Full disclosure: I think Facebook is crap, possibly of use to businesses, inchoate revolutions, the socially-challenged, and those too lazy to personally contact their ‘friends’ or family. My wife, an artist, admittedly uses it, and had one of her paintings, featuring a nude – or, in fact, merely bare-breasted female taken down from the site for ‘obscenity’. Like any fascist state, no explanation was offered, nor any appeal possible. One wonders what would happen to any national art gallery. Yet, on hearing that Dalhousie University male dental students could post a Facebook page detailing how they would chloroform and ‘hate-fuck’ some of the female co-students, one also wonders who or what is in charge of censorship on the staff of this overrated, self-important, tyrannical, and utterly ill-thought-out website, whose negatives far outstrip its positives. There are far better ways of communicating with clients, relatives, or friends – such as personal websites lacking arbitrary censorship, e-mail, the telephone, and, god-forbid, actual letters, which few admit they still enjoy receiving because they reveal genuine affection. When Facebook has to remind you of someone’s birthday, you don’t really care about that person at all.
Kindle and Amazon
When I hear that an author has received an e-mail from Amazon telling him that his online Kindle book has been taken down because it contains too many hyphenated words – 100 or so in 90,000 – I wonder into whose hands we have placed our literary culture. The author referred the writer of this ludicrous e-mail to the Oxford English Dictionary’s section on the rectitude of hyphenated words, only to receive an automated reply claiming that terms like ‘blood-soaked’ and ‘razor-sharp’ must be deprived of their hyphens. The mind is boggled. For a start, there are no grammatical rules in literary fiction – need I cite but two of the 20th century’s very greatest authors, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett? What would Kindle Publishing do with Finnegans’ Wake, for example? Secondly, upon what criteria do the illiterates at Kindle-Amazon base these risible decisions? Evidently, we learn, upon a reader’s complaint that the book in question had too many hyphenated words. This is like banning Ulysses – consistently voted the best novel ever written – because some functionally-illiterate idiot complained that the last 100 pages contained only two sentences and no punctuation at all. I suggest that, unless these vast corporations start employing staff familiar with literature, with the appropriate qualifications to prove it, then they ought be boycotted by any serious author, if not legally prevented from publishing themselves altogether. A cultural decline like this is a slippery slope, although I have just heard that Kindle Publishing is trying to make amends to the author in question. Readers still ought to keep an eye on these monolithic cultural tyrants.
Dick Cheney, CIA, Media
Is it just my connection – which works fine on other sites – or is their a problem with every website featuring the Dick Cheney confession, justification of, and scapegoating regarding the CIA’s torture program? From CNN to Al-Gezeera, the video of his desperate attempt to escape criminal prosecution – which, being blind, I could only listen to – stopped every few seconds, and for up to a minute, before continuing for a few more seconds, making it unintelligible and impossible to tolerate. We know that anyone can slow down or stop a site by flooding it with traffic, so why not the CIA? There is also now a curious media silence regarding this monstrous scandal. Perhaps it is just paranoia, but readers can judge this for themselves when I put Mr. Cheney on trial in an upcoming entry. A very bad man, and a disgrace to his country.
Love from Paul William Roberts.