Thursday, August 16, 2012

How to Avoide Getting Bogged Down in the Unimportant Shit: A Life Lesson

It’s been a long time since I posted, yeah, yeah, obligatory apology that I don’t mean. Whatever. Shut up, this is important.

There was a shooting at the Family Research Council yesterday. A guard was shot by a man who had, at some point, involved himself with pro-LGBT causes. The guard will live but the act itself is abhorrent.

So, according to the hate group, the SPLC is the reason that the shooting took place. Because the SPLC has the power to encourage people into dangerous behavior. FRC, totally can’t do that and you shouldn’t call them a hate group because of all the dangerous things they have said. But OMG the SPLC is SO WROOOOONG.

Yeah, OK, giant hypocrisy. But here’s the thing. Let’s not follow blindly along the hypocrite path by countering that with “groups can’t cause shootings.” Because that would make us just as stupid an hypocritical as the people I was deriding above.  

Let us instead cede the point. Yes, groups can encourage people, who are already on the edge, into violence. That’s not what happened in this case, as far as anyone can tell, but it can happen. 

How do I know that it didn’t happen in this case? Well, no group is screaming for God to kill FRC. No group is shouting that all conservatives are going to roast in the fires of Hel. (No, I spelled it correctly) No group’s stock and trade is protesting military funerals while carrying signs that say “GOD HATES RUSH.” That doesn't happen. Don't let people draw the false equivalency.  

Neither let us be silent. What happened was a horrible thing and we should condemn it out loud, at length and volume. This was not OK. Not at all, not ever. Period. 

At the point where you decide that a firearm is your most effective debate tool, I don't want you on my team anymore.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

PIPA, SOPA, ACTA, and Why Praising Anonymous is Stupid

So there’s been a lot of chatter lately among the particularly uninformed and gullible about the greatness that is supposedly Anonymous. Just today the second part of a two-part article (Part one to be found here) which purports to be about the group and their activities (but which is honestly about a few members of the group which is important and I’ll tell you why later)  came out and was posted on, among other sites, Huffington Post. 

It’s a good article, well written, if misguided and full of buzzwords like rebel and take-down, troubadour and rights, and of course, freedom of speech. It’s actually very moving but moving is not the same as logical or correct and once one engages the executive functions of the brain those things become important. 

The essence of the article is that Anonymous used to be a bunch of people who trolled and harassed others for entertainment purposes and now they’ve expanded to do the exact same fucking thing on a large socio-political scale. 

And at some point,. For some inexplicable reason, otherwise rational intelligent people decided to support and cheer for this behavior. In fact, in some cases the exact people who will condemn said behavior on an individual scale cheer for it when it’s happening on a wide scale. 

That behavior is what most people call hypocritical

 Because, you know, it is. 

First off, I’d like to state that the concept that internet piracy is the greatest economic threat to anything at any time is laughable.  Given the amount of money the entertainment industry rakes in during a given year, the money they lose to piracy is not particularly significant. 

That said, it is stealing. I’m not making a value judgment about it, I’m stating it as fact. Downloading something illegally is, factually, stealing. Anyone who doesn’t like that designation and thus the one that logically follows; that people who illegally download are thieves should probably stop doing it or learn to deal with the facts. 

But let’s examine the facts here; specifically the facts involving the most recent bout with blatant hypocrisy.

There are a number of pro-stealing articles being written currently which are fascinating, primarily because they never look to the most rational solution, not stealing, but basically excuse the theft with the two most common rationalizations; “It’s not that big a deal,” and “If you gave me what I wanted right away I wouldn’t have to steal from you.” If you know anything about the Fraud Triangle the justifications are nothing new.

The narrative that is presented by people who defend Megadowloads, and companies like them, is that these sites are just trying to make a living and they are going up against “the man,” and as a result, shutting the site down presents some sort of attack on free speech. Which is silly if, once again, one engages the executive functions of their brain. It’s a fairly standard attempt to abrogate responsibility by blaming anyone who crosses one’s line of sight.   

Torrenting whole movies and shows and sharing them is stealing. In this case this website not only made money off of digital items that weren’t theirs but facilitated others in doing the same. That’s the technical definition of racketeering.

The government shutting down sites that allow or encourage racketeering isn’t something to get in a tizzy about. It’s them doing their jobs as a law enforcement body. It’s kind of why we pay them.
But guess what?

YOU DO NOT HAVE FREEDOM OF SPEECH ON THE INTERNET. You have the freedom of speech up to the point that the website owners, local state and federal laws and the TOS of each individual website allows. And what’s more, we all agree to that restriction when we use the websites we use. Anyone who says otherwise is either not paying attention, insane or lying. 

There is an even more important fact that people seem to enjoy ignoring…


You don’t. You might want it, but you don’t have it. Welcome to reality.

Megadownloads in not some plucky little company fighting for anything other than a profit margin.
This is not the little guy in any sense of the term. Yes, that’s a giant mansion you see in that picture. Want to know why you’re seeing a giant mansion?

"The group was accused of engaging in a scheme that took more than $500 million away from copyright holders and generated over $175 million in proceeds from subscriptions and advertising."

$175 million fucking dollars.

"The FBI said Dotcom personally made $42 million from Megaupload in 2010 alone."

Still think that the website owners are the victims?

Dotcom has previous convictions for insider trading and embezzlement from his time in Germany and Thailand.

Assuming the indictment is even a little bit accurate, this isn’t some poor company getting screwed by “the man.” This is a massive criminal conspiracy that was generating huge profits engineered by a convicted felon. Crime pays. A lot of the time it pays a hell of a lot better and for far less effort than honest work, especially in the digital age.

Pause for a moment and think about how Mega worked. There was no search function. As such, they relied on word of mouth to advertise what they had. Word of mouth is pretty largely unregulated as far as content. Because there was no search function, so the owners of the site would have had to have a pretty sophisticated monitoring system in order to regulate content. Oh and they had no problem with porn. There are, from the various articles I’ve been reading/things I’ve been hearing about this subject, more “shocking,” indictments on the way.

If one of the federal governments prosecuting this case pulls out a ream of child porn indictments (which seems to be what people are hinting at but all I’m hearing is hinting so far, no confirmation) will Anonymous still be “geniuses” for committing terrorist actions to defend this company?

Or will people finally start calling them what they are? Terrorists.

Yes, I wrote it. It’s bloody well true. Any group that uses, which attempts to use fear or intimidation to gain socio-political power is, by definition, a terrorist organization. Don't get me wrong, what they actually manage to accomplish is the fundamental equivalent of tearing down a movie poster because their screaming temper tantrum didn't get them into the flick for free, but still.

They follow the individual cell model of a terrorist organization. They justify their behavior by blaming their targets, like a terrorist organization, They hide from the consequences, like a terrorist organization. The individual members hide their faces, like terrorists. Most recently, they tricked unwilling people into participating in their activities, making those people accessories to their crimes. Like, fucking terrorists.

They also target individuals. Not just women who throw cats in the bin, (as an aside I think that woman is either crazy or evil and if the latter, I hope she rots in hell) but children who foolishly troll various websites, people who disagree with them, random strangers who they judge as "deserving it."

And then they hide some more.

They and their supporters claim that they are "fighting for our rights," but in this case that pitiful excuse doesn't fly. No one has a right to free Dr. Who episodes.

If the concern were actually stopping the draconian measures that are proposed by PIPA SOPA and ACTA then everyone would be celebrating the demise of Megadownloads. Why? Because it proves that these laws are redundant. Clearly our current legal measures are sufficient. See they work. Don't make more. They are unnecessary.   

That would be the logical, responsible, non-terrorist reaction. But that's not what we get, is it? Of course not.

So the next time you hear about Anonymous' activities and you think about cheering them on keep in mind what they are actually doing and it you are simply not able to restrain yourself from encouraging them at least be honest about it. You're cheering on terrorism.And when someone they've targeted gets hurt or killed, which is not outside the realm of possibility given the anonymity of their membership and the deliberate lack of responsibility they take in their members actions, you'll be cheering that on too.

Recall up top when I stated that it was important that the article was really only a profile of a few members of the group? Here's why it's important.

No one knows who they are. And please understand that I'm not trying to construct some sort of White Citizen's Council "Show me you membership list," argument here. I think that one of the great advantages to the internet is the veneer of anonymity it allows its users. But it is also a danger. No on knows who they are by design and as a result they cannot be held accountable for their actions. They just disavow those people with whom they no longer want to be associated. Which is convenient and another marker of terrorism. Allowing the man who has been caught to take all the blame in order to protect the larger cell is pretty text book.

Haven't read any text books on terrorism? OK, well you probably should. And then really think about whether you want to be supporting terrorist.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The New Hampshire Primary

You had to see this post coming, right? If you didn't I'm confused as to why you are here because it's me and I write these things.

So, Mitt Romney won the thing and that can't be a surprise because he's the best they can do.

Here's the really interesting thing. Ron Paul came in second because he's the best they could do.  Couldn't you just cry? Or, you know laugh your ass off which may or may not be what I did when I saw the results.

If you're going to do that though you should really just do it here or like in the shower or something because now is the time that the Republicans that we know need our support. You know, because Mitt Romney and Ron Paul are the best they could fucking do.

I know, I know, it's a mid-election and the Republicans are just throwing people away but still. Mitt Romney and Ron fucking Paul.

But it does reveal something important about the Republican part and if you're talking to your Republican friends you might want to try to steal the subject away from you (admittedly justified) gloating and feelings of superiority toward something that matters. Why are these two no logic, hate minorities, don't understand how immigrations should work, hate gays, hate women, hate everyone who isn't them or at least claims to agree with them, the best that one fairly large section of the nation can come up with.

And please understand I'm not just talking party line here. These candidates clearly hate or are at least pay lip service to hatred of the groups I just mentioned. That's why they say things like there will be "more decay," under President Obama as if he hasn't managed to assist in economic recovery despite the Republicans attempt to stymie any improvement. It's why you hear things like ghetto applied to anything they can think of. It's why people pretend to be shocked or are, even more upsetting, are actually shocked when you point out that comments like that are fucking racist!

Because OMG when you point out that someone is doing something stupid and awful then you're mean. But here's the thing, that's a stupid premise and not one that any rational person should buy into. Pointing out shitty behavior is just, you know honest. Don't let anyone make you dishonest just because they are trying to make you uncomfortable when you tell the truth.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How Knitting Saved My Sanity and Helped End My Marriage

No really.

So ending a relationship makes people reflect. I mean that's normal. And with the relationship I just left Mrs. IdB and I kept saying "the beginning of the end," and stepping that incident father and farther back closer and closer to the beginning of the relationship until finally, Mrs. IdB pointed out to me the beginning of the end was really when I learned to knit.

It was through knitting that I finally managed to escape from the house and go interact with other adults who weren't constantly gaslighting me or being gaslight by Fuckwit Ex.

It helped me be more confident because I could make things. I could make useful pretty things and I loved it he couldn't prevent me from doing it because there was no logical reason for him to object to my sticks and string.

Don't get me wrong, he tried to object to my sticks and string but the objections were so spurious as to be laughable so they failed.

Because of the time and location of my knitting group there was no way Fuckwit Ex was going to extend himself to go straight instead of turn on a regular basis so he wasn't driving me anywhere. As a result, Mrs. IdB ended up being the person who drove me there every Monday. And we decided to make that a required date; no cell phones, no laptops, no distractions. We were going to sit across the table from each other and interact if it killed us godamnit. It nearly did but you know what? It worked. At first it was hard and awkward and sometimes a little bit stilted but we started talking. Talking led to more talking which eventually, over the course of several years led to realizations about our lives and the abuse that we were suffering.

Only now do we realize that we were so afraid of Fuckwit Ex's anger that we had not only started presenting a false facade to the world because we were afraid of the consequences if we talked to people outside of the relationship, we were doing the same thing with each other. Even more sad, we were doing it for the same reason. We were scared of his anger if we spoke the truth even to each other.

That anger eventually materialized but by then we didn't care that much any more.

So yeah, thanks to knitting, little loops of string around sticks, we are both free.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Why I'm Not a Parent

I spent today with a friend and her four-year-old. Wow am I tired. Don't get me wrong, the kid is cute and fun and her mother is totally a model of parenting. I interacted with her for maybe an hour of the several hours we were there.

The kid won. I'm a big girl but that little girl had stamina like whoa.

She just wore me down. It was like a play date rope-a-dope. I have no idea how parents do this. I just don't. Because I was pretty much just  reviving to react to her after about thirty minutes.

This is why I like knitting. It is quiet and doesn't run away. Sleep now. Blog more later.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

It's the Weekend After Thanksgiving and I am Listening to Christmas Carols

Why? Because I do not work retail.

If I did I would already be fed up with Christmas cheer but as it happens I do not so I am not. Also, the songs are fun.

I make it a habit never to step foot out of my house on Black Friday unless I am forced to work so I missed all the fun time pepper spraying and riots although I'm confused as to why these things are news as they happen every fucking year.

But I amk finding the new and exciting hate for major national and international chain stores to be entertaining if for no other reason than it makes clear those people who are political thinkers and those people who are politically trendy.

The hate for major national chains is a trend. Anyone who expresses random hate for a national chain store can probably be dismissed as a political thinker. Why? Because national chain stores are not something that came as a result of a vast corporate conspiracy. Neither are they something that came about as a result of abject consumer stupidity.

They happen to be a fantastic business model that consumers like. So they shop there. It's the same reason that McDonald's is the most brand recognized fast food chain on earth. The are the same wherever you go so a Big Mac in Tiny Town, USA is a Big Mac in London and Moscow and Sydney. It works.

Also, those stores offer things that some local places can't like a steady job and long term advancement. Mom and Pop are going to give the store over to their son, not Bob the really amazing talent they hired out of high school.

You know what else they offer. Jobs. Big stores have a minimum number of staff that they must, by policy have at all times. As a result, the area where they open has a minimum number of jobs that must be filled from their community.

So maybe, the next time you hear someone whining about national chains you should mention some of these facts. If they keep whining they are probably not someone with whom you should be attempting to have a rational discussion.

Friday, November 25, 2011


I'm sure I'll figure it out at some point. Right? I mean, you would think just by dint of my age I would get it eventually. I could pay bills or do something rational with some left over money that we got unexpectedly but I am totally trying to convince myself that I don't need yet another pair of shoes.

Apparently I haven't reached the level of emotional maturity wherein I can avoid an internal temper tantrum from my id whenever I don't get what I want right away.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Full of Thanks

I'm not doing one of those "This is My Life," posts. I'm not. I'm not going to post about food or family because that is trite and you don't care. But there are things I'm thankful for.

I'm thankful for the Queen performance at Live-Aid. I'm thankful I was old enough to be alive to see it and young enough that it was formative in my understanding of music and performance. To me, that moment was like church and Feddie Mercury was our priest.

I'm thankful for first world problems. I want a case for my Kindle and we can't afford it right now so I'm concerned that I'll drop said Kindle and be forced to go back to reading regular gasp books.

I am thankful for cute shoes and fat girl clothes.

I am thankful for Facebook and cell phones so that I can wish a bunch of people Happy Gluttony Day without having to talk to them. Because I know a lot of people and even a five minute conversation is going to eat into my life.

I'm thankful for whatever clever little proto-human picked up a feather or a flower or whatever and decided that it needed to go in the hair somehow and thus invented accessorizing.


I want it!

Also this one.

Shut up. I do too need two red wool hats in Florida.

I am thankful for pets. 'Cause even though I don't have one right now I remember what it was like to be the bipedal food deliver system. They seem to like that.

I am thankful for Netflix, which I will not go watch until I fall into a food coma.

Happy Gluttony Day youse guys.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Take Your Guilt Bell...

...and shove it up your ass.

The Salvation Army bell ringers are out in full force as of Friday. I hate them, not in a personal way. I understand that people don't have a lot of choices job-wise right now. I do not begrudge anyone their pay check. Make your paper, people.

But the Salvation Army itself. Yeah, them I hate. I feel comfortable in this hatred because they hated me first and they hate me more. They couch it in friendly language but they aren't fooling anyone.

The Salvation Army holds a positive view of human sexuality. Where a man and a woman love each other, sexual intimacy is understood as a gift of God to be enjoyed within the context of heterosexual marriage. However, in the Christian view, sexual intimacy is not essential to a healthy, full, and rich life. Apart from marriage, the scriptural standard is celibacy.

Sexual attraction to the same sex is a matter of profound complexity. Whatever the causes may be, attempts to deny its reality or to marginalize those of a same-sex orientation have not been helpful. The Salvation Army does not consider same-sex orientation blameworthy in itself. Homosexual conduct, like heterosexual conduct, requires individual responsibility and must be guided by the light of scriptural teaching.Scripture forbids sexual intimacy between members of the same sex. The Salvation Army believes, therefore, that Christians whose sexual orientation is primarily or exclusively same-sex are called upon to embrace celibacy as a way of life. There is no scriptural support for same-sex unions as equal to, or as an alternative to, heterosexual marriage.

Likewise, there is no scriptural support for demeaning or mistreating anyone for reason of his or her sexual orientation. The Salvation Army opposes any such abuse.

In keeping with these convictions, the services of The Salvation Army are available to all who qualify, without regard to sexual orientation. The fellowship of Salvation Army worship is open to all sincere seekers of faith in Christ, and membership in The Salvation Army church body is open to all who confess Christ as Savior and who accept and abide by The Salvation Army’s doctrine and discipline.

Scriptures: Genesis 2:23-24; Leviticus 18:22; Mark 2:16-17; Romans 1:26-27; Romans 5:8; I Corinthians 6:9-11; I Corinthians 13; Galatians 6:1-2; I Thessalonians 4:1-8; I Thessalonians 5:14-15; I Timothy 1:15-16; Jude 7

Who among my readers is a far of the West Wing? 

I wanted to ask you a couple of questions while I had you here. I'm interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. She's a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleared the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be? (Pause) While thinking about that, can I ask another? My chief of staff, Leo McGarry, insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or is it okay to call the police? Here's one that's really important, because we've got a lot of sports fans in this town. Touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean. Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves, can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point? Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother John for planting different crops side by side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads? Think about those questions, would you? One last thing. While you may be mistaking this for your monthly meeting of the Ignorant Tight-Ass Club, in this building when the president stands, nobody sits.

In other words, two thousand year old books aren't hard to cherry pick to support whatever position the speaker happens to hold. Further, one of the most common marriage vows; “Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me,” is spoken by one woman to another woman. These people need to read their fucking book cover to cover instead of picking and choosing like it’s a menu and a Chinese restaurant.

No you can't have my money and I'll try not to force your bell ringers to suffer my disdain. I probably won't succeed but I will try. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Why Are People Surprised?

Rush Limbaugh called the First Lady uppity. OK technically he said of the NASCAR fans who booed her and Jill Biden, "They understand it's a little bit of uppity-ism."  So yeah, he called her uppity.

Now, let's get past the sad, pathetic attempts to deflect attention from what Limbaugh might have meant. Because he meant to say that Mrs. Obama is uppity. Don't kid yourself and most of all don't kid me. I know a dog whistle when I hear it.

At some point we're going to ask ourselves why this is acceptable in our day and age, aren't we? Rush hates Mrs. Obama because of her race. I mean, her husband's political vies help too but a lot of the attacks are racially based. In 2011, uppity is still something that a professional person with a public job says out loud.

And people are acting shocked; as if Rush Limbaugh saying something horrifying is a new phenomenon. It is, in fact, his bread and butter.

But there is something that we can do. Honestly I think it's something that everyone has a responsibility to do and it's long past time we started doing it.

Learn to speak the following sentence: What you just said was racist. Then refuse to back down or apologize for it. You know racist things when you hear them. You also know, because I assume that you live in the world, that people will do almost anything to avoid taking responsibility for their racist comments. Don't let them. It might behoove you to learn this sentence as well. You know that it was racist. That is why you said it. The best possible thing you can do in this situation is let people twist in the discomfort of their own words until they learn or go the fuck away.

Be part of the solution.