Brief Cases: Dos Cosas

Now for dos cosas that grabbed my interest this week and might also pique yours.

1. Oh, Canada

Fight the Right Fight
Fight the Right Fight

I’m not entirely clear on the etymology of “throwing shade.” And I can’t pin down whether “catching shade” is the result of having shade thrown one’s way. But it’s safe to say, regardless, that I’ve been receiving some shadows lately.

Those long silhouettes stretch from the great white north. And they make something like zero sense. Which appears to be the going rate for most shade these days.

At the expense of sounding like a big purple dinosaur, I’d like to know why all web-based differences of opinion or perspective seem to carry twice their weight in vitriol. I’d also like to know why tiffs arise where there’s really nothing to tiff about in the first place. What in the fuck, internet peeps?

What follows is my shady story, why it’s hardly shady when you consider the real depths of dimness out there, and the real reason I’m thinking about the dark side:

I check the readership stats for FinanciaLibre every so often, and they more or less follow a predictable pattern. But something unexpected happened a few days ago: A relatively old FL post about the VW TDI Dieselgate scandal/arbitrage opportunity started getting lots of hits.

So I looked into it found most of the love was coming from a link posted on a popular discussion forum for owners of VW and Audi TDI cars, in Canada.

Cool, I thought. And I went to the discussion board to see what was going on and, if possible, to see aboot saying, “Thanks for the link.”

I couldn’t comment because I’m not a registered member. But I could read the thread. And I’ll reproduce some of it here. But be forewarned. Because this is a Canadian discussion forum, it’s incredibly polite. It begins, fairly and neutrally, like so:

Insert1

And then, um, mounts into this less-than-neutral but sardonic-and-clever-enough ill will for catastrophic engine failure:

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And then, with all the grace and exacting sagacity of a Molson Ice bottle exploding atop a pile of soggy maple leaves, the thread discharges this erudition:

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To which I can only say: Huh?

Now before I get back to Molson Lice, let me lay the land here.

The settlement deal that makes my TDI arbitrage go is a U.S.-only deal; it ain’t available to the Canucks. Which makes plenty of sense and may be unfair and may ultimately leave Canadians with an even better deal than flies here.

Regardless, there seems to be some envy up yonder. And some of it latched to Libre to vent. That’s fine. But, as we say down in these parts: If y’all’s gonna git all beechy, ‘lease unnersta’an whas bein’ sayed.

Which brings us back to engine failure and Molson Louse.

There must be some language barrier wrapping the Canadian-U.S. border I’d previously missed. Because I’ve been to Canada a bunch, have Canadian friends and even speak some French. But I was befuddled by the wishes for harm to come my way, and I was especially unclear on the criticism of le pou. (Disclosure: I had to look that one up: “louse” is not a word in my French vocab. Thankfully.)

So, after much translation, I understood the engine failure wishes and the Molson discharge to reflect two salient points:

1) FinanciaLibre is “bragging” about his sweet-ass arbitrage of Dieselgate and deserves ruin as a result.

2) FinanciaLibre does not deserve awards.

On the second point, this criticism is fair. And, in fact, FinanciaLibre neither seeks nor will accept awards. FinanciaLibre has no interest in awards. FinanciaLibre expressly releases its claim to any and all such awards as, from time to time, may be assigned, granted or otherwise presented to the Libre.

But on the first point, mes frères, we have what you’d understand to be a brewing kerfluffle.

FinanciaLibre is happy with the Dieselgate arbitrage, fo sho. And why not?

But guys and gals, the whole point of FinanciaLibre and the whole point of the posts regarding TDIs are to lay out a roadmap for you to profit. They’re how-to, step-by-step treasure maps to riches and glory.

These kinds of posts are offered up for your consideration and benefit. This whole FinanciaLibre project is an effort to help people do well in life.

I’m sharing things, openly and freely, for anyone with internet access to use as they wish. They don’t have to use any of it or even read it. They can ignore this stuff. And, in the spirit of collaborative knowledge-building and valuable discussion, they can most certainly disagree and criticize. I think we can all see how that kind of disagreement and criticism is beneficial. It’s how we all get smarter and better and richer.

But let’s not cast a pox on the LibreWagen and hope my car blows up. And let’s not misunderstand the purpose of what’s being done here. I’m not bragging.

If I were interested in bragging, this wouldn’t be where or how I’d do it. And I specifically wouldn’t fixate my boasts on a mass market station wagon that’s older than the stock market’s superannuated bull run.

So if you’re reading this “blab,” understand this: I’m doing this chiefly for you, fair reader.

That encompasses readers from Canada, including those who comment on TDI discussion boards. There’s lots for you here (even if the TDI arbitrage doesn’t apply, unfortunately). And you’re welcome to benefit as much as anyone else. A standing invitation is extended northward.

Now, some of you might be under the impression this discussion is about Canada. Or Canadians. Or maple leaves or bottled beer. It’s not. I like Canada and Canadians and trees and beer. So don’t even start with that whole thing. Eh?

As a matter of fact, this really isn’t about FinanciaLibre at all.

It’s about a much bigger issue that is a serious problem negatively affecting us all. And it’s represented by my experience with Canadian shade only in the most G-rated sort of way.

The issue is a crisis of rage and insult and enmity and hate that seems to have become a popular replacement for reasoned disagreement and profitable reflection. And which is at its shrillest and most rancorous pitch on the internet.

What got me thinking about this epidemic of online invective were two mainstream media articles about Mad FIentist and Mr. 1500 over at 1500 Days. Both hombres are righteous bros who do a lot of good for people out there.

But to read the comments on these articles, you’d think they’re the illegitimate love-children of Hitler and Hannibal Lecter, with some kraken DNA thrown in. And you’d think they spend their time fleecing people out of their souls to barter for frozen pizza instead of offering useful and considered financial inspiration and perspectives.

The amount of shade thrown from those articles’ comments could blot out the sun for six months. And still have some umbrage left over. What’s even worse is that some of these articles’ commenters are very un-Canadian. They’re ugly-American mean. They went all ad hominem and thermonuclear and non compos mentis and just plain ole dick faster than you can say “Yukon Territory.”

All that’s as un-cool as a superheated Molson Ice. But it’s not even the worst part.

In both instances, the most vicious and deranged commentary is from peeps who: a) did not read the articles; or b) could not read (or understand) the articles; or c) both. C’mon, now! If you’re gonna blab on the net, at least make your blabbing apropos of something. The non sequiturs from these comments, if tied end to end, could encircle the globe (if they didn’t all get lost first).

It’s a damn shame. There’s plenty of room for disagreement, challenge, critique and opinion in life; in fact, they’re often seeds of invention and insight and intellectual revolution. But there’s no room for unfair and downright uninformed creeping on good bros by craven trolls lurking in the shadows of the web. At a minimum, before you denigrate someone for their perspectives or views or efforts to help you, at least try to understand what those perspectives or views or efforts are.

If it helps to move your lips as you read, or if you have to turn off the TV first, or if it’s useful to extract your head from the back of your Levi’s, do what it takes to comprehend before throwing a tantrum.

And in the particular instances of Mad FI and Mr. 1500, please note: Just because someone has exhibited unusual sacrifice or hard work or perspicacity to achieve a positive outcome that harms nobody but might help many doesn’t mean that person is bragging. It doesn’t mean they think they’re better than you. It doesn’t mean you need to get all uptight and angry and defensive about your life. And it certainly doesn’t mean you need to wish harm on them or hope they get divorced or their family gets killed or they suffer debilitating disease or they go bankrupt.

That sort of deranged perversion of your own freedom of personal expression is nothing less than a bastardization of the very notion of the freedoms we celebrate. And if it persists, it can only end in your own self-defeat because you’ll cause people to stop sharing useful information by driving up the personal cost of doing so.

When it becomes unduly costly for reasoned people to share insights that, if a bit uncomfortable for you to hear, might benefit you, you will suffer an existence of ignorance and despondency that is the very thing humanity has, in the course of its history pursuing the ideals of democracy and liberty and human rights, labored to defeat. And you will have earned every bit of it.

Instead of spinning your flippers churning up worthless and noxious shade, you might consider the very painless and highly profitable option of evaluating your own perspectives and opinions. If you’d stop the rage machine and listen for a minute, you could be a whole lot better off.

Which means that, even if your existence is so sad that only animalistic self-interest moves you to action, then you ought to at least use that base impulse for your own good by recognizing it’s advantageous for you to provoke humanity to share its knowledge with you rather than hide it.

To get this amazing gift? The price is free. In fact, it’s below free. You don’t have to do anything at all, which includes not assassinating the character of those bearing the gifts. But if you do want to participate actively, the price is that you must being reasoned, informed and at least attempt to add something of use and relevance to the discussion.

“Wow, after all this stuff about Mad FIentist and Mr. 1500, those guys in Canada don’t sound so bad,” you say. “Why bring them up at all?”

An excellent question. Those TDI guys weren’t out of line, and I’m flattered they bothered to read my stuff. At most you could make an argument that some of the comments were uncool.

And that very fact underscores the main reasons I used their comments here to frame the discussion. First, their quotes are reproducible. They’re not deeply offensive like a lot of the stuff being said about Mad FIentist and Mr. 1500. Which are the most caustic and bizarre sorts of things you can imagine and which don’t deserve repeating.

Second, the Canadians’ remarks are, for the most part, decipherable. Unlike the other stuff re Mad FI and Mr. 1500.

And third, I get the impression these TDI guys are 100% good dudes who were just having an ultimately tame and ironic and witty conversation for some innocent lulz. They’re not gonna hunt me down with a broken-off Molson Ice bottle and try to dice me into pike bait if they read this. Those other articles’ commenters? I wouldn’t be so sure.

All of which means their commentary is incredibly useful to illustrate the broader point that would just get lost in the vitriolic haze of the Mad FI and Mr. 1500 articles’  comment boards.

And that point is this: It’s cool to disagree and challenge and critique and joke and lampoon; but it’s not cool to wish harm or threaten or bludgeon with aimless rage.  And it’s especially not cool to do it without first grasping what you’re disagreeing with. When you do that, you’re acting like a ‘roided up nut job with tiny testes and a smaller brain who’s pissed he can’t understand what everyone else is talking about and starts swinging blindly like an unhinged ceiling fan.

Now with all that settled, let me return to the Canadian thread and leave us with an example of awesome, open-minded and articulate expression on the internet of differences in opinion and perspective, sans invective, that leaves us all better off. Which, I thought, was kind of the whole point of this internet thing. Thanks, internet peep:

Insert4

Indeed.

2. Finance Superhero

FinanciaLibre was deeply honored to run a guest post on the awesome Finance Superhero blog yesterday.

I’m as super-pumped about the post as a ‘roided up nut job gets about new testis prosthesis technology, and I can only say: Many, many thanks, Hero!

Which means, Luchadores, you should kindly install these two ideas in your brain:

1) The post is amazing.

2) If you haven’t already read it, you need to remedy your post-reading deficiency stat. We’ll wait.

Ok. Good. Glad you’re back. And you’re welcome. (Since you’ve read the post, you know why I’m saying that.)

But now I have to admit something that’ll make me sound like I need one of those AARP feature phones with the giant buttons and a forget-me-not tether.

I was supposed to email the post draft to my bro Hero on Tuesday. Which I did. Or at least I thought I did.

But instead, because I have the technical savvy of a blind goat hosting a colony of brain-eating bacteria the size of Manhattan, I evidently emailed the draft only to myself.

And I didn’t realize it until after the post was supposed to go live. It was my mistake.

But thanks to Hero’s graciousness and general awesomeness, no one would ever have known the difference. Which is why I thought I’d say thanks for that as well, Hero.

Also, if you’re not familiar with the amazing work Hero does, you should spend some time perusing the great stuff on his site right now. Hero does a fantastic job and puts more heart into his work than most cardiovascular surgeons.

Again, Hero, muchas gracias, bro.

Until next time, Luchadores, stay well, fight hard, thank much, and don’t take no shit from nobody. Especially peeps lurking in the shadows of the web, all crouched and craven and flinging their fecal shade your way.

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