1-10-15 Hodgepodge

Saturday, January 10, 2015

I am Charlie Hebdo

I completely agree with the following, written by Onkar Ghate of the Ayn Rand Institute:

We call on everyone to post and publicize the content that these totalitarians do not want us to see, as we are doing here.

It does not matter whether you agree or disagree with the particular book, cartoon or movie that they seek to silence. We must defend our unconditional right to freedom of thought and freedom of speech.
The below images were among the latest excuses used by jihadist barbarians to murder human beings:

My own contribution to the same sacred cause, made some time ago, can be found here.

The fact that these savages are claiming that a drawing merits execution speaks volumes. For starters, they are merely interested in telling people what to do, given the insignificance of the act they have focused on. And if this is supposed to be bad, I am sure they could have cooked up another excuse to murder the same people or someone else had these drawings never been made. The simple fact is, until we in the West choose leaders who will hunt these animals down, we are all in danger of being senselessly executed at the drop of a hat. Other than that, the only notice such acts deserve is explicit defiance -- not that going about one's daily life wouldn't "offend" these brutes.

In the bigger picture, let me express my disgust at the elevation of mere offense to the level of a capital crime, for which we can blame the multiculturalist movement. This movement has neutered our culture and made such slaughter a near-daily part of our lives. No one can live rationally in perpetual fear of what any random stranger might claim to be offensive, and it is beyond obscene to say, as some have, that the staff of Charlie Hebdo basically had it coming when they published those cartoons.

Let me suggest a thought exercise for anyone who thinks such commentators have a point: Imagine what your life would be like if you sincerely tried never to offend anyone. Now, knowing that there is evil in the world, imagine further what would happen when an evil person gets wind of your slavery to the professed offenses of others. That's right: Such people will very quickly put you on an unimaginably short leash. If drawing something is forbidden, what isn't? (And if murdering someone over this is supposed to be good, what wouldn't someone like this ask you to do?)

In today's atmosphere, it has become debatable that it is even a matter of bravery to defy murderous fanatics: If everything is a potentially a capital offense to some people, then why even consider the opinion they express at any given moment? (This is not to say that "arguments" based on a religious text deserve serious consideration, otherwise.)

Weekend Reading

"[W]hy does life have to be such a rush in the first place?" -- Michael Hurd, in "Pay Off Your Sleep Debt" at The Delaware Wave

"If your to-do list is realistic and based on a rational hierarchy of your concerns, you won't need to resort to rigidity to get things done." -- Michael Hurd, in "Being Organized: Not a Skill, But a Mindset" at The Delaware Coast Press

My Two Cents

The Hurd piece on being organized, when contrasted to many others, reminds me of the old saw about blind men trying to describe an elephant: He rightly emphasizes having a rational hierarchy of values while others often take this for granted or ignore it altogether as they discuss technique. That said, I think many techniques can be usefully thought of as needing practice. In my experience, this is particularly true of such humdrum things as grocery lists and vehicle inspections, which can derail doing what's really energizing or fun, if they aren't attended to. Some things do seem to "organize themselves" while others don't.

Another Reason to Learn Emacs

An "An Honest Letter from Your I.T. Department" reminds me of a few other benefits of learning the venerable, if arcane, text editor:
Although we refer to this as an upgrade, it is, at best, a lateral move. The software does the same things as before, except your favorite features have been moved to a place where you will never find them again. The features you never use, on the other hand, have been assigned keyboard shortcuts that are maddeningly easy to type. For example, "Hide All Menus" (Shift+E) or "Quit Without Saving" (Spacebar).
Once I become fluent with this, I won't have to worry about some third party suddenly making big changes and negating much of the effort I spent migrating. Indeed, quite the opposite is true, as it seems that I will be able to modify almost anything to my liking.



John Shepard said...

Well said, Gus. Thank you.

As well, I took a look at your Mohammed drawing (linked), the two smilie faces, one Halal, the other Haraam (Haram?), but exactly the same. The "offense" is just that one is supposed to be Mohammed, not ugly, not a caricature, not an insult, just a benign portrait, you're right, and I agree with your own estimate of your drawing, simple as it is: "this drawing essentializes the issue at stake rather nicely." The "offense" is in not following orders.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gus,

Historically, blasphemy has always been a death sentence. Can't have the peons questioning the orthodoxy.

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League demonstrates that this desire is still latent in authoritarian religions that had their evil attenuated by the Enlightenment. He is the premier example of Clarissa's yesbutters, but with far more emphasis on the "But" than the "Yes." Another instance of this can be found in the person of Rick Santorum. "But" that's hardly a surprise {wry grin}.

I had an econ prof who was telling us about an oil magnate who was a defender of capitalism. "The problem with America, Doctor, is that it has too many 'buts.'"

When my professor asked him what he meant, he said, "Far too many 'free-market advocates' say, 'I believe in freedom, but... people's teeth are too important, sugar beets are different, medicine is too expensive, etc., etc., etc.,'"

On the question of upgrades; I generally avoid them unless there is something specific that I need.

For instance, I had been warned by a friend that if you have the CyberLink BlueRay Suite, "Once you have a working install, don't let them f**k with it."

Unfortunately, I was unable to get rid of the little popup that shows at every boot, asking to upgrade. CyberLink is very persistent because my firewall software, once I deny permission, is very assiduous at keeping them from showing up again.

So one evening, after a long day of work driving, I park myself in my office chair and boot the computer, hoping to watch one of my newly purchased BluRay movies to wind down. I'm tired, so when the popup pops up, I click for permission.

AAAAAAGGGHHHH! I hadn't even quite completed the click action when what was up registered but it was too late; the click impulse had already gone to completion!

And this 'upgrade' consisted of withdrawing playing permission for my entire library of BluRay Discs. (No, I didn't try the whole library, but when it denies permission to play movies that I'd played just the week before...)

As I told the support staff at CyberLink by email, cuz I couldn't get any support through their various offered methods,

"I'm sure that I must be an exception in your customer base. I'm certain that what every one of your customers secretly desires is to have a 3 hour 'service episode' as the prelude to NOT BEING ABLE TO WATCH A 90 MINUTE MOVIE! I PLAN ON BADMOUTHING YOUR PRODUCT TO EVERYONE I CAN AT EVERY REASONABLE OPPORTUNITY!"

So I uninstalled their product, unplugged the BluRay Drive and, the next day, went and bought a standalone player.

One would think that this kind of conduct would be generally actionable as a class action suit. But with the DMCA, this kind of abuse becomes perennial. I'm with Glenn Reynolds in advocating that the DMCA be repealed and a more reasonable IP law put in place. Denying owners access to their legally purchased content is hardly the way to quell the impetus toward piracy. And even my new standalone player had the warning in the documentation that the manufacturer was not to be held liable if permissions for present/future media content were withdrawn. This is a form of theft on the part of the copyright holders and should be prosecuted at the same draconian level that they advocate. I'm sure that a $250,00.00 fine per incident would get their attention.

And another upgrade story. The USPS has a computer program that used to allow the entry of a new mail piece about every 3 seconds. They 'upgraded.' Single piece entry is now a 17 second procedure.

If I had options, which I don't because the regulatory requirement specifies the type of USPS service I have to use, I wouldn't stand still for a 5-fold increase in the bite out of my time, anymore than I stood for CyberLink's. Ahh, the beauty of Government Monopoly. Especially when buttressed by the Regulatory State.

c. andrew

Gus Van Horn said...


I'm glad you appreciated my comments and the cartoon.


Thanks for adding value to this post with your mention of religion being attenuated by the Enlightenment, and yet religious intellectuals remaining a threat.

Also, I feel inclined to agree (although I haven't thought deeply about it) that the DMCA should be repealed.