“Some people can be reasoned into sense, and others must be shocked into it.” ~ Thomas Paine
“I have not failed 10,000 times. I have found 10,000 ways that will not work.”~ Thomas Edison
Call me Shoq
Then call me very angry. While I’m generally just a fun-loving quipster who tries to entertain with snarky glibness and a world-class talent for twisting- up colorful balloon animals that look just like famous pundits, now and then I need to get off a brief political rant. This is as good a place as any, and it won't take (too) long.
I grew up in an America where sincere and informed people debated real ideas using reliable sources. But I now find myself living in an embittered and embattled country where pundits, talk show hosts, and generally talentless, noisy political flunkies and insincere rhetorical crap mongers continually pander to the gullible using any lie or disinformation sound bite they can get anyone to repeat on Facebook, Twitter, or a down-sized bumper sticker. These hooligans, henchmen and hooey whores will tell you with the utmost faux conviction that “Fox News is a news organization,” “Iraq is a stable democracy,” “America is a Christian Nation,” and “Obama’s birth certificate is a forgery.” Reality to these partisan suckers is like a crucifix to a vampire.
Most of these operatives and talking dreads have been fooled by a cynical conservative philosophy that has aggressively opposed almost every progressive social policy or act that advanced America’s power, prestige, or impact on science, education, commerce, or the evolution of modern democracies. Since such forward progress always has a cost, they prefer to advance any and all deceits that push as much of that cost onto the middle class as possible. Some of them are paid to push this selfish agenda, while others just do it because it’s an excuse to rail against everyone and everything that lowers their self-esteem.
If this all sounds dark and pessimistic, it’s not really supposed to be. It’s just my elevator executive overview of the predicament that I think we all face as a culture; a downward spiraling vortex of socio-political dysfunction that seems to be heading straight into the ground of history. I’ve spent much of my career trying to develop ideas that might shift that trajectory. Pessimists make lousy inventors, and I thrive on creative expression and design of any sort. If I might one day invent a constructive social mechanism to mitigate any of this morass, I’ll consider it a some small evidence of having lived a life worth living.
I was born and raised in New York, and spent well over a decade of my life living in Manhattan, the only borough most people care about. I still consider that my spiritual home, if not my current place of residence. As of late 2010, I live in South Florida, as a courtesy to my mother, who now lives only a few miles away, and who welcomes the company of her children—periodically. (I don’t know why.).
Prior to living in this semi-tropical strip mall testing range, I’d spent a decade in Rosslyn, VA, which was merely a concrete proving grounds serving as satellite parking for Washington, DC. I was situated roughly 1000 yards from the White House. So close that I could spit on it. In fact, I did spit on it for 8 long years of the Bush administration, when all it did was spit on the nation. Things are a better now. I might even go over there, sit on the front stoop, and wait for Barack to come outside for a smoke. If you want to find out where I am right now, try sending me a tweet at http://twitter.com/shoq.
Hobbies & Interests
I am a liberal iconoclast trying to survive in a country I once loved, and can now barely recognize without a handbook on media domination, a tip sheet on the Republican noise machine and a reference manual to Pentecostal homilies about Jesus and his Technicolor Bassboat.
If you listen to the typical Sean Hannity or Glen Beck listener, I’m a worthless, intellectually crippled liberal ideologue that doesn’t really work much. I don’t invent stuff that creates wealth or any surplus value. Instead, goes their meme, like all progressives, I just live on welfare and any spare change I can make selling old GOP “End the Filibuster” buttons to passersby in the Metro.
In my very rare spare time, I hang out with snobby, east coast progressives who wear smart looking black berets, smoke French cigarettes, and speculate about whether Simone de Beauvoir, Oscar Wilde, or Susan Sontag would have voted for David Cook or Sarah Palin as the next American Idol. Like me, most of them would all rather be living in Hollywood, snarfing veggie cocktail weenies with Sean Penn or Susan Sarandon.
When not openly trying to find passionate animal rights activists in short skirts and six inch heels, like all the other liberals, I live to hug trees, burn Bibles, and nominate Michael Moore, Ward Churchill and Jane Fonda to the Supreme Court. Someday, we hope to finally bring Utopian socialism—or at least unsubsidized health care—to Wal-Mart.
For kicks, I enjoy visiting wingnut websites where I can engage conservatives about activist judges, and especially the Supremes. I find it stimulating to hear all their diverse views about Diana Ross. If the sites are down, I just mine the web, looking for porn sites using stunt doubles with the names of Republican operatives like Cherry Jacobis or Amanduh Carpenter.
Oh yeah, and sometimes I like to annoy my friends by watching American Idol. I always liked talent shows, and watching anything where people aspire to something, whatever it is. If for no other reason, it kills time between episodes of shoe-hurling at right wing think tank “scholars,” whom I all too often see on Washington Journal, squeezed in between callers without teeth “thanking god for C-Span.”
Is discussing gadgets a Twitter TOS violation? I’m never sure with these “social” sites and I have to be careful. Back in the day (90s), AOL TOSed me so often, there are now parks and elementary schools named after me in Bangalore.
I am developing the world’s first index modeling technology. If you enjoy discussing collaborative ontologies across heterogeneous networks, I’m your guy. Oh, and I also have a Republican bobblehead store on eBay. Merely for giggles, I Twitter a lot.
My Real Identity
You’re reading about it right now. More or less. Ok, maybe less. But not a lot less. What I present on this blog and in this post is really all that matters about me. I am what I choose to reveal about myself through my blogging, my tweets, and whatever parts of me I choose to share through any personal engagements I might have with people I meet online. Not a good enough explanation? Fine, here’s the deal with my anonymity, to whatever degree I care to explain it in under 1250 words.
Shoq is known to hundreds of thousands of people. Thanks to his tweets showing up on those highlight streams at Huffington Post, and his well known Twitter tips and inventions, perhaps even millions of people have had at least some exposure to his panther avatar and the madness of his 125 character missives (remember to always leave room for the Retweeter’s name). Hell, depending on time of day, Shoq might be almost as famous as Wally Dow, or Gladys Frumowitz, the inventor of the famous Frumowitz variant on the Macarena dance. But at the same time, he’s also known to a fairly large number of conservatives, Republicans, and no small number of sociopathic personalities, stalkers, and romantic misfires. And that’s before we get to the garden variety asshats, douchebags, and people who want to chat about The View or Howie Mandel.
Shoq’s political enemies are many. But they aren’t always members of the Far Right. They can also be progressives, pseudo-liberals, anarchists, or members of the so-called “Professional Left,” who can often strenuously object to and resent his politics, and his vocal way of proffering his views to a significant following of progressives, personalities, and media outlets. This is especially true when he calls-out media fabrications, manipulations, and the daily link-baiting from broadcasters, narrowcasters, bloggers, talk radio hosts, political snark sites, and most other types of people and organizations who seem far more concerned with their ratings and web traffic than they are with the fate of their country. They are driven more by the news and views that monetize the many social and political carnivals, and the cavalcade of clowns and clown cars that populate them, than they are by the lives and well beings of the individuals and groups who must live out their brief lives in the very same society where these calculating circuses must market their three-ring products.
But hey, political enemies at least have rational motives. The more aggravating of my many adversaries are more like a pernicious social disease; a kind of digital herpes that infects my online life, and can’t be eradicated with creams, lotions, or wonder drugs. They are the Internet trolls, concern trolls, cyber bullies, and just plain churlish harassers who form an entire cultural underclass of their own. I call this later demographic, the “@Shoq Bashers.” Drawn to the 15 seconds of lame earned by humping a cyber-cat’s leg, these negative-attention fame whores will spend hours, days, weeks, and in some cases even even months or years patrolling my Twitter and web streams, looking for any target of opportunity that offers them a chance to jump in and convey their opinion of me to any new person that I engage, or who would be foolish enough to engage me.
Of particular interest to them is any major or minor celebrity, cultural icon, industry maven or mavenettes, or simply someone committing the unspeakable crime of asking me a simple question. Upon seeing such transgressions, the bashers will leap to their keyboards and scream out a warning like “Hey @Whomever, did you know that Shoq is just a bully who hates women and is wanted by the FBI for molesting goldfish? Stay away!” Their goal is usually nothing more than a faint hope that the target will be repulsed by the lie, or more often, just tune me out for no other reason than to avoid seeing their moronic hectoring. I sometimes refer to this kind of cyber textual pollution and bullying by a term I once coined (but have not yet bothered to add to my many Urban Dictionary contributions) as “Twitter Litter.”
Most of the time, these political opponents and Shoq bashers are just annoying, and can often appear obsessive and foolish to those observing them (over time, if not immediately). But back when I was far less cautious with my identity, or even more recently when it’s been betrayed by former friends, a few of them have taken their agendas, beefs, or obsessions into my personal life. Whether their goal was to intimidate me into changing or suppressing a political view, back off one of their friends or alliances, or just to badger, bully, malign or embarrass me for personal reasons, they would take their displeasure into the real world where they could distribute any smear, distortion, forgery, or fabrication which they felt might stick. After numerous threats to my family, friends, partners, romances, acquaintances, and reputation, it became evident that Shoq’s politics and persona were simply intruding into too many other lives—including his own. It simply had to stop. I decided I would be far more judicious in sharing my real identity, and have been ever since.
Does that mean nobody knows who I am? Not hardly. Many do. It’s just that I share it with people I trust, or have a need to know it for whatever personal or professional reason I decide is worth the risk of exposure. Most of them are cyber-aware enough to know that even if they later should decide to loathe me, “outing” me would be bad form, bad politics, and just generally a bad idea. Many people are wary of those who violate trusts when it suits them. Has it happened? You betcha. More than a few times. But it doesn’t really matter, because I’ve ensured that there is sufficient doubt about my identity that even the outer doesn’t always know what is true or not true (even in some cases when they’ve met me in person), and the information they think they are outing could be just plain wrong—or dangerously misleading for someone to bet a farm on. Not only would they reveal themselves to be petty and vindictive, but they might also be seen as reckless, gullible, or just plain stupid. All in all, this organic kind of deterrence has served me well up until now, and I hope it will continue to do so in the future for as long as I decide to remain anonymous.
When might that moment of truth be? It might be this afternoon, next month, or never. The decision rests with me, my girlfriend (assuming I actually decided to ever admit having one of those), my business partners (who do have skin in this Shoq game, intentionally or not), and any literary or public relations agents who might want to find a book deal or product endorsement handsome enough to make it worth tattling on myself. (Note: I would never endorse anything connected to Republicans, religion, bad pornography, things which harm innocents, or any product ever mentioned by Joe Scarborough, Laura Ingraham, Grover Norquist, Jane Hamsher, or Jay Leno.)
Whew! Hey, that was even under 1250 words! Still not happy? Can’t get enough of this topic? Need more discussion of my anonymity? Ok, fine, here’s another discussion of my identity issues, in the context of a post that was written largely because of them. If that doesn’t satisfy an insatiable appetite for who I really am, just send me a tweet and ask me for more information. I won’t give you any, but at least we can get to know each other better
Things Every High School Student Should Read
These and many others can be found in my “Progressive Rants and Primers”
- Some Essays Every Progressive Should Read (Compiled by Shoq)
- What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with It?
- Why The Right Hates Washington, DC
- The Powell Memo — How A Prominent Lawyer’s Attack Memo Changed America. If you read nothing else in your life, read these two documents and consider all that has come to pass in the USA since this document first landed like a bomb and changed everything — for the worse.
- Two Santa Clauses—or How The Republican Party Has Conned America for Thirty Years, by Thom Hartmann
- The Republican Noise Machine—Right-Wing Media and How It Corrupts Democracy, by David Brock
Some Favorite Words (Some Even By Me)
Creating and sharing words are what I do on Twitter, and why most people even know of me. These words are mine, unless otherwise indicated.
"We should all be proud that we dodged the Romney bullet. But please don't blink, as there's a grenade right behind it."
"Our entire web culture and ecosystem is methodically optimizing itself for the viral propagation of utter bullshit."
"If a Republican fell in the forest, and Fox News wasn't around to pretend it never happened… did it?"
“Quotes are humanity’s time capsules.”
"A liberal is someone who is willing to forgo something that they might have, so others might have something that they need."
“With Twitter, the whole world can finally talk to each other. The next step? Listening.”
“A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead
“Let’s just turn all of our basic research over to the #teaparty. Think of how much money we’ll save undiscovering stuff.”
"Thank you for the best string of yesterdays I've ever had." Anne Hathaway #GoldenGlobes
"If PT Barnum had a Twitter account in 1850, "there's a douchebag born every minute" would have been misattributed to him, too."
“#VoteGOP2012 Because America is in a race to the bottom, and only quitters would stop before we get there.”
“I’m designing a social network for sending short 70 character messages about things seen on Twitter. I call it ‘Litter.’”
“Avarice and greed have threatened nations for tens of centuries. I fear that ours will be the first killed by apathy.”
"Soon, none of us will have to work. We'll just output our food & shelter on 3D printers using plans downloaded from the cloud."
“People with no sense of humor make me laugh.”
"The Internet has given a voice to far too many people with absolutely nothing to say."
“The media, left, right and center is a pack of wild lemmings. They chase the lead lemming and we’re towed along for the ride.”
"There is no pain greater than the one we can't find words to express."
“Pretty soon, all the major papers will have paywalls, and people will be totally cut off from their main source of bullshit.”
“Someone asked me how I think up shit that I say. I’m still thinking about how to respond.”
“Scientists say cockroaches will survive global warming. This explains why Republicans seem so unconcerned”
“There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” Albert Schweitzer
“The potential is huge. But I still feel Occupy Wall Street needs a little more Tiananmen square, and little less Renaissance fair.”
“I believe in the Semantic Web. I just don’t know what that means.”
“Conservatism is less a set of ideas than it is a pathological distemper, a militant anger over the fact that the universe is not closed and life is not static.” ~ Bill Moyers
“We can have a democratic society or we can have the concentration of great wealth in the hands of the few. We cannot have both.” ~ Justice Louis Brandeis (1939)
“You have a really great personalities.”
“The problem with your argument Sir, is that you think you actually have one.” – #ShoqsFakeMovieQuotes
“Great historical figures, like good sex, great food, and eternal love, are always better in our memories.”
“I just unlocked “Fuck Social Network Badges” at ScrewAllThisStupidSocialCrap.com”
“To paraphrase Ezra Pound, ‘Great tweets are simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree’”
“Conservatives vote their fears. Liberals vote their dreams.” ~ Unknown
“Our problems boil down to a few things politicians must change. But making them change those things requires a change in us.”
“Throughout history, the really big ideas weren’t due to someone’s capital, but merely someone saying “this just sucks.”
“Nice pic, who is it?”
“Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” ~ H. L. Mencken
“Ever have days where you feel like all the glowing history you’ve heard about your country since 1st grade was utter bullshit?”
“Conservatism tries to protect a past for the few at the expense of a future for the many.
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” ~ Anaïs Nin
"Don't you just hate it when some clueless casual acquaintance wants to tell you what an awesome person your arch enemy is?
“I don’t brake for Republicans.”
“Only in America, would people making $35k a year, go out and demonstrate so billionaires could enjoy a better life.”
“There’s a helluva distance between wisecracking and wit. Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words.” ~ Dorothy Parker
“Mommas, don’t let your babies grow up to be douchebags.”
“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” Alan Kay
“Every time I try to rise above a Republican, I hit my head on the floor.”
“Your enemies will always know that you matter long before you do.” Shoq’s Dad
“We need a national moratorium on stupid.”
“All this technology has really filled our lives with all this technology.”
“If those in charge of our society – politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television – can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves.” Howard Zinn
“Our people with money and power have no passion or ideas, and our people with passion and ideas have no money or power.”
“As for the marshes… and the coasts… and the waters… and the beautiful animals about to perish… I can only think of this…
A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness. John Keats”
“If I knew how impossible it was going to be, I never would have done it.”
“Only in America can you find so many angry people claiming to love their country, while hating almost everyone in it.”
“Wish I got a commencement gig. I’d say: ‘You have no idea how much we’ve fucked this planet. And now it’s all yours.’”
“Nothing is far-fetched anymore. Batshit Crazy is the default everything.”
“The older I get, the more I feel that the only people who ever understood everything were Oscar Wilde and Daffy Duck”
“So many critics of the social order, lately. And all are making nice careers for themselves. I’m dubbing it the Critocracy.”
“I am not yet convinced that I am not yet convinced. But I can’t seem to find a way to say it convincingly.”
"Someone is wrong on the Internet." Randall Munroe
“Outright media lies are easy to debunk. It’s the lazy, fact-free, inside baseball analysis that’s killing us.”
"Before the Internet, stupid people were smart enough to keep a lower profile"
People I’d Like to Meet
Chris L Hayes
Melissa Harris Perry
Joy Ann Reid