Archive for the '' Category


Friday, February 8th, 2013

And lots of it. We now return you to a torrent of tLBD arcana and looping gifs.

Note to readers of

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

I apologize in advance (well, almost; I guess it’s already started) for the inundation you’re about to experience. My posts at, which will henceforth be mirrored here, lean heavily toward absurdly pedantic analysis of the YouTube series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, my obsession with which (and my absconding to Tumblr where LBD fans congregate) is the main reason why my posting hereabouts has dried to a trickle for the last several months.

It’s feast or famine for loyal readers, I guess. Let me know if you have any problems with the new cruelty.

This will end well!

Friday, January 18th, 2013

I like the idea of this. But the venue isnt quite right. Maybe the bottom of the sea would be a better locale? True, the desolation of Texas might be a more Glenn’s Galt Gulch environment. But it seems so familiar… maybe they should consider a biblical name like Rapture? I hear this Fontaine fellow is very interested in investing! I would love to have the Ammo Bandito concession. Looks like the Enrage plasmid is already widely distributed amongst the hoi polloi.

Go Galt! or Glen! please, just go! go go go!

Are we absolutely *sure* this isn’t a promo stunt for Bioshock Infinite?

What I’ve Been Up to Lately

Friday, October 26th, 2012

If you’ve wondered about the relative dearth of posts around here lately, it’s mostly because I’ve been in the throes of a schoolgirl infatuation with Tumblr. So if you’re desperate for more of my deathless prose (yeah, I thought that’d be a stretch), you can see what’s at (Except right now, because at the moment Tumblr is down, dammit. This may not be unrelated to the sudden spurt of queued up items suddenly being posted here.)

Chen on Violentacrez

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

I finally got around to reading Adrian Chen’s post on Gawker that revealed the identity of the Violentacrez user on reddit: The man behind the troll. It was kind of interesting, though also a little disturbing, and not just because Violentacrez himself is a little disturbing.

I was struck by this comment from Chen’s post:

In real life, Brutsch is an unabashedly creepy old man with seven cats and two dogs and a disabled wife and a teenage son about to join the Marines. He was all of that online, too – only he was famous for it.

I think this struck me because lately I’ve been confronted by the reality that I’ve become older than most of the people I interact with online. (I am, in fact, a year older than Violentacrez.) As someone who was an early adopter of the Internet, I’ve survived to a time when it is largely populated by people a lot younger than I am. Occasionally, when real-life details spill into online interaction, this confronts me with the uncomfortable fact that online, at least, I’ve become old.

In real life, I interact with people of many different ages, including some younger than me, some approximately my own age, and some older than me. In terms of outward signs of age, I’ve been pretty fortunate: staying nerdishly indoors over much of my life and using lots of sunscreen means my skin’s in okay shape. I’ve got a full head of hair (going gray, it’s true). I’m working on a spare tire, but am otherwise in okay shape. My outward appearance is youthful enough that I occasionally get joking “Dorian Gray” comments from friends and acquaintances. So I’ve got that going for me.

But online, none of that counts. And as soon as age comes up, I’m basically left with two choices: Closet myself. Or provoke an involuntary, “whoa. dude, you’re old.”

This was brought into focus recently by my getting more involved on Tumblr, which is a neat place for sharing obsessive fandoms (of which I have a few, as readers of this site will already be aware). But it’s also a corner of the online world characterized by lots of self-disclosure and sharing of angsty feels by (mostly) young (frequently) female users, among whom a 50-year-old guy tends to stand out.

Quoting from an “ask” my lies user on Tumblr recently received:

gr4ci3p00 asked: hi you’re the oldest person i know on tumblr

Yeah, I’m the oldest person I know on tumblr, too. It’s a weird feeling.

A few weeks ago I saw this thing come through my tumblr dashboard (can’t find it now, dammit). It was a survey thingy, where it asked people to repost and add a | character in the row next to their age. And the ages went from, like, I don’t remember, 12 or 13 on up, and there was this cool-looking distribution of rows of | characters, starting off with just 1, and then getting fatter with more and more respondents, with the biggest part of the curve being around age 17 or 18 (I think), and then it tapered off, and there were no | characters at all toward the bottom of the graph. And the bottom entry, at which there had been no respondents for several rows, was “26+”.

Ouch. That hit home. What am I doing here?

I guess, given the degree of privilege I enjoy as a straight white male technocratic Californian making good money, it shouldn’t be a big deal to have to deal with a little irrational prejudice. But for the record: 50 is not old, at least not from my side of that birthday, and 50 and male and hanging out online with a bunch of fellow LBD nerds who happen to be younger and more female than me is not inherently creepy. It’s just a thing.

A Wacky Idea

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

So, I’ve been thinking lately about the way we all like to beat each other up in the comments. And for my job, I’ve lately been doing a lot of remote meetings via Google+ “hangouts” (video conferences via computer, basically). They work pretty well.

And I had this wacky idea: What if we had a Google+ hangout for the commenters on to have a video chat with each other? I was thinking of something pretty quick, maybe 10 minutes or so. No particular agenda; just a chance to put some faces and voices to the personalities I’ve come to know (a little) from the site. We could chat a bit about whatever seemed worth chatting about, see how it went, and if it seemed interesting, maybe set up a time to do it again.

I think that might be fun. But if it isn’t, there’s nothing much lost, really.

So, how’d you like to hang out?

You’d need the following:

  • A computer with a camera and a microphone
  • A decent(ish) Internet connection
  • A Google+ account
  • A willingness to expose yourself, at least briefly and remotely, to the people you’ve been beating up in the comments

If you think you might be willing to do that, please comment on this post, and indicate, for each of the dates and times listed below, your availability/preference on a 1-5 scale, where the numbers mean:

1 – I definitely will not be able to participate at that time
2 – I probably won’t be able to participate at that time
3 – I might or might not be able to participate at that time
4 – I probably will be able to participate at that time
5 – I definitely will be able to participate at that time

I’ll pick the date and time that maximizes the chances of participation, and will send out an email with the invitation link you can follow to the actual hangout. (Also, if the email currently associated with your account isn’t working any more, you’ll need to send a working email to me, so I can invite you to the hangout. You can send that to

If you can post your availability soon (say by Friday night — that is, tomorrow night) that would be ideal.

Either way, thanks for your ongoing contribution to the site.

John (aka jbc)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

12:00 noon PDT (3:00 p.m. EDT):

2:00 p.m. PDT (5:00 p.m. EDT):

4:00 p.m. PDT (7:00 p.m EDT):

6:00 p.m. PDT (9:00 p.m EDT):

8:00 p.m. PDT (11:00 p.m. EDT):

Sunday, September 9, 2012

12:00 noon PDT (3:00 p.m. EDT):

2:00 p.m. PDT (5:00 p.m. EDT):

4:00 p.m. PDT (7:00 p.m EDT):

6:00 p.m. PDT (9:00 p.m EDT):

8:00 p.m. PDT (11:00 p.m. EDT):

Site Down, Back Up

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

If you noticed a distinct lack of over the past 24 hours, that was my fault; sorry.

It’s back now. And very new-and-improved, infrastructure-wise. See my Google+ stream sometime soon for some geeky discussion of that.

Please let me know if you notice anything that’s still broken. Thanks.

Update: One problem I’ve been unable to fix, and am giving up on, is this: A handful of recent comments have disappeared. It’s not the most recent comments, but a little older than those. Apparently a set of corrupted database records involving those comments were a symptom of the fan-and-hard-drive failure that precipitated the outage.

Anyway, my apologies for that. The new setup should be more reliable going forward.

Pushing Back in the Comments

Monday, May 7th, 2012

I will always love Jack Hitt for his story about taking his daughter to lunch on Martin Luther King day, which featured in what may be my favorite episode of This American Life ever, Kid Logic. I liked that story so much I stole it and included it in podcast #21, the first of the “modern” podcasts, in which I get all derivative and remix-y (and illegal).

So yeah, sorry about the lack of those lately. I have a batch of things I’d like to get to, but just haven’t been able to scrape up the time. But in the meantime, do check out this article from Hitt that appeared over the weekend in the NYT: Science and truth: We’re all in it together.

I learned about it from Roger Pielke, Jr. in Ignore the gloss at some risk, which is also recommended.

Rounding out the interesting pushback is this item from Dan Kahan: Some data on CRT & “Republican” & “Democratic brains” (plus CRT & religion, gender, education & cultural worldviews). Heh. Includes welcome pushback on Chris Mooney, whose recent book The Republican Brain, is also sitting around waiting for me to find the time for it. I was so excited about The Republican Brain when I first heard about it. But that was before I’d heard the title, and (more) heard Mooney detail the premise. As it turns out, the actual book has been a disappointment to me (which I guess I shouldn’t really be able to say until actually reading it). But I’m disappointed nevertheless. I was hoping that Mooney would really dig into what was going on with motivated reasoning and why people believe the wacky things they do. Instead, it seems what we’ve got is the liberal equivalent of an Ann Coulter book, bashing the other side so we on our side can feel good about how right we are.


Anyway, no time to obsess over this, or even write a proper blog post. If I were going to write a proper blog post, I’d probably write something similar to what I wrote five years ago in Debugging the Bush administration. So I’ll just quote myself:

A famous truism from the world of open source software development is that “with enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.” In other words, if you get a large enough pool of people examining a malfunctioning piece of code, there’s going to be someone for whom the solution is obvious.

Go eyeballs.

15,000 warm temperature records broken in March 2012

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Q1 2012 is hottest quarter since 1895. Anyone want to find out how hot it was in 2011? Of course, this means temps are flat, or level, or down, or something. The year isn’t out yet of course, but I think climate deniers will have a hard time sticking with ‘we need more time to study if it is man-made or just volcanoes, or sunspots, or something (anything!) else.’

Nothing to see here folks. Move along, move along.

Warming vs. Cooling, Short-term vs. Long

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

I came across a reference to this older item on the Skeptical Science site: Going Down the Up Escalator, Part 1. It discusses the difference between cherrypicking relatively brief intervals during which global temperatures have cooled (which is what climate-change deniers do), and looking at the consistent long-term upward trend (which is what climate scientists do). It includes this neat graph, which sums things up nicely:

See those descending blue lines in the “skeptics” version? Those represent the “cooling” that shcb likes to go on about. See that overall rising red line in the “realists” version? That’s the trend that matters.

Gender Specificity and the Internet

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

For some reason I noticed a series of items today concerning male-female differences on the Internet. Enjoy.

Ryan at Mad Art Lab (hobbies include fencing, armor smithing, and D&D) has spent a lot of time thinking about female-specific armor. This post is the happy result: Fantasy Armor and Lady Bits. It includes the following image of a breast(s)plate made by Ryan himself:

[Note: Image removed at Ryan’s request.]

Ryan writes:

Note also that it seems almost perfectly designed to guide sword points and arrows into her heart. They still have to penetrate the armor but, honestly, that’s a design flaw. However, it looks good and makes her feel sexy and badass at the same time. That’s important too.

Author Seth Mnookin (whose name I can’t pronounce, but fortunately I don’t have to read this post out loud), in an otherwise interesting and piece at PLoS Blogs (Context and corrections in writing about autism and vaccines: A case study in misleading your readers), quotes from this fun correction that ran recently in the New York Times:

An article on Monday about Jack Robison and Kirsten Lindsmith, two college students with Asperger syndrome who are navigating the perils of an intimate relationship, misidentified the character from the animated children’s TV show “My Little Pony” that Ms. Lindsmith said she visualized to cheer herself up. It is Twilight Sparkle, the nerdy intellectual, not Fluttershy, the kind animal lover.

This reminded me of “bronies”, whom I learned about some time ago from my Internet-meme-obsessed 14-year-old son, but whom I’d never googled before. Shortly thereafter I was reading this fun piece by Katie Notopolous on Gawker: Hasbro Crushes Dreams of Grown Men Who Love My Little Pony. Notopolous observes:

If you think bronyism sounds like something only a serious pervert living in his mother’s basement would be into, you’re only about 30% correct. To address your immediate question: it’s not ironic. It’s nerdy guys who genuinely enjoy an animated series about ponies. The show has a legitimate appeal to older audiences — high production values, snappy dialog, and a heartwarming message. But the online fan culture of bronies grew out of 4chan, so they have a computer nerd vestigial tail of Mountain Dew, anime appreciation, chronic virginity, and cyberbullying.

The mention of cyberbullying brings me to the last item in today’s round-up of gender-themed links: Rebecca Watson (who is awesome, btw) on how reddit makes her hate atheists. In particular, Watson dissects how the reaction to a 15-year-old girl posting this photo of a book her “super-religious mother” got her for Christmas made her hate them:

Happy New Year, dudes and dudettes (and redditors and bronies and conspiracists). See you in 2012!

Roemer & Colbert on Super PAC Advertising

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Good stuff:

Happy In Paraguay

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Rick Parry – this made me laugh, the voice is almost perfect

Michelle Bachmann – sounds just like she always does

Barack Obama – musical number doesn’t do much for me… ymmv

And of course the one that started it all!

Nothing to see here folks! Move along, move along.

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Norway is under attack! A massive car bomb and near-simultaneous shooting spree at a resort island. Sounds like the terrorists are at it again! On a per capita basis, Norway lost twice as many people in this attack as the U.S. did on 9/11. Imagine the political repercussions throughout the world if double-9/11-scale damage had been done by an al-Qaeda offshoot.

Damn those Al Q… what? Say again? Really? It wasn’t a super secret sleeper cell of brown skinning islamic extremist nutjobs? The person arrested for the shootings on the island is (allegedly) one Anders Behring Breivik. Active in right wing circles… rabid ‘nationalist’… writes über long screeds (presumably as partially nonsensical as our resident wwnjs) against Muslims… hates him some immigrants… fundi Christian… owns three guns (glock, rifle, shotgun)…

Of course, he must have felt justified cuz he was just shootin The Bad Guys™.

Oh wait, he’s just a lone crazy person, nothing to see here folks. Move along, move along.

Listen my child, and uh, you might hear…

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Some jumbled up gibberish about, uh, Paul Revere.

“We saw where Paul Revere hung out as a teenager, which was something new to learn. He who warned, uh, the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms, uh, by ringing those bells and making sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free and we were going to be armed.”

Oh please brer GOP, please don’t run Super Sarah! If you throw us poor dum libs in that there briar patch, why that would be the worstest! You betcha! (wink)

More Good Stuff on Mercier and Sperber’s Argumentative Reasoning Theory

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

You folks in the comments should stop arguing for a minute and check this out. Jonah Lehrer’s latest Wired Science column has more reaction to that very cool recent study by Mercier and Sperber on how confirmation bias can be explained as an evolutionary adaptation to the particular needs of reaching good decisions in a group context: The reason we reason. (With professional basketball content, too!)

It includes a link to an even cooler interview with Hugo Mercier from The argumentative theory: A conversation with Hugo Mercier.

Psychologists have shown that people have a very, very strong, robust confirmation bias. What this means is that when they have an idea, and they start to reason about that idea, they are going to mostly find arguments for their own idea. They’re going to come up with reasons why they’re right, they’re going to come up with justifications for their decisions. They’re not going to challenge themselves.

And the problem with the confirmation bias is that it leads people to make very bad decisions and to arrive at crazy beliefs. And it’s weird, when you think of it, that humans should be endowed with a confirmation bias. If the goal of reasoning were to help us arrive at better beliefs and make better decisions, then there should be no bias. The confirmation bias should really not exist at all. We have a very strong conflict here between the observations of empirical psychologists on the one hand and our assumption about reasoning on the other.

But if you take the point of view of the argumentative theory, having a confirmation bias makes complete sense. When you’re trying to convince someone, you don’t want to find arguments for the other side, you want to find arguments for your side. And that’s what the confirmation bias helps you do.

The idea here is that the confirmation bias is not a flaw of reasoning, it’s actually a feature. It is something that is built into reasoning; not because reasoning is flawed or because people are stupid, but because actually people are very good at reasoning — but they’re very good at reasoning for arguing. Not only does the argumentative theory explain the bias, it can also give us ideas about how to escape the bad consequences of the confirmation bias.

People mostly have a problem with the confirmation bias when they reason on their own, when no one is there to argue against their point of view. What has been observed is that often times, when people reason on their own, they’re unable to arrive at a good solution, at a good belief, or to make a good decision because they will only confirm their initial intuition.

On the other hand, when people are able to discuss their ideas with other people who disagree with them, then the confirmation biases of the different participants will balance each other out, and the group will be able to focus on the best solution. Thus, reasoning works much better in groups. When people reason on their own, it’s very likely that they are going to go down a wrong path. But when they’re actually able to reason together, they are much more likely to reach a correct solution.

See? I knew there was a reason for continuing to engage with shcb. Fulfilling the evolutionary imperative for argumentation since 1996.

Osama bin Laden is dead

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Conspiracy theorists start your engines!

(plus, I can’t wait to see how the right wing spins this as bad for “the young man”)
oh wait, don’t forget the wink ;)

Godspeed vs. Beck

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Witness the awesome rightness of the Glenn Beck/Godspeed You! Black Emperor mashup:

Curveball says he lied about Iraqi WMD programs…

Friday, February 18th, 2011

This will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone who doesn’t suckle at the teat of FoxNEWS but… Curveball (the German/Iraqi ‘source’ for many of the claims that the bush administration used to justify their invasion of Iraq) was lying. And proud of it. And he is shocked, shocked to find out his lies were used to perpetrate an unjust war of aggression.

Happy (Belated) 15th Birthday,!

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Back on February 7 passed a smallish milestone: Its 15th birthday. The first post ever on was this one, posted on February 7, 1996: So it begins.

I don’t want to do another big “reader” post summarizing the last 5 years (I’ll save that for the 20th anniversary in 2016, assuming we’re all still here). But maybe we could do this instead: Any user of the site who wants to is encouraged to comment on this item with links to one or both of the following things: Your top 5 favorite posted items from the past 5 years, and/or your top 5 favorite comments. Basically, we’re talking any post from this one until today: Iraq war dead for January 2006.

In the meantime, happy birthday,!

Update: NorthernLite nominates the following as his favorite post (stolen from Randall Munroe): Someone is WRONG on the Internet. And his favorite comment (from shcb): Just for grins I melted some aluminum and poured it out in a pan…