As far as I know I’ve never met Stefan Sharkansky. But he wrote a friendly email to me about a year ago pointing out, among other things, that we overlapped as undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin in the mid-1980s. So, who knows, I might have had a beer with him on the Memorial Union terrace, played a pick-up raquette ball game with him, or worked with him on a team programming project for a computer science course. If so, I am sure I enjoyed his company—if we had discussed politics at all, we would have shared the common ground that neither of us had ever voted for a Republican for President.
So why am I seemingly sucking up to Stefan? Well, first because I feel a little bad that I never responded to his email last August. I was on the road in NY state that month, and had lousy Internet access. But, more importantly, I am about to gobble-up some of his bandwidth by linking to an audio file on his site. Sorry Stefan…when Goldy left me the keys to the blog, he didn’t give me file upload capability. In any case, there would have been all that trouble of asking permission to use the file….
What the hell is this all about, you ask?
This Monday afternoon, Goldy and Stefan held a debate at Microsoft for the Microsoft PAC lunch. Stefan recorded and posted an audio file of the event. You can read his post about it here, or go directly to the audio here (15MB .WMA file).
I’ve listened to the debate and I must say that I sensed surprisingly little animosity between them. They laughed at each others jokes, they were not rude to each other, were pretty good about not interrupting each other, and they actually agreed on occasion. They produced an interesting debate over some issues like Darcy Burner and the 2004 election contest. The whole thing seemed shockingly civil! The debate is definitely worth a listen, whatever brand of politics you subscribe to.
In the late 1990s, Jay Leno suggested a hilarious practical joke in which he and David Letterman would swap places for a night (unannounced, of course). I once suggested something similar to Goldy—have Stefan post on Horsesass for a day and have Goldy post on Sound Politics for a day. My puckish suggestion may never happen, but after listening to these two rivals being civil in—and maybe even enjoying—their face-to-face interactions, it reminds me that the medium of blogs (and particularly blog comment threads) can sometimes act as an artificial barrier. Perhaps people who seem to hate each other in Goldy’s comment threads might find that they have common ground in their day-to-day concerns, and actually enjoy discussing topics like sports, microbrews or their favorite recipes. Hell…we might like some of the enemy!
Okay….enough of that feel-good shit. Back to the verbal daggers!