Adults are not herd creatures; children are. To the degree you embrace conformity, to that degree you have unfinished business in your process of maturation. A godly, spiritual society of mature humans would be nearly shapeless in its diversity and flexibility. Genuine diversity needs no promotion or recognition.
When the political authorities promote diversity, you will note it is always a substitute for the real thing. It is diversity which divides, because it simply chops up any given population into groups which, if they do not antagonize each other naturally, then it must be provoked. Control is always divide and conquer, but not in the way God divides, where everyone is utterly unique, but a division into strictly defined categories which are manageable by the bureaucratic machinery.
The spiritual path is challenging orthodoxy. Even if it happens the orthodox position is factually correct, no one should be permitted to assert it for its own sake. The proper parental response to adolescent challenges to orthodoxy is to encourage the exploration, to guide them through the difficult period of human development when each of us must find our own unique path to peace with a broken world. Don’t lie to them about everything being all fine and it’s they who are messed up for daring to challenge it. Reality sucks! Let them see it painfully and clearly, and steer them away from the other falsehoods, which includes the assumption things ought to be nice. If they don’t come to a clear realization how bad it is, they won’t have any reason to grow up and try to improve things by shining the light of truth.
It requires a hard-headed realization of how nasty this world is before you can expect a sensible negotiation of balance between what you can and cannot change, and on what level you should challenge the false assumptions of your world. Yes, there are moments of sheer joy mixed with sheer terror, but most of it is downright dreary. The conventional world around you attempts to subvert this natural impulse to find yourself by offering all sorts of lies, trying to steer you into one of several manageable tracks of false individuality. This is the one thing we most need to challenge.
Let me cite a concrete example with the person I know best: myself. I suffer this persistent vision, a dream or premonition if you will, that I will be somehow swept back into government service, perhaps even some sort of military conscription. Given the wasteful expenditure of human life and productivity in our various undeclared and illegitimate wars around the globe, even someone with 50% disability rating and 55 years old could be swept back into the gaping maw of government.
In an ideal world of genuine need, such a process would naturally take into account my talents, such as they are, and deploy me where those talents were most needed. That will not happen. Should such a process be initiated which would attempt to use me again, it would surely be on the basis of the shallowest bureaucratic number crunching. They’ll want me as some kind of security guard. That’s because my last military service was in the Military Police, and I was on the fast track for promotion when I got hurt. Using me for a static security post would free up the more able-bodied as cannon fodder.
On one level, I am certainly competent for such work. On another level, it would be insulting and degrading, just about the last thing on this earth I would want to do, not to mention morally repugnant. And would I do it? Probably.
That’s because I have found my own path, my own level of negotiation between the various forces pushing and pulling me in this evil and broken world. I would submit to this awful thing because it would put me in a very good place to do what really matters most to me, that business of shining the light in the darkness of human misery. An awful lot of other folks out there will be miserable, sucked into something they don’t understand. Despite all the conventionality, each of them will be unique in their own mixture of blindness, bewilderment, certitude, sadness and resignation. A few will at least appear quite happy with things. But I would take each of them as utterly unique, even when they fall into easily recognizable psychological profile types. I would assume each of them has some divinely appointed moment with me, and me with them, and His inscrutable plans will work out as He alone can measure.
No two of us should expect to respond the same in the same situation. In spite of my commitment to pacifism and my hatred for such government service, particularly the ultimately bureaucratic and dehumanizing work of physical security, I already know God has warned me to be ready for such. Granted, if it was TSA, I’d rather be put in jail or even executed, but military style access control — gate or perimeter guard — is more tolerable. Would you call that compromise? For you, it might well be. For me, it’s a matter of context. The context includes my peculiar outlook on the difference between things which I control versus the things I do not control.
The most important thing you’ll ever do is challenge the orthodoxy of everything until you find your own answers. The title of this post is a double entendre. It’s you versus convention; kill or be killed. You can allow it to snuff out your spiritual awareness, or you can engage in the endless battle against it in your own soul.
I love people. They are far more important to me than anything else on this plane of existence. When complete strangers ask me to help with their computers, I’m glad for the chance to do something good for another human. I’m so glad, I do it for free. Granted, I may not have time to do as much as they might want, but I try to offer whatever help I can give within the context of the moment.
You are an elitist computer snob if you could do the same, but can’t imagine feeling that way. You most certainly are an elitist snob if you tell your relatives they can’t afford your computer help.
People buy computers without a clue, knowing only they want one and can imagine things they want to do with one. Often things don’t quite work out, because we all know most people are influenced by cultural delusions and advertising lies. Still, they buy a computer, get some sort of ISP hookup and go surfing. And when their bundled virus protection fails because it was crappy in the first place, or the trial period runs out, or they fall for some of the most basic idiotic social engineering trick, their system begins spewing spam, or hosting porn, or becomes part of bot herd, or maybe all three. Mostly, it simply quits working for them. I know they’ve been misled, and I patiently educate them while I fix their system. That education part is far more important than the fixing part. But they paid money for that computer, and it would be a shame if they couldn’t get back on line.
If you feel everyone should be forced to pass an exam and get a license to use the Net, you are an elitist computer snob.
If you think the Internet is some sacred domain for which the unwashed masses are unworthy, you are an elitist snob. If you sneer at folks who happen to know just a little less than you, it’s people like you who make the world a far sadder place than it has to be. You are a part of the psychopath class who would gladly crush the life out of any living being for the sake of your personal convenience, and it’s a darn good thing most of you spend all your time with computers where you can’t do so much harm. But if things get so crazy your elitist wishes start coming true, I might forget I’m a pacifist, and do whatever I can find to do to protect the world from your kind.
Right now, that’s mostly prayer, along with reaching out to people you’ve treated with contempt. I like computers, too, but people come first.
I’ve been studying this pretty closely for about fifteen years now, and I find the development of the Open Source GUI, particularly on Linux, is really depressing. I no longer suggest Linux to folks because I care too much about the people and their needs, and Linux as a community can’t be bothered.
First, a reminder: I run Debian Squeeze and it’s unlikely I’ll change anytime soon. Barring dramatic improvements between now and the next release, I’ll probably run Squeeze until it’s “old-stable.” I’ve run Red Hat 6.0 and it’s almost as good for my purposes, but lacks a few conveniences. Still, when CentOS 6 comes out (the developers have opted to push out 5.6 first), I will highly recommended it.
I’m exceedingly happy both of them chose to grab GNOME at the end of the 2.x series. After viewing the screenshots and reading about the changes coming in GNOME 3, I feel like it’s KDE 4 again. At one time KDE was my favorite. Now, the developers and hobbyists win and regular users are the enemy. Yes, I’ve seen hobbyists and developers both flame and disparage folks who don’t like the new versions, and it’s the one reason computer users as a whole will never take Linux seriously. There will never be a serious adoption of Linux (or BSD) by the masses because the insiders hate the masses. At least, that’s how the masses feel when they encounter the insiders. It is certainly the feeling I got when I’ve tried to communicate with the developers.
Throughout my the entire time I used KDE and GNOME starting with the initial releases, the one thing I always wanted, and never got, was just once get things fixed without adding a bunch of new breakage. It never happened, with GNOME and KDE, it never will. Sure, they work, but there is always a large amount of breakage and glitches because for every thing they fix, they add three more problems with some new feature. For me, KDE died with the introduction of the 4.x series, and GNOME will die with 3.x. No, they aren’t trash, but they are evil. They demonstrate for all the world to see there is a severe shortage of user love in the Open Source GUI development community.
So for at least the next two years, I’ll have with Debian something fairly useful. RHEL and clones will have their useful interface for the next seven or so.
The next best hope is XFCE. Yes, it’s short on features and convenience, but it’s soon going to be superior to everything else by a long shot. That is, superior when measured by the needs and expectations of the vast majority of people who use computers — the folks willfully ignored by the GNOME and KDE developers. It’s possible something will arise which makes a lot more sense, something actually friendly and useful to the masses, but I’m frankly cynical about it. This won’t keep me from using Linux. If I have to go back to the simple window manager way of things, or even reduce it all the way to the command line, I’ll do it, because Windows disappoints me even more.
Let me get this out there for everyone just once more, on the off chance anybody with influence reads this. There is no such thing as the average computer user. That’s a moving target. But throughout my entire Linux experience, GNOME and KDE have never quite hit that target. Once or twice they’ve come close for a short span of time, then drifted off again. I know because I’ve spent most of those same fifteen or so years helping people. I love people. You know, those odd creature for which computers exist, who sit at their keyboards hoping they can get something useful from their investment in time and money. It’s bad enough with Windows, but at least they do get things done, when viruses and other malware aren’t eating holes in or hijacking their OS.
In biblical terms, they are the lost sheep, simply doing what they understand best, and the shepherds are too busy to notice the whole flock is wandering off and getting eaten alive. That’s because the commercial software vendors are predators who pretend to be shepherds. When I ran across Linux and understood how it resisted the virus and malware games, I thought my shepherd’s heart finally had some hope. Well, the GNOME and KDE games proved beyond all doubt my hope was misplaced. Sure, there’s Mac — bizarre and utterly foreign to most folks, and even more predatory in terms of prices. It will always be a niche product, as will Linux on the desktop. That’s because the folks who pump out the software, while not predators, they simply have no clue about the care and feeding of sheep. They could get a clue, but it’s not nearly so exciting as talking to themselves or joining what amounts to a circle-jerk with all their own kind, and doing all this nifty visionary stuff.
It’s almost as if they have never met a real human. They are wonderful at computers and utterly senseless with humans. That’s supposed to be a joke, but it’s too close to the truth. Linux geeks are wacko, but it’s a sad elitist wacko, not a fun and loving wacko.
Real people, the folks who use computers, would rather not have to install their OS, but they might be willing if it’s enough better than what comes installed from the factory. Most of them would actually embrace the challenge of getting Linux to do all the stuff, particularly with online multimedia, that Windows does, if they didn’t have to face that constant change. I mean big changes. That’s because Open Source in general, and Linux developers in particular, are hostile to the notion of supporting what they have already released. You see, those users would not mind installing once, but they balk at doing it every six months. That’s because there are too many radical changes, too many new things and losses of old things, and this awful snotty attitude they are somehow ungrateful when they complain they don’t want to spend all their lives chasing the next release. These people have work to do, and they don’t want to work on their computers, but do their work on computers. They should be able to get one OS for the life of the computer, with no substantial changes in user experience until they replace that machine.
The one thing in all this which is most often broken, never fixed except in the next release, and always with a bunch of new breakage, it’s the GUI. After briefly flirting with sanity, KDE has gone off into hyperspace. GNOME is right behind. Enjoy your voyage, but don’t you ever let slip from your mouths or keyboards some vain hope you can replace Windows as the dominant OS. Stop lying to yourselves. You don’t care about people. Linux will always be it’s own niche computing environment, always superior in most aspects to Windows, but always completely hostile to user needs. I can’t even get folks to accept Ubuntu any more, because Canonical has gone wacko in it’s own anti-user ways. It’s like a disease; give it time, and the folks in charge start chasing clouds in the sky and babbling about “pure computing” and similar terminology.
I give up. I’ll never go back to Windows, but most of the people I serve in my computer helps ministry can’t be served by Linux any more.
Recognition as an expert may well be a primary justification for rejecting someone’s advice.
While I admit to the iconoclastic urge, such is not the controlling factor. It’s a symptom. That urge is derived from experience. Having confronted so many experts and their damnable effects, I have learned a healthy cynicism about their abilities and motives. The greater problem is who uses those experts as a defensive shield for their tyranny.
Reputation is one thing, but propaganda can create a false reputation. That should be self-evident. That’s because we may know intuitively, if not consciously, those who desire control over others are morally disqualified to wield it. The ambition for great causes always includes the baggage of control, of some unspoken necessity of dragging you, I and everyone else into their plans. At the end of the day, they are always willing to use threat of force to include us.
But it’s always for our own good, you see. The experts tell them so.
This is the business of usurping God’s Throne in Heaven. He simply can’t be allowed to tell you or me something different than what these ambitious folks and their experts are so sure God has told them. It’s the logical flaw of concrete consistency. Yes, that’s a logical flaw, if you are operating in God’s revealed logic. It’s the assumption God can be brought down to our level of human reason, that a thing cannot be both A and not-A at the same time, and then applying that to God.
The God I serve is big enough to tell you one thing and me another, and they be conflicting things. Not because He’s playing head games with us — if any human did that, it would be some dastardly thing. But God is big enough to avoid such limitations. We can’t pretend to evaluate Him on our level. So if I claim to speak for God, I would be the last person to demand the use of human power to enforce my declaration of what God wants for you. He’s big enough to handle your acceptance, or rejection, of what I might say about His wishes. This applies to the whole range of discussion about whether there even is a God, or many, or nothing.
If I am deluded, that’s my business. More to the point, it’s none of your business. Your certainties are not mine, and mine are not yours. The biggest lie of all has consistently been one set of certainties must be followed or we all perish. This is the favorite lie of tyrants, and is the presumption behind trotting out experts for or against anything you can imagine.
It’s the excuse for child welfare laws which see thousands of families each year torn apart, something which pokes a finger in God’s eye. He owns the persons of this world, and it lies entirely in His hands to grant ownership of children to some of the most pitiful parents you can imagine. But they aren’t your children, so if you can’t find a way to persuade them so that your wishes prevail over theirs voluntarily, stay out of it. The burden is upon you to cultivate that leverage via love and sacrificial care, not by calling the local child welfare authorities. Their expertise is founded on a well established hostility to God and the cosmic level of moral order. It’s based upon a presumption of ownership over children which the officials did not bear.
That presumption of ownership extends to you and I. Having a pretense of the will of the people changes nothing. Other people around you don’t own you, and cannot assign ownership to some agent to act on their behalf. They do own themselves, in one sense — you can’t rightly exercise use of their bodies by force for your amusement. But the second greatest lie of experts is conjuring up some fantasy of how your less intrusive actions encroach upon their self ownership. For example, the insane presumption behind hate speech codes, and the imaginary “emotional distress” people suffer when you say certain words or phrases. The only reason some words hurt is because we have created a psychotic culture in the first place. Fix the psychosis and the words don’t matter.
You have the God-given right to be wrong, and so do I. The very notion of expertise itself is evil. A more reliable metric is trust, a trust earned by good results, and a humble willingness to be questioned every step of the way. It’s that rejection of the question which is sin.
All browsers suck. Some suck less than others, but none of them are actually good. (Note the sarcasm warning.)
I’ve been testing and tweaking the various graphical browsers available for Debian Squeeze: Iceweasel, Epiphany, Iceape, Opera and Google Chrome. The Chromium version available is simply too old and not slated for update, as far as I know.
The primary flaw with old reliable Iceweasel (Firefox) is it tends to drag on pages using a lot of JScript. Loads good, but when you scroll, it’s glacial and jerky. Selecting smooth scrolling only makes it smoother at being slow. I’m watching the CPU meter spike with each tiny twitch of the mouse wheel. This is unacceptable to me simply because I know they can do better, and have chosen not to bother. None of the others do this.
The related Iceape (Seamonkey) project is slightly better, but suffers the slower pace of development. Too many things on too many sites, particularly with heavy JScript, just don’t work. Controls written into the page don’t appear in the display because developers haven’t gotten around to implementing them.
Epiphany suffers the major plight of all GNOME related packages. If you aren’t on the rolling release bandwagon, you aren’t simply dis-invited, you are given a hostile reception. GNOME developers are downright snotty about this. So when Debian chose their freeze point for stability, that meant the better features, which had been missing for some time, were not included because the GNOME devs held that stuff back for the next release. Epiphany needs Flashblock, and without it, it’s a piece of trash. Without the ability to stop the distractions built in by the unconscionably evil advertisers, the developers are deservedly suspected of being in bed with them. If it’s complicated for the user to implement, it’s because the devs don’t care what users want. It’s actually easier to simply block Flash objects via CSS than to get any sort of Flashblock control working. I sound unforgiving because that’s the what GNOME people understand. (The underlying GTK toolkit is much more forgiving.)
Google Chrome is a moving target. You may have heard the latest news about the 10 beta being faster than ever. Fine, but so far, Chrome still suffers from this persistent inability to cooperate with some websites on which not a single other browser has trouble — unable to load linked pages, incomplete loading of images, etc. This is partly the blame of the Webkit folks, but without the extensions which limit advertising and other useless page crap, we might as well all restrict ourselves to text mode browsers and forget it. If those extensions in Chrome cause page loading errors, I’m not so sure it’s the fault of the extensions in every case. When Chrome developers dare to suggest to Windows users they have to turn off their anti-virus to get pages to load, when not a single other browser requires that, it’s because Chrome is junk. With all the tricks and troubles I’ve had to explore getting Chrome to work as it should, I recommend you avoid it, because these folks are just playing games.
Which brings us to Opera. Yes, I’ve had mountains of trouble with Opera, too, over the years. The biggest boondoggle continues to be the dirty hacks they find necessary to get multimedia objects loaded into the proper player within the browser. Opera’s developers act like they have never seen Linux or BSD. Yet, when help is offered, they seem to be almost bloodthirsty in how they treat volunteer developers, going by the comments made by such volunteers later. There are still major issues with keyboard input, particularly with input fields on webpages. The new pure-X interface is still not half as good as the older QT version, because it’s slower and the widgets don’t work as well. The much ballyhooed extensions are uniformly worthless under Linux and BSD.
Yet for all my complaints, I still end up with Opera being the least annoying of the lot. The one redeeming virtue is the ability to control the most annoying elements on the fly. I can put any preference controls I want on the bottom of the browser frame. I typically have these:
- Enable Plug-ins
- Enable Cookies
Finally, while Opera may not fix every bug you claim to find, their bug reporting process is about the easiest and most sensible thing I’ve ever seen. It seems the Opera folks do understand one thing: Users are their lifeblood. I hope they never lose that single most important feature of their operation.
Addenda: Further testing confirms a suspicion I did not mention above. After using several different WebKit browsers, I find all of them share one very major flaw: At some point in your surfing, they simply stop loading some pages. It won’t matter whether I middle-click on a link to load a page in a new tab or simply move to the new page in the same tab, too often the page simply does not load. Trying to reload, or waiting a bit and trying again do not help. Once WebKit decides the page is blank, or decides to exclude certain elements, it refuses to do any different. Yet trying the same action on the same pages and links in any other browser works just fine — always.
Can you know the nature of anything on this plane of existence?
The ultimate sin of Western Civilization is the obsession with being and doing. The nature of something — being — is not within our grasp, because none of us is God. The hubris of such presumption, that we could know the nature of anything, is monumental. The obsession with results — doing — as if we could hope to control all the factors is also a monumental presumption. The looming collapse of the West is entirely just.
You and I are up against the double whammy of broken awareness plus the broken existence. There are two layers of falsehood. Certainly we can reach for an understanding, but the drive to understand is not the accomplishment. So long as we remain skeptical and cynical about ourselves, about our abilities, we are freer and wiser than most of humanity.
The more noble path is to realize you cannot hope to know anything more than what is required of you within the context of the moment. That is, you could conceivably catch glimpses of imperatives which amount to a functional awareness. You can understand enough to act. You can realize enough about things to choose wisely only in the sense of fulfilling your own commitments.
If you have no real commitments, then, you are utterly useless, an enemy of peace and sanity.
You may recall a past hit song about a fellow who is torn between his beloved wife and his music. He promised her the world if she would back him during his early career, because he would change the world with his awesome talent. It didn’t happen. Instead, he was just a man driven to music, and in the night when he stumbled into the kitchen for a drink of water, the music calls to him, and he can’t go back to bed. And he knows she weeps in the bed, waiting for him to come back to her. The music remains his first love, and she knows it.
This portrays well the reality of our broken existence. Frankly, this singer has it about as good as it gets in this awful world. He at least has the means to pursue his imperatives. Consider how sad the life of one driven only by the consumption of that music. They don’t even count as human, on that level; they are potential humans. The highest state of existence on this plane is to find something which drives you to do. It’s not the doing, but the driving. Consumption, the passive mode of receiving, is not enough. You have to be driven to act in order to become an active part of seeking to make the world more sane.
Nobody should suggest there is no time and place for passive absorption. The deadly flaw is acting when you should pass, and passing when you should act. There is a moral imperative woven into the ways of this world, and the single most important thought we have on such things is our individual imperative to seek out that moral imperative. We can state in general terms certain principles, but even those are mere estimates of where you should aim when you are driven through any moment. It’s on you, and you will surely fail, in ways both small and grand, but failure itself morphs with the context and viewpoint.
You cannot know the nature of things, only some functional estimation of that nature. You are permitted that much only so you may estimate your course of action based on your commitments, your imperatives. If your imperatives are no larger than your self, you are wrong regardless of any other factors.
I want you to be free. I cannot do it for you; my path is not yours. But I can tell you where it is and let you find it on your own.
When you place reins or chains upon another, you are as surely bound as they. Civility means you avoid situations where you would be on either end of chains or reins. You should hope to season with grace your encounters with other humans, but the majority of humanity lacks grace. However, all humanity is accountable to God’s Laws, and civility is an expression of His moral law. Your path to peace and sanity over the broken ground of this world will require feet shod with civility.
Civility assumes voluntary cooperation. In this world you will often be thrust into moments of decision which inevitably affect others. Even as you strive to be true to your own convictions, those convictions are invalid unless they include a sense of accountability to those affected by your choices. You need not yield to their demands, needs, hopes, wishes and feelings, but you must take note of them. That’s because you must be prepared to bear the consequences of any necessary disregard.
Even when the affect is strictly imaginary, when they have zero legitimate claim, simply seeking some excuse to throw a fit and play the victim, you must take into account whatever you could know of such things. Any failure to consider them takes you down the path of neurosis or psychosis. In other words, you have to steel yourself far in advance for such moments, particularly when those moments are matters of emergency, and decide how you will need to react in general terms. It won’t hurt to rehearse. Indeed, to be truly yourself means not simply absorbing everything portrayed before your eyes and modeling that, but realizing you are not that person, and must have your own reaction. Those of you who love TV and movies take note — don’t lose your sense of self in entertainment. You cannot control the factors of any context; you cannot script the behavior of others.
Every dysfunctional relationship I’ve ever seen hung on one or more members demanding a scripted result from situations. The fantasy of making someone move their hands and feet at your will, of shaping their thoughts and desires, is the ultimate slavery, because the chains are stronger than any tangible material. Every other human must be free to choose their own path. If you cannot come to amicable terms of cooperation, separate. There may well be compelling reasons you can’t fully implement geographical distance, but there is more than one way to separate from others. It may require you consider carefully before committing yourself to such situations, whether you can afford forced association with wackos, and what your options may be. Civility is the art of crafting multiple lines we should not cross within a given context.
Civility is planning for your lines to be transgressed by others. Peace is not letting someone else have your reins, of seizing the power to make you react in this or that way. It’s the creative art of human interaction, or refusing to interact, not bound to any script, but to underlying principles. It requires you divest yourself of the emotional commitments to predetermined results, yours or others. It’s balancing between competing needs and necessities, knowing what price must be paid for this or that sacrifice. It’s calculating in advance the price of your departure from this prison existence on the lower plane.
No one will ever meet your standards, not even you. Civility is negotiating an existence between various degrees of failure. Peace and sanity is celebrating how well things turn out in spite of it all.