Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mostly offline (but watch for Book Notes -- and bigger things)

In the grand scheme of things, elections are an arbitrary, overrated chronological dividing line – but this month’s are as apt a time as any to make good on my long-threatened hermitage from the Net.  I’ll mostly stop blogging, Facebook-updating, Facebook-group-participating, tweeting, and even e-mailing for now – except to notify people about once a month of the latest Dionysium event (and probably to review a book or film once in a while).

I won’t be idle – on the contrary, the times demand more focused attention on larger-scale projects (articles, ghostwriting, etc. – to which I’m happy to add something FOR YOU if you pay me).  If I am to rescue this culture, I must perform labors grander even than the ones imagined by those who preceded me in the Crif Dogs bathroom seen in the adjacent photos.

Here are a dozen things to consider in my quasi-absence:

(1) My e-mail address remains the same (first name last name at Earthlink dot net) despite my profile picture getting another update, as seen above.  I will try to bombard you less but will still be receiving and will probably notice messages via that medium faster than others. 

(2) I have learned important things during my comparatively short two years of using Facebook and Twitter, lessons about linearity and argumentation and how both break down under the pressures and speed of modern media, lessons applicable to incipient new projects.  It probably also makes it easier to follow a movie like Cloud Atlas (which I liked – as I did Skyfall, though both got negative reviews from contrarian Kyle Smith). 

Still, having been joke-exiled from a notorious anarcho-capitalist Facebook page in the past few days makes this seem like a good time to quit all Facebook pages and warn the world that it may take me a while to respond to messages and requests sent via that double-edged, loved/hated medium. 

(3) Without YouTube, I would not have been able to relive the moment in the Young Americans for Liberty debate I moderated in which New Jersey professor Grover Furr said he had yet to find “one crime” that Stalin had committed.

(4) And yet, if irked libertarians tried to get him fired for saying that, one other libertarian would likely defend him (and anyone threatened with expulsion from a publicly-funded, First Amendment-bound university for unpopular ideas), namely Greg Lukianoff, who warns against campus censorship in his new book Unlearning Liberty, all proceeds from which go to the speech-defending group FIRE.

(5) I’m just pleased I was invited back on the little Web show Rew and Who last week. 

(6) I’ll try to cut back on sending wacky links via e-mail, too, but I noticed my friend Scott Nybakken doing so a bit more than usual and citing my example, so my legacy lives on.  Of course, maybe none of us should send wacky e-mail messages now that the government – starting with the Democratic Senate – wants to read our e-mails without warrants. 

If they do so, I would imagine there will be many meetings in the near future involving government bureaucrats saying, “Why, these people hate us!  The ingrates!  What’s wrong with them?”

(7) As some of my Facebook pals subversively-comedically “troll” each other, I ask them to remember and honor the world’s most important troll religion, now over thirty years old: the Church of the SubGenius, whose out-of-the-blue ad on MTV startled the world twenty years ago.  (It can’t be considered the first troll religion, though, not if that ancient snake-puppet cult Alan Moore follows counts.  Rev. Jen Miller’s Troll Museum is a totally separate phenomenon.)

(8) I blogged almost daily (about two days out of three, really) from the Republicans’ ouster from Congress after the 2006 elections through the re-election of Obama in 2012.  The one encouraging thing I’ll say about that span of time is that it began with the Republicans barely aware that they were entering a period in the wilderness (with the wars continuing and the financial crisis on the horizon) but ends with many of them talking about libertarianism as a possible route out (and about a possible Rand Paul 2016 presidential run – not that any one politician or election can solve our problems, as even some liberals may now realize, despite four years of truly shocking, self-abasing hero-worship on their part). 

A recent New Hampshire state legislature election – between two roommates from the libertarian Free State Project – is more the sort of election I’d like to see in the future, if indeed we must have elections at all.  The anarchist defeated the minarchist, calling him a statist. 

And he’s right, you know.  Civilized people do not govern one another.  I must make a more concerted effort in the years ahead to teach mainstream Americans the basics of anarcho-capitalist thinking, which is, after all, just basic commonsense economics. 

On the bright side, I finally realized that Obama reminds me of Tuvok (not Tupac), and there’s some reassurance in that.  At least we are sometimes oppressed by geeks.

(9) Not only am I so geeky that I’ll still be posting Dionysium and Book Notes entries here while mostly “offline,” the truth is that I already know what the theme of next month’s book entries will be.  So be here for my “Month of Dogmatism,” as we look at an article on that subject from Critical Review plus the books The Righteous Mind and the olive-branch-extending Free Market Fairness. 

(10) You could read Jean-Paul Sartre’s blog on the days when mine is inactive.  

Hey, it’s funnier than Andy Borowitz.  Everything is.  The only way I can explain the complete absence of jokes from his pieces is that he is actively hoping people will mistake his “parodic” news pieces for real ones, providing the dupes with additional ammunition against the Republicans.  Facts don’t matter much to the left anyway.  Why should they matter to a man falsely claiming to be a humorist, or to his readers?  One would hope the absence of both facts and jokes mattered to his editors, but apparently that is not the case. 

(11) Since my real message is basic econ and its implications for individual freedom (and why government must be abolished), you could also occupy yourselves with CEI’s great six-minute I, Pencil: The Movie, based on the classic essay (itself reportedly inspired by meditation in turn influenced by LSD culture) explaining the unplanned yet interconnected nature of a market economy.

If people do not take basic econ lessons like that to heart, this really will be the fate of the nation – and your mindless love of labor unions will not trump math.

I question whether even Nobelists need to know math, given Krugman’s recent praise of the days of 91% tax rates.  And so I need to consider more seriously how best to explain to a credentials-worshiping world that I do in fact have a better understanding of economics than this Nobel Prize winner.  (Let the rich make money, then take almost all of it away?  Sure, why not?  Can’t see how that would affect incentives at all or might have proven unsustainable in the long run if it had endured more than a few years, Paul.  You’re a genius.  Why do the evil Republicans keep mounting their irrational attacks on you?  They must know there are no other countries, such as Canada, to which a businessman could easily flee these days – more easily than ever, in fact – if threatened with 91% tax rates.) 

(12) They can put you in jail for breaking their laws.  They can’t (yet) jail you for changing your mind.  Do it. 

If you are a liberal (in the modern, welfare-statist sense): change this very moment. 

And if you are a libertarian or conservative, do not despair over the next four years.  We are seeing some phenomena that are better than a Romney presidency likely would have been.  Not only is Rand Paul talked about as a new force to be reckoned with in the Senate (pushing spending cuts, drug legalization, fewer wars, and immigration reform) but we have petitions from multiple states urging secession.  Fantastic.  Given our federalist system, that may be our best hope anyway.

And there’s the whole Petraeus/Middle East multilayered mess to watch.  Who ever would’ve thought we’d enter this President’s second term asking how much he knew about the al Qaeda attacks of September 11 and when – and what the role of the FBI and the CIA were in the disaster?

And if you are a believer in the paranormal, you can also change your mind.

The second most important thing I learned about humanity from spending a lot of time online over the past couple years (after learning that people have a lot of stupid political arguments) is that no amount of terrible YouTube videos, no matter how blurry and Rorschach-blot-like, will ever convince people that we lack good evidence for Bigfoot or UFOs.  Luckily, just as the James Randi Educational Foundation offers a prize of over $1 million for any demonstration of paranormal powers and finds (surprise!) no takers, Spike TV now offers $10 million for irrefutable Bigfoot evidence (as a promo for their new show 10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty).  Not holding my breath.  (I will also offer you $20 trillion for evidence there’s a God.)

But why waste time with imaginary nonsense when the real world is so rich with phenomena like these back-scratching “dancing” bears?  The Web has also taught me that bears are surprisingly good at waving.  So maybe there is more to life than cat videos, and now I must go live it.

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