I is going on around here. Now don't get me wrong, I do not harbor some latent belief that I am the next Hemingway or ToasterLeavings. I am a good writer but have not practiced the trade in some time; let's just say I'm a little rusty. At this point many people probably will think that I am going to devolve into a whimpering pile of whine but I urge you to read on, I do have a point.

My shock at being downvoted comes from the fact that all of my nodes are factual (well maybe not wasabi, that one is kinda fluffy), and while the writing may not be up to the standards required for a scholarly journal, spelling and grammar are correct to the best of my knowledge. I cite my sources when available, many of which include actual printed material (bites knuckles of fingers and looks impressed). And yet I get downvoted.

Perhaps it is my understanding of the purpose and usage of the E2 voting system. Perhaps the books I referenced have bad information, perhaps my downvoters believe that I'm just making this shit up, I don't know, and CANNOT know because I have never received criticism about any of my writeups (what can I say, there are only 12) other than the occasional "we would prefer it if you named your nodes in this way" or, "It would look better if you formatted it this way". I relish these comments and give special thanks to Ouroboros, wertperch, dannye, m_turner and any others I may have forgotten who have taken the time to be "neighborly" and give the newbie a few tips and a bit of encouragement. I also cannot forget ac_hyper who frequently catches the little typos that slip past the spell checker and my proofreading.

As I said before, perhaps it is my understanding of the voting system so before I get any further here is my perspective on the whole voting thing. If you like a writeup, and think it adds to the database, +1. If you think a writeup is superb, makes you laugh till you piss, makes you go "wow, that is really interesting", or makes you think "they must have really spent a lot of time on that, they did a really good job" then you should (if you can) give it a C!. If the writeup is a total fucking waste of nodespace, bereft of life, humor, or correct information and has no place here or anywhere else that civilized men and women may happen upon it, then vote it down. Otherwise, leave it alone.

As I see it downvoting a node is your stamp saying "this does not belong here, get rid of it will 'ya". Let me put this into perspective. I have written all factual nodes (not including this one) and nearly 50% of them have at least one downvote. I cannot fathom why someone would say "hey, this factual information has gotta go, there simply is not enough space in the database for this information". Maybe some people simply have higher standards, and I can accept that, but tell me why and I will try to improve. If it is a typo or gramatical error then tell me so I can fix it. If I get a positive vote or a C! I know I must have done something right. If I got a negative vote I must have done something wrong. In both cases, what was it that I did?

We are all capable writers here, and writing means communication. Is it so difficult to speak up and give some feedback to the noder whose writup you are critiquing one way or another.

This is not about XP; personally I could give two shits about XP. What this is about is quality. I would assume that everyone here cares at least a little about the quality of the database, especially those who have been here for some time and poured a good deal of their hearts and minds into this site. Your silence serves no one. Your constructive criticism has the potential to help. Perhaps people fear "retaliation" from someone who cannot take criticism. Well, all I have to say about that is that we are all intelligent sentient beings. If you have not learned the value of a few wise words from a trusted friend by this point in your life then I pity you.

Those are my thoughts on the matter. I would like you to vote on this node according to your own beliefs of what constitutes a +,-,C!, but I would like to know what you think. If that is too much to ask then maybe I'm missing the point, or maybe the point was missed by you.

In breaking news I appear to have earned my first serial downvoter. Looking back at my nodes, someone has gone through and systematically downvoted all of my nodes. I wonder if they even took the time to read ANY of them. To whoever that was, I love you too and I hope the whole puberty thing turns out OK. Spite is such a petty thing.

For me the big fear of death is not the event itself, but the misery of knowing that human history will continue after me and that I will not see it. For most people this is not a problem, as most people live for the moment with no thought of the past or future, and there is no great tragedy when they die. But I am not like that; I have read history from an early age, and it is impossible to contemplate the flow of events without coming to the realisation that the flow continues independently of individuals. I am a curious soul and I weep for never knowing all the things that will come to pass after I am gone. I can barely read science fiction any more, for the knowledge that I will never see people walk on the surface of Mars, certainly not in casual clothes.

It has been said that mine is the last mortal generation, but I do not believe this. A cure for physical death is conceivable, but it would not solve the problem of mental decay. Any method of preserving the brain's contents would have the unfortunate effect of causing thought processes to cease, as forgetting and learning are part of what makes us people. A mind that never forgot a single thing would be driven mad by the clamour of thoughts, or would spend its time dreaming, revisiting the past with photo-perfect detail. And if everybody was immortal, the problem would remain; we would not live to see all of human history play out, because human history would never end.

Or rather, it would; when conditions in the universe make life impossible, when the stars burn out and heat death occurs, although we would be long dead before then. The conclusion I reach from this is that I would only be able to see the full scope of human history if I was the last person alive, and indeed it has always been my ambition to be the last man alive, simply so that I can die happy in the knowledge that everybody else is dead, too, and there is nothing left. I believe that record collectors have a similar philosophy - when their favourite artist dies, they are happy, because their artist's output is suddenly finite. My own death would be the final full stop at the end of the book of life, and the plants and trees would carry on with their own history, if they survived the unspecified apocalypse I crave. There will come soft rains.

But thinking further it seems that even this ambition - which is possible, perhaps, although I suspect my sole survival of a global catastrophe would be more down to good fortune than any action on my part - is to be thwarted. For it would be impossible for a single person to have a complete grasp of all human events; it takes a lifetime to understand one's own life, let alone the billions who have been and gone. History books only record a select few events of great significance, but that is not history. History is the history of people, and a world without people would not be a world. It isn't possible for a human being to have total knowledge of the events of a single day - whether the events that take place in the physical world, or the events which take place in the minds of men.

However, history does not require people to record it. It continues forever. And when heat death transpires, the last 99% of infinity will consist of a single measurement, the temperature, slowly cooling, and there will be nothing else to record, or worth recording. And thus in the end I believe that I can find a certain peace, for history, with all its complexity, will only occupy a minute fraction of a fraction of the universe, and would probably be lopped off from God's final report by a rounding error.

As you may know from the W/U I wrote yesterday about looking after a stray cat, I've had a skinny stray coming to my house for a week or so. With the help of a friend who owned both a car and a cat-box, I finally decided to send it to the vets and to hopefully get it picked up from there by the RSPCA. I can't look after the thing myself, as it's against my flat-contract, plus the cat's obviously ill, as it's so thin.

So yesterday evening, my friend and I went into the back yard to try and take it with us. The cat came running over, and was it's usual friendly self. It purrs very loudly and it seems like will come and play with anyone. After greeting it, we decided it was time to go.

The cat became very frightened by our attempt to get it into the catbox, and spat and hissed while struggling violently. Eventually it was pushed in after 20 seconds of struggle. It started mewling in a rather pathetic way, and obviously hated being in the carrier - more than a normal cat would do - trying to push the door open with its paw.

As quickly as possible - which due to shitty traffic was longer than ideal - we drove to the vets. All the time the cat meowed in terror, and promptly wet itself in fear. I carried the basket on my knee, and tried to calm it, but it failed to have any effect.

When we finally got there, it sat dejected in the carrier crying. No amount of cooing to it would calm it: it simply couldn't understand what was going on and what would happen to it. How could it?

After trying to explain the advice I was given by the RSPCA to one of the vet's nurses, about dropping it off with them, it was taken away, still crying out.

Now I know that I've certainly done the best thing for the animal, but I've been very affected by all this. The worst part is causing suffering to such a mild tempered animal that already has a pretty shitty existence - almost starved to death - and that had come to rely on me for food and shelter. I hope that it's going to be in safe hands, but it's not clear if it will get treated due to the limited resources of the various charities that would deal with it. It certainly may be the case that it won't live much longer, either because it's too ill or because it will be put down.

Now not all of this is about the cat and me getting overly sentimental about an animal, I’m not so unrealistic as that. The cat was just something that plainly showed me two things: that first, we're almost entirely incompetent in the face of sickness, suffering and death*, and secondly, that we cannot possibly understand that which undertakes to save us - what saves us may in fact totally terrify us in the process.

* I’m a Mahayana Buddhist, BTW, so I feel like an understanding or appreciation of sickness, suffering and death should be second nature to me. I guess I was wrong. There’s obviously a huge difference between thinking of it and coming face to face with it, embodied in a creature that turns up at your door.

I've been hangin' around here for a few months now. I am still a few thousand leagues away from understanding E2. And yet I like it. Honest!

I used to get downvoted a lot, and teetered on the edge of node heaven quite often. Ok, I fell in quite a bit as well. But I think I've figured out that there really isn't a "what NOT to do" around here. If you drop jaws, draw heads closer, hell, make 'em tingle in their midriff, voila (!), you have eked out the beloved Matrix present in all communities.

I find that I am constantly comparing E2 with the "ek$i sözlük", which was a Turkish enterprise to compile an information database, much like this one. However it has turned out to be a bit like what E1 allegedly used to be. Not much moderation, and a zillion entries a minute slowly swarming all over the magnetic storage, by and by dwindling away its cause. It's still funny as hell, though. Perhaps there's something to be said for a community of thousands going brainstorming mad. It definitely has its daily place on my surf itinerary.

You can check it out at http://sozluk.sourtimes.org.

I know you're reaching for one of those those searing -'s on your complimentary E2 bat-belts. But I refer you to Mitzi's lament for compassion earlier today, for which you've made him/her a C! junkie.

An Open Letter to the E2 Community

Are you there, E2...? It's me, Ashley. Have a drink. Some tea, maybe? There's beer in the fridge - help yourself. Just sit back and give me a few minutes. I have something to say.

Here's the thing: I am sad.

E2 was (and not so long ago) extremely important to me. Finding you guys (E2 is people, remember?) meant the world to me; I accessed E2 a scant 6 months into a brand-new, scary/wonderful marriage, and I found riches I'd never dreamed of. I received more unconditional support and love and affirmation from my E2 cuties (and that likely includes YOU, yes YOU) than I was getting from my own church family. My real family had just moved all the way across the continent, and I was essentially alone - except, of course, for my legendarily wonderful husband. But any of you who have ever been married know that it's dangerous and counter-productive to try to make one person the absolute center of your life, and I was desperately lonely much of the time. I was also recovering from a severe psychiatric crisis, and on E2 I found a shockingly large number of gentle, marvelously broken folks who knew exactly what I was going through. People like Rancid_Pickle and graceness (and countless others) took me under their fluffy wings, and in no time at all I went from tentative newbie to a part of the gorgeously flawed scenery on E2. I've learned the joys of helping new cuties, I've made some friendships that can only be described as transplendent, and I even started a usergroup for other bipolars that has grown into an incredible support network for People Like Me. Most of all, I had my mind and my heart opened by the writeups, poems, and chat that make up the bulk of the E2 experience. I mean, I'm not exactly a cosmopolitan girl, folks...I live in South Carolina! E2 introduced me to brand-new ideas as well as the beautiful people who housed them, and for that I will be forever and eternally grateful.

E2 is changing; on this we can all agree. And like all growing things, it's going to have to go through an awkward stage or several. I was bemused and a little annoyed by the whole "raising the bar" thing - I always looked at E2 as more of a loose dwelling place for ideas and open exchange of thought, but I can completely understand the admins' desire to up the quality of the content. I can even get behind such a desire. What grieves me now isn't the fact that E2 is changing. I wouldn't, for example, ever abandon a child just because she turned thirteen and overnight became contentious and sullen - but I would be sad that my child no longer exhibited feelings of warmth and love toward me. E2 seems to be harder, rougher, the playground a lot less friendly than it once was...but I am not out the door yet.

What may send me on my way, however, is cruelty.

Thoughtlessness I can understand - I mean, I owe sweet anemotis a letter and a goodie bag for sending me The! Best! Secret Santa! Gift! Ever!, and it's JUNE, for God's sake - but impoliteness, meanness, and petty bullshit just makes me feel as though I'm back in high school, and I don't need that. It hurts to watch my friends nip and tear at one another. It hurts to see people I dearly love leaving. It hurts to feel like a stranger most of the time when E2 was once a place where everyone knew my (nick)name. But what hurts the most is to see the E2 that sensei envisioned, the E2 that he nurtured and loved to pieces, unravelling. It isn't as simple as "can't we all just get along?" There seems to be a creeping sclerosis at the heart of what was once a warm, loving, affirming environment, and that pains me a great deal.

Now, lest you begin to think I labor under the delusion that E2 was at one time some kind of utopia, please understand that I am fully and completely aware that it never was any such thing. There have, and likely always will be, people who thrive on conflict and unkindness. There are people who have, on several occasions, picked up their toys and gone home. And there are many fine people here on E2 for whom this site is simply a convenient receptacle for their thoughts and writing exercises, and that's OK. All of that is OK, because you know - that's life, and there's no way to pad all the sharp corners. There actually shouldn't be a way to pad all of life's sharp corners, friends, because an enormous part of who we are is born out of healthy conflict - we learn to initiate conflict, we learn to handle criticism in a mature manner, we learn that we are not the center of the universe after all, and (gasp!) we learn that not every single person here on this big blue marble is going to love us. I am not advocating a hearts-and-flowers commune devoid of critical thought; far from it. One of the best things about - one of the primary functions of - E2 is the ability to give and receive criticism about our work.

What I am talking about here, though, what I am sorely missing and mourning and grieving for, is courtesy - the "gentle art" that some of our forerunners here took great pains to cultivate. Small kindnesses can be invaluable in any community, and in a community like E2 where we have ample opportunity to pretend that we are all anonymous, there can sometimes be the temptation to commit small acts of brutality on the assumption that no one will really get hurt. I'm guilty of this, too...I have snipped at people in the catbox, I have been less than kind to (even, at times, disparaging of) the occasional newbie. But I do try to be as helpful in my limited capacity here as I can be, and I know from experience that one need not be an editor to be welcoming and helpful to new people, and one certainly need not be a god to offer constructive criticism (emphasis on constructive, cuties) to confused and disoriented fellow creatures. You simply never know, especially in a place where we can't see one anothers' eyes, what sort of things a new person might be wrestling with. Conversely, you may never know how much a simple kindness could conceiveably make someone's day bearable.

You see, E2 was never just a website for me. It has been a lifeline on more than one occasion...it has been a little refuge, a nook in the storm. I mean, seriously...if all I wanted was reader feedback on my writing, I'd be elsewhere...in a writing group, perhaps, or aggressively pursuing publication. But I'm not A Writer - I am Ashley.

You know that fabulous feeling you get after a great meal with a small group of friends? You all sit around finishing off that last bottle of wine, maybe smoking a little, laughing at silly things, content and sated and half-drunk, comfortable enough with your buddies to maybe unbutton that pesky pinchy clasp on your jeans (ahhh...THAT'S better!). You're with people who want to hear your stories. Their eyes say "Please tell me everything...I am hungry and also..."

Also, they love you. Also, they have their own stories to tell, their own wounds to bare, their own treasures in their own dark places, and they want to share them all. And there's time, and more time, in which to relax and just visit, maybe move out to the screened-in porch and watch the velvet shadows make strange and lovely patterns on your friends' faces. Well, E2 was like that for me. It was a quiet porch with friends, and I guess it was too good to last...and I suppose I am almost OK with that. But this creeping meanness has got to stop, cuties. It really, really does. Because there are gentle people here who will take their goodness elsewhere, and we don't want that to happen.

Can we do this? Can we try to be mindful of one another while retaining our collective sense of humor and steely-eyed attention to content and detail?

Can we learn to chase excellence in a way that would make sensei smile?

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