Re: Online Discussions and Epistemology

1

Am I just being old and curmudgeonly for drawing a sharp distinction between the internet and blogosphere in general and social media in particular? I've been involved at least casually with online forums since BBSs in the 80s, and I've generally been a booster.

But after looking at the landscape created by social media since it took off over the last 5-7 years, my judgement is that facebook and twitter are shit and that the world would be a better place if they disappeared. And after hearing all of the arguments about how they've been beneficial for marginalized communities, I still think that when all the good and bad are weighed in the balance, the verdict is still "facebook and twitter are shit and that the world would be a better place if they disappeared".


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 6:29 AM
horizontal rule
2

I actually just wrote a guest post on this but I'll stick it here instead:
In memory of the second passing of Halford, and the dismal circumstances attending it, a quote from one of his recommendations:

The statutes of the 'German societies', a supra-territorial enterprise whose network included a society founded in Königsberg in 1741, explicitly defined the formal conditions for fruitful conversation among the members. During the discussion that followed readings or lectures, members were to avoid arbitrary or ill-considered comments. Critiques should engage in a structured way with the style, method and content of the lecture. They should employ, in Kant's phrase, 'the cautious language of reason'. Digressions and interruptions were strictly prohibited. All members were ultimately guaranteed the right to have their say, but they must wait their turn and make their comments as concise as possible. Satirical or mocking remarks and suggestive wordplay were unacceptable.

Freemasons [...] injunctions to avoid immoderate speech, frivolous or vulgar commentary and the discussion of topics (such as religion) that would stir divisive passions among the brothers. This may all sound stiflingly prim from a present-day perspective, but the purpose of such rules and norms was serious enough. They were designed to ensure that what mattered in discussion was not the individual but the issue, that the passions of personal relationships and local politics were left behind when members joined the meeting. The art of polite public debate had still to be learned; these statutes were the blueprints of a new communicative technology.
And from the notes:
At the same time the Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft was established [in 1617] to bridge the widening political gulf, intended to unite those of like mind, regardless of background or creed: hence its members all took a pseudonym and - by and large - no theologians were admitted...


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 6:33 AM
horizontal rule
3

To OP: there isn't "no gatekeeper." Instead of innumerable gatekeepers at innumerable outlets, there are two gatekeepers, FB and Twitter,* trending steadily toward one gatekeeper; and those gatekeepers care solely about pageviews, hence about virality; and virality is governed by instant gratification; which can be provided by funniness, cuteness, outrage, virtue signalling; but not, as a rule, by thoughtfulness of any kind.
*In the Anglosphere, the last time I paid attention, ~2 years ago. But social networks, being networks, tend very strongly toward monopoly regardless.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 6:45 AM
horizontal rule
4

Strong concur. I'm sad to see Halford go, but even more surprised that this was the occasion, since I've cited his 14 in three separate conversations over the past two days (each time attributing it to, uh, a guy I know who knows about the party).


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 6:46 AM
horizontal rule
5

BTW, 3* is an insight I've seen best articulated in another of Halford's recommendations.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 6:50 AM
horizontal rule
6

Yeah, FB and Twitter is really throwing gasoline on the fire of the rightwing. I'm in favor of them being socialized and taken over by the government.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 6:52 AM
horizontal rule
7

Well, maybe not by the government. Someone benevolent.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 6:53 AM
horizontal rule
8

It's probably ogged's fault, not heebie's.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 6:55 AM
horizontal rule
9

Fox News, Breitbart, and Russian Trolls. If you are not contributing to the power of those three voices, then you are not making the world a worse point by arguing online.
I sent in a post about Chinese disinformation not a month ago. We're all talking about this not because it's new but because it's become pervasive enough to get widespread notice. Social network mediated infowar is now a weapon available to everyone, like rifles or GPS, but even cheaper. It's going to be used by all bad actors, and plenty of good ones, from here on out.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:04 AM
horizontal rule
10

I can allow for the possibility that there are more bad actors than those three.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:06 AM
horizontal rule
11

"And I'm once again reminded why I stopped commenting here, and why commenting is not just a time-wasting hobby, but actively destructive..."

I am still stuck on the incoherent self-denying nature of Halford's comment. A comment announcing that you stopped commenting in the past is an interesting epistemological move...


Posted by: Brad DeLong | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:07 AM
horizontal rule
12

Anyway, questions raised in the OP are more teleological than epistemological.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:10 AM
horizontal rule
13

Halford is being willfully ignorant of the benefit of comments like his 14.

This. And seconding Mme. Merle's 4. I've also cited the info in that comment.

As evidence of how Halford's comments have changed minds I'm very much on the Bernie side of the Democratic spectrum (or further left) but I supported HRC in the general and hate the current rehashing and refighting of the primaries. In the voting booth I'm as yellow dog* as they come (socialist in streets, yellow dog in the sheets). Halford has changed my mind more than once and given me a more nuanced take on things even when he hasn't. Plus he's hella fun to have around.


*If that has any meaning outside of its historical and Southern context.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:15 AM
horizontal rule
14

Mental health is no joke, and it's difficult to figure out what's best for your own mental health.
[...]
They should curate where they spend their time online very carefully
[...]
be very judicious about how media affects you

Further from 3: social media instant gratification is literally addictive. Each interaction gives a little dopamine hit, and a few minutes later you check your phone again to get another little hit. The firms involved know this and exploit the effect. If you allow, (1) FB and Twitter should be "socialized"; (2) there are a plenitude of bad actors, and (3) FB and Twitter are essentially drugging their users, I think your self-help advice offered above is incoherent. This is a public problem demanding public solutions. If your subject is in fact online discussions on Unfogged, then little of this comment applies; but the OP isn't clear on that point.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:22 AM
horizontal rule
15

I was mostly thinking about Unfogged and not thinking about FB and Twitter, because I was personally offended and riled up by the accusation that I am making the world worse through Unfogged.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:28 AM
horizontal rule
16

15 Your'e not heebie! Quite the opposite. Unfogged is the tikkun olam of blogs.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:30 AM
horizontal rule
17

Social network mediated infowar is now a weapon available to everyone, like rifles or GPS, but even cheaper.

One can at least hope that society will build an immunity to its influence over time.

In 2008 and 2012, it was "Aw, social media is getting people to participate in the process, that's cute!" In 2016, Russia used it to blow up the world. I'm hoping in 2020 we won't get fooled again, although there are large portions of the public who are happy to get fooled again. But maybe by 2024 even they will be past it, and a more skeptical nation can focus on newer pressing issues, like fending off the nuclear mutants.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:30 AM
horizontal rule
18

16: aw, thanks! I adore this place, and Ogged and the other OPPs really get the credit for maintaining a heavy presence in the comments until the community got established.

I am proud that the decline of Unfogged has been as gradual as it has been, since I became the main poster. Think how quickly I might have ruined it!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:34 AM
horizontal rule
19

"facebook and twitter are shit and that the world would be a better place if they disappeared"

I like it when people post videos of their pets doing funny things. Can that be preserved?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:35 AM
horizontal rule
20

In the future, they'll have pets, but not in a way we can understand.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:37 AM
horizontal rule
21

Anyway, I deliberately avoided* that thread for reasons that I'll call "mental health".

* Not totally because when I saw "Ham Love" in the sidebar, I checked real quick that somebody went "Ham Love!"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:41 AM
horizontal rule
22

Modifying the rules of the German enlightenment from 2:
1. No ill-considered comments.
2. Engage in a structured way with the style, method and content of the OP.
3. No digressions.
4. Make comments as concise as possible.
5. No satirical or mocking remarks.
6. No suggestive wordplay.
7. No theologians.

1': Probably the most important. Before posting, think how you might be misunderstood, and take the time to disambiguate.
2': I think we do this anyway.
3': OT I think isn't often a problem, but maybe stricter enforcement of 40-comments/ pause-play customs is called for. I and Ajay have bitched recently about RTCB, frex.
4': The modern internet suffers if anything from too much concision; and bob is gone.
5,6: Satire, mockery and wordplay are obviously core to the community, so those stay.
7': In our context, I think that means no leftier-than-thou infighting.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 8:03 AM
horizontal rule
23

Let me be the first to support suggestive wordplay.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 8:11 AM
horizontal rule
24

Just to add to the "Yay unfogged!" subthread, this place has now, I believe, outlasted* every other group blog of the bunch that I discovered back in 2005.

*Several still exist but the quality of the threads have declined to the point that I read them much less than I used to and only comment once in a blue moon, and regret it when I do.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 8:13 AM
horizontal rule
25

I'm taking "Bye" at face value.

Maybe he meant like "Bye week" and he'll be back next Sunday.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 8:19 AM
horizontal rule
26

24 Very much the same on all points.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 8:30 AM
horizontal rule
27

I'd agree with everyone; I think unfogged is great and while arguing about the 2016 primary occasionally drove me crazy it was a helpful outlet, and I was never tempted to argue about it anywhere other than here.

That said, my interpretation of Halford's point is that it's easy to mistake effort for productivity ("I was trying so hard . . . ") and that arguing online is an easy way to expend effort without accomplishing much. That said (a) the discussions here were often informative and helpful and (b) at least in my case I doubt that I would have put that effort into other election-related activities. If I didn't have the opportunity to discuss it here, I would have just stewed more.

I do have thoughts about what makes online discussions bad, in addition to Heebie's points, and it's that so much of what people write just feels like spin. They aren't writing to work out their own thoughts or solicit feedback/criticism, they're writing just to contribute to an atmosphere that will help their preferred candidate. I don't know how to avoid that, but it felt worse this time around than it has before.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 9:36 AM
horizontal rule
28

I think lefty-infighting was, along with a dozen other things, a but-for cause of the 2016 election result. It's tempting to blame the internet social media persiflage for the spread of this, but the exact same infighting was a but-for cause, along with half-a-dozen other things, of the 2000 election result.

A quick preemptive strike against the whataboutism of pointing to some other cause. Yes, those are all also but-fors. But the misdirection of pointing to them reminds me of how protesters against some particular US racist something-or-other are told how much worse it is someplace else. Or maybe more on point, how protesters of some US foreign policy position/policy are asked why they aren't protesting China, Myanmar, the Congo, or some other example of someone doing even worse. Yes those things are worse, but that's completely missing the point, in a way that usually demonstrates bad faith. (T Friedman is a prime exponent of this method of argument, which is alone sufficient to show its illegitimacy.) We protest the conduct of US foreign policy because we are citizens in a democracy, and hope/think our leadership has an obligation to listen to us. There's no objection to protesting the government of Myanmar, but the motivation is quite different.

Similarly, one might think that lefty-infighting could be tamped down, given that we're talking to people with shared values (largely) and a shared stake in the downside risk. But apparently not.

At the end of the day, I don't think either FB or Twitter are going to be socialized, or will disappear. They're both too useful. Twitter may well get rid of bots, though, and FB could disclose the funders for ads, and maybe the hook for Russia/Trump type stuff is attacking the 'independence' of the expenditures, which takes you out of Citizens United (maybe -- I'm just spitballing here).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 9:45 AM
horizontal rule
29

Its not like the right wing doesn't have infighting. Arguably, they had more infighting last election than we did. And, like we did, everybody on that side still mostly got behind their candidate, warts and all.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 10:00 AM
horizontal rule
30

contribute to an atmosphere that will help their preferred candidate

After Match 15, 2016, the situation was completely binary. One of two people was going to win, and that conduct that would tend to harm one, tended to help the other. People acted -- and act today (and I get involved in way too much of this IRL) -- as if July 1, 2016 or November 7, 2016 was the date on which it became binary, to self-justify conduct that objectively helped Trump.

(It's probably January 1, 2000 for the last time we watched this movie.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 10:02 AM
horizontal rule
31

27.2 That is also my impression of Halford's point, and put in that form, I don't find it at all persuasive. Mossy's 2, on the other hand, offers us a Halford scenario that makes sense to me overall, but in the context of unfogged I don't buy it, and I'm not aware of Halford ever directly expressing his view in that form.

11. incoherent self-denying nature of Halford's comment

Not at all incoherent. Halford explicitly identified himself as part of the problem. Me, I don't agree with him on that. Many of us, including me, noted our appreciation for 14 in that thread, for example.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 10:04 AM
horizontal rule
32

29 There's an extent to which "we" didn't, as demonstrated by the people who'd voted for Obama going for Trump, because Clinton was only in it for the banks and the rich people, while Trump was going to help the common man. Between the Obama voters who voted for Trump, and those who stayed home, it's enough to have made the difference. Pretending it didn't is how we get to make this same mistake in 2020.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 10:06 AM
horizontal rule
33

31 was me.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 10:06 AM
horizontal rule
34

After Match 15, 2016, the situation was completely binary.

Maybe, but people aren't binary, and there was a lot of residual anger over, among other things, the behavior of the DNC. That was never going to go away at the flick of the switch.

It should be the job of the winner to bring the supporters of the loser into the fold, but, for her part, Hillary did very little to win the hearts and minds of those people. The message "you need to fall into line you stupid Bernie Bro" was extremely counterproductive, and it was made worse because a lot of the Bernie Bro-ism in question was apparently the work of the Russians.

You can fault Bernie's people for continued to fight past March 15, but they did it because they were trying to get a place at the table - and they still are.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 10:16 AM
horizontal rule
35

32 last: What should be done? More ground organization, what? Serious question.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 10:26 AM
horizontal rule
36

We don't know how many failures "we" made were actually Russian trolls. Bernie bros as a phenomenon was to an unknown extent a Russian troll movement. This is something that wasn't well understood in real time conversations last year about how Clinton wasn't winning over the bros.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 10:37 AM
horizontal rule
37

34 last -- This is exactly the problem. No one who's not all the way far gone on this can accept the trade-off of a Trump presidency in exchange for a possible seat at some table.

I know people were angry. The question is whether they'll act responsibly in the interests of the folks they are ostensibly fighting for. The answer is that they won't.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 10:39 AM
horizontal rule
38

And next time round, there will still be Russian trolls, or Koch trolls, and there still won't be any means to identify and suppress them in real time, because there is no functioning government in the United States. Obsessing over things you won't be able to fix while in opposition distracts from what you can do to win office.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 10:40 AM
horizontal rule
39

36 Actual American Bernie supporting humans acted then, and act now, as if HRC was a total tool of Wall Street who would not do anything to help ordinary people.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 10:41 AM
horizontal rule
40

35 A whole lot of truth about the relative evils of Democratic establishment rule and Republican rule would be a really big deal. People who minimize the difference should be understood as trafficking in bad faith.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 10:43 AM
horizontal rule
41

There's an extent to which "we" didn't, as demonstrated by the people who'd voted for Obama going for Trump

I doubt the Bernie folks who continued to dissent after the primary had anything to do with this. I've come to realize the Jill Stein voters are just not on our side and -- under the rules you describe in 28.2 -- are appropriately criticized the way we criticize Republicans, and not the way we criticize Democrats.

Bernie people aren't the Obama/Trump voters. Those voters weren't listening to Bernie, but rather to the NYT and CNN and the other sources that echoed loads of crap about Hillary.

Or so I believe. I don't know what the polling tells us, but it's interesting to me that nobody talks about Bernie/Trump voters, because, while they certainly exist, they don't require any explanation. They are just dumb as shit, and no further analysis is required.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 10:46 AM
horizontal rule
42

Well, sure, they didn't listen to Bernie when he told them that the relative evils were such that they needed to vote for HRC. The movement was only nominally about him, though. There are a bunch of people who bought, and buy, 'the Dems are no damn good because they take Wall Street money (and that's why there wasn't much prosecution in 2009-2010)' line, and his candidacy provided the rallying point for this. Especially as it became clear that he wasn't going to win the nomination, and the potentially 'moderate' supporters dropped out.

Bernie fought on to the convention because he wanted the platform stuff he eventually got, which would have been fine if she'd won. She didn't, and he got worse than nothing for his efforts.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 10:55 AM
horizontal rule
43

Halford's 14 is brilliant. The other place has much more reach than writing here. I wonder what people here (especially Heebie or the other front-page folks) think about the following: I'd actually like to post a link to it to the other place, if he agrees, with no mention or linking to damage pseudonymity.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 10:59 AM
horizontal rule
44

I've said before and will say again that 'follow the money' is the most harmful political aphorism going. It's not that the money is irrelevant as a marker, but the causality arrow runs in the other direction. Obama din't prevent prosecutions because he got a lot of Wall Street money; they gave him a bunch of money because they correctly perceived him to be the kind of guy who would listen to arguments about effects on the economy of particular kinds of regulations. Turns out they were wrong about how persuasive their arguments would turn out to be, and they got more regulation than they wanted.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 11:00 AM
horizontal rule
45

Molly Ivins said it better: As they say around the Texas Legislature, if you can't drink their whiskey, screw their women, take their money, and vote against 'em anyway, you don't belong in office.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 11:03 AM
horizontal rule
46

Around 25% of Hillary primary voters, voted for McCain in 2008. That's fine, Obama didn't need them because his strategy of running to the left of his real politics got the base to turn out, and he could allow right-wing, or racist, Dems vote McCain. Hillaries plan to chase "moderate republicans" even at the risk of suppressing her bases turnout, didn't have enough slack to allow for this. I assume that the smaller number of Bernie/Trump folks are also right-wing, or sexist, Dem voters.

Obama/Trump voters are just people who got the president they want, and will vote for either party. Basically they were the moderate republicans Hillary failed to win.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 11:05 AM
horizontal rule
47

44 Is basically Chomsky's argument about political punditry (a la Friedman).


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 11:06 AM
horizontal rule
48

Can I get Halford back in exchange for our resident DNC conspiracy trolls? He was one of the only ones with a clear enough mind to cut through the bullshit.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 11:09 AM
horizontal rule
49

It's a fuzzy line, and I know I threw in 36, but I'd prefer this stay focused on online discussions, and not descend into a 2016 primary thread, especially since the DB thread is nearby. The 2016 primary is such a turn-off, and I think this thread would benefit from participation by a larger community.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 11:12 AM
horizontal rule
50

I was personally offended and riled up by the accusation that I am making the world worse through Unfogged.

You must be new here. How many times has Halford quit, grandiloquently denouncing us all? How much shit has he talked over the years?

And Unfogged doesn't make anything anything, except maybe us. Our posts are writ in water.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 11:13 AM
horizontal rule
51

Once again a thread has been eaten by the unstoppable urge to re-fight the 2016 primary.

Can't we find common ground in the proposition that facebook and twitter suck? Oh, and tumblr sucks as well.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 11:13 AM
horizontal rule
52

Being pwned by 49 also sucks.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 11:15 AM
horizontal rule
53

50: well, insomnia, etc. Yes it is a halfordpattern!

It's annoying that someone so smart and eloquent can also be melodramatic and needle me so well.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 11:16 AM
horizontal rule
54

Filling in the lines of exactly why I think Halford is right about nearly everything, I mean, arguing online:
1. There must be a personal connection to have any hope of changing people's minds. That's extremely difficult in an online forum.
2. That's especially true when arguing in a group, where the fragmented nature of the conversation makes it easy to get distracted and to ignore arguments and/or evidence you don't like.
3. In one-on-one arguments, there's only one person to convince, and its quite clear whether you've done so. In a group argument, you perform for the crowd, and since they're mostly silent, you can keep posturing long past the point of productivity.
4. Arguing in online forums specifically attracts these performers. Several people in that thread haven't commented for months, but as soon as "Hillary Clinton" was mentioned, they show up to dominate the thread with half-baked conspiracy theories.
5. Single-issue posters have more time and energy and obsession than normal folks, so they dominate column-inches.
6. When our brains go to remember the argument, we simplify each position. This usually means we choose the most extreme form of the counter argument (which is easy because it's already the one taking up the most space and generating the most heat). Then we generalize to the next time we get into an argument, poisoning that discourse too.

Essentially social media has weaponized rhetoric, turning it into a rather nasty virus.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 11:27 AM
horizontal rule
55

Twitter is a hell-site but is the only way to get news if you don't Facebook. The main news sites being even worse hell-holes now.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 11:36 AM
horizontal rule
56

Actually, I quite like the Washington Post. Just avoid the editorials.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 11:39 AM
horizontal rule
57

55 is firmly in Poe's law territory.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 11:41 AM
horizontal rule
58

But this place has the one of the closest things to a personal connection I have ever found online. Maybe part of Sh\ip of Fo\ols, a vaguely Christian community where one of my best friends met his fiancee, though neither are actually Christians; maybe the Well once upon a time, although it is very much less self-regarding and cliquey.

It is a place where minds get slowly changed, and clever misfits get to be harmless showoffs. Dr Johnson would have understood at once that it is what a tavern is supposed to be. I wish Halford wasn't so damn puritanical about these pleasures.


Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 11:43 AM
horizontal rule
59

Several people in that thread haven't commented for months, but as soon as "Hillary Clinton" was mentioned, they show up to dominate the thread

That dynamic is pretty weird, yeah. It's like the tiniest, most polite zombie army on the web, with Halford as the jumpy zombie-war vet suffering from PTSD and trying to destroy the blog to save it. I don't know, though. I'm a compulsive flouncer as well, and subjective experiences of online communities vary wildly, which is the only generalization I'm prepared to make.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 11:45 AM
horizontal rule
60

And, since it's my business, I don't think Twitter is a good place for news outside of niches. I use it to find things that I will in the future write about, which will perhaps make some of them more newsy than they would otherwise be. But if I want a broad overview of what's happening in the world, I still go the FT, the Washington Post, and the Gurdiana

Remember that what's viral is almost by definition worthless.


Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 11:46 AM
horizontal rule
61

In the realm of counterfactuals and the net benefits of social media, doesn't it seem very likely that without social media, we would not have nearly the attention to police shootings, or BLM as a movement? The issues would have stayed micro-local as they mostly used to be (with spotlights, like Amadou Diallo, being much less frequent).


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 11:51 AM
horizontal rule
62

58.1 is very much how I feel.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 11:51 AM
horizontal rule
63

People say stupid shit on the internet sometimes. I've learned to cope with it, mostly. I was principally lurking back in the day, but there were a fair few commenters (including our esteemed founder) sold on the proposition that the invasion of Iraq was an well-considered and wise idea. Compared to that, this Hillary nonsense looks like the Federalist Papers.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 12:00 PM
horizontal rule
64

58, 62 These, and I'm a Halford fan.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 12:04 PM
horizontal rule
65

58.1 is right. I've always thought of this place as a bar.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 12:08 PM
horizontal rule
66

49 Fair enough.

60 I guess you're right, except that the WP etc fail so completely on the niche coverage. And, ultimately, there's a niche for the specific details that matter to the general overview. What twitter does is let you pick curators on a narrower basis, and do a lot of self-curation.

61 is right. We're not only learning a whole lot of stories we would not have before, we're also learning that many of the emperors of gatekeeping are naked.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 12:10 PM
horizontal rule
67

If you follow decent people twitter is a good way to get interesting stuff filtered to you. If you have inhuman willpower you can avoid getting sucked into reading really stupid shit people are saying. I don't. Also 50% of its problems would go away with a downvote button, but that would mean "less engagement".


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 12:10 PM
horizontal rule
68

People say stupid shit on the internet sometimes.

That's always been true, but the recent escalation of weaponized stupid shit is troubling. When people were being idiots about Iraq, at least they were sincere in their idiotic beliefs. Now, the beliefs espoused are secondary; these days its all bots and AI algorithms harnessed by state actors and private companies to fuck with you.

Unrelatedly, I'm glad that everyone seems to have weathered yesterday's EMP attack and Antifa uprising in good spirits.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 12:14 PM
horizontal rule
69

58.1 is true because those that didn't both feel it and want it have mostly moved on. (Among many other reasons for moving on.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 12:16 PM
horizontal rule
70

Twitter is useful as a reader, My (very few) posts are protected. If they weren't, I'd have to turn the damn thing off.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 12:19 PM
horizontal rule
71

some sort of legal mechanism for saying that voracious doxxing trolls and the like are committing a crime, and funding/caring about having police track down and arrest online serial abusers. I doubt that will ever happen.
Not soon, but maybe. This piece compares cyber war to piracy and privateering; eventually norms developed to suppress both.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 12:23 PM
horizontal rule
72

71: That piece is kind of long. If you want to skip the Beltway infighting scroll down to "The Pirate Code".


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 12:27 PM
horizontal rule
73

@#16

How much moderation do you need to do tokeep this place fairly civil?


Posted by: Zb | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 12:50 PM
horizontal rule
74

@#16

How much moderation do you need to do tokeep this place fairly civil?


Posted by: Zb | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 12:50 PM
horizontal rule
75

Oops

There are commercial forces at play w/ FB, google, twitter, but also real ideological concerns about what free speech means when spreading information is free to the spreader.

It's tough to regulate without running into gray areas of the first amendment.


Posted by: zb | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 12:54 PM
horizontal rule
76

I'm not sure what exactly you think out to be a crime with respect to doxxing. 1. Solving the mystery of who XMan2005* is? 2. Publishing to the world that XMan2005 is a jerk for having appeared in blackface on the internet? 3. Contacting XMan2005 offline to complain? 4. Calling XMan2005's employer in a bid to punish XMan2005 for appearing in blackface on the internet?

I suppose 3 is or could be a crime if the behavior is stalky enough. In many places, 4 could be tortious interference with only some modest tweaks. I don't think you can get to 1 or 2; do you want to?

* Resemblance to any actual XMan2005 (if any) is purely coincidental, and not intentional.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 12:56 PM
horizontal rule
77

I also endorse 58.2.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 1:16 PM
horizontal rule
78

76: don't we have similar thorny issues figuring out what constitutes harassment in the regular world? Doesn't mean it shouldn't be grappled with and taken seriously.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 1:40 PM
horizontal rule
79

73/74: barely any! But as LB has observed, the FPPs are generally active in the threads, which goes a long way. Also I'm always game to let things deteriorate into super silliness, which I think helps.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 1:42 PM
horizontal rule
80

One more voice to echo 58. I've been lurking/commenting here for more than a decade, and have benefited profoundly from my interactions with the Mineshaft here, at the other place, and in person.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 2:21 PM
horizontal rule
81

For my part, I think my experience here could have been much better were I not such a turd, irrespective of going crazy, which helped me towards being even more of a turd, but was nonetheless positive, and appears to me to be even more positive for the unturdly, which is all just to say that I am pro this blog, though I don't think it says much for interactions on the internet generally, and am puzzled as to how it came about.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 2:28 PM
horizontal rule
82

Hey look! Facebook and Twitter both got early funding with shady-ass Kremlin money. Very deep, this rabbit hole is.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 2:29 PM
horizontal rule
83

74, 79: I would say that back in the day when there were more people, and more people wandering through who weren't regulars, it took a lot of moderation, but that it was mostly soft moderation (derailing interactions that were getting unpleasant, and so on, rather than banning), and that a lot of that kind of 'moderation' got done by commenters being spontaneously helpful. And of course it was very far from perfectly civil -- we had our huge flaming meltdowns.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 2:29 PM
horizontal rule
84

I have been much less around here lately, but yeah, while it probably goes without saying, I'm really very fond of this place, and all sorts of things and people that I wouldn't have come in contact with if I hadn't wandered by and told Ogged he should be dating sculptors have gotten me through bad tines and are making me happy now. So, yay Unfogged!

I did, back in the first five or so years I was here, think that I was doing something productive by arguing about politics here and other places on the internet. I've mostly gotten over that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 2:38 PM
horizontal rule
85

Text, I appreciated you opening up and sharing some of your struggles in the recent thread. Gave me some context for earlier conversations.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 2:39 PM
horizontal rule
86

have gotten me through bad tines and are making me happy now

The fork you say?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 2:45 PM
horizontal rule
87

Thanks, heebie. I'll keep sharing when it seems somewhat apropos to something.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 2:46 PM
horizontal rule
88

I've made a lot of friends here, which were good to have during the divorce. Did something sound confusing?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 2:47 PM
horizontal rule
89

One word did ...


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 2:50 PM
horizontal rule
90

Ogged should have been dating sculptresses?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 2:51 PM
horizontal rule
91

If you hone in on what you wrote a bit...


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 2:51 PM
horizontal rule
92

My proofreading gets weaker and weaker.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 2:53 PM
horizontal rule
93

Mine never existed....for my own comments anyway.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 2:54 PM
horizontal rule
94

48, 54.4: are you referring to Asteele and rtcg?

I also found 14 in the other thread useful.


Posted by: Frostbite | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 3:34 PM
horizontal rule
95

81 is good to hear.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 3:42 PM
horizontal rule
96

I did, back in the first five or so years I was here, think that I was doing something productive by arguing about politics here and other places on the internet. I've mostly gotten over that.

I never thought I was doing something productive here, but I did used to think I could direct my efforts in work or career in such a way as to be more productive. I've learned that nearly always the thing I think of as "productive" isn't what somebody else thinks of as a product they want and the things that I kick off in two minutes with no effort tend to be useful to others. Or at least that's what I tell myself now.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 3:46 PM
horizontal rule
97

I've decided to be the change I want to see in the world and what I want to see in the world, apparently, is more people told to fuck off when they don't yield to pedestrians crossing with the light in a crosswalk.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 3:51 PM
horizontal rule
98

My gym owner is really into the phrase "Be the Change" and puts it on shirts and stuff, and I've never seen any evidence that he's aware of the second half of the phrase.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 4:07 PM
horizontal rule
99

If only Gandhi had lived to run a gym.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 4:08 PM
horizontal rule
100

I guess that's two things I have against Hindu Nationalism now.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 4:10 PM
horizontal rule
101

I also think it's funny that he's applying Be the Change to something that's mostly self-improvement.

"I envision a world of harmony, where I've shed this spare tire."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 4:17 PM
horizontal rule
102

49 is moderation. Happens around here all the time. The difference between moderation at Unfogged and elsewhere is that here, it largely works.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 4:25 PM
horizontal rule
103

Extremism in defense of moderation is no vice.


Posted by: Opinionated Ronald Reagan | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 4:41 PM
horizontal rule
104

Speaking of twitter being a hell-site bots are out in force on Texas shooting in a way I havnt seen before. Claiming shooter's FB page was filled with Arabic etc.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 4:44 PM
horizontal rule
105

54 I think lays out neatly the places where I disagree with the detractors of online commenting, and perhaps with Halford specifically. I'm not here to change anybody's mind; I'm here to express myself, sharpen my own thoughts, and learn from other people.

That said, I also get a good hearing here. People here engage with me with integrity, and I think it's likely that I have contributed to changing some minds.

But as I said, that's incidental. I'm here to change my own mind.

And I have! It probably seems melodramatic to say it, but I am a better person for my participation here. If Halford, in the end, concludes that his participation nets out to be bad for him, I'm sure he's right, but I think he errs in generalizing his experience to others.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 4:45 PM
horizontal rule
106

105 is me, too.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 5:01 PM
horizontal rule
107

I feel better about the state of the world than I did this morning because of a pound of brisket, a pound of root vegetables, half a bottle of wine, and chunk of buttered bread.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 5:39 PM
horizontal rule
108

If I ever have to become vegetarian, paleo, or teetotal, I'm probably never going to be able to live with people.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 5:44 PM
horizontal rule
109

84: I did, back in the first five or so years I was here, think that I was doing something productive by arguing about politics here and other places on the internet. I've mostly gotten over that.

My archive search is letting me down, but I'm reminded of a comment my daughter made to me (which I posted here and which was briefly the mouseover text via Ogged) after a group blog I was in went dormant: "Good job, dad, now who's going to save the world by blogging about it using big words?"


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 6:06 PM
horizontal rule
110

We chuckle about "Someone is wrong on the Internet" because we know that the person sitting in front of the computer is a dope, but also because we recognize ourselves in him.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 6:48 PM
horizontal rule
111

I've been dramatically more successful than some at not commenting much, AMA


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 6:57 PM
horizontal rule
112

But then you'll just not answer.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 6:59 PM
horizontal rule
113

And think how enlightening it'll be!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:11 PM
horizontal rule
114

I'm so sleepy. I blame the pie.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:14 PM
horizontal rule
115

Did you accomplish stuff? I keep trying to accomplish stuff.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:29 PM
horizontal rule
116

111: You know, I like it when people fail to fail to comment.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:29 PM
horizontal rule
117

Oh yeah I support that, sure. Fail to fail, everybody!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:32 PM
horizontal rule
118

Sifu!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:33 PM
horizontal rule
119

Only one question so far, and I didn't even answer it. This AMA is going off the rails quick. Better shut down the internet.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:44 PM
horizontal rule
120

I couldn't remember what AMA stood for until this last comment. I was trying to make sense of it as a variation of AISIHMHB.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:52 PM
horizontal rule
121

So, how've you been?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:53 PM
horizontal rule
122

How are the Tweetyroe?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:53 PM
horizontal rule
123

And the self-driving cars?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:53 PM
horizontal rule
124

Is it chilly there yet? It's still warm here, but here's hoping.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:53 PM
horizontal rule
125

Am I doing this right?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:54 PM
horizontal rule
126

I've been aces. World's going to hell, though.

I don't think the self-driving car thing is something people here know about, for what it's worth.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:55 PM
horizontal rule
127

What's the hummingbird airspeed question that people recite in times like these from Monty Python?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:55 PM
horizontal rule
128

Where are these moths coming from?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:55 PM
horizontal rule
129

Will Rascal go to bed before or after breaking Jammies' spirit?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:55 PM
horizontal rule
130

Whoops? Should I go fix that?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:56 PM
horizontal rule
131

Am I allowed to make declarative statements or should everything be a question?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:56 PM
horizontal rule
132

Hey, NW (many comments ago), I lurved your recent your big article last week and raved about it to colleagues.

I think this place used to be ever so slightly positive for USian politics. Now, the internet has moved on, and nothing that's typed here has any effect on anything, I'd bet.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:57 PM
horizontal rule
133

130: eh, it's still pretty mysterious, and I won't explain it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 7:57 PM
horizontal rule
134

Bave is really good at not commenting.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 8:00 PM
horizontal rule
135

Yeah he kinda showed me up.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 8:01 PM
horizontal rule
136

I suck at commenting.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 8:18 PM
horizontal rule
137

Ceci n'est pas une comment


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 8:33 PM
horizontal rule
138

111: should we commenters unionize? If so, should it be a skilled-craft trade union or whatever the broad-based non-craft unions are called?


Posted by: Frostbite | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 8:40 PM
horizontal rule
139

(Industrial union)


Posted by: Frostbite | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 8:43 PM
horizontal rule
140

You'll never get me to share the profits. Or you already have. I'm not sure. Surely this should have been a biscuit conditional.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 8:47 PM
horizontal rule
141

An industrial union could include you, but we'd each need to have our own trade union.


Posted by: Frostbite | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 8:57 PM
horizontal rule
142

140: Close it down and take the archives offline. That'll learn us.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 9:56 PM
horizontal rule
143

If you think about it, you've already shared the profits.


Posted by: Frostbite | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 10:16 PM
horizontal rule
144

It turns out the real blog was the friends we insulted met along the way.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11- 5-17 10:24 PM
horizontal rule
145

read? is that you?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 5:37 AM
horizontal rule
146

Racist potatoes


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 5:42 AM
horizontal rule
147

Scandinavian helpful earnestness is sometimes kind of hard to deal with, but I'm cheered to learn to learn about Trump voters, their ambassador didn't buy the bullshit about Appalachia and instead went right to the white-bread, cookie-cutter, wealthy suburbs that I blame.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 6:40 AM
horizontal rule
148

I am sidetracked by 147 into discovering that a lot of potatoes have really quite striking names. Home Guard! Belle de Fontenay! International Kidney! Ranger Russet! Yukon Gold!

Time, I feel, for a potato-themed superhero teamup.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 6:42 AM
horizontal rule
149

Fingerling Potatoes?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 6:43 AM
horizontal rule
150

Fwiw, I enjoy this blog. Mostly lurking, occasionally posting, but what I like is that aside from periodic skirmishes the commentariat here consists of sensible people with an incredibly wide range of interests. I'm always happy to see Halford when he makes an appearance, btw.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 6:51 AM
horizontal rule
151

Cross posted:

our Monday quiz this week is "Superhero or Potato?" The rules are simple. Each name on the list below belongs either to a published comic-book superhero or to a variety of potato. Simply pick which is which - but beware! There are a few wild cards which are both - or neither! Good luck!

1. Ranger Russet
2. Home Guard
3. Zenith
4. Superior
5. Red Dragon
6. Pike
7. Melody
8. North Star
9. Champion
10. Drummer
11. Avalanche
12. Bellarosa
13. Kestrel
14. Falcon
15. Rooster
16. Green Goblin
17. International Kidney
18. Mandala


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 6:58 AM
horizontal rule
152

Superhero (assuming this includes Supervillians): 5, 7, 11, 14, 16
Potatoe: 1, 2, 4, 15, 17
Both: 8, 9, 12, 18
Neither: 3, 6, 10, 13


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 7:00 AM
horizontal rule
153

147 was one of read's last comments as I remember it.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 7:03 AM
horizontal rule
154

152 I wonder if I can get falcon potatoes here.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 7:04 AM
horizontal rule
155

If you're going to spell it potatoe, consistency demands you also spell it superheroe.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 7:05 AM
horizontal rule
156

We usually just call them "rounded parsnips."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 7:06 AM
horizontal rule
157

There are 10 potatoes, 6 superheroes, 1 both and 1 neither.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 7:07 AM
horizontal rule
158

156 is correct.


Posted by: Opinionated Dan Quayle | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 7:09 AM
horizontal rule
159

I embrace my destiny as a hybrid being,neither potato nor superhero: I shall lie in a small cold trench and have nightmares about kryptonite

In my dreams, I shall fly, but be troubled by thoughts of being flayed and then boiled



Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 7:45 AM
horizontal rule
160

This fall, I think I should increase the amount of happiness in the world by making myself potatos to eat more often.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 7:54 AM
horizontal rule
161

154: My vague memory as well. Archive search letting me down again (it had seemed to be better a few years back after the original hoohole sealed up...). Or I'm being thrown of by misremembering actual phrasing.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 7:58 AM
horizontal rule
162

162 It might have been deleted.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 8:08 AM
horizontal rule
163

I've never had my fill of mashed potatoes but last night's four russet's worth came close. I don't feel too good this morning.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 8:14 AM
horizontal rule
164

150: he was kicked off the team after the new sexual harassment rules went into place.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 8:33 AM
horizontal rule
165

Heh.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 8:34 AM
horizontal rule
166

I'm a compulsive flouncer as well

I get a lot of pride from the fact that though I've left, I've never flounced.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 11:08 AM
horizontal rule
167

It's not too late.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 11:13 AM
horizontal rule
168

I guess I did flounce once, but it was Halford's fault.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 11:14 AM
horizontal rule
169

They say that every village needs an idiot, but it's also true that every idiot needs a village. Unfogged is my village.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 11:16 AM
horizontal rule
170

Assuming a normal distribution, if every village is to have at least one idiot, many villages will have to have more than one.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 11:21 AM
horizontal rule
171

If you've been in a village 30 years and don't know who the idiot is, you're the idiot.


Posted by: Opinionated Mark Twain | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 11:22 AM
horizontal rule
172

171: I wasn't claiming that Unfogged needs me.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 11:28 AM
horizontal rule
173

My hope is that, after years of dedicated service as a village idiot, I will someday be promoted to effete wazzock.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 11:42 AM
horizontal rule
174

Assuming a normal distribution, if every village is to have at least one idiot, many villages will have to have more than one.

At least one village has to have more than one idiot in that scenario, regardless of normality.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 12:54 PM
horizontal rule
175

Oh God. I didn't mean to be such a big drama queen or make stuff about me. No time now to go into these issues in detail, but basically I meant (a) political commenting is mostly a waste of time for most people (b) it is a waste of time that, if it does anything, tends to polarize and harden positions, people move to extremes with additional deliberation (see research on juries, etc., no time to find those now); (c) the cycle of troll/counter-troll/counter-counter-troll is endemic to online life and just incredibly tempting for a lot of people, especially me, "troll" used here not simply to mean argument in bad faith, but argument primarily designed to provoke a reaction and get a "look at me" attention for the participants; (d) the troll/counter-troll game is all in good fun until someone loses an eye/elects Donald Trump because it's fun to vote like a troll!; (e) the cycle of endless takes needs to come to an end, people would probably on the whole do better both making and receiving fewer "takes," but instead politics discussion seems to be an infinite number of political Skip Baylesses going back and forth, for ever and ever and ever, (f) the problem is so severe and endemic it affects even fundamentally good places, like here (g) the problem is absolutely mainly for the mental health/political life of the participants, I don't think that this site has any broad influence whatsoever, but on the aggregate fucking up mental health through commenting or social media or whatever is for real fucking up the world; (h) a real-life bar has more impediments to the troll/counter-troll, take/counter-take cycle, like face to face contact and also you can get drunk; (i) with that said, this is a good place and I shouldn't be a hysterical baby about it, but I am literally named after a guy who screeches like a baby at top volume.

Halford as the jumpy zombie-war vet suffering from PTSD and trying to destroy the blog to save it basically yeah, though I apparently have a very low trigger for the T that creates the PTSD, and am also a self-regarding asshole.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 1:10 PM
horizontal rule
176

Neoliberals understand that with proper economic incentives -- perhaps tax breaks -- idiots can be encouraged to relocate to other villages, smoothing out the idiot distribution.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 1:13 PM
horizontal rule
177

"You're so vain, you probably think this thread is about you, don't you?"


Posted by: Opinionated Carly Simon | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 1:16 PM
horizontal rule
178

Halford!


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 1:17 PM
horizontal rule
179

Warren!


Posted by: Opinionated Carly Simon | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 1:22 PM
horizontal rule
180

also you can get drunk

The Unfogged no-drinking rule is like the no-analogy rule: honored, if at all, in the breach.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 1:27 PM
horizontal rule
181

Wait, what? It's very easy to comment here from a bar while drinking. I've done it like twice.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 1:29 PM
horizontal rule
182

176 is all mostly right. On the other hand, what are we all going to do all day other than chatter online? Work?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 2:16 PM
horizontal rule
183

Better that than talking to my colleagues.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 2:27 PM
horizontal rule
184

politics discussion seems to be an infinite number of political Skip Baylesses going back and forth, for ever and ever and ever

That is a spot on description of the most maddening discussions of politics.

What's funny -- I remember several years ago seeing a comment that sports punditry tended to be more accurate and more grounded than political commentary, because (a) it was easier to see if somebody's predictions were accurate and (b) sports fans had less patience with pundits who ignored the empirical evidence that was available. But there are exceptions.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 2:32 PM
horizontal rule
185

185: As someone who has worked in a pretty wide range of journalistic specialties, I can tell you that the readers of sports news are much more interested in a high-quality product than the readers of political news.

It's very easy to piss people off by doing a good job in political reporting; sports fans are surprisingly objective. Finance readers are probably the ones whose interests are most closely aligned with the professional imperatives of good journalism.


Posted by: President JF Kennedy | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 3:51 PM
horizontal rule
186

I love an Unfogged restrospective thread.
I remember a long time ago when we had so many active commenters that it was proposed, briefly, that we form two blogs. Did I dream that?


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 4:34 PM
horizontal rule
187

Meanwhile, the Federalist has apparently moved to an 100% trolling-based strategy where other lesser outlets were satisfied with 80%. (Their latest: the Sutherland Springs victims' prayers were in fact answered, because they were delivered from the suffering of this world to heaven.)


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 5:06 PM
horizontal rule
188

187.2: We did and called the remedial blog "Crooked Timber".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 5:21 PM
horizontal rule
189

FWIW, political discussion on the interwebs changed my political thinking (such as it had been) and identification pretty fundamentally over the course of GWB's first term. This place was a big part of that.

Ah, nostalgia. Sad to think that back in November 2004, I didn't think my opinion of my fellow Americans as political actors could go lower.


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 6:23 PM
horizontal rule
190

OT: Apparently, if you want to break a two-year-old's skull and suffer the least consequences, you should join the Air Force.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 6:59 PM
horizontal rule
191

||

My 15 year old nephew who I'm worried about being exposed to alt-right propaganda* asked me if I know any good short articles about going against society's values. I had it in mind to point him to something from/about Daniel Berrigan or the like but I thought I'd ask the Mineshaft. So Mineshaft? Now's your chance to prove Halford wrong.


*His dad and grandparents are major Fox news watchers and over the summer he said something alarming about Hitler, something along the lines of he had a few good ideas, which I and my other brother promptly beat down expressing shock about where he would pick up such a notion.


|>


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 7:09 PM
horizontal rule
192

Teen Vogue.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 7:16 PM
horizontal rule
193

193 He's an teenage boy, I don't think I could get him to read Teen Vogue (though if there's a particular article there I would point him to it).


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 7:32 PM
horizontal rule
194

187.2 One just for all the cock jokes.

188 Jesus. I don't think I want to read that though I feel oddly compelled.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 7:37 PM
horizontal rule
195

Wasn't there a Hardy Boys where Frank and Joe were called before the HUAC, refused to name names, and called McCarthy a piece of shit?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 7:43 PM
horizontal rule
196

I don't remember what I read when I was 15. If I can extrapolate from what the local eleven-year-old reads, it should involve a dragon and a late teen somehow becoming king of something, ideally after a prophesy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 7:57 PM
horizontal rule
197

I was thinking about something about the White Rose too.

And 15 is the perfect age for Vonnegut.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 8:01 PM
horizontal rule
198

I think "Cather in the Rye" is the canonical pick, but I've never read it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 8:04 PM
horizontal rule
199

1984 is good, unless you want a book where going against society's values doesn't involve rats eating your face.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 8:17 PM
horizontal rule
200

I almost read 199 as "Catheter in the Rye"


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 8:32 PM
horizontal rule
201

"Catheter in the One-Eye" would be a good book.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 8:38 PM
horizontal rule
202

202 I lol'd. These are the Unfogged cock jokes of old. And of the old.

192 Seems like this is for school


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 8:46 PM
horizontal rule
203

Hitler... had a few good ideas

I'm a fan of his later work.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 9:00 PM
horizontal rule
204

So, I started reading this article for obvious reasons, but I had questions. Like after the first 100 times a group of prostitutes comes to an address and finds out it's a prank solicitation, doesn't word get around about that address? Just in case there was more information, I read the comments. I assume somebody will come along and moderate them, but right now literally 90% of them comparing Democrats and liberals to sex offenders. The other 10% are complaining that Bergdahl didn't get prison time.

Whatever the problem is, and it's real, I'm not sure it has much to do with us.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 9:07 PM
horizontal rule
205

Never read the comments.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 9:07 PM
horizontal rule
206

205: "I have concerns for the safety of women, taxpayers and everyone else in Douglas County," is amazing even without the rest.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 9:50 PM
horizontal rule
207

Bonus points if someone says libturducken in the comments of a local news holiday recipe article.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 11:03 PM
horizontal rule
208

207: yes, that caught my eye too. Are they ranked in order of importance, or in order of perceived threat?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11- 6-17 11:59 PM
horizontal rule
209

Because it seems like those most at risk are children, who are neither women nor taxpayers.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11- 7-17 12:00 AM
horizontal rule
210

This is showing up a lot in my twitter feed. I'd be curious what people with kids think i.e. is it just hysteria or something real? https://medium.com/@jamesbridle/something-is-wrong-on-the-internet-c39c471271d2


Posted by: roger the cabin boy | Link to this comment | 11- 7-17 6:28 AM
horizontal rule
211

199: There must be an Albigensian Crusade reading of Salinger lurking in there somewhere.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 11- 7-17 7:04 AM
horizontal rule
212

189. There was a period in the past when I characterised Unfogged as "Crooked Timber in an open necked shirt."

I was at the height of my pretentious phase when I was 15, reading things like Dubliners and Tolstoy's short stories because I couldn't cope with the novels, so I doubt if I can help much. Try The Dispossessed (Le Guin). If you're really worried, you might try giving him Trotsky on The Struggle against Fascism in Germany, which is surprisingly readable and on point.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11- 7-17 7:24 AM
horizontal rule
213

211: Well, for sure there is a lot of crap on YouTube and for sure there are a lot of kids watching it. A lot of of what they see is whatever gets coughed up by an algorithm that is easily gamed and has very little quality control. And a lot of whats in there is appropriate for older audiences, but maybe not children, which they see anyway - between poorly targeted ads for car insurance.

Saturday morning cartoons it ain't. Tipper Gore would have a fit. But I would also suggest that the role it plays in teaching kids to separate wheat from the digital chaff is not a bad preparation for life in the 21st century.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11- 7-17 7:30 AM
horizontal rule
214

189: "If not now, when?" Primo Levi. It is not set in the camps, but among partisans in Belorussia and then Poland. In this one the hero gets to kill quite a lot of Nazis, which is food for a fifteen-year-old imagination, but it also suggests some of the reasons why this was an unequivocally good thing.


Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 11- 7-17 7:41 AM
horizontal rule
215

whoops. I meant 192. And I now see he wanted "good short articles" -- the crucifixion narrative?


Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 11- 7-17 7:42 AM
horizontal rule
216

Who gets the most likes wins


Posted by: Opinionated Barabbas | Link to this comment | 11- 7-17 7:54 AM
horizontal rule
217

"The voice of the people has spoken. Now it's up to all of us to stop complaining and make Crucifixit a success."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11- 7-17 8:01 AM
horizontal rule
218

Comments like 176 used to get at least one "fuck you, clown!"


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 11- 7-17 8:31 AM
horizontal rule
219

214 Thanks


Posted by: roger the cabin boy | Link to this comment | 11- 7-17 8:31 AM
horizontal rule
220

My 15 year old nephew ... about going against society's values.

There's this neat book called The Fountainhead....


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 11- 7-17 8:34 AM
horizontal rule
221

That's just cruel.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 7-17 8:35 AM
horizontal rule
222

Funny, but cruel.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 7-17 8:35 AM
horizontal rule
223

If the nephew's getting interested in alt-right stuff, he maybe doesn't need any further encouragement to go against society's values.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11- 7-17 8:57 AM
horizontal rule
224

221 Thanks but that's exactly the kind of thing I'm hoping to guard against.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11- 7-17 9:00 AM
horizontal rule
225

I've passed along the Levi and really good suggestion of seeing the crucifixion narrative in that light (but of course...).

I think the Trotsky may be a bridge too far but I'll give it a go.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11- 7-17 9:05 AM
horizontal rule
226

TROTSKY WAS ALWAYS A BRIDGE TOO FAR.


Posted by: OPINIONATED MARSHAL PILSUDSKI | Link to this comment | 11- 7-17 12:04 PM
horizontal rule
227

192: All Quiet On The Western Front and Heart of Darkness?


Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 11- 7-17 12:16 PM
horizontal rule
228

228 I wonder if he's been assigned those, if not this year then maybe the next.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11- 7-17 6:53 PM
horizontal rule
229

We didn't read either of those in high school. We read Shakespeare, I think because my teacher liked the cock jokes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 7-17 6:57 PM
horizontal rule
230

They called them cockerel jokes back then.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11- 7-17 7:02 PM
horizontal rule
231

225: That's why the suggestion was so funny!


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11- 7-17 8:35 PM
horizontal rule
232

Haven't even started reading the thread, and may not, but just wanted to say: fantastic post, heebie, very well said!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 11- 7-17 9:16 PM
horizontal rule
233

M/tch/!


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11- 7-17 9:33 PM
horizontal rule
234

211: As a parent of a 2-year-old, I think that article is aimed pretty squarely at me, but I'm pretty sure it's a weird soup of post-human futurism and technophobic pearl-clutching, all about as thoughtful as the ramblings of a stoned sophomore. The turning point for me was this paragraph.

I'm trying to understand why, as plainly and simply troubling as it is, this is not a simple matter of "won't somebody think of the children" hand-wringing. Obviously this content is inappropriate, obviously there are bad actors out there, obviously some of these videos should be removed. Obviously too this raises questions of fair use, appropriation, free speech and so on. But reports which simply understand the problem through this lens fail to fully grasp the mechanisms being deployed, and thus are incapable of thinking its implications in totality, and responding accordingly.

Obviously what? The only obvious parts of that are trivial. Some of these videos should be removed, sure; 10 videos with 100 views each is "some" and a million different videos with a million views each would also be "some." The author of that article assured me probably literally a dozen times that it wasn't just alarmism about commercialized kids' entertainment, and kept on promising to have a deeper, more serious point, but I'm not seeing it. The author describes this stuff as violence against kids perpetrated by YouTube and/or the content creators. In that sense, this article is violence against the English language and rational thought.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 11- 8-17 2:31 PM
horizontal rule
235

The author describes this stuff as violence against kids perpetrated by YouTube and/or the content creators. In that sense, this article is violence against the English language and rational thought.

And also in that sense, Cyrus just punched the author in the face.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11- 8-17 3:28 PM
horizontal rule
236

Its true that the author is indeed tapping at an under-recognized issue that should be interesting to explore. But yeah, the author's actual exploration of it is tedious and unsatisfying.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11- 8-17 3:44 PM
horizontal rule
237

More evidence I should give up twitter.


Posted by: roger the cabin boy | Link to this comment | 11- 9-17 7:50 AM
horizontal rule
238

237: Agreed on both counts. The article had a brief, passing link to actual journalism about something like that. Here it is, and I was happy to read it. It might be interesting to read something similar about one of the creators of prolific YouTube crap. It might also be interesting to read a "follow the money" thing, about how YouTube's algorithms work. It might also be interesting to read an article with commentary from experts on child psychology or the media, discussing exactly how this kind of thing would impact a developing brain. (I'm sure the scientific answer is "this stuff isn't old enough for meaningful studies of it to be done yet," but there's probably something they could say.) The actual article we got is none of those things.

238: Sorry if those sounds hostile, roger, I don't generally mind your links like some people do and I don't read this article as inflammatory like some political articles are, I just thought it was dumb. Maybe I'm annoyed by it precisely because it's an interesting topic, handled badly.

I mentioned I have a 2-year-old. Handing her a phone or Kindle is an easy way to keep her quiet for a few minutes, when necessary, and we let her watch TV sometimes even when it's not actually necessary. We probably let her watch more TV than we should, starting at an earlier age, but we try to minimize it. However, the TV she watches is the PBS kids app, and the Netflix kids section (which she can't navigate herself, we have to do it for her). Safe, curated stuff (and even some of that is too scary for her). I like to think I would have been wary of YouTube on general principles before reading this article, so I guess I'll take it as a cautionary reminder.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 11- 9-17 12:10 PM
horizontal rule
239

237 and 238 s/b 236 and 237, obviously. Weird.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 11- 9-17 12:11 PM
horizontal rule