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My name is Brian Dell. All of my contributions both here and on other Wiki projects are in the public domain. You can do whatever you want with them regardless of who you are and you don't have to credit me in any way.
I'm a believer in life-long learning and have four university degrees (in philosophy, law, business administration, and European affairs), three from Canada and one from Sweden. Professionally I am an financial markets guy and a CFA charterholder. I formerly worked as an economist for Canada's Ministry of Finance.
I am often contrarian simply because I believe such a stance helps ensure neutrality, a Wikipedia "pillar." The most outrageous violation of this principle occurred on January 18, 2012, when the entire website was shut down so that a political message could be broadcast to the world, a message that was crafted by a tiny group of Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) staff and that violated a legion of longstanding Wikipedia policies that ranged from WP:Identifying_reliable_sources to WP:Wikipedia is not here to tell the world about your noble cause to, most obviously, WP:Do not disrupt Wikipedia to illustrate a point. Exaggeration on the part of WMF staff about the impact of proposed US legislation on Wikipedia served to incite an editing community that, by virtue of its libertarian lean, was easily incitable by overblown warnings of "censorship." I wrote a lengthy blogpost about this sorry affair on my blog at bdell.ca
I was a candidate for the Wildrose Alliance in the Edmonton area during the 2008 Alberta provincial election, supporting as I did the party's 2008 platform calling for corporate tax cuts and a shift in priorities from spending to saving.
If involved in a content dispute I endeavour to pay close attention to what I consider to be the distinction between the argument and the arguer but when I am coming down like a ton of bricks on the argument I understand that I shouldn't expect the argument's owner or originator to send me admiring notes that salute the intensity with which I run at what I consider to be their faulty logic. My character faults are many but there's a balance between aspiring to be a better person and accepting yourself for the type that you are, cognizant of the fact that the world needs both hard-headed types and bleeding hearts.
Although everyone knows that Wikipedia is not about winning, people involved in a dispute instinctively know when they have "won a point" and this becomes a problem when they decide to humiliate the "loser" by seizing upon the point and throwing it before any and all "arbitrators" they can find. The arbitrators typically don't perceive this background dynamic and accordingly just agree with the litigant, imposing some (ultimately ineffectual) discipline on the "loser" to the great satisfaction of the "winner." I consider the people who wait with bated breath for a violation of Wikipedia:RRR#The_three-revert_rule or similar infractions to be in this category. Yes there are laws around here as in life in general, but in most things respect for the principle of the law is more important than heeding the letter of the law.
Here's a few quotes that I've found to be food for thought:
With the progress of science and technology, man has stopped believing in magic powers, in spirits and demons; he has lost his sense of prophecy and, above all, his sense of the sacred. Reality has become dreary, flat and utilitarian, leaving a great void in the souls of men which they seek to fill by furious activity and through various devices and substitutes.
- - Julien Freund, summarizing Max Weber in The Sociology of Max Weber
When there are few rituals to mark the turns in the wheel of life, if all events become the same with no ceremony to mark the distinctions - when one marries in ordinary dress, or receives a degree without a robe, or buries one's dead without the tearing of cloth - then life becomes grey on grey, and none of the splashiness of the phosphorescent pop art can hide the greyness when the morning breaks.
- - Daniel Bell, The Return of the Sacred: The Argument About the Future of Religion
Each blade of grass has its spot on the earth whence it draws its life, its strength, and so is man rooted to the land from which he draws his faith together with his life. .... We exist only in so far as we hang together. ...
- - Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim
An idea which is merely introduced into the brain, and started spinning there like some outrageus insect, is the cause of all our misery today. Instead of living from the spontaneous centres, we live from the head. We chew, chew, chew at some theory, some idea. We grind, grind, grind in our mental consciousness, till we are beside ourselves.
- - DH Lawrence, Fantasia of the Unconscious, First Steps in Education
So that my individualism is really an illusion. I am a part of the great whole, and I can never escape. But I can deny my connections, break them, and become a fragment. Then I am wretched. What we want is to destroy our false, inorganic connections, especially those related to money, and re-establish the living organic connections, with the cosmos, the sun and earth, with mankind and nation and family. Start with the sun, and the rest will slowly, slowly happen.
- - DH Lawrence, “Apocalypse” XXIII