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April 17th, 2013

Second Verse, the Same as the First

(Note: it's helpful to think of this as an extension of yesterday's rant.)

It's time to admit that I have a dirty little secret: I have two Facebook accounts. One is my real account for snooping, gossiping and accumulating blackmail material on friends, family and acquaintances; the other is for playing Facebook games. The way I see it, Facebook already gathers and shares far too much information about me, and I don't want to make their job any easier by giving access to all those game apps to my real account. Furthermore, it's my way of keeping my friends and family from getting deluged with various game requests and notifications -- it's a win-win for everyone (accept for Facebook and the game app makers, that is).

In response to the nature of most Facebook games, I something of a friend-whore with the gaming account. I'll accept friend requests from just about anyone and will sometimes go onto the app page of a particular game solely to solicit additional friends. Yes, I do that -- I've run out of energy and am in desperate need of resources for building my city, and, damn it, I'm not picky about who can give it to me.

Because of this, I have a lot of friends on my games account whom I likely would never interact with in real life -- or even virtually, for that matter. As a result, I get to see lots of links and statements that I never see from my friends list on my real account, and... wow. There are some really spiteful, hippy-hating, conspiracy-believing individuals out there to whom the John Birch Society would refuse membership on the grounds that they are too extreme. Some of the recent chatter regarding the terrorist acts in Boston was so vile that last night in an effort to cleanse myself I listed my status on my real Facebook page as simply "Hodor."

It didn't work.

I know I can be something of an angry liberal at times. However, I like to believe that my worldview is informed by real facts and consistency of logic, and I like to believe that I will change my opinions and beliefs when presented with facts that legitimately call my worldview in to question. What I'm seeing is baseless speculation grounded in a worldview that is exceedingly hostile to those who disagree. (I'm not necessarily hostile toward the hyper-reactive, anti-immigration, ultra-conservative right wingers -- just flippantly dismissive.) As a result, these people are absolutely convinced that there's either a government conspiracy or the Muslims are it again. The bombs in Boston are proof that Obama is the worst President ever and this sort of thing never happened under Bush! Oh, and despite American history -- see the Unibomber, the bomb at the Atlanta summer Olympics, Oklahoma City and the far too frequent shooting rampages -- there's absolutely no chance whatsoever that the perpetrator just might be an unhinged American who resided in or was sympathetic to their side of the political spectrum.

("Hodor.")

Look, I am not suggesting that the last possibility is the real one. In fact, I am not suggesting anything, because we currently don't have enough information to have any idea how/why this happened. Worse still, there is a non-trivial chance that we will never actually catch the perpetrator(s). It has happened before, and it will happen again (just hopefully not this time). The fact is that no amount of government planning or snooping on its citizenry will be able to stop every single terrorist act -- especially in a country that loves it assault weapons more than the apple pie that serves as one of its wholesome symbols. None. It is not a stretch of the imagination at all that to suggest that one careful, patient methodical nut-job who has enough time on his/her hands could pull such an attack off. Obama is no more to blame for his success than the next door neighbor who, upon learning the truth about the psychopath next door, states in disbelief that it's hard to believe because he was a kind, gentle soul who loved playing his dog and mowed the lawn for the elderly couple across the street.

Once again, I've written a post that went off in an unintended direction and doesn't have an clean, obvious way to end. In lieu of such an ending, I will never understand the need to blame all the ills of the world on a particular group or individual via some bizarre implementation of Occam's Razor. Yes, OR is a wonderful tool, but it must be used correctly. Even then, it can still lead you astray, because the world really is that complex. Sometimes, the answer really is far more convoluted than the far simpler hypothesis would allow. I just wish that some of these people could be shown how to wait for the facts and then proceed accordingly.

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