Saturday, April 28, 2007

You think the truth hurts. . .

I seem to be swirling in a sea of lies. Today is really no different than yesterday.
My gaming clan, The Old Farts, really only has one solid rule. You have to be over 30 years old to join. We run public game servers, all that play by our gaming rules are welcome. Sam even gets to wear =yf= (young fart) "tags" on his in-game name (=yf= pezboy). A member let it be known (and subsequently became a non-member) that he was under 30, and had just been "too impatient" to wait. Now, I realize that this has all of the gravity of a plastic shopping bag at Fisherman's Wharf, but I'm just getting warmed up. Hoohaw.

It appears that we have a pathological liar on a support forum that I help to moderate. This person, apparently, has taken many of us on a ride. This community has some people that truly care, and we often try to meet up, regionally, to both get acquainted as well as, sometimes, to offer real emotional and tangible support. For many, the emotional investment can be significant. Those who have invested time and attention to this person, who is obviously deeply troubled, are pretty angry about it. When you're part of a community that exists to support each other, do you then shun someone that obviously needs support, just not the kind you're expecting to give? It's quite a dilemma.

Thursday, after mowing the lawn, I plopped down in front of the TV for a break. Scanning channels, I happened upon the brother of Pat Tillman reading a statement to a Congressional committee, followed by Jessica Lynch. I am not bringing this up to discuss what is often misinformation from the field; what these and other families have had to endure is criminal, and ongoing, and, frankly, completely negates the reasoning that places us in Iraq in the first place.
As we would hopefully have learned, needing only one example (not the daily reminders that occur in Bagdhad), there are reasons why citizens choose to blow up their fellow citizens. Certainly a lack of telling the truth is a fundamental one, at least in a democratic society. Are there really more brass in Washington that are like Col. Jessep in "A Few Good Men" than we'd like to believe? We can't handle the truth? The truth that soldiers get killed by friendly fire, even famous ones? That the fog of war somehow entitles one's government to market your death or injuries to suit their purposes? Shame on us all.

We have network news anchors who read copy that places them into the news itself, with false copy written by producers. I live in a city run for so long via hidden agenda and obfuscation, that (among a complete budget meltdown) we now have a building two stories too tall, too near a local runway, approved by a planning department but not the FAA. One local pundit has proposed that this may all have been done on purpose so that the FAA would decertify the airport, opening up the land to development interests (read politicians in pockets, please). Who do you believe? Where does the truth lie? (That's an interesting juxtaposition of words, isn't it?)

I'm really glad that we aren't involved in Special Olympics. Seems that the local leaders have violated policy, somehow, in March. There has still been no explanation given to the more than thousand volunteers as to what may have been the reason for the complete shutdown of the program. These dedicated people are now forming their own organiazation, and moving on. If this is ever reconciled, it will take generations to repair the broken relationships. This isn't lying, it's simply not telling the truth, which is so much more prevalent (and insideous) in our society.

The dumber we become, the more we attempt to control each other via external means. There is proposed state legislation that would levy a $500 fine upon one, should their domestic cat have kittens. We're CC&R'ing ourselves into neighborhoods that aren't neighborly. There are persons operating under the cloak of Christianity yelling epithets at soldiers' funerals. And we watch American Idol as our Attorney General tries to decide how much of the truth he's going to tell. Not only that, you may soon eat a chocolate bar without any chocolate in it.
Other than that, things are just peachy.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

A really nice thing happened on the way to the Forum

So, in my nearly a year in the =OF= Old Farts Clan, I have, naturally, applied myself to their forums. I even recently received an annual OFSCAR award for "Most Fun to read Forum Poster."
There is a loosely recognized contingent of us "forum spammers." We spam often, with nonsensical stuff. I tend to exhibit rants and poetry, I can only imagine your surprise. These forums are divided into several sections - we talk about game rules, rule breakers, new members are joining, we tell jokes, we talk about our operations, world events, etc. etc. . . . it's a community. In this year, I have only had occasion twice to make an issue (via private messaging, not public posting) of the use of the ever-popular "R" word. I just let the majority of it slide, because I've reached a point of decision - after 7+ years - that not all windmills are worth tilting toward. If someone has become an online friend, then it's a chance for us to get to know each other better, and, most often, not always, change an attitude.
Recently, for no real reason other than to stir things up, the forum admin has added the word SPAM to the list of words that are automatically filtered out, leaving symbols in their place. This, of course, has only fueled creativity in bypassing said filter. Farting around, as it were. A few days ago, I'm thinking to myself(which happens more often than it should) in my own passive-aggressive-sarcastic way, why not ask them to filter out the words 'retard' and 'retarded'? A little backhanded guilt-tripping, use the silliness of
banning a harmless word to get my little agenda done. No response from the admin.
I've achieved a certain level of credibility with a couple of the level fours (Marvin is lowly level two in clan machine), the group of 15 or so that really make the rules. It wouldn't be an organization without some, yes? I thought some more, and picked one. I told him about Emma, my activities on the forums regarding these words, and asked him if he thought it would be a good idea. His response absolutely floored me.
He has an aunt and a cousin with T21, he thought it was a fine idea, and he'd taken care of it.
I've been positively impressed from day one by the core people in this community in many ways, this just re-affirmed it. I could easily have been pooh-poohed by policy, condescention,
or apathy. I wasn't just accommodated, I was understood. In the world I live in, it is the difference between night and day.
Another moment, another tiny victory for a cause I signed up for inadvertently by not reading all the disclaimers on the back of the "So You Want to be A Parent?" brochure. A relationship strengthened by the sharing of common experience.
A good thing.