October 26, 2004
Two Memories

Filling in for InstaPundit, Megan McArdle of Asymmetrical Information confesses to “checking the polls with a frequency to shame those lab rats they train to push levers so they can dose themselves up with crack”.

That reminded me of two things.

The first is something I overheard in 1978 or ’79 in an old-fashioned corner drugstore on West Street in Annapolis. I was buying the Washington Post, and the lead story was

Consumer Confidence down 0.1%.

During the Carter years, that particular headline was recycled every week, and there were plenty more along the same lines, giving the results of various polls and surveys, most of them unpleasant.

One of the old guys who sat there all morning drinking coffee, eating pie, and reading the papers had obviously seen the headline, since I heard him tell his buddies, in what my memory somehow records as Ross Perot’s voice,

“Y’ know, a man who takes his temperature every half-hour is a hypochondriac. What do you call a country that has a new poll every day of the week?”

I thought that was a very good question even then, when polls were less abundant . . . not that I’m any better at resisting them than Megan.

Speaking of resistance, my second memory has to do with crack-addicted lab monkeys. I’ve never met one, but used the same metaphor in what is still my personal favorite of everything I’ve ever written on this blog, “Dealing with Addiction”, inspired by Sgt. Stryker’s temporary retirement from blogging in April 2002. Should I just copy the best part here, so you won’t have to click? Why not? It’s only a few clicks away! Here it is:

You start out just reading a few blogs, to kill time when youíre waiting for your boss to give you some boring assignment or other. Or maybe youíve always been curious about something your trendier friends have been doing for years. Next thing you know youíre checking in every day, for hours at a time, even when it's a beautiful day or you have urgent work to do, and your list of essential blogs is approaching triple digits. Then comes your first comment on someone elseís blog. Someone -- maybe even the blog-owner! -- replies to your comment, and agrees with you. You send a tip to Sullivan or the Instapundit, and he uses it! The rush is un-freakin'-believable, man! Now youíre hooked. Soon youíre lying awake half the night screaming for a blog of your own. Your trendy friends give you the name of someone who can get you started on the hard stuff, a trustworthy supplier named Ev or Ben or Mena. Once youíre up and running, you canít stop checking your hit count and referrer logs, updating and posting, uploading and reloading, over and over for hours at a stretch, like a lab monkey with a push-button cocaine-drip: itís just too pleasant to stop. Every morning you wake up hungry for more, roll up your sleeves, plug into your keyboard, and feel the sweet sweet blog soak into your consciousness. You spend the whole day in a blissful fog. (Why do you think they call it Ďbl-ogí?) And when the blog wears off at the end of a very late evening, you crawl off to bed, saying 'Thatís the last time. Really. I can quit any time I want'. In your heart you know itís a lie. Youíre a slave to cruel Lady Blog. You start trying to get more friends interested. Pretty soon all your friends are serious bloggies. Now you know where to go for the good stuff, the urgent fixes. When one of the more reliable suppliers is no longer on his streetcorner, it drives you half-insane. VodkaPundit takes a whole week off: doesnít he care about his customers? PejmanPundit goes out on a date and doesnít come back on-line until late the next morning: youíre waiting for him when he checks in. InstaPundit belies his name by spending time with his family for almost an entire day: the lack of new posts gives you cold sweats and the shakes. And his archives have disappeared, too, so you can't link to the post that would prove it. Now the Sarge has gone silent and he wonít even tell us for how long. I canít take it! Give me my blog! For God's sake give me my blog!

All in all, I feel a bit like the friend of a friend, who tried to cure his alcholism by taking up cocaine. He thought he could use the drug to wean him from liquor and then quit it, too, but ended up as a cocaine-addicted alcoholic. (I wrote a bit more about him here.) I want my blogs and my polls! Now! Please? A drink would be nice, too, but not for a few hours.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at October 26, 2004 01:39 PM