I throw a fair number of dinner parties, barbeques, happy hours, and other impromptu gatherings. I like to do it. I like bringing people together, making a situation fun, making it safe for people to talk freely and laugh and lower the barriers. At my summer party I usually go around with a huge pile of temporary tattoos letting people put skull and crossbones or dolphins or chinese characters on their biceps or their feet or their collarbone. And people do -- people you wouldn't expect. At my last summer party somebody started breakdancing. At the annual Winter or Fall Games everyone gets a nickname and has to refer to everyone else by their nicknames so months later lawyers and doctors and research scientists and engineers are asking after "Notorious BLT" or "Curbside Pickup" or "Shifty Bob". At my dinner parties people talk about religion and poetry and friendship. Sometimes they draw pictures or tell stories or move furniture around. I love people, I'm fascinated by all kinds of folks, and I love it when they open up to me and to one another. One of my great fortunes in my life is that I've got lots of smart and interesting and articulate people in my tribe. Some are funny and some are artistic and some are a little bit dorky and some are shy and some are wild, and I like all the different ways there are for people to be themselves. I've managed to fix a lot of people up -- start romantic or just platonic relationships between people that blossom, sometimes beyond my own friendship with either person. I think that's because I help people show the best sides of themselves to other people. It's one of my favorite things about being me.
Both Will Baude and Jeremy posted recently about why they don't allow comments on their blogs. Jeremy's reason is sort of about not wanting to be outdone on his own turf by a commenter -- an unlikely scenario, it seems to me. And Will grumps about the other side -- he thinks the remarks by commenters on most blogs are inferior to the words of the bloggers he likes and urges blog authors to get rid of the riff raff. It's about quality control for him, I guess.
Here's what I think. This blog for me is partly about self-expression, but it's also a way of starting conversations, creating a safe place to talk about things I find interesting, some funny, some serious. It's like a big backyard party or a dinner gathering. There are interesting people here. Smarter and more interesting than me, if I've done a good job. I love that they want to respond to the things I write. I love that they want to respond to one another. I love that people are finding blogs they like better than mine by reading the comments of people here. Sheesh. I don't see what riff raff has to do with it. This is a friendly gathering of intelligent people with interesting lives, not a lecture hall.