Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Your Six

I've counted myself a friend of Billy Beck for 20 years. I've read nearly everything he has written. But I grow weary of the snippy types who will - Jesus Christ what IS IT with you people?! - find the photo they feel does him least justice and use it as an indictment.

Are you each and all so goddamned sophmoric that you cannot look beyond the hair, and listen to the only sense in this whole fucked up world these days? Think, you, of how much I hate it when yet another moron with a badge gives him ammunition against the job.

I detest when his words are torqued around so that they fit an agenda, or allow someone to rationalize their own ambitions. Let his words stand, try like hell to understand them when he is obtuse (he won't give you a teat to suck on, damn it - work at the language!), and deal with the argument at hand. I believe he speaks the clearest truth there is if you want to make the effort to get it, and that's the thing about the truth - it fucking hurts.

I wish he'd have goddamned kids so that, when he is gone, that logic, the sweet, clean stream of fucking thought isn't whisked away. I wish he could find something worth saving in this entire fiasco. Hell, I wish I could do what he does in the name of personal freedom. But I am, admittedly, a chickenshit. I can't do it. I won't risk what he does. I know my limits of rebellion and, for now, they suffice. I live with the assumption that some day they will not and I shall be dragged from my comfortable hearth into the melee.

But you know how I manage when his words hurt me and mine? I remember that he has - and always has had -our collective six. I believe with all my heart that someday all those words will be held as a sort of primer for a new manner of thinking by others who have seen too many of them come to life - terrible, dark life.

Christ, it's almost embarrassing to write this. He needs no help from me, I assure you. And I am always rather mortified at the - yes, sophmoric - nature of my uneducated thinking. I am horribly illiterate. I cannot debate. I can hardly track along when he gets really stoked. But sometimes a person just has to stand up and say it: the truth hurts, sometimes. And sometimes it's your ox getting gored. And too often it's mine.

The difference is - I blame the ox.

Addendum: As always, he stoops to conquer. HA! See the photo here that is so much more suited to their needs. Bless him and his humility...


Ed Rasimus said...

The old joke was about a Mother Superior at the convent complaining to the foreman of the construction site about the language emanating from their into her convent.

The foreman said, "My guys will call a spade a spade, Sister."

And Mother Superior replies, "That's OK, it's when they call it a f***ing shovel, that I worry."

That's our Billy. He sees it clearly from his objectivist prism and then takes no prisoners in his commentary. Inevitably he is right, even when we find the message less than agreeable.

It is even more telling when the response of the lessers is to descend to the ad hominem level immediately.

The Endarkenment continues unabated.

LauraB said...

Inevitably he is right...yes. And that is the thing that truly frightens me.

He said it decades ago. All those lovely words...and now, fruition.

Billy Beck said...

{cackle} The photograph that I sent him is perfect, isn't it? I knew it would be. I told him so in e-mail, and then spent over and hour digging it up.

Love you, Kiddo.

Richard Nikoley said...

I think that photo (I didn't see the previous one) is super and really goes with the caption he wrote up.

It was funny when I first popped over there, however, after reading your whole post and instantly was puzzled over why you wouldn't like that. Ha!

John Venlet said...

You know, I, too, considered about writing a few words in regards to the veracity of Billy's words in response to the dust up, but, as Laura states, "he needs no help from me."

I know Billy only as a "net mate," and his words can abraid even me, but the abraison I receive from Billy's words, from time to time, are in most cases abraiding only corrosion in my thinking, and for that I am grateful. I am uncertain if I know a more principled individual.

Though Billy does not need my help, if he called on me for assistance, I would thoughfully heed the call.

Broward Horne said...

Beck's a chimera and not worth a great deal of consternation. He sounds good to the un-educated but ultimately his ideas are unworkable, proven by thousands of years of history.

Hey, Billy, you got that FHA loan paid off? :)

I get a kick out of pulling his string, though.

Richard Nikoley said...

"...proven by thousands of years of history."

Some of us are working off of 2.5 million years of history.

As someone just commented on my blog in response to me:

"'I consider myself an anarchist libertarian...I have a natural right to be totally free of everyone and every institution.'"

Exactly my sentiments. Primal indeed. If you think about it, through 2+ million years of evolution, humans evolved in and adapted to liberty and anarchy (no state) and they prospered only by practicing capitalism as a basis for innovation."

Thousands of years of history?

Talk about uneducated...

BlogDog said...

I hope someday to change his opinion of the superiority of Gibson guitars by having play any and all of my Paul Reed Smiths, but that's the only way I'd ever try to change his opinion - let him gather the evidence, assess it and come to his own conclusion.
If he still thinks the Gibsons are better, so be it

Rob Robertson said...

Check out this flip-flop wearer on a run to Berklee;

Rollory said...

"Inevitably he is right"

except that he's not.

Often, yes. It's the difference between often and always that is the problem.

To start with, humans are not what his premises claim they are. They are not rational - sometimes, yes; always, no. Perhaps more importantly, they are not _capable_ of being always rational. Mr. Beck is pretty close to it, and from what I can tell, it frustrates him tremendously that other people don't come up to that standard. Which is just a case of wishing things to be other than what they are (no I _don't_ think his writing, as vehement as it is, has any appreciable overall effect).

But to get back to humans in general: humans are not blank slates where the proper application of abstract reason on everyone's part will make things work out. They are biological machines with potential, including mental potential and personality and political predispositions, defined by and limited by genes. Until this is properly understood and included among the premises being worked from, political science in general and libertarianism in particular will continue to go nowhere.

I know, that's heresy, and y'all will dismiss it immediately, probably based on some very intelligent philosophical points. The problem is that the experimental evidence the neurologists and geneticists have been coming up with over the past few decades - which, interestingly to me, I _never_ see mentioned or discussed in any depth at all on any libertarian forum - overwhelmingly points in this direction. In the nature/nurture debate, nature is pretty clearly demonstrated to be the vastly predominant factor, and controls lots of things we previously would have assumed to be entirely the province of free will. That's observed fact. The philosophy has to adjust to fit it, or go the way of epicycles and phlogiston.

Mr. Beck is useful, but he's still only describing part of the elephant, and is entirely too sure he sees it all.

Shamus said...

There is nothing Billy can can say that will make him as offensive as those he offends. No matter what he says, he's never once attempted to lay claim to my life or property, never attempted to justify stealing from me to support his own ends, never told me what I need to sacrifice for "the common good".

Beck will *never* do worse than hurt my feelings, which makes him more a gentleman than anyone else you might care to name. If you want to find a REAL sonofabitch you have to look for someone who doesn't recognize your right to your own life, but who's willing to have a SO very polite and stimulating discussion with you on the matter.

Billy Beck said...

Rollory: you can resign yourself to life among inferior animals that look like human beings, but I will not.

I know that humans exist.

Elliot said...

I'd have to generally agree with the positive comments here and elsewhere. Most importantly to me, I'm convinced that he believes everything he writes. The same could be said of Nikoley, Venlet, Robertson, whom I've read. (Rob, send me an e-mail, I have a message from someone else.)

Those who've posted negative criticisms above are rank amateurs. If I had a nickel for every time someone made the argument that individualism, that freedom, "doesn't work," I always ask: " for whom?" Who the hell are you to demand that innocent bystanders sacrifice part of their lives to make things "work" for you?

Regardless of whatever measurement you want to make about whether something "works", the fact that you have to force people to do things they never agreed to is an instant show stopper, and any argument in furtherance of collectivist ethics always bypasses it.

I don't always agree with Billy and sometimes think he's barking up the wrong tree. But he more than makes up for it everywhere else.

Broward Horne said...

I love Billy.

He's like my pet snapping turtle. No matter how well you feed him, pet him, care for him, you just know that if you poke your finger by his nose that he'll try to bite it off anyway.

Richard Nikoley said...



Incidentally, I have known Beck since '94 in USENET, so 15 years and counting. I've met him in person twice.

I have never ever, in all that time, detected even a hint of a lie from the man, even an innocent one. That's more than I can say for anyone else I know, including myself.

Billy Beck said...

"...Nikoley, Venlet, Robertson,..."

All good men, among whom I am proud to be listed.

You, too, Elliot, and Ed, and many more.

Anonymous said...

...he won't give you a teat to suck on, damn it - work at the language!

So? Academic deconstructionists can't communicate either.

I can't prove either one is not a genius, but I know which way to bet. Having a finite life-span, I'll make that bet and devote my time to more promising hobbies. Sometimes in life, you just have to take your chances.

Feynman was right: If you can't explain something intelligibly, you probably don't understand it yourself. Either that, or you don't care about the quality of your work (in which case you disgust me), or you're trying to dazzle me with bullshit.

So Beck's a fool, or a lazy slob, or a con artist. Whichever it is, he's also a hostile head-case and a bore. And he'll claim that my anonymity disproves what I'm saying, which is a fallacy. He'd know that if he were as bright as he thinks he is.

CT said...

It seems to me that there are some people who would rather not work at the language. They have no appreciation for prose that snap, crackle and pop. I like my news straight up thank you and Billy delivers that with a flair all his own.

Very nice post Laura.

Richard Nikoley said...

"If you can't explain something intelligibly..."

To whom?

LauraB said...

Why, I am flattered as hell to have each and - well, nearly - all of you here, commenting.

A bit like rain in the desert - perhaps it will bring out a rare and brief bloom.

As for the detractors? They've always been in the vicinity - a bit like petulant remora, biting their host instead of only living off of its leavings.

You know the rarest creature? One that can debate with Billy without resorting to bullshit. God, how I love to read those comments. Sadly, it happens rarely.

At any rate, welcome. We're not formal here. Merely well-groomed and finely mannered.

Oh, and well-armed. Or is that considered bragging these days?

CT said...

Billy shines no matter what type of debate. Sadly most I've seen do resort to bullshit. There is always some knowledge a person can walk away with when he is debating. I have witnessed a few civilized ones and you're right, they are the best.

Kyle Bennett said...

"You know the rarest creature? One that can debate with Billy without resorting to bullshit."

I'd relish the chance, if I could find something substantive to disagree about. I have minor disagreements with something here or there that he says, but they're farts in the wind.

It's too bad, because such a thing would be a hell of a lot of fun.

Seerak said...

"If you can't explain something intelligibly..."

To whom?

It's amazing how many people forget that communication consists of speaking and listening.. both active processes.

Billy's wordsmithing, on the one hand, often gets a bit more convoluted than I might be able or willing to handle at the moment, but the lines have always connected up when I worked it... but it's when he condenses ten pounds of meaning in a five word bag -- er, sentence, it's a real sight to see.

As for his attitude, there was a time -- back in the Usenet days, to be precise -- when I would have dismissed it as globally harsh, to excess. I don't think so anymore... While I might still differ with him on specific instances and issues, the shift in my evaluation pertains not to any softening or adjustment on Billy's part, but that the world at large has been moving itself into the position of richly deserving it since that time... much faster than I would have expected, alas.

Seerak said...

Small note to the above: Billy's writing can occasionally get convoluted... not "often".

When I need an editor for a frakkin' comment, it's time for bed.

Anonymous said...

Billy Beck at his finest. Man I'm gonna miss that guy when he self-immolates on the steps to Congress.