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Echoes and Mirrors » blogging

Archive for the ‘blogging’ Category

Yelling at the Grass For Being The Wrong Shade of Green

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Americans Should Be Able to Sell Stuff Without a Permit

The normal mindset among U.S. officials is that prior permission should be required to sell legal goods to a willing buyer. Kids selling lemonade on the street are shut down. A Missouri man has been fined $90,000 for selling rabbits (he made about $200). In Illinois, an artisan ice cream maker is being shut down for lack of a dairy permit. Manuel Winn was arrested, handcuffed, and booked for selling magazines door-to-door without a permit. A Maryland mother of three was arrested for selling $2 phone cards without a license. Lots of municipalities are going after food trucks. A group of Louisiana monks had to go to court to win the right to sell simple wooden caskets to consumers.

Hey now, if papa government doesn’t get his cut then these so-called entrepreneurs are doing a disservice to America, obviously. And bigger companies/corporations are easier to get bigger cuts from. When it comes to forcing businesses to follow regulations all these little businesses become a burden on the bureaucracy. Government loves big-business, because big business funds campaigns and is willing to pay the government all sorts of regulatory fees to stay off their backs.

I just finished reading Milosz’s The Captive Mind, and I’m reminded of a frightening section of that book recounting the way the totalitarianism of Stalin’s communism couldn’t abide by even one person being in business for themselves. Only here we have the government insisting that every single business transaction be closely monitored and shut down if it doesn’t meet their exacting standards, not crushed/killed. This is what libertarians really mean when they say we need deregulation in business:

These needless, onerous regulations would be objectionable at any time. But they’re particularly problematic when many Americans find themselves unemployed, needful of income, and thrust into the position of doing what they can to get by. That may mean a series of garage sales, or selling fruit from a backyard tree, or making a craft to offer for sale on the street, or going door-to-door offering handyman skills, or any number of other informal businesses. We’re making things harder on the least advantaged among us, and some are forced to take more social welfare because laws prevent them from making a living on their own.

This isn’t a jeremiad against all government regulation. Should commercial airline pilots be required to have a license? Sure. Are zoning restrictions sometimes legitimate? Of course. But is society really going to suffer if lemonade vendors, casket makers and purveyors of $2 phone cards sell their wares without permission? The default should be that free citizens can engage in commerce with one another, sans any prior restraint by federal, state, or local governments. It’s time to deregulate.

It’s not a matter of everything being a total free-for-all, but nobody should have to ask permission to go into business for themselves if said business has no repercussions on others. This is one of the biggest ways people have confused libertarianism. That Salon publishes articles like “Why libertarians apologize for autocracy” doesn’t help. Of course, Roderick Long made a very concise and clear rebuttal of the bizarre misinterpretation of libertarianism by Lind:

One reason for Lind’s conflation is that he automatically translates being anti-democracy into being pro-autocracy — because he assumes that the only alternative to democracy is autocracy. But in fact there is a third option; rather than the many dictating to the few or the few dictating to the many, what libertarians seek is a world where nobody is in a position to dictate to anybody — or at least to get as close to that situation as possible. (It might be argued that such a system actually has a better claim to the term “democracy” than those regimes that typically receive that label.) For anarchist libertarians, this means replacing the state entirely with networks of voluntary association; for minarchist libertarians, it means structuring the machinery of government in such a way as to make it as difficult as possible to abuse.

In other words, libertarians don’t oppose democracy (in the conventional sense) because they hanker after autocracy; they oppose democracy because it is too much like autocracy.

And even this point assumes, generously, that existing democracies really are majoritarian. As many libertarians have argued, the logic of monopoly government and special-interest capture explains why real-life “democracies” tend to be plutocratic oligarchies in democratic trappings.

There you go: criticism of democracy, in a quick youtube video. Obviously, that means I favor autocracy because I don’t think that democracy works justly. I think many naysayers of libertarianism (as Roderick points out in the linked article) are simply making an either-or fallacy. There aren’t only two options, but the one advocated by the left libertarians is so mindblowingly unheard of that most people dismiss it before they even hear an explanation.

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The Spam

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Since I haven’t been posting a whole lot lately, the spam has cut back as well. But they’re still at it. The anti-spam plugins that come with WordPress seem to be doing a heck of a job, though, so you won’t actually see any of their cheeky messages.

What do they think of the readers here, whom they are presumably trying to promote their wares to? At the moment, as a demographic, you look like this:

  • You need pills. Tons of pills.
  • You have erectile dysfunction.
  • You like to ski.
  • You need furniture.

I’m glad that spammers hold us here at Echoes and Mirrors in such high regards. It’s actually a bit of an upgrade from last year, when they were spamming with dog porn. And other assorted porn. It was actually more porn than pills then, actually. Yet the pills won out. Specifically, we need Tramadol and Valtrex. This does not surprise me in the least.

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Goodbye Facebook

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

I did it. I took the leap and deleted my facebook profile.

It’s not nearly as easy to do as you’d think. They make it very easy to ‘disable’ your profile. It disappears from the world at large and goes into hiding. But it’s still there, always there to mock you.

Here’s some directions on how to do it.

Why did I do it? Yes, it kept me in contact with people I haven’t seen in ages and made it easy to talk to a few people. But you know what? Even with the privacy settings maxed out, there’s still this page all about me that has possibly damaging consequences. Like all the drinking pictures that other people have posted.

For several months, every advertising agency on the planet has begun to tack little notes like “like us on facebook” to their ads. Suddenly my interests, hobbies, favorite movies, etc., weren’t just me listing some fun stuff I like. Now those ‘likes’ have become demographic data. The newsfeed is filled with PR notes from Popeye’s Chicken because you listed Popeye’s as something you like, or you became a fan of it. That bothered me. I use Adblock Plus on my browser, so the little ads sprinkled around weren’t there for me to see. But I was somehow, now, linked into this gigantic marketing infrastructure that I wanted nothing to do with. But I stuck around to keep in contact with people. I sanitized my page of likes, interests, and so forth, leaving just my email address and my website.

But about a month ago, I was talking to a girl in a bar, and instead of exchanging numbers, she tried to find me on facebook to ‘friend’ me on her iPhone. (I lost interest right away, but that’s beside the point.) She couldn’t find me because I made myself unsearchable, but I managed to navigate her to the page anyway. My blank, sad page told her nothing about me (my ‘wall’ had some interesting nuggets and insights into my life, though) and she seemed disappointed. And suddenly I was too. Who was I to buck the system and not list all my superficial interests for the world to see, for people to use as a measure for my personality? I disabled my account. But my fancy Android phone kept logging in for me, re-enabling the account each time.

So I deleted the facebook app. Then I hunted for a way to remove my name from the system.

It’s better this way for everyone. Really.

I’m going to be looking for a job, filling out applications for graduate school, working on getting my writing published, etc. and I don’t want everyone who googles my name to come face to face with my facebook me. They can get enough of that here (although I don’t think my name is explicitly stated anywhere on this website, it’s not hard to connect the dots). And there is more depth. It’s not just a list of movies I like (Casablanca! Inception! Yes, I’m a good guy like that).

I do still have a Linkdin account, but I haven’t bothered with it in ages. I tweet (which is now locked and I took my surname off for similar reasons). Drunken facebook posts and tweets are a liability. And they’re too short to be explained easily.

What I want now is a single point of access to the internet-me. That I run. Without the interference of marketing monkeys. If somebody wants to get a hold of me, they can e-mail me. Or call me. Or make some other genuine effort to actually contact me. I’m done with it.

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Oh hey, I have this blog thing, don’t I?

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

Life has been just a little too hectic to keep up with this, but I’ll get back into the groove sooner or later. I’m done with my summer classes and I’ll be taking all sorts of Literature survey courses. This should provide me with at least some material. Right now, I’m fed up with politics, have resigned myself to just accept how shitty pop culture is and haven’t even applied myself to much beyond getting drunk and making fumbling passes at girls. Also: watching crappy SyFy channel offerings. It’s slowly ruining my taste for science fiction of any sort.

I don’t even know if people can leave comments here, anymore. The spam got so ridiculous that the anti-spam plugins are locked down tighter than a Thai Ladyboy on Sunday morning. And by that I mean, very tight in an undesirable way. I hope.

Anyway, here are three examples of why I hate anything I hate. You may need a stiff drink.

So, Tila Tequila bought a $250,000 Lamborgini Galardo. The flaming wreckage that we’ll see in a few months should generate the loudest, and shortest, Meh from CNN ever. If you look at those pictures, though, the only really confusing part (to me) is the crazy diaper-blouse thing she is wearing. Yes, it shows off her ample cleavage, and despite having a vague knowledge of her public life, I still find that part attractive. Now, the weird mauve diaper part? I’m not sure what to think about that. It almost makes her look like a tranny in the first picture, and ruins the Brittany cooter shot in the other.

Palin says that Obama doesn’t have “the cojones” that Jan Brewer does to take care of immigration. Also, she only believes poll numbers when they suit her. And some asshole reporter is fueling the fire and making her seem relevant when she isn’t by moving in next door. She’s still an idiot, and I’d like her to enjoy the rest of her life in relative silence, be happy with her family without bothering the rest of us. But no, apparently too many other people want to keep the fucking jester around.

And then there’s this:

Which makes me suspect that all the family-advocacy groups and internet teetotalers might be on to something about scrapping the internet and starting over. Or beating children and forcing them into wage slavery at an early age to curb this behavior. Then again, 4chan provides content that is worse by levels of magnitude (although much of that is at least entertaining). There is zero artistic merit to this. Moobies. That is all.

Fuck you, Internet. You’re not what the scientists promised me!

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Even though I’m putting a tremendous amount of work into my final projects

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

… I’ll take the time to leave this here. I’m far to the left, and could never see myself going past ‘unsavory’ (although I probably do that once every couple weeks as it is).

I’m giving a speech about libertarianism at school tomorrow – ditching the anecdotal tripe that gets so many people in trouble and focusing on the philosophical side of things. I haven’t decided whether or not I’ll go with the “we’re not stupid tea-baggers” angle or just avoid it altogether yet. Definitely going to mention taxes, drugs, anti-war and free-markets. Those are big sellers – the rest is details. I’ve been told not to mention abortion and I’m just going to leave prostitution out (although I may imply it). Really, it’s just a hodge-podge of the more compelling, simple arguments I could find.

Next week I have to perform Sinatra’s Fly Me to the Moon and Bing Crosby’s Beautiful Dreamer. It’s a small, easy crowd; ought to be a blast. After that, there is just a couple of essays to finish up and I can get back to work on Hobson’s Choice (it’s slowly returning to life).

I’ll probably be relatively silent until the first of May. Cheers!

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Dear Russian Spammers

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

Knock it off. While your attempts to hock Ambien, Zoloft and Xanex are mildly irritating, the weird spikes in my site stats that make absolutely no sense are quite irritating.

Nobody here wants your shitty illegal prescription drugs. And we can all find free porn on our own, thank you.

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I’m not surprised

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

<a href=”http://rightwingnews.com/2010/01/conservative-blogger-poll-the-2012-gop-primaries/”>But neither am I amused.</a>

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ATTN: Possible future employer, despite how cynical I may appear to be, I am an idealist.

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

In Connor's second thesis it is stated 'There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.'  Does the routine destroy our creativity or do we lose creativity and fall into the routine?  Anyway, who's up for a road trip!

It would be suicide not to follow my dreams.

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The Best of 2009

Monday, January 4th, 2010

On a lighter note than the last few posts, I’ll go ahead and call out the best of, a few worst of and other memorable moments from the year. 

Best Video Game:
Tiger Woods PGA Tour ’10. It has literally sucked entire work-weeks out of me.

Best Movie I watched in 2009:
Primer. I’m behind the times.

Best Movie from 2009:
I don’t know. Every movie I saw in the theater kind of sucked. I never saw District 9.

Best Doctor:
Doctor Wang who diagnosed my broken foot as gout.

Best Coffee:
New Moon Cafe on Broad street.

Best Television Show:
LOST. And unless J.J. Abrams does something stupid in season 6, it will most likely be next year’s best tv show again.

Best book:
I don’t get to read for fun anymore. Blood Meridian was really good though.

Best drink:
Oban single-malt Scotch Whiskey.

Most consumed drink:
Vodka & tonic

Best beer:
Dogfishhead IPA.

Most consumed beer:
PBR

Best place to get said drinks:
It’s really a tie between LimeLite and Metro. One has great people, the other has lots of good looking younger women. I live closer to the latter.

Best shirt:
The blue & white striped dress shirt that has managed not to lose any buttons or collect any tears or cigarette burns.

Best pants:
The khaki cargo pants from PacSun that I had for three years that I had to finally stop wearing because the holes got too big.

Best cigarette:
Camel Turkish Gold. All the flavor, half the harsh.

Best drug:
There isn’t a best drug. They all deserve equal love.

Best club:
Sky City for being bigger than anywhere else and cramming even more skanky college girls into one place.

Best Girlfriend:
Although 2009 was bountiful in the area of women, there were no serious relationships or ‘girlfriends’ per se.

Best Cigarettes:
Camel Turkish Gold. However, the cheapest I’ve found that are reasonably smokable are Pall Mall Blue. One gave my roommate a massive headache though. Sadly a true story.

Best New Album:
Lagwagon – I Think My Older Brother Used to Listen to Lagwagon. I really wanted to give it to Propagandhi, but the whole of Lagwagon’s album is better.

Best Blog that Fires me up into a seething rage about the U.S.:
The Agitator. Who else could do that but Mr. Radley Balko himself?

Most Memorable Attention-Whore Moment:
Balloon Boy. It was pretty amusing.

Best Sandwich:
Crawfish Po’Boy at T’Boyz Po’Boyz on Broad Street. The homemade root beer is kick-ass also.

Best Religion:
None. Always has been, always will be.

Best Laundry Detergent:
Tide with the fucking Febreeze in it. Man, even after smoking all day my sweater smells pretty good!

Best Haircut guy:
Gene at the Great Clips in West Augusta. Man he does a good job (Yo, Gene!)

Best friend:
Oh no, I’m not playing this game. Yes, it’s Marty. By a landslide for discussing politics with me regularly and being able to keep up and sometimes knowing more about current events than I do.

Best Parent:
Dad. Sorry mom.

Best web browser:
I am disappointed with all of them. Lets bring back gopher.

Best Opensource Project that made my life easier:
ZoneMinder. Too bad all computer hardware has hated me this year.

Best grocery store:
Kroger. I just like it.

Best place to make-out:
Riverwalk by the bamboo garden. Always will be.

Best investment I made this year:
Netflix. Instant streaming on the Xbox 360 has taken me to new levels of laziness. And all 5 seasons of LOST are on there.

Best morning-after line from a girl:
“I can’t believe I just slept with a Red Wings fan.” They lost, but I won.

Most-often heard morning-after line from a girl:
“I don’t normally do that.”  Of course they don’t.

Most awkward moment:
Waiting to pick someone up from the abortion clinic. Not my fault, I was just the driver, yo.

Most interesting evening:
Getting arrested.

Worst morning:
Waking up in Cell-Block E.

Worst hangover:
Kratom. It felt like my insides were decomposing. Never again.

Most interesting text message received:
“Sweet! Time to get a cold, hard speculum shoved into my meow-meow.” I deleted a much more entertaining one about anal sex much earlier in the year that I should have saved, thus disqualifying it from the running.

Neatest website I found:
couchsurfing.org

Biggest time-suck:
Mafia Wars on Facebook.

Most annoying Facebook App:
Farmville. People need to stop inviting me.

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Merry Xmas, plebs!

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Merry Christmas everyone.  I’m getting primed for New Years Eve and things will probably slow down even more around here while I sort out the issues with my web-development stuff.  Expect Echoes and Mirrors to move soon.  Also, I’m not sure if Craig has plans to post here anymore – he just started a new blog over at Written on the Stall.

My dad got me some t-shirts from smarttorso.com. One of them was the ‘life is pietzche’ shirts, which I automatically said, “that’s not how you pronounce Nietzche.” I think he’s implying that I’m a smart ass. I’m not sure.

Hobson’s Choice is coming back. Issue 5 has been recovered and I’m trying to fix the layout again. I suspect a few people will actually be quite startled by its late arrival at their doorstep (contributors, distributors). I’ve even applied for an ISSN. Seriously, it will be the most irregularly published journal of all time with years spanning between issues.

I’ll be searching for regular column (blog) writers for the new site. Details are forthcoming. Meanwhile, I’m doing everything in my power to get published elsewhere.

Drink some egg-nog and do something funny.

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