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> The Web Is Making People Stupid, TWIMPS And Getting TWIMPSER
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Zoloft
post Sun 28th February 2010, 1:10am
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QUOTE(RMHED @ Sun 28th February 2010, 1:08am) *

QUOTE(Jon Awbrey @ Sun 28th February 2010, 1:00am) *

QUOTE(RMHED @ Sat 27th February 2010, 7:50pm) *

The unconscious soul is solely conscious of its lack of conscience.


Not everyone would agree with that. Freud, for instance, in some of his thinking, thought that the adamantine core of the super-ego, the part of our psyche that is conscientious to a fault, was necessarily unconscious.

Jon Awbrey

That of course required conscious thinking by Freud and he was thus negating his unconscious thoughts. This conscious thought was therefore tainted by awareness of the self and distorted by his super-ego.

The Heisenberg Theory of psychoanalysis? hmmm.gif
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MZMcBride
post Sun 28th February 2010, 5:51am
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QUOTE(The Joy @ Sat 27th February 2010, 3:58pm) *

QUOTE(RMHED @ Sat 27th February 2010, 3:35pm) *

The web isn't making people stupid, people have always been stupid, it's hardwired into humanity (and thus will ensure our timely destruction.)


Indeed. The Internet acts as a megaphone for people, both the stupid and the smart. It doesn't help that the quantity of information has increased with the help of the Internet, but at the expense of good quality information. You have to be a good detective with great information literacy to find the diamonds in the rough.

The issue I have with a good portion of the criticism on this site is that, as you say, it's a symptom of the Internet (or the Information Age, I guess), while many people here blame individual components like Wikipedia. Wikipedia may be an example case, but it's hardly to blame for the giant shift that's been witnessed over the past fifteen to twenty years.
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Jon Awbrey
post Sun 28th February 2010, 4:41pm
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QUOTE(MZMcBride @ Sun 28th February 2010, 12:51am) *

QUOTE(The Joy @ Sat 27th February 2010, 3:58pm) *

QUOTE(RMHED @ Sat 27th February 2010, 3:35pm) *

The web isn't making people stupid, people have always been stupid, it's hardwired into humanity (and thus will ensure our timely destruction.)


Indeed. The Internet acts as a megaphone for people, both the stupid and the smart. It doesn't help that the quantity of information has increased with the help of the Internet, but at the expense of good quality information. You have to be a good detective with great information literacy to find the diamonds in the rough.


The issue I have with a good portion of the criticism on this site is that, as you say, it's a symptom of the Internet (or the Information Age, I guess), while many people here blame individual components like Wikipedia. Wikipedia may be an example case, but it's hardly to blame for the giant shift that's been witnessed over the past fifteen to twenty years.


¤ sigh ¤

I can't say it any better than this —

George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone

Jon dry.gif
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SB_Johnny
post Sun 28th February 2010, 4:54pm
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QUOTE(MZMcBride @ Sun 28th February 2010, 12:51am) *

QUOTE(The Joy @ Sat 27th February 2010, 3:58pm) *

QUOTE(RMHED @ Sat 27th February 2010, 3:35pm) *

The web isn't making people stupid, people have always been stupid, it's hardwired into humanity (and thus will ensure our timely destruction.)


Indeed. The Internet acts as a megaphone for people, both the stupid and the smart. It doesn't help that the quantity of information has increased with the help of the Internet, but at the expense of good quality information. You have to be a good detective with great information literacy to find the diamonds in the rough.

The issue I have with a good portion of the criticism on this site is that, as you say, it's a symptom of the Internet (or the Information Age, I guess), while many people here blame individual components like Wikipedia. Wikipedia may be an example case, but it's hardly to blame for the giant shift that's been witnessed over the past fifteen to twenty years.

Right, but this is Wikipedia Review. "Act local, think global".
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Herschelkrustofsky
post Sun 28th February 2010, 5:03pm
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QUOTE(Rhindle @ Sat 27th February 2010, 1:38pm) *

QUOTE(Herschelkrustofsky @ Wed 24th February 2010, 5:45pm) *

Somey, what makes you so certain that 1984 was not a "how-to"? There were some that thought Brave New World was "a warning, not a how-to," but from what we know about Huxley's personal views, that is clearly not the case.


Neil Postman in Amusing Ourselves to Death stated that he believed the world was more like Brave New World rather than 1984 in that we are oppressed more by pleasure than pain. In other words, if we are all kept entertained, we won't care what the big bad governments are doing.
It looks to me like the preferred approach is a mixture of the two, a sort of hard cop/soft cop.
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Jon Awbrey
post Thu 4th March 2010, 3:44pm
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QUOTE(Jon Awbrey @ Sun 28th February 2010, 11:41am) *

QUOTE(MZMcBride @ Sun 28th February 2010, 12:51am) *

QUOTE(The Joy @ Sat 27th February 2010, 3:58pm) *

QUOTE(RMHED @ Sat 27th February 2010, 3:35pm) *

The web isn't making people stupid, people have always been stupid, it's hardwired into humanity (and thus will ensure our timely destruction.)


Indeed. The Internet acts as a megaphone for people, both the stupid and the smart. It doesn't help that the quantity of information has increased with the help of the Internet, but at the expense of good quality information. You have to be a good detective with great information literacy to find the diamonds in the rough.


The issue I have with a good portion of the criticism on this site is that, as you say, it's a symptom of the Internet (or the Information Age, I guess), while many people here blame individual components like Wikipedia. Wikipedia may be an example case, but it's hardly to blame for the giant shift that's been witnessed over the past fifteen to twenty years.


¤ sigh ¤

I can't say it any better than this —

George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone

Jon dry.gif


A few spare ergs in my brain-basket this morning, so maybe I'll try to unscramble the entropy thereof.

There are indeed more general phenomena afoot here — that's the very reason for the existence of this Meta*Discussion Forum.

What led me to open this thread, specifically, was that I had started noticing similar developments taking place at many different fora and e-gora across the web. Nothing new under the sun as far as human nature goes, of course, but it looks like there are specific technical factors on the rise that are blocking the best and catalyzing the worst in the way of critical, reflective, independent thought.

So … what are those stupefying factors, exactly?

Jon Awbrey
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Milton Roe
post Thu 4th March 2010, 5:10pm
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QUOTE(Jon Awbrey @ Thu 4th March 2010, 8:44am) *

QUOTE(Jon Awbrey @ Sun 28th February 2010, 11:41am) *

QUOTE(MZMcBride @ Sun 28th February 2010, 12:51am) *

QUOTE(The Joy @ Sat 27th February 2010, 3:58pm) *

QUOTE(RMHED @ Sat 27th February 2010, 3:35pm) *

The web isn't making people stupid, people have always been stupid, it's hardwired into humanity (and thus will ensure our timely destruction.)


Indeed. The Internet acts as a megaphone for people, both the stupid and the smart. It doesn't help that the quantity of information has increased with the help of the Internet, but at the expense of good quality information. You have to be a good detective with great information literacy to find the diamonds in the rough.


The issue I have with a good portion of the criticism on this site is that, as you say, it's a symptom of the Internet (or the Information Age, I guess), while many people here blame individual components like Wikipedia. Wikipedia may be an example case, but it's hardly to blame for the giant shift that's been witnessed over the past fifteen to twenty years.


¤ sigh ¤

I can't say it any better than this —

George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone

Jon dry.gif


A few spare ergs in my brain-basket this morning, so maybe I'll try to unscramble the entropy thereof.

There are indeed more general phenomena afoot here — that's the very reason for the existence of this Meta*Discussion Forum.

What led me to open this thread, specifically, was that I had started noticing similar developments taking place at many different fora and e-gora across the web. Nothing new under the sun as far as human nature goes, of course, but it looks like there are specific technical factors on the rise that are blocking the best and catalyzing the worst in the way of critical, reflective, independent thought.

So … what are those stupefying factors, exactly?

Jon Awbrey



Well, besides the usual complaint about e-"publishing"? Once upon a time, publishing was intimately connected with EDITING, because publishing was intrinically expensive. Involving as it did materials like paper and ink, and requiring a lot of skilled work from typesetters, printers, and the like, and then needing distribution costs for newspapers, magazines, journals, and books.

Okay, so take away all the intrinsic material costs of publishing, or nearly all. Now suddenly, the EDITING becomes the most expensive part. So then, what happens that we start to get competition from e-published stuff that hasn't been edited at all, or has been inadequately edited? This would have been stupid or unlikely in the old days when good editing was only a fraction of publication costs, and was essential to picking out only the good stuff to publish, which was in turn intrinsically expensive to publish. Decouple these functions now, and you get replication of "printed" material, with no selection. The evolutionary process which once drove quality-improvement in the written word, now breaks down, because half the critical mechanism has been turned off. There's no selection of good material on the production end.

Okay, now e-Malthus demands that there must be selection SOMEWHERE, since we can't read the garbage as fast as it appears on teh web. So where does that selection happen, now? Well, Google does it. Bing wants to do it. In large part, the buzz from popular interest does it. But that sort of thing amplifies pop culture and doesn't work so well for academics and knowledge. Hence the little demo the other day about pop culture articles vs. articles about weightier things on wikipedia. That's true of everyplace on the web.

No solution for this do I see. It's been the case for thousands of years that people have resisted paying for pure information, even though information is actually most of what you buy, with most products. Instead, those who sold information were forced to package it up with something else, some material, and sell the material "thing." A book being the prime example-- you sell the physical book to get people to buy the novel, but if they can get the novel without having to buy the book, they'll steal the novel. It's the same with health advice. People will not pay what health advice is worth. If they would, doctors could make living talking to people on the phone, or sending them videotapes. Forget it. Even alternative people can't make a living doing that-- they have to sell fancy packaged nutritional supplements, or else go broke. Those supplements are basically information, but packed in a way that to get the information you have to buy the thing.

The internet, with its capacity to reproduce and transmit "information," for closer and closer to nothing, has become the ultimate counterfeiter for what used to be the currency of knowledge. And per Gresham's Law of the Information Jungle, bad information is in the process of driving out good. Information inflation has now set in, and the currency is devalued. Attempts to establish gold standards for knowledge are resisted on every side. The idea that not everybody can (or should) print $100 bills, is held to be elitist.

Ah, well. Back to making "things." If you think you're going to make a living by thinking, and selling your thoughts in print to somebody, you'd better think some more about that. ermm.gif
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Daniel Brandt
post Thu 4th March 2010, 9:18pm
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QUOTE(Jon Awbrey @ Thu 4th March 2010, 9:44am) *

There are indeed more general phenomena afoot here — that's the very reason for the existence of this Meta*Discussion Forum.

What led me to open this thread, specifically, was that I had started noticing similar developments taking place at many different fora and e-gora across the web. Nothing new under the sun as far as human nature goes, of course, but it looks like there are specific technical factors on the rise that are blocking the best and catalyzing the worst in the way of critical, reflective, independent thought.

So … what are those stupefying factors, exactly?

Jon Awbrey

Death by a thousand snippets.
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Milton Roe
post Thu 4th March 2010, 9:24pm
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QUOTE(Daniel Brandt @ Thu 4th March 2010, 2:18pm) *

QUOTE(Jon Awbrey @ Thu 4th March 2010, 9:44am) *

There are indeed more general phenomena afoot here — that's the very reason for the existence of this Meta*Discussion Forum.

What led me to open this thread, specifically, was that I had started noticing similar developments taking place at many different fora and e-gora across the web. Nothing new under the sun as far as human nature goes, of course, but it looks like there are specific technical factors on the rise that are blocking the best and catalyzing the worst in the way of critical, reflective, independent thought.

So … what are those stupefying factors, exactly?

Jon Awbrey

Death by a thousand snippets.

Cool illustration from a lawyer mag on that site:
Full-Width Image
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Jon Awbrey
post Fri 5th March 2010, 2:18pm
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QUOTE(Milton Roe @ Thu 4th March 2010, 12:10pm) *

QUOTE(Jon Awbrey @ Thu 4th March 2010, 8:44am) *

A few spare ergs in my brain-basket this morning, so maybe I'll try to unscramble the entropy thereof.

There are indeed more general phenomena afoot here — that's the very reason for the existence of this Meta*Discussion Forum.

What led me to open this thread, specifically, was that I had started noticing similar developments taking place at many different fora and e-gora across the web. Nothing new under the sun as far as human nature goes, of course, but it looks like there are specific technical factors on the rise that are blocking the best and catalyzing the worst in the way of critical, reflective, independent thought.

So … what are those stupefying factors, exactly?

Jon Awbrey


Well, besides the usual complaint about e-"publishing"? Once upon a time, publishing was intimately connected with EDITING, because publishing was intrinsically expensive. Involving as it did materials like paper and ink, and requiring a lot of skilled work from typesetters, printers, and the like, and then needing distribution costs for newspapers, magazines, journals, and books.

Okay, so take away all the intrinsic material costs of publishing, or nearly all. Now suddenly, the EDITING becomes the most expensive part. So then, what happens that we start to get competition from e-published stuff that hasn't been edited at all, or has been inadequately edited? This would have been stupid or unlikely in the old days when good editing was only a fraction of publication costs, and was essential to picking out only the good stuff to publish, which was in turn intrinsically expensive to publish. Decouple these functions now, and you get replication of "printed" material, with no selection. The evolutionary process which once drove quality-improvement in the written word, now breaks down, because half the critical mechanism has been turned off. There's no selection of good material on the production end.

Okay, now e-Malthus demands that there must be selection SOMEWHERE, since we can't read the garbage as fast as it appears on teh web. So where does that selection happen, now? Well, Google does it. Bing wants to do it. In large part, the buzz from popular interest does it. But that sort of thing amplifies pop culture and doesn't work so well for academics and knowledge. Hence the little demo the other day about pop culture articles vs. articles about weightier things on wikipedia. That's true of everyplace on the web.

No solution for this do I see. It's been the case for thousands of years that people have resisted paying for pure information, even though information is actually most of what you buy, with most products. Instead, those who sold information were forced to package it up with something else, some material, and sell the material "thing." A book being the prime example — you sell the physical book to get people to buy the novel, but if they can get the novel without having to buy the book, they'll steal the novel. It's the same with health advice. People will not pay what health advice is worth. If they would, doctors could make living talking to people on the phone, or sending them videotapes. Forget it. Even alternative people can't make a living doing that — they have to sell fancy packaged nutritional supplements, or else go broke. Those supplements are basically information, but packed in a way that to get the information you have to buy the thing.

The internet, with its capacity to reproduce and transmit "information," for closer and closer to nothing, has become the ultimate counterfeiter for what used to be the currency of knowledge. And per Gresham's Law of the Information Jungle, bad information is in the process of driving out good. Information inflation has now set in, and the currency is devalued. Attempts to establish gold standards for knowledge are resisted on every side. The idea that not everybody can (or should) print $100 bills, is held to be elitist.

Ah, well. Back to making "things." If you think you're going to make a living by thinking, and selling your thoughts in print to somebody, you'd better think some more about that. ermm.gif


That's all, well, um, bad — but I was actually trying to talk about something else, something like the quality of communication in our so-called "community" sites. That's kind of what I meant by "fora and e-gora" — here I was searching for some word beside "discussion" since the owners of one site I had in mind go out of their way to stress that it's "not about discussion", even though they do have their own meta-discussion forum for doing just that.

So I'm looking for those bug/features of system accident/design that catalyze the catatonia of genuine collaborative inquiry.

Jon Awbrey
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dogbiscuit
post Fri 5th March 2010, 5:45pm
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Could you run through Verifiability not Truth once more?
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One aspect of online communication that does lead to poor debate is the art of the picky quote - I'm sure we all do it: scan a post, leap onto a particular comment and then extrapolate a whole bunch of unintended meaning from some minor throwaway point.

The chances are little thought went into that individual comment, even if the post as a whole was an attempt at some point.

The cycle repeats, and on each iteration, the protagonists feel compelled to defend some point that was perhaps in context correct, but by the time it has been extruded though partial quotation after partial quotation, the original point is lost.

Points are always lost for saying "that is not what I meant". You are never allowed to admit that all your internet posts are dashed off without thought (unless you are FT2 where every nuance was apparently carefully honed into senselessness).
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dogbiscuit
post Wed 10th March 2010, 2:16pm
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Could you run through Verifiability not Truth once more?
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Another little thought that I had this morning whilst walking the dog was about the complexity of the world and how there is a lot of stuff that is just too hard for people to deal with.

I deal with local planning issues, and you soon submerge into a Looking Glass World of Governmental logic. My local residents association took a specific line on not telling people what to think about a major application and then tried to get the residents to tell it what they thought.

The net result was that the residents association realised that a lot of apparently intelligent people were most aggrieved that they had not done their thinking for the people, or had not magically divined what their obvious opinion was and stepped in to represent it to the local authority as it was clearly obvious what needed to be said.

This got me to thinking that in a complex world, people have got into the habit of delegating their thinking to others, and the Web is just an extension of this - modern issues are far more complex than whether you can get the blacksmith to fix the horse and cart before harvest time, so people continually look for ways to delegate critical thinking that is beyond their knowledgebase to other places. They do not take kindly to this process not producing the right results, (which is even more interesting in the American context where there is a strong disposition to blame governmental bodies simply for existing it seems!).

It is here we get to the Wikipedia part of the problem - Wikipedia has many characteristics that superficially look like it is an authoritative source, so people uncritically delegate their thinking to it.
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Jon Awbrey
post Wed 10th March 2010, 2:38pm
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In a complex society, people making decisions and taking actions at places remote from you have the power to affect your life in significant ways. The only way you get a choice in that is if there are paths of feedback that allow you to affect the life of those decision makers and action takers in significant ways. That is what accountability, response-ability, and representative government are all about. Naturally, some people are against that. In the U.S. context that I know about, there has been a concerted campaign for as long as I can remember — but even more concerted since the Reagan Regime — to get The People to abdicate their hold on The Powers That Be and just let some anonymous corpseration send them the bill after the fact. The way I see it, Wikipedia is just another step down that road to perdition.

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Milton Roe
post Wed 10th March 2010, 6:41pm
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QUOTE(dogbiscuit @ Wed 10th March 2010, 7:16am) *

Another little thought that I had this morning whilst walking the dog was about the complexity of the world and how there is a lot of stuff that is just too hard for people to deal with.

I deal with local planning issues, and you soon submerge into a Looking Glass World of Governmental logic. My local residents association took a specific line on not telling people what to think about a major application and then tried to get the residents to tell it what they thought.

The net result was that the residents association realised that a lot of apparently intelligent people were most aggrieved that they had not done their thinking for the people, or had not magically divined what their obvious opinion was and stepped in to represent it to the local authority as it was clearly obvious what needed to be said.

This got me to thinking that in a complex world, people have got into the habit of delegating their thinking to others, and the Web is just an extension of this - modern issues are far more complex than whether you can get the blacksmith to fix the horse and cart before harvest time, so people continually look for ways to delegate critical thinking that is beyond their knowledgebase to other places. They do not take kindly to this process not producing the right results, (which is even more interesting in the American context where there is a strong disposition to blame governmental bodies simply for existing it seems!).

It is here we get to the Wikipedia part of the problem - Wikipedia has many characteristics that superficially look like it is an authoritative source, so people uncritically delegate their thinking to it.

There's always a tension between central and local control in any system. The decision of how much control to centralize vs. distribute, is impossible to make, since it's sort of a traveling salesman problem, but even harder. Worse still, in real life, such things are decided by "authority", which is central-by-definition, so even the meta-decision for deciding whether to shift decisions to central command vs. "foreward" command, is sticky, and tends to work well in one direction (toward centralization of authority), but not the other. Which is a shame.

The US, whose opinion on government you comment on, is a comparitively young country, and the farther west you go on the continent, the "younger" it gets (till you get to the west coast, where it starts to look a bit more eastern again). You can look at firearms ownership and carry laws as a proxy for that. At least half of US states allow concealed carry of pistols by citizens with no criminal record and varying amounts of training, but the two states that probably never will allow this are New York and California. The country is more leftist and urban on the coasts, and it gets more libertarian and conservative where the population (historically) thinned out in the heartland, and people had to live without good government contact more recently. This is not a minor phenomenon-- when the population in these interior mid-southern parts of the country filled in, those people managed to elect a lot of Republicans-- people who distrust government on principle, except when it's going to war against some other country.

The amount of residual self-directiveness of populations shows up most clearly in emergencies and in combat, in situations when central command almost always breaks down at some point, and you're left to see how the system self-organizes (if it can) and how well it does. I've seen citizens working alongside cops and firemen and paramedics in emergencies, delivering emergency care, medical care, and sometimes even law enforcement.

In WW II I know something of the combat history of Americans, and one of the things that stands out is how difficult it was to decapitate American forces by killing their commanders. In case after case when officers went down, and communications were broken, new commanders not only took over from the junior officers, but in many cases from the enlisted men. Nor did loss of central command stop fighting. Rather than dig in and/or give up, there are case after case where the enlisted men organized, solved local problems, and sometimes simply headed toward the sound of battle, all by themselves. ohmy.gif In the history of warfare this is not all that common. In very many actions such stuff made a huge difference for the Americans, whose kill-ratio wasn't *entirely* due to their superior supply-state.

It happens in all armies of course, but it's far more common in armies from countries that have recently had frontiers and the gun-toting people who came from them-- Australia, Canada, the US, and so on. As those countries grow older, the people from them will probably grow more "effete" and less able to solve their own problems when "authority" is missing. Australia and Canada are well down that road already, and I've watched the process happen to the US, even in my lifetime. yecch.gif Adult people standing around waiting to be told what to do, always signals a failure of society of some kind. If nobody's giving you orders, you should be looking around to see what you can do on your own, and the hell with the government's policies. If something needs doing right now and can't wait, and there's nobody from the government to do it, that's their problem. If they show up later and compain about what you did to fix things, tough shit. Most Americans feel they should have been on the spot when needed, and if not, they give up their right to grouse. That also is far from a universal attitude.

All this actually applies to Wikipedia. Good or bad, there a reason it wasn't invented in the UK or Germany. They copied it once it got going, but the audacity of it, good or bad, is characteristically American. It's got "Invented in the US" huh.gif blink.gif written all over it.
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Jon Awbrey
post Wed 10th March 2010, 8:08pm
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Good grief, Milton, you really gotta stop sniffin that banana oil …

Jon sick.gif
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Milton Roe
post Wed 10th March 2010, 9:11pm
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QUOTE(Jon Awbrey @ Wed 10th March 2010, 1:08pm) *

Good grief, Milton, you really gotta stop sniffin that banana oil …

Jon sick.gif

Can't help it. Uncle "Raul" Duke has always been my favorite character.
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papaya
post Mon 5th April 2010, 2:06pm
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You know, Jon: this is part of the internet too. evilgrin.gif
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Jon Awbrey
post Mon 26th April 2010, 2:59pm
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Let's face it, we are inundated with dullness — our capacity for metabolizing that dullness is very limited — and every time we absorb, without metabolizing, a bit of that dullness we become a bit duller ourselves.

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ulsterman
post Wed 28th April 2010, 11:26am
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I really must reject the entire thesis implicit in this thread title. People are stupid already. As the saying goes, nobody ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the general public. It isn't fair to blame the Internet.

Maybe what is true is that people know more that isn't true, because nonsense is more easily spread than it used to be.
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Jon Awbrey
post Wed 28th April 2010, 11:44am
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QUOTE(ulsterman @ Wed 28th April 2010, 7:26am) *

I really must reject the entire thesis implicit in this thread title. People are stupid already. As the saying goes, nobody ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the general public. It isn't fair to blame the Internet.

Maybe what is true is that people know more that isn't true, because nonsense is more easily spread than it used to be.


Yes, we are all frail, but the promised hand that would lift us up by our bootstraps has yet to show itself — all we see are fickle fingers pointing the way down slippery slopes in every direction, yea, unto bottomless pits where all our piety and wits are washed out down to the very last drips.

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