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Derb’s Right


I do read all of my email. Or to be more honest, I open all of my email. I do not owe it to hate-mailers, for example, to read every line of bile they send. And, by now I’ve become quite expert at skimming past arguments I’ve heard for the fiftieth time. Also, in terms of not responding to everybody, that’s simply a necessity. It particularly pains me when readers send me brilliant but very long essays on a given subject, ofen interwoven with numerous complex and nuanced questions for me to answer. Responding thoughtfully to more than a tiny fraction of these would mean never writing anything for publication ever again. Also, some readers — especially high school and college kids — can make astoundingly onerous requests for help with research. Some of these kids are clearly smart and sincere, but I just can’t spend an hour combing through my bookshelves to answer a question about Orwell or the warp drive. Nevertheless, I often feel guilty about not responding to those either. But my favorite is when people assume that the responses I do send are auto-responses or written by my “staff” — as if Cosmo or the Couch could be trusted with that kind of responsibility. I could go on and on about this and I’m sure that other NRniks could as well. But the point is, everyone I know spends a great deal of time reading email and thinking about how to respond to it.


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