Is pointing out an agenda an agenda?

April 22, 2007

Niels Mueller, writer and director of The Assassination of Richard Nixon (2004), in an interview:

“There are some people who just bring a personal agenda to anything that they write about, so you can sense the people who have their own agenda with stuff like that. They ignore the facts that they choose to.”

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Could it be this simple?

April 21, 2007

Another enjoyable diversion: Episode 4 of We Need Girlfriends, “Rod vs Henry”:

Rod’s Photoshop actions push Henry to the breaking point, and their friendship is tested in an epically pathetic and childish battle.

It’s not a perfect analogy (of you know what), but the ending is certainly relevant.

Remember: Think Positive Thoughts!

April 21, 2007

It was reported that someone once said, “It seems that they hate my optimism. They think I am poisoning peoples’ minds with my positive outlook.”

Criticism turned into hating optimism and positive thinking? There’s nothing wrong with thinking positive and everyone should do it, that’s The Secret.

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The Doors of Other Voices or Variety is the spice of life?

April 19, 2007

Seth Finkelstein writes in the Guardian:

One accused blogger, “Joey”, attempted to set things straight by issuing a long exculpatory statement in a comment in the original post, such as: “I don’t deny I have my own faults; but I would never, ever hurt or call for the hurting of anyone. No matter what I now think of you, I still and always will wish you only goodwill and nothing but goodwill.”

Which is why I established this blog. Although I’m slow to outline everything, some have finally noticed. Thank you.

But this isn’t just about me, it is about the others standing accused and judged harshly based on “evidence” of a claim, not on a rational sorting of the facts.

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Are there anymore Vader brothers?

April 16, 2007

A fantastic video production for a nice diversion:

Chad Vader, the younger, less charismatic brother of Darth Vader, who is the day shift manager of a grocery store.

{Thanks, Chris D, for finding this!}

Back in the Saddle…

April 16, 2007

Allow me to apologize for not posting a summary sooner — I needed a break from Bert’s insanity. After he visited this site, we communicated through Emails and I still can’t properly categorize those communications. Bert sends confusing signals. His logic is perplexing and difficult for me to follow. In the many email exchanges we had, Bert revealed his own explanation of events, but he invariably framed them as anger towards criticism, and rarely as “death threats”.

Communications with Bert left me with many question.

According to Kathy’s original 3/26 announcement, I should have been one of the prime suspects and Bert confirmed that Kathy knew very specific details about my identity on 3/15, far before her 3/26 post and police report. So why would Bert communicate with me at all? After all, the claim is that my so-called anonymity and taken out of context comment (two or three pages under the “offending post”) are part of what that scared Kathy. I was hardly anonymous, so why didn’t law enforcement contact me on their behalf?

It turns out, according to Bert, nothing about me (or anyone) was actually turned over to the police.

Bert insists that only screen captures were handed over to the Boulder County Sheriff. That admission itself was odd: why share specific information about an alleged crime with one of the alleged villains? Bert may have various answers for that very question; but in all honesty, I think he was hoping to gain my trust for reasons I don’t fully understand.

In comments on this board, Bert defends the failure to turn over critical information to an active police investigation by suggesting that because he and Kathy didn’t know who was who, they therefore felt it wasn’t right to turn over names. A noble explanation — but it still doesn’t make sense since, on the very day (and after) which they filed the reports, Kathy didn’t mind mentioning names in a public statement.

The entire situation sticks because I don’t actually want to continue to attack Bert and Kathy any more than is needed to outline and comment on events as honestly as possible. It is made even harder by Bert’s failure to show any signs of remorse regarding the misleading public statement. I somehow think he honestly believes that criticism is an attack.

I’d also like to apologize, in advance of my next series of posts, for wasting your time and being used as a tool and a fool in a larger battle of free speech between Kathy Sierra and Chris Locke, a battle that goes back far beyond 3/15 and is not about death threats; rather, it is about criticism.

Wal-Mart Gags Whistleblower

April 13, 2007

From The Progressive:

Wal-Mart has won a temporary restraining order against a fired employee who spilled the beans about the company’s spying operations to the Wall Street Journal on April 4.

Bruce Gabbard told the Journal that he was part of a sophisticated company surveillance operation that spied not only on employees but on shareholders and critics. The outfit was called the Threat Research and Analysis Group. He confirmed his story to the Associated Press.

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The Bandwagon

April 12, 2007

CBS cancels Don Imus’ radio show, effective immediately, after uproar over his racist and sexist comments about Rutgers women’s basketball team.

…over three words; but as my friend Chris D. points out:

There is a difference between someone voicing their opinion and someone who is being paid. Imus can still say whatever he wants, he’s just not going to get paid to do it!

Is Bill O’Reilly (or Michael Savage) going down next? Should they?

Inside » additional discussion on fairness and power asymmetry

The Stones of Time is on my side

April 8, 2007

Blogocide has been trying to understand what happened at MeanKids, attemping to determine if the accusations are fair, and asking how to avoid similar problems in the future.

I commented at the site and was asked for my opinions, both reproduced here with minor spelling corrections.

Few people have actually asked for my side of the story and opinions of events. When they did, I happily explained what I could and trusted that the questioners would remain objective and not use my words out of context. To that goal, I haven’t yet been let down. While I’m impressed that there really are people interested in the objective truth, I find there simply aren’t enough of them.

In the original Blogocide post, “Idid” described their own observations after watching the (4/2/2007) CNN segment involving Chris Locke and Kathy Sierra:

…In so many ways the mistakes made by real psychotics on the internet will likely lead to increased detection and arrest… but we should be aware of the dangers of “false positives” due to miscommunication and vilification of innocent social critics… possibly “Not Safe for Work” social critics with somewhat warped views on what is funny and acceptable and what is not.

Even the dreaded “Joey” made clear attempts to explain himself on Kathy’s blog and that he meant her no harm. He’s just joining the chorus of crude anti-shiny frat boys. It ain’t pretty but it probably wasn’t intended to strike fear in the target… it was intended to make the usual audience laugh.

Humor is typically about exploring the borders of what is and is not socially acceptable. …

Idid’s characterization is suitable and fair. My comment was never intended to be harmful and was, in fact, taken out of context. Other comments I made on that same thread included an attempt (although lame) to write a story of love and beauty, inspired by a one liner quote from Kathy, and finding obvious innuendo in a crayon drawing.

In response, I then left the following comment:

Seriously, had I known she misunderstood my comment back on 3/15, I’d had asked for it to be deleted and apologized. No harm was ever intended. But given where things ended up, and the strange twisted path the drama took, I can now only explain and analyze. I think far more harm has subsequently been intentionally created but I don’t dare try to figure out why.

Internet Bullying. Nice framing of criticism, indeed.

I have come to realize that nearly every blog author who posted regarding the Sierra situation each did so through their own conditioned viewpoint. Each distorted, twisted, and changed the focus for their own needs or to fit whatever they considered was the problem on the Internet. The entire reaction is a subject worthy of book.

Few blog authors were objective and asked questions. Even after commenting on many blogs, it was my experience that most simply discarded or deleted what I wrote or further attacked my own explanations without bothering to ask additional questions. That brings up a sort of irony: so many bloggers complain about the bias of real-world media without inspecting their own. It is a very sad situation; but nonetheless, it is part of the wonders of free speech.

Thus, it was to my surprise to find that Idid left a reply asking for more information (portions omitted for brevity):

Unfortunately you are destined to be tied to the noose comment. Your statement that there was another Kat named Jane and that you also extended Kat to Kathy puts you in a really tough place.

I’d like to hear more of your view of the mean kids experiment…

..I like to try to understand all points of view.

Idid’s pun is correct. But I know exactly what I meant when I wrote my comment to Kat and so I replied (spelling corrections made and additional emphasis added):

I do know the intention of the comment I wrote. I live with complete honesty; always. My comment may have been ill conceived and placed in the wrong place and seen as directed at the wrong person, but those things are what it was. Stating this explanation now is not an ad-hoc attempt to cover my fanny. If I did wrong, I’d jump out the window myself and save the executioner his bullets. As an aside, (please don’t think I’m OJ stating it this way) even if I did intend it toward the real Kathy and not the fictional Kat (which I hate typing, Kathy comes off the fingers better), I still don’t see the implied “death threat”. That said, I would never have written such a comment to a real, actual person; but I can understand some confusion.

My confusion starts when Unclebobism was closed. When MeanKids died, someone could have mentioned that Kathy was complaining and partly over something I wrote (as well as the original post) instead of never bringing it to my attention. I really had no idea of the history between Kathy and Frank (far before MeanKids too). But there is no doubt in my mind I would have apologized right then and there (on 3/15) had I known of the misunderstanding. It wasn’t hard to track me down and never hid my other blog locations nor email addresses; so perhaps you can understand my confusion and new suspicions.

I don’t know who made the original post with the objectionable combination of graphics; as a blog viewer, I did not find it threatening in anyway to anyone and it lead me to read more of Kathy’s writings where I soon discovered she mixes a type of new-age rhetorical spirituality with computer science. Some of her writings, in my opinion, are very open to satirism: “code like a girl”, “beauty drives the computer industry”, and it wasn’t hard to find the innuendos in a diagram titled “canyon of pain”. If I were paranoid, I’d say it all feels like a darn setup. I’m not paranoid, it was a strange collection of odd synergies mixed up with childishness and, frankly, fun between people I was enjoying interacting with.

If you must call me “mean”, feel free to do so because sometimes I am — but only with blunt words when people put out meaningless rhetoric. I’m not mean by use of physical means and my avatar was that of a three toothed harmless person with a giant, friendly smile.

Either way, Alan (or his hacker?), if he made the postings (I have no way of knowing) is being unfairly singled out because of the original framing and linking of everything at MeanKids and UncleBobism together with a very nasty, but separate threatening comment. No one condones real threat messages; but those pictures are now part of the hysteria and are unfairly superimposed on a real threat. I dread some gun-ho prosecutor going after me or Alan all to make a political name for himself because this story has gone so far out of control and the center of so much attention.

MeanKids wasn’t misogynous and far more posts were made about men (I actually generated a list to verify that point). The M-word *never* crossed my mind. Though, while the Maryam post may have been mean spirited with graphic sexual language, my take on it was that there was a deeper point about the usefulness of some quotes such as, “it’s all about the content” which now appears to have gone unnoticed. If the M-word applied, it *may* have applied to that particular post since the issue was a female one (pregnancy). Or maybe it’s me. Maybe I just don’t read between the lines like others claim they can? Then again, if Dick Cheney were to blog about the medical care he receives at tax payer expense, I could imagine a similar post made about him. Naturally, Maryam isn’t at the same social level as Dick Cheney; so yes, bringing her up was was unfair and mean. (I’d even consider apologizing to her on the behalf of others unknown for that posting.)

Has anyone looked at the original photograph, recently identified by the original photographer, showing a humorous self-portrait wearing the actual underpants on her own head? I think if people stepped back and took a look at that interesting photograph, they might even realize that whoever used it to edit a PR shot of Kathy may have done so in the spirit of the photograph, and not as a threat. I’m just saying, I don’t know either way: but calmer heads need to prevail.

Personally, I enjoyed both MeanKids and Unclebobism. The criticism and satirical nature were thought provoking and lead me to study many technology bloggers I never heard of. The Dick Cheney artwork was brilliant. I learned many new things there (words, metaphors, people). Sometimes I even disagreed with the original posting after reading more about the person being criticized. For instance, after a quick review of some of Dave Winer’s blog postings, even though I thought he sounded like he alone invented the Internet, I also found him an interesting writer discussing useful topics. Oddly, I’m not a critical judger of individuals, only their specific works. But I admit to be entirely lost when Frank hit the chopping block — Frank is beyond my ability to understand.

It was nice having one site with so much opinion and being exposed to magical technology thinkers greatly helped me jump back into the Web 2.0 world — which I’ve avoided since retirement.

The experience was enjoyable; but, in retrospect, simple guidelines or more communications could have helped. So would more intellectual honesty and less group-think or fear of complaining on a blog which, duh, complained.

Ironically, it may have been the labeling of yours truly by Frank which helped set the tone for Kathy’s accusations and may be the part of the puzzle which I don’t understand.

Finally, I must add this: author’s who write with less childlike magical thinking might also find they receive less childish criticism of their works. Really, rhetoric always gets humanity into trouble…

By reason of…

April 7, 2007

By no means am I a therapist; so it never dawned on me until yesterday, when I read a seven point list, that a real disorder might be at play with a specific character involved in the recent drama, especially when I’m reasonably certain the entire affair was spawned by criticism and nearly entirely contrived.

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An understanding, of sorts…

April 6, 2007

I’m beyond naming names; but those involved should understand what I mean.

I pretty much wrote this, verbatim, to someone who was kind and fair enough to ask my side of the story, a few moments ago:

I think that if actual communications took place, the insignificance of my comment would had been understood and I would certainly had apologized if someone claimed to be fearful of anything I wrote.

I’m not a saint and surely got carried away writing any such comment even to a fictional character; but I had no clue my words were misunderstood until 10 days later. Justified or not, I still have a heart (and a good sense of legal decency) and would never want anyone to worry about my intentions. It is sad the entire series of events unfolded the way they did when simple, direct communications could have avoided the entire thing.

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The Way of The Secret…

April 4, 2007

It could happen:bozo8.jpg

Imagine, if you will, a crazed clown hastily approaches and declares he recently had a conversation with the Easter Bunny and after receiving a swift kick in the hind quarters was informed by the bunny the secret to life is to hurry up and get out of The Way.

Assuming you outgrew your childhood fear of clowns, is it not your responsibility to inform him that someone secretly taped a “Kick Me” sign to his back and the sentence you (finally) realized he heard, “Get out of my way, Bozo!“, was not meant as spiritual wisdom?

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A funny thing happened while reading a dumb book…

April 4, 2007

This is all too silly even to discuss. I have a hard time believing that anyone could take the recent claims completely seriously let alone splatter them on thousands of blogs and various real-world newspapers. But it’s true, it happened. And I sat by and watched, powerless to spread the truth.

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