Category Archives: Rants and Raves

Why “Social Media” Should be Renamed “Social Masturbation”

We have hundreds of friends on Facebook. We follow hundreds of people on Twitter. We interact with dozens a people a day, spread across an equal number of timezones or even countries.

We follow funny blogs, meme-generators, and news sites on both of these services, and they deliver dozens of posts that we like and re-share to all of our friends, so they can see that we like them.

We feel like we’re making such a difference in the world! It’s so amazing! A collective consciousness if forming, almost — who can stop it? Who can fight it?

Disadvantaged groups are in control of such power! They now have a voice in the world so that everyone can hear of their struggles, thanks to the Internet! Social behavior that would’ve been illegal 50 years ago, and just an enormous faux pas even 25 years ago is now completely normal and accepted… isn’t it?

I mean, that’s what all my friends think. And I’m sure yours largely do too, if you’re probably reading this.

The reality in the rest of America, however, as we just learned, is very different.


Stages of Grief

We’re still not even in the postmortem stage from the Trump election win in 2016, but we’re close. Right now, people don’t know who to blame, mostly because the final results were such a surprise. Nobody saw the coming — not even FiveThirtyEight, who haven’t predicted an election wrong before this one.

And why would they? Why would any of us?

How many Trump supporters are you close to, on a daily basis? How many do you talk to daily, as a friend? Not bickering with online, but in person — where you’re more than just text making them angry on a website, but a living, breathing person in front of them, that they can see, and hear.

If the answer is zero, honestly I don’t blame you. Trump supporters aren’t usually… let’s just say it’s hard to have a conversation with someone who’s starting position is “Ban the Muslims/Mexicans, Build The Wall, Lock Her Up!” There’s not much gray area — not much room for common ground.

Even I only had about half a dozen, and they were all online. Mostly family members who survived earlier Facebook purges and friends from high school who stayed behind in the small town area where I grew up, and never left.

After this past week, of course, I’m no longer friends with them. Not because of anything they did or said, of course — most of them were fairly well-behaved — but because I realized, after the election, that we’re not really friends.

I didn’t talk to them in person. I couldn’t affect their lives in any meaningful way. In any discussion, there was never any meeting of the minds — no give and take. Every conversation could stop immediately when the aggrieved party wanted it to, by just walking away. There was never any reconciliation attempted, because there was no need to.

Our interaction was limited to them sharing their funny conservative memes from ridiculous websites and fake news sources, while I would groan inwardly and put up with them, because I was being “open-minded.”

They were certainly never going to change my mind about Hillary Clinton by posting some link about a “child sex ring in Macedonia run by the Clintons” (all false, of course), and I was never going to change their mind about voting for ol’ Agent Orange himself by telling them about his six bankruptcies, piggish attitudes about women, or the ridiculousness of building a “90 foot wall on the border of Mexico.”

So, why keep up the charade of pretending like we’re friends?


Fair and Balanced

However, I didn’t stop there. How many like-minded people are you friends with on Facebook, that you also don’t see in person? A dozen? Ten dozen? A thousand? How many do you follow on Twitter?

Do you think these relationships are healthy? Do you think you’re making a difference in their lives? That by liking their posts, and replying to their comments on yours that you’re doing something nice for them?

Maybe — just maybe these interactions are robbing you of the desire to make actual relationships, with those people around you.

Now — before you get outraged — I’m not saying you can’t have a meaningful relationship with someone in a purely online fashion. I met my partner online, so I of all people am not saying that.

I’m just saying you can’t have a dozen simultaneously. Or ten dozen. You’re not Scarlet Johansson’s character from the movie Her. And you certainly can’t have 1,456 real “friends” on Facebook, no matter how much you like seeing the number.

These interactions you are having on Facebook, or Twitter, with people you rarely ever see in person, are having a negative influence on your life, and you may not even know it.

They momentarily quench the desire to have real connections, out there, in the real world. Friends you can visit in the hospital if they’re in a car accident. Friends with who you can move a couch. Friends you can go to a party with, or to the park.

And most importantly, friends who, if they don’t think exactly the same as you, may come around to your way of thinking when it’s voting time.


Beating Us at Our Own Game

Because you see, like it or not, this is something “the other side” has the non-Trump-voter beat in, wholly — real life social engagement.

They have churches, where they see the same people regularly, every week.

They go to tailgate parties. Constantly.

They go to real parties, out in the woods, where cell phone connections are spotty and where you’re forced to, you know, talk to people.

And when it comes to voting time, they’re the ones telling their real-life connections, in person, who to vote for.

Yes, they have huge social media presence online, mostly — the recent trouble with fake conservative news being spread like wildfire across Facebook being an example of that — but it’s not their only, or even their most major form of social engagement.

Human beings are social creatures — it’s coded into our DNA. You may think you can survive without a tribe, or a group, but you can’t — that’s just our pleasant, safe, modern world fooling you.

When we human beings were first coming down from the trees and learning to walk on just two legs, the tribes we formed required people to work together to achieve goals — you had to know like-minded people (or in this case, hominids), or you didn’t survive. Human beings weren’t the fastest, or the strongest; we didn’t have sharp fangs or claws or sticky webs to trap pray in; but what we had was cooperation.

And those that could work together with others had their genes propagated to the next generation.


Say “Hi”

So what can you do? If you’re not going to delete your Facebook account in protest of their out-of-control “sharing” feature (I’m still considering it), start by unfriending everybody you don’t see on a daily basis.

Make a few exceptions for those two or three people who, no matter what the geographic distance, you’re still soul mates with. It won’t hurt.

Make an exception for close family that aren’t racist.

But that’s it.

Stop spending time talking to people who you can’t make a meaningful difference in their lives. It’ll hurt at first; I know. But soon that desire will turn into actual action that may help those that are close by to you right now, especially if you live in an area that’s a bit more heterogeneous. (You know, like those “swing” states that Hillary all lost.)

And that is where the culture war will be won. Not by posting rebuttals or Snopes articles on Facebook and Twitter. But by showing people who look and think slightly differently than you how you’re not a caricature.

And maybe, must maybe, they won’t vote next time for a man who thinks that women’s bodies are up for grabs, if you have enough money, or that it’s okay to mock the disabled, or that all illegal immigrants are murderers and drug-dealers.


Caveat

Now, please don’t misunderstand me — I’m not talking about possibly changing the minds of any Trump voters — you should know that’s not possible by now. You’re talking about a kind of person who believes in fake news, without any facts, and when confronted with facts to the contrary, simply chooses not to believe in them. You can’t change that kind of person’s mind, so don’t try.

I’m talking about possibly convincing someone who doesn’t vote, or who is undecided, that they might want to try voting. Those are the changes you can make. And they can be made.

Ubuntu Made Me Drop Out of College! What Was I Doing in College, Anyway?

logo-ubuntu

WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports -27 News Troubleshooter: Woman says Dell computer kept her from taking online classes.

This has seriously got to be a joke. I can’t figure out any other explanation for it. I’m going to try and not get too upset about, because I’m almost 75% sure this is a joke, because there’s so much of this article that is either grossly exaggerated, or just downright untrue.

Let me show you some quotes (after you read the article up above — don’t worry it’s not long):

But something stopped her: Ubuntu.

That’s an operating system for your computer similar to Windows that runs off the Linux system.

I love it when a journalist can’t even get the first farking thing right. No, Ubuntu is not “similiar” to Windows. It doesn’t even try to be. And it doesn’t “run off the Linux system” — I don’t even know what that means. It is Linux.

She didn’t realize until the next morning her laptop defaulted to the Ubuntu operating system.

Once again, I don’t even know what this line is trying to say. A computer no more “defaults” to a certain operating system than a car “defaults” to a certain engine. If it has Ubuntu installed, it has it installed — there is no “defaulting” going on. It’s not like anyone’s being tricked into running Ubuntu, which is what I think the author here was implying.

Schubert says she never heard of Ubuntu before learning that’s when [sic] she accidentally bought.

And here’s my biggest problem with the story — there’s no way to “accidentally” buy a computer with Ubuntu on Dell.com.  I challenge you to try.  Go ahead — load up a new browser window and go to Dell.com and just try to even find a computer they sell with Ubuntu on it. (Doesn’t count if you search for the word “ubuntu” on the site — you’re not “stumbling” onto something you’re looking for intentionally. :P)

Let me save you the trouble — you won’t be able to.  Dell did that on purpose, specifically to avoid this kind of thing happening (i.e., the novice computer user buying a computer with Ubuntu as its operating system, and then complaining when it’s unfamiliar to them).  When you’re buying computers on the “normal” section of their site, Ubuntu isn’t even listed as an option (you usually have a choice of either Windows Vista crap edition, Windows Vista poop edition, or Windows XP, which for some reason usually costs $100 extra).

I really can’t critique the rest of the article because of this.  Either this is a joke story , or someone else — conveniently not mentioned in the story — bought this computer and gave it to her, which isn’t either Ubuntu’s or Dell’s fault.

Just a few more points, though, because I honestly can’t resist:

Later, she discovered Ubuntu might look like Windows, but it doesn’t always act like it.

I love it when journalists don’t even try to make it look like they did any research.

Ubuntu doesn’t look anything like Microsoft Windows, other than the fact that they both exist on a computer screen. It doesn’t take more than a cursory glance to become aware of this. This is like saying your Ford Taurus “looks like a Ferrari, but sure doesn’t drive like one.” I mean, come on — they both have tires, right?

Her Verizon High-Speed Internet CD won’t load, so she can’t access the internet.

Oh boy — here’s another little tip, O novice computer users — those little CD’s you usually get upon buying high-speed access when you move into a new house or change internet providers or whatever? You don’t need them. Throw them away. Any modern high-speed internet network is completely system agnostic — it doesn’t care what it’s hooking up to. Just hook your modem up to your wall, and plug it into your computer. That’s it. Doesn’t matter if you’re running MacOS, Linux, or Windows.

Your high-speed service provider will tell you that you need to run a CD, but trust me, you don’t.  This is proved later on in the article, when we’re told that “Verizon says it will dispatch a technician to try to assist her accessing the internet without using the Windows-only installation disk.”  Well, that’s nice of them to make an entire trip out there to do something that’ll take all of, oh, five minutes.

She also can’t install Microsoft Word, which she says is a requirement for MATC’s online classes.

This is a much larger problem, and one that I really don’t have the time to get into here, but you don’t ever really need specific programs to do school work.

You don’t need Microsoft Word to do word processing.

You don’t need Microsoft Excel to do spreadsheet tasks.

You don’t need Adobe Acrobat to use and create PDF files.

And for the love of G-d, YOU DON’T need Internet Explorer to browse the web.

It’s a sad, sad phenomenom in our society that an entire generation of computer users has grown up thinking that the “Microsoft way” is the only way to do things.  (And they’re definitely not doing anything to help that problem.)

Now, I’m not saying that there isn’t a time and a place for Microsoft products — Windows is a tool, and it’s a tool with a specific purpose, but just like you don’t need to buy one particular brand of hammer to build a house, you don’t always need Microsoft products to do things with a computer.

You can see this kind of thinking all throughout this article — Ubuntu “looks like Windows, but sure doesn’t ‘act’ like it. ”  (As if anything that doesn’t act like Windows isn’t a “real” operating system.)  Ubuntu just won’t let her install Microsoft Word!  (As if this is the only way to get word processing done.)

Tsk tsk tsk, WKOW 27 News Station.  Either this is a joke (and if it is, I’ve got to admit it’s actually pretty good), or you’re seriously, seriously uninformed when it comes to computers and the Internet.

(Yes, I used “uninformed” to be nice.  A less polite person than me would’ve said “fucking retarded,” but I’m not going to go down that path.)

The Choice: Comment: The New Yorker

The New Yorker decided to formally endorse Barack Obama for president this week, in a piece involving scathing messages about John McCain:

Since the 2004 election, however, McCain has moved remorselessly rightward in his quest for the Republican nomination. He paid obeisance to Jerry Falwell and preachers of his ilk.  He abandoned immigration reform, eventually coming out against his own bill. Most shocking, McCain, who had repeatedly denounced torture under all circumstances, voted in February against a ban on the very techniques of “enhanced interrogation” that he himself once endured in Vietnam—as long as the torturers were civilians employed by the C.I.A.

The Choice: Comment: The New Yorker.

A very good piece in the New Yorker about the presidential election this fall — the quote up above resounded with me, greatly.  I used to have a lot of respect for John McCain — before 2004 he really was a “maverick,” going against the course of the rest of the Republicans in Congress many times — but since then, he might as well have been tied to Bush’s hip.

He — of all bloody people — decided to go against a bill against torture, a bill he helped to write.

The man’s not right in the head.

A Tale of Two Plungers

Left: toilets. Right: sinks.
Left: toilets. Right: sinks.

Well, folks, just wanted to tell you about plungin’ toilets.  No, no — I know you probably don’t wanna hear about this, but it’s really important.

See the plunger on the left?  That’s for a toilet.

See the one on the right?  That’s for a sink.

Use the right one for the right job, or else you’ll look like a dumbass. -_-‘

JK Rowling outs Dumbledore as gay

JK Rowling outs Dumbledore as gay

Seriously, this is the most transparent publicity-increasing move I’ve ever seen.

At first, I was upset: “Common sense — meet JK Rowling. She and you have apparently never met.” As if fundamentalist religious-types need _another_ fucking reason to get outraged over one of their favorite targets!

Then, I realized that the _Harry Potter_ series is over and done with, all kids that have read its stuff have _already_ done so, and there’s probably very little accusations of GLAAD type interference that could go on here. She’s more than likely just trying to increase sales as much as she can for this dying series.

(In case you didn’t know, GLAAD-type interference is where GLAAD pays certain people or authors to publicly state that previously non-sexual characters in books or stories are actually _secretly_ gay, just to… well, just to do whatever the hell it is that GLAAD actually wants to do. I sometimes wonder, myself.

I do know that to GLAAD, there are only two types of people; those that are gay, and those that are secretly gay and waiting to come out. Make up your own mind about what that means.)

Radiohead’s New Album

It can be free; go see for yourself.

This article sums up what’s happend so far. According to a survey taken of the people who’ve downloaded the new album, about a third paid nothing at all: $0.

Some people make a big deal of that (like Fark’s headline, A third of the people offered Radiohead what their new album is worth: $0), but they’re missing the big picture — if a third of downloaders got it for free, that means that *the other two thirds paid for it, even when they _could’ve got it for free_*.

According to the survey, many paid more than $20, and the average price was $8 (I paid about $4, myself). Do the math — even with this survey not necessarily representing all people who downloaded the album, that means that at an average price of $8 times 2/3 of a million downloaders (~8*666,000), that’s like…

*5.3 MILLION DOLLARS*.

And that’s money that’s going straight to the band. No middlemen, no greedy record executives to pay, no RIAA cartel to cozy up to — just straight hard cash going to Radiohead so that they can continue to make good music.

What’s the downside of this type of purchasing system again?

Nothing, from what I can see. Everything I’ve ever heard of seen tell me that bands make very little money off of album sales when they go through a major label and an organization like the RIAA — most of the money they make is through performances and band “stuff” (you know, t-shirts, autographs, and the like).

And while $20-25 bucks (what you’ll pay in a store) for a new album is FAR too much if you ask me, paying the same amount to be 10-20 feet from my favorite band whilst screaming my head off along with thousands of other people? Now, _that’s_ worth $20. I’ve paid that amount before to see bands play in a venue (hell, I usually pay twice that), and I’ll continue to do so — but I haven’t paid for an CD in years.

Beyonce Video Being Removed?

Wow — normally, I wouldn’t give two shits and a fart about Beyonce, but I was trying to show someone the video of her falling on her ass recently, and it’s become nearly impossible to find! It’s removed from YouTube, from Google Video, every goddamn thing!

Apparently, Sony’s started kicking up a fuss about one of its main stars (and sources of income) being made to look like a clumsy oaf all over the damn world, so apparently they’ve been slapping everyone who hosts the video, from big sites to small, with DMCA requests (even if they’re not actually filing the actual requests, they’re at least threatening to, I guarantee).

I _finally_ found the damn thing on a site called PinoySpyTV.com at http://www.pinoyspytv.com/view/158/beyonce-knowles-falls-on-stage-in-florida-concert//, which I’ll post for you below:

You can download the actual source of the video at http://www.pinoyspytv.com/flvideo/158.flv (right click and go to “Save as File…” or something like that).

Like I’ve said, normally I wouldn’t give a shit about something like this, but I just think it’s scary as hell that a company—not even the government mind you, but just a damn company—is actually trying to erase an event from history like this! (Think that’s crazy? Do you think Sony isn’t sitting there wishing they could do exactly that?)

Download it. Save it. Remember it. Remember the day Beyonce fell on her face like an idiot and slid down a flight of stairs on her mug.

Trust me, today it’s videos of Beyonce disappearing, tomorrow its the Constitution.

What, you don’t believe me?

I was going to go through the Bill of Rights here and describe how each one is being threatened today, but it quickly got too depressing… feel free to check ’em out, though I’m sure you’re already acquainted with them, right? ;)

Joost pisses me off….

…so we’re sitting there, having just installed Joost on our main Windows computer, and we’re watching “Strangers with Candy” on the MTV channel, and then all of a sudden…

All the other computers on my network start going apeshit and telling me they’re having their ports scanned, and the originating address is the computer I’ve just installed Joost on.

Uh… Yeah. No. Nuh-uh. Fuck that shit. I uninstalled it and now I’m having to do full scans just to make sure that I’ve gotten rid of all its little processes.

Now, look — I know about Joost’s “relevant advertiser information” that it sends to companies like Viacom, Warner, and the like; I expect that shit. Companies like DirectTV already do that (it’s how you can see features like “what are other people watching” on the DirectTV service), and you _pay_ them to let them do it to you.

But the port scanning of other computers on my network? Nope — you leave the other fucking computers on my network alone. If I want you looking at them, I’ll install your fucking software _on_ them.

Port scanning is spyware-like activity, and if I wanted spyware on my computer, I’d turn off my firewalls and browse with Internet Explorer, okay?