Friday, July 23, 2010

Wiederaenders: Technology, rules grow exponentially

Tim writes,

"My parents and in-laws are from the generation for which: TV was only a dream (come true); school buses were largely non-existent because farm kids hiked to school; seeing airplanes other than the WWI variety was a rarity; male teachers always wore suits, and women wore dresses - no slacks or shorts; air conditioning was a modern convenience - mostly for the rich; and WWII triggered many forms of mechanization."

Let me point out some other aspects of your parents' generation, Tim. TV was a dream come true that they simply turned over to commercial interests without a thought as to the damage it would cause for both the medium and society. Farm kids hiked to school, and not a few died on the way. Seeing airplanes other than the WWI variety was a rarity because they hadn't been invented yet. Male teachers always wore suits and women wore dresses because the pressure to conform was so intense, the women were paid a small fraction of the men's wages for the same or more work, and they both routinely pummeled the children in their charge with sticks, convinced beyond reason that it would somehow help them learn. Air conditioning was a modern convenience, mostly for the rich, and oddly enough it still is. WWII triggered many forms of mechanization, not least the mechanization of genocide, economic oppression, and nuclear war.

Tim's nostalgia for the halcyon past ignores the gulf between classes that kept the poor forever poor, the discrimination that kept everyone but white upperclass Protestant men out of any position of power, the grinding racism and sexism, the utter disregard for worker health and safety, the flu epidemics that wiped out millions at a stroke, the barbaric conquest of poor people the world over to steal their resources, and many other blindingly obvious aspects that characterized the prewar era in the US. Go ahead and live there if you like, Tim, but for gad's sake don't try to bring it back here.

This is the problem with nostalgia. Rose-colored glasses don't change anything but how you see things, sort of.

"For today's generations, the Internet and technology have changed much of what we do and how we do it." Change the word "Internet" and that was true for your parents, and for theirs, and for theirs, Tim. Along with technology, a constant in that has been increasing population pressure, the kind that makes ten motorcycles much louder than one. And that's why we have more rules.

As long as human society has existed, we've made and enforced rules of conduct, and where there are more people, there are more rules. Tim's parents chafed at new rules and were nostalgic for their mythical past, too. Rebelling against the idea of rules is characteristic of adolescence, but, thankfully, most of us grow out of that and set to work helping ensure that the rules are fair and make sense. That's called citizenship.

Conflict sells, I guess

Not long ago, in response to something I wrote in a comment on dcourier, an anonymous commenter wrote a personal attack on me -- one of a great many I've recieved over a couple of years. This time, rather than just ignore it, I posted another comment pointing it out to the editors and challenging them on whether they were enforcing their own policy. A few hours later my complaint was posted and the offending comment was taken down.

I thought this might alert the editors to the great many personal attacks that they allow through in the comments. It's important to enforce this code, since anonymous nitwits coming on and calling people names is enough to keep a lot of people with real lives from participating. But the attack level has not apparently abated. I hear and believe that the editors still often decline to post comments without indicating they have done so, leaving us in the dark about whether they're enforcing the attack ban selectively, occasionally, or not at all.

So as an experiment, yesterday evening I posted comments on eight or ten articles, simply pointing out to the editors the clear personal attacks of previous commenters. The offenders included people at both ends of the political spectrum (although those attacking people expressing rightward opinions were pretty rare), and I simply listed them by the "comment by" title. I selected only those comments that were clearly aimed at a single person as attacks and nothing else. Examples, all from yesterday's edition:

from "Hey, Honky,"
Why you keep posting is a real mystery. You are like a one trick pony with zero analysis in any of your posts. I could post on your behalf because your views are so predictable.

from "Keith T"
Phil, It sure seems like you have an opinion on everything when it comes to the town government. What have you done for your community?

from "Poor little put-put"
Poor little put-put-Putin. He's almost as bad as donkey burro or barfut t. babbler. Oh, wait, you don't suppose...? Naah, couldn't be, right?

from "Joe Pandoli"
Keep drinking that Koolaid honky.
I don't know, or care, what flavor it is, I just know it's Red.

from "NotA Cop"
Oooh! Honky Brujo! Are we feeling picked on? Boy, are you displaying your ignorance!

from "Write Right"
Mike Mike - Do you really have the ability to be a successful business owner with those poor writing skills?? I think I'd seek a little more education before I put my pitiful writing skills on public display like that. This is a classic example of a huge part of our problem in this country, folks.

from "honky brujo"
C.R. you fall for that Fox Noise stuff everytime. Grow up and check other sources before send another inane letter to the editor.

from "Just A Thought"
Wow, Honky and Christopher* sure are sensitive! They must be two of the few who still get their "gospel" from MSNBC. C.R. was just being sarcastic to make a point. The Tea Party movement sure must be worrying you two. Just a thought.

from "Brilliance to go"
Absolute brilliance Honky. As always, we can count on you to make a ridiculous, meaningless comment. Blaming others for your problems never fixes anything.

As of this afternoon none of my comments is posted, and all the attacks are still up. Other, later comments have been posted as well.

From this I can only conclude that the editors either do not define "personal attack" the same way I do, they don't care about enforcing their own policy, or they have an overriding policy that actually favors personal attacks because they think it draws more readers or increases hit rates and subsequent ad revenue.