Archive for the ‘the internet and other plumbing issues’ Category

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Regarding the “MORON”…

December 14, 2016

part of oxymoron and reason number 999 why I hate Facebook….

I don’t go looking for this stuff, honestly. It just seems to jump out of the bushes at me while I’m on the way to something else, like that goddamned Chihuahua that jumped out of a hedge line and sunk his miserable little teeth into my ankle back when I was in college. I tried to punt the snarling coprolite into the next county but he was too quick for me. The upside is that the little shit likely died fifty years ago.

But, I digress. I was talking about those off-the-wall websites and other waste products that some jerk I never met, sitting in an office thousands of miles from here, decides I really need to check out, join, or at least pay attention to so the referral source gets that fraction of a penny for a “hit.” Facebook is one of the worst for presuming the right to dwell in the global mind, heart, soul, and rectal orifice, and it was there that I was threatened with a web-group called…get this…”Libertarian Socialism.”

I’ve been trying to reconcile the use of the adjective “libertarian” in combination with “socialism”, but so far have failed. Perhaps it’s at an intellectual level beyond my reach, but I can’t get past the thought that “Libertarian socialism” has a bit of an oxymoronic ring to it, you know, sort of like “Celibate Prostitution.”

Of course, I had to check it out.

First of all, I have to say that the concept is real, in the sense that such a political philosophy has been around for a long time. I didn’t know that until I looked it up. Being given shelf space in some remote lexicon closet does not legitimize or validate the term, or any other, however. It merely acknowledges that the term had been coined and enjoys a reasonably stable definition, and is therefore, at least on that score, equal to any other “ism.”

That doesn’t belie my assessment, though. I stand by it. My first involvement with Libertarianism began many decades ago, whenever it was that I first read something by Ayn Rand, and later during the seventies when I registered as a Libertarian and voted for Ed Clark for President. My understanding has always been that “libertarian” referred to a concept of community that eschewed force in favor of volunteerism. Liberty.

Secondly, the first thing I encountered upon tiptoeing through the iron gate of the Libertarian Socialist page was the welcoming message:

“this is a place to discuss libertarian socialism. trolls, reactionaries, racists & race realists, etc. are not welcome. ableism, queerphobia, transphobia, misogyny and other forms of reactionary discrimination are not welcome. this includes libertarian capitalists/ancaps/right libertarians and so-called “anarcho” nationalists. violations of these rules may result in a ban, both for the person who does them and possibly the person who invited them to the group as well.

Here again, I was tripped up by my preconceptions regarding definition. I thought I had learned way back when that “socialism” was an economic idea based on social, society-wide, ownership and democratic control of the means of production. I’ve never liked it because it disenfranchises the individual in favor of mob rule over the utilization of one’s assets, and it depends upon force to maintain its form. Despite verbiage to the contrary, it does not represent liberty.

Obviously then, the philosophy of “libertarian socialism“, at least the form offered by the internet group in question, eschews liberty and freedom of speech in favor of an authoritarian, narrowly prescribed menu of permitted sub-philosophies of the newspeak variety. The only reason I could think of why someone would wish to “join” such a group would be (1) if they could be in charge, or (2) could be located near enough to the emperor’s ass to facilitate profitable sycophancy.

Sycophancy has never been my strong suit, however, due in part to an unfortunate lifelong bilateral Tourettes-like tic in my middle digits.

They (Faceplant, et al)really should let me window-shop for my own points of interest and curiosity.  Nine times out of ten while at the end of Mr. Zuckerberg’s tether and choke-collar I find myself misdirected to some flame hole or digital Rubber Room that lacks any compatibility with me or my vapor trail. Just because I spent 30 seconds on Tuesday, 1988 at the urinal next to a guy in a blue suit in the Boston airport does not justify non-stop ads for blue suits or job offers from American Standard…

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Lexical Semantics…

December 8, 2016

and my woeful inadequacy therein….

I learned several years ago that if I wanted to have a civilized conversation with someone, internet arenas dedicated to commentary and discussion were one notch below a Hells Angels get-together for suitability. It didn’t used to be that way.

Back in the days of Dial-up connection and the iconic yet corny-from-the-start “ You’ve got mail” announcement from AOL, the early “chat rooms” were rather benign by today’s standards. Behavior mattered, and habitually rude and or insulting behavior would earn “banishment” from a “moderator”. This was not an infringement on Freedom of Speech. The sites were “owned” and operated by individuals or companies like AOL, and they were free to establish their own parameters for “membership”. The enforcement of the rules was accomplished through the culture of the base membership, with a moderator stepping in as the last resort.

I wandered about trying several discussion boards or communities before joining one that seemed broad enough to be interesting and mature enough to be enjoyable. I followed it for more than ten years, off and on, and still have the password, though I doubt it is active anymore.

Technology and society have seen a few changes over the past 20-25 years. The last site I “joined” and interacted with on a somewhat regular basis was the “comment” portion of my local newspaper’s digital edition. That was a couple of years ago, and it didn’t last. Such places are now primarily dedicated to verbal combat and adolescent behavior. People jump on with screen names and hide behind fictional identities to say things that would get them seriously hurt in the real world. They are called “trolls”, among other apt nicknames, and they took the pleasure out of swapping howdy-dos over the internet.

Another one I tried briefly advertised itself as being “libertarian and tolerant of all views”, but turned out to be run like a boot camp by some hot dog who seemed more interested in meting out penalties than in communicating. Click.

From time to time, I succumb to the temptation to stick my toe in what still looks like water but which I know to be sulfuric acid. As I scan the articles claiming to be news, I usually come to a comments section at the end where readers can offer their feedback on the subject. The first one in line usually gets by without a hitch, but subsequent ones are highly likely to attract flies, or trolls, or both.

So, this morning I had just read an article obviously slanted for the “liberal” point of view, with specific emphasis in this particular case on mocking the so-called Confederate Battle Flag and those who defend it. I have found this sort of “pissing contest” to be rather pointless, but for some reason I felt compelled to drop a short comment after someone else’s comment.

In essence, I pointed out that America seems to have its own version of the Taliban, deciding which icons and monuments can stand and which must be destroyed. The Confederate Flag didn’t pass their PC muster and therefore had to go.

The “return shot” was as swift as it was incredible. A young lady from California sporting an Hispanic name and either questionable command of the language or of the keyboard scolded me, charging that I obviously don’t know the meaning of the words I used. Oh, wow! Oh, wow in scientific notation! This college educated former editor was being scolded by a post-adolescent Green Card for not understanding my native language! I couldn’t make this up! I also couldn’t stop laughing!

I started to prepare a short essay on my understanding of the words conservative, moderate, liberal, Taliban, and some points regarding the First Amendment, and then just backed away from the keyboard and smiled.

“Nice try,” I sneered at the monitor. “You almost got me.”

 

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Out-spooking the national spooks…

October 20, 2016

Somebody picked the dip’s pocket…….

Okay, so I can’t help but see the “black humor” in this one…

The story is about the investigation of how a bunch of stuff, including some top-secret hacking tools belonging to the National Security Agency, ended up being offered for sale on the internet by a group calling themselves….wait for it…The Shadow Brokers. This exquisite woo-woo is right out of the Nixon era playbook. Compounding the irony is that the media got the skinny on the item from inside sources who talked off the record because they weren’t authorized to…you know the drill. I couldn’t make this up. Well, I could, I suppose, but I don’t drink anymore….

 

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Tabloid journalism & comments….

January 15, 2016

ChatroomTroll_1_FINAL

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On line discussions and anonymity…..

September 20, 2013

 

or, punchin’ the tar baby….

I suppose it is a habit, though I can’t think of one good reason why. I read the article, and then went to the comments section to add my two cents worth on the topic at hand. While there, I took a quick look at what a few other people had written, and while none of it influenced what I had already decided to post, I did find myself muttering insults and other disparaging assessments of my anonymous peers. I sat back for a moment and looked at the screen.

What the hell are you doing?” I asked myself.

So, here I am, and I still have not answered that question. It’s an important question, I believe, and one I need to answer.

I have opinions on issues and events, as do many other people, and I often publish them in one way or another, as I have since junior high school when I started drawing cartoons and signed up to work on school publications. That behavior continued for the next thirty years or so, editing a college newspaper, and later a local weekly, and then continued with letters to the editor, and so forth. As an experienced curmudgeon, I had to wonder while I was staring at that screen what it was about that particular venue that rankled me.

A couple of years ago, against my better judgment, I signed up for the on-line version of our local daily newspaper because I thought it would be interesting to get involved in some of the discussions that follow news items and editorials. The first thing I noticed was that people contributing to those discussions, unlike the writers of traditional letters to the editor, had assumed a broad variety of strange identifications the likes of which I had first encountered on a Dungeons and Dragons game site. Slaying orcs as the BloodSword of Garsche is one thing, but if I’m going to debate with an editor, I want him to know my name.

It quickly became clear that virtually nobody wanted their names known, and why. It’s amazing what people will say and do when they assume a mantle of non-accountability! I stayed on that website for less than a year, during which time a brother in law, one other person, and I were the only ones who used our real names. Why an allegedly middle aged man with a PhD and named after a fictitious animal would taunt me for willfully being identifiable I’m not sure…..but I do have a couple of thoughts on the matter that I kept to myself then and I will continue to do so here as well.

I noticed that when one of us “REAL-namers” would post a remark on that particular site, even if it was silly or stupid, it had obviously passed some sort of muster first. I don’t recall ever personally insulting another participant, though I often disagreed with them vigorously. Nor do I recall the others doing so, either. Any attempts to clarify insults made against me were fruitless. Rabid politics and accusations of every imaginable sort were consistently offered instead of rational discourse by a handful of those I met and observed there. It was best to ignore them.

I have no idea whether those few individuals were fifteen or fifty. They reminded me of the “CB” craze of the seventies when it seemed that everybody owned at least one Citizen’s Band radio. With very few exceptions, exchanges over the airwaves then were pointless, inane, silly, and a lot of fun, but even then there were the few, known as “Weenies”, who did everything in their apparently adolescent power to offend, interrupt, pepper the airwaves with profanities, and generally make pains in the ass of themselves.

Like bell bottom pants and wide ties, some fads are cyclical and reappear periodically. The internet and digital technology have unleashed the “Weenies”, again, it seems. At least they don’t wield a phony Alabama accent and say “ten fir”, and “good buddy has been supplanted by “Dude”, among other things.

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I never posted my response to the article and I don’t recall what the subject matter was. Nevertheless, I learned something important; about myself. People have many reasons for behaving as they do, both privately and publicly, and even in the most altruistic of instances I believe there is a primary element of self actualization involved.

One may help the little old lady across the street because, in part, she desires to cross it, and in part because it makes him feel good, but there is also likely to be a merit badge of some sort involved. I know it makes me feel good about myself to do something nice for someone, but I don’t make an obsession out of it. I may have retired from a helping field, but I also got paid for my time and efforts.

On the other side of that coin we have people that engage in mean, objectionable, annoying, and sometimes downright obnoxious behaviors, and it stands to reason that they, too, must be serving a variety of motivations. I mean, I know there must be a reason why an alleged adult would assume a false identity so that he or she could beleaguer any and all without fear of consequences. As a retired counselor, it is tempting to move into Lucy’s sidewalk “Psychiatry 5 cents” concession stand and spend all afternoon analyzing and diagnosing these characters with everything but hives, but, for one thing, I’m not credentialed to do that, and, for another I’ve got better things to do with my time.

I guess it is safe to say, however, that skulking behind some fantasy name and launching barbs at passersby isn’t exactly the profile of someone you’d like to have date your daughter or that you’d like to elect to public office. In fact, I wouldn’t even want to live next door to the jerk.

So, to address my initial question regarding “what the hell” I might have been doing as I teetered on the brim preparing to swan dive once again into the cistern of psychopathology, I haven’t a clue.

The internet is a veritable Garden of Delights of “chat” rooms, forums, and discussion groups of every imaginable kind with infinite opportunities to join in the melee. The phenomenon actually presents multiple opportunities for an interesting study or two into human social behavior, too. I’m sure some college psych major already thought of that and turned in a paper while I was fiddling with my Social Security forms; and if not, why not?

For me, such activities are good places to stay away from, or at least to minimize lapses of good judgment when I succumb to temptation. Even though I like to put my name on what I say, if I find myself wondering if that is wise, I should take that as an indication that I probably shouldn’t be there, that I shouldn’t say what I was going to say, or both.

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It really sucks…..

September 3, 2013

when the sump pump quits suckin’….

….It’s been like the monsoons around here all week, and the air is just about as wet as the ground. Walking is difficult out there. So is breathing, for that matter. Trying to do both at once is a real challenge sometimes. Nevertheless, at least we have a good sump pump in the cellar, and as long as that sucker keeps on suckin’, we’ll be fine. So, I hear this loud sucking sound this morning coming from the cellar. It couldn’t have been jobs going across the border because they all did that years ago, so I figured it had to be that sucker in the sump well, but I couldn’t understand why it sounded more like it was suckin’ air than water. I made my way down to the cellar to find out what was going on. I found the sump pump suckin’ away in a basically empty well with a partially detached hose spewing water back into the pit.

“Well”, I thought. “That sucks.” Or not.

I discovered that the band clamp holding the exit hose to the pump unit had broken, so I rummaged around in the garage for a new one and replaced it. The well had filled up a bit so once I had everything put back together, I plugged the sucker back in. It sucked! That was a relief, but when the water was all gone the sucker kept on suckin’ and began to heat up. Hmmm. It seems the switch had pooped out and wouldn’t turn the sucker off, again.

I went to my office/man cave/junk repository and pawed through my files until I found the receipt and paperwork from when I had purchased the thing.

Warrantee seems to have expired just like the sump pump. Now I have to go buy a new one and get it installed within an hour and a half. That’s about how long it takes the sump well to fill back up before I have to plug the faulty sucker back in to suck the water out lest I have to chase floating storage bins around the cellar again like I did the last, time.

That really sucks, you know?

 

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The Nanny Internet….

August 7, 2013

and you thought the gov’mint was nosey….

It’s like having some obsessed parental control freaks following me around, telling me in precise detail what I should like, think, look at, talk about, read, yadda, yadda, yadda. With (in)sincere apologies to obsessed parental control freaks everywhere, having someone refold my skivvies to within microscopic tolerances is a pain in the ass, but not nearly so much as the internet deciding that it knows more about me and my likes and dislikes than I do myself.

I think it started as just one of those new digital playthings that Google or someone thought up a few years ago, but the whole concept has become a disease. I turn my computer on in the morning, and just about anywhere I go I am greeted by a synopsis of what I seem to have enjoyed in recent days. Excuse me, you stinkin’ sack of ones and zeros, but YOU didn’t savor that piece of lemon meringue pie I had for dessert the other day I did! I casually browsed e-Bay for a specific book and within hours YOU spam my universe with the entire contents of the Library of Congress and YOU then presume to inform me regarding exactly what I like and should therefore immediately beg, borrow, steal, buy, download, eat for dinner, or read based upon your annoying and intrusive need to stick your digital nose up my intellectual butt 24/7.

Stop!

Stop!

I will look when and where I please for what I may or may not find interesting. I don’t give a toot how many ones and zeros you can dance with, I have 100 billion brain cells and I’ll use them any way I please, and if I want you to do anything with the crap you suck up from my footprints, I’ll let you know.

Don’t ask….don’t tell…

If I don’t ask you for it, don’t tell me your two cents worth. We’re in a recession and two cents actually aren’t worth a fly fart in a hurricane, anyway.

Don’t tell me what I did yesterday. I already know. And don’t tell the NSA either, because it’s none of their business.

Don’t tell me what your statistical Bingo basket predicts I would enjoy doing today. Maybe I already have plans. Maybe I don’t. Maybe I don’t want any.

Don’t keep track of what I buy, where I buy it, and how much I pay so you can attempt to steer me to what you and your market pimps want me to buy next and where you want me to buy it.

Don’t keep track of what I view and where I view it, so you can attempt to steer me to what you and your market pimps want me to view next and where you want me to view it in order to generate “hit” points for some entity who really doesn’t give a flying crap about making my day easier, more amusing, or more productive.

This attempt by Google and all of its illegitimate mutant spawn to hijack the human brain processes to which they have no deed, title, or even so much as a short term lease has resurrected in me a level of Oppositional Defiant compulsions I have not experienced since puberty, …..or, at least since I retired.

I have visions of swiping the lug nuts from Google’s wheels, painting their living room picture window black, and perpetrating various and sundry little bad boy stunts with firecrackers and animal byproducts. Fortunately, I am just as capable of choosing to NOT do such things as I am of choosing to NOT to follow their stupid trails of digital crumbs.

Nobody is perfect, however, so I must confess that I thoroughly enjoy feeding contradictory lies to random databases whenever possible, on the off chance that I might produce a self-consuming loop.

 

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