Monday, November 26, 2007

A Comment On Comments

I leave comments from time to time, mostly on political sites like ThinkProgress,The Huffington Post, Crooks and Liars, Firedoglake **, and TalkingPointsMemo. I'm not quite sure of what this says about me, but so many of the comments I read are either nonsensical, poorly thought out, mis-spelled, childish, or off-topic. Many are varied combinations of that list.

Now I'm certainly not immune to some of this either, but in my defense I've gotten better since I started using WordWeb, some other writing aids like an additional thesaurus (Mobysaurus Thesaurus), the web site, and many others. And the best aid of all, taking my time and re-reading my thoughts before clicking "Post".

I know some of this is unfortunately the way many younger people are communicating these days. No capital letters, no punctuation, etc.. And then there's the fact that just because you have a computer, it doesn't necessarily mean that you're educated (or course there are some people that aren't 'educated' but are plenty smart).

I hope this doesn't come across as conceited or anything like that. My formal education ended after high school (and later in life one year of photography school). And to call that an 'education' is being generous. During high school (in the seventies) I was a rocker and a serious partier. I spent most of my time playing the drums with a local band, smoking pot, and drinking beer. But somewhere in there, mostly before and after that part of my life I read a lot. It also helped that my parents were highly intelligent graduates of Colby College and my mother quickly corrected me whenever I mis-spoke.
I'm far from perfect, and I prove it often, but I try to take the time and steps necessary to minimize that fact when I leave comments.

Nowadays I deal with chronic depression, ADD, and severe anxiety, all of which conspire to make writing and thinking clearly a difficult process. I guess that in some ways that forces me to be more careful about what I write and how I write it. And sometimes when I don't put the effort into it I let things go that I'd otherwise spend more time on. The end result being writing that I'm less than proud of, and usually exhibits itself towards the end of whatever I'm writing as my attention and energy fade. My writing is far from perfect, but at least I make the effort to make it understandable.

I assume that this happens to others also. The reasons for thoughtless (or 'less than thoughtful') comments are many, but the reasons for poorly spelled comments aren't. There are typos, which are easily remedied by simply re-reading before posting. Then there are many people who can't spell, which is almost as easily remedied by using one of the hundreds of spell-checking utilities available that underline the mis-spelled words for you.

Then there are the comments that seem to have been written by aliens, some of which actually were written by people from other countries who don't have a good command of english, and others that seem to have come from some beings that are not of this world.
The former is understandable, but there are many that fall into the latter category, undecipherable by the best translators. They're the ones that leave you thinking, HUH?

It's a tossup as to which is more maddening, the inane comments that people pull out of their butts, or the fact that some people are so lazy that they won't bother to use a simple spelling utility that could at least allow them to fake it and not look so stoopid.

These days with all the blogs, forums, and comments sections, most of which are solely print-based, you have to take extra care to make sure your thoughts are conveyed clearly. There are no facial clues or voice inflections for others to notice and thereby access your true feelings or the actual meaning of your comment as opposed to what they think you meant.

I haven't touched on THE PEOPLE WHO FEEL THEY HAVE TO WRITE EVERYTHING IN ALL CAPS, JUST SO...__________________(fill in the blank).
Most veterans of internet forums and such know that this is considered 'yelling' and is bad form, but with more and more new people coming online with computers everyday and joining the world wide conversation there are just so many that haven't learned the proper etiquette, let alone bother to use proper english or spelling. Some know better and do it anyway.

I haven't mentioned 'trolls' either. Those who 'troll' the comments sections of web sites looking to engage in arguments with people that don't share their point of view, and some who purposely go there to derail the legitimate discussion. The reasons are many. These days the small but vocal minority of 'loyal Bushies' seem to be everywhere standing up for their hero, the facts be damned. Among those there are also the religious zealots, well-meaning and otherwise.

I'm finding myself less and less prone to even read the comments sections these days. I am finding some sites that seem to have a more thoughtful and less fanatical commentary but I don't know how to avoid the lazy posts with the typos, et al.
Maybe at a site like

I've 'replied' to people's comments from time to time, politely mentioning how easy and helpful spelling assist utilities are, but they're usually met with the 'spelling nazi' reply or some other defensive retort so I don't bother anymore.

I wish it didn't bother me as much. I'd blame my mother, but it's not her fault. I'm glad for her guidance. I feel sorry for those whose parents aren't good role models. I know all to many. Unfortunately ignorance usually breeds ignorance as I'm sure many teachers would agree. The exceptions are wonderful to see and are to be encouraged. But this trend towards 'no rules writing' is bad. I've had people tell me that "it's just the way kids are communicating these days", as if there was nothing that could be done to change it.

It's bad for the future of increased online interaction and bad for accurate communication where all you have to go by are written words.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to re-read my post. I could really use an editor to help me with that, but for now I'll have to muddle through as best I can.

Did I mention the ones who overuse the bold highlighting feature?
** Edited on 2/21/2011 4:50 PM: Added strikethrough because of the recent distasteful and unprofessional behavior of Jane Hamsher on Twitter.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Disgusting "comments" at

I followed a link from the newsletter to an article about an award-winning AP photographer from Iraq who's been 'detained' and imprisoned without charges for 19 months.

After reading the article I went to check out the comments (Join the Discussion) and was disturbed and disgusted by what I read.
(Because the URL is so long for the comments/discussion page here's a shortened URL .)

I suggest you read the article, then the comments, and judge for yourself...

Here are some examples from the "discussion":

"I can't believe it took us this long to capture him. Doesn't surprise me at all."
"Just an AP photographer? Hell, I think nearly the whole lot at AP is a cheering section for the terrorists."
Originally posted by 67NOV:
Just an AP photographer? Hell, I think nearly the whole lot at AP is a cheering section for the terrorists.

"You and me both Sir."
"Michelle Malkin has links to the pictures he's taken... all of insurgent activity, apparently without any fear on his part. If he isn't collaborating with them I'll eat my hat."
"About time the military starts investigating all of this so called "journalists"

First AP,next CNN and finally Aljazeera "
"Well, I've been wrong before, but I think burying this turd in a holr with his head sticking up and letting locals stone the head would probably be a good idea. I'm just old-fashioned like that."
"Well, when you serve, maybe you'll think differently about those who are Terrorists. Enjoy being Protected by others"

- And when someone posted a dissenting view, here's what some wrote:

"Actually, What is laughable,... no it's more like pathetic is all the clueless mouth diarrhea from liberals on this site."
-------------------------------------------- Followed by:

"LMAO, good show, sir. I will buy you a beer for that one. BeerGulp, ahhh.....the beer is nice and cold."
"A corporation will stand behind it's employee regardless of the scurrilousness of the employee only to protect their own image.

We probably have tons of terrorists who have infiltrated many businesses in the U.S. ready to strike. Many others have lawn services.

I am sure the U.S. military wouldn't make these claims without substantial evidence. Of course he is probably photographing military operations and smuggling it to the insurgency in his nose. Can you imagine how many volumes of micro file you can stuff in that jobaruby?

Yikes so that is where all the air is going."
"GEEEEEEEZ! The article states they're going to turn the AP photographer guy over to the Iraq authorities in a few days, so what are all these libs crying about!

Remember, that AP photographer isn't an American and isn't in the USA, he's in a foreign country. Things work differently over there and when under arrest you don't have any rights over there. So if they want to lock the guy up and never let him out, shut him up, or torture him to with in an inch of his life to find out what he knows....... well, that's just how it goes. That's how they do it over there. The guy is a terrorist and his efforts have no doubt cost others their lives, so......... this guy is getting what he deserves, whether you agree with it or not."

- There's more, but that's enough to give you the general flavor. As I said, only one person showed any sense of decency (and respect for the rule of law) and supported the AP photographer.

The feeling I got when reading these comments was that they could have been written by those who committed the atrocities at Abu Ghraib. The absolute lack of humanity and the disregard for human rights goes against what I thought the US military stood for and has spent blood protecting.

I have to wonder how prevalent is this ignorant and malevolent attitude in our servicemen and women?

Is this some of what you get when you send people to fight and die in an asymmetric war?

Is it what happens to soldiers when they see their comrades get blown up daily by fighters who look just like the ones they're there to protect?

Does it come from bad leadership?

Just where in hell do these comments come from?

C|NET - -- Are you confused?

This is what happens when I (successfully?) log in to

As you can see, I'm logged in and it displayed my user name
(Welcome back, "trdaggett"). And if you look at the bottom it also says "Sorry, the identifier/password combination you've entered is invalid.".

I just sent another issue 'comment' to CNET about the ongoing login issues. I've been registered with CNET and ZDNet for years, and it seems like nearly every time I go to log in something like this happens. They don't screw up my email
address though, I get everything I've signed up for.

After I finished sending the support comment, it presented me with a page that went something like this; 'We think you requested information on Limewire...'.
I wish I'd taken a screenshot of it. It obviously parsed my comment and made a guess as to the content....badly. Nowhere did I mention Limewire or anything remotely similar.

In the second screen grab you see it shows all the different requests that "NoScript" detected.
For those who don't know about it NoScript is a Firefox 'extension' that blocks Java scripting in web pages until I 'allow' it. It's perhaps the most valuable add-on available and protects me from malicious scripting exploits.
Everyone should use it unless you're a security freak and are using another method.
The author Giorgio Maone is to be congratulated and deserves all the donations we can send!
Now back to CNET, I don't know what causes this/these issues, I'm thinking that it might have something to do with all the different scripts running on their pages, and all the different browsers and combinations of security ware and add-ons people use. But it's not like I'm using an obscure browser or shouldn't be using an excellent security extension like NoScript.
Obviously something is screwed up, and usually the more things you have going on inside a web page, the better the chance for conflicts.
As an end-user, I don't care.
All I want is a web page that works. And guess what happens if an end-user has trouble every time they try to log in? -- Adios until you get it straight.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, But...

But, remember the indigenous peoples who don't share the same feelings. Their experience was entirely different from the English settlers. For one group it was the beginning, the other the beginning of the end.

I have mixed feelings about the day as my family was to follow these pilgrims path in 1630 when the Winthrop Fleet brought them to the shores of Massachusetts. I hate to think that Daggetts or Purintons (or any settlers for that matter) were in any part responsible for the downfall and destruction of the local tribes' way of life. Of course they were, in the most basic sense by being part of a group of people who thought that they had a right to 'settle' on someone else's land. I'd like to think that they were at least cognizant of that fact, and were possibly ones who at least tried to have a mutually beneficial relationship.

These days those issues aren't what most people think about on Thanksgiving day. Come to think of it, on the original Thanksgiving most were thinking of themselves and the fortunes of their group and little of the people whose lives and lands they would eventually dispossess.

This Thanksgiving while we are giving thanks for family and friends, the bountiful feast, and the fellowship of the day, it would be good to give some thought to those whose lives were irrevocably changed by our forefathers. I certainly will.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The News From A True Citizen Journalist In Iraq

When I hear talking heads commenting on how the surge is working, and how the media isn't covering any of the good news from 'Eye-rack' (what the hell is so hard to pronounce?), my head wants to explode in frustration. So desperate to be vindicated in some way for their support of this devastating war, yet unable to produce any tangible (and believable) evidence themselves, they continue to live in a bubble of denial.

I wonder how they'd feel if they had to live in Iraq (outside the Green Zone), or if they were the manager of this clinic cited in a book by Dahr Jamail called "Beyond the Green Zone - Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq" that I just read about over at Firedoglake:

"The boxes of medical supplies we brought into the clinic were torn open immediately by desperate doctors. A woman entered, slapping her chest and face, and wailing as her husband carried in the dying body of her little boy. Blood was trickling off one of his arms, which dangled out of his father’s arms. Thus began my witnessing of an endless stream of women and children who had been shot by the U.S. soldiers and were now being raced into the dirty clinic, the cars speeding over the curb out front, and weeping family members carriying in their wounded."

"Standing near the ambulance in frustration, Maki [the manager of the clinic] told us, They (U.S. soldiers) shot the ambulance and they shot the driver after they checked his car, and knew he was carrying nothing. Then they shot him. And then they shot the ambulance. And now I have no ambulance to evacuate more than twenty wounded people.[...]"

Gee, I didn't hear about this on the news either.

Those have to be some thick bubbles these people are hiding in.

Lets make two lists, one with the 'good' news, the other with the bad. If you survive to complete the first part you'll already have a jump on the second.

And a large part of it depends on your perspective. How much good news do you have to report if you're one of the 2+ million displaced Iraqis? Probably more than if you're still living in Baghdad. How much good news do you think Maki has to report?

It seems that the only ones reporting "good news" are the officers who still support Bush, or the ones that know from experience that anything other than good news will put you on the fast track to "retirement". Oh, and Fox'ers.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

More Ineptitude On Bush's Watch

I just finished the New York Times article "Death of Spy Satellite Program".

I wonder how many billions of dollars have been wasted due to the lack of oversight, mis-management, and corruption in the past seven years of George Bush (and Republican domination). At least in this case they know how much was lost, but between Katrina and Iraq there are billions completely unaccounted for.

Bush Opts For Time Off Rather Than Honor Veterans

I'm not surprised that president Bush is down in Texas spending most of the day at his ranch on a day that America honors it veterans. Despite his brief appearance at a Veterans' Day speech in Waco Texas, he plans to veto $3.5 billion for veteran's benefits Democrats had to insert into the latest defense appropriations bill.

When it comes to honoring military veterans all he gives them is lip service, but today he's barely making the effort to do that. It seems that he thinks of them as a great backdrop for a speech, or as fodder in his neocon approach to international relations, but not enough to spend a whole day honoring them publicly.

As our military is currently overstretched, overworked, underpaid, and under-rested, he's well rested, under worked, and overpaid.
Bush is not even trying to appear interested in the welfare or the sacrifices of those who served our nation.

If Bush wants to truly honor our veterans
he should start by keeping them out of unnecessary wars, providing them with adequate equipment when deployed, giving them the required time between deployments, and taking care of (and fully funding) all their medical/psychological needs.

To me this says about all you need to know about what George Bush thinks of those who wear the military uniform (and actually serve).