Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

26 August 2009

You're So (anonymously) Vain

In my post, “Going, Going…” I mentioned that when you read a lot of blogs you sometimes learn more about the blogger than you’d want to know. Such is the case with one blog I glance at. This guy purports to be a military veteran, a helicopter pilot and further, purports to currently fly an air ambulance helicopter. However these things are unverifiable considering that his blog is anonymous and the profile picture he uses is of a small, two-seat Robinson training helicopter. There is no picture of him, no email address, no real information at all. Hmm... Perhaps he doesn’t really exist?

This is the problem with the internet. You can be anyone you want to be, even if you’re a nobody. Because a nobody can be a Somebody if that nobody has internet access. Anyone can publish anything they like, anonymously. Trouble is, some people who do this want to be taken seriously.

I did not mention the name of the particular blog I was referring to, and it does not appear - never has - on the right-hand side of this page. I did say that while this blogger and I *purportedly* have aviation in common, I doubt very much that we’d be friends in real life. Reason being, his blog is not at all about flying but entirely about politics and his hatred…yes, hatred of liberal democrats. (I keep clicking on his blog in the futile hope that he’ll write something…anything…about flying, but every time I do? DENIED!) Nope, nothing about flying – just politics. He and his peanut gallery of anonymous followers truly believe that the country is on the verge of destruction (engineered by guess who?), being destroyed from the inside out. It's as radical a stance as I've seen.

Well you know you can never say anything on the internet without starting a flame war, and sure enough this blogger deduced that I was talking about him. I suppose he was feeling much like Warren Beatty felt the first time he heard Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain.” He (the blogger, not Warren Beatty) fired off a comment to my original post, then made a post on his own blog about it, encouraging his coterie of toadies to come here and make their presence known. Their responses on his blog were full of the amateur (and worthless) psychoanalysis we’re all so fond of.

I make no such assumptions about this blogger. I have no idea why he is like he is, only that from his writing he comes across as a bitter, bitter man. He does hate, and I did call him a hater, and he was offended by that. And, as internet patrons often do, he resorted to schoolyard tactics, shooting back that I’m not any different/better because I once called Nancy Pelosi a “loony.” Which I did. Which she is, let’s be honest.

To the blogger-in-question and his followers, the world is very black and white. If you don’t believe what they believe, if you’re not in lock-step with them, then you’re the enemy. That blogger characterized people like me as (and I quote), “…dispassionate ‘don’t worry, be happy’ types (who) blithely accuse others of hate while throwing stones through the walls of their glass houses, ignoring what appears to be a concerted attempt to collapse our economy.”

Wow. Please read that sentence again. “…A concerted attempt to collapse our economy.”

That’s first-rate paranoia, man. If Stephen Stills had not already written “For What It’s Worth,” he would have had to re-form the Buffalo Springfield and write it now. Oh come on, you remember:

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
Step out of line
The man come and take you away

And again, this is what I don’t like about the internet. Anyone can say anything with no recourse. People like to think that they’re being “passionate” about things. Yeah…it’s easy to be passionately anonymous when you're being critical. But that’s just immature sniping from the sidelines. I say, if you’re really, truly passionate in your belief that the country is being destroyed from the inside out…that there really is a concerted attempt to collapse our economy…then you should go out and goddam DO something about it (like, maybe get active in politics?), not whine on a blog like an anonymous little child.

Or shut up.

Senator Ted Kennedy died last night after losing the fight with a brain tumor. Never mind that it must have been a horrible, painful way to die. Never mind the career in public service that Senator Kennedy had was long and illustrious. Never mind his many accomplishments, his years of public service when he could have easily said, “Screw it!” and lived off the family money in Hyannis Port. Never mind any of the good things that the man has done in his long life. Never mind the awful tragedies he's had to bear. Forget all that. The anonymous blogger I wrote about in “Going, Going…?" Today, less than twelve hours after Senator Kennedy's death was announced, he posted a chortling: “Mary Jo Kopechne Was Unavailable For Comment.” (The post had, typically, almost no content.)


His entire blog is like that - radical, mean-spirited and nasty. See, I think people like that…people who always see the negative side of everything…those people are just miserable scumbags. You didn’t like Teddy Kennedy? Fine. At least have some decency in the man’s death. To make a comment like that is sinking to a new low. Which I didn’t think was possible. But comments like that come easily when no one knows your name.

But this is what politics has become, and what it’s done to us as a nation. It’s a form of total negativism that brooks no compromise, no middle-ground, only extreme polarization. I call it The Limbaugh-Hannity Syndrome. It makes people hate others so much that they lose their humanity.

I miss the old-school media, where there was accountability. If a newspaper reporter wrote something, he had to back it up with facts. If you disagreed with him, you knew who he was and you could challenge him directly. Same thing with TV reporters, whose integrity was put on the line every time they went on camera. Remember when CBS produced some bogus and easily-debunked documents about George W. Bush’s military background? Dan Rather (eventually) lost his job. Didn’t anybody at CBS remember that typewriters of the 1970’s couldn’t easily do a superscript font? Sheesh.

Now, there is no accountability on the internet. Now it’s all innuendo and opinion – anonymously, of course! Sure, with anonymity comes great freedom of expression. But that freedom comes at the price of trustworthiness. I do not trust anything I read that is posted anonymously. In fact, I view all of it with great suspicion. It makes me wonder why the writer is so ashamed of his views that he is unwilling to put his name to and stand behind them. (La Gringa gets a pass on this. She is in Honduras, and she is very critical of the government. She has a very real concern for her safety and maybe even her life.)

I am no expert on politics or the economy (or life, or anything else except flying for that matter), and I do not pretend to be. I am not a genius, but I’m no idiot either. Call me naïve, but I trust our political system and our system of government. At least I trust it enough to know that it is self-correcting, and if this Obama guy screws up too badly, he’ll be outta here! in three short years. But I am not about to jump to any conclusion that only eight months into his presidency, it is already a total failure. (Very soon we’ll have the elections for the Democratically-controlled House of Representatives. Republicans are going to be clamoring to regain some seats. We’ll see what happens, and afterward we won’t need a weatherman to tell us which way the wind is blowing then. Should be interesting!)

Yes, I realize that I'm ranting about nothing...that I've wasted my time and yours on some silly, insignificant internet thing that only gets around 200 visits per day. My own blog only gets around 50 visits per day. Neither of us are curing cancer or setting the world on fire in terms of "readership."

My name is Bob Barbanes. I am a working corporate helicopter (and King Air!) pilot who lives in Pensacola, Florida. If I write something you don’t like, you can call me on it – literally. My phone number is 850-512-2663. If I’m out flying, leave a message and I’ll call you back. My real email address is on every page of this blog.

I always encourage comments here. I don’t need to screen and pre-approve them the way some bloggers do, and I never delete them. So feel free! Of course, if you want to comment anonymously, that’s okay too. Feel, um, freer.


Nick said...
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Nick said...

"Their responses...were full of the amateur (and worthless) psychoanalysis we’re all so fond of."

Sadly, this describes the majority of internet users, whose response to anything they disagree with is the digital equivalent of leaving a flaming bag of crap outside someones door and running away.

Now both of you go to your rooms and think about what you've done. Bob, don't forget to do your multi-engine written homework. Graybeard, if you don't stop making faces at Bob I'm going to tell your father when he gets home.

Bob Barbanes said...
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Bob Barbanes said...
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Bob Barbanes said...
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Bob Barbanes said...

Ahh, the old flaming bag of crap outside of someone's door gag. Yeah, I've done that...WHEN I WAS TWELVE. But it was funny back then. Good times, good times.

Heh. But you're right, of course, this whole thing is silly and immature - even my rant. Then again, it's my bloggy and I'll rant if I want to. (Apologies to Leslie Gore.)

Wait...there's a written for the Multi? DAMN! I thought it was just a checkride. DAMN DAMN.

Bob Barbanes said...

Awright, lemme explain...

I know I said that I never delete comments, then sure enough it appears that there are THREE of my own comments that I deleted. This might give the reader the impression that I said some inappropriate things, thought better of them, and deleted them in regret. I wish.

Truth is, I have a wireless mouse. It seems to work fine moving the cursor around the page, but the left-click button is unreliable. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes I'll click on the little red "X" to close an open window and the mouse multi-clicks and closes *all* of my open windows.

In the case of my clever response to Nick, I clicked the "publish" button for my comment and nothing seemed to happen. So I clicked it again, and again, and again. Nothing. Then I clicked it really hard, like how we press the TV remote control button harder when the batteries are dying. End result - four copies of the same response to Nick.

On the List-Of-Things-To-Do for today is to buy a new mouse. The non-lazy man would have already done so.

Anonymous said...

You are correct about the freedom to remain hidden when communicating on the internet. I am also amazed at what gets changed from fiction to fact due to the internets lack of confirmability (new word I think). Some people function hidden behind a screen their whole lives, others live in glass houses open to the world. I perfer to live as open as possible, kinda what you see is what you get trying not to judge others to criticaly. Happy people seem to live longer so you should have a long life, just ignore the negative vibes, unless it is in the tail rotor. I am anomymouse cause I because that is the only one that fits below. But my email is russell.madden@verizon.net
Thansk for your outlooks on life.

Bob Barbanes said...

Russell, thanks for your comment.

But please don't misunderstand. My above rant was not a challenge to respondents to always use their real name here. Readers can certainly respond anonymously if they choose, and I don't have a problem with it.

I *do* have a problem with those who constantly whine and criticize, and assume something is an abject failure even before it gets going. It seems to me that certain people take some sort of perverse, gleeful pleasure out of going, "HA-HA! This is all screwed up. And it's all your fault! Nyah-Nyah! We told you!"

I mean, it's so immature.

The truth is that no matter who won the last election, we the people would be seeing some "changes" in our lives which are not totally to our liking. There was no magic wand that even a Republican President could have waved to immediately solve the nation's financial mess. Obama's solutions are one way - may or may not be the best way. But the jury is still out.

And although I was focusing on one particular blogger with this post, the issue is bigger than just him, for he is merely symptomatic of many who now have an electronic outlet for their "creativity."

Anonymous said...

It is an old cliche but so very true...."Can't we all just agree to disagree". Unfortunately it seems that both the conservatives and liberals have resorted to using extreme polarizing tactics. Sadly it seems there is no room for the middle of the road stance anymore. In regards to Kennedy's passing I would say let those without sin, ghosts in their closets, or "whatever" in their past throw the stones, but at least have the respect to let him lie in peace. Just because you don't agree with someone does not make you any more or less of a person. Just be decent about it! Unfortunately that seems to be a trait that is becoming more and more rare these days.
Oh yeah.... don't wory about the written. You can always take one of the weekend "crash" courses....
Take care,

Cass said...

OK....now I am not anonymous any more.

Nick said...

The ME add-on is just a practical, but "go to your room and practice partial panel and single engine emergency procedures" didn't quite have the same ring to it.

cj said...

Ah, Bob. What can I say?

Let's start with this: Should we just forget that Ted Kennedy drove his car off a bridge, got himself out and left his young female companion trapped inside to drown while he walked home and waited for over 8 hours to report the accident?

Should we just forget about the night he went out drinking with his nephew who then proceeded to rape a young woman?

Ah, yes. In the name of Camelot, and the Kennedy aura, none of that matters.

Your carping about Greybeard being annonymous strikes me as funny. You see, I know where he lives. I know who he works for. I know his history. If you'd look back in his blog, you'd find pictures of him as a young man in Vietnam, serving his country. You would find plenty of posts having little to do with politics.

But, here's the difference, Bob. Greybeard is involved in something more than his immediate life. He cares about things other than the fact that his friends have all grown up and moved away. He cares about his family, his friends, and his country.

He cares that Obama, in the name of change, has spent us into a 9 trillion dollar deficit. He understands that there is no way we can survive such a debt without suffering. He is old enough to remember what that suffering is like. It has become impossible for people with any sort of conscience to ignore the path this country is on. You, apparently, are not there yet.

Me? I post on my blog under the name of CJHill. Is that my given name? No, it is the name I have chosen to write under. It is also the name I have chosen to ensure a little privacy for myself. You see, Bob, in real life I am a public safety officer. I don't publish my phone number or my address because safety for my family and my friends dictates a bit of caution. There are people out there who don't like me or what I do for a living because it has resulted in some unpleasant realities for them. I received phone calls in the middle of the night from people who did not wish me well. But, if you email me, you get my real name back on my emails. I'm not hiding nor am I anonymous.

No amatuer analysis here, Bob. I didn't respond to your first post because I took it for what it was worth. I wouldn't even be here but for the fact that you went to Greybeard's site and came back to attack him yet again.

Who's doing the flaming here, Bob? It sure isn't him.


Bob Barbanes said...

CJ, Greybeard's site is a public forum. I didn't "go there" as if it were some private club that required a secret handshake to enter. I didn't sneak in to his blog. He puts his crap up for people to read just like I do. If the response is not totally positive...well, too fricken bad, it comes with the territory. Yeah, maybe access to blogs should be limited to only those who agree with the author! There's an idea, eh?

And CJ, you don't have to stick up for Greybeard. He's a big boy. I think. Oh, and *you* know who he is and where he lives? That's great. And this is relevant...how? Is that information available to anyone else who might stumble onto his blog?

Now, about Senator Kennedy. No, I do not expect you to forget about anyone's mistakes or misdeeds. And I didn't say they don't matter. But if you look at the man's entire career...his whole life, and judge him negatively because of one or two events, then you're a sad case. And I pity you for your narrowmindedness. But, as you claim to being a "public safety officer" (whatever the fuck that is - is that like a cop? Or dogcatcher, maybe?), I totally understand where you're coming from, believe me.

About Chappaquidick. I think the whole story smells. It's fishy. Personally, I don't believe that Senator Kennedy was even driving that car that night. I think he took the rap for someone else. Why? Many reasons - too many to go into here (but maybe I'll post about it). When you really study the case, as I have, instead of just relying on news reports and those oh-so-official documentaries you might come to the conclusion that what Teddy *said* happened that night is not what actually went on. How much do you know about Chappaquidick, CJ? Where did you get your information?

CJ, like so many instant internet pundits, you want it both ways. You want your privacy, but you also want to be heard in public. Doesn't work that way, son. Instead of lecturing me on lessons I have to learn, you should probably take your own advice.

My post stands, and you haven't said anything to refute it. Thanks for stopping by.

Bob said...

Bob, please don't give up your blog. I don't plan to ever migrate over to Facebook or Twitter. I think blogs are more substantive.

Everyone has a dark side; everyone has a good side. Ted Kennedy was no different. He wasn't perfect; neither am I.

He was a statesman. He served his country with distinction. He endured more than his share of tragedy in his life. He still continued to serve his country.

I probably disagreed with 90% of his political views. But I can appreciate his life of service.

Rita said...

Hey Bob.

Look, I've never quite understood why some people cannot engage in an intelligent political argument where they completely disagree and not turn it personal.

You claim you have "a life" and "prove" that by visiting a political blog and making insulting comments to the people there.

I know, because you did it to me a few weeks ago, questioning my intelligence because my beliefs differ from yours.

Then you have such a good life that you feel the need to then start a personal attack in your own blog insinuating that Pitchpull is lying about his career and military service. And you are absolutely right, it's your post. As my dad used to say, "It's your mouth, you can haul coal in it if you want to."

Not that it will change anything, but I found Pitch's blog through a school connection. I knew people he knew, we went to the same school and grew up in the same neighborhood, although he's a few years older than I am. I know he's legit. It would only take one phone call for me to "verify" he's a Vietnam Vet. And very soon, I'm attending a reunion of his core group and some of my family.

Guess what? He does author other blogs that are not political. He prefers to keep them separate.

I choose to keep most of my identity private for various reasons that have nothing to do with putting out a false background. I do it for the exact reason that I used to warn my daughter not to give out personal contact information over the web.

Since you have "a life" as you put it, I simply do not understand why you wanted to start some junior high girl "myspace" catfight over someone's political blog.

I guess just insulting the commenters on his site did not get you the thrill you were expecting so you decided to step it up.

Have at it big boy. I hope your personal insults to people who disagree with you make you a happier person.

Personally it will have no effect on my life nor I would imagine anyone else who follows Pitch's political blog.

I'm OUT. If I suddenly feel the need to get involved in some girlish internet cat fight, I'll sign up for myspace.

And the paragraph above IS a personal insult, just so you recognize one next time you feel the need to insult someone you don't know simply because they disagree with you politically.

Christian said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to deal with this stuff... I just wouldn't have the energy, and i fear it would be an utterly lost cause anyway.

Godspeed and I hope you can make a difference.

Bob Barbanes said...

Cass, "Other" Bob, Christian...thank you for your comments. Bob, you are right about Senator Kennedy. Say what you will about him, but he was a statesman the likes of which are getting very rare.

Now Rita. Sweetie, get a grip, okay? You didn't have to point out that your response was a personal insult. I've got your number - have had it for a long while. But...come to think of it, I don't remember our little exchange on Graybeard's blog, so it couldn't have been very worthwhile or significant. Did we interact? Are you one of those radical right-wing whackos?

No matter. You, like CJ before, cite privacy issues as the reason you don't reveal who you are, and prefer to hide behind a false name. That's fine of you want to do that, but don't expect me to take you seriously. To me you're just a...well...just yet another anonymous voice with an opinion that means exactly zero to me.

I've always put my name on my blog and my real email address. No one's ever sent me any hate mail. No threatening phone calls in the middle of the night. No one's ever shown up at my door looking for a fistfight. No one's stolen my identity (Hah! Who'd want it?) No one has vandalized my car. I think some of you hide behind that curtain of paranoia too much. But like I told CJ, you can't have it both ways. You're either public or private; you're either IN or OUT. Rita, you claim to be "OUT" but I don't see that happening, missy.

And some of you keep saying that I've insulted this "Pitchpull" guy. How do you insult a non-entity? Pitchpull or "Graybeard" isn't a man...isn't a person...it's merely an internet persona...A MADE UP CHARACTER! If I were insulting someONE I would have to know his name...you know, who he is. Insulting "Graybeard" is like insulting a TV sitcom: they both have about as much substance and connection with reality. I.E. they're both fictitious.

Oh yeah! Graybeard mentioned my middle name, Sinclair, on his blog. Since I don't recall mentioning my middle name on *this* blog, that means ol' Graybeard must've gone into the FAA's database and looked me up, perhaps to verify that I really am a pilot. Gee, if I could only do the same about him...

This is not a girlish catfight. I was simply commenting on the internet and how it has given anonymous whiners a platform with great potential reach.

So honey, don't get your panties in a wad over this. It's just the internet. Seriously, I care not whether you are "in" or "out." But I do hope you feel better now that you've come here and insulted me.

I know I do. I expected nothing less from you - whoever you are.

Rita said...

(Sorry, but my response must have gotten deleted or I also hit the wrong button when I was done.)

Bob, Missy, Honey, Sweetie. Rest assured that I wouldn't get my "panties in a wad" over your blog.

Can you explain to me how you find someone in the FAA database? Since Greybeard is a ghost, a non-entity, a made-up character, I'm guessing that the database is published somewhere that I should be also have access to it, given that I am not a pilot.

And no, I'm not surprised you don't remember insulting me as that particular trait must be deeply ingrained in your personality.

And just so you know, RITA is my name, I just don't think it's wise to publish my last name and address on the internet.

But guess what Bob, I am a real person, flesh and blood sweetie, honey.

So I find it interesting that you have had "my number" for awhile now and I'm some whacko because I don't believe as you do.

Every person's life is valuable Bob, even those that for reasons you cannot fathom do not publish their full name and address online.

I wish you well Bob. I hope you find some friends to replace the ones you have recently lost.

We can still disagree political, all I'm saying it you'll get a more intelligent discussion if you take the personal insults out of responses.



cj said...

Ah. That explains it.

Conspiracy theories.

That's enough for me.


Anonymous said...


You just love kicking ant hills :)


Matt Speed (anonymous as I am to damn lazy to create an account) :)

Debby said...

This exchange has been entertaining. Really, I have to say this one thing. Ted Kennedy was no saint, to be sure. Just curious whether CJ's past history would stand up to a public scrutiny? I'm not saying whether I was a Kennedy fan or not. I am saying however, the man ran for election, and won. His state must have thought he was doing something right.

One final PS: being a military veteran doesn't give your opinions any more creedence than anyone else's. Know how I know? I'm a veteran myself.

Rita said...

Nicely edited Bob.

Bob Barbanes said...

Well Rita, as usual I have no earthly idea what you're talking about. Nicely edited? What was? Once a post is up I almost *never* go back and change anything unless it's a glaring spelling or grammar error. I'd ask for clarification, but you must know that I really don't care.