Today I don’t want to talk about the legal aspects of my case. Those who care about it long ago understood everything. Instead, I want to talk about hope—the most important thing in life.
Those who started this shameful case contemptuously called us "merchants", regarding us as lowlifes, capable of anything just to protect our prosperity and avoid prison. The years have passed. So who are the lowlifes now? Who has lied, tortured, and taken hostages, all for the sake of money and out of fear of their bosses?
Your Honor, I think all of us understand perfectly well that the significance of our trial extends far beyond my fate and Platon's, and even beyond the fates of all of those innocents who suffered in the destruction of YUKOS, those whom I found myself unable to protect. I have not forgotten about them. I think about them every day.
It's no exaggeration to say that millions of eyes throughout the whole country, and the entire world, are watching the outcome of this trial. They are watching with the hope that Russia will at last become a country of freedom and of the law:
Where supporting opposition parties will no longer be a cause for arrest and repression.
Where the police will protect the people and the law, not protect the bureaucracy from the people and the law.
Where human rights will no longer depend on the mood of the tsar, whether good or evil.
Where, on the contrary, power will truly depend on the people, and the court will depend only on the law and on God.
Call it conscience, if you like, but I believe this is how it will be.
I am not an ideal man, but I am a man with ideals. Prison life is hard for me, as it would be for anyone, and I don’t want to die here. But I will, if I have to, without a second thought. The things I believe in are worth dying for. I think I’ve proven that.
And what about you, my esteemed opponents? What do you believe in? That your boss is always right? Do you believe in money? In the impunity of the system? I don’t know; it’s up to you to decide.
Everything you need to know about editing Wikipedia
In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.
Suppose an individual believes something with his whole heart; suppose further that he has a commitment to this belief, that he has taken irrevocable actions because of it; finally, suppose that he is presented with evidence, unequivocal and undeniable evidence, that his belief is wrong; what will happen? The individual will frequently emerge, not only unshaken, but even more convinced of the truth of his beliefs than ever before. Indeed, he may show a new fervor about convincing and converting other people to his view.
One of the first effects of the hyper-democratization of data was to unmoor information from the context required to understand it. On the Internet, facts float about freely and are recombined more according to the preferences of intuition than the rules of cognition... Combined with the self-reinforcing nature of online communities and a content-starved, cash-poor journalistic culture that gravitates toward neat narratives at the expense of messy truths, this disdain for actualities has led to world with increasingly porous boundaries between facts and beliefs, a world in which individualized notions of reality, no matter how bizarre, are repeatedly validated.
The Fourth Law of Stupidity: Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular, non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places, and under any circumstances, to deal with stupid people always turns out to be costly mistake.
If you wrestle with a pig, both of you will get muddy. And the pig will enjoy it.
Ignorance is infinite, while patience is not. Ultimately, you will lose patience with the unchecked flow of ignorance, at which point you'll be blocked for incivility. The goal is to accomplish as much as possible before that inevitability comes to pass.
If a person edits Wikipedia largely or solely to promote one side of a contentious issue, then the project is almost certainly better off without them.
On Wikipedia, any form of real-life expertise is a serious handicap. If you have real-life expertise on a subject, do not under any circumstances mention it here.
If your edit sticks close to the original source, you will be accused of plagiarism. If your edit is paraphrased to avoid plagiarism, you will be accused of straying from the original source. Rinse and repeat.
If you hand an olive branch to a Wikipedian, he will likely try to beat you to death with it.
Anyone who edits policy pages to favor their position in a specific dispute has no business editing policy pages. Corollary: these are the only people who edit policy pages.
The more abusive an editor is toward others, the more thin-skinned they are about "personal attacks" directed at themselves.
The more a viewpoint is odious, ignorant, wrong-headed, or obscure, the more likely its adherents will perceive Wikipedia as their best opportunity to promote it.
The most challenging, nuanced problems facing Wikipedia tend to attract the editors least capable of handling complexity or nuance.
Anyone who defends their edits by citing WP:NOTCENSORED doesn't have the first clue.
When a Wikipedian uses Latin, you can be sure they are up to no good.
if $username =~ m/truth|justice|freedom|neutrality/i, then the account should probably be blocked preëmptively, because nothing constructive will ever come from it.
Being blocked has never made anyone more civil. On many occasions, it has made people less civil. Nonetheless, our default approach to increasing the general level of civility is to block people.
Forced apologies are worse than meaningless; they're demeaning both to the apologizer and to the recipient. Nonetheless, Wikipedians are obsessed with demanding forced apologies from people who clearly aren't sorry.
When someone complains that Wikipedia is biased, it usually means that their ideas have failed to gain traction because they've misunderstood this site's goals. For example, to a committed flat-Earther, Wikipedia will appear to have a systemic round-Earth bias which stymies their efforts to contribute.
The more an editor is incapable of assuming good faith, the more prone they will be to cite WP:AGF at others.
Wikipedia's processes favor pathological obsessiveness over rationality. A reasonable person will, at some point, decide that they have better things to do than argue with a pathological obsessive. Wikipedia's content reflects this reality, most acutely in its coverage of topics favored by pathological obsessives.
The more often someone cites WP:CIVIL, the less likely s/he has any idea of what actual civility entails.
You can tell everything you need to know about an editor's understanding of Wikipedia's sourcing guidelines by their approach to the Daily Mail.
The amount of fuss that an editor makes over retiring is inversely proportional to the likelihood that s/he will actually retire.
But why the pride in these doctor children (why not shame, why not incredulous dread?): intimates of bacilli and trichinae, of trauma and mortification, with their disgusting vocabulary and their disgusting furniture... they are life's gatekeepers. And why would anyone want to be that?
Reassure herself as she might—she knew that these accidents, combined with cases of mistaken diagnosis and of measures taken too late or erroneously, comprised no more than perhaps 2 percent of her activity, while those she had healed, the young and the old, the men and the women, were now walking through plowed fields, over the grass, along the asphalt, flying through the air, climbing telegraph poles, picking cotton, cleaning streets, standing behind counters, sitting in offices or teahouses, serving in the army and the navy; there were thousands of them, not all of whom had forgotten her or would forget her—and yet she knew that she would sooner forget them all, her best cases, hardest-won victories, but until the day she died she would always remember the handful of poor devils who had fallen under the wheels.
He could feel quite tangibly the difference in weight between the fragile human body and the colossus of the State. He could feel the State's bright eyes gazing into his face; any moment now the State would crash down on him; there would be a crack, a squeal—and he would be gone.
Everybody knows that the dice are loaded.
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed.
Everybody knows that the war is over.
Everybody knows that the good guys lost.
Everybody knows the fight is fixed.
The poor stay poor and the rich get rich.
That's how it goes.
And everybody knows.
If you could blow up the world with the flick of a switch—
Would you do it?
If you could make everybody poor just so you could be rich—
Would you do it?
If you could watch everybody work while you just lay on your back—
Would you do it?
If you could take all the love without giving any back—
Would you do it?
If you could make your own money and then give it to everybody—
Would you do it?
If you knew all the answers and could give them to the masses—
Would you do it?
Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment.
I knew that age well; I belonged to it and labored with it. It deserved well of its country. It was very like the present, but without the experience of the present; and forty years of experience in government is worth a century of book-reading; and this they would say themselves, were they to rise from the dead.
I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and institutions... but I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regime of their barbarous ancestors.
"Why, exactly, do you people intend to have me shot?"
Ivanov let a few seconds go by. He smoked and drew figures with his pencil on the blotting-paper. He seemed to be searching for the exact words.
"Listen, Rubashov," he said finally. "There is one thing I would like to point out to you. You have now repeatedly said 'You' - meaning State and Party - as distinct from 'I' - that is, Nikolai Salmanovich Rubashov. For the public, one needs, of course, a trial and legal justification. For us, what I have just said should be enough."
Rubashov thought this over; he was somewhat taken aback. For a moment it was as if Ivanov had hit a tuning fork, to which his mind responded of its own accord. All he had believed in, fought for and preached over the last forty years swept over his mind in an irresistable wave. The individual was nothing, the Party was all; the branch which broke from the tree must wither... Rubashov rubbed his pince-nez on his sleeve.
Chon has always known that there are two worlds.
The less savage.
The savage is the world of pure raw power, survival of the fittest, drug cartels and death squads, dictators and strongmen, terrorist attacks, gang wars, tribal hatreds, mass murder, mass rape.
The less savage is the world of pure civilized power, governments and armies, multinationals and banks, oil companies, shock-and-awe, death-from-the-sky, genocide, mass economic rape.
And Chon knows—
They're the same world.
Ivan Ilych saw that he was dying, and he was in continual despair.
In the depth of his heart he knew he was dying, but not only was he not accustomed to the thought, he simply did not and could not grasp it.
The syllogism he had learnt from Kiesewetter's Logic: "Caius is a man, men are mortal, therefore Caius is mortal," had always seemed to him correct as applied to Caius, but certainly not as applied to himself. That Caius — man in the abstract — was mortal, was perfectly correct, but he was not Caius, not an abstract man, but a creature quite, quite separate from all others. He had been little Vanya, with a mamma and a papa, with Mitya and Volodya, with the toys, a coachman and a nurse, afterwards with Katenka and will all the joys, griefs, and delights of childhood, boyhood, and youth. What did Caius know of the smell of that striped leather ball Vanya had been so fond of? Had Caius kissed his mother's hand like that, and did the silk of her dress rustle so for Caius? Had he rioted like that at school when the pastry was bad? Had Caius been in love like that? Could Caius preside at a session as he did? "Caius really was mortal, and it was right for him to die; but for me, little Vanya, Ivan Ilych, with all my thoughts and emotions, it's altogether a different matter. It cannot be that I ought to die. That would be too terrible."
Michael Williams: But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make; when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in a battle, shall join together at the latter day, and cry all, "We died at such a place;" some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left.
"Why, of course, the people don't want war," Goering shrugged. "Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship."
"There is one difference," I pointed out. "In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars."
"Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."
It makes no difference what men think of war, said the judge. War endures. As well ask men what they think of stone. War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner.
Wonderful meal in T[aranto]. Steak—eggs—cherries—white wine—macaroni—and Marsala. We should never have fought these people.
From the diary of Oliver Carpenter, a British soldier in occupied Italy, June 1944
Annihilation of the spirit. The game does not appear to be worth the candle. What is seen through the explosions is that this, no less than any other war, is not a moral war. Greek against Greek, against Persian, Roman against the world, cowboys against Indians, Catholics against Protestants, black men against white—this is merely the current phase of an historical story. It is war, and to believe it is anything but a lot of people killing each other is to pretend it is something else, and to misread man's instinct to commit murder.
—Neil McCallum, Journey with a Pistol
When I was running about this town a very poor fellow, I was a great arguer for the advantages of poverty; but I was, at the same time, very sorry to be poor.
The Templars have something to do with everything
What follows is not true
Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate
The sage Omus found the Rosy Cross in Egypt
There are cabalists in Provence
Who was married at the feast of Cana?
Minnie Mouse is Mickey's fiancée
It follows logically that
The Druids venerated black virgins
Simon Magus identifies Sophia as a prostitute of Tyre
Who was married at the feast of Cana?
The Merovingians proclaim themselves kings by divine right
Now, Stuart, if you look at the soil around any large US city where there's a big underground homosexual population—Des Moines, Iowa—perfect example. Look at the soil around Des Moines, Stuart. You can't build on it; you can't grow anything on it. The government says it's due to poor farming. But I know what's really going on, Stuart. I know it's the queers. They're in it with the aliens. They're building landing strips... for gay Martians.
You know what, Stuart? I like you. You're not like the other people here in the trailer park.
"You must try not to think of them," Major Danby advised affirmatively. "And you must never let them change your values. Ideals are good, but people are sometimes not so good. You must try to look up at the big picture." Yossarian rejected the advice with a skeptical shake of his head. "When I look up, I see people cashing in. I don't see heaven or saints or angels. I see people cashing in on every decent impulse and every human tragedy." "But you must try not to think of that," Major Danby insisted. "And you must try not to let it upset you." "Oh, it doesn't really upset me. What does upset me, though, is that they think I'm a sucker. They think that they're smart, and that the rest of us are dumb."
For your tireless contributions to controversial articles and effort to strengthen the NPOV in Wikipedia. миражinred (speak, my child...) 03:32, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
The Defender of the Wiki Barnstar
To MastCell, for maintaining the neutral viewpoint. Axl (talk) 10:38, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
The Wiki Wiffle Bat
Your courage is contagious, your reasoning is infectious, and your patience is the kind of communicable bug we should all be so lucky to catch. Thanks for just being. -- Levine2112discuss 09:02, 9 February 2008 (UTC)
For all your good work. I associate you with intelligent and insightful views, and I respect your thoughtfulness. John (talk) 07:41, 8 July 2008 (UTC)
The Barnstar of Good Humor
I'm stumbled across User:MastCell/UBX-CIV and it completely caught me off-guard. I laughed long and hard enough to cause the knitting broken bones in my face to hurt. Despite the resulting discomfort, I needed a good hearty laugh and I thank you for it. Vassyana (talk) 03:54, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
The Barnstar of Diligence
For being an administrator who is willing to look into the complex yet very important problems that show up at WP:ANI which most other administrators don't get into for lack of diligence. Bravo, and keep up the good work (though don't grow too big a head). The Evil Spartan (talk) 23:25, 22 July 2008 (UTC)
For MastCell, this award was meant for you. It is for those who seem to do everything right on Wikipedia, and go beyond that to show excellence and be respected in every aspect. You have the uncanny and never-ending patience to control your words in even the most intense and controversial situations. You are special. I hereby award MastCell with the “Cool Award.” -- Dēmatt(chat) 15:25, 3 August 2008 (UTC)
The Writer's Barnstar
What a nice article on an important book, Autism's False Prophets. I wish I could write articles so effortlessly. (At least, you make it seem so effortless.) Thanks. Eubulides (talk) 20:19, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
The Defender of the Wiki Barnstar
To MastCell, for insisting on sensible, neutral articles. Axl ¤ [Talk] 16:25, 19 April 2009 (UTC)
The E=mc² Barnstar
To MastCell, for hard work and common sense. Tim Vickers (talk) 18:55, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
You're a better (more civil) man than I am, Gunga Din. Quartermaster (talk) 21:44, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
The Barnstar of Diligence
Kudos to you for your watchful eye over Water ionizer. You are always polite, firm and evidence based. Gillyweed (talk) 04:01, 15 June 2009 (UTC)
The Socratic Barnstar
For helping to remind us that a tempest in a teacup is still just in the teacup. Sodam Yat (talk) 18:54, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
The Barnstar of Integrity
For resisting the temptation on the John Yoo discussion page to argue with bitterly ideological editors, despite being "a little leery about what's going on here," thus demonstrating selfless forbearance, dignity, calm good manners, and above all the personal integrity of balanced perspectiveElijahBosley (talk) 14:46, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
The Surreal Barnstar
By the powers vested in me, which are minimal, I hereby award you the surreal barnstar for your comments made during the Middleton dog deletion thread. It's been a long time since I laughed that hard at a wikipedia comment (I'm still giggling), which actually fit in well with wikipedia policy as well. We need more people like you in wikipedia. Bravo! Thegreatdr (talk) 22:25, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
The Defender of the Wiki Barnstar
It's about time you got some positive reinforcement for your tireless work editing articles and as an example for how to not only edit and collaborate but not take this place too seriously. Yobol (talk) 19:24, 26 July 2011 (UTC)
The Random Acts of Kindness Barnstar
MastCell, I can hardly find the words to express how impressed I am with your ability to step into a difficult situation with intelligent guidance in such a non-threatening manner. While other admins just banned the editors, you offered good, sound advice that may help to bring about a resolution rather than just anger and hurt feelings. I wish that there were more admins like you. You are my HERO for the day and many days to come. Gandydancer (talk) 15:28, 24 February 2012 (UTC)
Cents for Sense
Sometimes two cents is worth alot more than it seems. Your comments always broaden the base for communication and discussion, widening the circle to include many Wiki-editors. Thank you for your continued concern about our most precious commodity---our reader. ```Buster SevenTalk 16:58, 15 April 2012 (UTC)
You may need some sustenance since you've been on the Trayvon Martin case for quite a while now. Hang in there--your work is appreciated. Which reminds me: I had an edit request, that we include the number of nose hairs counted in recent photographs of each of the two participants; can you just stick that in? Thanks! Drmies (talk) 15:17, 10 April 2012 (UTC)
Yes, MastCell, looking at your years and years of contributions, wise advice, and janitorial work, it's hard to understand how you became an admin. If only you were as calm, reasonable, neutral, and smart as Whatzisname. Sarcasm aside, I was torn between giving you an admin's barnstar, and creating a "How The Hell Do You Stand Dealing With These Fuckwits" barnstar, but I figured if I gave you the latter, I'd get in trouble for personal attacks (and horror of horrors, have my own adminship questioned). It should be obvious, but perhaps bears repeating, that outside of Bizarro World, you are valued very highly by the grownups. Floquenbeam (talk) 22:24, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
The Frozen Trout of Seafood Justice
But God shall wound the head of his enemies, and the hairy scalp of such an one as goeth on still in his trespasses. Ravenswing 10:57, 19 May 2012 (UTC)
The Barnstar of Good Humor
I love your user page and the good sense of humor you show. Now ... back to writing articles! Bearian (talk) 01:10, 31 May 2012 (UTC)
The Special Barnstar
You are a fucking awesome Wikipedia editor and administrator. Gandydancer (talk) 21:07, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
The Original Barnstar
Thank you for preventing perennial edit wars by simply editing to coalesce divergent views. You've earned the gratitude of the WP Community! I'm always so very impressed with your clarity of thought and clear expression of tolerance toward the wayward and pernicious inclinations of ludicrous hullabaloo-ers. ```Buster SevenTalk 15:51, 20 February 2013 (UTC)
To MastCell, I give you this award for your long-term service to Wikipedia as an editor and an administrator; you've done excellent work, have sound judgment and are highly fair. While we have had few interactions, my observations of you over the years have always been positive. Thank you for everything that you do. Acalamari 19:43, 12 January 2014 (UTC)
The Editor's Barnstar
I've ran across you on multiple occasions and every time you are improving an article substantially. Keep up the great work! Meatsgains (talk) 05:59, 12 March 2014 (UTC)
^For example: Alfred Russell Wallace once accepted a challenge from a Flat-Earther who offered him ₤500 if he could prove that the Earth was round. Wallace demonstrated the curvature of the Earth in a simple, elegant, and irrefutable manner. But instead of paying up the wager, the Flat-Earther launched a years-long campaign of defamation and harassment against Wallace.
In the end, Wallace won a libel suit and put an end to the nonsense, but it had cost him years of his life and well more money than the wager was worth in the first place. A more elegant demonstration of the Fourth Law Of Stupidity would be hard to invent. The moral of the story: you cannot reason someone out of a fundamentally irrational belief.
^You might naïvely think that a project attempting to summarize human knowledge would value people who actually know things. You would be badly mistaken, for two reasons. First of all, Wikipedia tends to attract obsessive amateurs—people who are deeply interested in arcane topics but who lack academic qualifications or recognition and thus view such things as suspect. Secondly, Wikipedians have really strange ideas about "conflicts of interest". It's been seriously suggested, for instance, that a physician has a conflict of interest in writing about medical topics, by virtue of actually knowing something about them.
Wikipedia's hostility toward real-life expertise is usually externalized and blamed on the experts, who are portrayed as too arrogant and entitled to thrive in this democratic marketplace of ideas. But that's bullshit. Experts get frustrated because Wikipedia lacks any mechanism to ensure that sane people triumph over pathological obsessives. (If anything, our existing processes reward pathological obsessiveness much more than sane, reasonable approaches).
^Or, as my father told me when I was young, "Only a dumb-ass argues with a dumb-ass."