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"Camfederacy of Blogging Dunces"

[Inspired by John Kennedy Toole's Pulitzer Prize-winning Confederacy of Dunces]

A pair of flimsy-looking Ecco sandals appeared ready to burst at the seams from containing his pair of pasty white feet, bloated from lack of exercise and blood circulation. Bespectacled with tiny round glasses that matched his beady, ever-vigilant eyes, his head was balding from years of enduring the mass degradation of the society he lived in. Covering a torso emaciated after months upon months of correcting others' gaffes on his favorite Internet forums was a checkerboard green and yellow shirt, with a skimpy pair of khaki shorts to match.

Sensible attire to Cameron Ignatius Reilly, of course, given great comfort was required for the daily stress of ineptitude he encountered and for the business he had to conduct on a regular basis.

This Saturday he had paid an appalling $7.50 to watch a reshowing of Independence Day at the local movie theater, a theater that put up with his near daily attendance for lack of any way of getting rid of him. To Cameron, paying that much to see a terrible movie was equivalent to sin, but he felt he had to see just how atrocious the Hollywood plot-writing and predictable acting could get. And besides, he had just heard about this film, and his friends told him about this being Jeff Goldblum's warm-up performance to his later award-deserving iMac commercials. Ooooh, and the cameo of the slick new Apple Powerbook. Could it save the movie?

The lights had dimmed and Cameron was ready to undergo this punishment in order to confirm his views on American society. Not content with paying more for refreshments, he had a bag of homemade granola in hand, so that his stomach wouldn't protest. The lights dimmed and then the...commercials began.

Cypress Hill's "Rock Superstar" blasted over a Sony ad of an alien landing on Earth, and inside Cameron this triggered an intense rage that he could not yield from spewing forth into the silent audience.

"What is this worthless tripe?" he exploded. "I did not pay this much money to have Sony invade my movie-watching experience!" Others in the theater shh'd him, but this only provoked him all the more. "Am I to sit here as you all do, readily accepting the subtle invasion of corporate greed and omnipresence into one of our few forms of artistic enjoyment?"

Receiving no response, Cameron flew up out of his seat, storming out of the aisle past ten annoyed, seated corporate sheep, intent on giving the theater manager a piece of his mind and a demand for a refund. To Cameron, this indulgence by Sony meant the beginning of the end, a world in which movies had commercial breaks and had in-film advertising, much like in The Truman Show, a movie which had, after several watchings, convinced him that he was the real-life Truman. To get his money back from the manager of this establishment would vindicate him of falling into this insidious corporate trap.

Cameron tromped up the aisle, glaring at the audience that would not join him in his ennobling efforts. Upon reaching the exit, he flung open the doors and bolted them back so the theater could be flooded with light and thus stop the viewing of Sony's foedus. A theater attendant met him at the door and, over the angry yelling of the audience inside, listened to Cameron telling him, a poor minimum wage high school kid, about how this movie theater was contributing to the ruin of the United States of Fucking America. The boy summoned up enough courage during the tirade to interrupt and meekly say, "I'm sorry sir, I have no control over this; I only clean the theaters in between movies..."

To Cameron, this was just another example of how American businesses were run by incompetent fools who cared little for the well-being of their clients. What would it take to get some TLC here? If they only knew who they were speaking to!

Finally Cameron tracked down the manager, who already seemed to recognize him. Cameron repeated his outburst verbatim, and in the back of his mind was already planning to quote huge chunks of his victorious lashing of this inept manager in a blog entry on his web site. Wait until everyone heard about such gross negligence!

The manager refused to refund the money, inciting Cameron ever the more. Eventually the manager grabbed Cameron by the arm, trying to get him to leave, since he was causing a disturbance.

"Get your hands off of me, you ruffian lackey! How dare you physically threaten me when all I want is my money back! I have done nothing wrong!"

"Sir, you must leave now; we don't want to have to call the police."

"Have you forgotten that this is America? Have we lapsed into a despotic police-state of force and tyranny?"

"Look, sir, you have not only yelled and screamed in the theater, but you've also disrupted the movie by leaving the doors open. I have a lot of angry people here now and they're all angry because of your inability to be civil. We're sorry you have a problem with the advertisements, but we don't have a say about them and they provide money to make this theater better. We can't refund your money because we've done nothing wrong."

"This is sad. Very sad! I'm being forced to defend myself and my actions when I am merely pointing out something that everyone should have a problem with! Hey lady! Yes, you! And you, sir? Why are you not supporting me? I see! You are all blind to the inescapable reality of this modern-day 1984! This deserves a written indictment against our century!"

Cameron marched home, unsatisfied with the result but quite happy with his performance. Nader would be proud.

After getting home, Cameron went to his computer to check up on the mailing lists and forums he contributed to. He assessed his current situation, and as a result, discovered that the day's agitation had aroused him. He had been further bothered by his neighbors' vulgarity, after having discovered them watching a porno flick with their window open and blinds pulled up. Had they no decency to watch in private, in case some child or easily offended person happen upon such filth? Why were people so grossly negligent and careless these days? What happened to the time when folks would keep business to themselves and respect the values and mores of others? Oh, yes, anyway, man, was it aroused. Cameron grabbed his "MySQL Makes Bill Gates F34r" tee shirt (obtained from a recent conference, in which he hung out with and became great friends with all sorts of famous PHP programmers you'll never have the privilege of meeting; and weren't they great people, one in fact having designed this and that, but to divulge this person's name would be forbidden, so you'll just have to take Cameron's word for it) which was always right next to his keyboard. The fabric felt just right, a perfect mix of softness and friction, which, combined with memories of childhood at military bases and childhood pets, made his eyes roll back into his head, a pleasurable effect that was abruptly interrupted by a spasm in his arm which knocked over a pile of envelopes containing complaints to companies for providing unsatisfactory product or appalling customer support.

Although this upset the physiological effect, now he he had calmed down so he could sit down and work.

Jesus H. Christ! Was this for real? His first web site on the browse list, a site which he thought was a credible publication, contained an article with a typo. What deplorable conditions he had happened upon! Do these editors not do their job? He had to write an e-mail to them reminding them of their negligence.

To whom it may concern:
I read your article entitled, "Windows and the Sheep Who Use It" and discovered a typo midway down the page. The phrase "...dogs could develop a UI better than Microsoft's coer team could" contains the typo "coer" which should be "core". I have visited your publication for many months now and have always considered it to be top-notch, but after finding this typo, it has occurred to me that you have hired a second-rate editing staff, and, needless to say, I have scarce reason from now on to visit a site that overlooks such significant and easy-to-find mistakes.
Cameron Ignatius Reilly

Ah, good, that was sent. Let's see what else. The webdesign-l list was its usual self, although the newbies were getting a little grating on the nerves. Why couldn't they find help sources on their own, anyway? Cameron never had to ask for help for that. Oh, here we are. What? WHAT? Had someone insulted the Mozilla project? Let me read this... Oh, for crying out loud. Why do these people write about something they know nothing about? Cameron had for some time worked deeply inside the Mozilla project for an independent company that realized how significant Mozilla would be to the future of the Web. It was in fact a good fit of a company for him, and he would be able to work with the knowledge that he supported his employers' efforts. But this clueless journalist of some dying publication had dared take up the notion that Mozilla was dead. The reason it has taken a couple years to be developed is because it's so good! It actually supports the standards, unlike the browser from the perfidious Redmond monopoly, and it has ensured future success with its open-source community to back it up. The fact that Internet Explorer is now being used by a far majority of users can only be attributed to Microsoft's monopoly and sheep-like users who aren't intelligent enough to find a decent substitute, like the Mozilla betas. The journalist was completely off-base and insulted Cameron personally. This called for a blog entry.

That being completed, Cameron then proceeded to draft a letter to the United Artists movie theater management, notifying them of the abuse he was exposed to by their employees.

To whom it may concern:
Today I decided to enjoy myself and go to your United Artists Park Street theater in order to see a reshowing of Independence Day. Being an American citizen, I expected to receive adequate and even excelsior service while undergoing my movie-watching recreation. But what I got was completely different! Not only were there commercials before the movie started, an appalling event in and of itself (and one I think you should consider removing), but the employees also harassed and cajoled me when I politely pointed this out to them. I attempted to discuss it with them in a reasonable and friendly manner, but they instructed me and pushed me brutally from the theater! Is this what your company represents? I did nothing wrong and I was treated like a New Delhi untouchable! I know that you will be disgusted with your employees' actions upon hearing this, but I stress to you that you should not be lenient with them. Who knows what will happen next! They might even beat up small children. I would like a refund of $8.00 to cover the expense of my movie ticket, as well as a written apology with signature. I'm tired of your local manager's incessant accusations and mudslinging, and I hope that everyone sees them for what they are. I will continue to be an active movie-goer at your establishment, despite the presence of people like the manager who accosted me at your theater. I enjoy friendly attendance of movies with others of our proud city, in which there are many interesting and civil people.
Respectfully yours,
Cameron Ignatius Reilly

Despite the trumpeting fanfare of Cameron's anti-commercial sentiment, deep down he believed that companies would really want to listen to his opinion on things, so that they could have one more happy customer, and a happy Cameron at that. E-mails, letters, phonecalls, any way of contacting these companies in order that they start running operations the way they should, the way Cameron knew they should.

He saw contacting companies one of the few ways to escape the horrid tricks and ineptitude of the masses, perhaps a byproduct of the now infamous incident where he wrote sexual fantasy stories about his coworkers and then put them on his web site, where they were later discovered by said coworkers. While they objected, and quite without reason (!), he was later defended by friends and acquaintances, and received a fair share of attentive press as a result of the whole debacle.

That letter being addressed and licked shut, more blog entries were in order [B.T. - These are real!]:

So, my Koyaanisqatsi DVD arrived via FedEx today. I'm sadly disappointed. For $180, I expected that there at least would be a keepcase, and that the keepcase would be signed. Instead, I received a generic square white paper/plastic DVD sleeve signed on the back by the Director, Goddfrey Reggio. And to make matters worse, the DVD isn't even a widescreen edition! While I'm ecstatic to finally own this wonderful movie on DVD, I'm very disappointed that the Institute For Regional Education couldn't spend the extra buck or two to get nice plastic keepcases. I'm going to write them a letter to see if they'll rectify this oversight.

My utter contempt for anything Microsoft has caused me to avoid linking to Joel Spolsky's writings, until now. I urge you to go and read his latest piece called "Does Issuing Passports Make Microsoft a Country?" And remember it. And tell all your friends, family, coworkers, and even strangers on the street to go and read it. What Microsoft is attempting to do is a very dangerous thing indeed and it needs to be stopped. Long-time readers may remember me inquiring about this Hotmail/Passport cookie thing back in September.

I ate a can of Olestra-fried Pringles a few weeks back. "Anal Leakage" ensued. It appears I'm not alone.

I think this is a mistake. Changing the name Windows NT to Windows 2000 is a bad move. When 1/1/2000 rolls around and computers crash all around the world, the ignorant American public is going to mistake Windows 2000 as the source of the problem. Year 2000...Windows 2000. Yeah, people are stupid, but it's going to happen. It's word assocaition.

Finally, a great article about day trading (and its history). I am very skeptical about day trading and fear that they are going to crash the market. My opinion: Day trading ought to be illegal, as the stock market wasn't designed to support it.

Content with the day's work, Cameron could move on to more pressing issues. Like his co-authorship for a book. His responsibility was to explain to the uninformed how to make skins for Mozilla. This was something serious. It was a big opportunity to be published, and he reveled in the fantasy of distributing copies to all his friends, so they too could make Mozilla skins. Microsoft, look out.

Cameron sat down to begin writing, but his eagle eye for details noted a newbie asking a dumb question on the webdesign-l list, a mistake that newbie must be severely chided for. Such laziness could not be tolerated. Yet Cameron was not in the mood for writing a post, and it vexed him as to why this was.

After some time with the shirt, he decided he could do no longer without witnessing more horror at the movie theater. What horrendous garbage could The Perfect Storm inflict upon its willing audience? That rappy boxer-wearing white boy Mark Walhburg would be sure to destroy Cameron's steep sense of American pride, and George Clooney could never hold a candle up to Goldblum!

And thus, putting on his Ecco sandals to go out, he said goodbye to his brother (who responded with a quick wave, eager to finish an important piece on the deterioration of the school system) and departed from their cramped New York City apartment. Cameron knew in the meantime, posts would gather on his mailing lists and sites that would require lengthy rebuttals and scoldings for false information, but for right now, he had to tend for his own business, and this was to take place at United Artists Park Street.

He even understood that somewhere out there would be someone who was very obviously bitter towards him, writing an essay or post attempting to picture him in a less-than-flattering light, disavowing said person of any professional courtesy or integrity. He would feel like an unwilling victim of ad hominem attack, being forced to defend himself while wishing to keep any disagreements off the list in order to not interfere with anyone else. But this was just another day in the life of Cameron Ignatius Reilly, a survivor in a world of revenge, bitterness, greed, and immorality. How he endured it, he did not know, and for this reason he thought the world of himself, and sought to change this world for the better, for all others who were suffering like him.

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