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Bookshelf Tag

Here we go, another book reading meme, this time inspired by afeatheradrift.

1- Is there a book that you really want to read but haven’t because you know that it’ll make you cry?

Not anything that comes to mind, but I have refrained from diving in to “downer” reads. Books on my to-read list like Half the Sky and The Locust Effect.

2- Pick one book that helped introduce you to a new genre.

Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? by Michael Sandel. That and learning Koine Greek (to read the New Testament in its original language) incited me to read and reread the ancient classics — Plato, Aristotle, Aristophanes, Euripedes, Sophocles, Aeschylus, etc.…

3- Find a book that you want to reread.

At any point in time, there are at least a half-dozen books I reread on at least a yearly basis (or biennially):

4- Is there a book series you’ve read but wish that you hadn’t?

War and Peace, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.

5- If your house was burning down and all of your family and pets were safe, which book would you go back inside to save?

Eh, everything is replaceable, though if I had to rank by value, it would be the hardcover Lord of the Rings volume. But I wouldn’t cry if I wasn’t able to save it.

6- Is there one book on your bookshelf that brings back fond memories?

Hmm, drawing a blank here. Not so sure about “fond memories”, but I recollect fondly on the reading of any of Murakami’s novels.

7- Find a book that has inspired you the most.

The Upside-Down Kingdom by Donald Kraybill — it fostered a desire to be a more authentic Jesus follower.

8- Do you have any autographed books?

Yes, recently, for the first time in my life — my copy of The Unbearable Wholeness of Being by Ilia Delio signed by the author at a conference I attended this month.

9- Find the book that you have owned the longest.

A Russian language textbook or Finite and Infinite Games by James Carse.

10- Is there a book by an author that you never imagined you would read or enjoy?

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami — not a big fiction reader, but I enjoyed this, and it propelled me to read more Murakami, including The Wind-up Bird Chronicle and Kafka on the Shore (which I deemed better than 1Q84).

On Education and Libertarian Lunacy

Levied here, on my hastily composed (and unable to edit Tumblr posts from work site connection) response to this hipsterlibertarian riff at rare.us.

First, let me say, I am still a fan and there is a lot of common ground we share — but even if we didn’t, I still admire and respect the flowering of the rhetorical flourish. Quality bereft in just about all conservative circles and a good bit of the libertarian quarters. It’s been a joy to watch your development and success!

But on some matters, and education is one of them, the libertarian plank is indeed, sheer lunacy. And we ought to call it out for what it is, and not mince words. The premise that “government interference” is the fundamental teleological problem with education is completely baked on a blind, faulty premise that cannot be justified on any empirical, historical or logical basis.

Really. Seriously. Universal education. The germination and blooming of higher education, because “we the people” perceived great merit in the investment in the interest of a greater commonweal. For all.

If you wish to construct a counter argument, the onus is on the writer to graft a more compelling argument than uttering some libertarian aphorisms, as if it’s universally accepted unquestionable gospel.

The People’s Platform: A downer, but an essential read for the 21C

Documentary filmmaker Taylor skewers the romanticism of utopian new net heralds. That the promise of an open, democratic internet has been subverted by corporate overlords, monopolistic titans, public relations shills, and destructive wasteful advertising interests. In the process, shredding journalism (to which Taylor repeatedly refers to now as “churnalism”) and transforming the media realm into hamster wheel (my words here, not hers) where every click is measured and logged for the science of predictive marketing. Depressing, because she is correct here — though I do believe it’s not in complete entirety and that this state is due in large part to web users themselves, who are indeed attracted to this model. Saddening, because reading this confirmed my own evolving darkened view of the web, as once I had so much faith in the power of the networked web. Taylor chronicles the obscenity of pay-per-click, the wasted resources (in both money and carbon). Even noting the irony that it was government that created these modern marvels, only to witness now private corporate entities siphon all the goodness in erecting their media empires and their quest to swallow all. That this unethical conflict of interest and crass commercialism reigns in the online realm, where it be considered offensive anywhere else. In the meantime, she questions whether this is a good arrangement for creative workers, who now are relegated to compete in a winner-take-all lottery, with no security, and most not making even enough to live on. Here, it’s personal for Taylor — while she strives to adopt an objective mantle, her experiential background surfaces again and again.

Taylor, like a lot of creative professionals, feels like she can belong to neither side in the digital rights battles — that both sides error egregiously, both the media company overlords and the “everything should be free” crowd.

Knocking off a star because the text is repetitive and redundant in driving home her points, even if she conducts her take in a lustered fashion. Also, while recognizing the government creation, I didn’t see any mention that most of the tools used to create and publish web “creative” products are the result of those free software loving hippies. Yes, it’s acknowledged that a good number of F/OSS (Free/Open Source Software) developers are in the employ of for-profit corporations, so that they can put bread on the table. Though it can’t be stressed enough that most of the new media prophets wane eloquently on the greatness of the new age, but yet still draw their livelihood from traditional employers, a future that’s growing increasingly impossible for many educated and talented young (and older too) creative workers, due to this “creative destruction” hailed by such luminaries.

Some other qualms I have with her arguments (and remedy proposals):

  • Failure to distinguish between text and media (audio or video). Especially in the matter of digital rights. Yes, this meanders into “the power of plain text”, technical details of encoding scheme ownership, etc. But it is an important distinction.

  • Failure to promote the power of existing state of internet publishing. I don’t discount the criticism proffered by Taylor in transforming the open net into a click farm and even believe the moniker of “digital sharecropper” is apropos. But, consider that it is so wondrous and such a marvel that in the 21C you have the power to publish a creative work that anyone across the globe (with an internet connection) can read (or listen or view). Because, in large part, due to Tim Berners-Lee great vision. And all of those F/OSS hippies who contributed tools such as Apache web server, the WordPress blogging platform, etc…

  • 20C solutions to a 21C problem. Really need to think outside of the box here, as 20C solutions (Taylor references past initiatives that created public broadcasting, FCC stipulations on serving “public interest”, some copyright law fiddling with ponying up more money for longer copyright, software patent reform, etc.) Taylor cites European nation measures to deal with some of these issues, but still, we need to think bigger here.

But nevertheless, this is essential reading for anyone interested or concerned with where we are headed with the internet. It’s a conversation that must be conducted.

Recommended Reading List?

In response to this ask me anything response:

Now I must compose a 12 Books That Wrecked Me post!

And I actually started compiling an AZspot Reading Emporium store^H^H^H^H^Hpage.

But in the interim, I offer these previously composed lists.

Sadly, there is a post titled Five-Star Books Read in 2013 sitting in my Tumblr Drafts (yes, I know it’s almost May :(). But anyone can follow along with what I’ve read and what I’m reading presently (and seek out “five-star” books there, at least from the last few years) at goodreads.com/nauminous.

☼   ☼      ☼   ☼

newsandtrade said: Would you consider yourself a capitalist, a socialist, or something else? Also, what led you to adopt these beliefs?

I shun ALL isms. 

Especially when in rigid doctrinaire form.

If I am compelled to self-label, I would affix anarcho-xtian transnational progressive conservative. :)

What led me to adopt these beliefs?

Reading books. Some of them really wrecked me, in both good and bad ways ;(

Social Security Scaremongering and Scapegoating the Elderly

hipsterlibertarian:

To my parents’ and grandparents’ generation: Most of you are way better off than we are or—at this rate—ever will be. No matter how hard we work, we simply don’t have the economic advantages you grew up experiencing. We don’t begrudge you those benefits, but we would like the opportunity to build the kind of success so many of you did. And we can’t do that when we’re paying hundreds upon hundreds of dollars every month to subsidize your far more ample incomes.

So cut us a break. Let us opt out of dying social programs which will never benefit us. Stop driving up college costs with federal subsidies. Don’t force us to cover your health care costs when we can’t afford to cover our own.

Social security scare mongering has been a staple of libertarians and conservatives since its inception in the age of FDR (except for a brief period from Age of Eisenhower to Age of Reagan). Yet generations have passed and still, most every year, the program takes in more money than it disburses. And is projected to do so for at least another generation, just as those projections a generation ago, despite all the doomcasting then too. The same arguments were made then as now.

It’s now possible for someone to have spent their entire working life believing that Social Security would not last long enough for them to receive it, and now to have retired and started collecting benefits. This belief has been prevalent at least since the early years of the Reagan Administration when it was pushed hard by David Stockman, and I’m going to date it to the first big “reform” of the system in 1977. Someone born in 1952, who entered the workforce in 1977 at the age of 25, would now be turning 62 and eligible to collect Social Security. I’m betting that, in 20 years time, when the 1952 cohort reaches their average life expectancy, having enjoyed their full entitlement to benefits (assuming no ‘grand bargain’ intervenes) that the belief will be just as prevalent

Meanwhile, the nation, in the aggregate, doubled its per-hour productivity in the last 50 years. And productivity, by even the most sober estimates, will grow by a third or 50% over the course of the next couple generations.

Next, I don’t buy that parents and grandparents are “way better off”. Yes, it’s a tough economic stretch now, until we come to grips with systemic and structural metamorphosis to the economic system in the wake of advances in technology, automation, computing, and globalization. Some elderly folk do enjoy a comfortable state of living, with an ample stockpile of wealth — however, for a majority of elderly Americans, social security comprises the bulk of their income.

Finally, “let us opt out” is cover gloss for the true libertarian telos — to rollback the 20th century and return to the realm of 19th century Dickensian times. Let’s squash these safety net programs and let the old folk die in streets. Let them eat dog food!

The audacity astounds — let’s blame old people for all the economic woes. Perish the thought of requiring the grotesquely rich to pony up a few more dollars. Or hitting up financial overlords that continue to reap windfalls. Instead, keep striving for the libertarian dreamscape of dismantling the commons, privatizing and funneling even more into the trough of the already monstrous beasts.

Adventures in Missing Jesus, Volume XXV

sds:

“The defense for Fundamentalists’ obsession with homosexuality is the Bible, which they claim to read literally. If this was true, they might notice the words “poor” and “poverty” appear 446 times and that “wealth” is mentioned in 1,273 verses, rarely positively. Only five or six passages discuss homosexuality, though nearly every American can recite them, hearing each one quoted so often. If Fundamentalists fought LGBTQ equality as a hobby, after fulfilling their duty to fight poverty, they might be chastised and forgiven. They’ve revealed, though, they will abandon the poor, to condemn not only gay men and women but anyone who tolerates them. In doing so they’ve denied the very faith and savior they claim to revere. Whatever religion Fundamentalism is, it isn’t Christianity, and it’s time to revoke that label. Categorizing homosexuality, not injustice, as the greatest evil is absurd and disturbing, but it reflects a whole moral system that contradicts the essence of Christian Scripture.”

It’s Time to Stop Calling Fundamentalists ‘Christians’ (via azspot)

This quote (why bother reading the rest of it?) is a yawn-fest of red herring filled tripe. Pardon the mixed metaphor.

Wow, that’s a wallop of a substantive rejoinder. Sullen blind dismissal with overused metaphor FTW.

Volume of verses is hardly the primary indication of a particular topic’s importance. The word “Trinity” doesn’t appear in the Bible at all, yet it’s one of the core doctrines of Christianity. Jesus talked more about hall and damnation than he did about love.

First, you do realize that there are a lot of Christian groups and denominations that hold to nontrinitarianism. I don’t personally subscribe to such a view, but I’m not going cast them out of the Jesus fold. Furthermore, many, perhaps most, Christians have little or no understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity. And they couldn’t care less.. Myself, I struggle with all the tumult over the fine details of trinitarian aspects, like the perichoresis or why the schism erupting rancor over the Filiolique clause. But the words (and deeds) of Jesus on loving your neighbor, loving your enemies, is a constant drumbeat in the gospel of Jesus.

Second, flat out, Jesus did not talk “more about hall and damnation than he did about love”. If we want to get technical, he really didn’t really speak of “hell” as it is theologically constructed by contemporary fundamentalists and conservative Christians — allusions to Hades or Gehenna are translated to “hell”, and while some Christians equate these words to a state of eternal conscious torment, there are other theological streams that hold to a different scripture backed interpretation. But even if we grant those verses, there still are no more than a dozen or so in the four gospels. In Paul’s letters, Gehenna or “hell” is never used, though “Hades” is referenced a few times (but translators believe “death” or “grave” is a more appropriate term). But that’s being generous, and equating every admonition from Jesus on justice and judgment as an exhortation on hell is a twisted way of viewing “good news”.

But I only see a couple of times where Jesus talks about hell — in Matthew 25 and the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. In both, the rich (or the goats) are judged for neglecting the poor, the hungry, the sick, the imprisoned, etc..

People with a retributive spirit tend to see judgment through the perspective of punishment. But “judgment” may not be as reciprocity minded, tit for tat inclined fallen human worldly sensibility confines it, but more so in the vein of destruction of evil side of which humankind chooses to elevate and that God chooses to kill, not the person. We can go back and forth ad nauseam on whether it is punishment, annihilation, or cleansing of evil — as there is scriptural support for all these views.

That said, Jesus was pretty clear about his mission:

God’s Spirit is on me;
he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free,
to announce, “This is God’s year to act!”

Later, Jesus response to disciples of John the Baptist, that inquire if Jesus truly is “the one” they’ve been expecting:

The blind see,
The lame walk,
Lepers are cleansed,
The deaf hear,
The dead are raised,
The wretched of the earth
have God’s salvation hospitality extended to them.

Sounds like a message of love to me, not one of hell and damnation.

Those are just the highlights, but the words (and actions) of Jesus throughout the gospels are replete with love — are you going to tell me that the Sermon on the Mount is about hell and damnation, and not about loving your neighbor (and enemy)?

However, on the other hand, I will grant, that in some respects, simply tallying up scripture verses doesn’t represent the totality of the biblical scorecard ;) That some matters go to the root, are more fundamental and leave other parts of scripture sublated. Here’s Jesus again:

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had left the Sadducees speechless, they met together. One of them, a legal expert, tested him. “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?

He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.

Love never fails. …the greatest of these is love.

Now, finally, we’ve arrived at the crux of the displeasure (honestly, while the author of the original article strikes some good points, I believe it’s above his pay grade to be kicking out those with theology he finds distasteful) — outrage over protest in treating LGBT people as full fledged brothers and sisters in Christ.

Also, Christian affirmation of human sexuality as defined by Scripture and the created order implies nothing about how they will treat homosexuals or the poor. What a jumble of polemical nonsense.

You’re blinded by your own cultural and/or traditional accommodation. You impose upon Scripture standards of your own which are not to be found there, and you accept as binding specific rules that suit you, while completely ignoring or discarding many other Biblical proscriptions and rules that you do not like. In other words, you pick and choose, and your “affirmation of human sexuality” is more a combination of social convention and prejudice, which you support by cherry picking carefully edited portions of Scripture.

Here are a few instances of “biblical teaching” on sexual relationships that most today would deem detestable:

  • no ban on men having multiple wives, though it’s recommended that bishops should have only one wife [1 Tim 3:2]
  • David and Solomon and many other patriarchs had many wives, and are never criticized for it
  • concubines permitted, along with stoning to death for adultery [Deut 22]
  • death penalty is instructed for homosexual relations [Lev 18]
  • death penalty for adultery [Deut 22]
  • death penalty for being disobedient to your parents [Deut 21]
  • death penalty for sexual relations with one of your father’s wives (shouldn’t that be covered under “being disobedient to your parents” already :)) [Lev 18]
  • marriage to your dead brother’s wife is under certain circumstances compulsory [Deut 25]

The point is not to descend into absurdity but to illustrate how we have reinterpreted Scripture with new social situations.

I believe monogamy is justified on the basis that it grants for full mutual respect, loyalty, trust between covenantal entrants, and preserves the security of children. These are important Bible themes, but just like the Trinity, not actually spelled out verbatim in the Bible itself, and it needs to be worked out in just the same fashion. That Jesus teaching on universal respect, compassion, love, and justice be applied.

We really don’t need to debate the issue of the Scriptures and same sex marriage at all, given that we recognize all the many Scriptural moral rules we have rejected. Because the reason we rejected them is that they conflict with these great fundamental Biblical moral principles:

  1. Unrestricted love of neighbor — we should treat all humankind with the same concern that we treat ourselves.
  2. Unrestricted compassion — we must always have in mind the ultimate good of others, even when we are compelled to restrain or punish.
  3. Freedom from law to walk in the Spirit — all written laws should be tested that they do indeed encourage relationships of trust, loyalty, honesty, and friendship. Christ is the end of the law. [Rom 10:4]

The tragedy of fundamentalism is that it is so utterly unbiblical. It insists on the literal truth of a few selected passages, neglecting or twisting the interpretation of many others. A truly Bible-based faith would see that fallibility of the human understanding of divine revelation and the many different human perspectives on divine revelation, even as it corrects that understanding and moves us on to new imaginative visions of the divine. What the Bible teaches, at least to Christians, is that we should take responsibility for our own moral decisions, always being motivated by the basic Christian principles of the self-giving, agapistic love and thew new and joyous life of freedom that is to be found in Christ Jesus. That is Biblical morality, and we should never try to disguise it by hiding behind a few written rules that often show the limitations of past moral perceptions that the Spirit calls us to leave behind.

afloweroutofstone said: On the subject of "in fifty years, maybe 20% of people will have jobs"; this is referred to as the Luddite Fallacy. Although technology can destroy older jobs, it can also raise productivity and create jobs in other places. For example, telephones put the telegram industry out of business, but the phone industry became a powerhouse of its own. If technology led to long-term rises in unemployment, the industrial revolution would have made us all unemployed.

jakke:

Ooooh, it’s “referred to” in the passive voice as a capital-F Fallacy! Thanks for this anecdote, but I’m going to suggest that the current technological change (where more-routine jobs are replaced by computers) differs qualitatively from previous technological change (where low-skilled jobs are replaced by high-skilled jobs and complementary machines). Here’s some supporting quantitative evidence with plenty of helpful citations.

It’s become commonplace for skeptics to discount economic concern over technological advancements displacing workers, by brandishing the oft-cited bromide about the Industrial Revolution as a counter-lesson. (And also, frequently, by lobbing the way off the mark “luddite” smear.) But this charge is complete folly, for so many reasons, and I’ll just briefly enumerate a few here:

  1. As jakke points out — optimists place their stock in the Historical fallacy, that the future will play out just as occurred previously.

  2. But this obscures that the Industrial Revolution was an unprecedented and unrepeated prodigious point in history. For almost the complete entirety of human history, income per person remained relatively constant. Then, post-1800, it shot up in stratospheric style. Today’s technological progress doesn’t appear anything remotely similar. This is not a controversial economic theorem — outside of a few pollyanna-ish rosy eyed dreamers, economists and historians of just about all political and philosophical stripes are in consensus here.

  3. But even if the metaphor for the Industrial Revolution is accepted, there still is a great deal obfuscated in the picture, ironic too, especially as the cheerleaders for this type of thinking are typically laissez-faire libertarian loving louts — that a great deal of social upheaval beset nations gripped by the Industrial Revolution. It’s effects were far reaching, leading to measures like public education, social safety nets, massive public investments in infrastructure, transportation, energy, communication systems, etc. And the epoch to epoch transformation was not a smooth one, with blood and bodies spilt.

  4. I could write a lot lot more, but let me conclude this short missive with the most galling truth — the blind faith that all shall be well is based on nothing more than hand waving a trust me pronouncement. By those who in one breath exhort all the merits of science, industry, markets, etc., but in the next hold up merely mindless allegiance that things will just work out. In a sense, it is true — ultimately, our culture and society either adapts and thrives, or disintegrates and tears down. But that’s certainly not a case for political quietism.

Evangelical Pastor Seeks “Third Way” on Church and LGBT

My review of A Letter to My Congregation: An evangelical pastor’s path to embracing people who are gay, lesbian and transgender in the company of Jesus

Vineyard Church (Ann Arbor, MI) pastor Ken Wilson reconsiders his evangelical church posture toward LGBT community in a book-lengthy reflection. Wilson wrestles with how to strike a “third way”, one that does not pledge full allegiance to either “love the sinner, hate the sin” (which means exclusion) and “open and affirming” (this is, “inclusion”, without total sanction and approval). Wilson, in each chapter, wrestles both with scriptural admonitions and the Holy Spirit. Though he is honest in affirming that aversion to “open and affirming” is based in large part the fear of being branded a “heretic” by evangelical cohorts.

Wilson addresses the biblical clobber passages fairly well, and attempts to bring to light the nuances of biblical culture and language that’s either glossed over or totally ignored by traditionalists on this matter. He’s not a biblical scholar but he cites the takes of various qualified scholars. Still, I thought the treatment was a tad incomplete, though a more comprehensive study would have bloated this, and transformed into something different than A Letter to My Congregation. Again, his approach is more aligned in arguing for a “third way”, to treat this matter as a “disputable”, not as a schism triggering agent, as seems to be in so many churches. I believe it a commendable act, and one likely to inflict derision from both sides, as what typically and tragically besets peacemakers in their quest.

A bit of the chapter content is redundant. And Wilson omits, or is just unaware, historical themes and truth that would buttress his “third way” case. Particularly, the whole Victorian model of marriage more representative of cultural mores of those peering in than actually reflected in the ancient texts. He touches upon this very briefly, but a stronger emphasis should be made about the patriarchal, misogynistic nature of not only ancient cultures, but of most of church history. That the sands of what constitutes marriage are shocking to modern sensibilities, including traditionalists who zero in on a narrow romanticized slice of history as a model for “the ages” to revere. Also, was disappointed not to see more pushback on biblical sexual ethics, from the work of bible scholars like Walter Wink and/or others.

But, on the whole, this a worthy, heartfelt account of Wilson wrestling with this issue and wanting to be true to the way of Jesus.

10 Books That Have Stayed With You in Some Way

Rules: In a text post, list ten books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take but a few minutes, and don’t think too hard — they don’t have to be the “right” or “great” works, just the ones that have touched you. Tag ten friends, including me, so I’ll see your list… Tagged by foulmouthedliberty.

Could have sworn I did this recently, but culling through my archives only brings up: 10 Books That Changed My Faith and A Book Lover’s Survey. Maybe it was in a comment on a blog elsewhere though I did scour my Disqus history and struck nothing.

Anyhow, here goes (again):

  1. Godel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter
  2. The C Programming Language by Dennis Ritchie, Brian Kernighan
  3. Endless Enemies by Jonathan Kwitny
  4. The Upside Down Kingdom by Donald Kraybill
  5. The Secret War Against the Jews by John Loftus
  6. The Great Turning by David Korten
  7. The Powers that Be by Walter Wink
  8. The Mystery of Christ by Robert Farrar Capon
  9. The Alphabet Versus the Goddess by Leonard Shlain
  10. The Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler
  11. Otherland (series) by Tad Williams
  12. The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil
  13. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  14. Infamous Scribblers by Eric Burns
  15. The Evolution of Consciousness and the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes

Oops, I exceeded the mark of 10. Oh, no, I’m not trimming it down!

Now time to tag: @foulmouthedliberty, @squashed, @kohenari, @churchfu, @hipsterlibertarian, @cognitivedissonance, @nothingman, @silas216, @redcloud, @anotherword, @blissandzen, @truth-has-a-liberal-bias (and it appears that the ‘@’ feature does not work in Markdown mode ;)

Tumblr Bookmarklet Update?

It appears that the Tumblr Bookmarklet has changed and Markdown is not an option for posting via bookmarklet anymore.

Is this an oversight or a purposeful act?

Tumblr Follow Friday for 8 March 2013

Here be a post generated from my “Following 1,396 blogs” Tumblr dashboard page…

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New Tumblr Editor Glitches with Markdown

In with the new, out with the old.

Problem is, it seems that the newfangled ways, though they appear more pleasant to the eyes, do not add to efficiency of accomplishing the task. Here, the new Tumblr editor is less responsive, hides features and degrades the editing function.

image

Blockquote text portions are butchered.

Perhaps it is just Markdown users that are negatively affected, but I have seen other complaints about the new editing panel too. Now, I understand the WYSIWYG lure, but I prefer WYSIWYM (What You See Is What You Mean). Though here, I am not even presented with such a view frame nor is there an option anymore to “preview” a post.

Also, there seems to be added finger taps to the process — select from a pulldown, then tap the button again if you are not enacting the default action (which for a great deal of posts, is not the “default” for many Tumblr users).

Also, as you type your post, and your input content grows larger, you are compelled to page up to invoke menu options (as opposed to a true “text box” that scrolls only the textual content).

A step backwards.

Again, like with the botched queue “enhancements” (though I am grateful that it’s operational with a dearth of glitches now) that befuddle me how this could have been implemented — seemingly blind to the perspective to a heavy, active user of the Tumblr service, developers seem to have a narrow view of how Tumblr is used.

First it was Skitch that butchered its polished screen capture app (after the Evernote acquisition). Then Sweet Tomatoes entered meltdown mode by cratering its bustling restaurants with its flawed FK (Field Kitchen) concept that has its loyal patrons stampeding away. Now, Tumblr… :(

"The Media" Bogeyman and Other Assorted Remonstrances

Yesterday, during a lunch time drive, I unplugged the iPhone from the car stereo jack and tuned in to a dose of Rush Limbaugh. I caught Rush in mid-bloviation, putting a positive spin on the recent polling reports showing Romney dips in swing states — proclaiming that given all the institutional weight of society behind Obama, it is simply amazing that the presidential race is still so close. That “The Fed” is behind Obama. “Hollywood” is in Obama’s corner. And, of course, “the Media”.

That nameless, faceless, sinister blob termed “the Media”. Just like “the Man”. A nefarious cabal orchestrating its way via sock puppets. Yes, I am painting a cartoonish depiction, but so often, that is exactly how the term is used. Them, the powers that be, that lord over us little ones. Growing up, in family circles, drizzled in to such talk would also be refrains about “the Jews”. “Speech” that would incite me to boil inside with rage and often respond in anger.

True, that for the modern, pre-internet media age, there was a “manufactured consent”, a regulated space delimiting a agreed upon consensus range of acceptable political ideas. Communists and leftists shunned as well as fringe extremists on the right. A general consensus on the exceptional greatness of America and heralding of Americans as the “good guys” that saved the world from darkness. A collective belief in the wholesale benevolence of capitalism, sprinkled with dollops of liberal dissent at intermittent intervals.

But in the post-factual Age of the Internet, it is not possible to pigeonhole “the Media” as such a consensus entity. Because “the Media” now is squarely defined by the viewer beholding. Political news consumers seek out sources that affirm what they already believe, and there now exists an inexhaustible supply eager to serve up such fare. Which accounts for the prevalence of all those who believe President Obama is Satan incarnate, a Kenyan Muslim Socialist Dictator King who wishes to usurp America’s greatness and cede sovereignty to U.N. demons who worship Moloch. They believe as such because the media that informs their worldview fills their minds with such suppositions and suspicions. Even if allusions are deftly crafted with uncertainty. But, no mistake, it is fear driven message casting. So, “the Media” is now just a screen to fill with whatever we wish it to portray.

And, as media analysts have heralded, the web has segregated us into online spots where the like minded convene. Especially in conservative locales where tribalism is the highest treasured value, and deviance to the party line is treated with name calling, derision and then the banstick is applied. In earlier times, before the explosion of blogs and social media, online discussion sites were often less homogenous. Well, except for the dividing line of technical proficiency that precluded many in the mass public from participating. But in this more primitive age, there was more of a “free speech” ethos in effect. Experiencing having a comment deleted was jarring, because unlike today, it truly felt like being silenced. In 2012, you can create a Tumblr blog (or WordPress/Blogger blog, Twitter, etc.…) in 5 seconds and sound off. So, in essence, most online communities are hives of like minded sorts, which makes for frequenting an exercise in reinforcing preexisting views.

One ubiquitous internet community, however, features a confluence of political perspectives. That be Facebook. There, your family, friends and coworkers “mingle”, er share a news stream where divergent political shots scroll. Perhaps this is a personal quirk, but most of my Facebook friends don conservative stripes. Generally, I refrain from political engagement on the platform, but occasionally I venture into political post land.

This week, I was “unfriended” by someone for posting a dissenting reply to a “Obama is a Muslim” post. I have been “unfriended” before as a result of political dialectic, but those never fazed me much, as the “friends” were those I did not know well (in real life) or loose family relationships. But this one stung a bit, as it someone I know well. Someone that belongs to the same church and has been a part of a church study group that I lead, And family ties in other ways too. And getting “unfriended” in Facebook is even more “silencing” than the old message board censoring. It seems that once “unfriended”, you are unable to see any comments by that individual, which makes for bizarre comment streams where you can read others conversing with a phantom “name” for which you see no comments by.

Sad, for if we stop speaking to each other, it denotes a lift on the escalator of hostility.

Hell is DirecTV Customer Service

We have been DirecTV customers for nearly 15 years. Throughout most of our satellite television subscription history, it has been a mostly pleasant experience.

Until recently.

In a campaign to cut living expenses, as a preliminary step to cutting the cord altogether, we have been “attempting” to rollback all the television extras — most prominently, the NFL Sunday Ticket package, the NHL Center Ice package and some other superfluous fees (like a $5.99 monthly one for “Protection Plan”) I was not even aware was being frizzed out of my pocket. I say “attempting”, because DirecTV has ensured that process is to be circumnavigated in a most Byzantine fashion.

It seems that signing up for services is as easy as a click, but a requests for discontinuing are met with a series of phone calls, calls interrupted by mistransfers, lengthy hold times, and failure to achieve what seemingly the customer service representative assented — a month, two months, etc.… later, the same packages and fees are on the billing statement. I was unable to inform an agent to cancel X, Y and Z — each request needed to be funneled to a another entity (and frequently, with multiple bounces and missteps along the way) that was actually authorized to curtail that particular service or package.

Whine, whine, whine. Yes, #firstworldproblems :D

But just be aware, when dealing with DirecTV (or other businesses that employ the same tactics), that the ease in which new packages are activated is matched by the eventual hassle encountered when the desire to unsubscribe surfaces.

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