Q: Why do you write under a pseudonym? And why did you pick “Burt Likko” as that pseudonym? A: If I were writing under my real name, I might have to be more circumspect in offering provocative opinions. “Burt Likko” is an inside joke left over from an old friend of mine’s name being mangled by a careless person over the phone. If you don't get the joke, you aren't intended to. Move along, please.
Q: Where have you been transplanted from? A: I started out in California. Then I went to Tennessee. Then I came back to California.
Q: What’s the “Potted Plant” thing all about? A: The phrase “not a potted plant” comes from a famous quip made by a prominent lawyer named Brendan Sullivan while representing Oliver North, before a Congressional hearing in the late 1980's. It stuck with me.
Q: Why do you write such long posts? A: Not all my posts are long. But when I start exploring an idea, I want to do it completely.
Q: How much time do you spend writing all this stuff? A: It varies, of course. But probably less time than you think; I’m both a glib writer and a fast typist.
Q: Why do you write so many posts? A: I like it.
Q: I like to read your new stuff every day. But some days you don’t write anything at all! A: That’s not a question.
Q: Jeez, you really are a lawyer. Why don’t you write every day? A: Some days I don’t feel like it. Some days I don’t have time. Other days, I do, and on those days, I write.
Q: I don’t find the [insert subject here] posts interesting. A: So don’t read them. By the way, this is a list of “Frequently Asked Questions,” and that wasn’t a question. Q: Why didn't you write about [insert subject here]? A: There might by any of a number of reasons for that. Likely candidates include: 1) I haven't gathered enough information about [subject] to feel I have anything intelligent to say about it, 2) [subject] does not interest me at the moment, 3) I haven't found the time to write about [subject], or 4) pretty much everything that's needed to be said about [subject] can be found easily elsewhere. The internet is a big place and you should be able to easily find some discussion or coverage of [subject] if you can't find it here. I reject any moral judgments, whether explicit or implicit, concerning any failure, whether real or imagined, whole or partial, to comment on [subject]. If you think [subject] requires commentary that you do not believe is forthcoming here, well, Blogger and other similar services are 100% free and there is nothing to stop you from commenting on it yourself in your own forum.
Q: You’re not really an atheist, are you? A: I swear to God I am.
Q: Are you a member of the ACLU? A: No.
Q: Are you a member of Americans United for Separation of Church and State? A: No.
Q: Why don’t you refer to your wife by name? A: For the same reason I don’t refer to myself by name.
Q: What do you mean by “childless by choice?” A: I thought that was pretty obvious. I do not want to have or raise children.
Q: Oh, come on. Everybody wants kids. A: Incorrect. Also, that wasn’t a question.
Q: How much of this stuff about yourself is true? A: I don’t see how that matters. To the vast majority of you, I’m a pseudonymous blog author whom you will never meet or interact with. To those Readers, my personal life just isn’t all that big an issue.
Q: So why do you write about personal stuff at all? A: Because some of my friends and family do read the blog and for them, it’s a good way to stay in touch with me. If you don’t know me personally, then I would expect that my day-to-day personal affairs are uninteresting to you.
Q: Do you make money off this blog? A: Not a penny. Nor am I interested in doing so. The blog is a labor of love, not a commercial venture.
Q: Can I post on your blog? A: Maybe. We should talk (or e-mail) first, but it’s not out of the question.
Q: If I don’t want to comment but I have something to say about what you wrote, what can I do? A: Send me an e-mail. I won’t reprint our conversation without your permission and if I do reference what we’ve discussed, it will be in such a way that no one could possibly figure out who you are.
Q: Why do you delete comments? A: For the most part, I don’t. I do not delete comments for the reason that they reflect a point of view with which I disagree. But I do delete comments that 1) contain advertising or spam, 2) are overtly abusive, or 3) are apparently so unrelated to the topic of the post as to be non-sequiturs. And I reserve the right to delete any other comment for any reason that I, in my sole and complete discretion, choose to. If you believe a comment has been deleted wrongfully, I encourage you to rephrase your comment with the above in mind and try again.
Q: I hate you and think you’re an awful person because [insert reason, usually based on a political disagreement, here]. So why won’t you let me say so? A: It’s your right to disagree with me and even to hate me – but that doesn't make you special. The manner in which you express yourself is different than the viewpoint which you express. Respectful, intelligent disagreement is welcome. Trolling is not.
Q: Jesus Christ is my lord and personal savior. Can I give you my testimony? A: No.
Q: What would convince you that God was real? A: I strongly doubt that you can. Please don't try; I find such efforts tiresome.
Q: Why do you refer to God as Jehovah? A: It's the proper name of the diety most people are referring to when they talk about "God." I use the name despite the Biblical injunction against doing so because I do not believe in or fear magic spells or incantations in any form.
Q: You sometimes capitalize “God” and “Jesus.” That’s proof that you think they’re real and that they’re divine, isn’t it? A: No, it’s not.
Q: So you were a Catholic, is that why you don’t believe in God anymore? A: What exactly does that question imply? As far as I can tell, Catholics are every bit as likely as Protestants to be morally good people. If you can understand why I would reject the Roman Catholic Church’s particular flavor of mumbo-jumbo, then it shouldn’t be that big a leap for you to understand why I disbelieve in your church’s mumbo-jumbo, too.
Q: Evolution is just another kind of religion. Believe in it if you want, but it isn’t real. A: You’re entitled to your opinion, of course. But you’re profoundly incorrect. A “religion” by definition involves the relationship of a person with at least one supernatural entity. Evolution, by its very terms, eschews reference to supernatural causal factors with respect to the question of the manner in which biological organisms speciate over time. Evolution enjoys overwhelming support in the forms of the fossil record, species diversity, and the ongoing, observable phenomenon of speciation.
Q: Speciation has never happened. A: Yes it has.
Q: Where do you get your pictures? A: Generally from Wikimedia Commons, XKCD or FARK.
Q: Don’t you think that Feedjit thing is creepy? A: No. I think it’s cool.
Q: Didn’t your recent post on [subject] overlook [important fact]? A: Maybe it did. That’s what the “comments” section is for.
Q: Do you ever admit that you’re wrong? A: Yes.
Q: Why the Green Bay Packers? A: Because my family’s roots are in Wisconsin. I’ve rooted for the Packers since I was a little boy.
Q: I think you’re really a [something]. A: Oh.
Q: Why do you post recipes? A: Life is lived best with good food and good wine enjoyed amongst good friends. When I cook, and it turns out well, I like to share the joy that brings. If food, cooking, and recipes do not interest you, skip the posts about them.
Q: You really hate Sarah Palin, don’t you? A: No, I don’t. I admire that she achieved high political office at a relatively young age. She has charisma above and beyond her good looks and seems to be a basically likeable and appealing person and would probably be a great dinner guest. I respect that she is protective of her family. But she’s a) too socially conservative for my taste, and b) not been able to demonstrate a thorough enough grasp of public policy issues I care about to be the kind of President I would like.
Q: Do you think this blog got you dooced out of your job in Tennessee? A: It certainly didn’t help. But I've no regrets about that.
Q: Why do you hate Tennessee so much? A: I don’t hate Tennessee at all! Tennessee had some really good things going for it. Its politicians have figured out how to provide for an adequate state government without any income tax -- California should take a lesson from them. It’s beautiful and green. Housing was affordable. We made and still have some very good friends. I think it's something of a disadvantage there to not be (or at least claim to be) a Baptist, though. And I got a great offer to return to California.
Q: If you could be any kind of a tree, what would it be, and why? A: Anything in a national park. That would minimize my chances of being turned into furniture.
Q: For someone who claims to not have a television, you sure seem to know a lot about what’s happening on TV. A: The internet is a remarkable thing.
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