Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Blogging is like Frying a Small Fish

by soj Mon Sep 26th, 2005 at 01:30:41 PM EST

I've never been a big fan of fanfare and I'm certainly not changing now.  But all of you have been very good to me over the years and I can't quite slip out the door without at least saying goodbye in a decent manner.

I've made that a bad habit of mine - slipping out the back door - pretty much all my life.  When I was in high school, I bribed the yearbook editor to remove my photographs and listings.  Why?  Simply because I didn't want lie moldering on someone's shelf, a someone with whom I had nothing more in common with than we lived in the same neighborhood and therefore went to the same school.

It's been a great ride, an incredibly great ride.  I guess you could say I got in close to the ground floor of the "blogging phenonemon", whatever that is.  That was roughly three years ago, which is nothing in "real" time but an eternity on the internet.

Seven or eight years ago I used to read a free newspaper in a midwestern city, which had what I thought was a local comic strip of biting political satire.  It turns out that comic was This Modern World, distributed nationally, written by a genius who calls himself Tom Tomorrow.

Approximately three years ago, in a late-night web surfing session, I re-discovered that comic strip online and there on his site was a "blog".  One thing led to another and I was soon visiting others, including DailyKos, and joined up.  Somewhere around October or November 2003, Kos implemented the Scoop software, which included the paradigm-shifting feature known there (and here) as "Diaries".

I actually hated and feared Diaries when they first emerged.  I remember many a long conversation with my compadre Paper Tigress about them, because I had the feeling they were supposed to be like... I don't know, a paper diary.  Write about my day?  Tell you what kind of sandwich I ate for lunch?  Nah... my private life is enough for just me, it doesn't need to be shared with the rest of the literate universe.

But those Diaries are just misnomers - they are in fact akin to handing over a fully-functional printing press to an adolescent, complete with a modern and advanced distribution system.  A lot of writers, from Benjamin Franklin to Stephen King, got inspired by running their own print presses and I must say Kos's Diaries had the same effect on me.  It was a license to write!

Those of you who were around remember the rest - there was a revolution ongoing in a faraway country called the Republic of Georgia and nobody in the English language seemed to be covering it.  Well at least not to the extent I felt it deserved.  And that multi-part series, lost in the sands of history, inspired me to write ever more.  And it wasn't long after that when I knew I needed my own place to write on the subjects I cared about and that became Flogging the Simian.

My gosh! What a ride it was too... covering everything from the mysterious death of Nicholas Berg to plumbing the depths of the mercenary/self-publicist insane hero Jack Idema.  And a handful of coups, wars and geopolitical chess moves along the way.

Writing on the subjects close to my heart was something I've wanted to do my entire life.  It's something I will do the rest of my life so long as I have the fingers to type.  I love it so much that I made the life-changing decision to move to Romania so I could do it full-time, depending on the generosity of readers to live.  And it worked, far beyond my wildest dreams.

Anyone with a microphone or a platform to speak from will eventually gain critics and perhaps even enemies.  I did my best to shield my personal life from my online writing life and for the most part succeeded.  Unfortunately, one person from my offline past decided it would be some kind of childish fun to hunt me down online and threaten to expose me before everyone else.  It's all rather pitiful actually, if you only knew the details, because it's a pathetic kind of puerile revenge for something I allegedly did more than 14 years ago.

I do however wish to clarify a few things in the name of general well-being and peace.

First, I am in no physical danger.  I already had a plan to move apartments, unrelated to this incident, and that will soon take place.  The people in Romania who know nothing of my online existence will know where I am of course, but they are completed isolated from the people I know in the United States.  My cell phone contract conveniently also expires in a week or two and I will be getting a new one, with a new company, with a new number, under a different name shortly as well.  So for all intents and purposes, I'm disappeared.

I will remain in Romania, that's all I can tell you for certain.  And even if the person who prompted my early retirement makes good on their asinine threats, I will be fine.  So for all of you who are kind and good-hearted people and worried about such things, please put your hearts and minds at rest.  Romania is a wonderful country to get lost in, especially once you know the language and have come to love these beautiful people.

Secondly, in no way was this prompted by any of you.  I've made my fair share of critics in the blogging world but that's the nature of the beast and none of you have crossed over any line with me.  I'm a stout defender of free speech and the entitlement of one to one's opinions, and if all of you agreed with everything I ever wrote why then you'd be nothing more than a bunch of sycophants ;)

And last, although I'm not a real big rap music fan, a comment by Kidspeak struck a deep resonance with me.  The truth is I've played my part but it's a part that was and shall always remain absolutely useless without everyone playing their parts too.  The blogosphere gives everyone the right to publish, and be read, by 5 or 5 million.  Yet it cannot serve its vital function unless people write.

That almost sounds too simplistic I know, but sometimes the most powerful things are the most simple.  Do you think you're "not as good" as I am?  Do you think you can't write as well as I do?  Are you in awe of what I do?  Well guess what? I used to be in awe of other heavyweights, including MeteorBlades, but it never stopped me from picking up the keyboard.  So what if he's a better writer than me?  We're all in this together folks and we've all got to do our part.  We've all got to write.  We've all got stories only we can write, whether its tales of growing up by Boo or Kid O or M Tracy's historic visit to the August heat outside in Crawford.  Every voice counts here, every last one, and if you're capable of reading this, you're capable of writing!

We've all got to write for those who can't - for those who have not yet heard of the internet, for those with no access, for those fighting for survival.  We've got to write for the voiceless, the dispossessed and the teeming masses of the world.  The critics say every voice added contributes to a kind of chaotic noise but to me it sounds more like the birth cries of an empowered populace - one that is not only better informed than any people in history but one which is also self-informed.  That's so fundamentally revolutionary I don't think any of us can appreciate the power of it.  And it isn't restricted to the borders of any country either, but spreading out like a virus in every language across every ocean.

I've got to disappear for a while but I'll never be completely gone.  They won't get rid of me that easily ;)  But don't mourn my "passing" or celebrate it too heavily, because in the final analysis, this hasn't really got anything to do with me.  I was a tiny cog in a gigantic gearshift that's changing the very fabric of reality.  And it's up to all of us to help turn the wheel of change until every person on earth has free and random access to all the information of humankind - from "objective" news reports to lunatic babble.  Humanity is coming into its own in a way not seen since the days when a village was a major population center.

Ok folks.. time to fade to black here (for a while).  So long and thanks for all the fish!


I didn't get the chance to know you, beyond your excellent round-ups, but you seem like a special person. Good luck with everything!
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Sep 26th, 2005 at 01:39:29 PM EST
I'd plead hysterically for you to reconsider, but I don't really do hysteria. I'll settle for repeating that I'm disappointed and that you'll be missed.

Best of luck: hope to see you writing again soon.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Sep 26th, 2005 at 01:41:16 PM EST
HEAR:::HEAR!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!! And drop on by sometimes (even if under a new name...Miss Styriosa?)

Take care, and good on you for taking care of yourself!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Mon Sep 26th, 2005 at 02:15:20 PM EST
Govern a nation as you would fry a small fish.  (Lao Tsu)

That is, deftly, lightly -- keeping the small fish whole.

There were so many small fish to catch, too, and you went fishing, Soj.

I hope you'll be casting your nets again soon, as soon as possible. Not because you're indispensable -- you're right, this is a collective thing -- but because you're different, and it's sad to see you disappear.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Sep 26th, 2005 at 03:50:05 PM EST
Another excellent post! I will miss your posts... Take care and take it easy!

BTW, I hope the Adams refence doesn't mean the Vogons are just parked out in our orbit ready to fire their cannons...

by lawnorder (lawnorder / texasturkey.us) on Mon Sep 26th, 2005 at 05:56:12 PM EST
but I can imagine what it must be like for you.  See you.  That's not goodbye, because you'll be back under a new name with a new identity, whether you think so now or not.  You won't be able to leave blogging for too long.
by Rick in TX on Mon Sep 26th, 2005 at 07:38:29 PM EST
It's Called Inspiration

"Do you think you're "not as good" as I am?  
Do you think you can't write as well as I do?  
Are you in awe of what I do?  Well guess what? "

Thanks Soj - your blog archives will remain online?
Have you taken down the blogsite already?

I'm glad to hear it's someone from years past, I was afraid it was someone close to you in your present life in Romania. It's great you will be able to live in the Romanian culture to the fullest with your loved ones. Most important, your voice will not be silent but will find it's path once again in the blog community.

The people you have touched will never forget Soj in Flogging the Simian - so long friend, till we meet again. In the meantime, your torch will be carried further by all your friends on the blog community, the interaction remains forever. That's the power of the universe, we are such an infinite small part of.

You remind me of another great lady with a mission. Vaya con dios mi amiga.

At BooMan :: Blogging is Like Frying a Small Fish ◊ by soj

«« click on pic to enlarge »»

Soj's Romania :: on EuroTrib :: and consumption.

Re: Welcome! Bienvenue!

I just wanted to say that the picture under my name in the header there is one I myself took (I was surprised to see it!) from the lovely city of Braşov.

If you're ever in Romania, you should definitely visit and the coffee shop I took the picture from is also quite nice as well (with a gigantic aquarium - quite lovely).


Night and day you can find me Flogging the Simian
by soj on Mon Jun 13th, 2005 at 02:41:30 AM PDT

▼ ▼ ▼

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Mon Sep 26th, 2005 at 07:46:52 PM EST
Your incredible dedication to this site and your own blogging has my deep respects and I truly hope the day you're able to get back and kicking will be nearby.

To be fair, you've been somewhat of a puzzle to me: I couldn't possibly fathom how on earth you would be able to collect all that information and write about it and have a living in the same itme. So, with this goodbye-for-now post, some of that mystery is explained, and in the meantime you offer humility and inspiration to others. It is, truly, dazzling.

My best wishes to you to fix yourself a new place. I wait for the day we'll see you return.

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Mon Sep 26th, 2005 at 08:02:39 PM EST
I had been wondering, where you were. It is a big decision to fade away, as you always leave people behind, that don;t want to miss your company. And blogging proves, that even if we don;t know the real person, we grow accustom to the bits and dots we see on screen, hear your voice through it.

Bugger those, that want you harm. Bugger those, that have this power over you. Bugger those, that take you away from us.

My cat is shouting a farewell.

All the best for your future plans, all the best.

by PeWi on Mon Sep 26th, 2005 at 08:08:27 PM EST
a great loss Soj.  those incredibly well-researched and educational posts!  almost always on topics that were part of the endless steppes of my personal ignorance, too -- which made them even more precious.

please, grow a new identity and make a comeback when you can.   remember, "on the Internet nobody knows you're a Soj..."

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Mon Sep 26th, 2005 at 08:49:03 PM EST
Thank you for sharing. They say, when one door closes a new one opens. I hope for you that a joyful and happy door will open for you. Good luck!
by Fran on Tue Sep 27th, 2005 at 02:06:55 AM EST
I'm a bit confused about the nature of the "threat" but no matter.

Good luck and thanks for all the fish, er, posts.

by Lupin on Tue Sep 27th, 2005 at 05:52:09 AM EST
I found Eurotrib the same day I found Flogging the Simian, and both have enhanced my online world considerably.  Good luck and have fun in Romania, from the (as far as I know) only other Eurotribulationist in that country.

And I hope everything is OK.

Musings on life in Romania and beyond

by adhoc on Tue Sep 27th, 2005 at 09:29:01 AM EST
I'm not big at words, but boy(girl) will you be missed.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Sep 27th, 2005 at 11:56:48 AM EST
Very strange to feel so sad at losing touch without ever having brushed by you on the street.

perhaps its more like knowing an angel - not by body but by breadth of soul. Thank you for all you've taught, but mostly for what you've revealed of being human. Not sure why exactly, but your postings have so often affirmed my democratic heart.

P.S. If the threat comes round again, remember you have quite a few partizans.

by citizen on Tue Sep 27th, 2005 at 01:23:21 PM EST
Thanks for all you have done and will do. Yours is an intelligent voice and it will be missed.
by northsylvania on Tue Sep 27th, 2005 at 05:09:20 PM EST
Let me add my voice to the chorus of lament.
There are a lot of things I'd really like to see you "go after" but obviously you have the right to choose where and when you enlighten us with your research and opinions, and surely your own well being comes before
our narcissism.  I might mention that www.lespeakeasy.org
provides the possibility of "private communications", which might be of interest.  (For all I know that's even possible here at European Tribune, but if so I haven't noticed that "facility".)   Good luck, and arrivederci.

Hannah K. O'Luthon
by Hannah K OLuthon on Wed Sep 28th, 2005 at 02:10:10 AM EST
Soj- I'm sitting here wishing you had a hankering for sushi. I trust your words that all will be well, but I will miss your mind and how you put it all together.


But I'll see you in the sky above,
In the tall grass, in the ones I love,
You gonna make me lonesome when you go...

-Bob Dylan

by US Blues on Wed Sep 28th, 2005 at 03:41:12 PM EST
particularly to human stupidities.

But please lurk...and as Rick in TX said...give it a breather for a little bit and be reborn/yet not reborn. In other words, a new monker.

by gradinski chai on Thu Sep 29th, 2005 at 02:09:16 AM EST

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