Monday, October 20, 2014

The Villainy We Teach...

He hath disgraced me, and hindered me half a million; laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies; and what's his reason? I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge. The villainy you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.

The Merchant Of Venice, Act 3,Scene I, by William Shakespere

Fuck The Internet

I've almost had it with this modern marvel known as teh intertubez. Being a life-long techno-geek I can't believe that I'm saying this but there it is. Oh, I know that I'm one person out of billions but I need to vent here or else I'll go fucking nuts. What had brought promise of a golden age of communication has turned out to be the the biggest hype humankind has ever seen.

What really has been getting on my tits is how mercantile it's become. I'm not an "Internet should be free" nitwit, I know people gotta make a living but Dear Zombie Jesus is it getting out of hand. Search engines. When you searched for a term 10 years ago, you stood a decent chance of finding something useful. Sort of. Obviously there was far less out there than now but you stood a fighting chance. Google something today and here's what happens. The first result is the "sponsored link" advertising shirts and mugs for [search term]. I'm gratified that the system of free enterprise has made "Anal Cancer" shirts and mugs available to those who want them, if nothing else. Next on the search result is the obligatory Wikipedia entry. The next 4 or 5 have the same URL - and again, it's good to know that the good folks at "hotrussianwives.com" take anal cancer seriously. And then there are a few Amazon links, naturally. The next few results allege that my search terms are in there somewhere easy to find - and the "find" bit on my browser can't track them down. And all this is assuming that Google didn't helpfully look for for "Annual Camper" instead.

And then there's Gamergate and Tropes vs. Women. The more I think about this the less I see it as sexism. It's looking more like the last death howl of leet geeks. You know the ones I mean. The ones who mention (asked or, more likely, unasked) how they were on BBS systems and bitterly complain that, starting with Windows 3.1, The True Faith has been defiled by the unwashed masses. Or the ones who get seizures when they hear someone say that Yahoo Messenger is better than Internet Relay Chat (in fact I probably broke a rule by explicating the Sacred Acronym) The tenor of the commentary reminds me of WoW players who "played since vanilla" bitching about new players and expansions as if they had some higher proprietary claim to WoW and Blizzard. It also reminds me about how new WoW players are ruthlessly stomped on in General Chat for asking questions, saying positive things about the new expansion or not spending 7 weeks memorizing internet and game jargon. Which is why Sarkeesian gets so much negative attention. She's not just some random nobody with no influence (and if TvW does get any attention from developers it'll be because of the 100 grand she Kickstarted to do it, not anything she's said) but an Epikoros, a dangerous heretic whose blasphemy endangers the flagging faith of the Twoo Olde Guarde. I'm grateful to live in a country where personal safety and finding clean food, water and shelter is so taken for granted that this dumb-ass shit can be an issue, but it's a very slim silver lining indeed.

Next is advertising. Now, again, I'm all for free speech and enterprise but I don't see either as being wholly beyond reproach. In the beginning of the century, pop-ups were the main adversary. Bad, but could be controlled with a little bit of care and the right AV software and browser. Today, it's worse. There's banners which shift the page down halfway, pop-up flash objects with a miniscule "close" button, toolbar trojans and those devious little ones which look like actual content. It's the absence of shame, more than anything else, that saddens me. It's like advertisers have become the NYC Squeegee-men of the Information Superhighway. And there's always spam. But that's easy to solve - charge 1/10th of a cent for every email sent. So long as it's completely free to send 10 million emails spam will continue.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Country Joe and the Fish Updated For The New Millenium

Fixin' To Die Rag (Millenium Edition)

Yeah, come on all of you, big strong men,
Uncle Sam needs your help again.
He's got himself in a terrible jam
Way down yonder in the sand
So put down your books and pick up a gun,
We're gonna have a whole lotta fun.

And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Gotta git that ol' Imam;
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.

Well, come on generals, let's move fast;
Your big chance has come at last.
Gotta go and get those ragheads —
The only good ay-rab is the one who's dead
And you know that peace can only be won
When we've blown 'em all to kingdom come.

And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Gotta git that ol' Imam;
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.
Huh!

Well, come on Wall Street, don't move slow,
Why man, this is war au-go-go.
There's plenty good money to be made
By supplying the Army with the tools of the trade,
Just hope and pray that when we use the drones,
They give up and leave us alone.

And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Gotta git that ol' Imam.
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.

Well, come on mothers throughout the land,
Pack your boys off to the desert sand.
Come on fathers, don't hesitate,
Send 'em off before it's too late.
Be the first one on your block
To have your boy come home in a box.

And it's one, two, three
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Gotta git that ol' Imam.
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Responding With Capitalist Smart-Assery (offered for free, ironically)

Well, then, my friend, tarry not! The Elysian paradise of North Korea, famed throughout the world for the riches brought by Juche Socialism await you. Being, as I am, a knave and fool I shall suffer the burden and privations of free enterprise with naught but a 55-inch TV and a full refrigerator to give me succor in my privations. Good day.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Zombie Altruism

There is no altruism. It's impossible. In any possible circumstance there's a reward (real or perceived) for one's actions. If you're religious, you do good things to gain the rewards of your creed. If not, you do them to feel smug about yourself or to reduce guilt. Even a Kantian does things to fulfill their duty - however thankless it may be it is still fulfilling your value system. Altruism is not dead - it never existed.