Easter eggs

Only last night I was chatting with Sean of Blogonaut fame, and I mentioned something about editing…

@SeandBlogonaut My words usually end up in their natural, night-published state, typos to be found like Easter eggs in the morning.

(Me, last night.)

This morning, bleary-eyed but with the prospect of an egg-hunt in mind, I crawled out of bed telling myself even before properly awake, ‘I bet that sentence in the conclusion of last night’s post has a your/you’re malapropism’. Alas, yes! Easter egg found (and snatched away)!

I suspect my executive functions don’t work that well around midnight. I know I keep promising myself I’ll proof before publishing in the morning, yet I routinely break this promise.

Anyway, I need a coffee to go with my egg, so I’ll be off now.

I’ll just say in parting, that I take comfort in that finding an Easter egg on first getting out of bed, is a better surprise than finding something in your jocks.

~ Bruce

A new kind of blog post – Devil’s Advocate on Steroids

I’ve been known to speak my mind from time to time, and then some. To hyperbolise.

But I don’t hyperbolise like a crazy person. When I exaggerate, I know I’m exaggerating. And I’m not exaggerating with the expectation that you’ll take the exaggeration entirely too seriously.

If I told you I don’t earn a single cent, I wouldn’t expect you to go away with the understanding that I have no money. Just that I’m earning a little less than is conducive to day-to-day life. I’m assuming you aren’t stupid. Be flattered.

Hyperbole has function. It can provide humour. It can be a part of a valid and effective reductio ad absurdum, where the audience gets the point but doesn’t take the proportions too literally. Hyperbole can lead to “what if?” speculation. Hyperbole can point down the direction of the if-not-immediately-possible, at outcomes possible if people aren’t to careful.

Calling Glenn Beck a terrorist, which I haven’t done but have seen others do, is an example of the if-not-immediately-possible. And if you don’t take it too literally, and if this is conveyed in the right way, you’ll get the point. There is risk in Glenn Beck’s conspiracy-minded, revolutionary talk. Can you really exclude the possibility that one of Beck’s cultish followers, driven by Beck’s rhetoric, could do something violently stupid in the name of the revolution?

No. So you get the point. See? I knew I was right not to assume you were stupid.

Thus far though, my hyperbole has been my usual idiosyncratic self, doing what comes naturally. It hasn’t been that deliberate and much less has it been calculated.

With this in mind, I’m considering trying some Devil’s-advocate-on-steroids kind of blogging. Devil’s advocate with a rough pinch of truth, just to make it uncomfortable. Because I don’t think anyone with intellectual aspirations should be too comfortable in their assumptions. Comforting as it may seem, it’s just too careless. If you’re a thinker, you need your cage rattled from time to time. If you don’t like it, step away.

I’m going to say things that will offend some people. But people should keep in mind that I don’t literally mean what I write in these posts. At least not each and every point.

I’ll reserve the right not to disclose what points I do and don’t believe. That’s for you to work out. I’m rattling your cage.

People familiar enough with what I write will probably be able to tell a lot of what I do or don’t really mean. I’d encourage people who aren’t familiar with my line of argument to try and understand, and for those that don’t know me, not to pretend that they do. And please all, keep in mind it’s not my intent to hurt anyone – or have anyone hurt their own feelings by reading these posts wrong.

Again, if it’s too harsh, turn back. Read something else or come back to it later or just avoid my blog altogether if you want to believe that I’m that much of a dickhead. This isn’t intended as an exercise in me judging you, so I won’t be screaming victory if you leave with your tail between your legs.

If you do stay, I’d ask that you direct your questions about these ultra-hyperbolic posts either to yourself, or to other readers. And I’d ask you not to avoid questioning anything that comes to mind if you can – this is the reason I want to shake some cages. I’m not going to make it easy on anyone by removing the ambiguity, so if you ask me, don’t expect that you’ll get a straight answer.

I’ll try not to violate people’s trust in me, or at least the trust that I’ve been given. I’ll try to remember to link to this post as a kind of disclosure, but this is all the warning I’m intending to give.

It’s not an opinion piece, it’s a stimulus for discussion.

~ Bruce

Names changed to protect the innocent… And the guilty.

I’ve never blogged under a pseudonym. The closest I’ve come has been to help set up a blog for another blogger, blogging under a pseudonym.

It’s been a bit topical of late, what with Google being forced to out a blogger for defamation. Can’t say that I disapprove entirely.

On the one hand, I’ve been on the “protect the blogger” side of the argument, wherein the blogger hasn’t to my mind, used their anonymity to make false allegations about others without come-back. On the other hand, bloggers using anonymity to slag off at others, I think is cowardly and I’ve called people on it (e.g. colourful trolls like “LaVallette” and “Bourbon Boy”).

I’ve been in a bit of a bind about my own blogging practices being associated with my identity. Especially on the odd occasion when I write autobiographically.

I write under my own name and I’ve disclosed before, that I’ve…

  • Had two attempts on my life, hospitalising one of the perpetrators in the process (drug related).
  • Been 1 degree of separation from a murderer, his victim and their antics (drug related).
  • Been the recipient of oral sex in a church and not from the clergy (fun related).
  • A bunch of other stuff that I won’t bore you with.

It’s pretty candid stuff, although I’ve had to weigh it against the possibility that by knowing of my involvement (which I don’t so much mind about), possessed of certain contextual details, others may be able to find out more. Possibly dredging up things for other people who have either reformed and moved on, or who were entirely innocent to begin with but otherwise vulnerable.

With this in mind, consider that I haven’t as yet told you squat. I know a bunch of things that at the time, probably would have been of interest to the AFP. Quite some time ago that is.

No, I don’t have a criminal record. No, I wouldn’t get one if the police knew what I knew, nor would I if the activities of interest had no statute of limitations. I’m still one of the good guys, okay? And I’m not a beneficiary of course – just close enough to the action.

A number of the people of interest at the time, in as far as I know, have either reformed and moved on, or died. As for those that I don’t know about, aside from the initial bad behaviour, I’m going with the presumption of them being innocent. If they are still in the game, I don’t know anything about it. If they aren’t, I still don’t want to know – it’d mean knowing the circumstances under which they left and those may not be legal, nor particularly nice.

I don’t want to inadvertently involve myself in the solving of a potentially nasty crime, which (pun intended) was otherwise dead and buried. If I did know something like that had happened, I wouldn’t be writing about it or even this post – I’d be doing what any responsible citizen would do and contact the police myself.

On the other hand, some of my previous acquaintances that were guilty, may have already been dealt justice and wouldn’t appreciate the salt in the wound.

And that’s part of the risk when using your name. You don’t have all the facts and presenting them along with your name potentially allows another to connect your facts to theirs. Indeed, it may not even be the police, or the garden variety voyeur that you are inadvertently helping. What if I put someone in danger?

At any rate, to my estimation I know the secrets behind precisely zero unsolved murders. Sorry, I hope I didn’t excite you too much.

It’s becoming increasingly the case that I think I’d like to get some (or all) of this stuff off my chest. You have no idea what some of this shit is like – which perhaps provides justification for its publication. Alternatively, perhaps you do know and like me, you don’t find it easy to talk about – which perhaps also provides justification for its publication.

I’ve never appreciated the biographical very until recently, thinking it too self-obsessed (hah hah! look at this post!) and pointless – best to get on to what they did in life rather than them. I think perhaps I was wrong. It’s about connecting – between people of similar experience who don’t get much time to talk, and between people who just don’t get to talk.

Perhaps someone in the middle class would take their privilege just a little less for granted, stop looking at it like some kind of entitlement, if they saw just how nasty things could be for people no less deserving than them. A cynical, perhaps a tad sadistic side of myself, thinks that if my innocence was taken away as a child, it’s not entirely unfair that I rob a few grown adults of theirs.

How much weed have you seen in your life? Ever broken a bone in someone else’s body and for an instant, not been able to tell if the crack happened in your body or in theirs? How much of that meat you eat, have you had to kill for yourself? Ever had someone lay into you with a cricket bat? How many times have you had to protect a family member from violence? Times – just once in a dark alley you’ll never visit again doesn’t count.

How old were you when you killed your first vertebrate? Have you ever been tortured just to see if you would or wouldn’t crack? To see if you could be trusted? To see if you hadn’t already betrayed a secret?

This isn’t about self-pity and repressed emotions opening up to a 1990s, drum-beating-in-the-woods, new-age feelgood experience. Even if only very privately, I was confrontational about these things at the time – I didn’t exactly bottle them up.

This is about deliberate, if not very practical secrecy, possibly opening up to a rationale for discussion with safety afforded by the passage of time. Safety for yours truly, other innocents, and some of the (then) guilty.

Like a lot of Australians, I’m at odds with most of the rest of Australia. Or out-of-synch at any rate. I don’t know you the way I could and you sure as hell (doesn’t exist), don’t know me.

The not-so-secret, but not-that-great a joy I’d get out watching your blood curdle isn’t my imperative. The prospect of teasing you that I’ll eat your family, and knowing that you aren’t sure that I wouldn’t, isn’t that enticing (Dexter is Delicious – sorry). The idea of knowing that neither you nor I have even seen anything close to the worst horrors on Earth, and that laughably, some of you are still afraid, is an aside. A trivial peccadillo.

People have had it worse than me, than us. Much, much worse.

It wasn’t so long ago that the West said “Never Again”, in response to a massive failure of understanding and of will towards people who had seen the hardest times. Yet here we are, sixty odd years later and we’ve just seen a decade of to paraphrase Bill Maher, “AGAIN!” – Don’t let the refugees in! It may possibly, just possibly, threaten the privilege I enjoy to the extent that I’m going to claim it as an entitlement! How dare my entitlements be threatened! Waaaa!

Oh, the angst! Boo-fucking-hoo! Xenophobic Australia, the obscenity of your lack of empathy and sense of proportion is almost matched by that of your weakness and cowardice. And don’t get started on how great your culture is – you’re so low an “Untermensch” couldn’t use your arse as a slipper.

Frightened of refugees and you talk about greatness? Conceit!

I use invective to describe what I think of this type of frailty, because frankly I don’t have the words to curse the associated inhumanity as much as I’d like. ┬áTake it that I’d say much worse of it. I’d like my barbs to be more articulate if only to be reserved for this one purpose.

Like most of you, I’m no refugee. I’ve never seen a war zone. But I don’t take my relative safety for granted and I’ve got less to be thankful for than a lot of you. What are you complaining about?

Like you, I can’t possibly relay the horrors of a war zone the way a refugee can. Even a well versed foreign correspondent can’t do that. What would I have to be thinking?

But is it too ambitious to think that some horror stories from Australia’s own working-class backyard couldn’t act as a kind of a thin-edge-of-the-wedge – to cut into the dense sense of entitlement of at least someone’s privilege-addled mind? To reach someone not too far gone down the road from humanity, toward delusions of self-sustaining importance?

And would that make it worth it?

But then I’ve gone and blogged in my own name now haven’t I? And for just over four years now at that. Could I truly remain pseudonymous? I suspect that writing anonymously at any great length at another blog would leave my fingerprints all over it.

Can you see my dilemma?

I want to let loose. I want to challenge comforting and dangerous (dare I say it?) bourgeoisie (there, I said it) notions, not like some beret-wearing, class-tourist, undergrad snot, but as someone who’s seen a bit of sex and violence. And drugs and a few corpses (please note that I separated the sex from the corpses precisely because it didn’t happen). Someone who couldn’t call their Dad to stop it all (although upon reflection, pending justification*, I possibly could have called my Dad to have your kneecaps smashed).

On the other hand, I’ve got vulnerable people I want to and should protect. Scruitiny isn’t welcome or needed. Seriously. Can you safe people empathise with that?

So unless I get a nom-de-plume, a book deal and a good editor that can compensate for my fingerprints, I’m screwed. I’d better shut-up.

Naturally, you can see how I don’t see the issue of Internet anonymity in terms of black and white. I think I can safely say that under my own name.

~ Bruce

* I’m really just a big softy and so was my Dad.

Rob Smith’s Fifteen Minutes of Fame

It seems that Rob Smith’s first post to this blog was quite well received. My blog stats for the weekend are usually quite low, even when I post on the weekend – my usual readers apparently having more of a life than I do.

Within the first few hours of the statistical day clicking over, Rob had around a couple of hundred hits, thanks mostly to being discovered by someone using StumbleUpon (Rob says “thanks”, K-ady.) I bet if I didn’t shamelessly promote Rob’s post over at this thread at Pharyngula, it never would’ve happened. *Grumble, grumble, teeth-grind*

I didn’t think Rob’s post was quite that good!


My 15 minutes beats your confected envy, poor atheist…

At any rate, in the interests of traffic, I’ve secured a promise from Rob that he’ll write again for this blog. Indeed, he’s already got a topic in mind and further to that, he’s noticed that Alister McGrath’s The Twilight of Atheism (2004) has sat on my bookshelf, as yet unread.

The idea has got into his head that he could fill in as a guest book reviewer for when I’m too busy to read anything other than that which could turn out to be a waste of time. I guess that also includes Ken Ham’s The Lie: Evolution (1987), which made it onto my shelf for the princely chimney-sweeply price of ten cents.

But I digress. If Rob is or isn’t to write book reviews in the future, it’s very much up to him. What he has promised to do, in his own words, is to write a post…

“…refut[ing] the straw-men put about by New Atheists like Christopher Hitchens, on the topic of Christian positions on pre-marital sex and masturbation.”

(Rob Smith, last night.)

By “Christian positions”, one hopes that he doesn’t mean “missionary.”

Between Rob’s apparent popularity and that of the topic of sex on the Internet, I can feel my own posts being eclipsed already.

~ Bruce