Thirteen Ways of Looking At A Trollbird

by John Holbo on January 31, 2015

The author is a genius but would prefer to remain mildly anonymous. I think it reads like Donald Barthelme. (I mean, the Stevens influence is also pretty definitely there.)

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Trollbird

I
Among twenty reasonable comments,
The only livid thing
Was the caw of the trollbird.

II
I was of three minds,
Like a blog
In which there are three trollbirds.

III
The trollbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

IV
A man and a man pretending to be a woman
Are one.
A man and a man pretending to be a woman and a trollbird
Are one.

V
I do not know which to prefer,
The banality of congruent discourse
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The trollbird ROFLMFAO’ing
Or just after.

VI
Libertarians filled the long comments section
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the trollbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

VII
O thin men of Webdom,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the trollbird
Walks around the feet
Of the earnest among you?

VIII
I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the trollbird is involved
In what I know.

IX
When the trollbird was banned,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

X
At the sight of trollbirds
Remarking in a green mood,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

XI
Wieseltier rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For trollbirds.

XII
The book has four-and-a-half stars.
The trollbird will be flying soon.

XIII
It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The trollbird signed on
With a fresh user-name.

One real advantage of the Roman numeral system is that, like in the old Prison joke, when we see a new troll, we can just call out ‘XII’, or whatever. And everyone will immediately be able to savor the standardized, exquisite aspect.

{ 70 comments }

1

bad Jim 01.31.15 at 9:00 am

Speaking of Roman numerals, why isn’t the impending Superbowl game denominated IL instead of XLIX?

A lot of Barthelme went over my head. “Robert Kennedy Saved from Drowning”, for example. Didn’t keep my from buying his books.

2

Magari 01.31.15 at 9:22 am

Clumsy explanation: only ones (I), tens (X), and hundreds (C) are used as a prefix to modify a superior number, and the number must use the “closest” of these three to perform this modification. So 999 cannot be IMIC since M is closer to C than I, and C closer to X than I. Hence it’s CMXCIX. Here you see all three prefix modifiers in use.

3

bjza 01.31.15 at 1:50 pm

Tangential to discussion of trolls, I’m struck by how changing a few words transforms one of my favorite poems into not-poetry.

4

Teachable Mo' 01.31.15 at 2:39 pm

re: 1

I read a learned explication of one of Barthelme’s “stories”. [1] Very impressive explication, but it didn’t help with any of the others. Barthelme’s chief achievement (as has been noted by someone smarter than me) is to have invented a new tone.

Daumier still loves his chili dogs, though.

[1] Memory says it involved the wall of a building in Paraguay. But it’s probably wrong.

5

Rich Puchalsky 01.31.15 at 2:48 pm

“when we see a new troll”

Trolls live in time rather than space. Only the novas and fireworks of troll-dom burn the candle so brightly that you decide that they’re trolls in the first comment.

6

nnyhav 01.31.15 at 4:09 pm

wanna tweet?

7

dn 01.31.15 at 7:42 pm

The apparition of these trollbirds on the blog;
Comments are a long, hard slog.

8

The Dark Avenger 01.31.15 at 8:15 pm

The name reminds me of the story Jewbird by Bernard Malamud.

9

Alan White 02.01.15 at 12:31 am

This is sweet for three reasons: it’s very clever, it is a paean to a great poet and a favorite of mine (I memorized 13 Ways), and you celebrate Barthelme. One of my proudest moments was having his son Frederick email me about an acceptance to Mississippi Review. (Snort)

10

ZM 02.01.15 at 12:36 am

That is very funny – I am hoping some trollish comments get made – not ideas about the trolls but the trolls themselves

11

J. Parnell Thomas 02.01.15 at 12:40 am

Oh come one, you know damn well they’re here already.

12

Ze Kraggash 02.01.15 at 12:52 am

I had a brain, five senses (one unique), but otherwise I was a cloutish freak.

13

J. Parnell Thomas 02.01.15 at 12:55 am

So what does “cloutish” mean?

14

J. Parnell Thomas 02.01.15 at 1:43 am

For example, the mysterious Dark Avenger’s previous Jew-related spitball was the, well I guess a spitball can’t be a spark, but I know people here say “proximate cause” a lot, so then the proximate cause of a certain other commenter’s 2-minute hate, which led to…

Really, is there anybody here who isn’t a troll?

15

J. Parnell Thomas 02.01.15 at 1:55 am

Fuck it, I feel tired, I’m not going out.

16

Cryptic ned 02.01.15 at 4:34 am

Responding to Alan White: Frederick Barthelme is actually Donald’s brother. Their father (also Donald) was an architect.

17

Alan White 02.01.15 at 5:50 am

Cryptic–yes, I confused the two Donalds. Thanks.

18

Mike Schilling 02.01.15 at 6:55 am

@8 It reminded me of Harlan Ellison’s Deathbird, which is also divided into short (not this short) numbered chapters.

19

skippy 02.01.15 at 8:05 am

this is so brilliant that even i, without a classical education and no knowledge of whatever poem is being parodied, even i chortled and enjoyed it.

i do, however, have an unfortunate working knowledge of trolls, so i appreciate it to no end.

20

John Holbo 02.01.15 at 8:22 am

“Really, is there anybody here who isn’t a troll?”

There is a kernel of truth to this, J. Thomas. But:

XIV
Trollbird is a cuckoobird,
As foolish in hate as any
Motherbird in foolish love.

21

J. Parnell Thomas 02.01.15 at 12:27 pm

And of course the extension of that question is, is there anybody here who isn’t Daniel Davies?

22

J. Parnell Thomas 02.01.15 at 12:31 pm

I’m starting to suspect the whole “group blog” thing was a sham from the start.

23

Kiwanda 02.01.15 at 1:40 pm

The term “troll” here seems to be used in what I understand to be its “classic” online meaning: “someone who says outrageous things they don’t really mean just to kick up a response”. However the word has also taken on the meaning of “someone who disagrees with the local echo chamber”, and also “someone who threatens, doxxes, stalks, harasses”. The blurred use of these meanings can be effective for enforcing conformity in online communities.

24

Rich Puchalsky 02.01.15 at 2:49 pm

The meaning “someone who disagrees with the local echo chamber” is the important one. I don’t keep a real count, but I must have been banned by more than 20 blogs — including by 2 of the posters here — and I’ve never threatened, doxxed, stalked, or harassed, nor do I comment writing things I don’t believe.

People want commenters to write what they’d like them to write. Otherwise those people are trolls.

25

John Holbo 02.01.15 at 3:35 pm

J. Thomas: “is there anybody here who isn’t Daniel Davies?”

?

How could you possibly be sure the one person we all secretly are isn’t Belle Waring? (You think we just couldn’t be a girl?)

Rich: “The meaning “someone who disagrees with the local echo chamber” is the important one … People want commenters to write what they’d like them to write. Otherwise those people are trolls.”

You and I have been friends for a long time, Rich. I consider you a friend. But you also seem to me persistently rhetorically tone deaf on this point. Just look at what you wrote. Not ‘someone who disagrees with what another group thinks’ but ‘someone who disagrees with the local echo chamber.’

Suppose you roll into a thread, making clear your message is ‘you are just a local echo chamber but the good news is that, finally, someone with some independence of mind has shown up.’ This is, at the very least, insulting.

Which is what makes the diagnosis that follows – “People want commenters to write what they’d like them to write” – a bad diagnosis.

Look, imagine it’s a cartoon. I really can’t make it simpler. Guy at the bar turns to the guy next to him. ‘Fuck you!’ says the guy. ‘Fuck you, too, asshole’ says the other guy. First guy gets sore. ‘Huh. Typical. People only want to hear what they want to hear. No need to resort to calling me names.’

The world is full of people who don’t want to be gratuitously insulted, who may yet be tolerant of hearing opinions besides their own expressed. You know this.

Engaging in a way that is clearly calculated to insult rather than edify – even if you truly believe your target is a rather pathetic sheeplebubble of groupthink – is trolling. (I ought to know!)

26

Rich Puchalsky 02.01.15 at 3:54 pm

People define “gratuitously insulting” as saying something that they really don’t like. This really isn’t a matter of using curse words or insulting names: one of the defining factors of online civility is that people make up whatever standards they’d like to use against someone at the moment.

And “engaging is a way that is clearly calculated to insult rather than edify”, is, itself, engagement. As you ought to know! Sometimes someone hasn’t written something that is as great and wonderful as they think it is (in the troll’s opinion). It is sometimes impossible to convey this without being insulting, because the fault in the text necessarily implies that the author hasn’t thought it through, or that the author is otherwise thinking in a way that the author will find insulting if characterized. The echo chamber then comes in not as a matter of preferred belief, necessarily, but as a sense that the usual procedures of flattery and toadying aren’t being followed.

27

mattski 02.01.15 at 4:03 pm

Sometimes someone hasn’t written something that is as great and wonderful as they think it is (in the troll’s opinion). It is sometimes impossible to convey this without being insulting, because the fault in the text necessarily implies that the author hasn’t thought it through, or that the author is otherwise thinking in a way that the author will find insulting if characterized.

You elected yourself the one worthy of passing judgement. Rich’s disrespect is justified because Rich is so smart, or so Rich believes. But what comes through loud and clear is your disrespect.

I do find it interesting that you have responded with silence to my calls for accountability from you for suggesting that I was/am a supporter of torture on a previous thread.

Mr. Integrity.

(You pulled a similar number with commenter ‘tub’ on a different thread.)

28

Dean C. Rowan 02.01.15 at 4:03 pm

Stevens might have been anticipating blog trolls not in the blackbird poem, but in “The Snow Man,” the last stanza of which reads:

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

29

Rich Puchalsky 02.01.15 at 4:20 pm

Anyone who writes “Wow, your post is really great” has “elected [themselves] the one worthy of passing judgement.”

As for the rest, mattski, I wrote what I think is sufficient within the thread that you’re complaining about. Anyone can go back and read it and decide whether or not they agree.

30

Ze Kraggash 02.01.15 at 4:34 pm

Echo chambers can be annoying. Some are more annoying than others.

If the sign over the door says “church of god” and people inside are chanting “god is great”, that’s fine.

If the sign says “place for people like you to engage in an open discussion” and people inside are chanting “god is great”, that’s annoying. You might feel compelled to come in and say “no, god isn’t that great”. You’ll be trolling. But let’s be fair: trolling has been provoked, by false advertising. A different, better designed sign would spell out out the norms that define the congregation, and at least this kind of trolling would’ve been prevented.

31

mattski 02.01.15 at 5:17 pm

To put it another way, Rich, it is difficult to respond to another with respect if you don’t feel respect for that person. All the more difficult to change this habit if you don’t recognize it. But you arrogate for yourself the right to criticize without respect.

Sure, anyone can look up old threads but that isn’t what I asked for. I asked you to justify your accusation that I supported torture. Because your accusation was baseless. But you couldn’t be bothered to defend your actions.

It’s wonderful to have a sharp intellect, which you clearly do. But without a feeling of decency for other people there is the constant danger of your comments polluting the conversation with ill-will.

32

mattski 02.01.15 at 5:29 pm

***Anyone who writes “Wow, your post is really great” has “elected [themselves] the one worthy of passing judgement.”

We’re all entitled to our opinions, of course. But what you seem to want is the right to be insulting without any responsibility for it.

It is sometimes impossible to [critique] without being insulting

For the most part, in matters like these, what is possible or impossible is determined by what is in our hearts. If you don’t want to be insulting you can almost always find a way.

33

John Holbo 02.01.15 at 5:48 pm

“And “engaging is a way that is clearly calculated to insult rather than edify”, is, itself, engagement.”

Rich, I’m not telling you not to insult people. Heaven forfend! I’m just saying that if you insult people, you should expect them to be insulted. Possibly you know people who need to be engaged with via insult, either as righteous punishment for things they have done wrong, or as an attempt to cure their wrongness via a kind of shock treatment. Possibly I myself am, unknowingly, such a person in present need of insulting. But it’s no good pretending that the reason why people are insulted by insults isn’t that they are insulted by them but is in fact some other thing – like being just narrow-minded. The simple explanations is in fact the correct one.

You are a smart guy, Rich, but I think you are not emotionally perceptive about these issues. What you are saying is that you are justified in trolling people, because they deserve it and need it. I get that you think that, and why. What I don’t admit is that it ceases to be trolling, just because you think so. Even if you are right, what follows is just that you are righteously trolling. Which you should expect to be correctly identified as such by your targets (except for the righteous part, about which there is likely to be dissent, so brace yourself for that.)

34

Bruce Wilder 02.01.15 at 5:59 pm

I get that Rich is sometimes not quite modestly self-effacing and sometimes fails to overlook, or let pass, someone’s conspicuously self-serving logical muddle, but does that make him “a troll”? Not in my dictionary.

35

MPAVictoria 02.01.15 at 6:02 pm

Hmmm does trolling occasionally make you a troll….

Deep question.

36

Bruce Wilder 02.01.15 at 7:07 pm

A characteristic, annoying and effective tactic of the troll is to misunderstand one’s interlocutor as part of a strategic attempt to control or disrupt the framing agenda of the discussion.

A skillful troll, with no true commitments of her own, can annoy a bull and misdirect with a swirl of her colorful cape, leading all around the arena, while backing up.

I’ve seen Rich play the part of the bull, but not the matador. He seems to have genuine commitments that leave him with too little flexibility to be an effective troll. Being an angry bull, attempting to gore your interlocutor — this is not something I admire, but it is not something that I despise in the way that I despise the matador.

37

Rich Puchalsky 02.01.15 at 7:14 pm

mattski: “But what you seem to want is the right to be insulting without any responsibility for it.”

That is nonsense. I always comment using my real name, and I accept responsibility for what I write.

If you really want to revisit an old thread that badly, I can (if you point out a link to it that would help). But this is the first time I’ve supposedly trolled someone by *not* writing.

JH: “Rich, I’m not telling you not to insult people. Heaven forfend! I’m just saying that if you insult people, you should expect them to be insulted.”

I acknowledge that this is true. But I don’t think that there is this easy distinction between content and style that you seem to imply (which becomes a clear distinction between being narrow-minded and responding to insult).

Take the “you accused me of being a supporter of torture!” accusation that mattski brings up. I think that a majority or large minority of people in the U.S. are supporters of torture. This isn’t a motte-and-bailey kind of thing, where when pressed on it I retreat to “Well, wouldn’t we all kind of support torture in some circumstances, it’s no big deal” but otherwise I return to it being a serious accusation. It’s something that’s seriously wrong with our society, and wrong with all of those people as individuals, something they should reconsider and change. And yes, each and every one of them is going to get insulted when I say it.

And this is hardly the only topic on which almost anything that I write is going to be deeply insulting to lots of other people. Of course I admit that *instrumentally* one doesn’t want to use the same rhetorical style everywhere. I don’t expect a politician seeking to convince the U.S. public that we shouldn’t torture to go out and insult everyone. But this isn’t that situation, and I’m not that person.

So in short, you’re right: I expect people to be insulted. But that’s a natural result of actual differences of opinion that can’t be smoothed over with happy talk, and the limits of opinion that can be expressed in a particular place.

38

nnyhav 02.01.15 at 7:48 pm

Loading the echo chamber: … if you shout long into an abyss, the abyss will shout back into you.

39

Ze Kraggash 02.01.15 at 8:02 pm

If someone is a supporter of torture, and you tell him that he is a supporter of torture, why should he be insulted?

Perhaps it’s that they are more nuanced than your strict dichotomy allows for.

It’s like if you tell a devoted Christian: ‘you don’t always turn the other chick, therefore you aren’t a Christian!’ Yeah, they might feel insulted. But also this whole exchange (you support torture! no, I do not! yes, you do!) seems completely silly and unnecessary.

40

js. 02.01.15 at 8:42 pm

Thanks to dn, this post + thread has managed to reference not one but _two_ of my favorite poems. Thanks!

41

mattski 02.01.15 at 10:41 pm

Rich,

I don’t think you know what ‘responsibility’ entails.

If you really want to revisit an old thread that badly…

Do I want to go back and argue with you about torture again? No. Do I want you to take responsibility for your behavior? Yes.

I wrote what I think is sufficient within the thread that you’re complaining about.

Indeed. Precisely my point. You implied that I was a supporter of torture. I responded with a plain indication that your comment was not acceptable to me, ie, show me the justification for what you said. Reasonable request, I think, if you’re going to make such an obnoxious accusation. But you provided nothing in the way of justifying your loose words. That’s what I call not taking responsibility.

Similarly, you often conduct yourself with a judgmental arrogance that people find offensive. And when you offer analysis like this,

It is sometimes impossible to convey this without being insulting, because the fault in the text necessarily implies that the author hasn’t thought it through

you are giving off a rather intense whiff of “if you got insulted by what I wrote it’s because what you wrote was so inferior.” That’s not taking responsibility for your behavior.

At all.

42

Collin Street 02.01.15 at 10:59 pm

So in short, you’re right: I expect people to be insulted. But that’s a natural result of actual differences of opinion that can’t be smoothed over with happy talk, and the limits of opinion that can be expressed in a particular place.

Err, no?

I think that your universal experience that honest disagreement invariably leads to insult might have something to do with the fact that your universal experience is not universal at all; your uniform experience has a common factor not shared with anyone else’s experience, and I’d strongly suggest looking at that.

[getting banned from 20+ forums is somewhat unusual. Surely you recognise this, and thus recognise that other people can do things — things like “not get banned from 20+ forums” — that you find difficult/impossible, and that you might be able to learn something from this?]

43

John Holbo 02.01.15 at 11:27 pm

“I expect people to be insulted. But that’s a natural result of actual differences of opinion that can’t be smoothed over with happy talk, and the limits of opinion that can be expressed in a particular place.”

OK, we can work with this. I get that there might be situations in which there is no way to be polite about things. But now you are conflating that notional case with YOUR case. You are not seriously saying, I trust, that YOUR comments are, as a rule, as smoothed over with ‘happy talk’ as it is humanly possible to be.

The fact that you even gloss my point this way takes us back to the bar. The first guy turns to the other guy, ‘fuck you!’ The bartender leans over. ‘Try to keep it civil in here, guy.’ First guy: ‘Everyone wants everything smoothed over with the happy talk!’

44

Bruce Wilder 02.01.15 at 11:49 pm

Happy talk? To some extreme? Please tell me you are kidding?!

Why is the bartender serving alcohol instead of Prozac?

45

Rich Puchalsky 02.02.15 at 12:17 am

JH: “You are not seriously saying, I trust, that YOUR comments are, as a rule, as smoothed over with ‘happy talk’ as it is humanly possible to be.”

That is correct. Unlike the humorous (to me, anyways) scenario that Collin Street brings up, it’s not like I say to myself “Blog number 21, banned again — how could I possibly do this differently? Oh well it’s unavoidable.” It’s clearly possible for me or anyone else to self-censor, flatter, generally be agreeable, make sure that unpopular opinions are expressed passively and abstractly rather than actively and concretely, don’t question posters who have obvious rage issues, and so on. bob mcmanus wrote a hilarious, slightly coded couple of comments about this recently. But why should people want to do this? It would be simpler not to comment at all.

The problem with your bar example is that the first guy is so unmotivated. He just turns to the second guy and lets loose with the F-bomb for no reason. Maybe trolls often think they have reasons — reasons that don’t have any force if expressed civilly? For instance, I found the thread that mattski is going on about, no thanks to him. (Yes, in a sterling example of Bruce Wilder’s bulls-vs-matadors metaphor, I was taunted into looking this up for him.) Here it is. Can you find the place where, despite my making it clear that I was talking about American chattel slavery, mattski makes it clear that he wasn’t aware that slavery was synonymous with torture? Or where he dismissively says afterwards that according to my definition, torture must exist in all times and places? Here’s what I wrote: “If people wonder why the U.S. has never given up on torture, the people in this thread offer an object lesson. They are still defending torture, both in the present day and by historical denialism. And they are ‘on the left’ by any reasonable definition.” I still fully agree with and take responsibility for that.

46

floopmeister 02.02.15 at 1:12 am

The other prime attribute of a troll is that they can divert and monopolise the discussion thread so that it’s all about themselves.

Just saying.

47

John Holbo 02.02.15 at 1:38 am

“The problem with your bar example is that the first guy is so unmotivated.”

OK, maybe this is the issue. Let’s just take the most recent thread in which you and I have gone round about your tone issues. It was Harry’s Wonder Woman thread. Harry said he thought Marston was a bit of an enigma and you took that as grounds for assuming, for argument purpose, that Harry was obviously a pretty awful person to say so. So basically you had a choice. You could have said, ‘Harry, why do you think he’s an enigma?’ Or ‘I don’t think he’s an enigma’. Or you could have said, ‘Harry, you are a horrible person to say he is an enigma.’ You chose the equivalent of that last option, even though (to judge from your comments) you only had a Wikipedia entry worth of personal knowledge about Marston, whereas Harry had read a whole biography by that point. Now I submit to you that this is 1) typical of your rhetorical mode; 2) hardly a case of maximally smoothing Harry’s feathers with happy talk. 3) Not clearly motivated.

So let’s have no more happy talk about happy talk as it is not relevant to our lifestyle.

What was your motivation for abusing Harry, merely for suggesting (quite reasonably, unless you know better) that Marston was a bit of an enigma?

I am bothering to address you like this because frequently you have things worth saying. But I take it to be obvious, yes, you are sort of like the guy at the bar. Not f-bombs, but unmotivated insults, when other modes would (one might have thought) be more likely to work. But you obviously think differently. So what gives? I am genuinely curious how you see yourself in these cases.

Victoria asks a good question: “Hmmm does trolling occasionally make you a troll….”

I think not. I don’t think Rich is a troll, but I think it’s perfectly obvious that he engages in a lot of trolling. I am very tolerant of trolling, in my threads, because I think life needs some of that. But it’s still trolling. (I am more guilty of sea lioning myself.) What I am trying to get Rich to admit, for present purposes, is that if he gets banned for trolling from some blog, very likely it is not because the inhabitants lack the courage to think outside the echochamber (though they may lack the courage). It is probably because he trolled the blog.

If you actually want to encourage the inhabitants to think outside their echochamber, obviously you will want to try other tactics than trolling. Trolling just reinforces people’s sense of being in the right, right? So, by trolling them, the most likely result is: more echochamber, right? Odds are.

I suspect your reason for trolling is not that you think people need improvement but righteous scourging, right? That’s ok, but the explanation for why it’s ok is not that the only alternative is an intolerably sweet syrup of happy talk. There’s room to move between those poles.

48

mattski 02.02.15 at 1:39 am

Is there anything in Rich Puchalsky’s 45 that is responsive to my 41?

And anyone who wants to see what unprovoked snottiness Rich is capable of can go back and skim the torture thread in question.

49

Rich Puchalsky 02.02.15 at 1:51 am

“Let’s just take the most recent thread in which you and I have gone round about your tone issues. It was Harry’s Wonder Woman thread. “

Harry was pretty decent about how he handled that, and if I write any more here I’ll get annoying people like floopmeister blaming me for monopolizing the thread / having a conversation with the poster. So I’ll reply by Email.

50

J Thomas 02.02.15 at 3:30 am

Just a quick note —

I suggested that my oldest daughter read _Atlas Shrugged_ because I wanted her to get a solid inoculation to those ideas. She was not very enthusiastic.

After awhile, she asked me, “Daddy, isn’t this just Twilight with rich people in place of vampires?”

51

MPAVictoria 02.02.15 at 4:05 am

Just a quick question, is it trolling to post homophobic screeds on a liberal blog?

#askingforafriend

52

mattski 02.02.15 at 4:10 am

Harry was pretty decent about how he handled that

Remarkable isn’t it?

53

john c. halasz 02.02.15 at 5:18 am

@25: I just want to point out that J. Parnell Thomas, at least going by textual evidence, is not the same as J Thomas.

54

John Holbo 02.02.15 at 6:04 am

I was assuming the two J. Thomas’s were the same. Probably that was premature.

55

J Thomas 02.02.15 at 6:33 am

I know nothing about J. Parnell Thomas except what he has posted.

Is it easy to get a second name? Once a long time ago I thought of a cute name that would go really well with a particular comment, and tried to use it, and the software told me I couldn’t because I already had a name. Then I checked the comments policy and found that CT does not accept sock puppets, but will allow someone who normally uses his own name to post with a pseudonym if he needs it to protect his job etc. It doesn’t mention how to get an approved pseudonym.

Depending on how good your technical people are, it might be possible to set up a sockpuppet account named J. Milton Thomas by registering with a different email address, with a different ISP, and with a different computer, and never confusing them. And then try not to sound too much like me. It seems like a big effort.

56

J. Parnell Thomas 02.02.15 at 6:35 am

Just use a different email.

57

J. Parnell Thomas 02.02.15 at 6:38 am

Sorry, wrong thread anyway. Yeah, we’re different people.

58

J Thomas 02.02.15 at 7:02 am

#56

Just use a different email.

Yes, but if they know a little bit they can see that the packets come from the same place. So if your wife posts here and she thinks just like you (I don’t have that problem, fortunately) they might decide she is your sock puppet.

So you’d want a different ISP. Then they can query your browser and if you and your sock puppet are using an identical configuration that’s a pretty strong sign.

If it turns into a techie battle with you trying to spoof them you might win, but all you get from it is a sock puppet, and who needs it?

59

J. Parnell Thomas 02.02.15 at 7:20 am

I’m getting a bit tired of this name TBH. But it doesn’t matter, I don’t have any plans to start making substantive comments at any point in the foreseeable future.

60

bad Jim 02.02.15 at 8:24 am

My unconscious either tricks me or aids me. Robert Kennedy Saved from Drowning was almost certainly our host’s reference:

This is the only part that stuck in my memory:

He is neatly dressed in a manner that does not call attention to itself. The suits are soberly cut and in dark colors. He must at all times present an aspect of freshness difficult to sustain because of frequent movements from place to place under conditions which are not always the most favorable. Thus he changes clothes frequently, especially shirts. In the course of a day he changes his shirt many times. There are always extra shirts about, in boxes. “Which of you has the shirts?”

Brian Eno: “The passage of my life is measured out in shirts.” A better approximation than coffee spoons.

61

MPAVictoria 02.02.15 at 9:17 pm

“I just want to point out that J. Parnell Thomas, at least going by textual evidence, is not the same as J Thomas.”

Yeah. They are two very, very different people.

62

J. Parnell Thomas 02.02.15 at 9:33 pm

That’s right. That’s right. I’m cute too.

63

Ronan(rf) 02.02.15 at 9:43 pm

I havent been so confused since Steve McQueen became a well known director.

64

MPAVictoria 02.02.15 at 9:48 pm

“I havent been so confused since Steve McQueen became a well known director.”

Steve McQueen is alive!?!?!

65

Ronan(rf) 02.02.15 at 9:49 pm

That’s the least of it.

66

bianca steele 02.02.15 at 9:53 pm

Was I incorrect when I assumed john c. halasz was related to John C. Holbo in some way?

67

Bruce Wilder 02.02.15 at 9:59 pm

Look up “J. Parnell Thomas” on Wikipedia for the amusing historical reference.

68

J. Parnell Thomas 02.02.15 at 10:22 pm

OK, that’s more than enough attention…

69

john c. halasz 02.02.15 at 11:04 pm

biance steele @ 66:

Yours is a very discerning comment. Because it’s true! At least, dialectically speaking. Ya know, the unity of all oppositions in the whole, the identity of identity and difference, und so weiter…

70

William Berry 02.03.15 at 3:08 am

JCH*, you’re such a card!

*The other JCH, also. What a pair!

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