I've mentioned before that, through a work assignment this month, I was obliged to study, digest, and speak eloquently upon one of the subjects I hate the most: American politics.
What I hate about that subject is the hang-over afterwards. It is a soul-crushing black depression that hangs on for days. I am inspecting with a microscope that which I would prefer not to look at at all. There, up close and personal, is the insanity of the United States of the 21st century. The animalist savagery. The avarice and the fanaticism. The mobs, how they clash, and how none of the mob leaders having anything to say but simian howls.
Where did we get this delusion, that we are the highest species on the planet? Only a few years ago, the subject of torture was taboo; now it's a check-box on the issues graph.
"Are you pro or anti torture?"
"Oh, I'm pro-torture, anti-choice, pro-ID (intelligent design), anti-immigrant, anti-gay-marriage."
"Oh, well, welcome to the race, glad to have you aboard."
Which candidate is best? None of them. Which party is right? None of them. Who will win? Nobody. None of us will win, we will all lose.
And then tonight, I caught - for the first time - the documentary "Jesus Camp" on TV. I haven't been so horrified since watching graphic Iraq war footage. But in "Jesus Camp" when I watched the children being brainwashed and programmed to recite and preach doctrine that dealt with ideas they were barely even old enough to grasp, I flashed back to the reign of terror that has besieged the Internet this last year, ever since the presidential candidates started tossing their hat in the ring.
Particularly at the hands of one candidate. I don't even have to name him. He has begotten the epithet "Paultard", as Howard Dean spawned the "Deaniac" four years ago, and Ross Perot inspired his own flock of Grape Nuts four years and again four years before.
The same religious zealotry. The same brutish thug tactics deployed by a mob. The same abuse and harassment. The same cheating, scamming, conniving, all rationalized as a just means to win the end which they perceive as holy. And most especially the indoctrination and brainwashing. Social news sites, it turns out, are nearly as disgustingly effective for brainwashing as a boot camp or a tent revival. Just keep a brigade ready to downvote all opposing views and upvote all the propaganda, and let the little kids tremble and roll in the aisles with the message of the spirit.
And diving back into my safe little field of technology and FOSS, what do I behold but the latest misologist* (defined here) propaganda in the field of technology: A post on "Innovation and Over Specialization", linking to the latest theory expounded in the New York Times.
Meet the "curse of knowledge". See, it turns out that the reason the willfully ignorant don't learn technology is because knowledge is evil somehow, and the only way to know anything about something is to know nothing about it at all. Oh, well, yes, and how handy. In addition to ignorance being bliss, it also qualifies you to have dominion over the Earth, and all you have to do to justify it is say so. Inspired by unwillingness to master a 52-button DVD remote, the manual to which was apparently ceremonially burned, you can come up with the "S.U.C.C.E.S." system and invent a new profession, the "zero-gravity thinker". Stupid is the new smart.
So, make space on the shelf next to Don Norman for Chip and Dan Heath. The replacement of enlightenment with blind, animal faith marches on. They came for our children and our government, and their next target is our computers.
The information age brought a great blessing to the human race, but also a great many new evils. For the tragedy is, computers do not make us smarter. Computers are only a magnifying glass to the human intellect. If that intellect is rotten, then the computer will magnify rottenness
Anyway, ignore me this week. Come back after, and hopefully I will have regained my ability to do bright and funny again.
UPDATE: Just on a side note, I am shocked and saddened to discover that a top-quality news site like Technocrat, started by no less than Bruce Perens, has degenerated into yet another retard festival just like Digg and Reddit, shortly after opening the site to user submissions. So we have more crybaby Paultard crap, and more troll wars in the comments. Didn't take long, did it?
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