Trolls, when cornered, often excuse themselves as Shakespearean fools of the modern age, as jesters. Given that the term "troll" spans a vast expanse from cute to abusive, this grasp at virtue seems legit. But there's a plain difference between jesters and trolls: sincerity. Jesters are unserious – a good thing! – but that doesn't mean their performance is insincere. Trolls, though, are both of these things.
How, then, do you see a troll for what they are? Unseriousness is visible, but insincerity is often not.
Mercifully, the excuse itself is a clue. Trolls don't really get the difference between themselves and the noble, world-improving court fools of their imagination.
So, when scrutinized in ways that require sincerity, they stop being unserious as well. Instead of proving themselves to be Jesters, they become Squares, serious and sincere, explaining themselves at sententious length until they can retreat back to the Troll corner and resume normal operations.
The people to really watch out for, though, the truly Machiavellian types, are people who are serious yet insincere. These Worms (lots in Silicon Valley!) slide across the opposite diagonal: whenever cornered for their shenanigans, they're disturbingly good at excusing themselves as Jesters – unserious in tone, yet ostentatiously moral.
The corollaries are also true, I find. When otherwise happy, decent, respectable Squares get defensive, they transform into amazingly unpleasant Trolls. And true Jesters, in their weak hours, tend to moonlight as Worms, manipulating others with affected seriousness.
This is just a dumb chart on the internet, of course, even dumber than the Mills Boon personality test or whatever it's called. Read the rest
A simple methdology: compare the IMDB rating of the final episode vs the show's average. Dragonball Z and Dexter share bottom spot, but who wins? Read the rest
The New York Times charts the inexorable liberalization of America on social issues. But there's a caveat!
The article's thrust is that gun control and abortion are exceptions: "The second category of major issues is different. In it, both sides in the debate are often able to make a rights-based argument. … That’s why the second set of issues defies the confident predictions that come with the first."
The number of Americans calling for more gun control has trended down to under fifty percent, but to cast that abortion chart as a similar exception seems a stretch: Americans who are OK with it has gone up from 75% to 80% in the last few decades.
I'm not sure I believe it (most polls put it Americans about net 55/40 OK with abortion). But either way, the imposition of brutal burdens on pregnant women has become a legislative candle in the dark for conservatism. It's hard not to think last week is only the beginning of their misery.
Cheer up, guys: you'll still have your guns!
Missing from the Times' roundup is a climate change chart.
CONCLUSION: Your annoying uncle who proudly declares "social liberal, fiscal conservative" in his smug, nasal voice is winning. Read the rest
Those medicinal chemists do go on. Read the rest
More people died in World War II than in any other conflict in history, yet it can be hard to conceptualize that massive loss of life. Read the rest
Richard Florida on this fascinating map, produced by the Centers for Disease Control:
There is good news: teen births are at their lowest level in more than 60 years (10 percent lower than 2009, 43 percent below their peak in 1970). But the geographic variation is substantial. Teen birthrates are highest in Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Arkansas, and New Mexico,. There are slightly lower concentrations in the neighboring states of Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Arizona. New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, and Massachusetts have the lowest rates of teen births.
The full CDC report details drops in most states (excepting North Dakota, West Virginia and Montana), with the sharpest drops in Nevada, Arizona, California, Florida and Rhode Island. Elsewhere the impregnations continue apace, with Kansas, Michigan and Arkansas posting less dramatic declines.
The teen pregnancy rate is highest in Mississipi and lowest in New Hampshire, the CDC said.
What will stop Conservative America's progeny from having so much hot, wild, bareback sex?