For years, Something Awful forum members have reveled in user bEatmstrJ's blow-by-blow account of a terrible bathroom remodel, in which he sought to transform his bathroom "with a woman in mind" with an eye to a future home-sale ("woman play an unfair role in the home-buying process"); bEatmstrJ's saga combines terrible ideas about how a bathroom should look with total home-renovation incompetence, making it the perfect foil for Something Awful's pioneering brand of jeering insults and mayhem.
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Anand Giridharadas (previously) is the Aspen Fellow/McKinsey consultant turned anticapitalist gadfly whose brilliant book Winners Take All exposes the "philanthrophy" of the ultra-rich as a form of reputation-laundering with the side benefit of allowing some of history's greatest monsters to look at themselves in the mirror.
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College football rivalries are taken seriously in the South. But, you'd think when fans of two rival teams wed, they'd come to a truce. This is not what happened with newlyweds Bekka and Johnny.
The bride, Bekka, roots for LSU but the groom, Johnny, is an Alabama fan. At their wedding, Bekka gifted Johnny with a special "A" for Alabama cake, except that when he cut it Johnny realized he had been trolled by his new wife. Crazy sportsballers! The full story is here.
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Looking incredibly hip and youthful in a bright blue hoodie, comedian Jim Gaffigan had way too much fun swiping right and trolling potential suitors through someone else's Tinder account. Watch in the video as he hijacks the Tinder of Blair, a brave female Vanity Fair staffer. It starts off a little slow but gets much funnier when the guys start responding to Gaffigan's oddball messages.
Gaffigan is starting a worldwide tour on February 8. Read the rest
E pluribus unum ("Out of many, one") has been an American national motto since 1782. It embodies two things trumpists hate: a highbrow phrase in a dead language deployed by early American aristos in the service of classing things up by excluding people who don't read Latin; and a message of strength through unity and diversity.
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Five years ago, a patent troll called "Personal Audio" started demanding money from podcasters, claiming that their patent on mailing cassette tapes of people reading magazines (a ridiculous patent on its face) also covered podcasting. Read the rest
Conversations with People Who Hate Me is a new podcast from the Welcome to Night Vale folks in which Dylan Marron, who voices Carlos the Scientist on Night Vale, tracks down the people who troll him online and has long, thoughtful, substantive (and funny!) discussions about where they're coming from. Read the rest
Danah Boyd from Data & Society writes, "The report examines why the media was vulnerable to manipulation from radicalized groups that have emerged from a variety of internet subcultures. We're seeing an intentional and systematic attack on institutions and information intermediaries and most folks are unaware of the degree to which they are a pawn in others' gameplay. As a result, we are watching good intentions get twisted around and used to harm people, organizations, and democracy." Read the rest
Talk about just desserts! Troll Cakes will turn a hater's online comment into a tasty cake and mail it to said hater. Above, one they made of a classic Trump troll. Read the rest
"Reasons to vote for Democrats" consists of 266 blank pages, a clever troll gift for all your left-leaning friends and family! But Republicans are so eager to stick it to their adversaries that they've paid a collective fortune to push it to the top of Amazon's bestseller list, inadvertently providing a rather convincing one. CNN reports that it's the same trick as Why Trump Deserves Trust, Respect and Admiration, published shortly after last year's election; a blank notebook is a dollar fifty shipped. Read the rest
Jigsaw is a "wildly ambitious" Google spin-off research unit that recently released Perspective, a machine-learning system designed to identify argumentative, belittling and meanspirited online conversation. Within days of its release, independent researchers have published a paper demonstrating a way of tricking Perspective into trusting ugly messages, just by introducing human-readable misspellings into their prose. Read the rest
Jonathan Stray summarizes three different strains of propaganda, analyzing why they work, and suggesting counter-tactics: in Russia, it's about flooding the channel with a mix of lies and truth, crowding out other stories; in China, it's about suffocating arguments with happy-talk distractions, and for trolls like Milo Yiannopoulos, it's weaponizing hate, outraging people so they spread your message to the small, diffused minority of broken people who welcome your message and would otherwise be uneconomical to reach. Read the rest
Whitney Phillips is about to publish her second book on internet trolls: The Ambivalent Internet: Mischief, Oddity, and Antagonism Online, co-written with Ryan M. Milner during the 2016 election cycle, when trolling became an indomitable force for political goals. Read the rest
Opponents of Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa -- himself a prolific and shrewd social media campaigner -- have had their social media accounts hacked and used to dump embarrassing transcripts purporting to show their party in disarray and romantic scandals in their personal lives. Read the rest
"What's your handle, creep?" "Don't tell us to move to another channel!" "You sound like you're dying... why don't you go ahead and drop dead!" Trolling was alive and well on CB radios in the 1960s, as these vintage South Philly conversations from 1969 prove. Read the rest
Can something be un-memed? Matt Furie hopes his creation Pepe the Frog can have a second metamorphosis back from being a go-to troll image of the alt-right. He's teamed with ADL to #SavePepe. He even made a new cartoon about it. Read the rest
Jan Chipchase has assembled a provocative, imaginative, excellent list of "driver behaviors in a world of autonomous mobility" that go far beyond the lazy exercise of porting the "trolley problem" to self-driving cars and other autonomous vehicles, including flying drones. Read the rest