Thundercloud and Eightball RANT - Cloudeight Internet LLC

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Our Little Rant by Eightball & Thundercloud
First published in InfoAve Premium Issue #137 June 2, 2006

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The Internet - It's a good thing!

I know that sometimes I get a little verbose when it comes to badware, spyware and adware companies taking advantage of innocent people and their private property (i.e. their computers). And, it's true that these nefarious programs and bundles are a nuisance. But, they're not going to foreclose on your house, cost you zillions of dollars in medical bills, take your first born from you, or cause anything personally catastrophic. But, sometimes you would gather that from some of the things we write. Eh? (How's my Canadian?)

No doubt adware/spyware/badware, Trojans, rootkits (you know, the pig muzzle), viruses, worms, spam, pornography, phishing and keyloggers are all bad things about the Internet. Some of them can be financially destructive - especially keyloggers and phishing. The other stuff is just annoying and might cause you a lot of inconvenience. Spyware/adware/badware can cause your computer to run like a handicapped turtle slogging through a molasses bog. And, that's no fun, for sure.

But the Internet, more than anything else, mirrors the real world. There are rip-offs in the real world. There are scams, deceitful people, murderers, rapists, con artists, pedophiles, superficial people, mean people, insincere people - ah! you know what I mean. The real world is full of bad things. But it's still a pretty nice place. In spite of the bad stuff in the real world, most of us don't want to consider the alternative to living. We each find our niche and live in it, for the most part happily - or at least not unhappily.

So today, I'm going to shine a light on the good things about the Internet. And there are a lot more good things than bad things.

Older folks (OK 'Senior Citizens' - although I don't like the term) who twenty years ago would have been stuck spending their later years sitting in broken-down easy chairs, watching re-runs of "The Brady Bunch" and "Bonanza" ad nauseum, are now spending time on the Internet: chatting with friends (both old and new), corresponding instantly by email, learning new computer skills, and gathering new information. In short, they're having fun. The Internet has opened a whole new world to our older citizens who otherwise would, because of age, have to be content with watching TV as their primary source of entertainment.

Before you television-lovers start flaming me, let me say this: Television has its place. However, when I was growing up we had only a few channels and there was always something good on (or so it seemed). Now I get over two hundred channels and sometimes, like last night, there was nothing good to watch. Quantity often dilutes quality and that's what is happening to television today. If we were stuck with TV as our main source of entertainment, we'd be forced, sometimes, to choose between watching a scantily clad young man or woman ripping out a window and installing a new one, or watching Bobby Flay cook hamburgers. Not that Bobby Flay isn't a good cook or anything, but how many times can you watch a man grilling?

And, young people, particularly school-aged children, can do and see things I only dreamed of doing and seeing when I was a kid. I remember being in school and having to right "term papers" and the subjects the teachers chose for us to write about were always the most uninteresting, boring, ridiculous subjects. At least to me. I hated to do most of them. It meant trudging to the town library, thumbing through encyclopedias, old musty books (that no one had ever checked out in over 200 years), old newspapers, old magazines, etc.. Then having to have a pad of paper and a pencil with me and write down all the stuff that was pertinent to my term paper.

Basically, and I'll be honest here, what I used to do was find an article in an encyclopedia, copy it word-for-word, and then use whatever creativity I might have had to reword it so as to avoid accusations of plagiary - and getting an "F" on the paper. And, just in case you're wondering, I was always successful I was never accused of plagiarism. I did get "F's" sometimes. Especially anytime Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales was involved. I made a promise to myself in high school that I'd never ever read that discombobulated mass of twisted medieval English. And I've kept that promise. To this day, I have never read it. Not in all my years in high school or college and not since. I've never even been tempted.  Funny thing: I did receive one passing grade with something I wrote (for a test) in connection with The Canterbury Tales. And it was only because my paper was highly imaginative (and totally inaccurate). That's another story - for another rant someday. Maybe.

Kids today that are saddled with that albatross known as The Canterbury Tales can go online and probably read the darn thing in plain English (or plain Spanish, plain Dutch, plain Italian, plain Russian, or plane geometry :-) ). I say "probably" because I don't know this for sure. See, I promised myself I'd never read it. I am not going to break that promise at this point in my life -especially not just so I can write this "rant". But, try it. See if you can find Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales in plain old whatever-language-you-speak. I bet you can. And, If you can trudge through it, more power to you; you're a better person than I!  I'm sure you could even find someone else to give you a test on it. Don't ask my former teachers though. Most of them are dead; and the ones that are still alive are not coherent. That's not to say that they were coherent when they were my teachers either. Boy, that felt good, I've always wanted to get back a few of my teachers - especially English Literature teachers/professors who tried in vain to get me to slog through The Canterbury Tales. Oh, if this article has piqued your interest in The Canterbury Tales - don't read the part of it called "The Wife Of Bath". I hear it's rather risqué and pornographic in nature. Hey! I didn't read it! I am just warning you! I just heard it was pretty bad. If you read it, don't blame me. I'm innocent. Honest!

(Forgive me. I think I'm making this rant an exercise in pleonasm.)

Seriously, the Internet really is vast source of information, entertainment, learning, and fun. Despite the miscreants and vandals that prowl around in cyberspace, despite the adware, spyware, malware, trojans, viruses, spam, worms, and phishing; the Internet, like the real world it mirrors, is a wondrous thing.

Email brings folks closer together. How many times, before the Internet came along, did you write letters? About as much as I did? Once in a blue moon? And, search engines, like Google, MSN, Yahoo, and others put information at our fingertips. If there's anything you want to know and you still don't know it, it's your fault. Whatever knowledge or information you seek is only a couple of clicks away.

The Internet has something for people of all ages and people from all walks of life. The high-rollers can get instant stock quotes and buy and sell stocks in a blink of an eye. Jilted lovers can find solace in reading about others failed relationships on love-lost forums (really!). You can read the writings Shakespeare, Descartes, Einstein, Voltaire, Grisham, Stephen King, even (cough!) Geoffrey Chaucer -any time you want. You can find recipes for "baked Alaska", "Haricots Verts al'anglaise" or anything you like. You can learn to redecorate you home, build a boat, buy a car, get insurance, read the classics, read newspapers from around the world, get expert health advice, and keep up with your favorite hobby. You can plan a trip, buy airline tickets and reserve your seat assignment, book a cruise, view movies of favorite vacation destinations, even see pictures of hotel rooms - all without leaving your home.
New parents can get instant help and advice; and learn from other new parents.

Indeed, with the Internet at your fingertips, you can learn a new language, meet new friends, travel across the universe, take a virtual trip to Tahiti, learn about the mating habits of the North African Woody Loon, sail the seven seas, correspond with friends, tell companies what you think (write Smuckers and Coca Cola and tell them to get HFCS out of their products!), do research, play games, watch movies, and yes, even watch TV. Did I mention you can read Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales too? And it's all available to you without leaving your home. Instantly.

Naturally the bad things about the Internet get the most press coverage. The press loves the bad stuff. Sensationalism sells newspapers and magazine. I guess people would rather read about a mass murderer in Arkansas than about a kind wealthy gentleman in Omaha who built a five million-dollar recreation facility for the youth in his town. (And, yes, we're guilty of pointing out the bad stuff a lot too.)

Today, however, we wanted to point out and highlight the good things about the Internet. Because when you add it all up, the good things about Internet far outweigh the bad things. The Internet mirrors the real world. In the "real world" you can focus and fret about the insanity of war, crime, man's inhumanity to man, and all the other detritus the fouls the earth and humanity; or you can enjoy the wonder and the beauty of a sunset over a quiet bay, on a still and silent summer evening. Or look up on a clear and dark winter night and marvel at the glorious majesty of the vast canopy of stars twinkling eternally.

Next time you hear someone complaining about the trash on the Internet you'll know what to tell them. If you look for only the bad in anyone or anything, in real life or the Internet, I guarantee you'll find what you're looking for.

The Internet is not a perfect place anymore than the real world is.Look for the good things in people, in life, and on the Internet and I'm sure you'll find them.

The Internet - It's a good thing! And it's a good thing it is here to stay!

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