Working Dogs Revisited

I received an email over the weekend which asked me to re-open Comments to my Working Dogs post from way back (okay, February).  He asked me this because he wanted to add to the conversation, but couldn’t.

Well, I don’t want to do that (reopen Comments), but instead let’s just use this as an extension.

So go back and read the piece and the Comment section, and if you’re one of the original commenters and have something to add, or want to post a different thought, please do so.  And if you’re a “newcomer” and want to comment, please do so too.

This is not a topic I want to let slide.

Staying Unknown

When I first started posting online, I used a nom de plume (Own Drummer, in case anyone’s interested) because I was nervous where this whole thing would end up.  Then a couple years in, I began using my real name to post under.  I did this for three reasons:  firstly, because I really didn’t (and still don’t) care what people think of me;  secondly, because I thought it was more honest and lastly, because I believe in that First Amendment thing.  And in the final analysis, using your own name to publish your thoughts can act as a brake on what you say to temper your speech — admittedly not so much in my case, but there it is.

Not everyone feels this way — in fact, most people don’t — and that’s fine;  what works for me might not work for everyone, and so I support the right of people to maintain their anonymity, because there are many good reasons to do so:  to keep your job (I myself lost one because of my fevered rantings);  to be able to publish uncomfortable truths without fear of retaliation or punishment  (especially under repressive regimes such as UC-Berkeley or Iran);  to avoid causing hurt to family and friends, and so on.  When people post comments on this website using pseudonyms, I respect their privacy and use them even though I might know their real names:  they want to remain anonymous for whatever personal reasons, and I’m not going to compromise that.

Of course, anonymity can be abused (and often is) because as we all know, 9.99% of people are rancid assholes and anonymity can be used to cloak malevolence, slander and just outright boorishness (to name but three).  Like all freedoms, the right to anonymity can be abused, but that’s the nature of liberty, isn’t it?  Foul trolls can say unspeakable things just as courageous people can reveal wrongdoing, but to protect the latter we need to tolerate the former.  It’s called the First Amendment Principle.

Needless to say, this noble sentiment doesn’t sit well with bastard government flunkies who want to control or lives and speech — for all the best and noblest of reasons, of course:  national security, good taste, etc. — and so we have the latest example of this bastardy:

Digital IDs should be introduced to stop mob rule and end anonymity online, the security minister has said.
Ben Wallace, the MP for Wyre and Preston North and Minister of State for Security and Economic Crime, said bullying and grooming takes place on social media because people believe they can’t be identified.
He added that websites should be able to identify people online in the same way that banks do.
“It is mob rule on the internet. You shouldn’t be able to hide behind anonymity as much as you can now… If we’re going to make the internet safer, and cut out the abuse, we’re going to have to do something more about some form of digital identification.”

And of course, bossyboots BritPM Thing May had to chime in:

“We know that technology plays a crucial part in advancing gender equality and empowering women and girls, but these benefits are being undermined by vile forms of online violence, abuse and harassment.
“What is illegal offline is illegal online and I am calling on world leaders to take serious action to deal with this, just like we are doing in the UK with our commitment to legislate on online harms such as cyber-stalking and harassment.”

Yeah, it all sounds so reasonable, doesn’t it?  It’s to protect us from mob rule, and child molesters, it’s for the childrennnn!  So of course, countless millions of perfectly decent people have to have their privacy stripped away because of the actions of a tiny minority. 

Predictably, the perfessors chime in:

Alan Woodward, of the University, of Surrey, told the Times: “I don’t think it’s technically workable. For those who persist in the vilest online behaviour, there are so many ways to mask their real identities.”

Which is true, of course.  As we know with gun registration, criminals will always find a way to transgress the law or keep their nefarious activities hidden from official scrutiny;  why should online registration be any different?  Once again, the people most affected will be the law-abiding.  That doesn’t seem to matter to these statist tools:

Anthony Glees, of the University of Buckingham, said: “This is do-able and it should be done. Anonymity on the web is a threat to our national security of the first order. Legal compulsion will be necessary and we should go for it.”

But why stop there?  After all, if national security is involved… well, no sacrifice is too great (according to the State and this Glees person).

People get up to mischief in the anonymity of their homes too — bomb-making, child-beating (a.k.a. disciplining), un-PC speech, unclothed masturbation and who knows what other kinds of anti-social activity — so let’s monitor their behavior just as we monitor their online speech, why not?

It’s been done before — or at least, written about before:

The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live — did live, from habit that became instinct — in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.  — George Orwell, 1984

And Orwell didn’t know about night-vision cameras, back then.

So here’s my response to those who want to strip away our online privacy:

Fuck you.  Fuck all of you, you totalitarian bastards.  Fuck you, your government departments, your sycophantic followers and the evil that lives in all State institutions, no matter their noble purpose or intent.  Fuck you, fuck the lot of you.  I hope you all die a painful, screaming death. — Kim du Toit

How’s that for “hate speech”, you evil bastards?  And I’m not hiding behind a pseudonym, either.

Moving On, Part 1

As y’all may have gathered from my earlier post about needing a vacuum cleaner, I’ll be moving into my own place soon, leaving Doc Russia to get his house back at last.

A couple of thoughts:  Doc had originally offered to put me up for a year, and subtracting the time I spent over in Britishland, France and South Africa on my sabbatical last year, that year is up (plus a month or so because it took me longer than I expected to find a suitable place to live).  Needless to say, my gratitude for his generosity is beyond words — as I’ve said several times before, that generosity (coupled with the same from Mr. Free Market and The Englishman in Britishland) quite literally saved me, giving me time to relax, recover and rebuild my life after becoming a widower.  No more need be said on that topic, because I’ve said it all before and anyway it just embarrasses them.

So:  where to live?

Fortunately, I’d done a lot of earlier research after I sold the old house last year, and I’d at least eliminated the places that were totally unacceptable.

The biggest decision, about location, was the hardest.  Of course, I’d want to stay in Plano (because I love the place, and it’s close to 2/3 of my kids);  but where in Plano?  The options:

  • an “urban” location — e.g. in one of the three “town centers” that Plano offers (Old Town, Legacy West or Shops At Legacy):  small, quite expensive, likely to be noisy, but handy and not requiring me to get in the car if I needed a pint of milk, plus having restaurants on tap within walking distance — all the pros and cons of the urban lifestyle
  • a more “suburban” type of complex:  quieter, larger, more affordable, but more remote.

When I started looking at places, though, the situation became much clearer.  Frankly, the urban apartments, while all attractive from a location perspective, were either too small (500 sq.ft), too expensive, or a little run-down (Old Town especially).  I liked the convenience, didn’t mind the noise, but ultimately I realized that I would need more space — and most importantly, none of them offered an attached garage:  parking garage or street parking only.  What I learned about that type of apartment served to crystallize my thinking on what I really needed, as opposed to what I thought I wanted.

My criteria for a Plano apartment, then, became quite simple:

  • Affordable (duh)
  • Ground floor.  After busting one of my already-fragile knees in the Scottish Highlands last year, I’m done with stairs — there’s a sound reason why I have a CLP (Cripple’s License Plate) on the Tiguan
  • 1-bedroom with attached garage (so I can let the storage unit go, and have somewhere to store my tools)
  • Large-ish (more than 750 sq.ft), to hold my still-massive book collection, my artwork, the Chubb which holds the ahem few guns I still possess, and Ye Olde Ammoe Locquer
  • Decently-finished (no crappy carpets, worn-out kitchen cabinets, etc.)
  • Gated.  I keep strange hours because of my part-time gig with Uber, and need to know the place is more or less secure whilst I’m gone;  also, if I  ever travel back to Euroland, I need to be able to “lock and leave” with some degree of confidence that I won’t come back to an empty box
  • In a decent neighborhood, and with residents who drive late-model cars and don’t keep junkers up on blocks (if you get my drift)
  • Within reasonable walking distance from at least a few shops, restaurants and such so I can get some exercise, at least.

I narrowed the choices to half a dozen “suburban” complexes, but three of them were really suburban, being miles away from any kind of shop, supermarket, drugstore, restaurants, whatever — and they were all expensive, too.

In the end, I found what I was looking for, and it satisfied every single one of the criteria listed above.  In fact, the place is perfect save for two ugh!  features:  it has an electric stove top, not gas;  and the cable/Internet provider is… AT&T*.  [pause to allow the moaning and groaning to subside]

But those two problems aside, the apartment has mostly wood floors with carpet only in the bedroom, a separate dining room, a small study and a massive garage — almost one-and-a-half-car size — with lots of storage inside the apartment itself.

And cheap (for Plano).

I’ll be moving in around the middle of July.  In the meantime, I have to earn Uber-$$ [sic]  so I can afford to get the necessaries, e.g. some furniture, a washer and dryer (no laundromats for Kim oh no) and so on.  Also, as The Spoiled & Ungrateful Children made off with all the kitchen goods, I’ll be needing to build that particular workshop from the ground up.  Fortunately, I know quite a bit about the latter, having worked in the Housewares department in a large retail chain, so that won’t be as difficult as some of the other areas.  (By the way:  since when did halfway-decent kitchen cutlery become so damn expensive?  Granted, it’s been about thirty years since I last bought the damn things, but still.)

So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the range pick up some passengers…


*I’ve had dealings with AT&T before, and they are the most dishonest bastards I’ve ever come across.  Even their connection speed leaves room for dishonesty:  “up to 50Mbps” — so they could deliver as little as 5Mbps and still be “technically” within their promise.

Compromise

A long, long time ago, in a country and culture far, far away from ours, a Monty Python sketch involved a quiz show wherein the contestants had to answer questions about Marcel Proust. Of course, nobody was able to successfully encapsulate the rococo intricacies of The Most Boring Writer Ever, so the quizzmaster instead awarded the prize… “to the lady in the front row with the big tits!”

Such, I fear, is the result of the epic search for Nigella Lawson’s replacement in my obsession affections. So here she is, the errrr lucky lady: Carol Vorderman, who took the prize with her three outstanding attributes (boobs, buttocks and brains).

She’s no Nigella, in that she once confessed to being a lousy cook* — but Miss Vorderman can pilot an aircraft, which should count for something when we finally decide to carpet-bomb Washington D.C. et al.


*so’s Nigella, but nobody cares.

Gentle Reminder

If you enjoy this mixture of rants, essays, pics of beautiful women, irreverent jokes, gun pics, scorn, invective and all-round ill humor, and you don’t want to see advertisements, horrible pop-up commercial messages and similar filth appearing here at Splendid Isolation, please consider supporting this website either through a small monthly donation via Patreon, or by occasional donations via PayPal (see right-hand side bar).
If you are understandably suspicious of these newfangled electronic payment system things and would prefer to do things the old-fashioned way, send checks to my sooper-seekrit mailing address:

Kim du Toit
6009 W. Parker Rd
#149-141
Plano TX 75093-8120

Whichever way you choose, thank you for your support.

Under The Knife

My eyes have been getting progressively worse over the past couple years, to the point where looking with my left eye is akin to peering through muslin. Yup; with age comes cataracts. So here’s what awaits me later today (squeamish warning):

…and I’ll be getting the right eye done too, in a couple of weeks. Fortunately, my eyedoc is an absolute artist at this surgery — he’s the same guy who carries a SIG 226 under his white coat… how bad could he be?

After a lifetime of shitty eyesight that not even Lasik could take care of properly, here’s hoping things will get better. Apparently, it does.

Wish me luck, y’all.

Update:  all done, no problems.  See you tomorrow.