Thoughts & Essays

So tired of hearing about ‘woke’ stuff from Republicans…

Here’s my idea: We all start carrying around spray bottles full of water and every time a conservative says “woke” we squirt them in the face. Maybe we can train them to knock it off like training a cat to stay off the counter.

Of course that doesn’t really work on cats so I’m not sure it’s gonna work on Republicans either, but it might at least be amusing.

My complaint isn’t actually about the word, though, it’s about having to watch Republicans systematically dismantle the laws, regulations, and social mores that are preventing them from being racist, homophobic, transphobic, woman-hating, antisemitic, Islamophobic dipshits. It’s about Republicans and other conservative asshats demanding that they not only be allowed to be as hateful as possible right out loud in front of everybody, but that 1) we should all be forced to watch them do it, and 2) they should escape all consequences for their behavior.

Like dude. This is America. You’re already allowed to be a shitty bigot right out on the sidewalk, or on TV or the radio, or on the Internet. That’s legal. Free speech, yadda yadda. The government can’t stop you – the First Amendment protects you from that.

What you can’t do – what the First Amendment doesn’t protect you from – is be a shitty bigot right out in public sans consequences. If you’re a shitty bigot, the rest of us are allowed to ignore you, stop inviting you places, stop hanging out with you, etc. The rest of us are allowed to tell you, to your shitty bigot face, that you’re a shitty bigot. TV and radio companies are allowed to stop booking you or to cancel your show. Privately owned platforms like Twitter or Facebook or wherever are allowed to tell you, hey, we don’t tolerate shitty bigotry on our platform, so you’re banned now. That’s all legal, too.

The point of all the screaming about “critical race theory” or all the anti-trans laws and “don’t say gay” laws and whatnot is to try to protect shitty bigots from the consequences of being shitty bigots. The point of all the talk about “groomers” and pedophilia accusations is to try to make you okay with them being shitty bigots out loud in public.

Don’t let ’em get away with it.

👉 CNN: Senate votes to overturn Biden administration retirement investment rule Republicans decry as ‘woke’ – “The Senate passed a politically charged resolution on Wednesday to overturn a Biden administration retirement investment rule that allows managers of retirement funds to consider the impact of climate change and other environmental, social and governance factors when picking investments.”

Thoughts & Essays

A few thoughts on Twitter

Elon Musk threw a temper tantrum last night and kicked a handful of journalists off Twitter for “doxxing him.”

Hang on, we probably need to back up a bit for the non-Twitter folk.

So, there was this account on Twitter called “ElonJet.” I don’t think it’s there anymore because Dollar Store Tony Stark suspended the account during a different temper tantrum the other day. But anyway, ElonJet tweeted the location of Musk’s jet. That location is publicly available information because it’s a jet, and jets have to file flight plans and whatnot, and the government keeps track of where all those are and makes that information public. The guy who ran ElonJet also ran a bunch of other accounts tracking various famous folks’ planes and like NASA flights and other fun public information. All those accounts were suspended, too, as well as the guy’s personal account.

The ElonJet account has been an annoyance to Musk for awhile. A year back he tried to buy the account from the guy running it for a couple grand, and the guy told Musk to go take a long walk off a short pier. I think Musk tried or is going to try to sue the guy, too. He wants that account stopped. It pisses him off.

I guess the plane-tracking thing – tracking any plane by way of public information – is one of those very niche nerd joys. It’s not hurting anyone, and apparently it’s not particularly difficult to do as long as you want to invest the time in learning the required lingo and whatnot. So even if Musk were to somehow succeed at having ElonJet scrubbed from the Internet in its entirety, all that information about where his jet is would still be totally available to anyone who wanted it.

There’s a tongue-in-cheek conspiracy theory that claims that the reason Musk even bought Twitter in the first place was so he could ban the ElonJet account, and the Internet thought it was fucking hilarious when Musk actually suspended that account for “doxxing him.”

There is a special joy in tweaking the nose of some rich douchecanoe who thinks their money enables them to do literally anything. There’s something truly delightful in watching Discount Lex Luthor tackle some nobody with a Twitter account and lose. It warms the cold, black cockles of our jaded little Internet-rotted hearts. And I think the fact that everyone was laughing at him over this stupid feud was pissing Musk off even more than the actual ElonJet account tweeting his jet’s whereabouts.

I like to imagine him shaking his fist as he signed the paperwork for Twitter, shouting “I’ll show them! I’ll show them all!” and then suspending the ElonJet account the second he thought he could get away with it. I like to imagine the baffled look on his face as he realizes that instead of shutting us all up, we’re only laughing at him harder after he banned the account.

Musk suspending the ElonJet account stirred up a tempest in a teakettle on Twitter, and several reporters were covering the drama. Last night, that handful of reporters found their Twitter accounts arbitrarily suspended. Queue up a big ol’ shitstorm over that on Twitter as folks realized what happened. The shitstorm was followed by one of Musk’s polls asking if and when he should reinstate these accounts. (When I saw the poll “immediately” was winning, but apparently it settled out at seven days?)

Meanwhile, the suspended accounts discovered that due to the fact that Twitter is basically falling apart in little bits at a time, they could still join and participate in Twitter Spaces, which is the weird audio product Twitter rolled out awhile back. So these journalists and a couple of other suspended accounts (including ElonJet, LOL) joined a Space to discuss the situation, and Elon Musk himself jumped into the Space. The reporters, being reporters, began questioning him, and after the very teeniest, tiniest, slightest pushback on his decision-making, Elon abandoned the Space, and, this morning, deleted Spaces entirely from the site.

That soft roar you’ve been hearing all morning is the sound of hundreds of thousands of Twitter users rolling around dying fucking laughing at Elon Musk.

I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with my stupid Twitter account since this whole mess started. I don’t really want anything to do with the busted-ass Truth Social/Gab/Parler clone Twitter is becoming under Musk’s ownership. He reinstated a bunch of stupid Nazi accounts, unsuspended Trump’s account (tho’ Trump isn’t using it at the moment), and has just generally been a flailing fail machine for the last several months.

On one hand, it is fascinating to watch someone fail this hard, out loud, in public, in front of God and everybody. Like, I’ve seen some pretty wild failures in my life, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this. This is some top-notch schadenfreude-flavored entertainment, folks. On the other hand, everything that was bad on Twitter – and there was a lot, y’all – is getting exponentially worse under Musk’s “leadership.”

They say you shouldn’t delete your account, because some spammer or whatever might steal your handle if you do. I’ve also read that you shouldn’t just let your account sit idle, because it might get deleted for being abandoned? I don’t know. My Twitter account has no audience to speak of – I think I’m down to 170 followers and I’m pretty sure half of those are abandoned accounts, so if I dump the thing it’s not like I’m losing anything.

What I am losing, if I ditch Twitter, is the carefully curated news discovery feed I’ve built over the last twelve years I’ve been on the site. I have put considerable time and effort into curating my timeline, through careful follows, muted words and accounts, and browser plugin tweaks, to turn that damn site into a steady feed of useful news, information, and ideas. I haven’t found a neat way to replicate that, yet, and I’m kind of pissed I’m losing it.

For the time being, I’ve deleted all my tweets and likes and whatever other personal information I had attached to the account, and it’s just sitting there with a “good-bye” tweet pinned to the top. I may set it to just tweet links to my blog posts, too. I dunno.

But at this point I’m actively looking to replace the functionality I got from Twitter, and working to remove myself from its use. The site is bad, the vibes there are bad, and it’s all getting worse. And I don’t think I want anything to do with it anymore.

Things to Read

Thoughts & Essays

Kevin Conroy, Twitter, Trump, more

🦇 Kevin Conroy, who was the voice of Batman for basically everything worth a damn in the DC Animated Universe, as well as in videos games and other media, died today. He was the best Batman, arguably the definitive Batman. What a shame to lose him.

🤣 So Twitter rolled out that Twitter Blue mess, and the site promptly filled up to the rim with imposter accounts causing trouble for brands. Including, apparently, a fake Eli Lily account costing the real company billions.

🍊 Donald Trump claimed in a Truth Social tirade that he sent the FBI and U.S. attorneys to save Ron DeSantis’ campaign in 2018. Trump’s a pathological liar and this is probably not true? But I’m pretty sure it is the sort of thing we should check into.

🍉 Oh, shit, Gallagher died today, too. I remember watching his specials with my dad as a little kid, just laughing until we cried. And also the watermelon smashing, of course. I don’t remember any of his actual comedy bits anymore. I just remember thinking they were the height of hilarity when I was, like, 5 or 7. Apparently he was still touring right up until 2019. Huh.

📱 So, you know that advertisers are tracking the hell out of you via your mobile phone. Did you know you can turn a lot of that off? I didn’t.


Thoughts & Essays

Re: The Midterms & Other Thoughts

I think the one thing that has struck me the last few days is how very little our “pundit class” appears to actually know about anything. One reason this caught my attention was because I was watching them migrate en masse to Mastodon and promptly start screwing up and complaining about the social norms there.

It’s a little embarrassing to watch, to be honest.

Journos flooded Mastodon over the weekend. Mastodon has its own social norms to follow, one of which is the use of “content warnings.” When posting, they have a little feature that allows you to add a note of warning about the content of your post, and hides your post behind an extra click. This is used for lots of obvious things – gore, sexual content, things that might trigger phobias, etc. – but also for political posts. Which threw me for a second, but then I was like, “Okay, that’s how we do things here, no worries.”

Many journos, on the other hand, threw a big ol’ hissy fit about the idea, including some journos I really sort of admired, and started getting all high and mighty, refusing to use content warnings on their politics/elections posts. Which resulted in the large and growing new journo server that had been started getting blocked from several other servers.

It’s like watching someone blunder into a new friend’s house and be like “What do you mean I need to take my shoes off at the door? I don’t do that at home, I’m not going to do that here,” and then they get all offended when their friend kicks them out.

The other thing that struck me is, in the run-up to the midterms, a wide variety of non-Fox, non-OANN news sites and journalists bemoaning the coming “Red Wave” and strenuously pushing the idea that inflation was going to kill the Democrats’ chances, and so on. And that “Red Wave” just… didn’t show up. As far as I know, at this writing (11/9/22, 9:30am), the Senate and the House are still up for grabs, and if the GOP takes the House it seems like it’ll be by one seat. Which: Not a Red Wave, folks. Barely even a Red Ripple, really.

In fact, it seems like the two biggest motivators in this election were abortion rights and saving democracy, and definitely not, as many journalists/pundits insisted, the economy and the idea that Biden isn’t particularly popular.

I think partly the issue is that these folks kind of don’t know what they’re talking about and are guessing as much as the rest of us are. But also, in some cases, a lot of these folks are heavily incentivized to push GOP narratives. It’s what makes them ad money. Also, their outlets – particularly the 24-hour cable news gang – are owned and operated by conservatives.

I haven’t quite decided what I think that all means, yet. I’ve got some other vaguely connected thoughts still percolating. But it’s something I’ll definitely be keeping in mind going forward.



Thoughts & Essays

Today’s Thoughts: Twitter, COVID-19, Trump, more

🦠 Vanity Fair and ProPublica had this big article over the weekend about the origins of COVID-19 and the “lab leak” theory – IE, that COVID-19 originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China and escaped into the wild by accident. Which… it’s possible, but most of the reputable scientists I see talking about it think it’s unlikely, and that COVID-19 had a natural origin – came from critters at the farmers market in Wuhan. Either way, the Vanity Fair/ProPublica article seems… a bit dodgy, to be honest. A lot of it feels weaselly to me, and apparently they managed to misquote at least one contributor to the article, making him sound like he might agree with their article instead of directly disagreeing and also warning them not to misquote him. Dunno, don’t love this article. Feels untrustworthy.

🐦 Lots of fun Twitter drama over the weekend, too. Elon certainly seems to have had a weekend of it, at any rate. First he tweeted a crappy conspiracy theory about Paul Pelosi at Hillary Clinton, then he got roasted for it, then he deleted it, then he got roasted for it again by his fanboys for “caving to the left” or whatever. Meanwhile, he floated making verification checkmarks – those blue checks some people and organizations on Twitter have to prove they’re the real person/organization – a kind of subscription service. That is, to keep your check you’d have to sign up for Twitter Blue, a paid service. He floated charging $5 a month for the check, then $20. I can’t think of anything cringier than paying money for a checkmark which has been basically meaningless for years now, and which will become even more meaningless and laughable by charging for it.

🍊 Apparently the GOP is expecting a Trump indictment after election day. And I really, really hope they’re right to do so. There must be consequences – serious consequences – for what Trump did. He must pay the price, and the price must be prison time. I don’t believe we can continue to be America if we don’t hold Trump accountable for his crimes.