What Would John Galt Do?

A whole different way of looking at "WWJD"

Friday, January 18, 2013

One More Thing...

Ever since my first post on this blog, I've been reminding you Dear Readers that there are only three things that really light my fuse.  Those are, and have always been (in no particular order):  Stupidity, Dishonesty, and Hypocrisy.

Almost everything that angers me in today's political or interpersonal discourse -- most of which can be boiled down to people who want to control other peoples' lives -- fits very nicely into one or more of those three categories.  Environmentalists, fundamentalist Christians, Marxists, clueless Republicans, Keynesians, fundamentalist Muslims, anti-Free Market corporations, what Ayn Rand called "moochers, looters and parasites," Democrats (but I repeat myself), and people who think it's their business to dictate what other people do with their sex organs -- all are guilty of at least one of the above, most are guilty of two, and a few are guilty of all three.

About a year ago I began recognizing a fourth category.  This is the "One More Thing" that is the subject of today's post:

Hatred.

Hatred is inextricably linked with that most vile of all human drives:  the urge to control others.

Over the last two and a half decades we have seen a precipitous rise in what Rush Limbaugh once called "the politics of personal destruction" practiced by the Left.  It's a lot older than that, of course -- witness the way they utterly destroyed Sen. Joe McCarthy (who, as we now know, was right all along).  What I am talking about is the ongoing, nonstop barrage of sustained machine-gun-fire of hatred that I first noticed in the hate campaign against loggers in the Pacific Northwest.  In that campaign cute, fuzzy, large-eyed Spotted Owls were pitted in a false-dichotomy struggle against "evil," "greedy," logger-"rapists."  Yes, they actually referred to loggers as "rapists," and did so repeatedly. And they won that war, just as they won the one against Sen. McCarthy four decades earlier.

Since demonization is one of the most pernicious of the panoply of ad hominem attacks employed daily by the Left, it is worth taking our time to look at it here before moving on.  Since a demon is the Spawn of Hell and one of Satan's minions (i.e., not a human being), once you have successfully demonized someone -- which means to turn that person into a demon in the eyes of your audience -- you make that person less than human.

So in the end, demonization is dehumanization.  And once you have successfully dehumanized someone, that person no longer deserves any human rights, and you are free to abuse him in any way that your most perverse tastes desire.  You may take away his property -- everything he owns, and everything he will ever own -- his dignity, and even that most precious human right of all, his life.  You need never concern yourself again with any of the moral injunctions that govern relations between and among human beings, because that person is not a human; s/he has become an other.

And this is what political discourse in the United States has come down to.

The next barrage after the Spotted Owl hoax, launched even before that one had died down, was in response to a flawed and vastly over-reaching 1992 Oregon ballot measure to insert language into the state Constitution "that recognizes homosexuality, pedophilia, sadism and masochism as abnormal, wrong, unnatural, and perverse."  As extreme, ridiculous and stupid as this was, the Left managed to outperform the measure's sponsors, ratcheting the demonization all the way Up To Eleven with the vilest, most vicious ad hominem attacks ever seen at that time.

Note that the sexual Neanderthals (fundamentalist Christians, all) who proposed the measure never engaged in even a single ad hominem attack throughout the entire campaign -- but their opponents did, repeatedly.  Note that while Lefties are fond of invoking Godwin's Law to shut down a debate, they repeatedly made lying references to Nazi Germany in that debate, invoking revisionist events that never happened.  And they made repeated use of the words "hate" and "bigotry" without ever bothering to look up what those two words actually mean.

But I did look them up, back then.  Mostly because I wanted to understand what the word "bigot" actually means, and what it does not, before using the word in a sentence.  Using a Funk & Wagnall's, I started with the word "bigotry" and then looked up, in the same dictionary, the actual meaning of all the words that were used to define "bigotry."  And then I looked up the meanings of the words used to define those words.  And so on, until I came to what I believed was a solid, foundational understanding of what was being talked about.

What I found was that if you trace far enough, you'll find that both hate and bigotry involve taking away someone's rights. 

We shan't go into the issue of whether the ballot measure did that.  I mentioned the story mainly to segue into what "hate" is, and is not.  And to explain, in precise terms, what I mean when I use the word in a political context:

When I accuse someone of hatred, I always mean it within the context of taking away someone's rights.  If no rights are being taken away, then the thing under discussion does not clear the bar, and is not hatred.

Let us now look at what are rights -- and what are not.  A few of them are enumerated in the U.S. Constitution.  Many more are not.  And finally, a plethora of so-called "rights" being bandied about today -- simply do not exist.
The concept of a “right” pertains only to action—specifically, to freedom of action. It means freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men. ... As to his neighbors, his rights impose no obligations on them except of a negative kind:  to abstain from violating his own rights.
-- Ayn Rand, "Man's Rights," The Virtue of Selfishness

As Ms. Rand explains a few sentences later, there is no such thing as a "right" to an object.  Which includes:  another's wealth.  And, later yet, that property rights are not rights to an object:
The right to property means that a man has the right to take the economic actions necessary to earn property, to use it and to dispose of it; it does not mean that others must provide him with property.
-- ibid.

Stated another way:  a right is a moral prohibition of actions that others may not take against you.  There is no such thing as a "right" compelling anyone to do anything for you.  And the rights enumerated in the U.S. Constitution are examples (but not an exhaustive list) of actions that Government may not take against you.  Again, there is no such thing as a Constitutional "right" to have Government give you anything.

Any time someone is accused of hatred, the first question in your mind should be, "What right is being taken away here?"

So when a Libtard throws out the old, tired, "You only hate Obama because he is black," the only proper response is:  "Oh, really?  What right am I trying to take away from him?"

And when I accuse (for one example out of thousands) the Huffington Post of being a hate group, I believe I am on firm ground, since they repeatedly support taking away the fruit of certain people's (but not others') labors at the point of a gun, and redistributing it to those who have produced nothing.  Wealth redistribution is nothing short of slavery.

This is precisely the same hatred that led to the slaughter of six million Jews in Germany.  As Winston Churchill wrote in The Gathering Storm, Hitler didn't hate the Jews because they were Jews:  he hated them because they were "the rich."

And every reference to a "right" to health care is a Grand Lie, because 1) what is really meant is a "right" to make someone else pay your expenses, and 2) there is no such thing as a "right" to other people's wealth.

Now let's talk about sex.

The hate that bothers me the most isn't that coming from the Left.  Since theirs is an ideology based on class envy and hatred, it is to be expected from them:  you might as well get angry at cats because they like to kill things, or birds because they like to poop from above. No, the hatred that gets me the angriest is that coming from self-identified Conservatives -- almost all of whom are coming from the perspective of a certain shame-based religion that hates the entire human race:
Your code begins by damning man as evil, then demands that he practice a good which it defines as impossible for him to practice. It demands, as his first proof of virtue, that he accept his own depravity without proof. ...his duty is to crawl through years of penance, atoning for the guilt of his existence to any stray collector of unintelligible debts.... The name of this monstrous absurdity is Original Sin.
-- Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

And thanks to a certain sex addict* named Saul of Tarsus a.k.a. Paul the Apostle, all of Western civilization has been infected to varying degrees with the disease of shame.  From birth, most of us have been conditioned, Pavlov-style, to be ashamed of our sex organs:  ashamed that we have them in the first place, ashamed of the pleasure that they bring us, and especially ashamed of our desire to feel that pleasure again and again.

Every tyrant, every dictator, despot, and general, all-around asshole that I have been able to find throughout history, has used this shame to control his subjects: China.  The Soviet Union.  Iran.  The Vatican.  The Ayatollahs in control of the Republican Party.  And in every instance that I have found, it is always used to the same end:  controlling people.  Forcing people to give up their souls, their humanity, their very lives (all of which are the essence of your sexuality) -- to satisfy the whim of an autocrat who takes pleasure in seeing others suffer in abject human misery -- ranks among the most despicable examples of man's inhumanity to man.  Because there are only one or two human conditions that are more miserable than being forbidden the affirmation of Life and pure joy that naturally flows from sex-play with other consenting adults of your choice.

Many there be among the self-identified conservatives who think that only monogamous, heterosexual partnering is "normal" -- and that it is somehow their mission in life to force you into that mold.  Even if you're gay.  Or polyamorous.  Or that most despised creature of all:  a bisexual.

I recently left an online community known as Galt's Gulch Online because of this.  It is a place built with the best of intentions by Harmon Kaslow, the producer of the Atlas Shrugged movies.  Unfortunately, the site has been over run by two married women who are constantly flirting with the men, while simultaneously condemning anyone who actually lives a sexually alternate lifestyle.

Their sniping at bisexual women ("can't decide which way she wants to swing," for one example) is especially galling.  As if each of us is allowed only one partner...

The final straw was a rant in which one of them demanded that married men who want to plan for the number and timing of children (instead of, you know, having them come haphazardly) should either wear a condom or do without sex completely!

Yes, there are women who hate men.  Even among Objectivists (or at least, people who claim to be), and a large number who identify as Conservatives.  They anger me even more than Lie-berals.

Which makes a nice segue into another rant, which I shall have to write someday.


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* because, whether you compulsively seek a thing, or compulsively avoid it, it is still controlling your life and you are, by definition, an addict.  Doubly so if you are compulsively seeking to force others to avoid it.

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Tense...

Gotten over the 2012 U.S. elections yet?  This is just a short post about the word "tense."

As in, past, present and future.  Yes, I like to play with words.

Starting with the future tense at an event in the past, here is a protestor at one of the first Tea Party protests.  This was the Nashville (TN) protest on Tax Day, 2009:


Now with the election over, Atlas IS shrugging.  Present tense.

There's a new blog out there:  Galt's Gulch Online, created by Harmon Kaslow, the producer of the Atlas Shrugged movies.  A great resource for like-minded folks, I highly recommend it.  Lots and LOTS of people are suddenly posting asking how to "Go Galt."

And lots of others are not asking; they're just doing it.  I should probably post a few links, but you've probably already seen all of the items in the news of people shutting down or downsizing their businesses -- to make LESS money -- to avoid the extreme taxes that are coming less than two months from now.

So, we're now in the present tense.  And soon, it will all be past tense.  Just like the novel's title.

There, I hope that relieves a bit of your... tense-ion...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ayn Rand & The Prophecy Of Atlas Shrugged -- a review

I don't quite understand why this documentary was made or what its producers meant to accomplish. But it was interesting and, in some places, entertaining.

Thinking that any filmmaker that made it possible for me to win free tickets to an Objectivist film must have his priorities in the wrong place, I was pleasantly surprised when we walked into the theater. While the theater was not literally packed, it was a challenge to find two seats together. But then there are a lot of Objectivists here in the locus of Atlas Shrugged (I live only a few miles away from where the John Galt Line would pass through, if it existed).

Using the word "Prophecy," with its connotations of mysticism and outright quackery, in the title of a film about one of the 20th Century's best-known atheists is clearly provocative, and now that I've seen the film I think it was only used to draw people in to see it. Of course, anyone who has read Atlas Shrugged cannot help being astounded by how accurately Miss Rand predicted the America, fifty years hence, in which we now live -- and in our time it certainly looks like prophecy.

But I am reminded of a video I recently watched of an interview with Milton Friedman that occurred in, I believe, the 1980's. The subject had come up regarding the malaise and stagflation of the Carter presidency, and that under Keynesian theory it was supposed to be impossible. The interviewer asked Friedman, "...but you [Austrian economists] explained it, right?"

To which Friedman replied, "We not only explained it, we predicted it."

In the late Christopher Hitchens' book Why Orwell Matters (titled Orwell's Victory in the UK), he relates the tale of the immense popularity of 1984 in countries behind the Iron Curtain (every copy of which was pirated, by the way). Eastern Europeans were astounded -- and literally could not understand -- how a man who had never lived in a Communist country could so accurately describe life under Communism.

Were Friedman, Orwell, and Ayn Rand relying on a crystal ball a la Jeanne Dixon, or divine intervention a la the Old Testament prophets? Of course not. The Austrians -- and Miss Rand -- merely laid out the logical and inevitable consequences of Government interference in markets. If a man who had never lived under Communism could accurately describe life under that system, then certainly an author who had lived under Soviet rule could accurately predict what would come in an America hurtling over the same cliff.

Which she did, in great detail. Just as Friedman, Hayek and several others have also done. All it takes is understanding how things work in the Real World.

The biggest takeaway from the film, and quite possibly the reason it was made, is that Miss Rand did not want to predict the future in which we are now living.

She wanted to prevent it.

Which means that for the first time in human history, a "prophet" who got everything right -- was a failure.

As a Hollywood screenwriter, she may (or may not) have been aware of the influence that Soviet agents were already exerting in the film industry in the 1930's when she wrote We The Living. But she clearly saw the direction America was heading -- decades before anyone else saw it -- and wrote that novel as a warning.

But nobody "got it." So then she wrote The Fountainhead. Which the critics loved, but still no one got the message. And this, folks, is why Atlas Shrugged practically beats the reader over the head with its message. Yes, the biggest legitimate criticism against the novel -- exists precisely because the critics never "got it" in earlier novels. This time, she wanted to make absolutely certain that everyone understood her message.

And they did. The book was universally panned, and the mean-spirited coverage of it is discussed at length in this film, including the scathing review that Communist agent cum Neocon darling Whittaker Chambers penned for the National Review. One has to wonder how genuine Chambers' defection really was. Perhaps he was pandering to the Communist agents still employed by the New York Times who had so savaged him, and destroyed the career of Sen. Joe McCarthy. This might make an interesting topic for a literary scholar to pursue someday -- but considering the current state of academia, would probably be a death sentence to its author's graduate degree.

There were the usual interviews with people who knew Miss Rand, and some rather glaring omissions (e.g. Leonard Peikoff, the Brandons, et. al.) of people who were not in the movie. One of the most entertaining of those who were included is Al Ruddy, a major fan of the novel, who tells the story of how he, fresh from his success producing The Godfather, walked away from the Atlas Shrugged movie project in a way that makes him look like Hank Reardon.

There is a brief mention of John Aglialoro's Atlas Shrugged Part I near the end of the documentary, with the pithy comment that "While it failed to reach a large audience, on the day it was released there were more copies of the novel sold than ever before."

In summary, the documentary does a nice job of telling the remarkable story of a fifty-plus-year-old novel that has never gone out of print, and indeed sees increasing sales every year.

Those who have never read the novel will probably not get much out of this film.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Atlas Shrugged, the movie

Here are my thoughts on the movie, which I went to see on opening night. Most of this post is gleaned from email correspondence with my friend Paul Nathan, who lives too far from any of the cities in which Atlas opened to go see it.

The short version: It isn't perfect. It IS worth going to see.

With one glaring exception, the movie is faithful to the novel, at least as far as plot and dialog are concerned.

Any time a book is adapted to a movie, lots of stuff has to be left out -- theaters don't like movies that run much over 100 minutes -- and this one is no exception. Even though it only covers one-third of the novel, the film still feels rushed, a lot like it would feel to try to see Colorado by riding the John Galt line at hundreds of miles per hour. You ain't gonna see Colorado's real beauty, which lies in the small things such as blue Columbines in a grove of Aspens whose leaves are shimmering in the wind, and you won't see the real beauty of Atlas either because it lies in details that there simply isn't time to stop and examine.

The actor playing Hank Reardon seems perfect for the role. I saw an interview with him a while ago, and he "gets" the character as well as the message of the novel -- but the viewer never gets a clue of his guilt over being "rich", which is his fatal character flaw.

The actress playing Dagny doesn't play the role as hard-edged as I would like, but other than that she is nothing short of stunning. And anyone who is going to nit-pick over her hair color (yes, some people are actually doing that) needs to go get an enema. Nobody is complaining about Eddie Willers being a black man, and if we can deal with that we can sure as hell deal with a blonde Dagny.

The actor playing Francisco does a great job showing his internal agony, but has far too little time on-screen for anyone not already familiar with the novel to even understand who he is and why he's in the story, let alone ponder the mystery of what happened to such a fine young man.

The villians' characters suffer even worse from the time constraints. Even Wesley Mouch and James Taggart, who both get quite a bit of screen time, never get to show us the depth of their evil.

In spite of all that, the film IS faithful to the book except for Hugh Akston's character. What they did to him is just plain criminal.

They did a nice job with the Colorado scenery. The Rearden Metal bridge is photoshopped into some nice shots of the Royal Gorge, about a hundred miles south of here where I live. I joked to my friend, "It makes you want to move to Colorado, doesn't it?"

Dagny's movie-cliche "NO-O-O-O-O" scream at the sight of Wyatt's Torch is done so well that it doesn't seem cliche. It makes a perfect ending and they need to just chop the few seconds of film that follow it.

It is interesting how often the subject of Francisco's money speech comes up. Practically everyone I have talked to has asked about it, so allow me to deal with it here.

I re-read Part I of the novel a few weeks ago to prepare for the movie, and was eagerly waiting to get to that part. I never got to it. It must be in Part II, because I refuse to believe that there are any pages missing from my copy of Atlas!

That speech had better be in the next movie, or there will be Hell to pay! I have a mental image of Objectivist villagers with pitchforks and torches storming John Aglialoro's house if he leaves it out. It is ominous to me that in this movie, they DID leave out Francisco's line that defines Part I, which in the novel is titled Non-Contradiction: "Contradictions do not exist. If you think you are facing one, check your assumptions. You will find that one of them is wrong." If that -- the entire point of Part I -- is missing from this first movie, will they also blow Part II? I certainly hope not.

Brian Patrick O'Toole is a talented scriptwriter with real street cred in adapting novels to the Big Screen. However, he has said some things in interviews that tell me that he doesn't quite "get" this novel. He thinks he does because he's gotten the story, the narrative down pat -- but the fundamentals of Objectivism are clearly still opaque to him.

He only had a few weeks to write the script, and I don't think he had been exposed to Ms. Rand prior to taking on the project. Perhaps during the hiatus between this movie and the next, he will immerse himself in Rand's other writings so that he can grok what "Non-Contradiction," "Either-Or," and "A is A" really mean.

At least I hope so, because the success of Part II depends on a deeper understanding of Objectivism than what we've seen so far.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Gas Price Stupidity returns

In this morning's spam filter was this little gem. I think it came from someone I actually know:

THIS IS NOT THE 'DON'T BUY' GAS FOR ONE DAY, BUT IT WILL SHOW YOU HOW WE CAN GET GAS BACK DOWN TO $1.30 PER GALLON.

This was sent by a retired Coca Cola executive. It came from one of his engineer buddies who retired from Halliburton. If you are tired of the gas prices going up AND they will continue to rise this summer, take time to read this please.

Phillip Hollsworth offered this good idea.
This makes MUCH MORE SENSE than the "don't buy gas on a certain day" campaign that was going around last April or May!
It's worth your consideration. Join the resistance!!!!

I hear we are going to hit close to $ 4.00 a gallon by next summer and it might go higher!! Want gasoline prices to come down?

We need to take some intelligent, united action.
The oil companies just laughed at that because they knew we wouldn't continue to "hurt" ourselves by refusing to buy gas .

It was more of an inconvenience to us than it was a problem for them.
BUT, whoever thought of this idea, has come up with a plan that can Really work. Please read on and join with us!

By now you're probably thinking gasoline priced at about $2.00 is super cheap. Me too! It is currently $3.08 at Arco and Costco for regular unleaded in Salem, Oregon and climbing every week.

Now that the oil companies and the OPEC nations have conditioned us to think that the cost of a gallon of gas is CHEAP at $1.50 - $1.75, we need to take aggressive action to teach them that BUYERS control the marketplace..not sellers.

With the price of gasoline going up more each day, we consumers need to take action.

The only way we are going to see the price of gas come down is if we hit someone in the pocketbook by not purchasing their gas! And, we can do that WITHOUT hurting ourselves.

How? Since we all rely on our cars, we can't just stop buying gas.

But we CAN have an impact on gas prices if we all act together to force a price war.

Here's the idea: For the rest of this year, DON'T purchase ANY gasoline from the two biggest companies (which now are one), EXXON and MOBIL.

If they are not selling any gas, they will be inclined to reduce their prices. If they reduce their prices, the other companies will have to follow suit.

But to have an impact, we need to reach literally millions of Exxon and Mobil gas buyers. It's really simple to do! Now, don't wimp out on me at this point...keep reading and I'll explain how simple it is to reach millions of people!!

I am sending this note to 30 people. If each of us send it to at least ten more (30 x 10 = 300) ... and those 300 send it to at least ten more (300 x 10 = 3,000)... and so on, by the time the message reaches the sixth group of people, we will have reached over THREE MILLION consumers .
If those three million get excited and pass this on to ten friends each, then 30 million people will have been contacted!

If it goes one level further, you guessed it..... THREE HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE!!!

Again, all you have to do is send this to 10 people. That's all!

(If you don't understand how we can reach 300 million and all you have to do is send this to 10 people.... Well, let's face it, you just aren't a mathematician. But I am . so trust me on this one.

How long would all that take? If each of us sends this e-mail out to ten more people within one day of receipt, all 300 MILLION people could conceivably be contacted within the next 8 days!

I'll bet you didn't think you and I had that much potential, did you! Acting together we can make a difference.

If this makes sense to you, please pass this message on. I suggest that we not buy from EXXON/MOBIL UNTIL THEY LOWER THEIR PRICES TO THE $2.00 RANGE AND KEEP THEM DOWN. THIS CAN REALLY WORK.

Here we go again. We've been spared this nonsense for the last four years thanks to the Democrats that took over Congress -- four years ago! What a coincidence! -- and put the country into a recession that seriously impacted the demand side of the Supply / Demand equation. But with the sea change that began with last November's elections, the economy is recovering* and we will soon see $5 per gallon gasoline, not to mention some serious inflation as the billions and billions of newly-printed money begins to circulate in the economy.

As is usual for stupid, clueless people who unthinkingly forward this kind of stuff to everyone in their address books, there were about a bazillion email addresses of all of their friends exposed in the clear.

So, I spammed 'em all! HA HA!! With this:

Wow, you people really don't understand economics, do you?

"There are a thousand people hacking at the branches of evil to one who is getting at the root." -- Henry David Thoreau

Gas prices obey a very fundamental, very well-understood Law of Economics called "Supply and Demand." The Market determines the price, not one or two companies.

Gas prices fell a couple of years ago because demand fell. Demand fell because we were in a recession. Nothing has happened to change the supply side of the equation; therefore, as we recover from the recession and demand increases again, prices will go up.

If you want to affect gas prices, you will have to increase supply. This means, among other things:

* More drilling, preferably here on US soil. We have lots of crude oil in this country; enough to make a significant impact on prices -- if only the oil companies were allowed to go get it.

* More refineries. There hasn't been a new refinery built in the US since 1976, mostly thanks to our "friends" in the environmentalist movement. It has been their dream, forever, to see $5 a gallon gasoline in this country. They're finally going to get it this summer.

These things above, mean, in turn:

* Stop voting for politicians who are in the environmental movement's pockets. This means pretty much all Democrats (don't EVER vote for a Democrat) but there are plenty of Republicans around who are just as bad. Newt Gingrigh, for instance. Yes, he's an environmentalist. Bet you didn't know that!

The prices we're seeing and about to see have been 40+ years in the making, dating back to the first Earth Day in 1970. We can't turn them around in a year, but we can turn them around by continuing to do what voters did last November: elect Tea Party candidates. Defeat ANY politician who supports any part of the Global Warming agenda. Defeat ANY politician who opposes drilling & extracting our own energy resources. Defeat ANY politician who has ever worked to block getting a new refinery or nuclear power plant built. These people hate this country, and aim to destroy it. $5 a gallon gas has been their goal all along, and if you keep voting for them, you'll keep getting what we've been getting.

Now I await the angry replies. We still have snow on the ground here in the Colorado Rockies, but I won't even have to turn on the furnace! Just open my inbox...

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* I know, I know, the economy isn't really recovering until you have a job. But using the official definition of "recovery," it technically is in a recovery. It's just the weakest, most anemic recovery any economist has ever seen.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Why I am not a conservative (or a Republican, for that matter)

Conservatives seldom piss me off, but when they do they REALLY piss me off.

As I have said many times here, there are only three things that really light my fuse: lying, stupidity and hypocrisy. Which means that I am pissed off at the Left pretty much all of the time.

It also means that I get pissed off at the Right once in a while. Right now is one of those times.

The issue at hand is Net Neutrality, and conservatives are lying through their teeth about it with some really stupid shit. So we have stupid, and we have lying. That's two out of the three.

The concept of Net Neutrality is simple: Internet connectivity is basically the newest version of a utility, in the same sense as your telephone service or electric service is. It is the utility companies' role to supply you with electricity, or with phone service, or with natural gas, etc. It is NOT their role to dictate how you will use that electricity, or with whom you are allowed to talk on the phone. They don't get to dictate whether your appliances come from General Electric, Samsung, or some company in France. They don't get to dictate whether you use natural gas or electricity to dry your clothes. Indeed, it's none of their damn business. And neither should companies who supply your Internet connection be able to dictate what the hell you use it for, or to whom you connect.

But some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have begun to do exactly that.

There's nothing wrong with their motives: they're doing it to make money, which is always an honorable reason. But we all know about the pavement on the Road to Hell: it is results that matter, not what a person is thinking when s/he does a thing (I am always amused by "liberals" who think they can read other people's minds, and construct arguments based on what they believe someone is thinking, rather than debating the merits of an idea).

This has come about because the technology has matured to the point where we now have 1) a lot of video being streamed via the Internet, and 2) Cable television companies gone into the business of transporting Internet packets from the Internet backbone to your house.

And that means there is money to be made in making sure that video that THEY are in the business of providing (i.e., someone is paying them to deliver) gets priority over anything else they deliver to your house. Which means that everything else will have to be slowed down or even blocked to ensure that the mindless glop that Disney is paying them to deliver to your house gets through uninterrupted.

This is not how a computer network is supposed to function. Indeed, it goes against the very design of the Internet and the data & transport protocols that make it run.

Ultimately, this is an assault on your freedom. If your ISP, or its upstream provider, can discriminate between Internet packets based on who paid to bring them to you, then you are no longer free to make your own choices regarding whence you get your information -- and ultimately they can control what content you're allowed to see at all. Without Net Neutrality regulations, you could soon face a future in which a BBC documentary about human rights abuses in, say, Pakistan will no longer be available to you (or will be so choppy that you'll give up trying to view it), but all the latest glop from the Disney Channel will come through with no problems.

The Internet was never intended to be a medium on which others are allowed to pick and choose what information you are allowed to access. Which is precisely why it is a threat to Power. Which is why those in Power are extremely interested in shutting down your access to certain information that they don't like. Which is why we need Net Neutrality rules, regulations, and/or laws that guarantee that those responsible for transport of Internet packets from the Cloud to you are forbidden from discriminating with whom you connect, or why.



OK, that is why Net Neutrality is important. Indeed, vital to a free society. Now let's examine what the lying bastards on the Republican Right are saying about it, and why they should all be taken out and shot at sunrise (assuming, of course, that all of the lying bastards on the Democrat Left have already been taken out and shot at sunrise yesterday morning -- we can't leave THEM in power).

I actually got so disgusted with Rush Limbaugh and Mark Steyn, who is sitting in for Rush on his show today and tomorrow, that I shut the damn show off. I haven't done that since I fell for Rush' annual April Fool's Day prank way back in 1990-something.

On his show yesterday, he said this (source: rushlimbaugh.com):
This is about the Feds wanting to control the Internet just as they control the public airwaves. They want to be able to determine who gets to say what, where, how often. They want to be able to determine what search services are providing what answers to your queries. It's total government control of the Internet....
And on Limbaugh's show today, Mark Steyn expanded the stupidity to claim that Net Neutrality rules will regulate what you're allowed to buy at Apple's App Store!

What a bunch of crap.

Other so-called "conservative" organizations, which are really nothing more than front (aka "astroturf") groups for certain corporations, have been making other wild claims, such as that Net Neutrality is a "solution in search of a problem" -- another lie, because as I said above, certain Internet providers have already begun to discriminate against certain content.

I have heard this argument before. I once wrote a piece of legislation in Oregon that Micro$oft Corporation did not like, because it would have leveled the playing field between Micro$oft and its competitors regarding what software the state's taxpayers were buying. In the legislative hearings, I heard the phrase "a solution in search of a problem" -- which was a flat-out lie -- from every lobbyist who testified against the bill.

I will not be a party to anyone who lies, even if s/he is telling the truth 90% of the time. Stuff such as this is why I am not a conservative.




To be fair, I have not read the actual FCC proposed regulations. Neither has anyone else. I can't find a single news story that quotes even as much as one phrase from the proposed rule-making.

I've heard some things from the pro-Net Neutrality people that the proposed regs have been so watered down with pro-Corporation lard that they are worse than useless. I would like to read them for myself. If anyone finds a link, please send it to me.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Facebook Follies

I think the primary purpose of Facebook is to prove how stupid your friends and relatives really are.

I only joined FB to keep up with what my kids are doing. They never write, and when I ask what they're doing, etc. the answer I get is "Oh, you're not on Facebook, are you?"

So I joined Facebook. Now I know everything that they're thinking and doing. That's a Good Thing.

Then I started seeing notifications that this or that long-lost relative is a member. Wow, this is cool, I can keep up with them too! So I started "friending" all of these relatives with whom I haven't been in contact for decades.

They're IDIOTS! Holy cow, the stuff some of them are posting and forwarding, etc. is ... just plain stupid.

It took me a while to figure out how to block all of the stupid requests for some stupid item in some stupid game ("My pig in Farmville is in heat and needs a fuck, would someone please help me?"; "My tiger in my Zoo is hungry and needs some more bratty little children to eat, would someone please help me?" and on and on ad infinitum, ad nauseum) but I got it done. This is an ongoing process as FB comes up with more stupid games.

But there is other stuff you can't block, such as the daily "Let's see how many true Christians [i.e., truly stupid Christians] there are here! Click "Like" if you love Jesus!" Oh yeah, that makes you a True Christian. Doesn't matter whose wife/husband/child/dog/goat/chicken you fucked last night, just click "Like" and you're Saved, brother! Hallelujah!

Two days ago, some friend of a friend posted a detailed description of her husband dropping a turd in the toilet -- and I mean a FULL description complete with sounds and smell. Why, it was almost as if you were there.

Fucking breathtaking.

At least I'm able to keep up with what my kids are doing. One of them is in MBA school, struggling with the bullshit they're feeding him. Another is in Afghanistan dealing with the particular kind of stupidity that only military orificers seem capable of. Another is racing bicycles and, it seems, fucking every cute young chick in the city of Portland. It's nice to keep up with all that. Especially the pictures of the cute young chicks, not all of whom are clothed.

But yesterday one of my cousins posted this:
Lindsay Lohan 24, is all over the news beacuse [sic] she's a celebrity drug addict. While Justin Allen,23, Brett Linley,29, Matthew Weikert,29, Justus Bartett,27, Dave Santos,21, Chase Stanely,21, Jesse Reed,26, Matthew Johnson,21, Zachary Fisher,24, Brandon King,23, Christopher Goeke,23, ......and Sheldon Tate,27 are all Marines that gave their lives this week no media mention. Honor THEM by reposting!

No, they were NOT all Marines -- most were Army and one wasn't even an American. One doesn't even exist.

One of them died from being stabbed by a fellow Marine. Who knows, maybe they were arguing over Lindsay Lohan. In any event, the man certainly did not die for his country.

They didn't die last week, they died last July, and all (except the one that doesn't exist) got covered in the news. The BBC did an especially nice write-up of the Brit that's in the list.

Five minutes of Googling would have revealed all of this to my cousin.

So now, I'm faced with the knowledge that there is mental retardation in my personal gene pool, and that an awfully lot of my friends' friends are also hopelessly retarded. Is this something that I really needed to know?

At least I'm not on Facebook under my real name. What a wasteland.

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