“ Gentile or Jew
O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you”
For those readers not familiar with English literature and poetry the lines quoted above come from T S Elliot’s poem ‘The waste land’ and is also the title of one of the late Iain Banks ‘culture’ series in sci-fi. I was only vaguely aware of the poem, in fact i hadn’t read it until after i had read all of the ‘Culture’ series.
Before i begin today i feel i should give some explanation or warning about this kind of post on my website. It’s not specifically about the world of sailing although i can’t but help use sailing expressions in the same way that the English language is littered with the rocks and shoals of nautical terms. This isn’t a sailing post or even a post about projects or sailing literature. This post is one of the occasional ones that i feel moved to write about important stuff that we might say is ‘off topic’. Some members might want to warn me off anything ‘political’ and that’s fair enough as it’s exactly what i tried to say when Dylan Winter started commenting about that odd bloke in the big white house !
If you are here because of my previous links with a self-reliance and preparedness website then these posts will serve as an explanation of what i had been trying to warn members about.
In my own defence and by way of explanation this post isn’t about left/right politics, nor is it about identity or gender politics : to paraphrase a sailing friend “i don’t care how ghey you are get the freekin spinnaker up” ! This post , rather, is about some recent events which might, if we ‘look to windward’ show us what might be coming our way : and that’s all of us, left/right straight/gay…..even motor boaters for goodness sakes. My usual series of posts this year i am planning to always schedule for a Monday morning so this posts and anything like it will only appear on the blog outside of my regular slot. This might become a regular, once a month series.
Here is the video that goes with the post and also serves to explain what i am doing with this series.
What i would also like to remind readers of is what i said in my blog introduction post some 2 years ago is that this is about a mainly, moany old bloke talking mainly about old boats and anything to do with them : but it’s also about anything else that i’m interested in myself. That, as some visitors will know, is anything from my garden, my attempts at fitness, men’s health (or not), self reliance and preparedness and so on. Last year, for example i wrote several times about Jordan Petersen and the emerging intellectual dark web, so called. I still follow the good doctor’s work closely and his work has been a kind of ‘gateway drug’ to other thinkers across several fields from history to social commentary and evolutionary biology !. I can even recognise now that i write because i have to ! and that the primary driver for that is a psychological trait called open-ness : that was one major discovery for me last year.
Right at the end of the year i just began to understand how fragile are our freedom’s , so called, on the internet. Several things happened last year that i felt i had to comment on somewhere. I made the mistake of trying to discuss not those events directly but what was happening behind the scenes. That got me into trouble with one forum that i used to moderate for because, mistakenly, they were seen as ‘political’. One little statistic which i came across right at the end of the year was the number of people being arrested, charged and convicted for so called ‘hate’ crimes….it seems as though Orwell’s ‘wrong-think‘ is genuinely with us among several other of his other dystopian concepts.
Here of course i am mainly talking to a sailing audience and we would all understand the significance of an eye kept to windward to see what might be happening upwind of us : that threatening squall for example. In a greater sense i use the same expression in a different context, that of trying to see the events unfolding on the near horizon. Today i am specifically thinking about the near horizon of this strange world of the internet and the very dangerous storms that could be heading our way.
Ground swell (below) from the original painting by Edward Hopper. At first sight, unless you are a sailor, this might seem a nice picture of a pretty little cat boat crossing a bar and heading out for a nice day sail. If a sailor looks closely he or she would quickly see that it’s more menacing than it first appears. The bar-buoy bell will be clanging away, the swell waves from the not too distant storm are already breaking on the bar and those clouds are a forewarning of the wind and rain on the horizon….if that was my boat i would be running back in over the bar !
So, lets have at it.
For this first post i am going to talk about 2 related things : internet de-platforming and un-personing and in 2 very different cases. The first case relates to an online commentator who goes by the name of Sargon of Akkad and the second one is a young Chinese lady , name of Naomi Wu who mainly blogs about ‘tech’ especially making stuff that is available with leading edge ‘maker’ tech : 3D printing for example. Both were essentially de-platformed and therefore lost their income stream due to the action, some would say illegal action, of a company which is supposed to act as a middle man between creators and patrons . Here i am talking about the actions of Patreon but closely followed by Paypal and others.
I have, by the way, absolutely no idea why Naomi Wu got de-platformed.
So, lets first consider Patreon and what we would assume to be it’s function.
I have, or had until this fiasco, a Patreon account and by that i mean that i used to support 2 online content providers as a small scale internet patron. One of those people just happens to be JBP who with Dave Rubin and others, is trying to create a new system for online patrons and recipients of patronage. The Patreon idea was basically to be the middle man between patrons and the creators they wanted to support. What i used to do was commit to giving a small amount per month in one case and per video in the other to help support their work. It was only ever a small amount personally but when a hundred or a thousand, or many thousand, start contributing even a small regular amount a creator can be supported financially. In the channel that i used to support their Patreon account was literally the difference between them being able and not being able to make films.
Patreon always claimed to be the honest and impartial middle man. Of course they had their terms of service : they always said, i believe, that they didn’t want pornography on a Patreon supported site. I think also that they strongly discouraged the use of certain words as insults or racial slurs. That’s fair enough i think especially when they also said that if you mess up they will give you a chance to take down the offending content.
In Sargon’s case they didn’t do that, no warning, just suspended his account ie his income with no warning whatsoever. Here’s the sting though : the one thing he was taken down for wasn’t even on his own channel (Patreon account supported) but for a single comment on somebody else’s non Patreon supported channel. It wasn’t even a recent comment but something that he had said months before so it’s also pretty obvious that they either went trawling or were egged-on to do the dirty. In simple terms they broke their own terms of service, essentially their contract with Sargon, and every time the were challenged they came up with increasingly unlikely explanations. It’s possible that it wasn’t even at their own choosing but may have been driven from further up the financial food chain….in this case possibly Paypal and above that one of the major credit card companies. Without going all ‘Alex Jones’ on y-all it sounds like the finacial institutions might well now be acting to limit freedom of expression on the internet.
Now…this post has been ‘on the blocks’ for about a month while i tinkered with this one and finished others. Just 4 days before this one was due to go live this article appeared in the mainstream press. :
So, what did Benjamin AKA Sargon do that was so heinous online that caused the loss of his income ?……well he used a word, in fact that word……now, which word exactly are we talking about here ?. Stick around and find out.
If you are here and have got this far then you know my usual genre, boats and sailing, and you might also know that i occasionally talk about sailing literature. Just recently i did a quick review of an older story and more recent film adaptation ‘The riddle of the sands’ and, as i write, i’m working on a multi-stage review of the boats and writing of L. Francis Herreshoff. Why this is relevant is because these reviews are early exercises, training exercises if you will, to prepare to take on harder and more serious works.
In a slightly Peterson-esque way i am still learning to write and learning to write about harder things, it’s just that i am coming at it through my own world of boats, the sea and sailing literature. There are some great works covering major themes in sailing literature and it’s one of the books that i want to review that would give me the same problem. The book i am talking about here is one of Joseph Conrad’s many novels based on ships : he himself having been a professional seaman. I guess that some members at least will have heard of ‘Heart of Darkness’ and might even know that Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Apocalypse Now‘ is based on the theme of the book. Well, can’t avoid it any more and here is the book with ‘that word’ in the title. My thanks to Demirep (Youtube) for reminding me where a crucial passage from Conrad comes from.
Here’s a little side story. My sailing nick-name used to be ‘BN’ or Steve-BN and it stood for 2 things : BN could mean ‘Big Nurse’ as that was my Whitbread race handle and it also used to refer to ‘Boat Nigger’ which is also the job i did when i was a racing sailor. In those days the ‘BN’ as it later became for obvious reasons looked after the boat in between races and often prepared the boat. In modern terms we might call the BN a ‘preparateur’ , at least in La France. Anyway i was doubly ‘BN’
Does it affect me ? well no not exactly and not yet in any case unless WordPress get upset about my use of that word . I don’t run on Patronage although i have promised myself that if i ever got to 1,000 channel subscribers that i might start a Patreon account to help me with the costs of running a website . As it is my work is at the bottom end of a feeding chain that has much better content than i can do already. In this country a much better film maker (Dylan) can’t make ends meet with his Paypal taps so there isn’t much hope for me. To be brutally honest there isn’t much of a market for moany old middle aged men writing about mud, boats and mud. It would be different, it is different, for channels like Free Range Sailing who produce excellent content.
It does affect me though in the way that i get very angry about it and it creates a view of big business that is very anti freedom of expression. That’s not something to just allow business, governments or in the case of the UK , the British and Scottish police to take away…..and it is being taken away.
In the next post i am going to look at the strange case of a Scottish comedian and a spectacularly ugly dog !
Title print from the work of N C Wyeth.
Demirep talking about the N of the N much better than i can.