I think his problem is principle

Chris Clarke has hit a rough patch, struggling to make ends meet and suffering with a sense of failure. I wouldn’t call him a failure at all; he’s a fabulous and provocative writer with an acute sense of the importance of the cause. I read his work every time I find it, and I look for it every day.

I think his problem is simple: he won’t sell out. But think of it! All he has to do is go to one of those corporations he keeps nagging and name his price, his price to shut up, his price to flog corporate PR. And then he could write pieces that, instead of talking about what people are destroying as they shred his beloved desert (downer, man!), he could write about their bright shining future of shiny technology and never-ending comfort (happy happy bliss!), and everybody will love being reassured.

There’s money in abandoning all your principles, you know.

Or readers could notice that big “DONATE” button at the bottom of his post, and click on it. Of course, that will only encourage him in his wayward course, and keep him poking at the powerful and comfortable.

Good luck, NSC

Nonstampcollector has made an update video to let us know what he’s been up to lately. Congratulations on the familial expansion!

He also talks a bit about his departure from FtB and the deranged haters out there. He references his final post, and links to a copy archived elsewhere. Don’t bother to go there — it’s hosted on one of the lunatic anti-FtB wacko’s sites. I’ve put a copy here below the fold.

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Also, let’s be 100% clear on something: all this service does is block ads. If you’ve been banned, don’t expect to plunk down $3 and get un-banned — you’ll still be able to read an ad-free site, but nothing in the service guarantees you a right to comment.

That taciturn fool sitting sullenly in the corner at the party is Lord of All

Niall Ferguson, that great gallumphing Harvard clod with delusions of superiority, has discovered a new way to put his critics in their place: he has invented a Blo(g)viation Index, which purports to provide a measure of one’s competence. It is — get ready for this — your number of twitter followers divided by your number of tweets. He has 60,000 followers and has made only 140 tweets, therefore his Index is very large. Of course. He wouldn’t have mentioned it or invented it otherwise.

The one virtue of it is that it will give him, and only him, incentive to shut up on twitter, since his index favors those who say little. And it allows him to disparage his critics who engage on twitter more.

(By the way, I looked, my Blo(g)viation Index is about 7, compared to his 400+. Does he realize that every time he snipes at Paul Krugman, his score goes down?)

An official reply from Scientific American

Oh, my. What a lovely example of a not-pology. I think it’s a common refusal to acknowledge error in full blossom!

We deeply regret that we were not able to communicate our decision to Dr. Lee before removing the post on a late Friday afternoon before a long weekend. We recognize that it would have been better to fully explain our position before its removal, but the circumstances were such that we could not make that happen in a timely way.

They did nothing wrong, they would have removed the post no matter what, her only sin was having a dying cell phone so she wasn’t able to bossplain to DNLee why she needed to roll over and accept this entirely reasonable executive decision. Oh, and Scientific American must protect their interests by making sure that all the facts presented by their bloggers are entirely accurate and confirmed.

Wow. So they go through every blog post over there with that degree of thoroughness? I’m impressed. I’m not so impressed with their respect for their bloggers, though.

She might be interested in looking at Popehat’s interpretation of events.

Perhaps “Ofek” is some kind of scientist. If he is, and his identity is revealed, he is likely to experience significant social consequences — that is, he is likely to be treated as someone who calls women “whore” when they decline to provide him with free content. But Ofek is currently in the business of spamming bloggers to ask them to contribute free content to a sordid little advertising-heavy aggregator site in order to increase traffic and thereby increase advertising revenue to Ofek and Ofek’s team. In other words, Ofek has ceased to be a scientist and begun a career as a marketeer.

And marketeers are entitled douchebags. Within the context of online marketing, Ofek’s behavior is perfectly typical. Ofek’s belief — that he is entitled to profit off of Ms. Lee’s work, and that she’s worthy of abuse if she objects — is the apotheosis of marketeer culture.

I see that not-pology as an admission that Scientific American is an enthusiastic collaborator in marketeer culture.

Who the hell is @Becky_Garrison?

And how can a journalist have so little regard for the truth? Stephanie Zvan documents her bizarre behavior — apparently she was deeply offended by the fact that someone briefly put her on the block_bot a few months ago, and now she’s fully bought into this myth that FreethoughtBlogs is out to get her by sending our shadowy agents at the block_bot and Atheism+ to harass her.

I have no idea who she is, nor do I care.

But I did learn something from her ill-founded accusations and weird evasions, I think.

There are people who get really, really upset if you don’t pay attention to them — it’s an ego thing. I heard secondhand, for instance, that Thunderf00t had triumphantly announced that he was teaching me a lesson by blocking me on twitter — to which I could only say, “WTF?” I have no problem at all with people blocking me, or not reading my blog, or deleting my comments elsewhere. I have no sense of entitlement that says anyone is required to pay any attention to me. Go ahead!

So the block_bot is of zero concern to me. I could be put on it, and I’d shrug my shoulders and bravely soldier on. I don’t use it, so I’m doubly unconcerned. Atheism+ has some good goals, I think it’s great that they’re promoting their cause, but if I were banned there (and I could be, someday — I’ve been criticized by people on Atheism+ before), I would be unperturbed, and I’d still think what they were trying to do is good.

I’ve said all that before. It’s not what I learned from Becky Garrison’s disconnected discomfiture. I got some insight into a tactic being used.

These Ego Warriors are desperately trying to connect the dots. They don’t like being on the block_bot, and they have this vague unease about not fitting in with the community on Atheism+ — so they must be the same thing! Throw them into the pot!

And then FreethoughtBlogs…it has a loud voice, it has members who share some common ideals with Atheism+ — never mind that no one on FtB has anything to do with the block_bot, and I don’t know that any of us even use it, and none of us seem to be particularly active on the Atheism+ forums, even if Greta and Jen were instrumental in inspiring a greater focus on social justice — toss them in the pot, too! Anyone who is ever critical of the Big Names in Atheism must be in cahoots to destroy the godless community (Love It Unquestioningly or Leave It could be the Ego Warriors motto), so, in true conspiracy theorist fashion, they must all be working together, and someone must be pulling the puppet strings.

Here’s what they see as a win:win situation, though. Either we’ll all unreservedly announce that yes, We Are All One, We Are The Freethought Borg, your suspicions are all confirmed, or we’ll start throwing people under the bus. We’ll disown Atheism+ or the block_bot, and thereby use our loud voice to put down those terrible individuals who crush their ego by not listening to them.

Listen, Becky Garrison and all the other clowns who throw around the term “FtBullies”, and wrap your biased little brains around this: I do neither. I am not going to fit into the twisted dichotomy that you so deeply desire.

I support Atheism+, the block_bot, American Atheists, American Humanists, the IHEU, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, CFI, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the National Center for Science Education. That does not mean I own or control any of those groups. They do not even ask me for advice, I do not have any official input into their operations, and sometimes, even often, they may disagree with me, and I may criticize them. And when I do criticize them, it’s because I generally support them, and have opinions (which they rarely share) about how they can better do their job.

FreethoughtBlogs is not controlled in any way by any of those organizations, or the Democrats, or the Republicans, or the Libertarians, or the UUs, or the Mormon Church. We are a completely independent entity, containing a diverse group of writers who don’t even completely agree with each other, although we do tend to skew our selection for membership in the direction of supporting progressive values. We are not the propaganda arm of any organization, we eke out a small amount of money to keep ourselves going with ads (and soon we’ll be offering a subscription service), and are beholden to no one, which means we are free to disagree with just about everyone. Also, need I mention, I do not run FtB, and the other bloggers here can disagree with me on just about anything. And we like it that way.

So please, stop trying to fit a complex set of diverse voices into your pathetic, simplistic narrative. And if you find something we say bruises your fragile ego, just stop reading us. We won’t mind. Actually, we’d prefer it if you freaking narcissists would take a hike and leave us alone.

Uh-oh, SciAm

A few new twists on that story about DNLee and the sexist snub from biology online.

I was wondering why it wasn’t posted on DNLee’s own blog, The Urban Scientist, but that I was seeing it echoed all over the place. Turns out it was; but Scientific American removed it.

Mariette DiChristina ‏@mdichristina
Re blog inquiry: @sciam is a publication for discovering science. The post was not appropriate for this area & was therefore removed.

First uh-oh. So SciAm is in the business of policing blog writers now?

Second uh-oh. Scientific American and biology online have partnered on subscriptions.

So not only are they restricting what their bloggers can write, they are censoring them when they criticize organizations they partner with?

Where’s Bora? This is a scandal brewing. Bora knows how blogs work, he’d better fix it fast.

Interesting recruiting technique

The editor of biology online went off looking for new bloggers to join his group. I’ve been there, on both sides now — the usual approach is to tell the blogger you’re interested in their work, think they’d be a valuable addition to the roster, and here’s what we offer you: there’s usually some share of revenues, a list of the other people you’d be rubbing shoulders with, an altruistic appeal to sharing your ideas with the world.

Ofek the editor didn’t do that when he went courting DNLee. The only card he played was to say that they got 1.6 million monthly visitors — a respectable number, although I suspect most of their traffic is driven by their forum, which consists largely of people asking for help on their biology homework — and when asked, offered no remuneration at all. The whole exchange was very polite, until DNLee turned him down.

DNLee runs a blog on the Scientific American network called The Urban Scientist. She’s a working biologist, she already has a public platform for sharing her ideas, and it’s a bit higher profile than a network that gets 25,000 visitors a day. Ofek didn’t offer her anything but extra work, so here’s what she said:

Thank you very much for your reply.

But I will have to decline your offer.

Have a great day.

That’s all very professional. Here’s how Ofek replied.

Because we don’t pay for blog entries?

Are you an urban scientist or an urban whore?

Wow. You’d have to be nuts to want to work with that guy. And the news is spreading everywhere about biology online and their aggressively insulting editor, so I think he has just managed to destroy any interest other potential participants might have in his network. It’s too bad, too, since he already has a few people writing for it, who aren’t going to deserve the opprobrium that Ofek has just earned.