Social Media Vacay

Everyone tells me I need to be on social media if I want my stuff promoted. I gotta be on there to be heard, to be seen, to get things done.

If I’ve learned anything in the past few years, though, it’s that that may not be necessarily true. Indeed, social media has some serious pitfalls. My favorite ones are flamewars with trolls. It was one of them, in fact, that led me to this policy of taking a social media vacation.

I’ve learned that I cannot resist getting into arguments; I can’t resist trolls. That something I lost, somewhere, aand I need to reclaim that. How? I don’t know. But a prerequisite has to be stepping back from social media. It’s hurting my productivity, hurting my wider social sphere, and ultimately it’s hurting my brain.

So I’m taking a break from Twitter & Facebook. I’ve downloaded an app that only does Twitter DM’s, and I’ll keep using Facebook Messenger so people can get in touch with me. Other than that, just Gmail & this blog. Thanks to the magic of WordPress, I can still write status updates. And thanks to the magic of RSS, I can autopost these to Twitter and Facebook.

I see this as an extension of some cutting I’ve already done in my life. A few months ago I uninstalled Steam and basically eliminated computer games from my life. Now I need to continue the process and get rid of–at least temporarily–another serious distraction.

I’m not sure why I had to blog this, really, other than to tell my friends who are going to start wondering, but if you stumble across this and read this, that’s what this is about. I will still be politically minded; I will still have strong opinions about political philosophy and government. I will still write, though hopefully not on Twitter (I will maintain my vow, I will maintain my vow…) but through other channels.

That’s all I have. If you know me personally, you can still hit me up through messaging. If you don’t, you can always comment here.

Accuracy In Media Attacks Gays, Reason Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Today, Cliff Kincaid of “Accuracy In Media” penned a truly vile piece attacking gay conservatives and imploring CPAC to hold panels on how homosexuals were dangerous, dangerous people who were bad for American and all communists.

It’s absolutely idiotic. Here’s why.

Kincaid begins with:

The term “gay conservative” is being used by some news outlets in connection with the upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and whether certain homosexual groups should be invited to appear. There is no such thing as a “gay conservative,” unless the term “conservative” has lost all meaning.

Really, Cliff? You mean the word “conservative” didn’t lose its meaning after eight straight years of budget deficits and ever increasing government spending under George W. Bush? You mean it didn’t lose all meaning when Republicans had a chance to cut spending this past year but complained about it? You mean it didn’t lose all meaning when they decided the holy grail of conservatism, the Constitution, was trampled upon in their mad dash to sign the PATRIOT Act and the NDAA? It took the acts of GOProud, a group formed for the express purpose of spreading the message of limited government and free markets throughout the LGBT community, to make the word “conservative” lose all meaning?

WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN THE PAST DECADE?

But there is a homosexual movement that has its roots in Marxism and is characterized by anti-Americanism and hatred of Christian values.

Yes, GOProud is Marxist. Except…if I ever heard Chris R Barron utter anything about Marxism, it was always deprecating. Cliff, you haven’t talked to any gay conservatives, have you?

Two of this movement’s members, Bradley Manning and Floyd Corkins, have recently been in the news. Manning betrayed his country in the WikiLeaks scandal, while Corkins has pleaded guilty to trying to kill conservative officials of the Christian Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.

Rather than debate whether “gay conservatives” exist or ought to have prominent speaking roles, CPAC should be sponsoring a panel on the dangers of the homosexual movement and why some of its members seem prone to violence, terror, and treason.

Let’s get some things straight. First, two people does not serve as a representative sample of gays across America. You darn well shouldn’t be using this argument, since AIM has complained loudly about the media smearing the Tea Party movement as “racist.” Glass house rules, and all. Second, they are not part of the “homosexual movement.” Manning was a soldier who disagreed with what his country and his army was doing, and took matters into his own hands. Corkins was a crazy guy with a gun. It would be indicative of the “movement” if there were armies of gay people marching down Pennsylvania Avenue, shooting up the place while rainbow APCs disgorge bear troopers into the FRC’s headquarters. But…there aren’t. So your “argument” is without merit.

Gay people make up around 2-5% of the populace. If we’re going to talk about sexual orientations being “prone to violence, terror, and treason,” we could more easily talk about straights. Or are you going to invent the fiction that Benedict Arnold was gay, too?

But the fate of a political party is not only what is in jeopardy. Historian Paul Johnson knows something about why nations fail, and he says one reason is the acceptance of homosexuality.

Johnson’s book, The Quest for God, laments that Western society made a huge mistake by decriminalizing homosexuality and thinking that acceptance of the lifestyle on a basic level would satisfy its practitioners. He wrote, “Decriminalization made it possible for homosexuals to organize openly into a powerful lobby, and it thus became a mere platform from which further demands were launched.” It became, he says, a “monster in our midst, powerful and clamoring, flexing its muscles, threatening, vengeful and vindictive towards anyone who challenges its outrageous claims, and bent on making fundamental—and to most of us horrifying—changes to civilized patterns of sexual behavior.”

Today, this monster wants to impose itself on our children in the schools and even the Boy Scouts of America.

Right, gay people are a monster who want to…..get married.

OH NOES! THE SKY IS FALLING!

Newsflash: Gay marriage has never brought down a civilization. It was not the cause of the fall of either ancient Greece or Rome, nor Byzantium, nor the Mongol hordes, nor any civilization. Grow up and deal with the facts.

I know something about this as well, since I spent several years in Scouting, became an Eagle Scout, and received merit badges in various skills. My wife and I became Scout leaders. Now, the homosexual movement is determined to overturn the ban on homosexual Scoutmasters and wants to teach young men in the Boy Scouts that homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle.

Such a campaign is objectionable on its face because the Boy Scout oath commits a young man to being “morally straight.” That “morally straight” can be considered compatible with homosexuality is a complete perversion of the English language.

This is where I blew a gasket. Cliff, I served with Eagle Scouts. I am an Eagle Scout. Eagle Scouts were my friends. You, Cliff, are no Eagle Scout. And that you bizarrely conflate “morally straight” with heterosexuality just shows that you have learned nothing from either your English classes in school. “Morally straight” means the “straight and narrow,” not “morally heterosexual.” How can one be “morally heterosexual”? It’s absurd on it’s face.

You are not only a disgrace to the Eagle Scouts, by preaching hate and intolerance for others*, but you are also a colossal disgrace to the English language and English writers everywhere. You sir, should not be blogging, period.

The rest of the column is a long and confusing rant about how homosexuals are all Marxist communists in disguise. It’s really pathetic, seeking to pin everything on Harry Hay as the “founder” of the modern homosexual movement, as if someone just stepped up and said, “Hey, let’s be gay today.” Heck, Hay even had to resign from one of the original LGBT organizations because he was a communist. But Cliff won’t tell you about that, will he? No.

Cliff, just stop. You realize the reason why nobody votes for Republicans or free market conservatives anymore? Because of people like you. You don’t have an “argument,” you just have unveiled bigotry and hatred. And 21st century Americans are not fans of hatred or bigotry. They’re not going to vote for a party that embraces the free market if it simultaneously embraces bigotry, even bigotry against a small slice of the population.

Just come out and say it, Cliff. Just come out and say that you find gays “icky.” Fine. You find them icky. At least that’s valid, as it’s merely personal preference. Well, you know what, Cliff? Not a single gay person is going to come up and get gay with you. They’re not even going to want to be in the same room with you. So they can be gay, you can be lilly-white straight, and just not cross paths, and everyone will be happy.

Homosexuality is not an “unacceptable lifestyle.” It’s a sexual orientation. That’s it. I know libertarians and conservatives must work together to limit government, rebuild a free market economy, and promote individual liberty, but I am supremely frustrated with “conservatives” like Cliff who turn to us at every step and the liberty movement in the foot with a twelve-gauge shotgun. We don’t need this. What we need is to be expanding the movement and reaching out to people from all walks of life, to show them that free markets and limited government is the best thing they could possibly want. But people like Cliff cling to their old traditions, and abjectly refuse to build any bridges to new islands. At the same time, people are leaving the island he’s on in rafts made from whatever they can find.

You’re why we can’t have nice things, Cliff. You’re why Obama is president, the Democrats control the Senate, the government is spending at record levels, and we can’t even reduce the rate of increase in spending by 2% without everyone going ballistic. Just stop.

*I realize that the official position of the BSA is still no to gays, but since that is not courteous nor kind, it really goes against the Scout Law. Eagle Scouts should be speaking out against this, even though, as a private organization, the BSA does have the right to exclude gays. But just because it has the right to do so, doesn’t make it the right thing to do.

Comment on BHL Blog: Science, Religion, and the Great Stagnation

Seems to be the comment system over at BHL is eating up my comments. Ah well. Here is what I’ve been trying to say on this post:

Original comment got eaten. Aaargghhh….

1 – I’m not sure if science and theistic religion are really all that compatible. Theism, in all its myriad ways, purports that there is an omniscient deity that not only created the universe, but gets involved in humanity on a daily basis (or some other time interval.) As the intelligent design argument has shown, science has effectively ruled this out completely. You can’t really talk about physics and biology and then say there is some deity pulling all the strings so we look exactly how we are now.

2 – *Deism*, on the other hand, may be a different matter, because all deism is about is that there is a god, who created the natural laws that lead to the universe, and then was never seen again. Although there are problems with this view too (Austin Cline notes that the universe appears much more dynamic and chaotic than one would suppose it would be if it were designed) I think deism and science are fairly compatible, and indeed, deism could easily become the new religion of the US as trends continue.

3 – As for the social status of scientists, I don’t really think that’s the basis for the problems we face today. Leaving aside the matter of if we have a great stagnation or not, it seems clear to me that the problems really stem from cronyism, fiat monetary systems, and special interests gaming the market to the point where it is more like participatory fascism, as Randall Holscomb puts it. While there are certainly problems with science today–namely how it has been politicized over climate change and environmentalism, to the point where it has sustained serious damage to its credibility–I don’t think the lack of “Likes” on scientists’ Facebook fan pages is the reason for the problems and difficulties we’re facing today. I mean, we’re churning out new products and technologies all the time. Hell, in 20 years, we might even have an outpost on Mars, for all we know.

EDIT: Aha! And now the comment system is back, meaning my original comment is up there, but this one, which retrospectively feels superior, is not. Blast it, Zwolinski, are you trying to confound me?

Away to #CPAC I Shall Go

Oh, Jesus...

Tomorrow I will be heading downtown into Washington DC proper to attend CPAC 2012–otherwise known as the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference. Although I would rather be working on science fiction, and especially blogging about fiction writing here, the time constraints of my job and where I live essentially mandate that my entire life revolves around politics. And let’s face it, when you live in DC, the most politically-driven city in the entire world, your life is about politics.

I’m not entirely keen on going. I was convinced to go because a friend of mine who works in social media wanted me to. He has a tendency to keep dragging me to happy hours and social events, which is just his thing. That’s okay, but it means that when I show up, I usually only do reluctantly. The deciding factor for me this year was that Daniel Hannan, UK Conservative MEP, will be coming on Saturday to give a half-hour talk, and if you’ve ever seen this video and liked it on Youtube, you know you just can’t pass up an opportunity like that.

How can you see such wit and eloquence and not want to see the man in person? I certainly can’t. So, as a blogger for UnitedLiberty.org, I registered as an official CPAC blogger, and am now getting my stuff together.

There are worries, though. There are a great deal others who are attending CPAC who are far less inspiring than Hannan. You have folks like Kirk Cameron, Stephen Baldwin (Alec Baldwin’s conservative twin), Ann Coulter, and then (former) presidential candidates Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich…and Rick Santorum. You’ll have birthers. You’ll have Christian fundamentalists. You’ll have Limbaugh fanatics. You’ll have people dressed up in tricorn hats like it’s some bizarre science fiction convention. And with last year’s brouhaha over GOProud, the organization for gay Republicans, being kicked out, you don’t have any sort of balancing act whatsoever.

In short, it’s the most concentrated crazy you can get without resorting to doing lines of coke while listening to a Justin Bieber album at a Flat Earth Society meeting. Or the Democratic National Convention.

I’m deeply saddened by this. Especially now, when this country badly needs an effective opposition to the nincompoopery being spread around by an ineffective and corrupt presidential administration, and organizations that seem to have no other goal but to rob millions of Americans of their individual freedom in order to obtain yet more ill-gotten plunder at the public treasury, the opposition forces are disorganized, uncoordinated, and worse off, come across as complete moonbats. To be fair, that’s not everybody. A lot of conservatives are not as radical as the media makes them out to be, and they’re actually quite sane and reasonable individuals. Jonah Goldberg, Richard Lowry, David Frum, James Joyner, Doug Mataconis, Richard Stacy McCain (you know, the “Other” McCain), and a whole bevy of others are fairly moderate. I suppose that’s another reason why I’m hauling my carcass to the hotel where CPAC is being held: I want to see for myself, with my own eyes, just how far down the road to nuttery the conservative movement has gone. I want to see some sort of hope at CPAC tomorrow. Maybe there will be. Maybe there won’t.

But probably the largest reason anyone is going to CPAC is because it’s one large social event. You’re not really there for the speakers or the booths or the how-to panels. They’re sideshows. The main attraction is meeting all the bloggers and staffers and strategists who you haven’t seen in months…and then attend one of the nine hundred eighty-two happy hours going on over the weekend, at which point you all get smashed and wake up the next morning wondering just who the president is and what exactly is the job of the Supreme Court of the United States. That’s the real point of CPAC. For me, definitely; I’m attending a blogger breakfast sponsored by Google and hope to use the conference to pick my fellow bloggers’ brains about best practices. No doubt about it, I want United Liberty to be in the Top 100–better yet, Top 50–of blogs covering American politics. I want it to be a place where people who are fed up with the left and the right can go for a refreshing perspective on politics, where they feel that yes, they have colleagues and allies and are not alone in this miasma.

But that’s enough for now. Tomorrow, I will go to the conference. I will report. I will blog. I will meet. I will greet. I will shake hands. I will probably kiss an ass or two–wait, there’s not going to be any Democrats, nevermind.

The Final Frontier

I love space. Love love love it. I don’t get enough to write about it though, especially when it comes to politics. It just takes a back seat (which is something that annoys me, let me tell you.) But yesterday, I was able to publish a post on just that subject over at United Liberty, thanks to the final launch of the space shuttle.

And then I got cited by Doug Mataconis over at Outside the Beltway, one of the premier political blogs in the country.

Awesome. Now to put the final touches on this next story I’m working on.

United Liberty

I’ve joined the blogging team over at United Liberty, where I can spread my political writings a bit farther. That’s a good thing in many ways, since I didn’t want QMS to get overly political, just occasionally (and for some of the crazier ideas I may come up with, like reforming the electoral system.) I’ll keep you updated on my science fiction here, as well as other topics in the realms of writing and art that aren’t really related to libertarianism.

And for any United Liberty readers coming over here, hello!

Frequency

I cannot stop writing. I write all the time, try to sneak some in during work, sneak some in at home; writing science fiction is like a drug. The more I do it, the more I have to. I used to procrastinate all the time–but now, procrastination is painful.

Not with regards to blog writing, though.

I’ve been wondering what the proper frequency of updates is. There are many blogs who update on a daily basis. i09, one of my favorite blogs that covers the whole science fiction/technology scene, updates around 20-30 times a day (however, it should be noted that i09 is run by Gawker, a company, and has a large number of writers.) Me, meanwhile, I just don’t have that much stuff to talk about. I do have some things in the works–I still need to post that entry about my political history, but its hard pinning down when I got these crazy ideas into my head–but what is there for me to write about? Besides, my time is better spent on my real writing.

Some other writers, though, seem to have far different opinions. I was taking a look at Charles Stross’ blog, “Antipope,” and he seems to post every day–including bringing in a guest blogger to post when he’s out for a week. That’s dedication. Or maybe he had some snacks he wanted to get rid of. John Scalzi is similar, his blog has about 1-3 posts each day. Jim Butcher seems to be a bit more lax, posting roughly once a week (although I’m not entirely sure if that’s actually Jim Butcher or an intern updating the blog. In any case, his Livejournal hasn’t been updated since late 2008.)

It makes me question how often I should updating. For me, right now, it really doesn’t matter, since I have a grand total of four comments (two of which are written by myself) and very few visitors. I also don’t have much material to share, at the moment, so there isn’t as much of a reason to come visit. My original plan was to update twice a week, and have somewhere around 4-5 entries written up ahead of time. That hasn’t gone so well, but fortunately, the frequency has, more or less. Last week was an oddity, but for the most part, I’ve actually been posting 3-4 times a week. About what, I’m not entirely sure. Flying deep fried bacon? Yeah, probably. I don’t remember.

Twitter is a different beast entirely. Before starting my media job, I rarely used Twitter. In fact, I still don’t really see the point of Twitter; it’s just a time waster. Nobody is really saying anything of use–snarky, maybe, but not important. But, no one else has seemed to caught on to this, so I am forced to join the Twitter cloud and get involved. I got a Twitter back in college, rarely used it, came here…and found TweetDeck for Chrome, which now sits in a pinned tab on the left, beyond all my actual work, and I check it repeatedly, sometimes around every 30 seconds. (Gimme a sec…ha, another joke about Charlie Sheen. K, back.) I’ve turned into a compulsive Tweep, reposting articles about what’s going on in Wisconsin and other political issues, posting about science fiction and technological development, and also posting about…I don’t know, random things. Things which are okay to have on LinkedIn (since my Twitter account and LinkedIn are connected) but don’t really have any other sort of “point.” In fact, my Twittering has become so intense I had to stop Twitter from publishing to my wall on Facebook because it was beginning to annoy my friends. (FYI: My Facebook is only open to those I have met in real life, mostly. No, you can’t get in.)

I don’t know what this means. Am I only good for writing really small blurbs now? I hope that’s not the case–I still have a novel sequence magnum opus to write over the next year. Maybe it will help me write short stories, however, which I have found to be far more difficult–you think that something shorter would be easier, but it actually takes far greater skill to pack everything into a smaller box than it does a larger one. As Blaise Pascal famously said, “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.”

How many times do you think is reasonable to update a blog?

Facebook, I don’t understand you

So to allow people to comment here with their Facebook accounts–so they don’t have to go through the trouble of getting yet another stupid account–I have to enable Facebook Connect. But that means I have to get an App and an API key and all this nonsense. And I have to wonder: why? Why do I have to get an “app,” and thus ask Facebook users if I can download or access their profile information? I don’t want any of that, I just want them to be able to comment here without trouble. I don’t want to have this “canvas” thingy or do all this sort of advertising stuff, and hell, my privacy policy is simply “Yeah I’m not going to tell anybody any of your private stuff.”

And then there’s the new profile layout. Now, I’m not one to really complain about Facebook’s profile changes. It’s their product, they can alter it as they see fit (and considering that membership has continued to climb at a fantastic rate, it appears to be quite fit), and before, they always seemed to make it more efficient, better, in many ways. But the most recent change I just can’t quite grasp. First off, those pictures up there? Yeah, maybe we don’t want them all up there for someone to see right away. Yes, I know you can delete them. I still think they don’t belong there. But secondly, and more importantly, what is the point of a status update anymore? It used to be it was at the top of one’s profile, where it was quite visible and could serve as a sort of “broadcast” to anyone visiting your profile as to what your status really was. But with all that personal information up there, your status gets pushed downwards, muddled with all your links, videos, notes, Farmville pleadings and Mafia Wars gangbanging, and your friend’s writings (which now you can’t filter out anymore; another dumb decision.) And so it makes me wonder why we even really have the damn thing anymore. Oh don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we do, but it still feels almost extraneous.

Before I used to think the same of Twitter. Since virtually the entirety of my social network was on the social network, what was the point of using Twitter? It was a status update, just limited to 140 characters. I was rankled by the inane length constraints, being a burgeoning novelist, and besides, it seemed redundant. I had status updates, who cared about Twitter. (Lots of people, yes, but I certainly didn’t.) Eventually I got over that and started using it, although still not on a truly frequent basis.

Now I’m starting to reverse my ideas. I’ve grown annoyed with Facebook lately, not only over its recent batch of befuddling design choices, but also over its security flaws, its unnecessary expansion and intensified complexity of its privacy policy, the arrogant attitude of its creator, the idea that Facebook seems to dictate all forms of internet interaction, and finally the sort of atmosphere that it’s becoming the social media Borg Collective, assimilating everything else into it. All my friends say “send me a Facebook message” instead of text or–god forbid–email. It’s as if this one company dominates and sets all of their communication protocols. I prefer to have diversity and choice, I’m no fan of monopolies. Seeing this occur is just unsettling.

So I’m thinking of using Twitter more often in my social media sphere. I won’t actually ditch Facebook–it’s like really think syrup, you just can’t get out–but I will shift my usage to a different service. And then, maybe Facebook would have to compete to get me back.

Reality check on aisle 9, please….