So, something of a hodgepodge ‘n’ mop-up post today, starting with a continuation of yesterday’s subject.
A chapter of the Troll story I didn’t go into yesterday: As the fax gave way to the web, Media Watch of course moved online, and as easy blogging platforms took over from hand-coded HTML, they went in that direction, too. But in a very strange way: Rich Reynolds and whatever company he had didn’t post on one blog, or two, or three or four or even five. Rather, they scooped up Blogspot URLs willy-nilly, and to this day there are many out there with one or two or zero items on them, ghost ships sailing the online seas. A fellow blogger tried to count them all 10 years ago, but I’m sure there are many more. Certainly, he missed two: Why We Hate Nancy Nall and That Stupid Bitch, Nancy Nall.
Go ahead, click. He’s not making any money off this shit.
The second one gives you a pretty fine example of what I put up with all those years, but it’s the first one that I want to talk about. It features a picture of me that he stole from here (which makes all that wankery in the other one about my abuse of Fair Use that much more, y’know, ironic). I recall I posted it next to a photo of Leonardo DiCaprio making the exact same scowly face, as something of a joke.
I had some time on my hands the day I discovered it, and I sent an email to Google, which owns Blogspot, and asked them to send a takedown notice for copyright infringement. I don’t remember what happened, but I think it went down for a while, then back up. I sent another email to Google, and received a robo-reply encouraging me to take up my case with the blog operator. Nothing doing. The whole experience was like standing on the sidewalk outside the Willis Tower, yelling at someone in the higher-level executive suites.
One of my many frustrations with online publishing is this sort of bullshit, in which Google sits around on its vast piles of money and anyone with a complaint is encouraged to fill out a form and then go pound sand. There was literally no way to contact anyone in whatever division controls Blogspot, at least not without a lawyer. And it simply wasn’t that important to me. (I did find a high-ranking Google executive on Facebook and messaged him my complaint, signing off with “Don’t be evil!”)
A guiding principle of newspaper publishing, when I came up through it, was responsibility for your product. It’s the reason we had so many high-flying ethical codes about conflicts of interest and fairness and the like, and it’s why you couldn’t drop f-bombs in stories. It’s why Ben Bradlee said, “We stand by our story” and it’s – you get the picture. But today, you can offer a product, free of charge, that allows crazy people to rant and rave, to copy and paste and steal others’ work, to post photos of naked 19-year-olds made up to look 13, etc. And if anyone objects? Hey, we’re just the messenger!
I know there is a legal philosophy behind this, but it still chaps my ass.
And with that, let’s close this chapter and move on to cheerier matters, shall we?
This is delightful: Since the Charlie Hebdo massacre, an old wingnut rumor has been dusted off, that Dearborn, Detroit’s heavily Muslim-populated suburb, is actually under Sharia law. A local wag — one of those terms I learned in the newspaper business — who happens to be a gay Buddhist, went around with a friend taking photos of Dearborn Sharia in action and they were published on the Huffington Post. (My favorite is the Honeybaked Ham store.)
One of these lunatics claimed Detroit police never go into Dearborn, because Sharia. My old colleague Jack Lessenberry has another idea:
It’s true that Detroit police never go to Dearborn. However, that might be because Dearborn is a separate city and has its own police force.
On a darker note, you might have to do some googling to understand the Wisconsin Idea — basically, it’s the crazy notion that Wisconsin institutions of higher learning should serve the people of the state that supports them — but Scott Walker is no fan of it. And how did the governor’s administration want the Wisconsin Idea rewritten? Do you even need to ask?
…(In) the proposed budget he released Tuesday, the governor made the UW System’s mission to “meet the state’s workforce needs.” He also proposed striking language about public service and improving the human condition, and deleting the phrase: “Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth.”
Hey, he never graduated. WHO NEEDS COLLEGE, ANYWAY? It’s times like this I’m glad Charles Pierce is blogging.
OK, that’s enough for this week. Enjoy the weekend, all. I’ll be working for at least part of it, but it’ll keep me out of trouble, I hope.