HTML, e-mail, and a rant

James Rogers (
Tue, 24 Jun 1997 02:42:06 -0700

At 08:43 PM 6/23/97 -0400, you wrote:
>Apparently, at least one member of this select circle has not upgraded to a
>browser that can read HTML. In an attempt to please a possible minority of
>one (at least until he upgrades) I'll write in plain script.

It still came across as HTML.

He's not the only one. Contrary to popular opinion, there are still a
significant number of people who access their mail and news from Unix
terminals, shell accounts, and other related character-based modes. I
travel frequently; I prefer to Telnet into a server and read my mail
remotely than to download it to someone elses machine, or via someone
else's account. I would also like to add that HTML is (as you noted) a
*browser* standard, which has little or nothing to do with email. Email
has been around for a very long time and implements universally recognized
standards that predate the Web by many years. HTML is merely eye candy,
adding little or no value to text-based forum of size limited messages. It
might also be noted that mail "enhancement" standards already exist
(although I don't think the Microsoft cartel supports them).


The e-mail/news experience would be far better if people spent less time
choosing fonts and more time contemplating the content of their messages.
The sad level of discourse on most Internet newsgroups is a window into the
soul of human race. Things I have learned on Usenet: People prefer
fantasy to reality. Most people have immutable and narrow world views.
There is no bliss greater than ignorance. Fact is a purely subjective term.
Fundamental rules of evidence and logic are arbitrary and can be redefined
at will. Ad nauseum...

Of the 10s of millions of people on the Internet, I would be willing to
state that less than 10,000 add value of any type (e.g. "This webpage is
about my dog, Spot" or "you (suck|are stupid|are unqualified) because you
are critically analyzing my scientifically impossible and logically absurd
hypothesis"). I had a friend a long time ago who once stated that "9 out
of 10 people are functional idiots" and liked to refer to people as "chimps
in pants". I would like to disagree, but there is an apparent validity to
his comments. There is a non-trivial segment of the population which
appears to have unsalvageable minds.

I don't normally mix or interact with "normal" minded people. By nature I
tend to associate with people, who if not very similar in mind, are at
least intelligent and open-minded. Many years back, I joined the Army and
was promptly stuck in South Carolina for many months. The "up close and
personal" exposure to the type of people I met and worked with in South
Carolina was a major culture shock for me. A lot of the people I met there
were not only aware of their ignorance and profoundly irrational world
views, they *enjoyed* it. Their beliefs in modern social and cultural
myths could not be swayed by the most irrefutable evidence. And some of
the myths were incredible, both in their magnitude and absurdity. Where
does one start?

The one thing I like most about the extropian list is the amount of
rational thought that goes into the content. I appreciate the fact that
most of the people on this list are clear-thinking, open-minded
individuals. Even if I disagree with someone's opinion, I enjoy the
exposure to a well thought out paragraph that supports the opposing opinion
in a constructive manner. I have even changed one or two closely held
viewpoints based on posts made to this list. In my experience this is
outside the capabilities of the majority of people.

As much as I would like to "help" everyone else, I am increasingly coming
to the conclusion that most individuals have devised their own demise, and
should suffer by it. In the long run, everyone is responsible for their
own destiny.

Is it possible that at the current pace of technology and human
development, the gene pool is simply incapable of purging itself in a
timely manner? Or maybe it is the meme pool? The only pervasive new memes
seem to be somewhat non-significant and superficial in comparison to the
core "bad" memes we are so concerned about.


-James Rogers