Hate doesn’t pay, but it can be subsidized

Jim Rutenberg is concerned about the flood of hate speech that’s been accelerating over the last few years. He has examples, including himself — I guess you shouldn’t use Twitter if you have an obviously Jewish name. Or a woman’s name. Or a black name. It’s a medium that’s only safe for us True Aryan Males, I guess, and that’s a problem that’s affecting their bottom line.

Now that Twitter is contemplating putting itself up for sale, we can only wonder what lucky suitor is going to walk away with such a charming catch.

Twitter is seeking a buyer at a time of slowing subscriber growth (it hovers above the 300 million mark) and “decreasing user engagement,” as Jason Helfstein, the head of internet research at Oppenheimer & Company, put it when he downgraded the stock in a report last week.

There’s a host of possible reasons for this, including new competition, failure to adapt to fast-changing media habits and an “open mike” quality that some potential users may find intimidating.

But you have to wonder whether the cap on Twitter’s growth is tied more to that most basic — and base — of human emotions: hatred.

Yes. I suspect the answer is “HELL YES.” Twitter might look to their competition, 4chan, which is also experiencing problems and might be up for sale.

All good things must come to an end and as it stands now, 4chan will probably be gone before the end of the month. Or at least several of its boards will.

Ever since 4chan was sold by Christopher Poole (Moot) to Hiroyuki Nishimura about a year ago, the new owner has come to realize that paying several millions of dollars for an anonymous image board probably wasn’t a very good idea. 4chan is good for trolling, raiding, shit-posting and doing basically anything, it just isn’t a good business venture. No corporate brand wants to advertise their products on a website where users nonchalantly joke about rape, death and every other politically incorrect topic you can think off. Even as owner of 4chan, Moot has stated several times that 4chan was in several ways, a liability. It costs more to maintain the site than the revenue generated from it.

Heh. Surprise!

But don’t cry for 4chan. There might be a white knight riding to the rescue. Martin Shkreli. They belong together.

The problem is that we have advocated free speech, as in free from all responsibility, rather than free speech, as in free of political and economic restrictions. We want a medium where Exxon and North Korea don’t get to control what people say about them, but instead we have a medium where racists and misogynists and shitlords get to abuse everyone, and we don’t yet have a tool that strikes a balance between permitting criticism and permitting open hatred, or even between truth and lies. I’ve been watching the growth of so-called “satire” sites that follow the rule of anything goes — you can lie in a clumsy, ugly way about anyone or anything if you slap a “satire” label on it — and I’m not the only one who finds them to be a threat to the integrity of information on the net.

It is easy to be a free-speech fundamentalist. I’ve been one as long as I can remember without ever breaking a mental sweat. It requires belief in only two basic tenets, the one more feel-good than the other: that people are essentially decent and smart, and that truth always wins over lies in the long run.

The internet has proven both to be wrong. Social media shows that people are essentially a mob of thoughtless arseholes, and the “post-truth” political era shows that the dark side is, in fact, the more powerful.

The dark side is only more powerful if we uncouple free speech from incentives for honest speech, which is the status quo right now.

Unfortunately, that’s a very hard problem, and there is no easy solution. It is, however, easy to see that the balance is totally out of whack right now.

Behold, a political statement!

One of my university colleagues (two, actually: Jen Goodnough is also running for a seat) is campaigning for the school board in Morris.


I’m impressed. This is one of those thankless jobs with little reward that is vital for our community, and is usually taken on by far right religious ideologues, so it’s good to see someone taking it on.

Don’t look at me. I have a reputation in this town, and I know how well I’d do if I tried to run myself. I’d probably drive up the Republican turnout.

Trump didn’t pay any taxes because he was a bad businessman

It wasn’t because he was smart. It was because he was an incompetent who hired cunning accountants.

The NY Times was mailed copies of Trump’s tax returns from 1995. His businesses had failed so spectacularly that year that he lost almost a billion dollars, which would have alllowed him to pay no taxes for the next twenty years.

Trump is claims that he “knows the tax code far better than anyone who has run for president,” but even that is a lie. His former accountant reveals that all he knew was how to let others manage his money.

In an interview on Wednesday, Mr. Mitnick said he could not divulge details of Mr. Trump’s finances without Mr. Trump’s consent. But he did talk about Mr. Trump’s approaches to taxes, and he contrasted Fred Trump’s attention to detail with what he described as Mr. Trump’s brash and undisciplined style. He recalled, for example, that when Donald and Ivana Trump came in each year to sign their tax forms, it was almost always Ivana who asked more questions.

But if Mr. Trump lacked a sophisticated understanding of the tax code, and if he rarely showed any interest in the details behind various tax strategies, Mr. Mitnick said he clearly grasped the critical role taxes would play in helping him build wealth. “He knew we could use the tax code to protect him,” Mr. Mitnick said.

This hypocritical sexist turd with no economic competency at all and no experience in politics is the Republican candidate for president? Let’s all just shake our heads in disgust and say “no”.

The state of the union explained!

If you’ve been wondering how so many people can be voting for that orange bully with hair of crystallized urine, we finally have a surprising answer.

ROMER: David gets to work cooking up questions to give the polling company. The polling company does its job.

WILK: And it was the only question that we ever wrote where we ever got a response from them saying, is this actually what you want us to be polling? And we said, yes. And the question was – we were going to ask people, have you ever been decapitated?

SMITH: (Laughter). But…

WILK: They were sure we had made a mistake, and we had not.

SMITH: As far as David remembers, by the way, 4 percent of Americans answered that they had been decapitated.

ROMER: Seems high.

Have you looked at any of the polls? Seems low.

How full of it is Sean Hannity?

I admit, I watched this whole video. But I had an excuse! You see, it’s Sean Hannity explaining to you, the American people how Donald Trump won the big debate the other day, and his reasoning was so full of shit that I was sure it was going to start leaking out of his eyes, and maybe his skin would split open and he’d erupt into a spectacular shit fountain right there on camera. He started off by explaining…

…how out of touch the mainstream media is with you, the American people

I started thinking, wait a minute, this is on Fox News, a major media company, and Hannity has a radio show, so isn’t he a big dopey part of the mainstream media? Is he even aware that he has begun by explaining that he is out of touch?

If you listen to the elites and the punditry class on television and radio, they almost universally, they think, Hillary Clinton won the debate…

Hang on, this is getting ridiculous. Hannity has a net worth of about $80 million; he’s one of those “elites”. All he does is uninformed blather on television and radio, so he is definitely one of the “punditry class”. And he’s telling us how we shouldn’t trust guys like him? So meta. So self-referential. I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for the shitsplosion.

Then he explains how he knows Clinton actually lost the debate: because online polls at places like Breitbart and Drudge say so. You know what I think of online polls: they are totally meaningless, especially when there are special interest groups specifically flooding those polls with fake votes.

And then at the end, he dismisses those other journalists because being a pundit is such a cushy lifestyle.

Now, my overpaid friends in the media, well, they have their chauffeured limousines, they like their fine steakhouses and expensive wine lifestyles.

I guess he’d know. Hannity gets paid $29 million per year, and owns a private jet, which he uses to flit politicians around as a favor. Yet he has the gall to get all folksy with the little people and tell them how awful those other pundit aristocrats are.

If there were a god, that’s the point where a crack should have opened beneath his feet and Hannity should have been dragged screaming into the flaming pit of hell by an army of demons. But there is no god, so he simply smirked, left, took his chauffeured limousines to a fine steakhouse and gurgled down a couple of bottles of overpriced wine.

I include the video for completeness’ sake, but there’s no point in actually watching it, since he starts out as an evil slug, there is no justice, and it ends, and he’s still an evil slug, who will make more money in a year than I will in a lifetime.

Lifting a weight off her mind

This is Clinton now.

I aim to help. Relax. Because no matter what she does, the media will find a way to exaggerate the inconsequential into catastrophe. Al Gore’s “sigh”, Howard Dean’s “yell”, her performance won’t matter at all. All Trump needs to do is say something incredibly stupid, get her to react, (or not react; there is no safe choice), and he wins.

There is some debate tonight

A debate in which many media outlets are trying to argue themselves out of doing their job. “No fact-checking!” is the cry; their job is to just report, not actually assess and evaluate what is said. This is not something new. This has been a problem for a good long time.

Anyone remember Jodi Wilgoren? The NY Times reporter who insisted that she didn’t have time to determine what the truth was? She used to write all these articles on creation and evolution that carefully dedicated just as much time to presenting the creationism side as the evolution side, and couldn’t be troubled to check whether what the creationists were saying was factually true. She even came right out and said her job was to explain their views.

Eschaton: Journamalism: Jodi Wilgoren tells us how she sees her job:

I don’t consider myself a creationist. I don’t have any interest in sharing my personal views on how the canyon was carved, mostly because I’ve spent almost no time pondering my personal views — it takes all my energy as a reporter and writer to understand and explain my subjects’ views fairly and thoroughly.

One of the complaints journalists have with bloggers is that they don’t do “original reporting.” But, now we see that “original reporting” has, for some journalists, become nothing more than finding people who have opinions on stuff and telling readers what those opinions are. And, amazingly, according to Wilgoren, she expends no effort in contemplating the credibility of those views. Apparently her editors are happy with this.

Jeebus. As PZ Myers writes:

Who needs facts, ideas, and research? The reporter’s brain is like an empty sponge, free of content, which just soaks up everyone’s opinions indiscriminately and without judgement, and is then wrung out over the pages of the newspaper. Actually thinking and evaluating those opinions in the light of evidence isn’t possible with a sponge for a brain.

When did journalism come to this deplorable state?

When did the NY Times decide that porosity, permeability, and flocculence were important job qualifications?

That was in 2005. You don’t believe me? She was writing a series of articles on evolution and creation that simply pretended that the fools on the other side were fully credible and honest. Here’s an example: Politicized Scholars Put Evolution on the Defensive. Just look at that title alone: evolution is on the defensive, put there by scholars. The entire article reads like a press release from the Discovery Institute, recounting the tale of their long struggle, and has nothing from the side of science other than a quote from Eugenie Scott which praises the DI for “They have packaged their message much more cleverly”. I think Eugenie would have said much more about the content of their package, but that wouldn’t get published in a Wilgoren article.

What happened to her? She got promoted.

Nothing has changed. I don’t expect anything from tonight’s debate other than that, maybe, the world will be made a little worse by the slack assholes of journalism who stand guard to make sure every lie is given the same respect as the truth.

Yes, children, we old people struggled with complex technology too

There was a time when we had to have those new-fangled communications devices explained to us. Here’s a silent film with instructions on those new ‘rotary dial phones’. You may not be familiar with them anymore.

Maybe you’re too modern to want to sit through a slow old silent black and white movie that takes 7 minutes to explain how a dial works. If so, here’s a 10 minute talkie about explaining to grandpa how to use a phone. It’s even more agonizing. Check out the Mid-Atlantic accent used by the woman doing the explaining.

The Democrats are doing it again

I’ve made a few small donations to the Democratic party, and you know what that means: I now receive a flock of email — almost hourly — begging for more donations. And I’ve noticed something ugly about that email. It’s all about fear.

We’ve rightly berated the media for plumping up Trump’s prominence, but the Democrats are doing it, too. Nearly every email is moaning about the polls. The latest is telling me how terrified we should be, because Nate Silver says Trump has a 2 in 5 chance of winning the election. In fact, nearly every email from them is all about the growing power of this ogre who is crushing the opposition and growing in popularity every day, so give us more money.

Just stop it. Of course Trump has a chance; there are a lot of stupid, bigoted people in this country. But I don’t want to hear doom and gloom from his opposition, because it sounds like you’re already giving up. Tell me why the Democratic party is better, what you’ll do if we give you our vote, and how your policies are superior to those of the corrupt orange toad. And most of all, don’t give a good goddamn about the polls. I’m not going to vote for someone because they’re ahead or behind in some poll — that doesn’t influence me in the least, although apparently the Democrats want that to be the major factor in my decision about who I should support, because it’s all they talk about.

Also, I’m more than a little tired of anything to do with Nate Silver, who is the political equivalent of a horse racing tout. Don’t care. Shut up about polls, tell me more about policy.