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Cutting Out

August 18, 2002

Hi. I've been away from this material for a while, and I've found the break so refreshing, that I think I'll make it permanent, soon. Circa 1998, when this site first went up, there was a solid reason to write pages like this, and put real time into them.

Maybe there still is, but lately, I've begun to wonder. As I've encountered people offline, more and more I've found a recognition of what a joke the vast bulk of the Internet is, and an awareness of just how much dishonesty and backbiting politics goes into making the rumors one hears. To be sure, there are still people online who will treat those rumors as dogma, but let's face it, the people one meets there today tend to be the dregs of society, with little to offer and no power to speak of.

Given this reality, there isn't really much left to fight for, in this arena. I'll leave the Fred Cherry Story up for laughs, as a momento of a time gone by. I'll fix some of the pages that I put together back when I was first learning HTML, because I know that they are invisible in some browsers. At least, I will if I can. (There have been some technical problems, lately). But add to this story? I don't think so. I have too many other places to be and too many better things to do.

What did I learn from all of this? If you read through the story, you'll come to an elaborate suggestion as to how Usenet could have been made better. I won't say that this suggestion was wrong, but it was most certainly incomplete, because it left out the most important point of all, and it's a really simple one:

Universally accessible, widely known forums like Usenet may be useful for raising awareness of the existence of online resources, but they should never be used to build social networks. Social and networking oriented forums should recruit their membership offline, face to face.

Use the open mailing lists and Usenet to let people know that you are there to be found, but if somebody wants to hook up with you or your group, make him seek you out in the real world, in the kind of real world places that people with the interests and attitudes you seek would enjoy being. Yes, you can get a lot of warm bodies into a party by posting a notice online. You can also get your apartment trashed by a group of hostile idiots who have nothing to say to you, or each other. Who needs it?

The online world grew out of a reaction to the gratuitously unpleasant social scene of the early and mid 1990s. This was understandable. Not so long ago, much of America was a place where you could end up in a fist fight, merely because somebody knew what you "really meant" when you said "good morning", and wasn't going to take that out of you, you (fill in the epithet of your choice). I won't say that there isn't any of that free floating rage around today, in 2002. But there's a lot less of it, and, unlike the online world which seems to be stuck in 1992, the real world has established, as its norm, an unwillingness to be accepting of that kind of behavior.

Today, instead of seeing the Internet as a refuge from a deranged real world, one might rightly seek the real world as being a refuge from the deranged reality of the Internet. Why not seek it? The real world is a much healthier place to be. Don't see the bulk of the Internet as a refuge that has been lost, see it as a cesspool that has caught most of the c**p we used to have to step in, when we stepped out our doors.

And I must say, the sun has been looking awfully nice, lately.

Overview of Site

Welcome to the (not so slightly) relocated CabalWatch. This part of my site focuses on the strangeness - generally unpleasant - that I've encountered on Usenet. If you've ever felt swayed by the reality of a group consensus there, because you feel that it reflects the outcome of years of reasoned discussion - consider this a testimonial to the contrary. Once you see how these groups actually work, you can't help but see that reason is the one thing that rarely makes an appearance, and when it is seen, brings waves of harassment and abuse upon the one who dared to engage in it. Soon, only the village idiots remain.

A good illustration of this can be found here, along with a little documented background on one of the shadier figures of Usenet, one Mr. Fred Cherry, and one of the more pompously absurd ones, Tim Skirvin. This will become part of "Rabble without a Cause" when it goes up. Given the harassment that I've come to expect from Tim's crowd, you definitely want to read this before trying to e-mail me.

Old Articles

Here is a point of view about where this not so fair city is headed, in an old article that wasn't entirely well liked. The truth rarely is. This followed, after wave of wave of outraged bleating from some of the sheep in one of the newsgroups, resulting from my suggestion that life here, might leave something to be desired, real freedom having been socially engineered out of existence for many of us. This lead to the usual braindead Bush-era cliches about EQ, to which I posted a rebuttal - one that someone should have made years ago. "The society that makes life repressive or miserable for its most potentially productive citizens is destroying its own future. The society that does so for its youth won't last long enough to have to worry about anything else." Pretty radical, huh? As we shall see, when I flesh this out with some material I have in storage right now, back in the Golden Age of Political Correctness, it was.

Something to Offend Everyone!

On a slightly different note, here is a long overdue response, originally in the Chicago-Scene web forum, to the popular defense of gold-digging, that equates it with the practice of seeking a physically attractive mate, as if honest desire were on a moral plane with prostitution.

Common Sense should need no defense, but, sad to say, every once in a while it will.

Censorship by obscurement

You are a rare individual, in at least one sense, if not others. You were actually able to find your way here. Most people can't.

Throughout this page, I talk about the way in which the Cabal tries to win, in spite of the weakness of its points by keeping its opposition from being heard.

Well, some things never change. Here's a little something for you to try. Try finding this site, or any of the pages on it, in the search engines. I'll bet you can't. Not that this is surprising. Pages critical of the Cabal have been vanishing right and left from the indices. In theory, they're still up. But if one's potential audience is denied the opportunity to know that one's page is there, how meaningful is that alleged "freedom of expression"?

It's a simple trick to do this, really. All that one has to do, is mass submit urls in the name of the webmaster of the site that one wishes to render invisible. In the case of this site, the "coup de gras" was delivered, by someone who submitted multiple copies of the help forums at my old provider (Internet Trash) under every conceivable variant of the Internet domain name. (www.internettrash.com, www.netgarbage.com, netjunk.com. etc.) There are, in fact, 16 possible variants.

The response of far too many search engine staffs, when written to about this problem? Dead, stony silence and no movement at all. So much for professional responsibility and fair play.

So, the next time you decide to take the wisdom of the Net seriously, because, hey, if it didn't make sense, then why would so many people agree with it, ask yourself this. Just how much insight does it take to prevail in an argument, if the other side isn't allowed the freedom to argue back?

The Cabal : Rule by Adolescents

"The Cabal? Isn't that a Conspiracy Theory?"

Sigh. No, it isn't, though some of the Cabal's very well known members try to pretend that it is: Tim Skirvin and Chris Lewis would be two examples. As far as I can tell, the term "Cabal" didn't even originate with this group's opposition. I first saw the word, myself, in the scribblings of some of the Cabal's supporters, and started using it myself because it was already in widespread use.

Originally, most of us would have used the word "netcop". Here is what happened, as near as I can tell. Back before there was ever such a thing as the Internet, there was a subculture now called "The Digital Underground". (Yes, there have even been some books written about it). It was populated by these rather marginal characters who called themselves "hackers". A hacker, in case you are one of the rare people who hasn't heard of them, is a criminal who finds ways around computer security systems, usually in order to be able to then vandalize the systems they gain access to, in violation of federal law. (Though, if caught, they'll often pretend that they were trying to break in "just out of curiosity, to see if this could be done". Much like somebody being caught in a bank vault at midnight, and saying that he just had a late night craving to go enjoy some fine commercial architecture. "Check out the weld, man - that's art!" Yeah. Uh, huh).

"But aren't the hacker godz a buncha
respected professionals?"

Maybe in an online fantasy world, but nowhere else.

These people were (and are) to serious computing what taggers are to house painting - an adolescent nuisance that serious people wish would go away. Like the taggers, hackers get their way just by being incredibly persistent. To take the first case, the homeowner can't watch his garage door 24 hours a day. He has a life to live, and work to do, none of which will get done if he's spending his entire life watching out for possible anti-social behavior on the part of random passers-by. This is one reason why we have the police and systems of law. But imagine what a city would look like if the police were taken out of the picture, the laws forgotten, and the homeowners were told to handle it themselves in the name of some vague DIY ("do it yourself") ethic. You'd end up with a slum, and that's what much of the online world would become, very quickly.

You see, there's no way to win under a system like that, because unlike the decent citizen who is doing something with his life, a criminal has nowhere better to be, and he has all day to waste on this nonsense. The only way the lone, unaided citizen can fight back is by matching the criminal and wasting his entire day, too. But, if he does that, he can't continue to make anything of his life. But, as the Internet developed, law enforcement was scandalously slow about taking an interest in it, with the result that a major communications medium developed in a "Wild West" atmosphere, with lasting cultural consequences.

Much of the blame for this, arguably, should be laid at the door of the Reagan administration which earned more than a little notoriety for being "asleep at the switch", enforcing even existing laws in a manner that was lax at best and an exercise in foot dragging civil disobedience at worst, and for fighting against the introduction of new regulations even in cases where regulation was clearly called for. Unfortunately for the Internet, the 1980s, the age of Reagan, would be the time of its inauspicious birth. How ironic, given the historical circumstances, that the criminally under-regulated medium that resulted (in which even the most basic laws regarding intellectual property rights and libel were effectively tossed out the window) would eventually prove to be such a shot in the arm for Political Correctness, a movement that Mr. Reagan and his followers would have had little use for.

Rabble Without a Cause

Back before the Internet came into existence, a hacker would have been anything other than a folk hero. Wasting one's entire day on this kind of anti-social garbage is not something that is likely to appeal to somebody with any real social skills, and the resulting social isolation is unlikely to foster the development of those skills. What company one will find in the online community that results will develop those skills in a sense, but in a very bad, counter-productive sense, much like gang membership, albeit in a very wimpy gang. The word that would have been used to describe a person like this would have been "d**k". Not nerd (one of those will at least have an interesting inner life) and not wonk (those people are not terminal cases), but d**k - the word reserved for those who would be referred to as being "nature's mistake". The kid or, even more pathetically, the man would have no social life, little education, no career prospects, little to say that many would find very interesting to hear, a grating and dishonorable character, bad personal hygiene in many cases, and little (if any) appeal to the opposite sex. "D**k" would be the kindest word such a person would likely hear, back in the days before the Internet.

Now, stop and think about it. What is the one thing that a person like that is going to want, more than anything else? Attention, the very thing that real life has denied him. That, and maybe a lot of validation, especially if it is not deserved. When the Internet appeared, this habitually whiny pack of would-be thugs viewed it as being their own personal property, in much the same way that a mugger will often feel entitled to the wallet he is taking by force. It promised them the one thing that they always wanted and had never had - attention.

The lack of effective governmental regulation and protection of rights online had created a power vacuum into which this well-established (albeit dysfunctional) subculture was well-equipped to step. Their knowledge of how to sabotage computer systems was an effective tool for harassing users and providers who refused to cave into their unreasonable and frequently childish demands and, as I've pointed out, law enforcement wasn't anywhere to be found.

They had already networked, even before the establishment of the Internet, so fearlessly in this lawless environment as to be holding hacker conventions! Can you imagine there being a pickpocket's convention, or a grifter's soiree? Obviously not, because undercover cops would be in attendance taking notes, passing them along to whoever was investigating the crimes being boasted about. But in a real tribute to just how lax law enforcement had become, computer criminals were able to network in public, in conspicuous gatherings held in hotel convention rooms, doing so without fear! As they largely do to this day (in April 2003), as one can easily discover using any major search engine.

End result: the fledgling communications medium found itself dominated by a well-networked subculture consisting of socially challenged criminals craving attention. Strange as it may seem, this did not lead to a very uplifting moral or intellectual atmosphere.

Today, in 2003, the Cabal may seem to be becoming less of an issue, because of the increasingly decentralized nature of the Internet that has resulted from the introduction of the World Wide Web. Usenet, to be sure, is no longer the only game in town, in the way that it was online before the mid 1990s, and dominance of that now outdated medium no longer means as much as it once did. However, the attitudes that era made into entrenched ones and the networks created linger, so this is still worth bringing up.

gif courtesy of animation factory, found on GoGraph.com

Like I said, our members of the digital underground came to take an unjustifiable proprietary interest in the Internet, which back then was Usenet, for the most part. They started viewing newsgroups as being their own personal property, and started believing that they had the right to tell others what could or could not be posted in "their" newsgroups. This, they did completely untroubled by their total absence of anything resembling legitimate authority. They started referring to compliance with their ever-fluid whims as "Netiquette", an ironic reference to etiquette on the part of people whose table manners didn't even extend as far as a willingness to bathe regularly. Here, even in the absence of system intrusion, the fact of their previous networking worked to their advantage, as they were able to quickly mobilize and massively harass anybody who said "no" to them. Providers would refer to their phones "ringing off the hook", and their boxes filling with obscene hate mail or simply being mailbombed (so much mail sent to them that their diskspace would flood), while thousands of faxes would pour in.

Dissenting users (and those close to them) would see similar treatment, or worse. I could tell you the story of how my mother spent some of her last days being bombarded with late night death threats over the phone until the police departments of two cities got involved, put traps on her phone and tracked down some of these leaders. Why? Because somebody didn't like some of the opinions I expressed and was such a coward that when he decided to reply with harassment, he didn't even have the guts needed to harass me, but went after my parents instead, and got his friends to join in.

This became normative behavior online, which shouldn't be that much of a shock, I suppose, considering who was organizing our virtual world : a criminal subculture, which was gradually pushing out the original professional and academic users of the medium. These, and the credibility that came with genuine academic accomplishment, they greatly resented. Nothing terribly deep, it was jealousy plain and simple, combined with that nearly obsessive desire for the attention they could never legitimately earn. If the reader is given the choice between hearing a high school dropout's ideas about Quantum Mechanics (to choose a popular topic online) or those of a Nobel laureate, under normal conditions which will he usually choose? The underground had a vested interest in driving the legitimate users of the Internet underground, if not offline altogether, and did not hesitate to pursue that interest.

One of the things that worked in its favor as it tried to do so, perversely enough, was its own pervasive lack of socialization, and resulting anger managment problems. As I pointed out during the course of the Fred Cherry Story, the online mob was so volatile that one could end up being attacked and harassed for any reason, or for no reason at all, to such an extent as to completely disrupt one's life. The very unpredictability of the response made a difference, because it meant that there was no such thing as sitting safely on the sidelines. Anything, anything at all you posted could make you into the next victim. The only way for a regular poster to make himself safe from this kind of harassment was for him to find allies who would back him up, in a hurry.

And there was our already mobilised digital underground, ready to reap the perverse rewards of its own unpredictably bad behavior, because where could one find a larger network of allies with time to burn? They became the nucleus for an ever growing social network of people who had learned what was becoming the price of acceptance online : mind your place, and join in with the others when they joined in on the attack, lest others not back you up when you come under attack.

Mob rule never resulted in justice offline, so one shouldn't be too surprised at the notion that it never will do so online, either. And yet, many were, in part because the ignorant over-extension of the argument against price supports that I had mentioned in the introduction to this section had grown into a widespread superstition that social trends always were a reflection of what made people happy, an illusion that even the faintest familiarity with history should shatter. But then, studying history was no longer in fashion, any more than studying psychology or philosophy were. These were subjects that did not lend themselves to the sound bites one can easily squeeze out when one is being shouted down in real life or being quoted out of context online.

They're also subjects that come in handy when one is doing the one thing all tyrants great and small, fearsome and pathetic alike fear the most: engaging in social criticism. But then, during the early 1990s we already had the elder President Bush arguing during his first campaign that adopting a "don't worry, be happy" mentality was an integral part of being a good American, a nonsensical point which he would reinforce during the first Gulf War, when dissent with the Republican party line was viewed almost as a form of treason. Thus, given the power of the presidential bully pulpit, broader social trends were put in place that worked to the advantage of the lunatic cabal that was developing online, as the very art of listening itself was becoming unfashionable. Natural human laziness being what it is, once people got in the habit of thinking of their lack of motivation in this particular area as being a good thing, getting them out of the habit became a long, difficult struggle, made all the more difficult by the reality of an anti-intellectual environment in which shouting down a social critic was viewed as being an honorable act, instead of a shameful one.

This left our online community members in the position of one who rows with the wind, moving toward their goal with a swiftness which they could never have hoped to have achieved on their own. But they did not achieve it without compromise. While the old digital underground had been extensively networked, it had never been completely unified. As one would expect with any group of criminals, ethics were non-existent, and that reality could not help but make for backstabbing, especially among a group of people so eager for attention. One ended up with a group of competing cliques, and harsh social results when one's clique was overwhelmed by a larger ones, so, like any group of good demagogues, those building their networks online played to the crowd, feeding as many egos as they could by treating making their ill-conceived ideas into doctrine that none had better question. And as a result, a system of cliques, each accustomed to going along to get along, fell quickly into place.

Naturally, as one would expect with any grab bag of positions taken for the purposes of political gain and social networking, glaring logical inconsistencies resulted, as well as conflicts with what was easily documentable truth, offline. Subcultures, by their very nature, tend to have collective survival instincts - if they didn't, they wouldn't live long enough to become subcultures. And the recognition of these inconsistencies struck at the very heart of this growing subculture online. That was a good thing, because the subculture was an unwholesome one, but not a thing that the participants, as they followed their paths of least resistence, would be likely to welcome. The dictate of the societal survival instinct became a clear and obvious one - if the recognition of inconsistencies is what threatens the subculture, then make darn sure that people don't recognize inconsistencies where they are to be found. And what is it that helps people recognize such things?

Why reason, of course. And so the natural anti-intellectualism which the new subculture had inherited from its hacker underground roots was only reinforced. This is the point that the "let the market take care of it, don't worry, be happy" crowd never gets. As people follow what is, in the immediate moment, the path of least resistence, the sort of social equilibria that result, these social systems that persist because slight changes in them tend to naturally undo themselves (much as a pendulum hanging slightly off center will tend to move back toward the center), can often be stable in spite of being very suboptimal - which is to say, in a social sense, dysfunctional.

century advertisement, courtesy of the Marvin Samson Center for the 
History of Pharmacy, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia

This is why revolutionary change is sometimes needed in any social setting. But such change, like anything painful, is accepted only reluctantly, and this is why free speech should not and must not be put to a popular vote. But, in the market obsessed culture of the Reagan Bush years, the fashion was to believe that everything should be left up to "the market", and to forget the past failures of lassez faire to even produce civilized results, much less good ones. So, no basis was left in the mind of the mainstream for questioning the popular will or any aspect of the trends that were developing. The results of this failure of understanding were anything but democratic, online or off, as rhetorical victory went, not to the person whose argument would leave the most people freely persuaded, but to whichever faction could assemble a large supporting mob the most quickly and keep its opposition's arguments from being heard, or those dissenting with it from realising that they weren't alone. In an environment in which minority opinions were viewed as being unreasonable by definition, this allowed our censors to balloon their base of support as the isolated dissidents, even if they had initially outnumbered the mob, succumbed to perceived peer pressure and were picked off, one by one.

Which, of course, has been the Cabal's style from day one, and the strategy of the politically correct offline, for years.

What was arising online was a social order, albeit an illegitimate one, operating with the mentality of a lynch mob. Like any social order it had its rules, which, unlike a respectable one, it shifted frequently and without warning. There was no "ex post facto" provision in Netiquette, and non-participants who tried to compromise with it, as I had when playing along with the former rule that one couldn't comment on a thread one hadn't posted in, would soon find themselves burned as a new, contradictory rule which made as little sense was tossed onto the table. Adding insult to injury, the netiquette mavens would then comment on how little sense one's earlier action had made, conveniently forgetting that it was a concession one had made to get them off one's back in the first place! And hoping that the mob they were playing to would forget it as well - and why not? They were playing to an anti-intellectual mob, and the better educated people online were usually the ones targeted. Anti-intellectualism is as much a form of bigotry as is anything else, and as anybody who has ever had to deal with bigotry knows firsthand, you can't win with a bigot. He remembers what he wants to remember, and is consumed with contemptuous rage when you remind him of the rest.

While an occasional concession to irrationality makes sense when dealing with people who basically are reasonable (and want to be) and just have a few quirks (or maybe are having a bad moment), it very much does not make sense when dealing with the members of a mob. Remember the ethics-free basis for conflict resolution we've seen out of them already?

  1. Check to see which side in the dispute seems to have the strongest base of political support.

  2. Join what seems to be the stronger side, ie. the larger mob, so that you will not become its next target

  3. If you guess wrong, and choose the smaller mob, don't even dream of admitting that you were in the wrong (even if you were) because that admission will live on in the archives and be dredged up later by somebody who is attacking you. Stick with whichever side you threw in with first, damn the torpedos, full speed ahead and hope that your side has allies they can pull in from elsewhere.

What one encounters when dealing with these people isn't a discussion. There is no attempt to get at the truth going on in these forums. This, as we have said, is war and the staking out of turf. Who wants an ally who will abandon him on the battlefield? Nor will one's honesty win one any points.

In real life, those who admit when they are wrong may be respected for the character they show by doing so, in part because the people watching them do so have had no choice but to occasionally admit to the same themselves in the past, so who among us is fit to judge somebody on the basis that he has sometimes been in the wrong? The presence of a generally recognized set of standards of behavior makes the recognition of this fact inescapable.

But throw those standards out the window and replace them with a purely adversarial system in which might is seen as making right, and what are you left with? A mob that will find it all too easy to convince itself, at least on a surface level, that it has never done wrong, and maybe even that it can't do wrong. Having adopted such an absurdly arrogant stance, and lied to itself often enough to sort of believe in its position, the mob will see nothing odd about demanding perfection from others, and about using a totally unrelated incident from years back as a club to beat their opposition over the head with in the course of an argument today. In real life, that practice is called "digging up dirt" and is viewed with scorn. Online, it's just somebody's way of saying "hello".

Consequently, the online mob is left with the instincts of a pack of ... wolves? No, wolves will take care of their own. These people, in the absence of outside enemies, will continue to cement their own individual positions by joining in on an attack of whichever of their own appears to have the least back-up, much like a group of rats will cannibalize its weaker members. This, then, is the great social accomplishment of the deregulation era on the Internet - it has helped man get in touch with his inner rodent. One does well to keep this in mind, because wherever one is, online or off, knowing what kind of animals one is dealing with can save one a lot of grief.

What happens when one holds out a hand of friendship to an aggressive rat? One is likely to get bitten. The only sensible thing to do is to make it clear to the rat that you are absolutely prepared to be nasty back. The same principle applies when dealing with a politically correct online mob. Trying to understand their feelings, and soothe their nerves, as one might do so with one's friends in a healthy social setting, will not produce a positive response.

One's conciliatory stance will be reacted to as if it were weakness, and only embolden the members of the mob to do worse. The only paying proposition is to stand one's ground on principle, do it aggressively and feelings be damned. Which in the short run, of course, plays into the Cabal's hands just slightly less than does playing along with these rules that the members of the Cabal make up as they go along, and demand the rest of us play along with, because they can then play on the feeling of victimization of their mob which, being used to having its ego fed and its whims indulged, will now find that it has just been told that its culture is a large, steaming pile of c**p, and won't be happy about this. Even so, one should persist, because nothing good is going to be happening in the short run, anyway, and in the long run the mob might not see the light of reason, but it will give up once it loses the illusion that it will prevail by screaming loudly and persistently.

The ring leaders, those who went out to flex their muscles and impose their will on what was supposed to be a free and unhampered public communications channel by enforcing compliance with the rules they were making up, came to be known as "netcops". The "Cabal" is their social network. It is a tribute to the suggestibility of the remaining online public of Usenet that when some refer to this observation as a "conspiracy theory", that they aren't laughed offline. How could one manage to grow up anywhere without knowing what a clique is? The Cabal is nothing more than a clique, able to grow to an extreme size because of the rapid and globe spanning nature of online communications, and the ease of reaching large numbers of people in an interactive way using the Net.

As the experience of Political Correctness showed in the 1990s, this can be potentially dangerous, leading to the formation of exactly the kind of "majority faction" the writers of the Federalist papers warned about, in which the mob is swept away by its passions and individual freedoms are trampled underfoot. Observe what happened to the freedom of expression of those with unpopular opinions during the Clinton era. Campus speech codes, people being fired from jobs, etc ... with most of the population voicing little objection. As little objection as they did when the supporters of both Bush administrations did the exact same thing to anti-war demonstrators. Why is what was happening on Usenet and similar place important? Think Behaviorism. To repeat a behavior is to reinforce it. The bad habits being made in places like Usenet carry over to the rest of life. As one advocate of conformity once put it "don't sweat the little stuff", adding, in a careless moment of self-disclosure that "it's all little stuff", ie. that one shouldn't care about anything. But if civility is able to survive at all, it is precisly because we do care, and care about it passionately.

And that is why I am anti-Cabal, and anti-Netiquette. "Don't make any posts out of keeping with the tone of the group"? Please. Those are the very posts that make the group worth having in the first place.

An Old Note

April 27, 2003

For old times' sake, here is a footnote that was attached to my announcement that this page wasn't going to be updated until 2003 ...

"As you read the first page of the Fred Cherry story, I think that you'll sense that I was having fun writing that. But, the rest, I really wasn't, and I couldn't get away from this chore quickly enough. It's a just protest that I lodge, and its my side of stories long circulated (and lied about, by others), but it's not very good writing. I'm going to need a little distance, before I can have enough of a sense of humor about this material, to make it an enjoyable read.

Until then, please take this as a testimonial to the nature of the Usenet experience. Definitely not a recommendation."

Do I have enough distance now, in 2003? Good question. Mr.Cherry isn't encountering the same willfully credulous people who enabled him, back during the 1990s, so while he is as obnoxious now as he was then, when talking about what he used to be up to, laughing about it has become a lot easier. But then, Mr.Cherry was hardly politically correct, and his avoidance of a political fall always had been a juggling act to begin with. Once the bad word got out, it was all over for him.

Skirvin and the Cabal are another story. The Digital Underground's ethic of censorship, harassment and backstabbing hasn't changed one whit, and far from rejecting it, the rest of the online community only seems to be reinforcing it. As questionable as their conduct and as vacuous as their ideas have been, they seem to be without opposition in the online community. I'm not going to get particularly worked up about that fact, considering the meager nature of the prize they've won, but it does put a cap on the level of humor to be found in any stories about these people.

Let's see if another seven years changes that. But even if it does, somebody else will be writing that story, because I'm tired of the subject. Tired enough that once I've finished writing the pages I already have planned about events that have already occured at the time of this writing, I won't be writing about the online community any more, for the same reason I won't be telling you any stories about my recent barhopping experiences. I would know better than to look in that direction.

Webrings To Which CabalWatch Belongs

Time to go back to where you were on one of my pages or to your ring? Finding your way back should be relatively easy. Satisfaction is but a click away, more or less, depending on where you entered my sites. Where was that, again?

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, J. Dunphy. All rights reserved. No portion of this site may be reproduced without the express prior content of the author. So there.