Rants


Reposting a trans friend’s rant:
“There’s been so much historical erasure of trans people that I hardly have any sense of greater identity. All I know is that it has been bad, practically always.

Lately I’ve been feeling quite depressed, and even angry, which has been difficult for me to process as a transgender woman. I’ve been losing the battle against the constant daily barrage of micro-aggressions that I get exposed to, for just trying to make the best of a shitty situation -being trans.

And when I feel this anger, I think it’s important to step back and look at the bigger picture. See how far we’ve come, see stronger trans people throughout history being heroes, when faced with violent oppression.

But I hardly can even do that. Because outside of a very few key members, there is not real trans history. We were never given a voice. No one cared about our existence, and frankly, our existence disgusted anyone that would’ve even had the chance to give a damn and write any of our struggles down.

People joke that we’re mentally unstable? Motherfucker, your people would be too if you had no semblance of historical significance, no memories to read about our violent rise from the ashes, no childhood heroes to look up to. And that is excluding all of the jokes, the hateful ideologies, and the violence we expose ourselves to every. God. Damn. Day.

The only time our existence was relevant was during the lgbt civil rights movement, and once cisgender LGB got their way, they abandoned us. Left us behind, because they could blend themselves into cis-het white society now. What do they need us for? We just make them look bad.

I don’t know, man. It’s difficult enough to find yourself when you’re transgender. It’s so hard to go out into the world and say “this is who I am,” and not follow it up with “please don’t humiliate or hurt me.” But instead conclude with “I’m proud of myself.” Especially when you don’t have historical significance of which to base your pride on. When your brothers and sisters from the past were subjugated just as much as anyone else was, but no one chose to remember their names, or their lives, because they were deemed freaks -not fit to exist outside of brothels or insane asylums.

Trans people didn’t just start existing in the last ten years, even though to cis people it might feel that way. It’s just that no one ever gave us a chance at life. We have to make our own history, our own culture, and our own way. The only difference?

We don’t have a history of which we could even be doomed to repeat.”

 

[My note: Personally: I fucking really would have fucking benefited from a trans role model. This kind of erasure successfully erased me from myself for decades.]

Does anyone else find it interesting the way bookmarking, as a technology, rose, then fell, then rose, then fell, then rose again?
 
Rise #1: 1995-2002
At first it was great, everybody with their Netscape Navigator or Mosaic or Lynx was so enamored by the fact that you could actually save links. People would save links… then make webpages that are just them sharing what they think are good bookmarks. Google was born during the period.
 
Fall #1: 1999-2008
At some point, we all had to get a new computer, and lost all our bookmarks. Anyone consistent enough to actually understand that something saved should be SAVED FOR LIFE and not simply go away because a piece of hardware breaks — basically stopped using bookmarks at this point. They aren’t forever. They are a way to flush your efforts down the toilet. People just started googling things.
 
Rise #2: 2006-2013
Neither of the previous ways of doing things are good. You should be able to bookmark things FOR LIFE but also not lose them when your computer dies. 3rd party external bookmarking services like Del.Iciou.Us and Diigo started popping up. There were other sites like StumbleUpon and such. The point being – people could manage their bookmarks in a way that transcends their individual computer.
 
Fall #2: 2013
Del.iciou.us shuts down. Power users who have been using the one logical solution for persistent bookmarks scream so hard at yahoo that yahoo’s corporate decision is reversed. But the damage is done. A logical person stops using a service that has announced its closure, and logical people stopped using delicoius.
 
Rise #3: 2010-2017
Oh look! Google Chrome & Firefox now let you sync your browser to the internet. Not sure when they added this as I was busy using delicious. So when you install a brand new browser, you get all your plugins and bookmarks back. Who needs delicious anymore? WHo needs a 3rd party? The browsers finally work, in the mid 2010s, the way they always should have in the late 1990s. Transparently and persistently. Why the fuck did it take them so long?

Controversial semantic History lesson of the day: The word ‘faggot’. A hurtful word, but most of that is based in cultural, not semantic history. Radha had used it enough to cause genuine disturbance with me, so I researched it a bit.

Historically, it means ‘old lady’. It came to mean “you are as weak as an old lady”. (I wonder if this has any relation to the other definition, “a bundle of sticks”, which are generally weak enough to break)

In the UK, boarding school bullies would forcibly sodomize the weaker boys, and they would be “faggots” for being weak enough to be raped. Faggots for being a weak old lady that allowed ‘her’self to be raped.

Now, who do you think the real gay person is in this scenario? The person fighting to not have a penis go in their ass, or the person fighting to get their penis into another person’s ass? That’s the irony of the situation: If anything, the original ‘homophobic’ use of “faggot” was actually used by gay bullies to mock straight rape victims for being as weak as easily-rapable old ladies. Humans are disgusting.

So it’s really not a homophobic word, it’s just become that way, especially in America.

Ironically, when young american kids call other kids this — kids so young they don’t understand sexuality (not sure if that still exists with the internet today; i didn’t know what an orgasm was until middle school) — they are really just using the “generic pejorative” historical definition, because they don’t understand what gay is (at least, pre-internet. Maybe today every 5 year old knows what sodomy is, I don’t know, I hate children and don’t pay attention to them anymore).

So, y’know, calling, say, the police “a bunch of faggots” isn’t saying they are gay. Anyone evolved to the modern point of enlightenment knows there is nothing wrong with being gay, so how is calling someone gay an insult? More gay police would actually be a very positive thing.

It’s saying they are as weak as old women, and that’s why they have to resort to things like tasering schooldchildren and grandmothers and shooting dogs. Because they are weaker than old ladies. Fucking pig thug faggots. Nothing to do with their sexuality. It’s also bound to offend police because the majority of police are homophobic (find me a study that proves otherwise, because i can and did look one up before writing this). And an offended officer is good. Offended officers get mad, make mistakes on video, and occasionally face actual justice. Level-headed officers know how to get away with it.

So again: Fuck the police. If you support them, fuck you. If you think that little girl should have been thrown to the ground of her class, you are a faggot. And not the gay kind, because I wouldn’t give a shit about that. (If I could, I would turn 90% of the male population gay. More women would become available. Gay rights would be solved the next day because men are the ones in power. Win win. Bring on the gay missiles.)

At least we can get off the stupid magazine limit debate? Poor people need to be able to defend themselves from multiple attackers more than the privileged, who can afford 41 ten-round magazines (what this guy had).

Reduce it to 5, he buys 82 instead. Meanwhile, some poor person somewhere dies running out of bullets from multiple attackers.

But even if that person doesn’t run out of bullets and successfully saves his life– him defending himself gets counted as a gun homicide statistic, which gets used as a justification for magazine limits and for why he should be forced to have less bullets for defending himself.

It’s insidiously circular: The cause of saving one’s life is literally used as a reason to make it harder to save one’s life, in this hypothetical (but not that uncommon in human events) situation. Successfully saving your ass counts as a gun death! (more…)

Flat tax is a bullshit idea for the rich.

Money’s value to an individual is logarithmic, not linear.
Each additional dollar has less value to the individual, despite the fact that it represents the same absolute value.

[This is also a component of why people blow their money like impulsive idiots on payday.]

You can bet $1 means more to a homeless man than to Lars Ulrich [chosen for this example because he’s a fucking greedy cunt who helped kill napster].

Take 50% from Bill Gates, and he’s still a rich fucking fuck who can do whatever the fuck he wants. Negligible difference.

Take 50% from me, it might tip things so my wife & I both have to work constantly instead of mostly. Moderate difference.

Take 50% from someone in poverty? Can’t make rent. Can’t pay food. Big difference.

Of course the rich want to be taxed at the same percentage as the poor, because it is to their advantage.

Equality is not the same thing as fairness.

If you have a 2′ person, a 4′ person, and a 6′ person trying to watch a football game over a 8′ fence, you don’t give them all 2′ boxes. You give a 2′ box to the 6′, 4′ to the 4′, and 6′ to the 2′.
The end. (more…)

Feminist irony:

When republicans make laws about abortions that affect 16-18 year olds, feminists scream “it’s a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body”. I AGREE.

Yet, do you know how we got the age of consent of 18? The feminist movement pushed legislation to raise the age of consent to 18. They basically passed a law saying “it is illegal for you to use your vagina with certain people because you are too young to choose what to do with your own body”.

Major incongruity here. I get that they aren’t the same situation. That’s obvious. Nonetheless, by saying you can’t consent to someone over 18 until you are 18 yourself, a law was passed stating what you’re allowed to do with your vagina. (Difference being that if that age-of-consent law is broken, the vagina-owner doesn’t get in trouble. I’m sure that is a component in things.)

So it should probably be, “Keep your laws off my body and out of my vagina… Unless they put other people in jail. Then they’re okay.”

I’m sort of trolling here in that I know this may generate a controversial response, and that’s part of why I’m posting this — but I’m also being 100% honest here. (more…)

* I wish I were more selfish, that I cherish the desires of my self. I wish I were more prideful, that I value my own opinion instead of giving into that of others. I wish I were more wrathful, that I would take rightful offense against those who don’t respect that which is mine. I wish I were more gluttinous, that I trust in my body and keep it strong first. I wish I were more lustful, that I respect the call that sings in my blood. I wish I were more jealous, that I accept the example I see in others’ lives and use it to drive me to add more experience to my own life. And I wish I were the right TYPE of slothful, that I not work to fill another’s cup when it is my own that I ought to value more highly.

* It seems that all of what we call Virtues are traits that subvert and sublimate the individual to the Other, to let Them control us, use us, discard us. It seems all we call Vices are what keep us as ourselves.

* I seek no blissful non-existence dressed up as a Nirvana. I seek no dissolution of the Self in some Unity with some higher God. I have no wish to be lost in the crowd, no wish to be a cog in the machine, no wish to be a forgotten and overlooked and unimportant cell in some Body of some Christ.

–excerpted from Rev. Cyclohexane, but some of the finest shit I’ve ever read by anyone ever (more…)

Courtesy of Slashdot, from a discussion about SocialFixer’s legal threats from facebook, I ran into some very general comments about society that I thought were poingnant and worth sharing. THIS WHOLE POST IS A REPOST; I DIDN’T WRITE IT.

Here we go:

Clearly justice is denied when one party can use the threat of a lawsuit
to compel another to capitulate, simply because they can’t afford to defend
themselves. Everyone knows it works this way. Why don’t more people object?

“For the same reason he doesn’t; You learn early in life if you stand up for what you believe in, authority will make an example out of you. So you learn to fly under the radar, and cherish those precious few moments in life when you can do good without being punished.

It’s youthful idealism to think people will risk their freedom, their home, their financial security, their family, to combat an injustice. Especially against a vastly better equipped adversary like a large corporation with an excessively-sized legal department and millions or billions of dollars to burn… and full access to a legal system that can take away everything you own and away from everyone you know, at the snap of a gavel.

The few people who can’t give up their idealism to become “successful” (that is, capitulate to the demands of the dominant social institutions of their era) very rarely manage to achieve social change — the Ghandis and Martin Luther Kings to the Che Guevaras, etc., in a socially acceptable fashion. The majority simply become homeless, outcast from the system, develop mental or physical illness, and die early, and generally alone. And then there’s the extreme fringe that, so frustrated by an inability to accomplish anything, take themselves out of the picture in a hailstorm of bullets or fire. Terrorism can promote social change, though it’s politically unpopular to say this.

But as you can see… idealism is not particularly practical, which is why few people practice it except in small doses.”

Your comment gives me a crappy black feeling deep inside my chest.

“As it should. We can’t claim to be living to the highest ideals of democracy as long as wealth inequity exists on the scale that it does. So long as men toil and tolerate meaningless labor, potential is being wasted. We have given a tiny fraction of the population wide freedom of choice and an affluent lifestyle, at the expense of putting the overwhelming majority into poverty. This is not sustainable, nor is it moral. But it is, nevertheless, the current state of affairs.

America has never lived up to its promise as the “land of opportunity” save for a brief period after WWII called the ‘golden era’. Prior to that, there was the depression, and before that the industrial revolution… where workers would fall into the machines and lose their limbs or worse, and that was pretty much it for them. There was no health care, no government assistance. Them, and their families, were suddenly dependent entirely on the charity of others, and many perished. And today, despite our technological advances, the inequities of our society continue marching forward.

Many, if not most, of our accomplishments in the area of civil rights were due not to a sudden enlightenment of our population and embracing of democratic ideals, but the more pragmatic issue of economics.

The end to slavery; We needed more workers, and frankly, slaves just don’t work that hard. They’re slaves. You get more work out of people by taking off the real chains and giving them a wage. By replacing the physical and concrete with an abstract, productivity improves. They are still slaves — they have limited options for employment and only long hours for only crumbs… but the illusion of freedom makes them work harder.

Women’s lib: Women moved into the workplace because during WWII, all the men were shoved into a meat grinder and many didn’t come back. Someone had to work the factories. Oh we talk about how it was a great stride forward for women’s liberty and feminism… but it wasn’t. Economics dictated it happen… it’s just that other people took credit for it.

In fact, with only a very few exceptions, economics created the circumstances in which these movements happened, and while we pat ourselves on the back and elevate our heroes… their names and actions would not have been possible, or remembered, without the backing of money. There’s a reason economics is listed under the social sciences, not the physical; Because it really is all about people. You want to understand a society — follow the money.

The fact is, America has never been a strong cultural center for the world. We are an economic power, not a cultural one. Our diplomats are predator drones and stealth bombers… not because we’re excessively militant but because military power is cheap when you have a large class of poor people. We can mobilize millions to go fight proxy wars on behalf of our economic interests — people talk about the high cost of the wars we’ve had, but compared to how much money we rake in from international trade, it’s chump change.

Until that changes; Until America has culture, not just money and rationalizations derived from it, you won’t see very many idealists getting very far in this society. We have the same potentiality in our people as the people of any other country; But we’re squandering it because right now, America’s business… is business.”

OKAY, IT’S ME AGAIN. I think the girl who posted this really nailed it. Had to share. (more…)

You know.. You grow up with this thing, and it seems mainstream… But then I stopped and thought…

MGM may be mainstream nowadays, but when they first started, they basically took the scariest thing most people could imagine: A lion roaring – and put it up on a giant screen in front of a ton of people who’d never really been exposed to this technology before.

That’s actually brilliantly subversive. Nowadays they’d probably get charged somehow for hurting peoples’ feelings ….

(more…)

Women get abortions a lot more than men do. (Because it’s impossible for men to.)
Women also support the right to have an abortion more than men do.

Men smoke marijuana a lot more than women do.
Men also support the right to smoke marijuana more than women do.

So who’s laws are on who’s bodies, again?

There are more instances of marijuana use per year than abortions.
There are more men in jail for doing what they want with their body than there are women.

How about all the dicks on both sides of the aisle look over to the other side, then to the mirror, and see how similar you all are to your enemies? Stop telling other people what to do. It’s easy. You just… stop. Just… stop.

* I wish I were more selfish, that I cherish the desires of my self.

* I wish I were more prideful, that I value my own opinion instead of giving into that of others.

* I wish I were more wrathful, that I would take rightful offense against those who don’t respect that which is mine.

* I wish I were more gluttinous, that I trust in my body and keep it strong first.

* I wish I were more lustful, that I respect the call that sings in my blood.

* I wish I were more jealous, that I accept the example I see in others’ lives and use it to drive me to add more experience to my own life.

* And I wish I were the right TYPE of slothful, that I not work to fill another’s cup, when it is my own that I ought to value more highly.

* It seems that all of what we call Virtues are traits that subvert and sublimate the individual to the Other, to let Them control us, use us, discard us. It seems all we call Vices are what keep us as ourselves.

* I seek no blissful non-existence dressed up as a Nirvana. I seek no dissolution of the Self in some Unity with some higher God. I have no wish to be lost in the crowd, no wish to be a cog in the machine, no wish to be a forgotten and overlooked and unimportant cell in some Body of some Christ.

–excerpted from Rev. Cyclohexane, but some of the finest shit I’ve ever read by anyone ever (more…)

RANTS: The ‘Busy’ Trap

YES! Next time someone they are “so busy”, I’m going to send them this. It’s bugged me for a long time, and this enumerates exactly why it’s so fucking annoying to hear that from people.

Everyone should read this. This isn’t at all the type of thing I usually post… that’s how much it speaks to me.

LINK URL: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/the-busy-trap/

I used to think, as a kid, freckles were ugly & unattractive.

But then I grew to realize they make one’s natural sexy 3-D real–world (non-JPG) curvature much more appreciable — and also at a greater distance.

Thus, they literally physically emanate sexiness in all directions.

[I also think the curves explanation might explain fishnet stockings…. Though I think fishnets translate to photography/2-D better, because they are orderly enough {when compared to freckles} to infer 3-D information from more easily than the psuedo-random pattern of freckles.] (more…)

[LINK TO THE ARTICLE IN QUESTION]

I’m truly surprised in the hostile reactions to her article — people are indeed  proving her point via the hostile reaction.

People who are attractive and unattractive ARE treated in completely different ways — some good, some bad — and just because one is complimentary does not make it wanted.

As a male I’ve been hit on by gay guys so many times – it is complimentary, and I take it as a compliment, but I don’t necessarily want it, or that kind of attention!

Does everyone really lack the empathy to understand how annoying it can be to be treated special simply because of your appearance, and that the sword can cut BOTH WAYS {i.e. to affect both ugly AND attractive people}.

We are judged on a slew of superficial criteria, from the shoes we wear, the car we drive, our hairstyle, our fucking phones, and a myriad of other kneejerk observations that don’t actually say much about a person’s true nature, heart, or personality.

But when someone who comes from the advantaged class of attractive people dares tell it how it is, we have a bunch of people who react, call her “Fugly”, and reduce her to her looks – WHICH JUST PROVES HER POINT that one’s looks controls how others treat you.

These people also seem clueless that different people find different things attractive. A skinny 41 year old blonde at the the local DMV or courthouse would most certainly be in the top 10% of attractive people present, even with her “odd British looks”.

Hell, her face could be mangled, and that body alone would make her more attractive than most of the overweight american females at the local DMV.

Of COURSE she’s been hit on and had experiences to that over the course of her life.

Not everyone’s experience in life is the same. That her experiences are met with such skepticism just shows the general lack of empathy that humanity has.

What I am mostly hearing is that “If she looks like X, she can’t possibly have experienced Y, and therefore is full of shit”.

The X in the above sentence can be either “beautiful”, “ugly”, “plain”; but the sentiment is the same either way: People act like they can judge someone else’s experiences because they read an article that person wrote and saw a picture of them. In truth, nobody actually has the knowledge or authority to actually claim that about another human being.

Samantha Brick could be full of shit, but neither you nor I would ever be able to truly judge that, because we aren’t her, and did not live her life, walking in her shoes.

So how about people speak to her point, rather than personally attacking her (which partially proves it to me)?

—-

Addendum: Her article wasn’t about garnering pity for herself, it was about pointing out a very true facet of the human condition. But instead of people taking what she read and thinking about the words she said, and what they mean, they turn around and say, “Her attractiveness level is too [low|high] to be saying this”, or, alternately, “any woman who has enough confidence in her looks to mention them in an article is arrogant, and that’s really why everybody hates you”.

Oh really? Confidence is suddenly bad now? I think the people who say/think that are the ones who want attractive people to not be confident, that way they have less of an edge on less attractive people [more important to women], and also are more easily bangable by guys out of their league [more important to men].

—-

Addendum 2: There ARE some women (and men!) threatened by confidence. Whether it is 5%, 50%, or 95% doesn’t matter; there are enough that the woman in this article’s experiences are not out of the realm of possible experiences a human being might have. What she wrote was a personal testimony, not an indictment of every woman on the planet.

—-

Jeremy Turn3r adds: “I see her point. A good-looking woman of my acquaintance once told me that the worst thing a guy could say to her was “I’ve wanted you from the first time I saw you,” because it suggested to her that the guy had only ever been interested in her looks.”

—-

Desi from Failblog commented: “Funny how everyone goes on and on about how arrogant and self centered they think Samantha is… all of the people interviewing her barely let her talk at all, and made no attempt to treat her with any respect. I do not think Samantha is a good or bad person based on this. But I do see a lot of people who aren’t helping their case at all. Every single person has problems of their own. More attractive people do not necessarily have easier lives, or less problems. Perhaps they may have an easier time in some areas, but they also have troubles unique to them. Just like anyone else. It all comes out to the same thing. We all have different problems, not less. She’s simply trying to explain her personal experience. Just because it isn’t a popular point of view doesn’t justify an attack. Sure, some people are just nice to others… interesting how those nice people have all been male, isn’t it? If you people really want to prove her wrong so bad, here’s what you ought to do: Just leave it be. Really. All this hate is only proving her point. And look, I didn’t mention my personal opinion of her looks once. It just plain doesn’t matter to me.”

Tripp responds to a Google+ post of mine

I honestly don’t get Instagram. Your phone already has a camera, and can already post pics to Twitter or FB. Does sticking a white border around the photo before sharing it really make that big of a difference?

Yes, yes it does.

It makes the photo worse.

Drawing a border is the job of the HTML or CSS. Someone wanting to a photo or insert it into their own collection will now be cursed with inconsistency in their collection.

In fact, I’ve used ImageMagick to write a script to blindly strip x pixels off the edges of pictures, specifically to normalize photos I add to my collection that have stupid fucking built in borders. That way I don’t have to bug anybody about it (other than this blogpost).

And don’t get me started on fake Polaroids. Anyone taking a picture on a iPhone trying to make it look like a Polaroid is as stupid to me as someone who rips a CD to a lossless format then purposely adds phonograph needle sounds and crackles. Another, weaker metaphor: buying new jeans and ripping holes in them to get “that look”. Or how about buying a bluray, then ripping it to your computer, and using video editing software to add fake VHS effects to it? ALL OF THE ABOVE IS FUCKING STUPID.

Basically, fuck hipsterism*, to some extent.

*(or certain aspects thereof, especially unjustified Apple fandom)

-=-

I even did some googling to try to find out more information, just for the purpose of this post not accidentally being full of shit. And for all I can find, there’s nothing Instagram does that Flickr and other photo sharing sites weren’t doing first — in some cases more than 5 years ago.

So why do I have to hear about it 5 times a day now? It coming to Android doesn’t make it any less useless, or any more useful than a myriad of solutions already out there. If I try to distill this to the crux of the issue, it boils down to cell-phone people pretending they are computer people.

But it’s okay. EVEN BEFORE IT WAS RELEASED TO ANDROID, the word “instagram” caused my eye to instantly dart down the page to the next item. “Instgram” being on something has very much become synonymous with “item Clint does not care about”. There’s a bias and a prejudice now, just based on being fed up with the whole pretentious trend. And yes, I am using the dictionary definition of pretentious, as in “Attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed.” When Kevin Smith made Clerks black & white, there was a reason. 1990 security camera technology. When you do it? It’s most likely pretentious. (more…)

When I complain about my iPhone 2G suckiness — and people tell me the new iPhone 3G/4G/whatever fixed whatever particular problem it is at the time (and there are many)…

It just kind of reminds me of when you point out some bullshit in the old testament to a christian, and they say, “Oh, the new testament fixes that!”

That is to say: It doesn’t pass muster with me.

“The 1978 Pinto doesn’t blow up like the 1977 one does!” doesn’t make me think Pinto is an innovative company, it makes me think they’re a company who put a faulty product out. (more…)

I decided I wanted a blog post listening various Rites Of Passages. At least, that’s what my note to myself said. The thing is, I never fleshed out the idea, or made the list. So here is a very short, incomplete list of Rites Of Passages that Clint finds interesting:

  • Seeing a live Rocky Horror performance where they actually do it right. Don’t be a pussy. There’s no experience like this, and you are depriving yourself of rich, festive fun by never going.
  • Watching EVERYTHING Jackass has ever made. You won’t be the same afterward. If you’re lucky, you’ll puke on yourself like somebody I know did.
  • Riding in a car with an intoxicated driver, scared shitless, intoxicated yourself, wishing the horror was over
20061014 - Camping with Misfit & Kali - 107-0738 - im-in-ur-pedalz-aselratin-ur-enginz

Not pussies.

  • Getting your ass kicked
20070113 - Clint's 33rd Birthday party - 109-0974_Ben - after being forceably subdued

Who
  • Getting in a car accident
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Hopefully not one with live power cables burning holes in metal signs...."]20100116 - drunk driver downed powerline - GEDC1351 - eerie hanging crucifix - brutal

Invariably, people are going to suggest their own items to be added to the list. But this is the list of ones that *I* think should be on the list, so, I may or may not add your suggestion :D (more…)

If I was a bank,I’d charge people $5/mo to make debit card transactions too–after the govt capped my transaction limit & thus my profits.

A lot of people are whining about paying $5 to use their debit card. Nobody’s making you use that debit card. You don’t have a constitutional right to withdraw money from a bank account using a debit card. It was a banking gimmick to make money off people too irresponsible to have credit cards, and people too cowardly to carry large amounts of cash. It worked. A lot of people who are scared of buying cash and have no credit now use debit cards. (Nevermind that this means all their transactions are now data points for Big Brother.)

I also just read a study… It’s about 5 yrs old, but was the first of its kind. Only half of people even use ATM cards for direct-draw purchases! I think I only have once, when it was a $50 discount (at which point I wouldn’t mind paying a $5 fee to save $50!). The other half of people pay using credit, check, or cash. No ATM swipes.

The half of people that DO purchase using direct-draw ATM/check cards do this do it an average of 3 times a week, or 12 times a month. The government just passed a new regulation capping the transfer fee at 21 cent cap. I thought credit cards charged 29 cents per transaction? 21 cents seems kinda low! Actually, upon cursory inspection, they charge about 2% of the sale. That’s a lot. The costs add up. I know they do, because I’ve gone to places that only take cash because they don’t want to pay for all the credit card transaction fees. Gas stations often give you a cheaper per-gallon rate if you pay in cash. Cash is king.

Anyway, at the average rate of 12 transactions a month, a bank stands to only make $2.52. A credit card company would make a lot more than this. Say your $12 transactions were $25 each; that’s $300, or $6 in fees at 2 percent. PLUS they make interest off balances (if you’re the type who doesn’t pay your full balance each and every month). They make a lot of money doing these transactions! But Bank Of America would only make $2.52 on these transactions.

 

Now take into consideration that the relationship between banker and customer is the opposite of the relationship between between creditor and customer. The bank pays you for holding your money; you pay creditors interest for spending your money before you get it. Transactions are less profitable for banks than for creditors. Credit card companies make big money on those irresponsible (or, in rarer instances, unlucky) enough to end up paying interest. I’ve never paid interest on my credit cards; I’ve never carried a balance except by billing error; and in fact they’ve written me a $250 check for having spent $25,000 through my main card. In other words, everything I buy via credit is 1% cheaper than the cash rate (assuming both are sold at the same rate, and it’s not one of these places that gives you a cash discount).

But for banks, it’s the opposite. Banks keep our money and pay US interest, instead of us paying them interest. A transaction at an equal cost to both businesses is a completely different animal. For a creditor, $6 in transaction fees opens them up to making business on you paying the interest on what you just bought. For a bank, $2.52 in transaction fees means they make no extra money. (They may save a miniscule amount of interest, but there’s no profit.)

ATM cards don’t really open banks up to new business. It only drains money from them. It doesn’t matter if they are net-profit — a way a business stays profitable is by eliminating arms of the business that are not profitable.

It is fully possible for anybody, rich or poor, to make as many purchases they want without spending a cent on transaction fees. Just don’t expect the banks to foot the bill forever. It was a temporarily thing based around a gimmick to gain customers. But the gimmick is no longer special. The honeymoon is over. Back to normal.

If you want this fee to end, then you are foisting the costs of YOUR debit card onto people like me who don’t use them. The money that the banks lose on these transaction fees (and associated fraud) will be made up for by increasing other bank fees. Fees that apply to all people. They are a business. To succeed, they will make sure to operate at a profit. That is how business works. If you take away money from one area of income, they will raise prices in another area to make up for it. So now their fees have gone up. Or maybe they now offer a slightly lower interest rate. So now I’m paying for your debit card?

Yeah, I’d much rather you pay for your debit card than me. It’s not my fault you got sucked into sucking your bank’s teet for every penny you spend. There are tons of creditors willing to let you spend their money instead, in the hope that you won’t pay it back at the end of the month. They are much nicer with their money than the banks!

I recently read the average american loses over $100 a year in their checking account due to bank fees. That’s funny — I’ve banked for over 18 years, and that is more than the total fees in my life. I did get a few for going below the minimum balance. But you know what? If you spend 20 minutes to phone in a complaint, most banks will waive a fee just to get you off the phone. They’re counting on the stupid people who fuck up, incur fees because they can’t work a system, and then don’t fight it. The cause is not their evil fee structure (which you want to increase, by making me have to pay for your debit card transaction fees), but people who don’t know how to operate within a system.

If you overdraft, you are spending money you don’t have. You should be using a credit card. If you hit minimum balance fees, you don’t have enough money for a bank account. You should be using cash. If you have bad credit — you get what you deserve. And remember: No credit is as bad as bad credit. If you don’t have a credit card — even one you never use — you’re setting yourself up for failure later in life.

If more banks pick up this fee, expect more people to use credit or cash. Someone tried to claim that cash was somehow more expensive than electronic transfers. Has anyone ever made you pay them 29 cents to give them cash? Nope. Cash costs the cost of the minimum wage worker who takes it from your hand and puts it in the register. He’s already paid. His slowdown only really affects the people in line behind you. No extra money is spent to collect the cash past the cashier who is there for all forms of payment. Electronic? Now you need network connectivity, machines to process the cards, electricity; the credit card companies need massive databases, database programmers, administrators, data centers, IT security. OF COURSE electronic fund transfers are more expensive! They will likely be more expensive than cash for the forseeable future. I am surprised this is not a fact that is simply instantaneously obvious to people without any evidence being prevented.

But anyway — this whole $5 ATM card thing is a great example of entitlement-based bellyaching. As a customer, if you don’t like it, you can take your money elsewhere. (For now.) And you should. Go to a credit union. Go somewhere else. Don’t use Bank Of America if you don’t like their fee structures. IT’S YOUR MONEY. YOU control how it exists in the system. If you have to pay $5 to do things the way you want to do them, and that is unacceptable to you — then YOU need to change.

Anyway, the government regulated business, and business passed on the extra cost incurred to the customer. This is pretty much how any business would operate. If you made me sell t-shirts at a loss, I’d make my customers pay a t-shirt club fee to get into my store. I’d have to make up that money somehow. While the dollar values might not be accurate (perhaps credit card transaction fees are too much, so the comparison may not be as good as I think it is), the point that they are charging people who use a service for using that service — rather than making up that money elsewhere — is quite fair to me.

I shouldn’t have to pay for your inability to use cash or credit.

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The “flat” sound that some people describe mp3s as having has nothing to do with them being mp3s. This is a misconception that I’ve seen repeated about as many times as people claiming that vinyl sounds better.

The “flat” mp3 sound (often attributed to ALL digital formats) is typically is due to the fact that when mp3s were first adapted, harddrive space cost a lot more, and they encoded them at low bitrates such as 128kbps, with most encoders cutting out 16kHz-20kHz range altogether. So yeah. That’s pretty bad. Unlike vinyl or cassette or CD, mp3s can be encoded in more than one way. And most of those ways were shitty when the format first came out. Unfortunatley, that’s when most people ripped their music, and music piracy helps keep such shitty encodes circling the globe.

This is why I’ve found myself buying a CD even though I’d already downloaded the mp3s of it. Because I wanted to make PROPER mp3s that actually SOUND GOOD.

The encoder itself matters, too. The same bitrate with different encoders that use different acoustic mathematical models will result in different sound quality. Such models have improved greatly over the years. I recommend LAME.exe. Many power users consider it the best encoder out there.

Let me play you a lossless recording and a LAME.exe, VBR-encoded mp3 over my 5.1 system compared to a WAV or FLAC of the same song. (But only after making sure they both come out at the same apparent volume; people often pick whichever one is the loudest one otherwise.) When you can correctly choose which is which 75% of the time, I might consider you an exception to the normal abilities of the human ear.

I hear a lot of people try to make up a silly claim that mp3s sound flat because they are in fact only discrete points of the audio, with math filling in the rest. And our “brain can tell the difference”.

Sorry, bub. That’s just not true. Your brain may be able to tell the difference between some files on your harddrive, but that is because they are bad files, not because they are digital. Reality is simply a matter of our brain being fed certain signals. There are most certainly upper limits in the resolution and processing power of what we can perceive — even if science may have the wrong limit stated (or not know them at all), and even if human beings exhibit a wide variance in perceptual talent. (There may be 1% that need double the bitrate to be fooled!) Yes, some people definitely hear at a higher resolution than others, just as some people have a greater tonal range. Eventually, however, technology will be advanced enough (and storage space ridiculously cheap enough) that it will be quite possible for everybody to carry a recording of something in such great resolution that no human being on the planet could ever distinguish it from the original analog production of those same sounds.

We’re not there yet, but how many of you have done a controlled study? Did you have someone play you back the 2 files? Did you make sure they both had the same volume? {mp3 encoding often mucks with the volume levels slightly}. Did they record the results? Were they randomized? What percentage of the time were you able to tell? So far, I know few people who have done a test like this. I did in 2000 — and years later decided that the results I had recorded for myself were wrong. I thought 160kbps was good enough. Then I thought 192kbps was good enough. I was wrong. I now encode at the highest bitrate with the highest quality. The point being — I’ve been willing to correct my own personal assumptions several times over the years.

Further complicating things is this:
http://news.slashdot.org/story/09/03/11/153205/young-people-prefer-sizzle-sounds-of-mp3-format

They did surveys and found that people who grew up on inaccurately-encoded mp3s preferred the sound of that to lossless recordings!
In other words, they preferred something worse!

This explains all those vinyl people right off the bat. They like the “warmer” sound because it is what they are used to. And it’s hard to perform a double-blind test when comparying vinyl to other formats, because vinyl is such a broken format that it’s impossible to NOT tell it’s vinyl. I’ve never not been able to hear the needle, to hear pieces of dust. I’ll carve an exception for people who use laser-based vinyl record players (which do not use needles), but they are still subject to the RIAA equaliation curve which causes vinyl to actually represent the full tonality of sound IN AN INFERIOR WAY. But because they can always hear the hiss and crack, in a survey, vinyl will win. It doesn’t mean shit. It means as much as the college kids in the study above preferring shitty 128kbps mp3s over lossless FLAC. People are dumb and don’t even know what they want. I didn’t know what I want and changed my own mind a few times.

The conclusion of the study for me personally is that when a single human being claims to like one format better than another — it really doesn’t mean much in terms of the format being better. People like worse things if that’s what they are used to. Aggregate controlled surveys are what truly dictates which format is better.

I grew up on vinyl, but I know CD is an improvement on it, because I personally think the people who say they prefer the “warmer” sound of vinyl are as full of shit as the students in the slashdot article linked above. The same thing applies to those who think that digital music is automatically “flat”. No. It depends on far more than whether it is digital/mp3 or not.

[P.S. If you haven’t done a blind, controlled study with volume-normalized encodes at the highest possible bitrate — please do not leave a comment about your opinion. I’m only interested in the opinion of people who understand proper testing methodology, and have gone through a proper test.] (more…)

Jokes during music or movies can rely on someone hearing the joke, mentally scanning forward a bit in the song/movie & realizing how the joke would be funny BEFORE that specific part of the song/movie happens, causing the person you are telling the joke to to laugh at the punchline before it actually happens.

It is in this way that music and movies allows us to cast our jokes (& thus our *thoughts*, maaaan) into the fourth dimension — yet with immediate results.

It’s like fucking Back To the Future.

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