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The Bald Ego. Symbol of America.

my rant

by me, iceowl


In presidental election years we have the impression someone should be able to tell you where they stand on issues, and I'm trying to be one who can. It's nothing new. For most of my life I've considered myself politically neutral as a cover for being unsophisticated. In high school I had difficulty debating the candidate's platforms. Some kids were decidedly liberal or conservative, and I had no idea what it meant to be toward the left or the right in ones social proclivity.

In sophomore year of high school someone tried to explain it to me thusly: The Commies are leftists. The Nazis were right wing. Get it?

I didn't. It was the first time someone had drawn a comparison between the two social organizations and to me, they were the same. Saying that now seems patently ridiculous to the ear. But it was true then.

Later in life, a colleague explained on a business trip, when I had simplified the left and right as Mao versus Hitler: it sort of wraps around the back side. If you go too far left you get to the right, and visa versa. It's a mobius strip.

The mobius strip of politics.

I vote in every election, it turns out, and I find my vote is usually not predictable until the evening before the polls open, when I sit at the kitchen table with the voter's guide, reading every candidate's platform, arguments for and against every school bond or tax measure. Then I make up my mind by filling in the example ballot as if taking the SAT. I bring the sample with me when I vote in the morning, and I simply transfer the dots on the sample to the ballot, and I leave. It takes less than 30 seconds, usually. Then I put the I've Voted sticker with all the others in the Jeep's glove box.

For the sake of being clear to people who would ask, I say I am an unaligned voter. I am registered neither Democrat nor Republican. For a while I was registered as Independent, but that only lasted until I found that "Independent" was a party, so I reregistered myself as nothing, and I'm happy to be that way.

Generally, as I examine my voting patterns, I find this about myself: like most rational human beings, I have a serious distrust for career politicians. The reason is simple. They perform outrageous public acts of manipulation for purposes motivated by naked self-interest. They exhibit acts of unadulterated ego we would not accept from our own children.

And I also have a serious mistrust of political parties, whose job, it appears to me, is to create the inertia of herd mentality so that candidates are elected not through the thoughtful consideration of fact, but through knee-jerk emotion, much in the same way a lawyer manipulates a jury at a trial.

Generally, I believe that all public servants have ingrained at some level the desire to help people. The candidates, generally, believe their positions are beneficial to all Americans. There is an honest feeling by the politically astute in American politics, especially at this point in the year before the election--that the platforms adopted by candidates and their parties are good. That the candidate of choice is good for the entire country, and by association, the whole world, and that his competitor's platforms are less so.

That, in my mind, is the operative theory of elections which is still at work here in the good old U.S. of A. God bless America. E Pluribus Unum. Amber waves of grain. Etc.

But let me take a stand of some of the recent political activity in the U.S., because that's what writers need to do.

First, George W. Bush is a moron. I think he cheated on his spelling tests in grammar school. I think he has trouble constructing simple English sentences. I think his verbal spew exposes a simple-mindedness that calls into question his ability to process fact and calculate rational courses of action. I think he reacts passionately, instead of thoughfully. I think his handlers make all the hard decisions. This man is a buffoon who when asked how it was that he simply disappeared from his post in the National Guard, said, "I was in business school. I had to go up for classes," instead of explaining how he evaded the MPs who would have busted his ass for going AWOL had he been any other American with a family with no political influence. He is poisonous to our country not because of his positions, few of which I'm sure he's capable of coming to under the weight of his own mental ability, but because his stupidity makes him vulnerable to manipulation in a truely Shakespearian way, and it is all the Republican party can to do to smooth over his defects to keep him in office by convincing us this is not the case.

And a whole lot of people buy the party's slather.

Second, I think Bill Clinton is a pitiful, morally vacuous slut and his wife an ego manical hag, both of whom would, at the slightest indication of public acceptance, introduce a bill to congress to have them elected king and queen of America. Had the effort which has over the years gone into covering up William's philandering gone into better understanding the external threat against this nation, 9/11 would have never happened. I believe it was Clinton's blindness to fact and his unwillingness to make any decision more difficult than "do I need a condom?" that is responsible for the genocide in New York. A man who can with a straight face be believed, proclaiming he "did not have sex with that round-faced page" because blow-jobs aren't sex in Arkansas, we do them all the time, (more likely because he knew she wasn't a babe and didn't want his judgment tarnished by poor female selection), shows a contempt for the American public not unlike that of mobster John Gotti. I believe his wife would also be a slut if she wasn't menopausal. I believe they are both extremely intelligent and harbor the sort of disdain for less-intelligent Americans that jaded rock stars show for their fans. I believe Vince Foster did not commit suicide.

And a whole lot of people believe their party's slather, too.

I don't know enough about John Kerry to dislike him as much as our prior two presidents. By election day I will know more, but honestly, at the moment I'm in the ABBA club (anything but bush) and so unless the children Kerry has fucked are below the age of, say, 12, I'll probably vote for him. I'd rather vote for a long-faced semi-likable misfit who has a vocabulary that includes three-syllable words than a round-faced boob who sounds like he's coming out of the corner gin-mill three sheets under after shagging balls in the outfield in the men's fast-pitch softball league. Values. Toughness against crime, foreign or domestic. Economy. Blah blah. There are good parts in both platforms. There always is.

My goal, though, is to see John McCain elected in 2008 and I also think the fastest way to that is Kerry in 2004.

As for the war, I am among those who believe that some form of brutal military conflict was necessary after the recent Pearl Harbor. I believe, as an American, that the way the political system works is you vote for whom you want, and then upon losing, you toss the full weight of your support behind the winner. That's why when Bush invaded Iraq with our army, I was torn to absolute emotional ribbons. Part of me was absolutely convinced this was an act of hubris--Bush Jr. getting back at Sad-ham for pissing off Bush Sr., in the true spirit of the French monarchy of the renniassance. But my support for the American system of government demanded I support the commander, especially with those outside the U.S. That is, I keep family business at the dinner table. To outsiders we show solidarity.

The only reason to invade Iraq was not to unseat Saddam, but rather, to have a platform in the middle-east to launch strikes against Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran. There is where the true trouble lies, and to that purpose I see some intelligence in the military scheme. The issue is that the war in Iraq was forced down the throats of America with lies and deceit. Now that we've uncovered the true Iran-Contra-ish extent of the lies, we Americans will tend to focus on those rather than the long-term political truth--which is that we are at war with a well-financed, underground guerilla network who believes they have the angels of God on their side. History has proven we will not stop this threat conventionally. Had the Japanese kept up the Kamikaze attacks in WWII, they might have won more battles earlier on and shifted the tide of the war (but only until we nuked them).

The rhetoric of the war will undermine all American military aggression to protect itself and the blame for this falls on the shoulders of the C-student drunk we have as commander-in-chief. Let me be clear on this--after 9/11, I believe America needed to show swift, brutal, blood-thirsty retaliation for the death of our citizens. But the effect of the counter strike is now lost in a miasma of political bufoonery, and the longer it goes on, the worse the political idiocy will get, and we will continue to lose our sons and daughters to protect an assinine policy instead of in protecting ourselves. It is important to understand one thing in the Islamic conflict. Al Qaida does not hate us for our way of life. They do not care, at least at this point, to destroy us because we have "freedom" and they "hate freedom". Those ideas are the puerile blather of right wing media simpletons who think the war in Iraq is another road-side accident at which to slow down and gawk.

As the CIA itself has counseled--Al Qaida wants three things from America. It wants a total withdrawl of all presence from the "holy lands". It wants an end to the support of Israel to the detriment of the Palistinian nation. And it wants an end to the American control of oil prices (You thought OPEC set prices? How come Americans pay less than 1/2 for gasoline than the rest of the world...?)

By not recognizing that Al Qaida's beef with the U.S. has less to do with their feeling we're infidels and more to do with our foreign economic policy, the attacks on us take on a Biblical aspect upon which the politicians monopolize. Our government feels it's more important to whip up rage by objectifying the enemy (and make no mistake--these are our enemies) rather than understanding him, and history has shown with nauseating repetition that those who fail to understand their opponents are frequently defeated by them. These people are not madmen in the sense that they have completely abandoned intellect. Think America. Don't you think it took smarts to figure out how to hijack airplanes? How to learn to fly them and more importantly, sway people capable of being trained to fly something as complicated as a Boeing 757 into a target as tall and thin as the World Trade Center? Don't you think it took brains to figure out how to knock those buildings down?

Call them madmen, but do not mistake their passion for stupidity. They are smart and they are calculating and they are using our deliberate underestimation of their skill to kill us. I, for one, do not care how many blow-jobs the president gets or whether the chick was fat and has cum on her dress or whether or not the president can pronounce the word "nuclear" and is still having acid flashbacks from the orgy scenes at Yale. We must keep our citizens safe from being killed by these assholes who do not sleep.

We need to get to the job of soundly killing Osama Bin Laden and his minions in the most effective and vicious manner we can, and I do not believe this current administration is capable of mustering enough mental horsepower in the boy-who-would-be-king to do the job. Goddamn it, give me Eisenhower. Give me Kennedy. I don't care if JFK installed Marilyn Monroe under the desk in the oval office--he would have taken care of this shit. Meanwhile, we have Bill Clinton redefining dictionary entries and George Bush trying to sound like he remembers his fifth grade vocaublary lesson because what appears to have priority to both these guys is not effective prosecution of the America's business, but intangibles like image and something vaguely termed "values" which seems to impose the views of a minority on those who's votes can be swayed by the unleashed anger of right wing pundits who use the nation's airwaves as a platform to vent their jackbooted self-hatred, or by the latest poorly executed Ben Affleck movie (remember, he's the one who couldn't get into Harvard).

For my money, I'm trying Kerry if only because he's the--can't be any worse--candidate. God help my overtaxed Californian bank account. But I'll pay extra these four years because McCain will fix it after that (if Al Qaida hasn't killed me by then).

Those are my political leanings.

It is nearly 3am over here in Singapore, and I can't sleep. I am afraid that there is nothing new there - somewhere along the line sleepless nights became the rule rather than the exception. I need to wake up early, so I can't take a sleeping pill or I will be too groggy too wake up in the morning. If that weren't bad enough, because I can't take a pill I wont be able to go to sleep anytime soon and therefore will be groggy and wont be able to wake up.

So as I lay there trying to sleep, I was struck by the thought that I really ought to start keeping a tally of how many sheep I have counted over the years. I mean, it would be an impressive conversation starter. Who knows, I might even be able to use it to pick up women!

"Did you know that over the last 4 years I have counted in excess of seven-hundred and thirty thousand sheep!?"

"My god! Thats over five-hundred a night! That is both fascinating AND an incredible turn-on!"

Heh... *sigh* I hope you guys liked that drop of humor. I mean, who knows? If it weren't for getting up to type this I might be asleep by now.

Aaannnyway. For now however, I have been noding... a lot. When I am not noding I am thinking about noding. I am starting to see why, within the first day of joining, people were warning me to leave before I become horribly addicted. I feel I am really starting to make progress, and the noders who I have spoken to have been incredibly helpful. I am really surprised by just how willing people are to give advice to a newbie, so many online communities seem to feel such disdain for us silly 'n00bs.'

Well, I have been thinking about what to write next. I would node another game I have been playing, but I feel the urge to try to node something on a different subject. After all, I am new here, and so far all of my writeups have been... well... kinda dull. I wouldn't want to give the wrong impression now would I? So I have thought of the perfect node, and I will begin working on it after I have had some sleep. This idea of mine? This perfect node? It is a subject very close to my heart:

Breasts, Otters, Creativity and Greed: a Critique of Singaporean Society.
Or: People told me I needed to use more interesting titles

Well, I hope that people can extract some kind of use and or humor from this node. As always, I stand ready to receive any advice this community has to offer. Oh, and as for the pickup line, let me know if it works.

Disclaimer: This is a rant about FOSS. It's not a popular opinion, and I know that already, or else it would be off gathering some quick karma on Slashdot or something. All I ask is that votes be cast on the merit of the writing style, since that's what I'm trying to improve. Thanks.

I am sick and tired of Open Source mania.

Anyone who dares contest the superiority of free (as in crap) software is immediately shouted down by people who don't do anything remotely resembling serious work, who can't even entertain the idea that their darling baby might not be all they wish it is.

There is no escape from petty squabbles on topics ranging from desktop environments to software patents. Everyone is content to argue while chasing taillights and letting some of their best ideas get absorbed by the dark side, as if they are nothing but Microsoft R&D.

With everyone so busy directing their hatred to the "Gates of Hell", they ignore the irony of the GNU tools using the same embrace and extend strategy on everything they touch, warping it all beyond recognition. Those same extensions are rarely marked as such to ensnare the poor fools who don't have a real Unix to test for compatibility on. Man pages pretending to have some content are offered forth, then point to the labyrinthine nightmare called the info system at their ends, with a barely suppressed giggle.

Certain software gives itself a stable version number just to get more people to test it. Legions of the faithful back it up with empty assurances of "stability", mindlessly repeating what the higher-ups said, the same higher-ups who set the numbering to trap the unwary.

Some software thinks that it's other software, making entirely too many of their keyboard shortcuts depend on context. Then there's more other software of the same brood with too many names, software which can't be bothered to focus the visible tab, software which eats the keyboard entirely too much, software whose supporters think that throwing about:config at someone is a great answer to a request for justification for the most broken design decision of all time.

Everyone is expected to look in man, info, /usr/share/doc, --help output, /var/log, Google, forums, SourceForge, the software's website, mailing list archives, IRC, the source code, /usr/src/linux/Documentation, USENET archives, and God knows what else for support. For every question, there are 1,000 sources of the same question, and 2 sources with the answer. On a good day.

Automated documentation tools are used as a pretense: providing "What?" while leaving "Why?" and "How is it used?" unanswered. But there's documentation, so STFU, silly user! It's the corporate game of pretending to fix the problem without really doing so being replicated for free.

The foul villians who dare criticise any project will be met with "They don't owe you anything!" and "So why don't you do it?" Or the death sentence, if they were also sarcastic. Any suggested improvement will be met with "You provide a patch, and we'll think about it! Now go away, or I shall taunt you a second time!" Anyone who isn't willing to dedicate their life to being mired in the code is unworthy of respect.

Open source is a house of cards running on faith that it works, faith that there really is some niche out there somewhere where a company can eke out a living being some careless coder's QA and documentation team. The smarter ones have already realized it's a losing game and reworked their plans to follow the money. But the Emperor is clothed, and all who think otherwise are treasonous bastards who will eat flaming death for their betrayal!

Open source is not magic pixie dust.

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