Thursday, June 19, 2008

Doucheland Über Alles!

Note the knuckles

The above post title was a phrase I spat out last night while directing invective at the country currently accomodating me. (Can't believe I'd not heard anyone use it before, to be honest.) Evidently, in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, Germany decided that GMail isn't allowed to call itself such, at least not within German jurisdiction. As evidenced by the snarky "error" page (direct quote: "Oh, and we'd like to link the URL above, but we're not allowed to do that either. Bummer."), Google is none too pleased about this. Granted, having to log in via the general Google Accounts page, then clicking through to the inbox is a minor inconvenience at the worst - but not only might it be enough to deter notoriously lazy netizens from jumping on the GTrain in Deutscheland, it's a minor example of a most disturbing trend in German telecommunications (an industry sufficiently xenophobic that it distrusts anything not branded in its native tongue).

For example, content on is regulated in a fairly arbitrary fashion, reportedly due to Germany's extra-stringent age-verification laws. YouTube is similarly restricted in some vague manner (as opposed to Google Videos, which allows users to choose any geolocational filters). Yes, isn't it nice that troublesome elements within society can't piss in the e-well... which, of course, is the exact excuse that China, Korea, Singapore, Turkey, etc. use to restrict online freedom of expression.

But we needn't worry about Germany, which - unlike those other countries - is a democratic society devoted to transparent communication and progressive ideals, right? Right. Then remind the folks at Deutsche Telekom, Deutsche Bahn, Deutsche Post, and Lufthansa. If it's all about winning the hearts and minds of the people, then victory has gone to the GDR in a knockout. (Economists agree!)

And while we're on a roll...

Recently, the inimitable Patrick J. Mullins went ballistic over at I Cite when his slightly obtuse attempt at empathy was rather curtly rebuffed. Granted, when Mullins declares, "You can call it incomprehensible garbage, but it could be you just don't know what the fuck I'm talking about," the danger is that his elliptically self-referential run-on sentences lean more obviously towards the former. Much the way bores confuse a large vocabulary with having something to say, assholes & self-righteous pricks often attempt to transform featherweight obscurantism into lead-heavy philosophy - forgetting, of course, that alchemy is a myth.

This time, Mullins cut to the chase, explaining that the misfired exchange of comments
was a kind of direct encounter that we should have been capable of executing at this point. It didn't work, so my understanding of the tacit agreement of internet shallowness is, if not complete, at least I can see that the large percentage of the 'communication' is fearful.
I'll be a witness to that. Following last week's surprisingly thorough exchange on Reagan, I figured I'd found reasonably fecund turf for conversation over at Micah Tillman's blog. And then I was soundly cut off at the knees when Tillman effectively killed our conversation by condemning my tone as too confrontational. Okay, fair game: I don't fancy myself some online Attila, and won't tread where I'm not welcome. Otherwise, I'm no better than any troglodytic shit-talker (or a typical McCain supporter, for that matter).

Yet, not two days later, Tillman was bemoaning the lack of lively debate on his blog dedicated to "Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Etc." Gosh, I'm sorry; was I just making Yo Mama jokes or what? Was my mistake that I'd chosen to harp on, I dunno, something of literal substance, instead of semantic nitpicking or the ad-nauseum dissection of obviously empty rhetorical devices? Granted, every blog has its own esoteric focus, and perhaps Tillman's is linguistic microscopy. But for a philosophy lecturer, his obsession on absolute definitions of words seems to betray a near-total disregard for the decline of symbolic efficiency.

And another thing!

Really? This is the best we can do? Really? A mountain of lobotomite-dull Americana conservatism, delay pedal abuse as avant-gardism, a Vertigo Records tribute act, a whole harem to kneel before Bono, Godspeed You Ball-less Bedwetters!, unabashed Breakfast Club nostalgia, and a bunch of shit that's straight-up boring? (Naturally, they choose the most mundane song off the new Earth record to highlight.) Never did I forsee a context in which I'd proclaim unironically that Lil' Wayne truly is the most compellingly whimsical, intriguingly weird artist out there these days.

Oh, cheer up, you gloomy Gus! Surely it's not all bad news, right?

Decks chairs on the Hindenburg, my friend. Deck chairs.

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