Thursday, August 28, 2008
Oh, and I think Friday might also be McCain's 125th birthday.
It's clear he needs something to make him appear exciting and newsworthy. The Democratic convention has been marked by a series of high quality speeches and that isn't turf on which McCain can compete. It's actually quite painful to watch him try and appear interesting and then compare that to an Obama speech. Obama is without a doubt one of the most inspiring speakers in the modern world. And you know what? If being inspired doesn't matter to you, I don't give a shit.
No, really. Save it. I don't give a shit what you think.
I wonder how nervous it makes McCain to have to follow Obama? Seriously, having to compete with someone who's young, charismatic, eloquent and inspirational when you're a barely animated corpse can't make you feel good. Oh, and John? Stop smiling. I mean it. You're scaring the children. And the adults. That scary death's head rictus that you force out on the advice of your handlers does not humanise you. It makes it look like you're thinking of eating babies.
I want him to hurry up and announce his running mate because whoever becomes Vice-President is without doubt going to become President. Let's not fool ourselves, neither of these candidates are going to survive a term in office. The Feds may have decided the meth heads saying they were going to shoot Obama didn't actually have the mental capacity to carry out their threat but does anyone doubt there's a long line of crazy crackers with guns who refuse to accept the possibility of a nigger running the country? And McCain is looking like a bad re-run of "Weekend at Bernie's". There's no way he'd survive the stresses of office.
So we're looking at the most important Vice-Presidential picks in history. They aren't people who might become President if something happens to their boss, they will move into the big chair when something happens. The reaction to Biden in unsurprising. Some people love him, some people hate him. He seems to have attached his name to some good policies and some bad policies. He certainly has a reputation for mouthing off and being a loose cannon but he also seems to have a good track record of speaking truth to power.
Frankly, the method of attack employed by the Republicans has surprised me in it's stupidity. Biden's a bad choice because he's criticised Obama before. Really? Is there a Republican who hasn't hung shit on McCain at some point? They're practically writing the democrat's attack plan for them. I'm sure the Republicans had scripts of talking points worked out for every possible nominee. They're very good at talking points. Far less useful at actually doing something helpful for the country (and the world).
I think they've been so successful in their manipulation of the media they've become complacent. They continue to treat the public like morons by regurgitating clichés completely lacking in substance because they've gotten away with it so many times. I'm desperately hoping that the American public gives them they wake up call they deserve.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
This has two unfortunate effects. First, every time I pass this guy at work I'm reminded of a fuckwit I'd rather not waste time thinking about. Second, every time he says something I have to fight the urge to respond "What the fuck would you know? You're just some pathetic troll who wastes his days attacking people who are actually trying to do something worthwhile!"
I have a suspicion that were I actually to make that outburst, it would be a career-limiting move.
It actually reminds of a situation I had years ago in a shared house where I really, really, REALLY didn't like one of my housemates. It was pointed out to me that this housemate bore a striking resemblance to the actor Charles Dance. This proved to be a very interesting discovery to make because it turns out Charles Dance gets killed in nearly every movie he's in.
He goes in a satisfying variety of ways too. Sometimes he's shot, other times he's stabbed, blown up, eviscerated by an alien or falls to his death. Hell, in one movie he even had a statue dropped on him. It's incredibly cathartic to watch a convincing stand-in for someone you don't suffer a cavalcade of painful deaths.
This guy actually went from being a source of depression to a major source of entertainment. Any time he acted like a total dick (usually several times a week) the situation could be remedied by whacking on a Charles Dance movie. Followed by a long household discussion on our favourite way to see him die.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Anyone familiar with my videos will know I'm usually quick to dismiss conspiracy theories as stupid paranoia so you may need some explanation for this video. The dialogue comes from the web site of a group called "Family Security Matters". They're a bunch of right wing nutbags who apparently think the US should nuke anyone who disagrees with them and that George Bush should declare martial law to make himself President for life and ultimately Emperor of the world. Oh, and they have direct links with Dick Cheney.
When their little piece of freakazoid propaganda got wide circulation they were apparently surprised to learn that the majority of the population thought they were fucking nuts. They took the article down after seeing the response but not before a number of websites copied the information.
And if you still think this is paranoid, you might want to look into the presidential order that allows Bush to declare martial law and suspend the constitution.
Personally, I'm working on the assumption none of this crazy shit will come to pass and the coming elections will pass without incident. But I wish they'd hurry up and happen so this nagging fear would go away.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
There's a story doing the rounds that claims some new U2 tracks have been inadvertently leaked and found their way online. The way it's being reported, Bono was playing the tracks so loud in his French villa that a passer by was able to record them.
I call bullshit.
We're expected to believe that the record company and presumably the band want to guard these tracks so closely that they've demanded the low quality recordings be removed from where they have appearedonline. But at the same time we're expected to believe that Bono is stupid enough to have these top secret tracks blaring out his window at full volume. Actually, anyone trying to convince meBono is stupid is in with a chance.
This is a viral marketing campaign, pure and simple. It's been a while since the news of U2 releasing music was likely to set the world on fire. But come up with a clever angle: "Wooo, illicit! You can't have that!" and the media are all over it and giving them heaps of publicity.
I'm not saying it isn't effective marketing. I'm just not sure lying to your core audience is a good long-term strategy.
Monday, August 18, 2008
While being immersed in the horror that is the internet is more than enough to make you completely lose faith in human nature, taking a breath now again and stepping back can be very helpful. Even the worst, most infuriating behaviour from morons can help you learn something if looked at from the appropriate angle.
For instance, people's tendency to slip into paranoia and conspiracy theories freaks me right out. From high end 9/11 "truth" whackjobs to the insane conclusions people leap to when interacting on sites like Facebook or YouTube. There are days when I think the majority of the planet have their brains set to a default "crazy" setting - it's the only explanation for the leaps some people make.
It would be one thing if it was only paranoid schizophrenics having conversations with the saucer people who made these crazed dives into deep chasms of illogicality. But perfectly rational people (or people who are good at covering a lot of the time) will frequently indulge in paranoid responses to perfectly straightforward situations. One example is they way people respond to a glitch YouTube has been having recently.
I suspect this actually coincides with the last "upgrade" to Flash as YouTube (like most video sites) uses a Flash player for their videos. Whatever the source, this bug has gone unfixed for way too long (at least a month) What happens is that videos frequently fail to play. When you click "Play" you see a little spinny thing that suggests the video is loading but nothing ever loads - the screen goes black.
Actually, not quite nothing. YouTube make it worse by displaying an incorrect error message: "The video you have requested is no longer available." Speaking as someone who occasionally takes on controversial topics, I am frequently receiving comments along the lines of "OMG what did you say? They've taken the video down! Big Brother is silencing free speech!" Well, no actually. It's just a shitty site with a shitty glitch.
But a LOT of people leap straight to a paranoid conclusion. I've learned to be less stunned by people's tendency to descend into paranoia. Besides, with the US Government making it clear they're indulging in wholesale surveillance of the entire population, CCTV cameras on every street corner in the UK and an internet overrun with idiotic trolls determined to fuck up your enjoyment of life, paranoid may as well be the new normal.
And then there's the tendency of people to lie. Most rational people have a healthy suspicion of authority figures and the media. Great pronouncements of truth have a disturbing tendency to turn out to be self-serving lies. And the internet has been a valuable tool in exposing many of these lies that would have otherwise escaped detection.
Mind you, the internet is also obviously a massive source of the most outrageous lies imaginable. And a horrifyingly efficient distributor of lies. Like most people, I spent a lot of time being appalled at the most egregious lies being circulated. I've spent time trying to debunk some of them. But you know what? Sometimes it's enough to take away the lesson "Wow, a lot of people tell lies. A lot of the time."
I'd love to tear down the houses of lies that the politicians live in. I'd love to expose the venal media hacks who lazily and shamelessly circulate these lies without applying any critical analysis. And I'd really love to make the gutless scumfucks on the internet take responsibility for the vicious lies they peddle. But I can't. There's too many of them. Accepting that simple fact can be incredibly liberating.
I see people lie about petty, trivial things all the time. I see people tell lies that are absurdly easy to prove are lies. Not differences of opinion, not misrepresentations, not mistakes. Deliberate, premeditated, calculated lies. And when so many people do this over completely meaningless things, how much more likely is someone to lie when there is something serious on the line? As much as the liars I've been confronted with online sicken me, they've helped me by ensuring my bullshit detectors are usually turned up to 11.
Just because it's on the front page of the New York Times doesn't mean it isn't a lie.
So the downsides of the internet have actually helped me balance my worldview. Learning those things about human behaviour is helpful. But a helpful lesson I frequently forget is that it can tell a lot about me too. How I respond to negativity can be a very good indication of how balanced my mindset is.
The worst of the negativity is always on YouTube. While I have had the occasional stupid troll on this blog, they're few and far between compared to the cavalcade of idiots on YouTube. I strongly suspect this is because interacting on a blog required the reading and the reading is more challenging than the looking YouTube requires of you. Don't get me wrong - I love the looking. But there's no denying the reading requires an additional level of commitment.
My reactions to YouTube trolls have varied wildly over the last two years, something that may well have a relationship to my mood swings over the same period. I've gone from grinding them into the ground, trading insult for insult until they give up, to having zero tolerance and deleting abusive comments instantly and blocking the worst offenders. At the moment I'm leaning more towards block/delete but indulging in the occasional slugfest when it seems funny.
But I'm very conscious of how much it consumes of my mental and emotional energy. Case in point: a little while ago, there was a particular YouTube dweeb who was really pissing me off. He was going the whole way, indulging in truly insane conspiracy theories about the motivations of myself and other people, telling pathetically obvious lies that weren't even worth debunking. And he would not shut the fuck up.
I spent a bus ride to work thinking of a way to get back at him and came up with quite a good idea for a video. I never go after individual people in videos so this would have been going after his sort of stupidity generally rather than him specifically. But it would have been obvious that I was going after him. And that made me pause.
While I have a lot of fun going after the hater mentality I've been careful not to make it about them. When I have a go at haters it isn't from some deluded idea that I'll make them change - it's a message of support to the other victims of their stupidity. Giving someone the message that they aren't being attacked because they've done something wrong, they're being attacked because their attacker is a fucking moron can really make a difference. It's easier to bear stupidity when you have a sense of solidarity with other decent people.
So I didn't make the video. Yet. I'm still going to make it because it's a bloody funny idea (IMHO) and I think people will enjoy it. But it needs more distance so it's about me doing something funny rather than simply me biting back at someone who pissed me off. The moment I made that decision was incredibly liberating. A huge amount of stress left me when I realised I wasn't letting this mentality control me.
And I didn't even have to say anything to the fuckwit in question. Because they don't count. That is something that I really hope decent people understand. Sometimes, not responding is the most powerful thing you can do. Because then you're living life on your terms, not theirs.
Living well really is the best revenge.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
I'm experimenting with a new site called Vloggerheads. It's been started by some people who cut their teeth on YouTube and while I can't actually speak for the founders the intention seems to actually learn from what's gone wrong on YouTube. And by "wrong" I mean wrong from the point of view of users who create original content. This is an attempt to create a site that actually serves the community of people that create the videos on it.
It's kind of ironic because this site wouldn't exist without the success of YouTube but it's the very scale of YouTube's success that means it hasn't been able to serve the core community of video creators. Or they just don't give a shit and figure people can fend for themselves or piss off. One of the main people behind the site is one of YouTube's early "stars", Paul Robinett AKA Renetto. Here's a promo video he did for the site:
That doesn't actually tell you a lot - hhere's the explanation he provided:
"Don't believe the hype... Experience it for yourself.
By Vloggers, For Vloggers. Screw the Middlemen, We are the Media, Viva La Vlogolution
A great community is not only defined by who you let in, but also, by who you keep out. Cyber Stalkers and Harassers, Porn Peddlers and Pedophiles.
Trolls and Scumbags beware... at VloggerHeads, the safety and security of our community is our biggest priority. We've accomplished in a week, what YouTube couldn't do in 3 years... Take out the trash!
If Your interested in receiving an invite, to see for yourself what the future of online community looks like, or better yet, to help shape it into a neighborhood you'd want to move into, please send us an email with your YouTube user name. If you've not posted any videos and have not taken part in this or any other online community, please be patient. We're just in the beginning stages of testing and tweaking and looking for "Lab Rats" 18 or older, with deep community experience and lots of free time!
Thank you so much...
Paul and the entire VloggerHeads community and Crew.
It may well flame out quickly. It might stagger along for a while and die a slow death. Or it might be something really amazing. I'm willing to spend a bit of time experimenting to find out.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Every now and then I throw out videos on YouTube I like to call hand grenades. I pull the pin and lob it out there and wait for the carnage. The "shut the fuck up" series were all hand grenades. Basically, I decide on someone who pisses me off and I bait them.
The fun thing about stupid people (and everyone who disagrees with me is stupid) is they're so easy to wind up. There's no such thing as being too obvious with some people. You can make it blindingly obvious that you're out to get to them worked up but they can't hold back. I like to think of them as my little puppets - I pull the strings and they jiggle at my command. I'm evil like that.
It's more fun when I used their own stupid lines against them. Like when one of them recently said I wasn't better than him. Oh really?
Friday, August 08, 2008
Damn babies. Lazy little buggers are just a drain on the economy. Set the to work, I say!
And for anyone knee-jerk bleeding heart holier-than-thou moron whoi demands that I say this is a joke: FUCK YOU. It isn't my problem that morons don't get irony. I refuse to cater to morons.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
I don't like to judge by appearances but I have this crazy idea when someone is trying to sell something to a corporate client, particularly when the contract crosses into the millions of dollars, they might make a fucking effort to appear professional. I don't go with a vendor solely because their guys dressed the sharpest but I'm never keen to go with someone who comes across as a total gimp.
Another thought is that a vendor should not come across as a criminal. Just another one of my prejudices. I know it's shallow to make judgements based on how someone sounds but I figure when you're planning to drop a few million you earn the right to be judgemental.
A personal favourite of mine was a guy who talked with a heavy East London accent, telling me about "dis fing" and "dat fing". For fans of classic British TV, think Arthur (Arfur) Daley on "Minder". He's extolling the virtues of his technology and all I can think of is "Holy crap, can't you even be bothered to take the time to pronounce 'th' properly?"
Then there was the day I met Apu. I have a very bad habit of equating nearly every experience in my life with something I've seen on The Simpsons. So when I was seeing a presentation from an Indian guy who had EXACTLY the same hair as Apu that took all of my focus. I didn't remember a damn thing he said. All I was thinking the entire time was "Dude, you have the same haircut as Apu."
Let me make this clear: He didn't sound like Apu (He never said "Thank you, come again" once). He didn't have the same features as Apu. It was just the hair. I became slightly obsessed about it. Did he realise it? Was it on purpose? Had anyone ever told him? Did he think it was a good idea to have the same hair as Apu? Does he not have friends? Does he not know anyone who cares enough to say "you have the hair of a fucking cartoon character! Get it cut!"
Actually, even if the hair was nothing to do with Apu it was still a worry. The thought of this guy lovingly sculpting a massive bouffant each day did not make me trust his judgement. But the idea that he might be deliberately going for the Apu look really weirded me out.
I guess what I'm say is that if you can be easily caricatured, I'm not sure sales is the career for you. Ideally a sales person would be remembered because of their professionalism. Not because they look like a cartoon character or Chopper Read.
Monday, August 04, 2008
I swear I'm planning to write something substantive soon. In the meantime, here's a roundup of what happened at the recent gathering of YouTubers I helped to organise in Melbourne:
It started with balls and it ends with dick!