Friday, March 24, 2017

Wikis



You know, we have all these "Wiki's" and things. I keep bumping into them. Whenever I want to look up a source for something I hear on the Internet. I get spurious links, opinions, dubious sites, and others. And occasionally, someone who maybe, kinda knows what their talking about. Sorta. Not often, though. Wikipedias... Wikiwhatnots... Wikiwhatever... WikiImSmarterThanYou... Wikiquotes... Wikiart... WikiWalMart... Wikibooks... WikiWikiTikiRoom... It all sounds like something from Star Wars. Oh, look! Here come the Wikis! We're saved! What's a lost Internet lamb to do?

It used to be so easy. We used to call "Wiki's" a Q&A. And before that an encyclopedia. Or maybe a library. And before that a catechism. Or, if you were lucky, a Universiry. And before that, Shut up and believe what you're told, dumbass. Well, I guess we're back to that, now.

Things never change. Wikiiii!!!!

A Political Murder



As I seem to be Facebook's official Bolshevic, I'd like to say something about the recent political murder in Kiev of Denis Voronenkov, former Duma member who fled to Ukraine and has been variously described as wanted for fraud and an anti-Putin rebel. First, I have no opinion whether the charges are correct. It's too early to tell. Masha Gessen has written plenty about Putin's alleged murders of journalists, dissidents, and other acts of corruption. This would fall in line with past allegations, so it must be taken seriously.

Now the fun part. Investigators talk about three things: Means, motive, and opportunity. Did Putin have the means? Yes. He has the FSB at his beck and call. Motive? You could say yes, though there are other, non-lethal ways to discredit a detractor. Opportunity? See point #1.

Of course, similar things have been said about the Clintons. They allegedly have a trail of bodies behind them. We discount those as spurious attempts to discredit the Clintons, all but forgotten today. This certainly must be considered in this case. Putin has his enemies who will seize any opportunity to discredit him. As President of Russia, Putin is undeniably ruthless. I may approve of some of the things he has done, and will always point that out, but I still don't entirely trust him. He's a politician, after all, which can be much worse than a warrior. I just refuse to automatically believe something without proof just because it caters to my prejudice. False conclusions lead to false actions. False actions sometimes lead to war. I don't like war. Stick to politics. Putin may be ruthless, but he's not stupid. Neither am I.

And there is one more consideration: Qui bono. Who benefits? Does Putin benefit from this murder? Well, that's unclear. Russia is doing very well on the world scene today. Their economy is improving, they are defeating ISIS in Syria, and they are supplanting the US as the major partner in the Middle East. They are an exporter of food and technology. They have a successful diplomatic mission that has negotiated several agreements with other countries. They are becoming a World Player. Just wait and they won't need us at all.

Why stir the pot? They are accumulating allies and business partners around the world, what do they need this cloak and dagger stuff for? The United States had Boris Yeltsin as our puppet in the Kremlin in the 1990's. Do they really need a troll doll in the White House today? What for? We're already doing his job for him! Maybe we should spend some time cleaning up our own house instead if looking for someone else to blame? Just a thought.

Also, why this way? In broad daylight? In a public place? In Ukraine's capital, Kiev? The FSB doesn't know how to make it look like an accident? They supposedly used a poison soaked titanium ball shot into Alexander Litvinenko's calf from an umbrella gun in London. They couldn't come up with something creative here? You're phoning it in, Vlad. My stage manager sense is tingling! I smell a false flag!

A few years ago Boris Nemtsov was assassinated near the Kremlin in what appeared to be a mafia style drive by shooting. Nemtsov was a Putin detractor who had very little sympathy among the Russian people. He was barely worth shooting. This 'Putin did it' accusation was so absurd that it quickly dropped from consciousness. I'd be ashamed to be accused of that assassination. Give a commie a little credit!

We reject the claims of Clinton murders as slanderous but immediately accept the claims of Putin murders as fact. No proof either way. That's sometimes called a Conspiracy Theory. Well, it could be one here, as well. Sauce for the goose. Time will tell and we shouldn't jump to conclusions. Let's see just how it plays out. But there's a saying in Propaganda: First to the finish line gets the mantel of truth. I just made that up. Actually, Thucydides said that. People believe the first account of something that they hear, regardless of later, more compelling information.

Could he have done it? Sure. Would he have, this way at least? I don't see why he would. No matter how evil you think he is, he has demonstrated himself to be immensely more clever. Why not let's be clever, as well? I'll wait for the truth and not allow myself to be hypnotized by all the troll yodeling.

Don't underestimate your enemy. And don't fall for sabre rattling from your friends.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Chronicles of a Baby Boomer – Respect



 

Once. When I was still working. I was at a meeting. You know. Those soul sucking sesspools of bullshit? Then I came back to my office, cubicle, cell. I had three other inmates working there with me and I needed to talk to one of them.

"Nancy," I said as I walked into the hovel we call work.

"Yes, Sir," she said.

I stopped. Wait. What was that? That strange thing I was feeling? Was that... respect?

I said, "Can I go outside and come back in and have you say that again?"

No. Probably not.

Well, it was good while it lasted.

Girl Power






Helping  Bill Corriveau with set construction Sunday morning at Killington High. There was a student there, a girl named Eliana. She did painting and was sweeping up the sawdust from the construction. I was cutting an archway in a luan door with a jigsaw. I asked her if she would like to do some of the cutting. Eric, who was working with me, stopped me and asked her how old she was. Seventeen, she said. No. She can't use electric tools in the state of Connecticut. Not until she's eighteen. She could run a lawnmower, but not electric tools. Go figure.

OK, I said. But I want you to remember when you're eighteen, I told Eliana. You can do set construction. You can do anything. Don't let them make you do girl stuff only. This is girl stuff.

Maybe I made a difference. I hope so.

Truth is Stranger than Fiction





This really happened at today's Pirates of Penzance performance.

At the end of Intermission I called places, ran down my tech crew, and got the raffle tickets from the lobby. We were having the drawing then. For a joke I palmed a stub from one of the tickets I had bought. Since I wasn't going to draw a ticket, I figured it was OK to buy some. I didn't want to win, of course. I walked on stage and called for attention.

"I'd like to do the raffle now," I said and spread my arms wide, revealing the palmed ticket in my left hand. "Oh, look, it's a ticket," I said. "Now how did that get there?" I got the laughs I expected. "I'll just put it here..." and put it in my pocket. "OK. I'll have Bob do the drawing." I passed the tickets to Bob, saying, "Make sure to pick the one I showed you." He said, "I want the one in your pocket."

They passed the ticket back to me. I looked. I read. The name was 'Jon Loux.' I stared. I said, "I don't believe it." I looked up and said, "It's me! Really! My name is on the ticket!"

I couldn't keep it, of course. I tore up the ticket, threw it over my shoulder and said, "I never could read my own writing," and asked Bob to pick another one. While they did, I said, "That really was my name. I'm not joking. I had thought of doing that as a joke, but never expected it to happen for real."

But it had. The ticket handed to me really was mine. It really had my name on it, having bought three tickets for five dollars earlier that day. Of all the rotten luck to have such good luck. 

I've come to the conclusion that life is theater. Bravo!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Words, Words, Words





“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Evelyn Beatrice Hall attributed to Voltaire.

Well. I'm not about to fight to anybody's death, let alone my own. But, while we still have freedom of thought. Free speech. Freedom of information. Freedom to engage in the marketplace of ideas or to fall into the cesspool of fallacies, our choice. Before the thought police descends upon our minds. Before we get the Minitruth. I would like to make a pledge to Lady Truth.

I will always follow the truth, wherever she leads me. I will always question what I hear and see, whoever says it, as she would do. Prove it! will be my mantra. Breitbart is not my shepherd. Neither is MSNBC. And I will always question myself. And any well thought out criticism from a thoughtful source will be welcome. Prove me wrong! I beg you. I want nothing more than to say, You're right. I'm wrong. Thank you!

The label of 'Fake news sites' is a witch hunt. Are there fake stories out there? Certainly. But like the wolf in sheep's clothing, how do we know where they are? Just like the label of 'Conspiracy Theory.' This is just a clever way of suppressing discussion and investigation. Are there false conspiracy theories? Certainly. But like the wheat and the chaff, how do you know which is which?

By seeking the truth, of course. And not relying on labels. Not throwing tin foil stones. It's sparse. It's easy to miss. It's easy to get wrong. And shows up in the oddest places. But it's there. Work for it. Think for it. Thirst for it.

Look for it.

Goethe said that to know one language you have to know two languages. That is because the same things have subtly different meanings in different languages. Oh, not simple things like table and chair. But more abstract concepts. For instance, in English you greet someone by saying, Hello. How are you? You are asking them something about their inner state. In German you would say, Halo. Wie geht es ihnen? How is your gate? How is your walk through life? The one sentiment is internal. How are you on the inside? The other is external. How are you getting along in life? These two form a totally different framework of how you are relating to the other person.

It is essential to consider different, even conflicting, even ludicrous things to triangulate in on a concept and always to realize that you could someday encounter one more perspective which will change your whole understanding of a topic.
 

The essence of debate is to discuss anything and everything without belief or disbelief, but merely to explore the caverns of thought. To limit what can or cannot be said because of ideology or prejudice is to excavate a gaping hole in your understanding. This gaping hole has historically been called many things: Heretical, unpatriotic, nonconformist, apostate, propaganda, unorthodox, Anti-Intellectual, Newspeak, thoughtcrime, censorship, Conspiracy Theories, Politically Incorrect, and most recently, fake news. These are all ways of limiting free speech: Intellectual terrorism.


It is against my nature to say that something can’t be said. Who am I, the cosmic editor? I say many things. I read many things. I consider many things. I listen to many things. But I don’t believe all of them. Can’t since some contradict others. And I certainly won’t shout any of them down.


Once said, a thing becomes subject to criticism. It can be discussed, refuted, condemned, understood or misunderstood, interpreted and, ultimately, implemented. Words have power, yes. But denying words can be even more devastating.


Which ones do we deny? Which ones do we allow? The essence of censorship is the belief that if you can’t say something you can’t think it. Orwell stated that specifically in 1984. But, of course, it doesn’t work. People still do think it, though it may take them longer to learn about repressed words. They’ll get there eventually. And, since they have been driven from the public discourse, there can be no debating them. How can you debate something if you aren’t allowed to speak it? How can you disagree with something not even acknowledged? How can you express an opinion on something if it can’t even be named? How can you prepare yourself to resist a fallacy if you don’t even know what it is? You are creating an artificial intellectual environment, void of oxygen.


By limiting what can and can’t be said on a topic one is attempting to steer the conversation into one’s desired conclusion. But is it the right one?


Words.