Yay! [DOT 7/4/23]

It’s Friday you guys! But don’t say Happy Good Friday!

And honestly if you’re like me and still aren’t caught up on yesterday’s DOT, here’s the link because today’s DOT is not going to be SplinterRIP levels of verbosity.

This seems next level bad

Tennessee House expels first of three Democrats who joined gun-control protests

So wait so far they’ve only expelled the Black guy.

Tennessee House expels 1 lawmaker, falls short of ousting another while 3rd awaits vote

Glad they got a catchy name tho

This is my shocked face :/

Clarence Thomas faces impeachment calls after reports of undisclosed gifts

Just what we need!

Israel launches airstrikes in Lebanon and Gaza Strip after ‘biggest rocket salvo since 2006’


‘Truly alarming’: girls put off sport in UK by clothing requirements

The Stonk Market is closed today.


Luscious Jackson’s Vivian Trimble Dies at 59

Today in Cuteness:

Have a good day!



    • Merciful heavens, are you suggesting there was racism involved?

      Time to reiterate my Chattanooga story. Spent a week there for work at a downtown hotel. After four days, I realized I had not seen one. single. Black. person. Not one. In days. I didn’t see any on staff at the hotel, there were none at the restaurants (staff or patrons), none strolling down the streets, none whatsoever. I finally did see one Black man jogging. That was it for the entire week.

      Tennessee is 17% Black.

      • No, I would never suggest such a thing. If someone says they’re not racist I have to take them at their word and ignore any actions that would suggest otherwise. Like Elon Musk’s “unknowable” politics or Mango Unchained saying he’s the least racist president ever.

        • …while we’re taking those people at their word…what do you suppose elevated NPR to something twitter calls a state-affiliated entity…which apparently comes with a bit of reach-shortening & general stifling of their “freedom of speech” on musk’s husk of a platform?

          …not least when there are actually-state-affiliated accounts in various places on twitter that lack the label & do considerable harm, one might add

            • Have you noticed lately, I’m sure you have, the increased usage of “DemocRATS” or “DemonRATS” in online comments sections? This is done, I think, to own the libs. Although nowadays the institutional Democratic Party is about where Republicans were during the Ford administration, which was more conservative in a way than the Nixon administration was. A late-move attempt to fend off the Reagan right, which failed, obviously, the Carter interregnum not withstanding.

              • I can’t find the link to who said this originally but Thom Hartmann plays the original soundbyte from the Jim Crow era.  The quote was something like don’t use democratic because that sound like something good, say democRAT with emphasis on the RAT.  Jamie did a good job with this but was way too nice and lacked the original context.

              • …the GOP acronym is surely crying out for similar treatment

                …the Geriatric Obstructionist Paranoids…Gerontocratic Obsolescence Projectionists…Grifting Oxymoronic Performatists…I expect I could go on but doubtless colbert’s writers’ room could come up with something catchy

                …they got their feathers ever so ruffled when someone had the temerity to call out how deplorable their goals are…but they’ve been the party of the repugnant for long enough now that it’s pretty much their defining characteristic?

    • …I’m not familiar with how this stuff is supposed to work in tennessee…let alone when they pull something like this which seems like it isn’t how it’s meant to work…but I read something that seemed to suggest that the two who got voted out may be sent back as their own interim appointments since that choice reverts to the places that voted them in to begin with…& then maybe have to go another election round to get back to where this started…assuming they’d win those…which seems like a fair bet?

      …anyone know if any or all of that would be about right?

        • …cheers for that…not sure if that’d be the same thing I saw but it’s sort of simultaneously encouraging & disheartening that this stuff is as bad as it looks but not yet as effectual?

      • You’re right. They can be voted back in. Additionally, if they are voted back in, they can’t ever be removed for the same reason, according to the Tennessee constitution. So the Tennessee legislature would have to trump up another violation.

        • …clearly those are hoops that by rights they shouldn’t have to go through…& while all that time & energy & resources in general get wasted re-inventing that wheel those can’t be fully focused on trying to force the legislature to do something constructive about the gun issue the way the thousands of their not-yet-but-someday voters marched down there in request of…which is hardly what I’d think of as superficial enough to make it all “just” showboating for their supporters & the racism-over-kids-lives priorities that implies

          …but I’m under the impression that the two expelled members are recently voted in so…I guess if a degree of double-jeopardy type protection for the bulk of a term of office is the available silver lining to the whole mess I’d take it

          …& I’ve got to think among those students there have to be no small number who will take that taste of disenfranchisement at the hands of the party of minority rule to heart…& hopefully never vote in their favor for as long as they live…which, again hopefully, should be longer than it takes for the ringleaders of this circus to shuffle off this mortal coil

          …& all things being equal…I might be inclined to view that as another token bit of almost-solace

          …but…in the words of nina simone…goddamn?

      • That can happen but those who were expelled have said they heard rumblings on the other side that if they were appointed or won their special elections that the GOP would refuse to seat them…so there is that.

        • …because of-fucking-course that would be their instinct

          …it’s like the worst possible version of monty python’s inquisition sketch…our chief weapon is obstruction…& intransigence…damn…our two chief weapons are obstruction…& intransigence…& a fanatical devotion to a dope…damn…look…I’ll come in again

          …among our weapons are obstructive intransigence, racism, voter-suppression, gerrymandering, abuse of power…& a fanatical devotion to a dope

          …if only the best they could do was threaten people with a comfy chair

    • It’s a similar mindset that led the California county fair director to call the cops to track down the goat raised by the nine year old and take it to be slaughtered.

      It’s not about justice, it’s about maximizng punishment to create submission. In the Tennessee Capitol, it was about maintaining the racist order, while in California it was about maintaining other parts of the conservative ideology, but it’s worth noting that the Tennessee GOP was also trying to use this episode to further their attacks on trans people on top of advancing their gun agenda.

      There’s a deep authoritarian approach that unifies the racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and paranoia.

      I think it’s fair to dig further into what the relationship is between authoritarianism and racism, and the extent to which one is a cause or whether it’s a dynamic cycle. But it’s impossible to see them as unconnected.

      • …it’s almost certainly an over-simplification…but I have an increasingly hard time not viewing the whole sorry lot of them as the fear-spawned kind of bullies…people aware that they are in a great many senses small…in moral terms alone they’ve shrunk themselves to the status of midgets surrounded by comparative giants…of whom they are abjectly terrified…& since they’re congenitally-incapable of accepting blame or accepting they need to adapt to a changing world that never really resembled the fairy tale they so desperately believe in because it casts them as the hero instead of the villain

        …their sole move is to adopt a tactic of attempting subjugation…of basically everything & everyone that isn’t on board substituting that fairy tale for anything resembling objective reality at this point

        …in a sane world that would sound like the death throes of any kind of democratic political movement…but I don’t know as how I’d bet on humanity getting a psychologically clean bill of health anytime soon…so if I’m honest…this shit is closing in on terrifying me as much or more than it horrifies me…& kinda has been for a while?

        • It’s no surprise that many of the authoritarians are fucking bullies. You’re not wrong with your categorization. It seems simplistic, but I’ve realized that if you meet one bully then they’re all the goddamned same (the styles are different but end results are the same.)

          It’s also no surprise to me anyway that I hate the motherfucking lot of them.

          I’m realized (quite slowly) that bullies hate perceptive folks (ironic) mostly because we can see right through them especially their weaknesses and insecurities.

          I learned in a strange way (because it happened to me*) that once they’re exposed they lose a lot of the power they crave.

          *when I was 1st year university, we had a Nintendo Tecmo football tournament on my residence floor just after Xmas. I ended up being stuck with a shit team, the Indianapolis Colts, who only had one goddamned good player, Eric Dickerson and a weak armed QB. I was forced to do a lot of running plays and actually did well till some loud mouthed shithead opened up on stopping my running game and that was the end of me. It took me several months to figure out why the fuck this bothered the fuck out of me, but I realized in the end it was because that loud mouth neutralized my “game.” It shouldn’t have because Running Plays was the only damn thing I could have done, but I didn’t say I was quick on the uptake in those days.

          Knowledge is power and using that knowledge to cripple or stop a bully is the other half of the battle that GI Joe didn’t say.

          At work, I crippled a lot of bullies by exposing their weaknesses and MOs via my loud mouth not with my fists or backstabbing. Getting things in the open, neutralizes a lot of bullshit and keeps the bully penned up. Works because they’re not really perceptive or adaptive (if they were then they wouldn’t be bullies.) Once their methods are exposed then it makes things difficult for them to make a move on anyone. Once in a while they try to change things up but it usually ends poorly for the bully.

          • My most stunning success with this was neutralizing the bullying tendencies of my former manager and supervisor.  Both liked to flex/dunk/bully junior project leads/engineers because they both loved to show off how “intelligent” they thought they were. I saw how they nearly made juniors cry by bringing up things that only they “knew” to puncture the points or explanations of how things worked.

            The problem for them was that being a production ape I knew way more than them because I lived/worked and trained a number of my coworkers. When I was accidentally promoted to an engineering role, I mentored a junior engineer I worked with on what to do in a presentation because I know she was pretty intimidated doing them. I even told her to watch out for both of them because of the games they played. I helped by teaching her everything she needed to know about my job including inside shit that only production apes like me know and understand.

            One day, my former supervisor went into a long winded condescending mansplaining on that’s not how thing are done after she had made a presentation. She promptly showed him exactly why he was full of shit and the how (she followed my advice of always bring your notes/rough work just in case) and tore him a new asshole in her own way. He sat there stunned while I was grinning up on stage like a proud dad.

            I looked him dead in the eye with my version of a shark’s grin and asked him if he has any more questions.

            He mumbled he did not and shut the fuck up the rest of the meeting as I kept grinning at him.

            My former manager got figuratively punched in the dick several months earlier when he questioned my integrity and I promptly jumped down his throat by doing through a relatively detailed/boring explanation on how I got from A to B. I even made a joke at his expense in front of his peers which got a snort from a couple. FYI, he never asked me another question again.

            • …power dynamics are a bitch…way back in the hazy mists of time when I was just a teenage pain-in-the-ass I had an english teacher who by the sounds of it ran a similar playbook…sadly for the majority of the years I was at that school…towards the end I used to pretty much deliberately wind them up just to vent the irritation their approach to the subject had built up in me over the years…until one of my classmates politely requested that I knock it off a little since it wasn’t doing the people in the class who found the whole passing-the-exam-at-the-end-of-all-this more of an obstacle than, as they put it in rather frank terms, it seemed like I did…which was a fair point, well made…& I did try to curb my instincts in that regard as a result…but he did relish tearing strips off kids for asking questions he deemed to be stupid…which was broadly anything that didn’t involve a majority of parroting what he’d dictated was “the” answer they needed to regurgitate for examiners

              …but…I hadn’t built that grudge or lost my patience for not wasting their time they way they wasted mine out of nothing…to give just one example…one year…long before I was near enough to reaching escape velocity from their little fiefdom…I naïvely offered up a belief that a passage in a war poem might be open to a different interpretation…based on a personal familiarity with the kind of landscape cited as part of a particular metaphor that made it something I’d assumed to be hinting at more or less the opposite of the grim specter he’d assured us was not only the obvious but indeed only way to look upon it…& some weeks later I queried a correction they’d ear-marked in an essay of mine…pointed out that I could see how their suggestion made sense…but that it resulted in saying something quite different to what I had intended…& once they rather gruffly accepted that if I was trying to say what I intended to…the way I said it the first time was in fact accurate in a way that their correction would not be…dismissed me with a curt “you don’t have to do that one”

              …approximately eight months later…in my annual (not even for the term in which that pair of exchanges came up) report…which would be read by my housemaster, the headmaster…& of course my parents…they characterized me as “argumentative & disruptive in class”

              …so…I figured…fuck it…I might as well try that on for size…as well to hang for sheep as a lamb & all that

              …actually got to sort of enjoy it, if I’m honest…until the salutatory lesson I learned from that earnest entreaty from one of my peers, anyway…it’s a fine line…& hard to navigate without tripping over counter-productive pitfalls along the way…when it works, though…I’d have to admit it is extremely satisfying?

              • Yeah, I understand. I was there too. At time I got promoted the jackals changed my contract from the standard two years to six months so instead of being deferential and keeping my own terrible ID/grudges/desire for revenge in check so I could remain in the role for a long time that I found myself reasoning it was now open season on the very people who fucked with me so I used the opportunities when they came.

                It obviously backfired on my career prospects, but I asked myself… did I really have any to begin with? The answer kept coming back as no I did not.

                • …that’s the thing about biting the hand that feeds…it’s all very well them telling you it’s only going to make things worse for you…but if all they’re willing to dole out are rotten scraps in the first place…that’s not really the incentive they seem to think it is?

        • I agree with the bully part, but I think the fear element is a relatively minor factor.

          Recent evidence on bullies has shifted a lot toward many having a strong tendency toward overabundance of self confidence and positive self image. In terms of social acceptance, a heavy percentage of bullies tend toward popularity rather than isolation.

          In extreme cases, bullying is connected to psychopathy, where the only fear is fear of being caught, and even then there’s a strong tendency toward belief they can evade consequences.

          People who flock to bullies may be fearful, but many are actually fellow bullies.

          For a decent outline, see https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5573968/ which distinguishes between straight up bullies and what it calls bully-victims. Bully-victims match the idea of the wounded psyche acting aggressively out of fear or trauma, while straight up bullies match the idea of the happy jock who just gets a kick out of pushing kids in the mud.

          I think the dynamic of GOP political leadership is much closer to the straight up bully type. They’re the ones with the social skills, economic resources and cunning to get elected to office, and who get joy from the cruelty that Adam Serwer describes.

          That’s not to say the bully-victims aren’t a part of the dynamic, but I don’t think they tend to be the ringleaders or organizers.

          There is no wound to be healed for the GOP. As Serwer says, the cruelty is the point.

          • …psychology is tricky…& in my somewhat limited experience as likely to be barking up entirely the wrong tree as it is to afford genuinely useful insight…so…while I can see how that might be a useful distinction that would break along those sorts of lines…when I said I find it increasingly hard not to view the phenomenon through the lens I described I was more by way of trying to sketch out the way it seems to me to work, rather than how it might function subjectively from their end

            …& on that basis the distinction sort of dissolves…in that the “non-victim” kind of bullies…&/or socio- or psycho- pathological types of that flavor…aren’t generally great shakes in the introspection stakes…& the abject terror to which I alluded wouldn’t necessarily be something that operates at a conscious level…though the things it prompts in them…for which they confect all manner of post-hoc rationalizations & justifications that evince very much the same absence of self-awareness…operate at least as consciously as their abundant levels of cognitive dissonance will allow any kind of intellectual faculties to

            …so…albeit very much from-where-I’m-sitting…they still seem to be acting from that same place of underlying terror stemming from whatever unconscious parts of their mind in which how very small they are & how very big the world is remains starkly obvious…as does the need to incessantly paper over the cracks in the panoply of delusions they need to keep functional in order not to suffer a mental breakdown

            …not that I’m necessarily right about any of that…I’m just forced to admit that as working definitions go it keeps seeming to make a stronger case for itself based on subjective observation as the days roll on?

            • I agree on the non-reflective aspect of so many authoritarians. I think the way to look at fear is that it may have been a shaping factor in formative years, but it’s not a driving force any more.

              I think to a large extent people like Trump or DeSantis don’t really have a personality anymore, and the role of their formative years was to burn away their humanity, including fear, sadness, regret, and other emotions that are often considered negative, even though they are a part of a well balanced individual.

              A normal person lives with their fears. An imbalanced person is driven by them. Someone like Trump or your typical Tennessee Republican leader destroyed them.

              • …could be…though I’m not altogether convinced that’s something with any better foundation than the version I find more persuasive…or at least seems to correlate alarmingly well in a predictive sense

                …most of which I’d put down to the part where what I’m vaguely trying to describe is…to use an otherwise unrelated comparison…more akin to the difference between how one’s voice sounds in its owner’s head & how it sounds to the rest of the world…& these are people who love the sound of their own voice…& learn to lean into things that result in the appearance that other people like the sound of what comes out of their mouth without either party really stopping to interrogate whether they’re hearing the same thing…let alone whether it’s possible the appeal is DOA to anybody who isn’t entirely tone-deaf to begin with

                …which is a self-reinforcing sort of a cycle…in which the audience approval stems in large part from buying into whatever bill of goods they happen to be shilling…&…after a few iterations…more often than not ends up with the speaker getting high on their own supply…which if nothing else tracks with what you were saying about presenting with an “overabundance of self confidence and positive self image”

                …which seems a lot like a long-winded way to describe arrogance in pseudo-scientific terms…not that the thing you linked to necessarily deserves to be tarred with that brush or anything…but the thought crossed my mind…along with something I remember being told more years ago than I care to remember

                …it’s not arrogance if you can back it up…in the sense of walking the walk & not just talking the talk…but being able to back up what reads to some some as arrogance when it’s actually well-founded confidence is not an excuse for failing to avoid it coming off as obnoxious

                …so obnoxious types start out a strike down…& an absence of the necessary humility to adjust the presentation to a non-obnoxious variety when it’s pointed out tends to be a second strike…whilst if they double down when the error of their ways is pointed out…or it’s entirely obvious that their whole shtick falls apart without it because the arrogant facade isn’t just a feature not a bug…but the only foundation any of it has

                …at least in my experience those types of people are crying out for a chorus of “you can miss me with that bullshit”…whatever fences they might fancy themselves swinging for?

  1. Clarence Thomas gives no fucks, does he? I mean absolutely none. He is totally above the law, ethics, morality, conscience, it doesn’t matter what it is, he is not subject to it and he does not care what you think about it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone so completely amoral in my life. Well, Trump, of course, but we voted him out.

    We need to term-limit these fuckers and expand the court. Either would help but both is best.

    • Well, he gives no fucks because:

      A:  He’s a right-winger.

      B:  He knows damned well he will never, ever have to face any consequences.  His enablers in Congress (which includes actual Republicans like Manchin and Sinema) will never impeach–much less convict–him, and no way in hell Roberts does anything on his end.  They’ve got their supermajority and they’re going to keep it.  People can scream and cry about it all they want.  He’s staying, and he’s going to keep pulling this bullshit because he can.

    • I want to say that it’s just because he’s a soulless right-wing ghoul but honestly, it’s not just that. There’s something about “lifetime appointment” that just rots people on that court. RBG could have retired after beating cancer twice and helped pick a successor that would carry on her legacy but nope, she gave no fucks and died under Trump instead. So her entire legal career can now be repealed because she couldn’t bother to let go.

      (And because moderate Dems get real mad about suggesting the sainted RBG is selfish, allow me to note here that Breyer wanted to do the SAME DAMN THING until he realized that people were frothing at the mouth about it and wisely stepped down so he wouldn’t end up pulling the same stunt. His first thought was to be even more selfish!)

      • You’re not wrong. That was some serious ego preening by an otherwise decent judge. I understand why she felt the way she did but we don’t always get the circumstance that we want.

      • That whole RBG thing really pissed me off–at her.  But the thing that really killed me was fucking Breyer.  He could already see what being that selfish would mean, AND he knew as well as anyone else that Senate control was not guaranteed beyond 2022, and he was still telling everyone they could pry his gavel out of his cold, dead hands.

  2. I said yesterday that they would run as democrats then switch parties like the idiot in NC.  This is also another way they can retain power since they have no policies any non-millionaire will vote for!


    Soooo, this election’s Kanye?


    • …I forget which one or exactly how long ago but in one of the things I think I quoted in a DOT a little while ago someone talking about ways to cover campaign stuff referred to someone else suggesting the approach ought to be to present “the stakes rather than the odds”…not sure that’d be verbatim but it seems like a decent rule of thumb when it comes to a lot of this stuff?

      …the odds of the stunt in tennessee actually dismissing that pair may in fact be not great…& I’m guessing rfk jr wouldn’t have great odds of coming out on top of the dem primary season…& the endless number of opinions on offer about bragg’s odds of getting those 34 felonies to stick are legion

      …but the same thing seems to be at stake in a way that surely ought to offer a comprehensible through line that is both replete with examples to campaign on…& has the benefit of tying the whole dumpster fire into a big enough picture to afford a modicum of perspective?

      …at least…it seems like it should

      …I guess I worry somewhat that the…tactics, shall we say…employed by people like bannon or the wannabe tyrants in tennessee kind of beg the sorts of questions that sound like hyperbole…even if they inherit that from the extremes the asshole brigade is pushing their agenda to

      …if it were being reported in the states about something happening somewhere far away it feels like by now terms like insurgency would be cropping up?

  3. Since I’ve bashed the NY Times a lot, I wanted to say that their article on the Tennessee GOP expulsion is good:


    It covers the facts without dodging the obvious racism angles, it puts the extremism of the GOP out front, and it doesn’t use techniques like the passive voice to remove the agency of the GOP.

    I’d note that the two reporters on the byline are not a part of the DC/Politics Beat. Not too long ago one of Carolyn Ryan’s main reporters, Jonathan Weisman, was dispatched to parachute in to East Palestine, where instead of doing this type of reporting he wrote a “political memo” that decided to spend most of its time repeating GOP talking points such as Biden’s trip to meet with Zelensky in Kyiv was somehow a sign that he had neglected small town America.

    In this case, however, the lead reporters are actually based in the area, rather than reporters like Weisman or Jeremy Peters, who fly in to places like Ohio from NYC and DC, and notoriously load their stories with GOP sources and fake swing voters who turn out to be GOP activists.

    The Times has also done some great stories by reporters who actually report, such as their expose of Clarence Thomas, their series on Trump’s tax fraud, and a recent piece on Guo Wengui’s influence on the US right.

    The common thread, though, is that these pieces are not coming out of the DC/Politics beat and are not produced by reporters who are part of Carolyn Ryan’s stable. They come from the regional bureaus or the investigations desk instead.

    What this says about the management of the Times is reflected in the fact that its DC/Politics crew is one of the two crown jewels of the Times. They’re the ones who get the highest degree of promotion online, the heaviest rotation on the front page, and the most literal and virtual ink.

    In terms of gripping copy, well written and informative, there’s no comparison between the Tennessee article and opinion “analysis” pieces like what Weisman or Peter Baker churn out. But the problem with the management at the Times is how heavily they put their thumbs on the scale for the least worthwhile pieces by their worst unit. The Times could hire and promote reporters who actually report, skip cliches, and don’t funnel GOP talking points for the DC/Politics beat, but they choose not to.

    The hill to climb for non-Politics beat reporters is steep, but for the Haberman/Baker crowd, the skids are greased.

    • …bear with me, if you’d be so kind…since this is a bit of a meander…& a kludge of one at that…but although I wouldn’t try to compete with your encyclopedic knowledge of the individual players…or deny the patterns of patronage in terms of writers/editors/sources at work in-house at the NYT (or WaPo/CNN/most-everyplace-in-the-media-landscape-one-way-or-another)…the picture you paint feels like it has more in common with…to take a fictional example…the perry white/j jonah jameson type of newsroom in which the only feedback from the audience when it comes to the golden rule of “give the people what they want” is whether the circulation figures show you selling more or less copies of the paper…plus or minus the sort of agenda you seem to have in mind

      …& one of the corollaries of the kind of cookie-centric digital fingerprints that hacker market that got taken down just the other day considered its stock in trade is that in a digital landscape there’s an overabundance of metrics…a good number of which might be as poorly understood &/or interpreted as the proverbial lies, damned lies & statistics generally conspire to be…but…in any event it got me to thinking…& I ran across something I’d been previously unaware of…to wit open.nytimes.com…& (apologies if none of this is as new to you as it was to me) a brief skim through a few of the things posted to that had me reconsidering whether it was altogether helpful to think of news orgs as having what I think of as “desks” as often as I do “beats”…for instance…this one is about the CMS they use…& quotes a figure of 1,700 members of a newsroom that is geographically-speaking a good deal more diverse than a lot of the grey lady’s coverage would have had me believing…while the one about how they assess/adapt/develop their paywall…which may or may not deserve to lay claim to making the thing “smarter” does touch on a bunch of ways in which the analytics that “describe” what is or isn’t the sort of story/coverage that “has legs” might be colored by the personal predilections of people at various levels of the stratified hierarchy that goes into producing the product we get to navigate…&…though the stub on there that sent me in search of it only seemed to have a busted link to a personal blog that plead ignorance of the post it purported to link to…I found what I think is the post it meant to link to on…of all places…github

      …the case study it examines is arguably on the frivolous side…being some sort of standalone web-app deal offering a glorified slide-show of red carpet outfits over an extended timeline…but it’s a fascinating read for all that?

      • I think misunderstanding of metrics is at the heart of a lot of the talking across each other when it comes to critics on the subject of economics as a driver of the press.

        In a narrow sense, I think it’s absolutely the case that media management is focused on money. I think they do a ton of things like A-B testing for new slogans, or microanalysis of viewership categories. It drives a ton of what they do.

        But I also think in a lot of ways media management is operating at a higher level which is completely oblivious to economics. So at the same time they’re both endlessly looking at daily ratings and drawing correlations between things like what tie should Don Lemon wear to appeal to women under 55, or what adjectives in Don Lemon’s script test best with upper income viewers, they’re also completely failing to think through basic questions like why does Don Lemon still have a job when CNN’s ratings overall keep dropping.

        To take the J. Jonah example, he wasn’t really asking “what does everybody want?” He had created a paper where the audience was people who hated Spiderman, and then kept asking “what do Spiderman-haters want?” And then not surprisingly, he kept crowing every time he’d sell extra copies with a front page photo of mayoral candidate Kingpin promising to bring Spiderman to justice.

        In the narrow sense, the Times has created an audience of transphobes, and then partially justified more transphobic articles on the grounds that they get bumps in readership or other engagement metrics. But they’re not calculating what the benefits would be from using all of those column inches for anything else.

        That’s the story behind that paywall article — it’s about optimizing the number of articles they can offer to increase the number of subscriptions they can sell to visitors, but it’s not thinking through broader questions of branding that a less micro-focused organization might consider, like who they aren’t getting in the first place.

        Nor is it considering the types of general management questions like the awareness of minority employees that the diversity hiring push stopped when it came to the DC/Politics side, which remains overwhelmingly White, no matter how many Black or Latino reporters get hired for Entertainment and Style. You can’t measure what that means for quality or readership — or sometimes they choose not to measure — so as far as a microanalysis-focused management is concerned, it’s not an issue.

        • …I think there’s a few more dimensions at work these days than that makes it sound like…which doesn’t mean what you sketch out isn’t an important part of the bigger picture…I just think it undersells a fair bit of what you’d need to fill the sketch in to the point of photo-realism?

          …maybe CNN really are still so far behind the times they focus group that kind of thing…I really couldn’t say…but based on what I used to hear from an old friend who worked for them for a while…I think that’s probably the least of their problems if it does happen to be the case…& in a similar sort of a way…maybe the NYT didn’t fall into winding up courting an anti-trans perspective as an emergent property of a series of deterministic factors that lacked for anyone with adequate knowledge or a better perspective being in a position to steer them away from it…but I don’t entirely buy that they set out to achieve that as a specific & deliberate goal…for a variety of reasons…but mostly because that would be even dumber than a lot of the adequately-dumb-to-still-get-them-there ways I can see that being an eventual outcome of a combination of less-sinister-but-not-exactly-innocuous factors it’s easier for me to believe would obtain

          …it’s why I paired perry white with the j jonah thing…in that model of a newsroom…which I don’t think has much resemblance to the ones currently employing real people…perry’s would be a “good” one & jameson’s basically a rag of the sort that people I grew up with would have called tomorrow’s chip-wrappings…but that didn’t mean spidey feeling like he had no choice but to bite his tongue & cash the paycheck…be it never so meager…made him a bad person…or some of lois & clark’s jealous colleagues good people simply because they shared office space…& I guess to me whether the NYT has a better claim to being kin to the daily planet than the bugle or not doesn’t figure in what I thought made those open.nytimes posts or the github thing of interest?

          …admittedly what I took from the one about the paywall was apparently different from you…& I’ve never had the misfortune to try to assist the development of newspaper website with global reach…but I have had a hand in the process of developing a website where the people who want the thing & the people who can build the thing basically can’t understand one another to the point that it’s not only impossible for either to get anywhere without other but both require the intercession of people who can translate between the two groups…& I can say with a fair amount of certainty that when it comes to trying to get the ones holding the purse strings to quit pulling new functionality requirements out of their ass at zero notice without the faintest conception of what they’d require in dev terms…let alone to grasp the caveats the devs they resent paying what they think are unreasonable rates to bring their pipe-dreams about how the whole thing works to some sort of functional life try at every turn to stress are at least as important to bear in mind as the success/failure of this or that function or widget according to the nearest available metric to the thing the board wants to base their decision on a statistical analysis of…it’s a thankless task at the best of times if those two groups are separated by an average of a couple or three decades in terms of their average age…& that’s when the stuff at stake & the scale it needs to work at is only the tip of the kind of iceberg that something like the NYT (or the guardian or whoever) would represent…so I think your sketch considerably undersells the profusion of chinese whispers involved in that kind of enterprise?

          …to get just a small flavor of that you can compare & contrast how this sounds


          …compared with this


          …& then try to imagine having to explain what the first one is actually saying, or why it might matter or be worthy of consideration to the sort of reader who’d lap up that second one & ask for more like oliver twist hoping there’s seconds porridge on offer…which has a lot to do with why I thought the thing I found on github was a fascinating read…I’m not all that interested in “the red carpet project” but this stuff?

          From these examples, a pattern emerges: a “successful” news application is one that presents a reader with a story and offers them an opportunity to dig deeper. Given this common structure of news applications, it should be possible to create a simple metric that captures the degree to which readers use an app to move from the far view to the near view. Such a metric might help newsrooms begin to assess readers’ level of engagement; defined here as the intersection of what readers want and what newsrooms want readers to do.
          Over the past couple of years, journalists, editors, and news room developers have begun to openly criticize the poverty of traditional metrics like page views and average time spent on page. Most of their frustration lies in the inability of these metrics to capture deeper ideas like attitudinal, behavioral, or legislative change – in a word: impact. But while automated metrics may never fully capture these important considerations, they could help us get at some idea of overall reader engagement with a news application.
          One step past page-views and time spent on page are more granular web metrics that capture individual events. From Google Analytics, Omniture, to WebTrends, many free and paid-for analytics services offer access to raw event-level data, or individual actions taken on a given page. “Events” can be created with small tags in your site’s JavaScript (see how to do this with Google Analytics). By tagging elements of a project associated with clicking through a site, entering a search term, watching a video, or sharing on social media, event tracking can be used to track a users path from the ‘far’ to the ‘near’ of news apps.
          The difficult (and perhaps troubling) aspect of event tracking is the necessity of identifying individual users of a site. The New York Times is lucky enough to have substantial traffic from registered users. In these cases, collecting user-level event data over time and across multiple devices is simplified through logins. However, IP addresses or IDs extracted from cookies, small bits of information that sites use to track their users, can serve as proxies. While these can be deactivated on most modern browsers, or through services like Tor, in most cases they can represent an “individual user.” In turn, reconciling this information allows us to study the scope of each user’s interaction with an app.

          …once I got past the quasi-PTSD the whole thing provokes in me…is fascinating to me at least in part because it seems a lot like when it comes to the analytics/metrics at work…the behavior they report is a dataset in which it’s hard to separate the sort of bot-driven traffic that’s looking to game the system in the first place (to take one example of a thing that could poison the well before the chinese whispers even get started) from the bulk of actual-behavior-of-real-users-as-thusly-quantified/finger-printed…& also that it doesn’t seem to have any way of accounting for the part where their most technologically astute/proficient/paranoid readers’ behavior is going to be completely opaque to them to the point of not actually showing up anywhere in the picture they’re using as a basis from which to judge that stuff

          …&…if I had to lay a bet…it’d be against either carolyn ryan or a g sulzberger being able to explain any of that stuff adequately enough to have it make sense to someone who isn’t familiar with the underlying technology…let alone the functional importance of those caveats I mentioned devs being fond of…but when it comes to whether the “engagement” metrics support keeping the doubthat/haberman types on staff or leaning into a burgeoning reputation for being an anti-trans platform…I’d pretty much assume it’d be a safe bet that those kinds of people very much think the data supports things being the way they have been?

    • It’s their MO.

      Egos have been hurt and bruised. Also when one is used to getting their way, it is very easy to damage/puncture the ego causing a traumatic response.

      I don’t pretend to be any better than them either. I’m prone to lashing out when my ego is bruised… sometimes I can rein in my own tendencies but not always.

      We don’t always expect it because we like to think everyone is rational, but we’re talking animalistic instincts here. As Dark Helmet said once, “Evil wins because good is stupid”… I like to think this is what he’s talking about. We assume that bullies act rationally and they don’t.

  4. In no big surprise, Don Lemon is an absolute creep:


    Those who worked with him say he was a shameless name dropper and left behind hints that he socialized with important people, like a hand-written note from Stedman Graham that he had taped on his computer.

    But even worse is abusive behavior toward women at CNN, including an incident where he sent two anonymous threatening texts to coanchor Kyra Phillips. It’s not standard sexual harrassment — Lemon is gay. But it’s absolutely sexist harrassment.

    The article goes into details how former CNN head Jeff Zucker protected and enabled Lemon despite growing problems, and current head Chris Licht seems uninterested in more than minor HR intervention. They quote an entertainment contract litigation specialist who says CNN has had wide latitude to fire him. They’ve just chosen not to.

    It’s not the ratings, either — Lemon has been a fixture as CNN’s ratings have gone down the drain. And his seven figure annual salary costs CNN a lot. They just like what he does.

    • …it’s something that’s always somehow more disappointing to find out about when it involves people who might in some other aspect of their lives or livelihoods be a seemingly other-than-awful influence…& I’m not altogether a fan of refinery29…or at least not a frequent visitor…but they (or at anyrate someone on there) had this to say about the johnathan majors thing the other day…which seemed to make some sound observations?


      …admittedly there’s something of a leap from workplace harassment to domestic violence…but in terms of how “the talent” tends to be enabled/shielded by the people who consider them an asset to their bottom line…it feels like that overlap might just as easily be characterized as a pipeline…like the way that mistreatment of animals as a kid has a correlation with winding up becoming a serial murderer…except it seems like if the broken windows are expensive enough keeping up the facade that they aren’t broken somehow takes priority over actually getting in a competent glazier?

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