Tag Archives: annoying people

A note to the perpetually easily offended

This is not about politics; this is not about oppression by the politically correct crowd, at least not on a national scale. Nor is this post about you, unless it speaks to you, but remember: I didn’t write this with you in mind. Besides, if you’re easily offended, you may as well leave now, because I’m about to trample on that garden of brambles you call an emotional defense mechanism.

We get it: you know people who suffer from a plight that others might find funny: this could be a friend, or family member or even yourself. Some of these people may even have lost their lives as a result. I feel for you, but this gives you no right to be a thought policeman when an ongoing conversation isn’t even about you.

Just because someone is engaging in levity doesn’t mean that they intend to slight you. Because most of the time the chuckles aren’t about you. And if you shied away from, or drove away, those who would occasionally make light of a dire situation, you would find yourself in very boring place dominated by your misery, populated only by those too afraid to stand up to you.

Misery and repression are defense mechanisms as valid as levity can be. I’ll get a little personal and share a story or two.

A high school classmate drove drunk with a passenger who was too high to drive. He got into an accident which killed the passenger and injured him only lightly. And yet, comedic renditions of car crashes and accidents don’t offend me. I have had to deal with alcoholic family members and yet will make fun of a drunk who has pissed himself in the depths of his intoxication. I have had to deal with friends who are addicted to drugs, yet I will laugh at this back-alley crackwhore.

Personal stories aside, have some perspective. What you think is courage in speaking up against insensitivity of others is not always courageous, nor is their insensitivity malicious. With each time you express offense at something, the people around you build a list of things that they’d rather not mention—not even make light of—in front of you for fear of offending you.

This might make me seem insensitive or callous. To a point, I’m already known for being so. However, there is a place for humor, and it only works when the fear of offending someone is not the paramount concern. As this article in Salon concludes:

In the worst moments of life, humor can be a potent force for healing (think of The Onion’s brilliant post-9/11 coverage) — or salt in a still bleeding wound.

Sometimes, the wound that keeps bleeding isn’t because of the salt others put on it; it’s that you never let it heal by picking at the scabs continuously.

Josh Treviño on Ezra Klein

Compiled with permission from his tweets today:

The thing to understand about @ezraklein is that he wasn’t saying something dumb within his context. Progressives really do think this. The idea that the Constitution is too old and Book-of-Revelations opaque for modernity goes back to late 19th-century progressivism.And before that, it had its roots in the Southern slaveholding critique of the Constitution’s inadequacy, elaborated by Calhoun. In this light, @ezraklein is really part of a long anti-Constitutional tradition. It’s good that’s out in the open now. Because for those who dismiss or deride the Constitution, as do @ezraklein and the progressives, there’s only one adjective: anti-American.

Video backstory is Klein expressing (veiled) frustration at the Constitution on MSNBC this morning.

There is a sweet, delicious irony in hearing Ezra Klein espouse the same arguments that pro-slavery anti-Constitutionalists spake over a hundred years ago. Savor this moment.

Morally Exploring Julian Assange

In which I attempt a moral analysis of Wikileaks and Julian Assange without engaging in gratuitous moralizing.

The news that prefaced the actual release of the diplomatic cables made one thing clear: Bradley Manning committed a crime by breaking the secrecy of classified documents. Now that’s out of the way, what about Wikileaks’ actually disbursing the documents? And what of the press that covered the release, and passed along their contents? I’m not going to make legal pronouncements; let’s leave that to the lawyers. But the morals?

There are three approaches to ethics, something I covered a while back. Let me repeat it here:

  • Virtue Ethics focuses on the intent and character of the doer.
  • Deontology posits that there are moral duties towards a formal action, the deed itself, absent consideration of the consequences. Immanuel Kant is one of its most famous adherents, and (almost?) all religions are deontological by nature.
  • Consequentialism judges the rightness or wrongness of an act based on the consequences produced. Its largest failing is that it doesn’t necessarily provide a guide as to what to do at the time of the dilemma itself.

Wikileaks breaks secrecy, but do those revelations show that this information deserves to be kept secret? This is a central question when discussing this issue. As the contents of the leaked cables come out, we see a partial picture of how international diplomacy works. Countries whisper to each other, backstab each other, conspire against each other and form alliances with each other while all claiming to be part of a global community. It’s a horrible truth, but much of this information falls under the realm of common sense and conventional wisdom.

What about certain secrets, the ones that reveal horrible acts? One of the revelations is that a government contractor fed into a Pashtun pedophilia ring. There is no situation, under any political or moral calculus,that this is excusable. No matter how “acceptable” this is among the Pashtun, this is not “acceptable” anywhere, just as executing gays for being gay may be acceptable for the Taliban, but it is not acceptable in a Western society.

The better question to ask about the Pashtun pedophilia ring would be: could this information have been released without jeopardizing international diplomatic relations? The answer is YES. Assange and friends have clearly indicated that the paradigm in this day and age is for Information to be unfiltered and free of government, journalistic, or corporate filtration, but at what cost? Was the listing of facilities we considered “vital” a necessary sacrifice in releasing this information?

It’s clear that Assange cares little about the consequences of his actions. The man proudly claimed the deaths of 1300 Kenyans to be “worth” revealing what he revealed, only to retract his statements when he was called on it.

In the past, records of government-endorsed crimes remain veiled for a very long time, if not forever, until at least someone with a conscience and nothing to lose decides it is time for this information to be released. It’s also a conventional rumour that “anonymous” leaks are sometimes initiated from within the government itself. But there is a reason for this release to be controlled. Yes, at times it means we don’t get to prosecute the government contractor promoting a pedophilia ring in a timely manner, but this also means that 1300 Kenyans may still be alive. The release of these cables does not assure that our contractors will deal with the Pashtun on nefarious means, it just means that records will not be kept.

Ross Douthat commented on the inevitable turtling early on. Today, Paul Carr of TechCrunch echoes this sentiment, in a language even their readers should be able to understand:

I hate Julian Assange. I hate the way he’s posing as a champion of truth and justice whilst hiding in the shadows and resorting to blackmail in a drawn-out attempt to avoid having to justify answer criminal charges in a publicly-accessible court of law. I hate the fact that he’s trading on a myth that We The People have a right to know everything our governments are saying and doing in our name when, in fact, we elect people to act in our best interests on a global stage without necessarily giving us a heads up every time they want to have an off-the-record chat with a dictator. (If every tiny decision has to be made based on how it will play in public, then we’ll soon end up with a whole load of crowd-pleasing decisions but very little actual diplomacy. Palling around with Chinese leaders or Arab kings might be a strategic no-brainer but it doesn’t play great in the heartland.)

[…]

Thousands – maybe millions – of people had access to the cables – which, as openness goes, is pretty impressive. Hell, even a lowly Private like Bradley Manning – the junior soldier with a grudge against the American military who allegedly leaked the documents to Wikileaks – had access to them. Now, however, thanks to Wikileaks, all of that is likely to stop. What’s also likely to stop is the routine documenting of casual conversations, the candid sharing of opinions between allies – and a whole bunch of other acts of openness which if Wikileaks actually meant a word it said, the organisation should be all for. And for… what? So that millions of us who had no real business – beyond a basic prurient interest – in knowing what conversations are being had behind closed diplomatic doors could feel important. Well, great. Responsible openness’ loss is a few million busybodies’ gain.

Julian Assange is no hero. If he is the only one we have left who can lead government to accountability, then we have lost faith in our ability to police ourselves; in our ability to hold our government responsible; in our ability to bear the weight of the crimes committed in our name without us even knowing, knowing full well that in a world like ours, those afraid to sin are doomed to be killed by those who do. Assange is, as Hitchens writes, a megalomaniac with a political agenda. As a believer in Ordered Liberty, I cannot abide by Assange’s anarchic world view. Anarchy and chaos are enemies of liberty.

My next post on this issue will discuss the matter of the permanent State, the difference between established corruption and a corrupt establishment, and the moral costs a civil society bears.

On the blogger “payola” non-scandal

The Daily Caller came out with a scandalous piece this morning, titled: True stories of bloggers who secretly feed on partisan cash, except, it cites one blogger, Red County, which is an old story. The scandal is not the payola, but the sheer ineptidue of the reporting. Here’s the important coverage and response commentary, and enjoy them now, or enjoy them after you go through my short comments after:

Read them all if you will, as better minds have posted opinions earlier already. That said, my two cents: The Daily Caller’s Jonathan Strong did an absolute terrible, terrible job by sewing together Dan Riehl’s underpriced consulting activity for the RNC with an unnamed source claiming half of bloggers being on the take, and an outdated—but relevant and truly distasteful—story about Red County. This is just absolutely terrible reporting, one that is offered with two winks and a nod and not much else.

Financial disclosure is not that hard. I am certain of this and I have disclosed my party invitations, free books and meals. Getting invited to parties gets me to schmooze with potential design clients and to hang out, in real life, with friends I have made online. Sometimes, this congeniality leads to a favorable opinion of my hosts, as does food and swag, but mostly food, because I end up giving swag away. What is hard for others, though, is keeping track of our disclosures. Sometimes, inept journalists like Mr. Strong fail to do his homework about potential subjects like Mr. Riehl.

I admit that when I first read the hit piece—which at the time I thought was news—I was apoplectic. I thought, Mr. Riehl would know better, and after his response, we know he’s done his due dilligence and his work for the RNC is kosher. Less than twelve hours after the story came out, the facts no longer matter. The Daily Caller’s inept story has fed into the hands of the Left, and they will use this as a club with which to beat us.

At first, I was furious that I would have to face regulations because a few bloggers made a mistake, until I realized that the people who made the worst mistakes in all this is The Daily Caller itself.

On David Frum and the American Enterprise Institute

David Frum, Neoconservative speechwriter for our Neoconservative (and yes, decent human being) former president George W. Bush, was let go from the American Enterprise Institute today. He is one of the Conservatives the Right loves to hate, but I won’t indulge that author’s fantasies of pundit life in Washington (since there is no proof such events actually happen). Remember what I always reinforce on this here blog: I’m a Conservative ideologue, not a Republican partisan. So, when I say this, I say it with no malice: he didn’t quite belong at AEI anymore.

Bruce Bartlett touches on something interesting (oh and by the way would you look at the original title of that post based on the URL):

Since, he is no longer affiliated with AEI, I feel free to say publicly something he told me in private a few months ago. He asked if I had noticed any comments by AEI “scholars” on the subject of health care reform. I said no and he said that was because they had been ordered not to speak to the media because they agreed with too much of what Obama was trying to do.

It saddened me to hear this. I have always hoped that my experience was unique. But now I see that I was just the first to suffer from a closing of the conservative mind. Rigid conformity is being enforced, no dissent is allowed, and the conservative brain will slowly shrivel into dementia if it hasn’t already.

First of all, Bruce, AEI is an ideological think tank, which means that it aims to produce ideas that reinforce and promote Conservative thought. It’s not intolernace of dissent that informs the gag order on the AEI “scholars,” it’s that our president’s ideas are diametrically opposed to the goals of an institution like AEI. The goal for AEI’s “scholars” is to produce Conservative solutions for existing problems, not propose and promote Liberalism-lite.

More from the same article:

Sadly, there is no place for David and me to go. The donor community is only interested in financing organizations that parrot the party line, such as the one recently established by McCain economic adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin.

I also believe there needs to be a fine line between partisanship and ideology and that when that line blurs, Conservatives are on the losing end. Republicans were partisan in licensing the Liberal policies of George W. Bush, and look where that got us. So I am a little worried about for AEI when—assuming Bartlett’s anecdotes are true—donors become partisan, of course, the Institute has to make its choices based on the flow of money, which remains the lifeblood of any organization.

If Bartlett and Frum are smart at politics, they should try to introduce Conservatism to Democrats the way they introduced Liberalism to Republicans. They should try, but seeing how Republicans have fared following their advice, Democrats know well not to trust them. Yes, they have nowhere else to go.

On the matter of value

One of the biggest failures of the open-source community, and the GPL-istas particularly, is not clarifying the concept of libre versus gratis when talking about free. It’s for this same reason that I’ve learned to use FLOSS—Free/Libre Open Source Software—to refer to projects such as WordPress. This distinction hurts developers when they release plugins to the public, because not only is the general impression that access and acquisition should be gratis, but so should subsequent support.

That’s a load of bullshit. First, on the matter of support, the GPL states:

15. Disclaimer of Warranty.

THERE IS NO WARRANTY FOR THE PROGRAM, TO THE EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW. EXCEPT WHEN OTHERWISE STATED IN WRITING THE COPYRIGHT HOLDERS AND/OR OTHER PARTIES PROVIDE THE PROGRAM “AS IS” WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. THE ENTIRE RISK AS TO THE QUALITY AND PERFORMANCE OF THE PROGRAM IS WITH YOU. SHOULD THE PROGRAM PROVE DEFECTIVE, YOU ASSUME THE COST OF ALL NECESSARY SERVICING, REPAIR OR CORRECTION.

You know what that means? That means that if you use this software and it’s not designed to cause damage but doesn’t work the way you want to, then you don’t have anyone to sue in court. It’s for this same reason that wars over GPL product are fought in the public sphere. In this field, the only currency is reputation.

Continue reading On the matter of value

Charles Johnson’s forthcoming return to Progressivism

In an unsurprising turn, Charles Johnson of the formerly eminent blog, Little Green Footballs, has thrown in the towel for “the Right” and has gone back to his Progressive roots. To which I say, good riddance to bad rubbish. James Joyner spends a fair amount of time responding to Mad King Charles’ accusations and rationalizations for this decision. While the effort placed by Joyner in response seems a inordinately defensive (or execessively introspective), it is righteous: everything that Johnson has leveled against his newfound political enemies is a mishmash of lies, distortions and misconceptions about American Conservatism. Continue reading Charles Johnson’s forthcoming return to Progressivism

Veteran’s Day thoughts

This is the day in which we celebrate those who have served and live among us. All I can say is “thank you,” to everyone who has served in the military. I do not know of anyone who doesn’t know a serviceman, and I hope you have spent a few seconds to thank this person for their service. This collection of videos of soldiers coming home to their dogs made me cry. And while I’m sure our servicemen would rather we don’t thank them vocally every darn day we see them, @cshaero strikes a great note with this:

Hope everyone's not just honoring Veterans today. Let's honor Veterans EVEN MORE TODAY than we do EVERY OTHER DAY OF THE YEAR.

While @JonHenke takes a turn for the disappointing:

If you're thanking veterans on Twitter, you're just doing it so people can see you.

How dare he deign to ascribe one intention on all of us? There were kids like these in high school, who’d speak “on behalf of the room” after being reprimanded by their teacher. Jim Treacher (@JTlol) perhaps issued the best response:

If you're calling out people for thanking veterans on Twitter, you're just doing it so people can see you.

This is one of those patriotic holidays where even Google makes a custom logo, despite their ignoring Memorial Day, of all days. It’s the kind of day that only the most hardened of anti-American Americans don’t honor. Sourpussery, while certainly within one’s right to exercise, is within my right to ridicule.

Jeff at onQSM has similar thoughts.

Experiencing TEDx MidAtlantic: an event review

Yesterday’s TEDx was my first event of the genre. I have looked at the TED site itself before to get an idea of what kind of people attend these events, and moreso, who speaks at them. This Conservative bomb-thrower didn’t feel all that hot about the fact that the actual TED event has been “graced” by such “luminaries” as Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and U2’s Bono. I thought to myself, am I about to walk into a Liberal snakepit?

There’s no denying that the Baltimore-Annapolis-Washington triangle is a hotbed for Progressivism, but I also keep an open mind and engage my Progressive friends on the merits of their arguments and try not to make it personal. (Of course if all I get is “your belief in this makes you a bad person,” I just agree to disagree and just keep at being the Spawn Of Satan they so fear me to be.) So I decided to go through the application process and see if there’s anything I can take away from the talks. Besides, the organizers have made it a point to avoid pushing a specific religious or political agenda. Continue reading Experiencing TEDx MidAtlantic: an event review

NY23: the first test of post-Bush Conservatism

If I recapped everything to know here, I’d fill up volumes. Google for Doug Hoffman, Dede Scozzafava, or Bill Owens. Here’s a primer on Wikipedia.

Saturday morning, to great fanfare among Conservatives, DeDe Scozzafava withdrew her campaign for NY23 following a huge drop in poll standings, lack of campaign funding, and little support among Conservatives, not just in NY but nationwide. She was truly was a DIABLO: Democrat In All But Label Only, she had amassed a voting record that was more Liberal than some Democrats in the Assembly, and Hoffman hammered relentlessly on that fact.

Sunday she endorsed Bill Owens, the Democrat, in the election. The NRSC has spent almost a million dollars on this woman. This is how she has responded in kind. In a way, it takes brass balls to come out swinging against your own party after they’ve spent that much money on getting you elected. Some think that she betrayed the GOP, but the truth is the GOP leadership, in supporting her, betrayed the GOP’s basic principles as the national Conservative party. In the end, Scozzafava’s endorsement of Owens is proof that her election would have been a loss for the GOP and Conservatism once she’s been sworn in.

If Hoffman wins tomorrow’s election—today’s poll numbers are promising—then the Conservative Movement that the MSM berates as “teabaggers” would have won a decisive victory. It’s one seat in a Liberal state, but it’s a seat won through a grassroots movement organized against the GOP leadership structure. For far too long the GOP establishment has been telling us to “listen to your elders,” as if they were the only ones who knew how to win elections. NY23 will remind them that we are their employers, and that finally, the boss is back on vacation.

Dashing Limbaugh’s Dream

Some time last week, Rush Limbaugh joined a group bidding for ownership of the St. Louis Rams. In response, the Left circulated made-up quotes that purport him to be racist. Rick Sanchez of CNN picked it up and ran with it. Rush’s supporters gallantly defended him and went on the attack, demanding of the Left proof of this quote. Of course there’s no such proof; the quotes regarding his supposed racism do not actually exist. What they have created is the appearance of racism. In their apologies they state such unapologetic ideas to the effect of “well, the quote wasn’t true, we’re sorry, but man he’s quite the racist anyway and you have to look at what he says. RACIST!Continue reading Dashing Limbaugh’s Dream

Inside Liberal morality; or, “Mommy, why is Whoopi Goldberg a Defender Of Child Rapists?”

I want to believe that through the years, I have mellowed out when it comes to using a broad brush to paint a movement with their most extreme followers. It’s a common practice in punditry but it’s not always that helpful. No one really wants to have to answer for other members of their movement, but we’ve done so anyway. Every once in a while, though, an issue emerges that exposes the really terrible side of people. This week, that issue has been the infamous Roman Polanski. Here are the facts-: thirty-two years ago, when he was forty-four, he gave a thirteen-year-old girl champagne and quaaludes. He then had sex with her in all sorts of ways. He plead guilty to this charge and, fearing a prison sentence, fled our country and has since lived in places where he doesn’t face a risk of extradition. Based on a long-standing warrant, he was arrested by the Swiss police as he attempted to enter their country. There really shouldn’t be any debate on this matter, except it’s Roman Polanski. Continue reading Inside Liberal morality; or, “Mommy, why is Whoopi Goldberg a Defender Of Child Rapists?”

The passion of Andrew Sullivan

Based on news of Andrew Sullivan getting arrested for possession of a small amount of marijuana on federal park property, I tweeted: “So, he’s HIV positive and now has been arrested on drug possession charges? And he still hasn’t been deported?” Have to hand it to my liberal friends on the medium; no sooner did that declaration come up did I get a few questions on my attitude towards the matter. Before those answers get swallowed in the Twitter aether, I place my thoughts here:

Continue reading The passion of Andrew Sullivan

This really isn’t about the Iranian elections

Certainly, a little of it is, but I have kept mum on what’s going on with Iran not because I think my opinions would be unpopular, but because I don’t have much to offer beyond a low opinion of their political system and I’d rather people focus on the supportive coverage. This is about people who have worse to offer than I do: rain on someone’s parade. The target of my ire today is someone who calls himself G Valentino, who has comments on Twitter users who have tinged their avatars green in support of Iranian democracy:

See, this is what I hate: the medium might be the message, but the medium is not the action. You turn your icons green. Great. What does that accomplish. Well, you say it shows solidarity. Great. It’s an action, however, that costs you nothing and nets even less in return. It’s wearing the ribbon: it’s announcing to the world that you care, but has no real follow up action. Sure it might raise awareness, and here’s that conversation for you: “Why is your icon green?” “To raise awareness of the threat to democracy in Iran.” “Wow! That’s so cool. And how to the green icons help?” *Silence* “Do you hope to make them think that it’s St Patrick’s Day?”

He goes on to expand beyond his gripe over the green Twitter icons to awareness campaigns in general. He talks about how he’s “tired tired TIRED of theatrically making a stand.” Sure I understand his point. I’m tired of theatrically making a stand when it comes to some socio-political issues myself, but here’s what annoys me about his commentary. He challenges his readers to “do something” about this issue, and he offers his suggestion:

[…] Well, realistically I should contact my elected officials in my country and ask if they are going to put pressure on international bodies and the Iranian government to open up their processes to inspection and verification. I should also make sure that I’ve learnt the lesson of the past 8 years and we don’t want to go into international situations guns-a-blazin‘ and upset a fragile developing condition.

Well, realistically the State Department already did what it could when it comes to this isssue. Word is out that agents of that department have asked Twitter to reschedule its server maintenance to help assist Iranian tweeters with their campaign. We here in the United States, realistically, having nothing more than our free speech, are helping spread the word about these people whose voices are slowly being taken away and silenced from the world. A green icon, site color scheme, or font styling, may be all that we can offer as free individuals in the USA (and other free countries). What more would GValentino have us do, when his suggestions have already been done? Has our country organized a campaign to send material aid to the people of Iran? No. Should we as private entities do so? I would say let’s take that up with the State Department just in case we might be aiding individuals we’d rather not, at least on a national level. Should the State Department foment an armed revolution? Almost every year there’s a report of student uprising in Iran and we sit back knowing that if we assist, we may just end up reaping the whirlwind by sowing the wind.

GValentino’s opinion really isn’t unpopular nor is it unfamiliar. Psychologically, it’s a nihilistic reaction to the feeling of helplessness in knowing that all that could be done, has been. His example of green Twitter icons to back up his argument over local action is a poor one at best. They’re the words of a naysayer, and that’s all they are.