Mon, 21 Jun 2004

Online Loyalty Oaths

Let's, collectively, get over ourselves.

During last weekend’s shenaningans, I noticed a curious and distressing idea pop up a few times. Because there’s nothing I love more than a drastic oversimplification, I’ll refer to it as the “Online Loyalty Oath”. Briefly, there were a number of posts that basically boiled down to:

“If you were a real friend and not a total coward, you’d join in and yell a those people over there that were mean to me.”

or (alternate formulation)

“Didn’t you see the completely insulting thing that person wrote? Why didn’t you join in and publicly condemn it?”

If there’s one thing the Slashdot trolls did get right, it’s the idea that the degree of self-absorbption on display in blogs is something to be pitied, embarassed by, and, yes, ridiculed.

Look, if the empty boilerplate people always recite about the true deep meaning (hic) of blogging (the old “unfiltered voice of an individual” hogwash that even I might have been a big enough, class A1 sucka to believe at one point) means anything, any damn thing at all, it’s that, really, we (aw, sheesh), we aren’t obligated to say anything. If my text editor’s open and I see you taking a hit from an asshole, hey, I might throw you a virtual heavy-metal-goat-head sign of support. I may solemnly clasp my hand over my heart and wish you well. Maybe I’ll just open another window and download some cat pictures.

I read about half of the weekend’s ugliest posts while sitting in front of my keyboard with a pretty seven-month old girl cooing in the crook of my arm. Do you know how little I cared about giving anyone an ego stroke at that moment?

:: 17:17
:: /opinion/ruminations | [+]
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Fri, 21 May 2004

Brevity

Well, duh.
Every word is like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness.

-- Beckett

I've really been on a "the fewer words, the better" kick for a while now, at least in my informal writing. Yes, of course I'm lazy, but I think it might go a little deeper than that. Writing, for me, is usually an immediate response to "an itch", something that's on the tip of my tongue right now that needs to be said. If I don't record the thing I'm thinking of within a couple of minutes of that initial impulse, it's unlikely to happen at all.

This is good and bad.

Good because the flab, the verbal frippery, and the cute tricks tend not to survive the self-editing process. Bad because I tackle very few things in depth, and sometimes the things you omit leave you backtracking days later, trying to explain what you really meant when you quoted that marginally in-context bit of text without an iota of explanation.

Just saying.

:: 17:05
:: /opinion/ruminations | [+]
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Mon, 10 May 2004

Cigarette Brands

Taking easy shots at smoking.

Yesterday we were out and were supposed to pick up 3 packs of cigarettes for a friend as a favor. What was funny(?) was that this person was very particular about the brand. “I want the (Brand I Refuse To Give Any Google Juice) 100s, in a box.” They had to be in a hard box, not a soft pack, and they had to be 100s, not the normal length ones, and the brand had to be BIRTGAGJ.

We stopped at the gas station, asked for “3 packs of BIRTGAGJs, 100s, in a box”, and headed on our way. When we got to our friend’s house, we found that the attendant had given us 3 packs of BIRTGAGJs, regular length, in a box, and our friend was crestfallen.

I took them back and exchanged them with no problem.

The question I have for smokers here is “whuh?” Is there really that major a difference between the brands? Getting (uncomfortably?) blunt here, does it matter what kind of gun the bullet that splatters your brains on the wall behind you came from?

Slow, stinky, expensive suicide with brand loyalty?

:: 09:21
:: /opinion/ruminations | [+]
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Mon, 05 Apr 2004

Don't Be That Guy

IHBT. IHL.

It's been said before, but it's worth repeating, that a blog isn't a conversation. The blogger links, pontificates, dissembles, or whatever, and if he's feeling froggy maybe he enables comments and/or trackbacks. She's under no obligation to do so, of course. When you pay the rent, you make the rules.

That's a great thing. Even if you don't want to pay for a hosted service, there are places that will host your rants for free. Get it all off your chest, nucking go futs, you know the drill.

Despite efforts and advice to the contrary, I allowed myself to get sucked into one of the blogging world's reigning permathreads, and quite simply, I got trolled. A certain individual, who notably doesn't have a weblog of his own, pushed my buttons like a maestro in the comments of a third person's weblog. I should have known better -- I've been there before.

If you're gonna pick a fight, don't do it in the comments on someone else's blog. That's like camping out in somebody else's backyard and taking a stinky steamer under his window. It's just rude. Start your own blog.

Don't be that guy.

:: 10:50
:: /opinion/ruminations | [+]
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Fri, 10 Oct 2003

People I Saw Yesterday, But Dared Not Approach

in order of appearance

  • The mouthy pregnant woman who verbally excoriated the older woman who had the temerity to sit down next to her on the completely full bus, even though she'd draped her less than svelte frame across both adjacent seats to discourage such a thing. After witnessing her (loudly, oh, so loudly) complain, in colorful, yet barely parseable language about this dread infraction, I wondered how miserable it must be to go through life with that much of a chip on your shoulder, and I said a silent prayer for the as yet unborn future victim of years of verbal abuse.
  • The guy with the Jheri curl mullet.
  • The woman with two small children, a boy (about 5) and a little blonde girl (about 6 or 7.) The woman and her son were walking towards and past me, the little girl was about 15 or 20 feet behind, on crutches. with her right leg extended in front of her. The woman told the boy he could pick something out when they got to the store, then yelled back at the little girl to "hurry up." The girl looked a little wounded, then tried gamely to speed up her awkward three-legged pace. I felt a little part of her world die.

Please $UNIVERSAL_LIFEFORCE, more bad hairdos, and less people who scream at others over trivia.

:: 19:34
:: /opinion/ruminations | [+]
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Fri, 20 Jun 2003

I Live Here, But I Don't Make Any of the Rules

Leader of the Free WorldThe SFG (try to pronounce that as if it were a word, as the clued-in among you pronounce the GZA or the RZA) notes a TV program he recently saw, called "What the World Thinks of America", broadcast on CBC, the national network of our neighbors to the south. I often find myself wincing because I suspect I know how the buffoonery of our higher-ups must be perceived abroad.

Really, though, this whole entry is mainly an excuse to quote the SFG's wonderful last sentence:

By the way, a note to any international visitors: Coca Cola and McDonald's are not coming to your country for political reasons. They just want your money.

:: 11:41
:: /opinion/ruminations | [+]
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Sat, 01 Feb 2003

A kick in the stomach

I still remember where I was when I heard that the space shuttle Challenger had exploded shortly after liftoff in 1986. I had just walked into my physics lab class, during my freshmen year at the University of Michigan, and people were talking about it. My reaction then was the same as my reaction to today's loss of the shuttle Columbia today -- initial disbelief, followed by crushing sadness.

Whenever someone asked me, when I was 3 or 4 or 5 years old, what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would always answer "an astronaut."

:: 12:32
:: /opinion/ruminations | [+]
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A witty saying proves nothing.
— Voltaire