Category Archives: Blogs and Blogging

Terrorism Against American Bloggers Continues?

Aaron Walker says he was SWATted again last night. Attorney Patrick Frey corroborates. If history is any guide, Walker will produce full documentation as soon as it’s available.

I have become increasingly alarmed at the hostile environment bloggers are finding themselves working under today. I recently purchased pre-paid legal services in part to be ready to defend myself from the sort of spurious lawsuits and criminal allegations that now look like they’re part of the danger of blogging, tweeting, even Facebooking, and I would advise anyone who ever takes an even remotely controversial public stance do the same.

*Update* Further thoughts from attorney Bruce Godfrey here.

*Update 2*: This is from a few weeks ago. The fact that this happened again just last night to another individual indicates that it’s still happening. By my count that is now four prominent bloggers that have been targeted in as many weeks.

Nicole Sullivan: Identifying The Trolls, Including The Troll Within?

I enjoyed this talk by Nicole Sullivan on trolls and trolling and even, somewhat, her take on how to identify your own “trollish” behavior. I especially loved her “If you only respond to ass-hats, your life will soon be full of ass-hats.”

But the last part–identifying your own troll-tendencies–I had a little more trouble with, since she relied heavily on something called Project Implicit. I had to go looking for it and found it here. I found the testing a little confusing but eventually got the hang of it. I was a little disappointed though, because all it really does is help you identify possible prejudices you might hold; it says nothing about whether there’s any truth in your prejudices, nor whether any prejudice you have is relevant to your day-to-day interactions, and it says nothing about other types of trollish behavior, such as how you phrase things, your desire for conflict or avoidance of same, and so on.

Still, I took two of the tests: one on my attitudes about Arab Muslims, and one on men and women in the arts and sciences. On the Arab-Muslim test, it showed I had a slight bias against Arab Muslims, which only surprised me a little since I’ve had my head plunged into the deranged politics of the Middle East for well over ten years, and I have a muted tolerance toward small amounts “profiling” (although I think it’s very dangerous on multiple levels to allow much of it, since it can hurt innocent people and also creates a great big security hole; find people who don’t match your profile to do your dirty work and you can wreak much havoc). But yeah, there does appear to me to be a higher percentage of deranged crazies in the Middle East and the crazies are often associated with the Islamic faith; I won’t apologize for perceiving that any more than I’ll find it acceptable to treat my Arab Muslim friends like there’s something wrong with them. (And if anybody yanks out the “some of my best friends are…” cliche, save it for someone who cares, I don’t owe you any apologies or explanations).

The other test I took was the one I guess Ms. Sullivan used to discover, to her dismay, that she was “sexist.” Now that’s interesting to me because “sexism” to me implies a belief in the inherent superiority of one sex over the other. So I took what I’m pretty sure is the same test she did, and lo and behold I found that I had a moderate bias toward associating males with the sciences and females with the liberal arts. But what does that “bias” suggest? Not only have I looked repeatedly at the objective demographics which show this association, but my real-world experience in the tech world confirms it: gosh, there’s more boys over here in the techie/engineering world and more girls getting things like degrees in social work or law. I mean, I don’t just think that is true, I know it to be true. I suspect Ms. Sullivan does too. So how does it make it “trollish” to notice this?

The concern, I would guess, is that you may somehow think less of a woman you find in tech, or somehow think less of a man you find in the social sciences. This does not match my personal experiences. Maybe it does someone else’s, I can only speak for myself. On the flip side, I’ve experienced people accusing me of sexism, both professionally and personally, and been totally bewildered and even hurt by it. I have sometimes thought, “Am I being a sexist?” But just as often I’ve wondered, “am I being presumed to be a bigot by someone who just doesn’t like me or what I’m saying?”

It probably says something about my own prejudices (and experiences) that I wasn’t surprised when she noted that when she wrote about her perspective on women in tech, she got a lot of angry responses. The interesting thing to me, given that I don’t know what she wrote (I didn’t even go looking, and for the moment anyway I’m intentionally not-looking), is that I sort of presume that she wrote about how it’s tough being a woman in tech, and I presume she got a bunch of angry guys who didn’t like her saying that. That is total prejudice on my part, because, as I say, I didn’t read it and don’t know what she said and, by extension, I obviously wouldn’t have read whatever comments she got, nasty or otherwise. I go with that pre-judgement just because I’ve seen so many such online discussions before and they almost always look like that: woman complains how tough it is being a woman in Field X, and a bunch of incoherent guys give a bunch of incoherent responses, and the presumption of most people seems to be that they’re angry and incoherent because they’re sexists rather than that they might have other reasons for feeling their anger–and no one asks what those other reasons might be.

And my experience is that guys who get annoyed by such things run a gamut, from sexist to shameful to dismissive to confused, but what they mostly are is incoherent, and what they often feel is that no one is really asking them why they feel that way, everyone just presumes they know.

Now the interesting thing would be to see how well my prejudices match what actually happened; when I have time, I’ll go looking for whatever article she wrote that garnered a lot of responses, probably some time in the next few days.

Check Out the Updated Blogroll

On the right hand side of our front page, we now have a lengthy list of other weblogs called a “blogroll.” As I mentioned a few days ago, we once had a very long list and for a variety of reasons I took it down. I recently revived it and spent quite a bit of time going through the list, pruning out dead sites and sites that had gone beyond what I consider civilized discourse. It was an interesting experience to see how much the blog world has changed in the last few years.

On that list you will find a wide variety of voices. Some personal, some political. On the political spectrum you’ll find all but the most extreme and radical voices. Of the nonpolitical, you should find an interesting diversity of information.

I may break it up into categories, but as of now you should find all those links work and many have something interesting to say. There are even a few “dead” sites there–not too many, but a few, and on those few that look dead, I left them there mostly because I think if you look through the archives you’ll find all sorts of interesting or fun stuff.

If you spot any problems or think of anyone or anything that should be added or corrected please let me know.