I believe in responsible free speech

Social media enables violent far-right ideologues to build self-reinforcing communities that encourage even more violence, even more extremism, in an ever-escalating cycle of mutual goading and behavioral modeling that leads to outbreaks of real-world viciousness. When your online friendships are built on a foundation of anti-semitism, individuals vie to be the most outrageously anti-semitic member of the community they can be, and when someone, like the Pittsburgh mass murderer, breaks through to peak anti-semite and actually guns down innocent Jews, he has achieved a kind of apotheosis — he knows his friends will be praising him, will be impressed by him, will consider him a role model, and even though he might be in prison for life, he can feel content that he has won the respect of his peer group. Someone like me might feel horror and disgust and contempt for him, but he doesn’t care, since I’m not one of his friends, and he despises me and my kind. My revulsion is actually a reward, as far as he is concerned. Like Anders Breivik, social condemnation by others fuels his righteousness.

One source of this problem isn’t that all social media is bad, but that it is built in such a way as to encourage these isolated communities of hate to grow — there are no moderators. The adults have all left the room. In fact, the corporate owners of these networks have consciously decided that they will not break up the little klans that form, and will actually punish anyone who tries to intrude on their vicious circle jerks with ostracization. This is glaringly obvious on Twitter and Facebook — they have “rules” and “terms of service” that allow genuine brutality to dribble through, but anyone who dares to disrupt the cycle of reinforcement is a threat to their business model. See for example how they try to silence Feminista Jones and other women who respond to misogyny. It ain’t the misogynists who get put in their place.

I thought this was a quick smart take on what’s going on.

Exactly. “Our political conversations are happening on an infrastructure built for viral advertising.” And what sells in America? Sex and violence. There’s still a lot of puritanism lingering in our society, so sex gets throttled and relegated to porn — once again, the adults leave the room and responsible, serious discussion is abandoned. Violence is supported, so it thrives everywhere, even on Twitter, as long as it’s thinly veiled and has some minuscule amount of deniability. Twitter and Facebook want to be heavily used as gateways to bigotry and violence and misogyny, and they’ll just boot out the people who get too explicit in their charged recruitment of hate mobs. They get it both ways. They get to foster the viral advertising of self-reinforcing communities of racists, all in the name of free speech, and they also get to piously declaim how much they deplore violence by sometimes banning the more outrageous perpetrators, like the MAGAbomber. If they too often get around to kicking someone out after the unspeakable has been done, well, hey, they still demonstrated their commitment to both free speech and peaceful dialog at the same time, right? Win-win! See, everyone? It’s safe to advertise on our social media, we’re weeding out the bad guys who would soil your brand!

And of course, there is no real punishment for the barbarians. Kick ’em off Twitter, which is only a vocal 10% (optimistic estimate) asshole, and they can go to Gab, which is 100% pure, undiluted Nazi asshole, and they can find even more reinforcement. There are no responsible adults at all on Gab. It’s pure heaven for freeze-peachers who want the ability to engage in social interactions with zero obligations to, you know, society. So where did the Pittsburgh mass murderer flourish? On Gab, of course. And how are a significant subset of the Gab client base responding? I took a look.

A few are approving of banning the murderer, but also seem to be motivated by the fact that this is a threat to their beloved service — oh, no, we might be expected to be responsible for what we say! Others are still, unbelievably, babbling about how this is a “false flag” attack funded by a Jewish conspiracy.

I’m all for free speech, but there should be consequences when that speech is a threat to people’s lives. The consequences are starting to roll in, again too late to spare the 11 lives lost in Pittsburgh. Among those consequences: Paypal is denying them service. Hit them in the pocketbook.

I like that. To Gab, getting banned because you run a service that enabled a man to rage against Jews and announce that he was “going in” to commit mass murder is incomprehensibly just because.

By the way, Twitter: why do you allow an account that is solely for recruiting new members to a Nazi forum on your service? And verify it with a blue checkmark? I know. It’s because you want their traffic.

In other good news, Gab’s hosting service is kicking them off.

Good. It’s a start. If you think you can’t encourage open discussion and free speech without allowing people to advocate for genocide, it’s about time you learned something about reality.


In my 20s, I started making pancakes on Sunday morning. It became a tradition. Whenever I make Sunday morning pancakes, I think back to being young, newly wed, and poor, and bringing pancakes and coffee to my wife in bed, which was only a mattress on the floor of a tiny studio apartment.

In my 30s, I had young children who were excited about pancakes in the morning — they wanted chocolate chips in them or for them to be made in the shape of Mickey Mouse. Whenever I make Sunday morning pancakes, I think back to being young parents with little kids who would giggle over a special breakfast.

In my 40s, the kids were becoming teenagers, and sleeping until noon was what they wanted to do on Sunday mornings, and I made Sunday morning pancakes less and less frequently, and most often it was just for one or two kids at a time — a quiet breakfast together. Now when I make Sunday morning pancakes, I think back with pride in young independent people we’d managed to raise.

In my 50s, the kids were moving out, we were alone again. I made pancakes less often. When I did make them, every time I’d be thinking about what Alaric & Connlann & Skatje were doing, far far away. Those were lonely, wistful pancakes.

In my 60s now, I made Sunday morning pancakes and coffee and brought them to my wife in bed, and I thought all of those memories at once — I was an old man in a mostly empty house, I was a father to a very serious teenager, I was the parent of a small swarm of adorable little kids, I was a newly wed student, I was all of these people.

I think this is what getting older means. Everything, every little thing, even making pancakes, begins to reverberate in your head and floods you with meaning.

Also, it means I’m well practiced and really, really good at making perfect pancakes.

Another shooting. Nothing will change.

More mass murder by a right-wing fanatic in Pittsburgh. This one is clearly driven by anti-semitic bigotry. We’re getting the usual excuses.

The governor of Pennsylvania says “These senseless acts of violence are not who we are as Americans.” I wish that would go away. It is who we are as Americans — we’ve got a few perpetrators and a vast mob of people who are fully supportive of allowing weapons available to any one — they’re enablers. We’re living in a violent country where the people in power want to encourage more violence.

Like our president*.

Trump says protection inside the temple would have changed things…if the Pittsburgh synagogue that was attacked by a gunman on Oct. 27 had armed security, the results would have been far better.

We will solve our problems with guns with more guns. Right.

Hate the implicit teleology…

…but love the unforeseen consequences.

Guts really do make the bilaterian. Everything follows from making a tube-shaped body plan — all the increased potential for signaling between different tissues multiplies the number of possible developmental histories, and leads to all kinds of novelties. Like a central nervous system. You wouldn’t be reading this if there’d been no gastrulation. Brains, a coelom, a circulatory system, etc. were all side-effects of a successful feeding strategy and triploblasty. You should be grateful to your guts for making you.

Although, if they hadn’t, I suppose the life of a jellyfish isn’t all that bad.

God’s convenient rules of real estate

Someone explain this Robert Jeffress quote to me. I can’t quite wrap my head around it.

‘While Christian compassion is one consideration, it’s not the only consideration in the immigration problem,’ he said.’I mean, the Bible also says that God is the one who established nations and its borders. God is not necessarily an open borders guy, as a lot of people would think that he is.

Borders change. Is every change god-ordained? Does God have a map in his head that says whether Alsace-Lorraine should be within the French or German borders?

Which borders are the official ones? Should we go back to the True Borders at the time of Jesus?

I’m also a bit concerned about what happened in the 16th century. There were a lot of nations in North America that were, I assume, established by God, and a whole lot of Europeans came in and fucked them up.

That was a major immigration problem. What did God have to say about that? We seem to have broken a lot of nations and borders, and God did diddly-squat in response.

I also have to say that that I seem to have read more of the Bible than an ordained minister. God never seemed to have cared much about respecting borders — his Chosen People were a huge wandering caravan of ex-slaves who wandered for 40 years, and finally found their land of milk and honey and just up and conquered it, slaughtering the people who already lived there.

(Maybe Jeffress is acknowledging that there is no historical evidence for any of this, and that the tribes of Canaan just made it all up.)

I am beginning to suspect that Jeffress is simply full of expedient bullshit to justify whatever the hell he wants.

Looks so cute

We’re planning to visit in early December. I just have this song in my head now.

Baby, baby, please let me hold her
I want to make her stay up all night
Sister, sister, she’s just a plaything
We want to make her stay up all night
Yeah we do

We’ll only be staying for a little while, so we gotta do what grandparents gotta do: spoil her and overstimulate her and make her stay up all night.

And the suspected mail bomber has been arrested — it’s…FLORIDA MAN

That wacky dope has done one stupid thing too many, and it’s about time he was off the streets.

His name is Cesar Sayoc, and surprisingly, he is not a dedicated liberal.

Sayoc, a registered Republican voter who lives in Aventura, Florida, will face federal criminal charges for the mailed devices, according to NBC News.

They’ve also seized his van. More clues!

Investigators were examining a white van plastered with stickers carrying Trump’s name and the presidential seal, according to MSNBC. The network said authorities were looking at “right-wing paraphernalia” found at the scene.

Clearly a very thorough false flag operation. No word on whether they’ve found check stubs from George Soros.