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People Who Live In Caves - The Life and Thoughts of Zach

Oct. 19th, 2003

03:27 am - People Who Live In Caves

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I met this dude at the Amtrak station today. He swears he knows me from somewhere, and I thought he seemed very familiar too. But we spent a good 10 minutes listing our various group affiliations and there's no overlap. Anyway when we found out train was delayed by an hour he invited me to have a bite to eat, I suggested Kopi. It was really cool to have a random stranger (though a stranger that I thought I knew from somewhere, and he thought the same) ask to hang out and chit chat.

I guess he's a current CS student but it was the weirdest thing. He didn't know about the Diebold thing. Ok, fine so he hasn't read slashdot today. He didn't know what slashdot is. He didn't know what the EFF was. Ok, fine, so he's more of a techie and doesn't follow the political stuff. When I described it as the ACLU of the computer world he didn't know what the ACLU was. As the conversation progressed he had never heard of the DMCA, he had never used linux, didn't know Linux was free, didn't know about the free software movement, the open source movement, the GNU project, or the GPL. He had heard the term "open source" but didn't know that programs like WinZip (free to download, not free, no source available) were not open source. After explaining a lot of stuff his basic understanding of the Diebold situation was that we shouldn't have to worry about it because some government regulatory body ("like the FDA, but for elections") would/should take care of it.

Is this kid an anomally or are there a lot of smart educated, even geeky, people who are this clueless about basic political isssues (the existance and purpose of the ACLU) and their career field (the different philosphies of software development and licensing). Does political rhetoric that assumes a BASIC level of understanding of the system fall on largely deaf ears?

The weird thing was this kid had a definite sort of "alternative" look of some kind. I think he mentioned that he was into the goth scene. I frequently (mistakenly) assume off the bat that if someone doesn't look really mainstream then they are slightly more clued into alternative politics and news and I assume that if such a person is also a computer geek they know about such things as slashdot, linux, and the DMCA. I was agog when I met my first republican pagan. I guess after that I shouldn't be surprised to meet a clueless goth geek. I have such higher expectations for the counterculture. Not that they'll agree with me, but at least that I can talk to them in ways that I can not talk to a fratboy.

Anyway I think I scared him away as I tried to back off and educate about the issues. He asked me to explain so I was doing my best. But all of a sudden he said he had to go to the bathroom and then he avoided me for the rest of the night. Poor guy. I'm sorry. I'd have been just as happy to have him talk about LARPing (one of his other stated interests) or whatever...but he was the one asking me questions.

Comments:

From:swank76
Date:October 19th, 2003 02:24 am (UTC)
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Many people today are entirely unaware of basic political issues in virtually all forms. Did you know a recent survey found that 40% of Americans could not name their senator? I'm a computer caveman and I know the basic ideas of Linux.
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From:domystic
Date:October 19th, 2003 10:11 am (UTC)
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i know linux and i always thought he was the cutest one, because of his blanket, of course, but his sister lucy was secretly my favorite.

from one of the Real Cavepeople
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From:zarfmouse
Date:October 19th, 2003 10:23 pm (UTC)
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Yah but you know what the ACLU is!

And you aren't a CS major so you get a pass in linux.

I would hope you'd know something about some current alternative movements in psychology.
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From:juvenilia
Date:October 20th, 2003 04:12 pm (UTC)
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sascha and i would like to send our giggles your way, from the basement.

tee hee.
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From:stuffedsheep29
Date:October 19th, 2003 08:04 am (UTC)
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I saw you at the Amtrak station too! But I didn't know it was you, since we've never met in person. I saw you upstairs on the phone, and thought "gee, that kinda looks like...but it may not be..." and the later saw you at Kopi! When Sal finally arrived, we walked by Kopi and I asked "Hey, you've met Zach in person...is that him?" We affirmed it was so, but you were then talking to this other guy so we didn't want to disturb you.

But hi! *waves* I'm excited that we have finally existed in the same space!
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From:zarfmouse
Date:October 19th, 2003 09:05 am (UTC)
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Wow. What a weird night. Seeing a random dude I don't know but think I do, and failing to notice a person I do know but don't realize I do.

Next time, interupt! :)
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From:stuffedsheep29
Date:October 19th, 2003 05:29 pm (UTC)
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Hehe, I will! You seem to have a very strong Zach vibe. Hard to miss!
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From:mythworker
Date:October 19th, 2003 09:58 am (UTC)
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LARPers....sigh....

First off, speaking as a pagan, I have to say that paganism being a faith contains a whole range of political thoughts. There is a small contingent of conservative/Republican pagans, but for the most part the "conservative" end of the pagan spectrum tends towards Libertarianism, while the "left" side veers into the progressive/global justice/Starhawk side of things. There is a considerable "middle-of-the-road" population who avoid the extremes of both ends, but are generally pro-Enviornment.

I think I could say that this "Goth-Geek" was an abberation. Most of the Goth techie geeks *do* know about these issues and are pretty left of center politically speaking.

It's important for movements like the IMC to reach out to subcultures like the pagans and Goths and help radicalise them.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:October 19th, 2003 10:20 pm (UTC)
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It's important for movements like the IMC to reach out to subcultures like the pagans and Goths

Hell yes!

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From:anne_jumps
Date:October 19th, 2003 10:01 am (UTC)
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I think there are a lot of kids like that. They'll wear certain clothes for no reason other than they think it looks cool. The meaning has been marketed out of a lot of things.
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From:folkyboy
Date:October 19th, 2003 10:52 am (UTC)
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i love your Amelie icon!
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From:anne_jumps
Date:October 19th, 2003 11:12 am (UTC)

here's another one

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Thanks! Is that icon of you looking at my icon? ;)
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From:folkyboy
Date:October 19th, 2003 05:10 pm (UTC)

Re: here's another one

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haha yup!
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From:folkyboy
Date:October 19th, 2003 10:52 am (UTC)
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maybe he thought you were Jesus?
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From:herbivorous
Date:October 19th, 2003 12:52 pm (UTC)
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It used to be that you had to WORK a little bit to look Kinda Freaky. But with places like Hot Topic in every mall in america, and the fact that facial piercings and tattoos are no longer even a little itty bit avant guard, well, there's a hella lotta people who LOOK, to me, like they are counterculture when in fact they are EXTREMELY mainstream.

That, and I hopeandpray that this kid is an EXCEPTION.

Logic tells me he's not. Hope sits silently in the background and says, well, maybe.
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From:rawley69
Date:October 19th, 2003 02:05 pm (UTC)
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Lately I've met a lot of people getting into fields they could care less about. Like CS, or down here at SIU, I've met engineering students that could care less about engineering.

Watch them be the ones that get the good jobs.
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From:corvus
Date:October 19th, 2003 02:38 pm (UTC)
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I went to school with a pagan in Airforce ROTC.
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From:earnbrand
Date:October 23rd, 2003 09:53 pm (UTC)
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I served in the Navy with a few. One would joke about sitting in the lotus position, naked, and shaking chicken bones at the distilation unit when the ORSE (Operational Reactor Safeguards Exam) team came on board. "Really, sir, this is the only way we can get it to work."
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From:assclouds
Date:October 20th, 2003 09:54 am (UTC)
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Some years back I sat next to a kid on the Greyhound heading East. This kid was all decked out in black, had dyed spikey hair, fishnet sleeves underneath his short-sleeved Manson t-shirt, eyeliner, chain necklace, nose ring. He was talking to his friend across the isle about music. I interrupted and had a brief discussion about music with him. He listened to Metallica, Hole, Nine Inch Nails, Manson, Korn, etc. He had never heard of Ministry before. Or Front 242. Or Skinny Puppy. He listened to about 15 minutes of Too Dark Park (IMHO the most accessible Puppy album) and said he didn't like it at all. From that point he kind of stopped talking to me.
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From:kitten_ms
Date:October 21st, 2003 03:50 pm (UTC)
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I think that I am going to learn a lot from this Live Journaling. I have very little knowledge of politics. To the point that I usually avoid the subject because I don't want to ask a question that is SO obvious that I look like a complete idiot. I just imagine someone saying, 'That Swarzenegger (sp?) sure has his work cut out for him.' And I ask, 'Oh, is he doing a new movie?' Yes, that would be me. When I go out to dinner with my husband and in-laws, they talk politics and I can maybe follow a third of the conversation.

Anyway...there are those of us out here, that for various reasons do not know a lot about politics, but I'm willing to learn :-)

I think it is great that you just met up with this guy and went to grab something to eat. I view things like that as something of an adventure. When I first moved to Chicago (4 years ago), I made a list of 'Things To Do Before I Turn 30'. One of the things on my list was to ask a stranger if I can join them while they were eating alone in a restaurant. My idea was more along the lines of an older person who looked lonely or someone traveling on business who might enjoy some company.

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From:zarfmouse
Date:October 21st, 2003 04:06 pm (UTC)
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I'm ALWAYS happy to explain my ideas about politics to any willing and interested person on ANY level of pre-existing knowledge.

So if a topic ever comes up that you've like to know more about, please just ask. I don't want to get a reputation of dissing on people who don't know some things. This kid _surprised_ me but he didn't bother me at all.

It was funny that the eating thing happened. This kid seemed REALLY shy and meak to me (just his manner of speaking) but it was him that asked me. In reality I'm always too shy/paranoid to ask such a thing of a random stranger. Little experiences like that definitely give me a confidence boost, if this kid could ask me, then I could ask someone too!
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From:marezcharz
Date:October 28th, 2003 12:16 am (UTC)
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how about a black gay republican? yikes

one interesting world....
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