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The Agony and Ecstasy of Internet Forums

One of the stump speeches on this blog is that Suffering is under-rated -- not so much for the sake of itself, but for what it can lead to. I ran into an extreme example of that recently.

For instance, reading forums on the internet can be depended on to deliver exquisite suffering to anyone with half a brain. After reading them, one can only scream, "So this is what we get for hundreds of billions of dollars spent on public education in this country!"

The younger and more macho the commenters are, the more idiotic. Try a mountain bike forum if you don't believe me. You don't need a list of their favorite instruments of torture.



Let's be brave and face up to the suffering. In fact, let's even wallow in it a bit. And then, when you least expect it, you run into a comment like this:
Reading this thread is like watching a toddler learn to walk- it keeps looking like it's going to fall flat on it's face and you start to wince and look away, but it's lit…
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What Has Happened to Kunstler?

There is an art to choosing which pundit to read.  A reader seeking comfort can read a pundit that they always agree with. Inevitably, this turns into disappointment. Soon you can anticipate everything the pundit will say, and you've heard it all before.

On the other hand, if you disagree with everything they are about to say, you have the same problems as above, with the added benefit of being made angry.



And so, the middle ground is best. You must be relieved and delighted when he agrees with you. These moments also predispose you to give him the benefit of the doubt when he disagrees with you. At least you stay good-natured about the disagreement. 

That is why I have read James Howard Kunstler over the years. He has come a long way from his roots as a New York Jewish Democrat/Bolshevik (grin). His latest essay was mildly shocking -- and enjoyable. 

For a moment there I thought the essay was written by Fred Reed.

Wanted: a Decent Photographer for Internet Shopping

I'll bet you know someone who has wanted to reach across the counter at a store and choke the employee, when they answered your "Have you got a..." question with a sweet smile and a response of, "I could order it for you..."

You could order it for me? Well hell, man, I could order it myself off Amazon! What do I need you for? I came in here to look at the physical object itself, and then walk out with it today.

Sigh. Shopping just isn't my favorite activity, be it brick-and-mortar or online. I'm not complaining so much as wondering how business works.



For instance, the world tells us that online shopping is taking over everything. There is so much noise about it, and so much praise for internet 'technology.'

Forgive me for not being impressed. The photographs are so bad when you shop online. I can't discern any of the nitty-gritty details. Maybe that is what they want. After all, an experienced consumer can see the booby traps built into a produ…

Why Doesn't McDonald's Take Over the Laundromat?

Once upon a time in America long ago, inventors and famous businessmen were held up to schoolchildren as great benefactors of mankind. I wonder if that is still true today.

Businesspersons still become celebrities today, but the nature of their success is different than in the past. Can you really compare Facebook to the Model T Ford? Industrializing agriculture, transforming electricity and magnetism into motion, building an electrical grid, inventing countless products out of petroleum -- all of these triumphs seem so much more important than the latest buzz in tech-fashions or social media trends.

Even a great modern success like Amazon doesn't really contain much that is new compared to a Sears Roebuck wish-book, drooled over on the porch of a farmhouse in the 1890s.


Surely there are still many innovative businesses being born today. But they may be small enough or mundane enough that they haven't become household words.

I would like to suggest a mega-success that is sorely ne…

Why Did the Rattlesnake Cross the Road?

This time last year, I had a rather grisly encounter with the first snake of the season. I felt rather bad about killing one of the good guys, a bull snake.

While mountain biking this morning, I got a momentary glimpse of something looking out of its hole in ground, but I laughed this off as excessive cowardice.

Later in the day, a short 18" rattlesnake slithered his way across the dirt road in front of a couple campers. The rattles were clearly visible, but the snake didn't make any noise with them. Maybe it was too immature to rattle?


At any rate, I called the campers over to have a look and take a photo.  As usual, my dog doesn't seem to even notice snakes. 

Campground hosts get asked questions that I don't have a perfect answer for. Imagine a tourist from, say, Wichita Falls, Texas. They walk up to the host, and ask, "Do you got any buh-buh-b-b-b-bears here?"

Meanwhile, back home in Wichita Falls, they had an F4 tornado rip through a trailer park, the week be…