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Friday, August 28, 2015

I've been blogging since about 1998ish.  That was just before the word "blog" was even a thing.  In those early days, we didn't have organized blogging tools. and LiveJournal wouldn't go live for another year, and Wordpress wouldn't start up for another five, but I was doing weekly updates of a web page I had laid out like the front page of a newspaper.  That web page was called "The Bitch Page" and every week, I would update it with my commentary on things that I felt needed more attention.  On April 13, 1998, I wrote this:

What is up with Titanic commercials?? The movie JUST got knocked out of first place in the US (by Lost In Space) after 15 weeks and they have the GALL to run Television Adverts telling us to "see it again". Talk about evil. Like the 3 BILLION they already have in ticket sales is not enough? TALK about GREED!!

Awww, I were so innocent back then!  Of course, this was before the smartphone, before even the iPod, before 9/11, and right on top of the Monica Lewinksky Scandal.  There was plenty to complain about but the most important stuff, I had no idea about.  I was starting to wake up, however.  I had started dating my eventual wife and had met my wife's step-mother who was a voracious reader.  She gave me some books to read.  Books about Freemasonry that, 4 years later, would inspire my novel series TheKey Chronicle (get Book 1 on Amazon!.

And then came!  Or, rather, then I came to!

While doing further research for this series I came across a website called  It was an edgy, alternative news source that covered stuff that the mainstream news wasn't covering.  This was very much in line with my old efforts on "The Bitch Page" so I took to it immediately.  GNN, as we called it, had a thriving user forum and, man, did I spend a ton of time on there!  Both learning and helping others to learn about current politics, history and culture, that forum changed my world view more than a few times.

Sadly, there was a point when GNN got too big for its old, slow servers, so the founders decided to do something about it.  However, rather than simply upgrading the servers, they decided to create a whole new GNN site.  They hired big-time professional web site designers and the new site ended up looking utilitarian, industrial, and unintuitive.  Sure, the original site was positively web -1.0, but at least it made sense to us.  The new site was abstract and had features that were questionably necessary like blogs.  I guess the idea was that, rather than blogging on our own sites, we should blog on GNN.  I'm still not sure why anyone thought this was a good idea, but I just happy to see a faster server being implemented.

So, when one of the founders, who was interested in maintaining the old community on the new site, invited me and a few others to check out the beta site before everyone else, I was super excited.  Obviously, when I checked it out, I was a little concerned at how unfriendly it all looked.  The design was the web site equivalent to a German expressionistic film.  However I wanted to be supportive.  As I recall, I politely expressed concerns but ultimately felt that we users would get used to it.

The site went live and suddenly, I and the group of friends that had been invited to the beta with me, stopped hearing from the founders at all.  Our growing concerns about usability were being ignored and when I asked about resetting my password (of all things), I was told that there was no way but it would be added at some point.  This compounded with some concerns that some of the stories GNN had posted were taken down as to not offend the web designers (who had big big corporate clients) made me concerned for the future of GNN--a concern that would prove itself justified.

One of My Favorite Blog Posts

Before all that played out, and before I had lost my password, I did give one more thing on the site a try--their blogging system.  I think I felt that if the interface and server-side software worked better than what I was using at the time, maybe my GNN blog could replace my actual blog (I was using Grey Matter back then).  I had been tossing around an idea for a blog post that would put today's problems in the context of the Founding Fathers.  So, I wrote it and it ended up being one of my favorite things I've written for a blog.  I recently came across it and found it to be still quite topical (though not as good as I remember it).  Here is my first and only post for my blog on the "new" GNN,  which has never appeared on any version of  It was written on October 19, 2004:

L, L, and the P of H

B00038 Tue, 19 Oct 2004 05:56:59 -0500

It’s my theory that “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” is by far the most successful propaganda slogan ever devised. Of course, you’re probably having one of two reactions to that statement.

1) Of course it was propaganda you idiot!

2) Wow, that’s pretty cynical, don’t you think?

What’s so funny is that neither reaction really applies to where I’m coming from. See, the idea is not that the founding fathers were bullshit artists or that they were PR agents hired by the real founding fathers who remain obscured by history to this day. My theory is that they actually did think that what they were doing was the right thing.
They also understood that some people wouldn’t think they were doing the right thing.

The thing is, they weren’t doing the right thing.

Like the Republicans of today, the Founding Fathers may have used phrases like “Give me liberty or give me death.” and “L, L, and the P of H” as a way to con everyone into thinking what they were trying to do would benefit all of them. The catch is, they knew it wouldn’t. The catch is, they knew the average citizen would be completely unable to deal with the kind of power the Founding Fathers were creating for themselves.

The same way many of us couldn’t stop King George from going to war, individual citizens of the mini-countries that would become states couldn’t stop most of themselves from becoming swayed by the DVDs, fast cars and 1200 TV channels of their day—the abstract concept of freedom.

Freedom to farm the way you wanted to farm, freedom to sell what you wanted to sell, and freedom to own who you wanted to own. Of course, the reality, according to my theory, was probably darker. What the founding fathers really wanted was freedom to victimize, freedom to take advantage of, freedom to lie.

Ever notice how lying in general isn’t a crime? Sure, committing fraud is, but that’s a really huge lie. Little white lies, like telling people your drug will make you feel like your wind-surfing across a field of wheat are fine, apparently. The Founding Fathers wanted to create a place where “Caveat Emptor” or “buyer beware” was the perpetual rule of thumb.

Too bad they didn’t mention it to the first Americans when they were selling those poor saps on the whole “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” line…

Yeah, yeah, that’s what America stands for, I’ll believe that when WMD show up in Iraq!

Wait… no I won’t.

Apparently, I wasn't that into proofreading back then.  The point of the post, is clear enough, though.  Our country was never supposed to be "the Land of the Free."  How could it be when it allowed slavery to be legal?  No, the real plan here was that America was going to become a capitalist machine that would print money for whomever controled it.  Remember, back in the days of the FF, they didn't really mean "all men are created equal" they just meant all white men who owned land.  Those were, after all, the only people who could actually vote.  No women, no People of Color, no one with renters insurance.  I'm kidding. I don't think that was a thing back then.

The point is, where we are at now is where we've been going since 1776.  A country where banks are too big to fail, government doesn't listen to the people and the 1% controls everything, may not have been on their radar, but this path--the path that would exploit the vast majority of Americans in ways most of us were too uneducated to understand, was laid down by those same Founding Fathers.  They were the real originators of the pyramid scheme.  After all, what else is the capitalist system than a way for the many to give most of their money to the few?

By definition, our system is a pyramid scheme.

Sure, we may get some kind of compensation, like a product or a service, but is that really worth the money we spent when the company we paid it to made insane profits on it?  I found one source who claims profits on a cup of coffee can be 400-500%.  So, yeah, America is a pyramid scheme.  What's worse is that the tiny number of people who have most of America's money can easily influence or even control the laws that regulate that pyramid scheme.

It's pretty obvious that the real reason the Colonies revolted against King George was NOT because of the taxation without represention--not exactly.  It was really because they wanted to control the workings of the government, themselves.  Think about it--a government for the people, by the people, when "people" are only land-owning white men?  Yeah, that's a good deal for those dudes and that's the system they created.  A kind of revolving door that would allow them to step into government and out again, as they generally saw fit.

And guess what--that revolving door still exists today.

What ever happened to

I'm not sure why exactly, but GNN did shut down for a while--I think it was about 2007 or 2008.  I think the community had fallen apart (I had left because of those concerns about GNN's future--why invest in a site if management was clearly going to screw it up?) and when I would return just to see how things were, there were always absurdly petty arguments dominating the conversations on the forums.  It was sad.  All of my friends had left, as well, so there was no reason to stick around.

For a while there was a "GNN WILL RETURN" message but a real site wouldn't appear at that URL again until 2013, when someone controlling the domain tried to reboot the site with an article-posting system.  Anyone who signs up can post articles they think are relevant to readers.  Sadly, the site never got any momentum and it looks like the most recent article posted was in December of 2013.

They never did add a "reset password" feature.  I'm just glad I could get my old post back via the Way Back Machine at, though.  You can see what looked like back when it was great and what it became after the redesign and here is what my only blog post looked like in context of the "new" GNN.

One thing that was nice was that during one of my return visits to see if a password reset link had been added, I came across a couple of comments on my single blog post:

why is this guy an unknown?

-ledriffs @ 11/17/05 13:50:05

he’s not unknown.
He runs another website and isn’t active here anymore – see

-sisyphus @ 11/17/05 14:39:26

So, that was nice.  I felt, at least, a little missed.

Outside of GNN, I was busy

By 2004, I built a reasonable audience during my coverage of Kerry/Edwards vs. Bush/Cheney.  I still remember slumping down in front of my TV after following the election all night.  I was gobsmacked at how easily Kerry had given in.  There was SO much evidence of a rigged election but no one wanted to dig into it on the legal side.

In 2008, I blogged heavily about Obama vs. McCain election and that had a much happier ending.  Not only did we get a black man in the White House, I managed to get my blog mentioned on CSPAN and found myself with an even bigger audience and quite a few new actual friends.

However, after Obama proved that he could be as corrupt as any white guy, I got pretty disillusioned.  I mean, I knew he'd let me down, but his health care "reform" was really just a baby step that forced a ton of new customers on the insurance industry--at tax payer expense.  Then, the Drone Wars really surprised me.  I mean, Obama has killed a lot of people with these flying killer robots, some of them American citizens.  I think the number is up to 4 Americans killed by drones.  Some of them were deemed "terrorists" by the USG, which apparently meant they were no longer human and were therefore unworthy of the same rights as other humans.  Those rights that are guaranteed to us in the US Constitution.  This guy is a former Constitutional Law professor.

Then there is Gitmo still being open.  And his well-deserved nickname the "Deporter-in-Chief."  We also can't forget his treatment of whistleblowers.  There's a reason Snowden still lives in Russia.

I mean, what kind of country do we live in where it's illegal to expose crime?

So, yeah, I've seen a lot.  And seeing how Obama failed to bring the kind of change we all wanted, I decided to retool my efforts online.  I stopped posting several long form blog posts a week.  I just didn't have the heart for it anymore.  I started taking a lot of photos and realized that Instagram was a super easy platform to use for posting quickly and easily.  Via, I have my Instagram posts automatically cross-posted to my blog.  It makes blogging simple, short posts, very easy.  It has allowed me to get back to living my life and sharing the interesting bits with anyone who is interested.  It's actually pretty great.  I get anywhere from a couple hundred to almost a thousand hits per day.

That's not to say I've given up on "serious" blogging.  Thanks to the art of "screenshotting" I can find headlines and even news stories, take screengrabs of them and post them to my Instagram feed, along with a couple of sentences of cogent commentary and voila, I can still blog about serious things while not being forced to spend all day on a piece.  Just today, along with a screenshot from my smart watch, I posted about how the Supreme Court effectively banned protesting outside the Supreme Court.  Yeah.  Tax-payer-funded building now does not allow tax-payers to protest outside of it.

However, life has gotten pretty scary in recent years.  A black president seems to have pulled racism into focus for Americans and we can now see with stark clarity how racist our society still is.  Sure, cops are dicks to everyone but when's the last time you heard a cop describe a white guys like this "he looked like a demon."

That's how Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson described Mike Brown looking before Wilson shot this unarmed black man and left him, dead on the street.

Pardon my french, but that's fucked up.

Oh yeah and EVIL is not really a thing.

So, not only do you have a cop murdering someone who was not a threat, but you have the cop seeing a black guy as a mythical being.  A police officer with a gun was that scared of a black guy with no weapon.  That is some deep deep racism, and worse, a serious belief in the supernatural.

I know it's not like believing in ghosts or ESP, but it's still an idea in a concept that can't be proven or measured.  Once you believe in a concept like that, you can see it in anyone you want.  People like to call Hitler a "monster" or say that he was evil.  But he wasn't a monster or evil.  He was horribly corrupt is all.  Hitler was every bit as human as you or me.  And that's the danger of believing in a concept like "evil".  It gives you license to do pretty much anything because you've gone from a regular person to a fighter of evil.  Darren Wilson lost his job, but he's still a free man.  You lose your job because you screwed up your job.  You go to prison when you kill someone.  Even when there is no loss of life, I still worry--like when a US Marine described a terrorist on a train in France as having evil in his eyes.  I have to admit, I have no idea what evil eyes would look like.

Then there is the California drought situation (which I blogged about recently).  I may not be a Californian anymore, but it's still an important state (and I still have family there).  There's also the whistleblower situation where Snowden is in exile, Manning is in prison, and Drake and others are still not being listened to.  I'm also worried about American infrastructure.  On the tenth anniversary of Katrina, and coming up on the third anniversary of Sandy, not to mention the hundreds of wild fires all around western America, I wonder how well prepared America is to deal with extreme weather.

So, yeah, there's plenty to long-form blog about still.  I'll probably be cross-posting my long form posts over at Medium.  What that means is that if you're tired of looking at photos on my blog, you can go to and read just my long stuff.

Regardless, please let me know what you think.  Being a one-man operation, it's great to get opinions from other folks.  Please comment below my posts or just Tweet at me.

I do miss that forum on GNN, tho.

I think a site like that would be of immense use to a concerned populace.

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