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Nothing New Under The Sun
(the ARX acta diurna)
One of the big points against the whole "trickle-down/rising tide" doctrine of the benevolence of the Invisible Hand of the Free Market is that one of the justifications is that "charity of the community" will make up for what the ideally-non-existent social services would have done (even though it never has in all of human history) but inevitably, when such "charity" has even existed, it's always been conditional, doled out only to the "deserving" poor - with such deserts based on the judgment of whatever sins the wealthy have considered most objectionable at the time and place. IOW, an excuse both to withhold, and to coerce the behavior of others, to force them to grovel, to give up any pleasures, to exert themselves to "earn" the dribs and drabs of "charity" or to even change their religions (or lie and shame themselves to survive), all to indulge the power-tripping "virtue" of the oh-so-charitable Lords and Ladies Bountiful.

And all this is the ugly truth, as true as it was when Scrooge asked if there were no workhouses left? to deal with the un/deremployed.

But there's another thing that is like an iceberg looming under the surface of the claim that Fiscal Conservativism is all about the Common Good, and an unregulated agora will benefit all rather than allowing the haves to grind the have-nots down further - and that is the fact that the claim that fiscal conservatives/libertarians believe that everyone should be allowed to maximize their income is a lie.

And the first and most obvious example of this is the resistance to raising minimum wage and the phony accusations of parasitism against undocumented immigrants; but the other and even more glaring example is the seething, hissing hatred of unions and union workers.

If "Greed Is Good" then why the endless denunciations of "those union workers" and blame of them for being "takers"--? Why shouldn't they keep demanding the highest paychecks and best benefits they can get? Why should we be told that it's wrong to denounce the giving away of billions to CEOs who wreck their companies and sail away on golden parachutes, that this is "ZOMGclass warfare!" by the same people who turn around and say that teachers and factory workers and bus drivers and grocery store cashiers ought to just cave in and take whatever crumbs the rich decide to toss their way?

--The truth is, that the only people who are allowed to be worthy of prospering, according to the worshippers of Mammon, are those who are already rich. Once you've gotten to that top 10% - unless you're a liberal class traitor, a decadent artist or a voter against tax cuts and for social services - then, and only then, are you entitled to make more and more, year after year.

Sure, it's a democratic, egalitarian system - Nouveau Riche is just as good as Old Money (at least on the surface, who knows what's said behind the closed doors of the Boston Brahmins and in the Hamptons and at Kennebunkport, the Mayflower Moneyed may still look down at the Morgans and Mellons as they did in the days of Henry James) so if you're one of those few scores of Little Turtles who survive to thrive (and the odds of doing this all on your own are slim) and squeak through the gauntlet into the upper eschelons then you'll do just fine (unless you have some sort of spectacular Veneering-style smash that can't be plastered over and then everyone pretends they didn't know you like Ken Lay or Robert Maxwell or that guy in England who took his wife and daughter in his Viking Pyre along with him not long ago.)

It isn't "hard work" that gets you rich, btw - it's exploitation. This is a terribly un-American thing to say, I know, but it's true. There is nobody in the top 10% who didn't get there by exploitation - either their own exploitative acts, or if inherited, then their parents' and grandparents. If "hard work" were all, then Joe the Janitor or Wendy the Waitress or Neda the Night Nurse working three jobs would all be millionaires, wouldn't they? And if smarts were all, then there would be no broke inventors whose patents were stolen or who could never get funding in their lifetimes or whose companies couped them right out, would there? No profession in this country at least "creates wealth" for but a few: the wealth of those few comes from not paying living wages for the other 90% + of us, and this is why there is a whole cottage industry massive international meme-industrial complex dedicated to rationalizing and justifying this exploitation and setting us at each others' throats (even up to outright wars) as part of the legerdemain. Maybe it doesn't have to be this way, but this is the way that Capitalism as we have it is, and how its predecessors were, in feudal Europe and in ancient Rome no less than now. And will be so long as a) it works to keep funneling money upwards to the ruling cliques, and b) we go on letting them get away with it.

The rich get richer while the poor get poorer, as my high school teachers said in the Eighties; the system is not broken, that is the system.

And this is not a new thing: note that when factored against the rising cost of living, workers' pay in this country has not gotten better since the early 1970s, and what jobs have been created have been shit jobs, jobs that don't provide enough to live on let alone improve one's lot, jobs that require multiple jobs to make ends meet for a family, that require the laborers to go on the dole as Walmart's are told to just to survive, or that are only "good" jobs if they're hobby jobs - jobs taken by someone who doesn't need to work for a living, or doesn't need it to survive, who has a spouse or parent who has a good job that pays all the major bills and covers the emergencies - remember the saying about how insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? That's what the mantra of "tax cuts! deregulation! privatization!" is. Wealth hasn't trickled down; instead the rising tide has swamped all the little boats that were chained to their moorings trusting the lying, comforting forecasts of the pundits, while the Kleptocrats have sailed off laughing in their yachts, skulls and crossbones flaunted from the maintop at last. (How dare you fire off any popgun parting shots at them? That's Class Warfare--!)

And fools and incompetents who blow billions running their businesses into the ground with what anyone with any experience in the field could have told them in advance was an untenable model not only don't starve, but yet get rewarded, because they're part of the club. And the Free Market Invisible Hand worshipers of my RL acquaintance who told me that (along with women not deserving to be paid the same as men because we were more likely to waste our training by leaving to get married and have kids in despite of all evidence) CEOs "deserved" their outrageous rates of pay because they were "creating wealth" because only they could be so smart as to do so, turn around and exonerate them from all responsibility for their failures because "who could have seen?" that the airlines were operating in unsustainable ways? who could have predicted? that Cisco was glutting its market, or that Enron was a house of cards? Only the poor deserve to suffer for the failures of the rich - because if we were Good Peoples we wouldn't be poor, we'd have been successful too.

--At this point, the only excuse for being a Fiscal Conservative is stupidity. Still, it's better to be Stupid than Evil, at least from a Socratic/Taoist/Vedic/Stoic/Christian/generally-ethical POV. For whatever consolation that is.

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While I've been AFIAte, during the time periods when I haven't been well enough to sit up and type but have been able to stay awake, I've watched a bunch of Youtubed episodes of the old Sharpe's Rifles series. Finally.

So, okay.

--Am I much mistaken, or is it or isn't it a soap opera doesn't it have "a lot of relationship drama" with a few more swordfights, explosions and moderate-speed chase scenes than your typical mainstream network series? And aren't "whiny men who were generally unable to find their way out of a wet paper bag" pretty thick on the ground (even if they often do get killed off by the end of the episode)?

Did Sharpe's Rifles ruin the Boys' Own Adventure genre for British television, or was it widely felt to have done so? Going only by YouTube comments that does not seem to be currently the case.

Now, granted, I wasn't aware of its existence during its first run - I'm not even sure if/when it ever aired in the States - so can any fen from Over The Water enlighten me as to whether or not it was initially marketed as a Women's Picture Series? I know what its current demographic popularity is, and why, but was that ITV's intention? I do know that wasn't how the novels were marketed, nor the audience they attracted - I shelved them pretty frequently in the Eighties and I was put off by the covers they had then, so while I wouldn't utterly rule out the notion that some Very Clever Person in Programming deduced (possibly from the success of the Poldark series on A&E) that it would bring the Estrogen Brigade onboard in droves, I wouldn't expect it, either.

I mean, despite all attempts to tell them so, US TV execs have not figured out that the audiences for space opera with kickass heroines & dashing-yet-ambiguously-gendered heroes and historical romance Manly Men Singing Folk Songs Doting Over Babies Doing Manly Things With Guns And Swords In Tight Trousers Jackets During The Napoleonic Wars share a significant overlap...

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The thing I was trying to say in the last two posts, which keeps getting lost in the thickets of detail, I'll try to spell out a little more (beyond FISCAL CONSERVATIVISM = SOCIAL CONSERVATIVISM = FISCAL CONSERVATIVISM = LIBERTARIANISM) and show how under it all, when you dig down past the ZOMG! Naked Boobies On TV! Dudes Kissing! Ebol Bishops Casting Spells! Unisex Bathrooms! UR Daughters Will B Drafted! People saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas!" Good Christians Being Forced To Rent To COHABITATIN SINNERZ! We R TEH PERSECUTED! decades-long freakouts of the Brent Bozell the Thirds and Phyllis Schlaflys and Michael Medveds and their younger proteges, even though this can turn into an entire consuming hobby all on its own and often does, there is - or rather, there are logical, strategic, continuing reasons for all of this, just as there were when it was Henry Ford churning it out, and these reasons are different (tho' may overlap) at different levels of social rank within the conservative movement. These reasons can be discerned, were even pretty clearly spelled out by George Orwell, and function in various ways to provide positive benefits for the people who employ/indulge in them - even if the side effects are hellacious.

The first one, the way you can never go wrong to start with, is following the money. Cui bono? is never a stupid question. The benefits may not always or only be fiscal, but when a shell game is going on, it's always best to check your wallet. Maybe the sleight-of-hand is perfectly honest onstage - but is there a pickpocket making the rounds behind the onlookers' backs?

One of the big, longstanding issues among the conservative movement has been opposition to public schools. No, I didn't just grab this at randomCollapse )

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I know I've been AFIA for a long while, but has Minsky been gunning for fandom lately? I barely know who he is in mundane matters - some computer guy, right? - and I have no idea if he's jumped on the "Denounce Skiffy As Nekulturny" bandwagon - so many have, but I don't recall hearing anything outrageous about him. Did I miss the declaration of war? The call-to-arms? I guess I'll have to check the Ansible archives.

Seriously, though - this Spearhead rot that I heard about via the Outer Alliance newsletter is the kind of drivel I was brought up in, the faux-kulturny academic conservativism of Thomas Aquinas College and Steubenville and all that angsty Muscular Catholicism that is totally, absolutely, inarguably Not Gay AT ALL! HOWDAREYOUPOINTOUTTHATSOCRATESREALLYREALLYLIKED STRAPPINGYOUNGMEN? SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP! SPARTAAAA! -er...nevermind.

It's really toxic, self-othering, nasty stuff and of course it Hurts [Straight Men] Too with its narrow, spiky, Little Ease mentality.

And even more of course, ignoring it won't make it go away, as anyone with an ounce of logic ought to realize, since it bubbled up without us being aware of it - clearly attention has nothing to do with its production, and the sympathetic magic of pretending it doesn't exist isn't going to extinguish it. And I've written reams on it in the past, this is just the same-old-same-old that insecure brittle dudes were moaning about on Usenet in the Nineties just like they were in living rooms in the Seventies and Eighties (Girl Cooties! Pussification of the American Male! Amazons!) but it still needs to be walloped because they're still doing it. It isn't "going away by itself" - only strong and constant fumigation has reduced its prevalence at all from the 1970s.

--I was initially thinking this needed to be a separate post from the one I was going to do expanding/expounding on my Biercean aphorisms of yesterday, but it really doesn't: the Spearhead (snerk!) ranters actually provide a perfect example of the intersectionality of so-called "social" and "fiscal" conservativism, on a more grass-roots level than Mr. I-made-my-millions-by-privatizing-govt-services Ruddy's combined war on the social safety net and on the sex-lives of the proles. Intersectionality In Action Collapse )

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Fiscal Conservativism: fucks the poor.

Social Conservativism: explains why the poor deserve to be fucked. (Figuratively.)

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Emperors - not new in the blogosphere, but ancient in internet time, and perhaps new to some of the whippersnappers out here.

ETA: Oh, and "oil baron" , as "robber baron" is totally not a figure of speech, any more than it ever was in the Gilded Age...

(xpost to/fro dKos)

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Ad hominem is not a fancy Latin word for calling me names.

--Colin Meier


If I'd been a rich man's son,
Pay me my money down,
I'd sit on the river and watch it run,
Pay me my money down

Oh pay me, oh pay me,
Pay me my money down,
Pay me or go to jail,
Pay me my money down

--African-American poets, via Lydia Parrish, Maxfield's spouse, via Bruce Springsteen, ongoing instances in this country finally being noticed by the SCLM.




...But giving to each other, a community working within itself, has a very different texture and taste than charity displayed in lieu of any kind of self-aware apology. And one of the insidious effects of race is the perpetual doubt of the line between help and aid. This ties in with class discussions, of course: I’ve been frustrated before when talking to a cousin who is very well-off about why his helping relatives out monetarily is such a sensitive subject for us. "It’s just money", he says to me, disgustedly, and he will not know how clueless that statement sounds when you have at times cut yourself off from people because you cannot bear to constantly let them pay for your dinner, and cannot afford to pay for your own. No amount of scintillating dinner conversation can feel like adequate pay back.

--Deepa, who also references Augusto Boal, who was inspired by Paolo Freire, because everything connects in multiple ways.


"No one's ever conquered Washington politics by constantly saying "pretty please" to the guys trying to cut your throat."

--Bill Moyers, Oklahoman, ordained minister, and Emmy-winning American journalist for longer than I've been alive.

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"America touts itself as the land of the free, but the number one freedom that you and I have is the freedom to enter into a subservient role in the workplace. Once you exercise this freedom you've lost all control over what you do, what is produced, and how it is produced. And in the end, the product doesn't belong to you. The only way you can avoid bosses and jobs is if you don't care about making a living. Which leads to the second freedom: the freedom to starve."

— Tom Morello, Guitar World interview, 1997


"...Nowadays it is a duty for a poor peasant to be a soldier. He is exiled from his house, the roof of which smokes in the silence of night; from the fat prairies where the oxen graze; from the fields and the paternal woods. He is taught how to kill men; he is threatened, insulted, put in prison and told that it is an honor; and, if he does not care for that sort of honor, he is fusilladed. He obeys because he is terrorized, and is of all domestic animals the gentlest and most docile. We are warlike in France, and we are citizens. Another reason to be proud, this being a citizen! For the poor it consists in sustaining and preserving the wealthy in their power and their laziness. The poor must work for this, in presence of the majestic quality of the law which prohibits the wealthy as well as the poor from sleeping under the bridges, from begging in the streets, and from stealing bread. That is one of the good effects of the Revolution. As this Revolution was made by fools and idiots for the benefit of those who acquired national lands, and resulted in nothing but making the fortune of crafty peasants and financiering bourgeois, the Revolution only made stronger, under the pretence of making all men equal, the empire of wealth. It has betrayed France into the hands of the men of wealth. They are masters and lords. The apparent government, composed of poor devils, is in the pay of the financiers. For one hundred years, in this poisoned country, whoever has loved the poor has been considered a traitor to society. A man is called dangerous when he says that there are wretched people. There are laws against indignation and pity, and what I say here could not go into print."

— Anatole France, The Red Lily, 1894


Now, Mrs McGrath, the captain said,
Would you like to make a soldier out of your son Ted?
With a scarlet coat and a big cocked hat,
Now Mrs McGrath, wouldn't you like that?

Now Mrs McGrath lived on the seashore
For the space of seven long years or more,
Till she saw a ship sail into the bay,
Says, It's my son Ted, will you clear the way,

Oh captain, dear, where have you been,
Have you been sailing in the Meditereen,
And have you any news of my son Ted,
Is the poor boy alive or is he dead?

Well, up comes Ted, without any legs,
And in their place he's got two wooden pegs.
She kissed him a dozen times or two,
Saying, Holy God, it isn't you,

Now was you drunk, or was you blind,
When you left your two fine legs behind,
Or was it walking on the sea,
Wore your two fine legs from the knees away?

No, I wasn't drunk, and I wasn't blind
When I left my two fine legs behind,
But a big cannon ball on the fifth of May,
Took me two fine legs from the knees away,

Oh Teddy, my boy, the widow cried,
Your two fine legs were your mammy's pride.
The stumps of a tree won't do at all,
Why didn't you run from the big cannon ball?

All foreign wars, I do proclaim,
Between Don Juan and the King of Spain,
And I'll make them rue the time,
They took two legs from a child of mine,

Well then, if I had you back again,
I'd never let you go to fight the King of Spain,
For I'd rather have me Ted as he used to be,
Than the King of France and his whole navy

- "Mrs. McGrath", Irish traditional


So I was looking for the words of the folksong "Mrs. McGrath" which is about what the PTB used when they could no longer get away with press gangs - which I've never heard performed at any venue, btw, which is really interesting; I have heard "Green Fields of France" played fiercely to great applause at our Highland Games but never "Mrs. McGrath" tho' on paper it's an oft-referenced piece - and so of course I resorted to Google.

And google-dowsing brought me up short, because I also didn't know that Bruce Springsteen has started singing it (not being a Springsteen fan myself.) It's not on constant play nor has been on the radio, I can't imagine why (ahem) and I don't think it's because it's a cover of a folk song, really. I can't find it on the playlists of our local NPR station's folk show, either.

Mrs. McGrath, performed by The Boss and the Seeger Sessions Band


So here's a beautiful, furious version of a song that was used at the far edge of living memory, when Yeats wrote in memory of a dead friend I bring this one up a lot for a reasonCollapse )

ETA - oh this is too much: following another Youtube clew after "My Son John" led to an oral tradition that that version is about a claims denial case--!

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"Timor Mortis conturbat me"


--"The fear of death confounds me" This dread of the inevitability of our own singular personal terminations combined with the (fortunately-mostly-fantasized) willingness to inflict death upon innumerable strangers is a grotesque enough hallmark of conservativism as it has existed for as long as I've been alive in this country, and based on my readings of writings from both elsewhere in the Anglosphere and before my time: the warmongering chicken-hawk, tough-on-[some]-crimes, "are there no workhouses? better they should die &c" Podsnaps of the world shivering in fear of "the rabble" they require to batten on is not a modern invention, nor an invention at all, alas.

It becomes even more grotesque when this fear-hate of the Imagined Others Under The Bed/At The Gates Coming To Get Us combined with the contemptuous metaphorical stepping-over of the bodies of the Undeserving Poor lying sick and hungry at their gates gets also combined with a sticky sentimentality falsely called "Being Pro-life" - again, something which I've seen up close and personal in the movement since aught-seventy-something - that doesn't require anything but melodramatic words, the generation of bathos and voting Republican year in, year out. (Picketing, leafleting, and violence are all optional.)

It certainly doesn't require any actual sacrifices to help protect "the sanctity of life" (which only matters off the battlefield, and enemy civilians aren't really civilians at all in Modern Warfare(TM) as I have often been told by other conservatives over the decades) and as soon as anyone suggests that even the possibility of some sort of mild fiscal sacrifice being required of them to help save the lives I wish it weren't so, reallyCollapse )

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Because it is & has been stiflingly hot in my flat, I am hungry and out of tea, and the state refused to give me a fiscal hardship deferment on jury duty this month despite my being a minimum wage worker, sole provider, and my rent going up, you get these without any diplomatic amelioration whatsoever:


1) People who are unwilling to teach in a timely fashion their offspring the truth about the nature of their own physical bodies and the society into which they have been born and must live as adults should get a puppy or kitten instead, since they are legally allowed to have a puppy or kitten neutered in infancy and thus never, ever have to even think about its sexuality, let alone have The Talk, or worse yet, Talks with it, thus preserving their precious mental innocence and fantasies of a world without mess and complexity. --Though probably anyone that immature should just stick with stuffed animals & dolls instead.


2) Spirit of the Sixties Redux: Plus ça change, baby, plus ça fucking change! (hat tip to dmsmilev again).


3) No, you're not.



Nobody who is working a day job in an industrial complex in southern New Hampshire is John Galt. Not even if you own the company. In fact, there's only one person working in the Millyard who could conceivably be a candidate for Galthood, and he's like the anti-Galt when it comes to idealism/altruism (even if occasionally it becomes clear that he needs some cold-water-throwers around to keep him anchored.)

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It's hard to explain the existence of Willful Cognitive Dissonance - tho' Slacktivist has certainly tried hard enough over the years - and how someone can manage to simultaneously believe and not believe that their mostly-churchgoing neighbors are all just waiting for the signal to come from the Kremlin (or the Mothership, perhaps, or just the Mouth of Hell) and seize them and throw them into concentration camps for the crime of being really Real True Christians (for a totally subjective value of the modifiers Real & True) and happily hand over their lives and their children's lives to the Godless Totalitarian Hippies in a brainwashed-cultists-of-Dystopia scenario.

Not actually knowing a whole lot about the logistics of the world helps, as does not actually knowing a heck of a lot about history and/or contemporary politics and how authoritarian and totalitarian regimes actually have come to power and what was really involved rather than highly-sentimentalized and overwrought stories of valiant Christian martyrs (so long as they were of the right denomination and sect, of course) nobly standing up to the Godless Enemies without any historical context whatsoever...

And hey, they may not be going to throw us to the actual lions today, but the mechanized medical horrors of twentieth-century totalitarianism ("tutelary dentistry" as Messrs. Vandemar & Croup would say) are just as evocative of that sort of pleasurable thrill of horror.

--If you're an adult who has chosen to enter this world and to reject all other counterbalancing info, however, it requires as Fred has said over and over again, a constant active maintenance of this contradiction - you have to work to ignore the cognitive dissonance between what you experience on a daily/hourly/yearly basis, and what you "know" to be the Real True Super Sekrit Truth behind it all: that dentists are all Soviet agents, that demons dictate lyrics to metalheads in their studios, that the Rachel Carson fans at the state university on the PBS special trying to keep all the peregrine falcons from going extinct are actually plotting to eradicate homo sapiens - but if you're a child raised in it, if this is what your parents and your parents' friends and the magazines your parents subscribe to all claim is how the world works, and you don't have any way to evaluate it, and you haven't yet been forced to admit that your parents may not be 100% accurate nor 100% honest 100% of the time, then you don't have to work at it...you have to work to escape it insteadCollapse )

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A stock photo of an ice cream sandwich, NOT a tasty Soylent Green frozen treat.
"Soylent Granny" coinage courtesy of dmsmilev.


I know a lot of people in Center-Left Blogistan have been baffled by the speed with which the "ZOMG! Obama's gonna kill your grandparents!" meme has been spread, and consider this to be a sign of something new in US politics, or at least something that only dates back to the Clenis Frenzy era - but "not so, but far otherwise," as I can well attest. Rupert Murdoch didn't create it, at all.

It goes back at least to the mid-Seventies, and is possibly older than that, though I don't know as I wasn't around then and haven't run across any examples of it from the Sixties or Fifties. It was part of the whole meme-package that was being peddled by the Old Guard, the Wanderer and the National Catholic Register and New Oxford Review and all those other conservative rags I've talked about before, some of which have folded or been recreated as other publications since - and those were the more mainstream, the least flaky then as now, make no mistake: we in our little anarcho-syndicalist (ie proto-Crunchy-Con) part of the rightwing pond thought that the Sedevacantists and the Bar Code Tattoo crazies (implanted chips, like Black Helicopters, were a later development) and the Birchers with their fluoride-in-the-water phobias were whackjobs, or at least most of us did at least publicly.

I didn't even know that anti-fluoridation panic in the US of A wasn't something that Stanley Kubrick made up as the most far-fetched example of unreasoning panic-mongering conceivable until I was in my mid-twenties, when I read a letter in the paper from someone who was still het up about it.

In the latter Nineties. for reals, it wasn't a joke letter either but from a regular local crank writerCollapse )

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Today being payday I stopped at CVS to buy another prepaid phone card. At the counter they had tempting looking bags of "Asian Blend Trail Mix" which contain those sesame sticks and nuts and those little crackers that look like cherry blossoms - and wasabi peas. Now, wasabi peas and me do not always agree, b/c I cannot handle too much hot, but I figured they were diluted enough in the rest of the mix that it would be okay. At least with soda or something. And it was, and they are, and it goes pretty well with Blue Moon Belgian Wheat to make the multicultural mess complete. (I can usually make a sixpack last a week, unless it's really hot. Alas, it is supposed to be very hot the next few days so I doubt this one will last until next payday...)

The problem that I did not anticipate, and perhaps should have, is that the bag is the same general shape and size as the kitty tooth-cleaning treats I get, and made of the same crinkle-quality of plastic.

This has made tonight rather interesting for both of us.



Also, I am almost, tho' not quite, finished rebuilding Odd Lots & related subdomains on flyingship.net. Links are nearly all relinked, borked code is nearly all wrangled into something less idiosyncratic, files are nearly all there. Not quite, but it's down to a visible end in sight (resisting urge to try to make stupid site/sight pun) and I still have to say that if you are looking for an inexpensive, fandom-friendly, easy-to-use, reliable host you could do far, far worse than to go with HawkHost.com (out of Canada with servers across the US too.)


And if you haven't seen it, Stephen Hawking enters the fray, PWN3Z the wingnuts in person. The internets: bringing you instakarma since nobody was exactly paying attention but sometime in the relatively recent past...

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In case you didn't see it, the follow up to the fail-y defense of Mike Ashley's blancmange and homogenous TOC for the Mammoth Book of SF Short Stories By Dudes Of My Acquaintance comes with Paul Di Filippo patronizingly praising rosefox for being one of the good non-whitedudes, and proceeding to entrench so furiously that right now some householder in Szechuan Province is asking "Honey, what's that funny tapping noise down in the basement?"

Trying to graph out via logical methods what Di Filippo is actually saying is not a comforting thing: it does reinforce the conclusion that here is somebody who never grokked Sesame Street (1) (2) and who completely failed the whole Set Theory concept in middle school math class. You can't get anything to map onto a Square of Opposition; you can only get a Non-Euclidian Shapes Wot Human Minds Were Not Meant To Ken of Opposition, or perhaps a String-Art of Opposition, out of the various Venn assemblies, even the very simple one which I have tried to sketch out here:

What do any of these things have in common? Your guess is as good as my own!*

But right now - and mind you, I am not a farmer; my family dabbled in Organic Gardening off and on back in the Seventies and Eighties, and I've grown tomatoes and mixed flowers occasionally on my balcony, and I worked in a library for a number of years, so all I know about this is pretty much via osmosis, with no formal agriculture training - I'm just going to concentrate on the whole corn:potatoes::oaks:pines (and somehow lettuce!) part of the Comparison!Fail for now.

One of the few things that any American kid who didn't completely sleep through every social studies class EVAR in the last 30 years (at least) comes away from even the horribly-reductionist, saccharine revisionist histories of the early English colonists knowing is about the "three sisters" - that was even being taught to little grade schoolers in Texas in the Seventies, for crying out loud - and so the fact that corn historically has been part of "companion planting" is not something that any American writer worth his or her salt should be ignorant of. Even if all you have is the simplistically-wrongheaded "Squanto helped the Pilgrims have the first Thanksgiving and they all lived happily ever after" narrative and no more, you should still know that corn gets planted with pumpkins to shade the roots and beans are planted to be supported organically by the cornstalk. Your only excuse for having missed this in class (in issues of Highlights, Cricket, Ranger Rick, NG Explorer etc) is having been too busy throwing spitballs or playing with your PacMan watch. (Bonus points if you remember about the fish, though.)

Now, since I am not a historian, let alone a historian-of-agriculture-in-the-Americas, I didn't know if corn, being a northern-hemisphere cultivar originally, and potatoes, being a southern-hemisphere cultivar originally, would ever have been grown together "naturally" in the past; and not being a farmer or agriculture scientist myself (and not having the time to call the County Extension Agents at UNH today on break) I wasn't sure if there was any good reason not to grow them together, such as competition for nutrients, or making it too complicated to harvest easily due to one being a root vegetable - but the little bit of info a cursory googling turned up says that corn and potatoes were swapped north and south lang syne, AND can be grown as companion plantings! (Also interesting stuff about how corn had to be carefully selected circa 1000 CE to thrive in New England - our corn up here is very different from corn that's grown in the Midwest and in the South, as well as in its original Mexico. And it's usually - still - grown in quite small fields, in woodland clearings, because we don't have large fields and flat areas that aren't marshes mostly.)

Now, moving on to the question of forests - again, I'm no forester, no bio major, I just grew up reading National Geographic and various books on nature and ecology "in a sandwichy sort of way" and wandering around outside and looking at trees, or climbing them - but I've lived in the West, the South, the Southwest and the Northeast of the continental US, and a forest that was entirely pines or entirely oaks would strike me as something bizarre, unnatural, if I ever were to encounter one. I can't remember ever having been in an entirely homogeneous grouping of trees - that wasn't an orchard! I can scarcely think of ever traveling through a forested landscape that wasn't mixed deciduous and conifer, in over 30 years of cross-country road trips.

Not the Blue Ridge Mountains, not the Old Smokies, not the Alleghenies nor the Appalachian Trail, nowhere can I think of a place where there was only one kind of tree that didn't have some sort of extreme environmental pressure on it. And doing some quick online research validates my impression: homogeneity comes from outside pressures, it's not organic or the norm in nature, at all. Extreme cold or dryness will force out all but conifers, where extreme heat will force out the needleleaves and select for broadleaves; but in temperate zones everything just jumbles together as it can. A forest solely of oaks would likely be a parkland created by human intervention, possibly for shipbuilding or hunting purposes; the forest almost totally devoid of oaks not too far from here is the result of overhunting of large, seasoned oaks to extinction, some 200 years ago!

Moreover, getting deeper into categoryfail, forests are not EVER solely composed of trees, as my Vennsettry tries to convey: they have many other kinds of plants and animals and other lifeforms, too, without which they could not survive at all. This diversity is what makes a forest, as the old Time-Life Books of Nature that I pored over in the early Seventies explained in great detail.

That Di Filippo thinks that forests are just made of one kind of tree, and nothing else, just as with his ignorance of basic American-heritage agriculture, says an awful lot about the paucity of the furnishings of his mind, something which is not unrelated I fear to the paucity of his conceptions of the arts, or, indeed, of humanity ourselves.

I mean, what's to be said of someone who thinks that the set "Rock Group" intrinsically cannot contain any members "people of color", who thinks that the set "science fiction writer" necessarily must not contain any members other than "white straight male? It's as if someone were to say the same thing only talking about airplane pilots** instead of writers of skiffy! It's the sort of anti-reality, a-historical, unscientific gibberish that you'd expect from someone who thinks that letting his mashed potatoes touch the creamed corn on his plate*** will make Great Cthulhu rise from the deeps and devour him--



* This is really cursory because That Way Lies Madness - the number of possible categories and classifications and sub-divisions will just keep growing if one tries to be ever more thorough (and I am assuming that by "corn" what is meant is "maize" and not "wheat"); but still I see no reason beyond historical/geographical accidents (in the strict philosophical-technical sense) that none of the Beatles was black, and likewise Sonic Youth: is anyone in the 21st century seriously willing to argue that being black is an automatic disqualifier for being a rock musician, or am I really the only white person in fandom who's been to an Earth Wind & Fire concert?

** No, please, if someone out there is claiming in 2009 that female pilots and pilots-of-color are an ontological impossibility or a wretched aberration, and they're not on Stormfront, please don't tell me. I can only deal with so much STOOPIT in the course of the day, and hearing my coworkers praise Sarah Palin's brilliance and suitedness to be POTUS has pretty much maxed it out.

*I* Has anyone dared ask Di Filippo how he feels about Yoko Ono? We don't really need to, do we?

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So female and/or POC writers are as out of place in fandom as, quote, corn in a potato field, an oak in a pine forest, a Black Beatle, a piece of lettuce in a ream of paper.

Let us repeat that: as a piece of lettuce in a ream of - white (!) paper.

Let's ignore the fact that Paul Di Filippo doesn't know squat about agriculture or forestry - it requires deliberate human intervention (& lots of it) to create a monoculture as anyone who knew about the history of farming in the Americas - or ever walked in a forest - would know! and that monoculture is EXTREMELY unhealthy ecology-wise and responsible for the spread of loads of plant diseases and other infections, something I know a little about living in an area where lumber as well as foliage is still an important part of the economy - diversity is a) natural, b) crucial for health in the wild; and leave aside the questions of whether or not this particular anthology would have been improved or degraded by a more diverse TOC.

Just listen to what the man said, and think about it.

Women in SF, FOC writing SF, are as categorically wrong as lettuce pretending to be [white] paper.

CATEGORYFAILERRORERRORERRORDIVIDE BY CUCUMBERASDFJKL~!

So. We don't belong in your whiteboys club, is that it? We're the wrong kind of being altogether to have any place in skiffy, hm? This is even more of the same kind of thing as saying that including Asian actors in a list of the hundred best actors would knock deserving American actors off the list, or that the only reason that orchestras keep on hiring men over women is that men are better musicians right up until it's proven by blind trial that they aren't--

Fine - it's not like mainstream SF prozine publishing is having any problems keeping subscriptions or attracting new ones, amirite? It's not like The Graying Of The Cons is a topic for angsty discussions these days, is it? So you won't miss us & our cootie-laden dollars at all then--

Seriously, I don't want to know anybody who feels this way. Just like the guy I was told not to be so harsh about b/c he was a WONDERFUL person apart from the way he treated & regarded women as subhuman, I don't see how someone who agrees with Di Filippo (who I at first mixed up in my head with Paulo Baciaglupi for the reactionary conservativism and the fact that I can't remember anything about any Di Filippo story that stands out at all) can possibly have anything to say that would ever be useful about anything, except maybe by accident.

--On a slightly happier note, I discovered via the fanart page of Wandering Ones an obscure and lovely webcomic, Eversummer Eve, done in the styles of Rumiko Takahashi and Alphonse Mucha. There's enough there for a nice long archive binge; the reason it's not 100% squee is that the author, Denise Jones, too, has had to let it slip due to RL economic pressures per her own comments...

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via Kossack MLDB, a statement of indeed epic stupidity from one of the mouthpieces of the Hegemony:

People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.

The British are praised for spending half as much per capita on medical care. How they do it is another matter. The NICE people say that Britain cannot afford to spend $20,000 to extend a life by six months. So if care will cost $1 more, you get to curl up in a corner and die.


Okay.

I realize that "research" is an outdated notion and "facts are stupid things", but still. It didn't even occur to the author to check before committing podophagy?

What was it Mill said about conservatives and stupidity, again?



I'm torn - do we email them and gloat? Or not, to lessen the risk of its being Minitrued? Too bad it's an unsigned editorial...

ETA: Stupid html. Also stupid overheating computer. And stupid me.

ETA further: Screencapped for the ignominious posterity

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I needed yesterday in my multiplex game of life to check and see if any dialectical work had already been done - beyond the old saw about how "you can tell the [lived-for] others by their hunted looks" - in the field of sham openhandedness, phony gifting, to avoid any wheel-reinventions - not the simplest con-artist/backscratch-obligation type of fake charity, but the more complex permutations of specious altruism. So I searched for what came to me naturally as the first search term - "false generosity" - and found not anything exactly what I was thinking about (the simple falseness of giving for one's own satisfactions regardless of the recipient's lacks) nor anything I hadn't already encountered conceptually before in other forms and elsewhere, but a discovery nonetheless.

Like discovering in a college theo class that there was this person Dorothy Day, and how come we never heard about her in church or CCD or in any of our Catholic magazines? Or reading John Stuart Mill and having multiple serial dorje moments, I encountered for the first time that I am conscious of, the name of Paulo Freire.

Wow.

Obviously his ideas are all around us, just as his ideas were part of that tradition going back to and through Tolstoy, but it's curious how obscure he is even among people committed to the same work.

Of course I know why I never heard of him in my old life - heretic! Liberation theologian! Recusant and rebel against the Divinely-Ordained Dominion of Plutocrat over Plebs! but I do wonder that I haven't run across invocations of him in Left Blogistan, particularly the Christian quarters.

Anyhow. Obviously there is a lot here to work through and I haven't had any time at all to more than glance at even his M.O., but I leave you all with handful of quotes that strike to the heart, as they struck me, of so much that we struggle with, and to express our struggles with, on so many levels, the intersectionality of everything, the abused who become abusers on personal as well as political levels, the kick-the-ladder-down-behind immigrant descendants no less than the son who deplores his father's abuse of mother and self, and then rationalizes his own abuse of wife and children, the rampant success of the PTB in hurling the little streets upon the less as we see in these sad efforts in the news to motivate poor white people to denounce any attempt to rectify our unjust healthcare system with pictures of brown "illegals" benefitting from the same improvements, the reasons we feel so uncomfortable with so much corporate "charity" and with much NGO work and yet have so much difficulty articulating, with Orwell's old paradox of the impossibility and necessity of the self-empowerment of the Proles --

From a book that is only a little older than I am, and to which I will not even attempt to add emphases in these excerpted passages:

Any attempt to “soften” the power of the oppressor in deference to the weakness of the oppressed almost always manifests itself in the form of false generosity; indeed, the attempt never goes beyond this. In order to have the continued opportunity to express their “generosity,” the oppressors must perpetuate injustice as well. An unjust social order is the permanent fount of this “generosity” which is nourished by death, despair, and poverty. That is why the dispensers of false generosity become desperate at the slightest threat to its source.

True generosity consists precisely in fighting to destroy the causes which nourish false charity. False charity constrains the fearful and subdued, the “rejects of life” to extend their trembling hands. True generosity lies in striving so that these hands — whether of individuals or entire peoples — need be extended less and less in supplication, so that more and more they become human hands which work and, working, transform the world....

....But almost always, during the initial stage of the struggle, the oppressed, instead of striving for liberation, tend themselves to become oppressors, or “sub-oppressors.” The very structure of their thought has been conditioned by the contradictions of the concrete, existential situation by which they were shaped. Their ideal is to be men; but for them, to be men is to be oppressors. This is their model of humanity. This phenomenon derives from the fact that the oppressed, at a certain moment of their existential experience, adopt an attitude of “adhesion” to the oppressor. Under these circumstances they cannot “consider” him sufficiently clearly to objectivize him — to discover him “outside” themselves. This does not necessarily mean that the oppressed are unaware that they are downtrodden. But their perception of themselves as oppressed is impaired by their submersion in the reality of oppression. At this level, their perception of themselves as opposites of the oppressor does not yet signify engagement in a struggle to overcome the contradiction; the one pole aspires not to liberation, but to identification with its opposite pole.

....The oppressed suffer from the duality which has established itself in their innermost being. They discover that without freedom they cannot exist authentically. Yet, although they desire authentic existence, they fear it. They are at one and the same time themselves and the oppressor whose consciousness they have internalized. The conflict lies in the choice between being wholly themselves or being divided; between ejecting the oppressor within or not ejecting them; between human solidarity or alienation; between following prescriptions or having choices; between being spectators or actors; between acting or having the illusion of acting through the action of the oppressors; between speaking out or being silent, castrated in their power to create and re-create, in their power to transform the world. This is the tragic dilemma of the oppressed which their education must take into account.

...Pedagogy which begins with the egoistic interests of the oppressors (an egoism cloaked in the false generosity of paternalism) and makes of the oppressed the objects of its humanitarianism, itself maintains and embodies oppression. It is an instrument of dehumanization. This is why, as we affirmed earlier, the pedagogy of the oppressed cannot be developed or practiced by the oppressor. It would be a contradiction in terms if the oppressors not only defended but actually implemented a liberating education.

...The same is true with respect to the individual oppressor as person. Discovering himself to be an oppressor may cause considerable anguish, but it does not necessarily lead to solidarity with the oppressed. Rationalizing his guilt through paternalistic treatment of the oppressed, all the while holding them fast in a position of dependence, will not do. Solidarity requires that one enter into the situation of those with whom one is in solidarity; it is a radical posture. If what characterizes the oppressed is their subordination to the consciousness of the master, as Hegel affirms, true solidarity with the oppressed means fighting at their side to transform the objective reality which has made them these “beings for another”.

.....The central problem is this: How can the oppressed, as divided, unauthentic beings, participate in developing the pedagogy of their liberation? Only as they discover themselves to be “hosts” of the oppressor can they contribute to the midwifery of their liberating pedagogy. As long as they live in the duality in which to be is to be like, and to be like is to be like the oppressor, this contribution is impossible. The pedagogy of the oppressed is an instrument for their critical discovery that both they and their oppressors are manifestations of dehumanization.

Liberation is thus a childbirth, and a painful one. The man or woman who emerges is a new person, viable only as the oppressor-oppressed contradiction is superseded by the humanization of all people. Or to put it another way the solution of this contradiction is born in the labor which brings into the world this new being: no longer oppressor nor longer oppressed, but human in the process of achieving freedom.

This solution cannot be achieved in idealistic terms....


--Go in peace.


*okay, taking considerable poetic geographical license...

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Real Life has won, pretty much - struggling to make rent and escape (so far unsuccessful, of course) from the underpaying job from hell with the skeezy wingnut boss who makes time-of-the-month remarks (yes, in my direct experience, every single printing company owner is a straight-from-the-1970s right wing Bircher-style crank, and if there are any exceptions in the greater Boston area I haven't encountered them yet) and dealing with various ongoing health issues that limit my abilities to do lots of things that I'd like to do, lots of the time. Also local political activism in the narrowest sense, trying to save our inadequate local transit system from being gutted still further, at an eleventh-hour, all of which together have wrecked me pretty thoroughly for the past months - I just don't have heart for banter, I don't have patience for fools and people I otherwise respect saying stupid and/or counter-productive stuff (don't bother asking if I mean *you* particularly, it's not as simple as shoes fitting - just call me Esme--!) because pain and hunger and fear of eviction and the nauseated horror every morning as I go to work, all day at work and every hour after fearing the next morning have taken away most all my elan let alone joie de vivre, and what little was left has been burnt away by the Majickal Thinkers (sic) both Christian and atheist (oh, yes) who keep insisting that it's just my Lack Of Sufficient Faith (in Jesus or alternately, in myself) that's holding me back from getting a good job - apparently Negative Thoughts stick to the outsides of envelopes and attach themselves to email headers so that prospective employers are repulsed by them, meaning it's All My Fault that they don't call me or hire me (but not anything to do with lack of relevant job experience or certifications, natch!) And every single attempt and prospect of side work that would at least be ekeful has fallen through, as I fall farther behind. I can't talk, now - either other people are saying it better or I've said what needs to be said in the past before my invention flagged and my concentration was broken.

I can't even deal with the siblings who have gone 9/12-er and all of that muck (even though - I just don't know, is it more reassuring or not that I STILL can't be 100% certain that "zombies" and "zombie apocalypse" are wingnut code for "black people" and "the Coming Race War" or just referring to generalized fears of liberals rounding them up in camps /anarchy in the streets (TM) under liberal domination) and the little bits of cheering daily life living in an Unghetto - the unremarked PDAs of interracial couples of all ages, the groups of teens hanging out looking like teams of superheroes from 80s cartoons, the Yankee girl in the tank top and shorts and the African girl in the red-sequined veil over blue jeans sharing intense emotional Grrl!Power conversation at the coffee shop, the olive-skinned grandmother shepherding two Little Leaguers, one white, one black, all speaking Spanish, off to practice, the large jockish white Dude greeting an older African woman in a tignon with polite delight and recollections of a shared class at a local college, the black cop showing up to write up my white neighbors-from-hell on this floor for something yet again I don't know what - well, that last's not a small part of the soul-killing of the past half-year, though they're finally leaving, or some of them, this week--

But despite being all out of aces - and yet not as bad off as many, which is itself another absent ace - I owe it to you all who are worrying about me to at least flash running lights and open hailing frequences, so--

First, a major notice: Odd Lots is moving. Digitalspace is not even a shell of what it was: I hoped and hoped that Jumpline would get their act together, but they've only gotten worse, and all hope was dashed after finding out that they had done this to two other companies that they acquired (that I know of) and that alienating customers doesn't seem to faze them at all (yes, that is how you spell that faze, it has nothing to do with the ph-phase and "phaze" is not a real word, yet. [/pedant]) so when they screwed up the billing repeatedly and blew me off when I emailed them about it, was the last straw.

So reluctantly and sadly and with deep regret for the inevitable linkrot, I am relocating to a new webhost - Hawk Host, which is presently what Digitalspace used to be, only with a stronger development plan from what I can tell, and (hopefully) no plans to sell out after the owner gets tired of dealing with expansion of customer base. And I dug deep for a domain as well - it's going to be oddlots.flyingship.net, and replacing "digitalspace" with "flyingship" should solve most link problems and bring you to the old files without too much 404.

It will be a while before I get it all over there and all the internal links working, but the shell of the site and most of the download files are already there. (The fact that there is working control panel software and site reporting stats again is helping facilitate things, a lot.) Eventually all the stars on the splash screen will be live and lead to the different sections of Odd Lots - I thought about making them animated twinkling gifs, but I don't hate anybody that much, misanthrope tho' I may be!

As ever, anything there may be linked/quoted/reposted-if-you-drop-me-a-line (and even if you don't I won't care too much) - just be conscientious about credit & plagiarism and all, for your souls' sake. (And if Jumpline ever acquires your webhost - just cut-and-run, don't keep hoping and holding on for better days to come.)

Also, one of the things I am trying in yet another probably-vain attempt to monetize my life experience (oops, was that another Negative Thought--?) is a pro blog (that is, it has ads, for the first time I've ever done something with deliberate ads on it) called Prepress Arcana. We'll see if the google ads make back the cost of hosting... again, the content is all linkable/quotable/otherwise-usable, the point of it being mainly for me to decrease ignorance in my field (gotta head full of ideas/and they're driving me inSANE - but I still got to work on Maggie's Farm, alas)

However, unless/until Dreamwidth adds an image hosting service, I'm not moving this blog.

Otherwise:

Randomish Thoughts & LinksCollapse )

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Okay, this is a brief rough breakdown of the levels of Intentionalism and culpability that can be at work in a situation like that of the ongoing AmazonFail, illustrated in terms not of complicated database technology but in the form of Accidental Deletions of Data That We Have Mostly All Known/Done Ourselves:

Type 1. Forgot To Save
This is a case of loss of data caused by what Catholics call a "sin of omission" - you should have done something that you didn't do, that you knew you should do, but you failed to do it. And the consequences, in this case, are that some random-but-not-unanticipatable event like a power flicker or a driver conflict made the computer or program crash, losing all the unsaved work. You didn't deliberately set out to waste all that time and effort, but it was your fault in so far as you could have prevented it, and did not, due to absence of mind. The non-deliberacy of the forgetfulness will not, however, reduce the ill consequences of it, up to and including being yelled at by one's employer for not saving often enough, the underlying premise being that if you have the wherewithal to be using the computer then you ought to be situationally aware enough to save as well, just like remembering to put the parking brake on if you're driving a car. (There is, of course, an equivalent of the "spelling-flame law" that means that anyone who berates someone else for forgetting to save, will themselves in short order themselves forget to save their own data and lose work, which ought to be an encouragement to mercy in the karma-dharma equation - particularly since such forgetfulness is exacerbated by short deadlines and other top-down stressors like people shouting "Where's that ad?" every five minutes - but almost never is. Hint: pointing out that if the company had invested in a $50 surge-supressor/battery-backup unit for the production department this wouldn't have happened, however true, never goes over well.)

Type 2. Your Hand Slipped/You Weren't Paying Attention
Here we have a little more agency, in that when this happens you have to have done something - it isn't simply something that occurs because you were passive - but it isn't a mindful action, or at least not fully. You didn't mean to delete that file, but your hand slipped, you clicked the wrong folder or you hit "OK" without being fully cognizant of what you were saying "OK" to, due to distraction or hurry. So yes, you did it - nobody came along and grabbed your hand and forced you to click in such a way as to delete that stuff - but you didn't mean to and you weren't trying to, it was a mistake caused by, essentially, the same sort of lack of situational awareness that caused the Type 1 class of data loss.

The consequences, and the level of culpability, are equal imo, though the level of trouble you get in for it (if you answer to someone else in your pixel-pushing duties) may vary depending on whether or not your superior is more confident about their file-saving impeccability or their non-error-making status. (Hint: saying "Do you seriously think I deliberately wasted all this time and headache and deleted my work on purpose? Is that what you're accusing me of?" when asked shouted at, "Why did you delete that?" in the case of such an accident, won't help, strictly speaking - but if you're dealing with such a boss to begin with, it probably can't make things any worse.)

Type 3. You Didn't Understand The Ramifications of Your Action/s
This is where questions of intent get a little sticky - I call this the "Sorcerer's Apprentice" scenario, and yes, it is what Amazon is (alternately, between saying it was policy implementation) claiming happened. (I do think, btw, it is what happened, but on a much larger scale than Amazon is admitting.)

Here is an illustrative case history, a real one, which happened ironically enough at a mail-order book and gift company I used to work for. The company was very small and the computer network likewise tiny, and there wasn't anything to keep anyone who was on the network from moving files around or deleting them, except common sense, which was not always abundant. So it turned out that one day, a whole bunch of occasionally-referred-to spreadsheets tracking years of customer purchasing data no longer worked - when opened, they were full of error messages instead of calculated figures. Likewise, a whole bunch of layout files no longer worked, because the linked graphics were all 404'd.

After a lot of unpleasant accusations of the usual (female) scapegoats, it turned out that one of the bright boys in Marketing had decided to reorganize the server in a way that he thought was more intuitive, because he was having a hard time remembering where he had saved his project notes the previous day when he started up in the morning. --No, he hadn't thought to ask anyone else if there would be a problem doing this. No, he hadn't known that it would destroy all the existing links between various kinds of files residing on the server. --No, he didn't know exactly what it was that he had done, or how it had all been, before he screwed it up. --No, he didn't remember exactly when it was he had done this (it only became apparent when someone else needed to use those other occasionally-referenced files) and so there was the wonderful choice of trying to guess the most recent date before the fiasco and restore from a backup, thereby losing all the data that had been entered since, or of reconstructing it all and trying to hook up the links so it all worked again.

Now, Bright Boy in Marketing hadn't deliberately fubar'd the network, in that he didn't mean to wreck all the years of order tracking data nor the archived prepress files - but he did a) take deliberate, mindful</i> action that caused that result, to benefit himself, b) with complete disregard for said side-effects because he was so ignorant that he didn't know there even could be any side-effects, and so arrogant that it didn't occur to him that he ought to ask the network administrator or other regular system users whose tenure predated him by years. We didn't have the term "Dunning-Kruger Effect" back then, but we did have lots of stories about kids dropping things off highway overpasses and so on, to illustrate this sort of behavior.

The issue of culpability here is already complicated - BB didn't mean to wreck all this work we had done when he thrashed around the server like a bull in a china shop, but he did choose to do it, and he had no concern for how it might affect anyone else, which is the definition of "reckless," is it not? But then he in a sense embraced the destruction, by not being very remorseful at all about it, and not even seeing fully why it was a problem, since after all he was not directly affected by the damaged files which he hadn't known existed, and wasn't going to be the one tasked with putting them back together either. It wasn't his time that was wasted, and while as a marketing dude he ought to have been concerned and worse, he wasn't.

So the consequence of this, to my mind, was to proclaim that the only result of this that bothered him was getting in trouble by the boss (who no, did not yell at him as much as he had yelled at us office girls when he thought it was our screwup that was responsible - yeah, I'm still pissed off, milestone #--? in my journey to radical feminism) and thus that he might as well have trashed all our work deliberately, so far as moral culpability went. (This is called "imperfect contrition" in the Catholic system, by-the-by: you're only "sorry" because you're afraid of justice & punishment, not because you regret the harm you did to others. Dogma says it's better than nothing, but I'm not so sure myself.)

Now, the company should have had some sort of system in place that would have kept this from happening. No question about it. But we were a tiny company, all DIY, less than a dozen people at the time, and it never occurred to the boss that someone would be stupid enough to rearrange/rename/merge/delete a bunch of common folders and data files on the network without asking just because it suited their fancy. We weren't a massive multi-national corporation with dedicated computer staff and the funds to have more than a bunch of mostly-second-hand DOS boxes and assorted PCs strung together by a series of kludges. And the data affected at the time was not something that could have any direct impact on our customers: it was strictly in-house archives, not a matter of public confidence in the company.

And to BB's credit, he did not, as far as I can recall, try to cover up that he was the one who'd done it - mostly because he didn't think that he'd done anything to be ashamed of, to be sure - but when he put 2+2 together and realized that his actions could have been responsible for the data loss and flurries of panic going on around him, he did the "Ohshit, maybe it was me" thing promptly. Which made it a little easier to figure out what the hell had happened, and to stop worrying about a corrupt hard drive or a virus and start trying to restore the system. If he'd stonewalled about it, it would have been a whole lot worse.

On the other hand, the fact that he never did seem to "get" why it was that what he'd done was wrong, meant that we never could feel really safe about him and our data, who were answerable for it, thereafter. I don't know if "Malign Indifference" is a term of law, like "Malign Neglect", but that was what he gave off, like someone who stomps through your garden without asking why the ground is tilled and there are little tags in the ground, or throws out the contents of an attic without asking the other householders if any of the stuff is theirs - the fact that they didn't intend to specifically kill the sprouts or destroy an heirloom isn't an exoneration, whereas someone who accidentally tripped and fell into the garden, or set the house on fire, has wreaked just as much destruction but is not morally responsible (fwiw) - unless they "double-down" and refuse contrition for it.

So, anyway, a logic-chopper's take on the whole "stop being so MEAN to poor little Amazon, it was just an ACCIDENT!" aspect...

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Thanks to all for the moral support - it turned out to be not as horrible as before, due to the absence of several contributing factors from last time, though tense and overfull of (among other things) right-wing noise-machine chamber echoes from the usual quarters (I think, though I don't have enough data points yet, that "zombies" may be becoming a euphemism/dog whistle among the black helicopter/militia crowd) but hey, family togetherness, that's what matters? [cue schmalzy 1950s movie music]

As far as the months-long-but-recently-discovered-due-to-expansion Amazon policy of hiding the "controversial" books that just happen to be subversive of the heteronormative patriarchal standards no matter how non-racy they happen to be, while het/gen fic and fact that's bawdy as all get out and worse than bawdy) I have at the moment just two things to say:

1) anyone who really thinks that "accidental stupidity is a more likely explanation of anything gone wrong in the world anywhere than willful malice" is a sound general principle has just shown themselves to be a Cylon. --Not that there's anything wrong with that, necessarily; sentient robots are people too, and discrimination against droids would be bad enough without the added irony that plenty of born, voting, gainfully-employed humans couldn't pass the Turing Test if their lives depended on it. But clearly such speakers have never been - nor grown up surrounded by a playground full of - human children.

2) Anyone who trusts a business's ass-covering PR responses is even more naive about human nature than our newly-awakened android, and thus a likely target for spammers and scammers of all kinds, and advertising it in public no less. --Even before I was instructed explicitly to "learn to lie [to customers] with a smile" by a boss, I had unavoidable evidence of this.

About ten years ago, I was the in-house tech support person for a small quick print shop that had an FTP site for customers to upload large files rather than bringing down the email system with them (hopefully) and said FTP site was hosted by a small local ISP rather than any large company, with the theory being that small & local would mean better service and more personalized customer care than some large faceless out-of-state supplier.

This is a nice abstract theory, like "landowners will make better voters because they have a greater vested interest in society" or "someone who has been raised to rule will be better at it than someone who wants to do it but has no training" but like these statements it is no more predictive of reality. In this case, the FTP site went down a lot. Back in those days, FTP was a lot more complicated, the software wasn't as good at detecting protocols and just working with them and so it was a lot easier to have one of the switches wrong and like someone rewiring a machine without a diagram, have to go through a lot of trial and error flipping settings to get a transfer to go through. Part of my regular job involved trying to help customers figure out what switches needed to be changed on their software to get into our FTP site, and since a lot of these folks were technophobic and had minimal training or experience it often was a customer error when they couldn't upload, so I was always a little leery and stressed out when I had to call our ISP and tell them that someone was getting error messages or time-outs.

Because their answer was always the same - it must be something wrong on the end-user end. Even when it wasn't just one, but TEN customers who couldn't upload all the sudden. Even when it was customers who were themselves web engineers and didn't need to be asked about passive transfers or if they'd switched the login passwords. Even when it was us, too, who couldn't get in, and no, we hadn't changed anything on our FTP software since yesterday, honest!

It was always incredibly stressful, since they were soooo patronizing, it happened so often, and I always felt extra stupid after dealing with them since I never understood the answers and explanations and they never seemed to match up from the last time - and since we were a quick-print shop and relied on said connectivity to keep customers happy this was not just a source of emotional stress and frustration, but a money-loser for us beyond the fact that we weren't getting the service we were paying for, even if they would never admit to any downtime.

Then the day happened when the FTP site was inaccessible for over a day. I was getting yelled at for it by my boss - as if I had any control over [REDACTED] ISP, and as if I hadn't told him over and over again in the past year that we should switch to a bigger, more solid hosting company - and by the customers who were getting desperate, and so I just kept calling back and calling back and eventually I got someone on the phone that I'd never spoken with before. Apparently with the Situation they had on hand, they were understaffed enough that people who weren't usually on the phones were having to answer them.

"Oh, it'll be a few more hours," she said blithely, "Our server got infected by a worm and we're having to move everything over to a new system, it should be back up by two o'clock," and for a second I didn't say anything because I couldn't, and then I said, "Oh really? Isn't that interesting? Thank you for letting us know!" which was a bit sarcastic because gee, how hard would it have been to let their paying customers know that there was a downtime problem and what the ETA was? And I told my boss, who got angry and took it out on me as usual (because somehow it was STILL my fault that he'd been wrong to trust [REDACTED] ISP all this time that I was the screwup, instead of listening to me that there must be something wrong on their end again) and told me to tell our waiting customers that they would be able to upload their files at two.

Only, you know, they weren't, because it still wasn't up at that point.

So I called again and got one of the usual suspects who admitted that they had indeed been down "because we were upgrading to give you better speed and service" and I said "Oh reeeely? because the last time I called someone told me it was because you got hit with a virus and were doing damage control," and there was this silence, and I went on, "So is it fixed yet and when ARE we going to be up, and I don't want to hear any nonsense any more about it being our fault we can't get in," and got another ETA though no apology.

And at that point it STILL didn't work, and when I contacted them again it turned out - after a lot of armtwisting - that they had changed our bloody login password and not told us, which they said was an accident - well fine I'm sure it was, given their prior sloppiness - but how did they think that was good customer service? - and then refused to change it BACK without a drastic threat to move to a different host from my boss...because they insisted that it was too much work, and we didn't NEED it done at all - we could just track down and inform all the hundreds of customers in our database to change their FTP program settings, instead. Even though it was their repeated carelessness that had caused the problem.

So no, there wasn't "malice aforethought" in that they didn't deliberately break their own servers with inadequate hardware and, eventually, bad security procedures - but the chronic, systemic, routine and unrepentant lying to customers over the course of a year about what was going on? Nothing but. Unless you think that smug, chronic dishonesty is a benevolent societal interaction...

To say that Ockham's Razor demands that we assume only good will on the part of our fellow bipeds is to ignore our own human nature (I know I'm not always benevolent, no matter how much I struggle to keep my aggression tempered by justice, and I know I'm not a monster - a unique anomaly - among the species in that regard) and the manifest evidence of experience otherwise. "Incompetence" and "malice" are not mutually exclusive sets - dealing with the privileged on a daily basis as a low-status flunky for years will provide enough evidence for that to write a dissertation. (They do, however, have a feedback effect, similar to the one observed by Messrs. Dunning and Kruger wrt arrogance and incompetence...) It's even more naive to assume that a deliberate choice - which may or may not have been seen as malicious by the makers - is always precluded by incompetence, but that gets into a whole morass of Intentionalism that I don't have time to hash out before work.

That ISP no longer exists, btw. The company I was with was too indolent to move, though I was willing to research a better FTP host, but I made sure that I told everyone I knew at the time to avoid them: the combination of arrogance and incompetence on their part unsurprisingly doomed them, tho' I'm sure - like every business I've ever worked for which failed or struggled - that they blamed it entirely on the existence of competition.

Plus ca change...

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