Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Week in Review

It's been an eventful week! Let me just touch on some of the large and small points.

I was asking for trouble when I brought my computers in. First was the laptop: I knew that its graphics card had crashed, and that it was integrated into the motherboard. It was reasonable to assume it would be extremely difficult to get it repaired, and replacing it meant replacing the entire motherboard. And that was impossible because that model has been discontinued and no one's even selling it on eBay.

Using the laptop as a regular computer, I plugged in the monitor, speakers, a better mouse, the printer, and let it run. And it ran great for a week, but one day I asked too much of it (scanning, Flash application, transferring files, a download all at once) and the processor froze and thin wisps of smoke came out the back. I shut it down, tore out the peripherals, and set it on the porch to air out. Probably there is only enough life left in it to let me grab the few new files that didn't get backed up on it.

General Nanosystems returned my tower computer today: it also has a blown capacitor but they were confident it could run without it--there's a chance it's been running with this condition all its life. And they forced my computer to finally recognize my SATA drive, so now I have an additional 320GB storage! Now it's home and purring like a kitten... but for how long?

And I finally got a job, and maybe two jobs. I interviewed for a position with a marketing company that made it sound like they could actually e-mail most of their assignments to me, so I accepted the other, proofreading/copy editing for a dental supply company. I start tomorrow! I'll be earning money and everything.

Today I discovered a new program called Lazyfeed, which is a Web site aggregator with a handy interface that lets you segment your interests and search for new info within those topics. Awesome, right? Well, I thought I'd start one on emergency preparedness and when I used "go-bag" as a topic, it turned up an article whose title urged all white people to take up arms and prepare supplies. I thought it was a joke, you know, an intelligent parody of racist sites, since the "information" was so over-the-top and quite dated. The article itself was quite well-informed, offering good advice on packing a backpack, what clothes to bring, deals on packing food, emergency supplies, &c., but then it would erupt into spittle-flecked invective about other ethnic groups and...

It took me too long to realize it was being sincere. It took me way too long to realize this was not just an elaborate hoax of rich satire. It really was a virulent racist hate-speech blog and when I researched it, I found it enjoyed friendly and supportive connections with a few other well-known white supremacist hate-speech sites. I closed the browser and went out to the porch to have a pipe. There was a lump in my throat as the disbelief melted and I was forced to wonder how badly and to what depth the System has failed, to allow such abject ignorance to proliferate. There were no spelling errors on this site, the typography was clear and stable, and like I said there was also a lot of useful information, but then there was this staggering hatred of things the writer had no experience with. It was rampant, spoon-fed propaganda such as would have given Big Brother an erection. Beyond the willful misinterpretation of news, beyond the denial and lies, there was just this tremendous, yawning chasm of absolutely nothing, a huge void where there should have been at least a little warmth, a little intelligence, but there was nothing. And there's a community of people who live their lives in defense of that nothing, fighting against facts, reality, progress, at war with their own humanity. People striving with every last muscle to promote this gaping, hideous ignorance.

It made me physically ill. It set my body at the preamble before the heaving starts which leads to vomiting. It made me want to cry, that so many decent and loving people should have their lives threatened simply because a group of monsters needs to inflict their staggering ignorance upon the lives of innocents.

So being online, being exposed to all the world's information, is both a blessing and a curse.

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