awahl1138

Hi, me again, it's been a while since I wrote something. Here's something that's been going through my mind so might as well write it down.

There's no doubt people are capable of amazing things. All our achievements of society blah blah blah. I think we owe it to ourselves to try to see the best in people.

But often, I really can't.

Because I think people are capricious, when it comes to being reasonable (hey, I'm known to be unreasonable, everybody is) they're not and they're hypocrites... I have in mind many of the people I know IRL (or AFK as Peter Sunde likes to insist on) who will say all these nice things to their Facebook accounts about how life is short and precious and you should do this and that and blah blah blah. They do very stupid things after saying things like that, like go against their own advice

2020 brought a pandemic. And I've seen so many people go “Oh this is so hard, being unable to see my friends”. How can you say that when you don't even appreciate people in your own life? I'm half of the mind (or even more so) sometimes that this is something we deserve, as a species

I hope things will get better when a cure is distributed and we go back to normal, but that's the thing; if “normal” is being a fucking asshole then I'm not all that interested

Oh. Great. Another anti-facebook post. Yawn. Stop reading now.

Maybe it's because it's all I can think of these days.

Facebook depresses me for several (dozen, hundred, thousand) reasons. From trying to make it as addictive as possible to a version of “transparency” that feels a lot like “I (Zuckerberg) will do whatever I want and you can't stop me” (which feels like Clark Kent changing into Superman in a telephone booth) to... well, fuck it, everything.

But one reason is that, back in the days when I didn't know that they were a few apples short of an ethical apple pie (please ignore the analogy it's almost midnight I'm really tired), the main story was the 2013 Snowden disclosures. The real bad guys are the government! Of course! They have a spy apparatus and they spy on everything and all they do is spy spy spy spy – again, midnight, please forgive me.

And it WAS a revelation. Before that, people suspected, but they didn't know. And by the way isn't it great that now Trump has access to all that information? This is why data should be treated like nuclear waste and discarded.

But that was the prevailing story that shocked people. Back then if you'd paid attention to news cycles you'd feel maybe a bit uneasy about Facebook or Google, or outright alarmed. But if you didn't... you'd think these were mainly honest companies run by honest people in their quest to be honest. Or something. And even the news cycle thing, it was 2013. Things were still relatively fresh back then. One issue with the 'net is that it's only been around since 1990. Things are still pretty new and shiny and fill people with a kind of doe-eyed wonder. Perfect pickins' for a Facebook to swoop in and preach the importance of privacy while rolling it back or to make it addictive as possible all while claiming “concerns are serious and will be looked into” or whatever (I'm paraphrasing, but still).

So you wouldn't think certain tech companies are the issue.

Until they became the issue.

And it wasn't just a problem of scale, either. Look, corporations will get stuff wrong. It would amaze me if Facebook or any other company didn't occasionally (OCCASIONALLY. IMPERATIVE WORD.) have bugs in their shit. Oversights happen. And Facebook would love to have you believe that the Cambridge Analytica situation was that. Or that the shifting privacy settings are a bug. Or whatever. And it's believable because hey, code is hard. Right? Never mind that that's a flimsy excuse when you can legitimately code basically whatever you want and this has been around for decades now and it's not actually as hard as you might expect (true, I'm not much of a programmer, but it stands to reason).

“The problems at Facebook are problems of complexity of scale” is just as much of a lie as “Mark Zuckerberg invented Facebook” – he didn't, he took some of it from the Winklevosses and Aaron Greenspan in addition to I'm sure, to be fair, the original work he did do.

And that was the thing from the outset. Personal history should count for a lot and Zuck was known to not be a particularly trustworthy guy. But, you know, we all do dumb stuff when we're young, you know?

That was believable too.

And then years after the torpid beginnings of FB (where in the meanwhile there were really cool things like Beacon and probably a million other scandals I can't immediately recall) the company buys up Instagram and Whatsapp, brazenly lies and pisses off the founders.

Then, and only then, I began to realize that this is a problem. And I don't like this situation. You shouldn't have to pay attention to every single news cycle to avoid getting fucked. The world SHOULD be fair, you SHOULD be able to take things for granted.

Especially the conduit you have to your friends and the rest of the world and use as a main source of communication.

That's what pisses me off. That they've always been like this. Zuckerberg portrays himself as having a slightly stupid air, like, “Well, this is concerning, but we're going to look into this” while actively being malicious. That he is a sociopath is a very realistic conclusion.

The other thing that bothers me is that we never will know what connectivity on the internet would have become without Zuck. Does it not stand to reason that something similar to Facebook would have been invented eventually? Or some kind of public ledger where you can put your name and people can find you? Where you have the choice to be private, where feeds aren't algorithmic, where people can reach you by multiple means, using the built-in protocols of the internet? By the way, the fact people are afraid to leave because they'll lose their friends is nonsense; there is no good reason you can't read posts via RSS or something and communicate with Jabber or something. Facebook just doesn't want you to spend less time on site.

But they're 'connecting the world'.

Shut the fuck up, cunt.

So, anyway, that's the situation today. We've grown up with FB because we thought it was the next Myspace. And we've suffered for it because the people running it are bad faith actors and they don't care and they'll do anything for power.

As for the NSA's spying, yeah, it's not like that isn't a problem. And Snowden was right and that's a problem, too. I'm not saying that it's not. But the idea that corporations like Facebook and Google are on the right side “of history” (or even just aren't gigantic fucking assholes) turns out to be... not quite true. The internet is sad. :(

I'm sitting here drinking tea and it's a nice rainy day. So time for a blog post!

I am so sick and tired of the modern 'net and a huge reason why is bad interfaces. Algorithmic feeds. Companies blatantly not listening to their users. I know why they do it. It comes down to making the user see more ads. But no company that insists they listen to feedback should be doing this stuff. They DON'T listen. They must think we're really fucking dumb.

You fundamentally DON'T DOGFOOD YOUR PRODUCTS. All these new shitty designs are done from the marketing/finance departments, not the more engineering-focused in the company.

Did anyone think we'd be here in 2020 where Google/Facebook/Twitter (likes in the feed along with retweets? You fucking serious?) and a billion others actively go against what “good design is”? If we had a notion things would become as bad as they are and that they fundamentally wouldn't listen maybe we'd have thought a lot harder about using the internet in future.

There's so much momentum that it's hard to just stop using these services. They probably know that.

They won't read this of course, but there you go: I'm upset. Congratulations.

A tidy UI is a tidy mind. Go on Facebook and tell me if you don't get stressed out because they try to squeeze blood out of a fucking stone. STOP DOING SHIT LIKE THIS.

LISTEN to your fucking customers.

Girls!

So I'm a heterosexual male and that strikes the fear of god into a lot of people, women especially.

I don't blame them. Not one bit.

One horribly sad realization is the number of people (ordinary people too, not just the female celebrities) who came out with the #MeToo hashtag. I've always been pretty naive. In the back of my mind I'm sure I realized somewhere that stalking and abuse and much worse can and does happen to women on a regular basis. But because “I would never do that” I guess I kind of minimized the issue. It helps I don't have to deal with it myself. I guess it's a bit like racism, I don't care whether somebody is black or not so I don't see what people of colour actually deal with.

Relationships are already a bit of a thorny matter. To open your heart and navigate that and try not to be overbearing yet also try not to seem completely disinterested... that's hard. And people try too much. I find relationships generally work out when it's a casual, fun thing without too many expectations.

Be yourself is cliche but it's cliche because it's true (as with most things), and the reason it's true (and this also applies to every other domain of life, it's not just relationships), is the fact that you really want to show your own personality so it's an honest transaction with the other person instead of “makeup” that you're overcompensating for. (And in general, like yourself! You're probably more likeable than your critical self realizes)

It's hard for a guy to approach a situation where they'd like to get closer to a girl but they also remember the long history of what women have gone through. It's easy to be awkward. And as a result it's easy for women to get creeped out. It's a situation that just sucks all around.

I think women could be a bit more understanding of that, but it's a tough ask. It's hard to disregard your experiences and think “this time it will be different”. I know. It's OUR job (men) to make women feel safe. But it is also true that sometimes we can be awkward and it's hard to separate the creep from someone who has good intentions.

As an aside this is also why I'm not too much a fan of Facebook (who is?). I asked somebody out and she said yes, and things ended up not working out for a variety of reasons. But one of the things that happened was my sending her a friend request (when I still felt Facebook was still relatively altruistic) and her declining it and it must have made me look like a stalker. I'd told my therapist about this and she said well, maybe it's the other person's fault, “because I have my profile set to private and you can't look me up, so she chose to make it public”. But guess what? I looked up my therapist's profile (trying to confirm my suspicions) and there it was. So yeah. They don't give a single fuck about privacy and yet because they've co-evolved with the internet (we never had a chance, in 2006 everything was new and they were founded then and it was a cleaner alternative to Myspace) we're used to social dynamics being the way Facebook has it.

So I could perhaps maybe have been a little bit wrong about being angry about the closed protocols I've been talking about. As I read comments on Slack's/Google's/Facebook's/Fastmail's shuttering of XMPP the takeaway I get is that XMPP has had problems. Moxie from Signal AFAIK has confirmed that.

I always feel like a huge asshole when I criticize anyone. Feels like I should be the one being better. And that may well be true. There's a little voice in my head telling me “No, you stupid IDIOT, you've got it all wrong because of xyz reason”.

I'm sorry.

Is truly federated chat possible? I suppose it must be. I'm sure the big platforms don't mind the lockin.

I do want a peaceful world where everyone likes everyone. But certain behavior is bad, of course, and people are jerks sometimes. I'd rather be wrong about certain details in the end, I suppose, than say nothing.

I think one thing you can do to avoid anger at the abusive internet is to embrace FOSS, align oneself ideologically with certain movements. In other words just like, embrace the positive in life generally and not accentuate the negative.

Don't know what I'm trying to say, really.

Comment functionality on my posts are coming soon, looked into it a bit today and couldn't figure it out... but soon!

I'll enable comments on my posts soon. write.as doesn't have them by default – yet – but there's an extension for it. It's not that I'm opposed to comments, I just haven't gotten around to it yet.

Brian Acton of Whatsapp – since left since the great reckoning known as Facebook acquisiton, after which your company totally dies – isn't happy with the Zuck. He tweeted out “It's time. #deletefacebook” and presumably it's because Facebook completely and totally lied about how merging Whatsapp with their systems – data-wise – would be impossible. That alone should make people eradicate their accounts.

But then, a defense emerged. https://www.facebook.com/notes/david-marcus/the-other-side-of-the-story/10157815319244148/

This should be a bigger news story than it really is. I mean, they can't both be right.

Personally, I imagine Acton to be more correct than Marcus, given Facebook's history of being... less than ethical.

It's a good thing Paypal, who Marcus was president of, is the paragon of ethics.

Except for the reputation they've had of stealing your money.

What's up with Silicon Valley?

And is it so hard to just be honest?

The year is 2021. The robots have risen up and, much like the movie The Matrix, the ensuing war blackens the sky and causes the end of society. Humanity weeps as they consider the consequences they did not previously consider about AI.

Okay, that's not likely to happen. But there is a technological war and it's caused by human-on-human violence.

What I mean is dishonesty.

Facebook tracks everything you do, they lobby against privacy laws (which I would take in somewhat good faith for any company but Facebook: you can imagine a case where there are excessively restrictive laws that make it much harder to make money ethically), they keep shifting the goalposts of privacy and they just, frankly, don't really care much for strong personal privacy. Twitter's interface sucks. It helpfully shows you what your followers favorited. Doesn't retweet do the same thing? Yeah, I thought so. Both Facebook and Twitter try to force the algorithmic feed on you as well. So much for “connecting the world!” Linkedin has been known to scrape your contacts and employ dark patterns. Reddit tries to force you to use its app (more spying potential; Facebook is also quite well embedded in this area) and its new design is completely non-functional. Youtube has gone from “Videos related to Marlon Brando” on a Marlon Brando video to some sensationalist video. (Another thing, tech platforms: stop hiding behind your algorithms. “It's not our fault!” Yes, it is.) They'll shut you down without much appeal, too. Amazon doesn't give a shit about its workers. Paypal is known to basically employ extortionist tactics and steal your money. Google... don't even get me started. The list is so long I wouldn't even know where to begin.

I am probably forgetting some.

It doesn't matter the specific details. The modern internet fucking sucks. It's race-to-the-bottom-capitalism. And I don't mind capitalism, but I'd like to see companies be a bit more honest.

You know, like they say they are.

In their PR.

But it seems to me that PR departments say what they say because they pretty much have to. It's literally their jobs. No PR departments are found to say “Yeah, we agree, this company is corrupt.”

I've seen people in Facebook's and Google's support forums just have their concerns go completely ignored or if they're addressed by staff, not at all answered adequately. (“How can I take myself off of Facebook's People You May Know list? Thanks.” “Unfortunately, this is not possible at this point. For further help, you can read this article: facebook.com/not-a-helpful-link-whatsofuckingever”)

I'd consider 2006 (or earlier?) to 2020 to be a kind of war. Not as bloody as actual ones but when you see the sheer negligence and hostility, it makes me mad. “Lip service” feels like an expression specifically created for this kind of scenario. They say all the right things and then they just ignore us, the public, in our concerns.

Well, I guess it's obvious then, embrace honest platforms, discard unethical ones, and do your computing through FOSS – Free And Open Source Software – if possible.

But nobody expected they'd do this. We all thought that the future would be better. They've taken us by storm and we basically have no recourse.

Because it's hard to use something else. And they know that.

I know that one thing that gets brought up is that for-profit companies have a legal responsibility to make profits for their shareholders. That could be true but I wish the times they say “We are doing this specific thing” or “We are not doing this specific thing” were actually aligned with reality. It just looks bad. It looks like bad faith.

Because it probably is. 99% of the time.

And maybe I'm just annoyed by the disparity, if the average person works a job and doesn't do their job well, they're fired; if a big corporation screws over the public, they don't get into trouble because either they have power to begin with or because they've subverted the process.

They say sociopaths are common in business, I don't doubt that for a second.

This post is basically a glorified rant about what I'm going to immediately mention now after the period at the end of this sentence finally makes its appearance, don't expect deep thoughts.

Rogan's podcast is moving to Spotify exclusively at the end of the year.

This pisses me off because now I basically have to get Spotify.

And because this is a blog, I have to type more than just that, so lemme talk about the internet and how I steal everything for free and bankrupt everybody.

So just to give you a guess at my political leanings, I probably would agree with most of https://archive.org/stream/GuerillaOpenAccessManifesto/Goamjuly2008_djvu.txt and also https://www.eff.org/cyberspace-independence

Now that that's out of the way...

Look, can we all agree that information, digital bits, being instantly transmissible, needs to... I don't know, have more of it on the internet? I won't tell you anything you don't already know but blah blah blah, record companies cause more harm to artists than the pirates ever could, the greater problem is obscurity, not piracy, not everyone can afford to buy everything all the time, culture should be more open blah blah blah.

Cory Doctorow has written blurbs on his site explaining that the reason he gives books away for free alongside the “for sale pls buy ty” versions is because it makes him a f!@#load of cash. (Edit: ignore the “load” hashtag) And I think it's true.

A free download will not, instantly corrupt the soul.

That's sort of it (I take this truth to be self evident), and as to this Rogan/Spotify thing, well, a) I wish they wouldn't take down all existing copies of the podcast once it moves there and b) Fine, whatever, this particular case is this particular case. But to talk about this GENERAL phenomenon...

Some reasons why copyright and intellectual property are such minefields (and just ugly, pathetic excuses for things being as they are) is basically... due to lobbying. (There's a good talk on that here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhBpI13dxkI) That's one reason. Another is that the United States, uniquely, puts intense pressure on the rest of the world to follow its restrictive copyright practices, via various means, but also via trade agreements – and this is coming from the country that Disney successfully lobbied to extend copyright from something initially reasonable to approximately... 57 trillion years.

Think about that next time you feel bad for downloading a song.

It's actually worse than that because I think you'll find that sharing is or should be, a cultural birthright. Sharing is caring (and therefore while I use the word “piracy” loosely here, let's distinguish actual commercial piracy – the selling of other people's work – and file sharing). Everyone kiiiinda knows that the internet should be a lot more rich than it is, because a lot of it, let's face it, is attractive because you can find culture there: books, movies, music, whatever.

And you can monetize. Pretty easily. But it depends on discoverability and not hoping someone buys your record having never heard it before.

Publishers feel like the alternative version of “Man discovers one neat trick! Doctors HATE him”, with the publisher taking the role of the doctor. The publishers would like you very much – and major industry – to buy everything on-sight and would love to pass anti-circumvention laws and probably make it, in an ideal world, that if you did try to illegally download something, your computer would instantly explode and kill you.

Joking about that last one. Maybe. I hope. I'm not entirely sure.

The artists probably don't care. And for everyone else, fuck Metallica.

Though I think Metallica's objections were that someone leaked their songs, not the piracy (oops, I did it again, I used the wrong word, got lost in the game). But, man, if everyone acted like gatekeepers of sharing, they'd have less concert goers. I'm sure of that.

And if you want future writers/musicians/actors/film makers then you'll allow things to stay online, for free viewing, for the good of humanity. And if you're not going to do that (what is your excuse???), the least you can do is not break the internet and the rule of law itself by passing laws with incredible reach designed to stamp out and punish the “evildoers”.

I should mention I do buy a fair bit of culture. Steam (the video game software/platform) users probably feel the same way. Artists will not starve and waste away.

I'm still disgruntled about the Spotify thing, though.

I am a white guy. Oh, how very white. And, anyway, not a racist. That's not some kind of overcompensating for what, deep down, psychologically, is in fact racism.

I just don't care.

For as long as I can remember, I've basically been colour blind. No, not literally colour blind, the condition some people legitimately have, the confusing of blue with green or any of the other variants. I just mean that my natural state of being when I see a black person is essentially, “Oh. Cool, I guess.”

So no raging tempest of racial hatred-motivated ideology, or anything of the kind. No queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach on encountering a member of a different race. And confusion when it comes to people who do feel that way.

I did not know, growing up, too many black people. I don't have black friends. Or have too many friends in general.

But it seems to be that racism is not a natural condition. There's nothing in the genes that causes people to think that way. You're taught it. It's learned. All the evidence I've encountered, anyway. I don't know of any studies, but it seems virtually inescapable to me that a) if you were integrated growing up and b) did not have parents or friends that drummed into you fear of or a superiority complex toward other races, that you will basically never be a racist.

Is there anything else there other than dusting off my hands and moving on? Well, maybe. My consciousness was perhaps partially formed by movies like American History X, Mississippi Burning, Biko, Hotel Rwanda (the Rwandan genocide of 1994 informing us that the demons lurk behind the eyelids always, through at least two kinds of racism: the Hutus towards the Tutsis and the failure of US response). And all in their own rights very good films. But I don't remember feeling any particular ill will to non-whites before that, either.

Racism is, of course, hardly just a white vs. black issue, although in my particular geographical location – Canada – it's perhaps a bit more visceral due to what our neighbors down south go through still today, decades ago, and even more decades ago. It's a long, bloody, sad, unnecessary history. People probably ought to live in harmony generally, though we're still working on that one – there are plenty of ways to be a jerk without caring about skin colour or otherwise defining physical features that signifies “different race” (by the way, my browser informs me colour is misspelled. Nonsense. That 'u' will remain as I write words that have a UK spelling.)

The Holocaust was white against white violence. Rwanda, black against black. There has been oriental vs oriental racism in the east, brutal enough to make the Holocaust seem by comparison... well, let's avoid any cheeky or overly cheerful analogies, here. It sucks and it is what it is.

Is there any content to this? Are there “superior” or “inferior” races? Is there reality to any of it, something really there?

My answer is, as you might have guessed, no. But it's interesting how much heated passion goes into all this. And religious discussions, too, are involved in this. One of my favorite parts of one of my favorite trilogies, the Arthur series by Kevin Crossley-Holland (The Seeing Stone, At The Crossing Places, King Of The Middle March, fantastic books all), is Arthur speaking to the local priest of his village of Caldicot, Oliver:

“Oliver turned the key in the creaking chest, and took out the Bible. 'In the name of King Richard,' he said, 'your reading is the twentieth psalm. The twentieth psalm and then the twenty-first psalm.' '“We will wave our banners,”' I began to read in Latin, and then to translate, '“in the name of God. Some men trust their horses and some their chariots; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God. We trample our enemies: they lie in the dust, but we rise and stand upright.“' 'You see?' said Oliver. 'If you're going to fight, horses and chariots are all very well. Horses and chariots are necessary, but they're not enough. King Richard knows that. That's why he defeated Saladin at Arsuf. That's why he has saved for us the Kingdom of Jerusalem.' 'But doesn't Saladin worship God too?' I asked. 'Don't Saracens worship God?' 'They worship a false prophet,' said Oliver. 'They're not true believers. Saracens are infidels.' 'Sir William says that's what Saracens call Christians,' I replied. 'Infidels!' Oliver snorted. 'They don't understand the Book. They don't even read it.' 'Aren't Saracens and Christians equal in the eyes of God then?' 'They are not!' said Oliver. 'Of course they're not! In the eyes of God, all Christian people are equal. But you can be sure hell's mouth is wide and waiting for heathens and heretics and infidels.'

I think that sort of sums it up. History is full of people fighting for the “right” ideals and it all turns out to be massively misguided. Ideas of racial purity, certain philosophies, whatever.

And, anyway, the science of “blackness” such as it is is well known (I should look this up so I don't expose my ignorance, I'm saying this from memory, I hope I'll be forgiven if I get this wrong). Homo sapiens grew out of Africa. Very hot there, the sun beats down. Melanin in the skin – what makes the black – is a protection against that. And that's it. That's the whole reason. Yet it results in such hatred because we whites feel like there's this “otherness” there that makes them not as “good” as us. There are, as I mentioned, other forms of race conflict, but as you might guess I think those are equally silly.

And just to mention that education is the great leveler. The more you know about the world, the richer your internal mental life and understanding of people.

Can we substitute racism for anything else? Can we substitute religion for anything else? Well, of course we can, in terms of identification of the other. I despise certain people, and certain types of people. I probably ought to be more tolerant, but there it is. I've screamed at people before. Said things I regret. Thought unkind thoughts that I've later had to go back and re-evaluate.

Am I perfect? Absolutely not. That I'm colour blind (screw you, browser) doesn't make me an exalted human being. That should tell you how irrelevant I think the collected passions around topics of race are.

And as for religion, we all have certain gods. Individual rituals, comforts, things we bow down before, even if wholly secular.

In fact if we're going to hate, let's hate the things that really matter. Like greed. Like propaganda that pits white against black, rich against poor (one reason MLK Jr was reportedly killed, I've heard (if I remember right), was not for advocating black rights, but for advocating pacifism re: Vietnam). Like boredom and settling for second best, the dulling of creativity, the industries who would rather everything remain freeze dried and shrink wrapped (the music industry comes to mind).

And this isn't to say that one should be infinitely tolerant toward people externally and infinitely composed internally when evaluating people. There are certainly people I would rather associate with, these people over here vs. those people over there. But it's just a weird state of affairs that things are revealed to be more simple than the conflicts of history would have us believe.

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