That is Cool

There are a handful of people who get all sorts of quotes attributed to them on the internet – Churchill, Twain, Lincoln, Edison – and partly it’s because they did come up with a few zingers in their lifetimes, so if you’re just taking a wild guess, the same way if you’re playing trivial pursuit and it’s some question about a famous baseball player and you don’t know the answer, you might as well just say ‘Babe Ruth.’ Every now and again, you’ll be right.
Well, today somebody posted a Lincoln quote: “In that supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union; and then, you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, “Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!” I thought, well, that sounds like a Lincoln quote, and it is brilliant logic, and it is totally applicable to our times. But that little phrase in the middle, that ‘That is cool,’ threw me a little bit. I had always thought that ‘cool’ used to mean good, as in “Wow, that’s cool!” or even just O.K., as in “No problems, dude. It’s cool” had come into the language in the 1950s.
So, I looked up the Cooper Union speech, and there it is, Lincoln did say exactly that, and then I got busy with the old google machine and started searching the etymology, and I wasn’t that far off. First usage, they said, 1930s. Although Shakespeare once talked about ‘reasonable and cool logick’, that’s not exactly the same thing.
So, Abraham Lincoln, user of the telegraph, builder of railroads, and reader of Marx, Darwin and Stowe, was a man ahead of his time, even when it came to slang. That is cool.

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Censorship

Is it right, is it fair that Trump has been banned from Twitter? Should Parler be taken down, or Qanon?
Well, here’s how I see it. Free speech is really, really important and even right wing retards have a right, almost even a need to express their opinion. If you stop somebody from saying something publicly, they’ll say it privately, and that might be even more dangerous.
There’s talk of shutting down Parler because Trump supporters used it to organize the protests in Washington. This is a bit counter-productive, if you think about it. Since Trump supporters used Parler to organize this event, all the authorities needed to do was to read Parler, and they could have prevented 5 deaths. In that case, the solution is not to ban Parler, it’s to hire more police officers who know how to read.
But, I’m not entirely opposed to some limited censorship.
Back when I first started with social media, back when Facebook and MySpace were considered equals, one of my main sources of information, and favorite places for debate, was the Huffington Post (where I no longer go, because they censored me too many times). At the time, their comments section was horrible. Filled with obnoxious people who made huge drawings of cats all done in semi-colons, and people who would just type fuck you over and over again, so their comment took up several pages and just scrolling through it was obnoxious. Then, they had a crackdown and the whole thing became much more readable.
So, you have the extremes. Obviously, total censorship is bad because that’s not a free society, but a total lack of censorship and our civil discourse becomes buried in white noise, to the point that society can’t move forward.
Freedom v. Security. If you live by yourself in the forest, far away from other human beings, you have complete freedom. You can howl at the moon in the night time, swim naked in the creek at dawn, and shout Fuck You! so loud that the squirrels run away, but you run a greater risk of being killed by a bear than someone living in a town, with neighbors. The townies, on the other hand, are not free to do those things, but they have a much easier and, in my opinion, desirable life.
So where, oh where, do you draw the line? It’s a good question.
First, I would suggest that we need more platforms, and not fewer. The more places right wingers can gather online to talk about their plans the better. Second, I do kind of buy the argument that Facebook, Twitter, and all the others, being private concerns, can censor whom and what they like – but, since they dominate social media, if they decide to start censoring heavily, it’s a threat to our freedom. So, maybe there need to be a few sites which are not private, but publicly owned. Not instead of, in addition to.

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Crying in the Airport

I’ve been watching YouTube videos of all the Trumpistas being kicked off, or just not allowed on, flights, and it is an endless source of comic delight. I hope when they eventually wend their way home, they will also be met with appropriate derision. Anyway, I wrote this poem about it, which I’ve already put up on Facebook and Rattle’s Anything Goes poetry page, so this blog is a bit of overkill, perhaps, but it’s an appropriate topic for today, so here goes:

They raise their guns above their heads

chanting very loud

They’re bold and they are fearless

defiant, fierce and proud

but when they’re at the airport

and they’re not allowed to fly

it’s embarrassing to watch them

as they whimper and they cry

The storming of the Capitol

was their last, their golden chance

Now, they’re going home alone

and pissing in their pants

and here’s a short compilation video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CegNO9waSSc

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The Lesson of Qanon

I just read a very informative article about Q anon, written by somebody named Rabbit Rabbit, which is almost undoubtedly not the author’s real name, because it’s probably not anybody’s real name. However, the article was extremely informative.
It was also super long and, I must confess, by the end of it I was just skimming the paragraphs. But, it did get me thinking. Basically, the idea of Q anon is to nurture conspiracy theories by allowing for apophenia (Jesus in a piece of toast) and encouraging people who find things like that. The author described it as ‘a game that is playing the players.’
So, I’m thinking if it’s that possible to manipulate outcomes just by encouraging people to see what they can see, it should be possible to come up with a site which would actually encourage people to exchange relevant statistics, facts, logic, and the occasional bit of anecdotal evidence because that does add in the human factor, which is important, and figure out a path (because that’s what Q anon does, if I’m interpreting it correctly. It creates a path for those people who want to go straight into Cuckooville) to get from where we are now to a happy, healthy, self-sustaining civilization and environment without war, or poverty, or crime; which would not be a democracy of ideas, but a meritocracy of ideas. A site which would not determine the most popular answers, but the best answers.
A site, or a game, or whatever you will that could do that would be a tremendous thing for the human race. And if designers were to draw on the success of Q anon to build such a platform, that would add irony and humor to the whole thing.

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Musk’s Good Day

My big news of the day is that my latest book of poetry, A Country’s Just a Place, is now available on Kindle, either for 99 cents U.S., which I think is a darned good deal, it’s only a bit over a penny a poem, or for nothing. I’m not sure if there’s some difference, like maybe 0 is a read only version and the 99 cent version you can keep, or if this is just a special, one time introductory offer, but if you’d like to own one of your books but you’re a broke bastard (as I know a lot of people who like poetry are), just hop over to Kindle and order your free copy now.
Elon Musk had an even better day than me. He made like $20 billion and has overtaken Jeff Bezos as the world’s richest person. I’m a bit surprised. Once Bezos passed the $100 billion mark I thought “Damn, nobody’s ever going to be able to catch that.” Just letting his money grow for him without making any risky investments, he’s probably ticking over another billion every few days, and each increase increases the rate of increase, and so on.
But, the value of Tesla stock went up a little bit and now there are two people in the world with over $180 billion, we may well have the world’s first trillionaire within a couple of years, and there are still people in this world who live in poverty. It’s bloody ridiculous, is what it is.
Not the part about Elon Musk having so much money. The part about other people having so little.

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