Tuesday, July 21, 2020
Friday, June 26, 2020
While I've been sitting here, waiting for the government's digital vivisectionists to turn the internet loose, I've had ample time to ponder the nature of information and attempts to control it. Mostly, I've been trying to figure out why any of this is necessary. Not in some above-the-fray moralistic way, mind you, but in a much more practical sense. Why would any sophisticated authoritarian body rest so much of its control on such a clumsy, antiquated tool when it has access to far more elegant techniques?
There's nothing new about censorship, especially here. The First Emperor's campaign against Confucianism - now known as the "Burning of Books and the Burying of Scholars" - was, if not the first instance of book burning in history, certainly the first of its scale. Ever since, there's been a simple understanding among despots the world over - if an idea threatens your order, then you can block that idea from public view.
I'm saying "ideas," but a better term might be narratives. Contrary to popular reckoning, the facts never speak for themselves - a fact can't say anything other than its own name. A fact gains meaning when it is linked to other facts and these links are interpreted. This is the narrative, and it's how humans think about nearly everything in life. We tell ourselves stories to understand how the world works.
Sunday, June 14, 2020
Thursday, April 25, 2019
Amazon wouldn't let me post it. Did you know that Amazon requires you to have made a minimum of $50 worth of purchases in the previous twelve months before you can review anything? I didn't. And I hadn't - I don't use Amazon that much.
I didn't need anything, so I had some stuff shipped to my parents just to get me over that threshold. Insane? Well, so was liveblogging The Second Mountain, but I did that. Then I went to post my review. Again, Amazon wouldn't let me post it. I went to bed, woke up - still rejected.
I sent a message to Amazon technical support, and they promised to get back to me in 24 hours. 24 hours passed, and nothing had changed. I sent another message.
24 more hours passed. I sent another message, and they promised that they would make the needed adjustments.
24 hours. 48 hours. 72 hours. Finally, a week after I finished the book, they unlocked the right to leave a review. Fantastic.
At this point I really don't give a shit. I don't really care about the review any more, it's bullshit, and the book is getting a lot of critical reviews - for real critical, not one-star bombing (those have been deleted already) or three-star "Brooks is brilliant, but this isn't quite his best work" nonsense. No, I'm talking fairly detailed breakdowns like the one I wrote.
But the top review? The top review is positive, and I can't abide by that. So even though it's irrelevant, and even though I can't bring myself to care all that much, I decided to post it. Why not? And if I'm going to post it after all of this, I want to be on top just for a moment. So please, head on over and vote this bastard helpful. Do it because it is helpful and not because it's me. Do it because it doesn't matter, but it's satisfying to jab a blowhard in the eye, if only virtually.
Monday, April 15, 2019
So let's take a moment to talk about David Brooks, he of the Aspen Institute's #WeaveThePeople, as his new book is coming out soon - and oh, what wonders I've already found even before my copy came in. 1/13— Andrew Johnston (@heartland_east) April 15, 2019
You will want to read the whole thread.