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Dear Slate, could you maybe watch the stuff you review?

I rely on Slate for the no-nonsense insight into every popular news story. The online-only magazine always finds the question the average newsreader is asking and gives an authoritative answer. Accustomed to trusting that authority, I felt kind of silly reading a Slate commentary on the Imus scandal when writer Stephen Metcalf admitted, “I usually caught him at about 7:40, for the 20 minutes when he had a Beltway muckety on to flog a book, or just as often, to flog his own muckety self.” Twenty minutes of a four-and-a-half-hour show and he’s the expert? All right, whatever, I guess this is a commentary, not a show review. It’s be silly to have a reviewer who wasn’t familiar with all the material, right?

Like, you know, the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie reviewer who “caught the show” (from which the movie spun off) “a few times.” Yeah, Dana Stevens says she’s paying homage to the show by giving a lazy review. That’s great. But I assume the ATHF movie is for fans of the show, and as one of those fans, could I please have a review by someone who likes that style of humor? This review tells me nothing — plenty of people could be bored by ATHF. It’s a screwed up style of comedy. Come on, Slate, be a little less lazy than the Aqua Teens.

Can everyone shut up about Kathy Sierra?

My god, can we shut up about Kathy Sierra? As everyone who’s covered this story agrees, the death threats and murder-rape scenarios that anonymous forum users posted about the game developer and author are despicable. (The backstory: Sierra cancelled a speaking engagement at ETech, a major tech conference, after anonymous commenters on a third-party forum spewed the aforementioned hate speech at her.) Since Sierra announced the incident on her blog this Monday, readers have posted over a thousand comments. But the uproar didn’t stop there; every damn blogger has chimed in. Even the blogger-obsessed San Francisco Chronicle ran the debate on the front page. The topics: Whether the owners of the forum are responsible, whether women should protect themselves, whether men should protect women…It’s great that we all got a chance to spout off for a week. That’s fantastic, I’m proud of all of you for taking that BOLD STAND and not supporting rape and murder. But aren’t we forgetting to, you know, track down the perps? And maybe we should all shut up until that’s done?

Ask A Ninja interviews Will Ferrell and Jon Heder

What could I possibly say to improve this clip of the Internet’s most famous ninja interviewing the stars of Blades of Glory? “How many people did you kill with your blades?”

“Hey everybody, I’m skating circles around Scott Hamilton!”

Reviewed: An orgy of fake MySpacers (it feels kinda like a RealDoll party)

I commissioned the following from Blogebrity’s new writer, Cole [last name withheld so Mom can't google him]. Give him a hand, everyone.

I wasn’t sure what to think when Nick asked me to make fun of this MySpace page of a fake person named Kayla. In case you didn’t know, Nick, making fun of MySpace pages is the internet equivalent of a Monica Lewinsky joke. Since Nick is in such dire need of edgy social commentary, here is a thing that I thought about this page.

1. It appears that all of Kayla’s commenters are other fakespacers. It’s kind of like those porn ads that link to other porn ads and you’re like “WHO IS PAYING FOR ALL THIS ADVERTISING?” but even more than that you’re like “WHO ACTUALLY PAYS FOR PORN?” Just when you thought that they couldn’t squeeze any more ads into the internet, MySpace comes along and provides a way to do it for free. At least they add a face to the company so I can have someone to run over my car with in my personal imaginary moments.

Is that enough for you, Nick? When you’re ready to move on from MySpace, I have so many more jokes up my sleeve. How about those “Punch the Monkey” ads? It’s like, I hate that monkey!

Interview with 24/7 camboy

I chatted over beers with the star of 24/7 Internet show This video is also at my vlog, Look Shiny.

Okay, where can I see that guy killing himself on a webcam?

whitricknti2303_468×347.jpgIn what’s been called the first “death by Web 2.0,” 42-year-old Briton Kevin Whitrick threatened to kill himself, then hanged himself live on a webcam on the video chat site Paltalk after users in an “insult” channel encouraged him to, reports the Evening Standard. (Chatters told the Standard they had thought he was kidding.) It’s a tragic event, but someone out there must be looking for the video. How could they get their hands on it?

For now, they can’t. There’s no footage of the event on YouTube, and any copy would almost certainly be deleted for violating the site’s terms of service. Those present in the webcam chat room during the hanging aren’t revealing their identities to the press. And according to BBC News, investigators have asked people not to distribute images of the hanging.

What would it take to break through the silence? Presumably one could log into PalTalk and start searching around for people who were in the room. (Good luck figuring out which of these rooms is the “insult” room.)

Photo from Evening Standard

Amanda Congdon’s not a journalist, but she plays one on TV


“I don’t want a role as a traditional journalist now,” says ABC correspondent Amanda Congdon, “and I don’t believe I ever will in the future.”

A few months ago, Congdon acted in some online promo spots for DuPont. This week Advertising Age reported it, just as a normal blog post. But Radar Magazine turned it into a cutting story:

The DuPont deal isn’t doing anything to endear Congdon to ABC News staffers, who have already complained to Radar about her low traffic, cloying online persona, and snotty posts on her blog about how lame ABC News’s website is.

Eventually the story hit the Huffington Post with the headline “ABC Videocaster Congdon Caught Working For DuPont On The Side.” But Congdon wasn’t “caught” — she had pointed to the ads on her blog, and she later wrote that ABC and HBO had approved the DuPont work.

It’s not typical for a journalist to do promo work on the side; it’s seen as a conflict of interest. Amanda argues that okay, if those are the rules then she’s not a traditional journalist. Those who’ve seen her interview Dan Rather and parade around as a “new media” queen may call that bullshit. Well, I have to take Amanda’s side. She doesn’t really buy into the whole “do research, cooperate with the studio giving you resources and access, act like a professional” deal. She’s not a journalist, she just plays one on TV.

“Perez Hilton’s International News Affairs Blog Fails”

Cute story. Read it for the pictures.

TechCrunch: The Wal-Mart of Web App Reviews

Remember when the tech blog TechCrunch was all done by founder Michael Arrington, and in even the sketchiest product review, you could at least count on him for some insider knowledge? Well the site’s gone big, and it ain’t that special any more.

Take this review of Dodgeball and Twitter, for example. Writer Blake Robinson has, like, four Twitter friends, and he clearly hasn’t used Dodgeball. He proves the ignorance of the two mass-messaging services with his own screenshots. Blake treats the two services as competitors, even though Dodgeball is used for announcing location and Twitter is used for quipping or microblogging. (In other words, you use Dodgeball to announce you’re at the bar. You use Twitter to repeat what your drunk friend just whispered to you.) In fact, many of Dodgeball’s core users joined Twitter and now use both services.

But back to this useless TechCrunch review. The facts are wrong (you can use something other than SMS with Dodgeball). The analysis is wrong (Facebook’s web-based business model would make a Twitter clone an annoying side project). It’s just rubbish, and it’s clogging up a site that’s usually quite useful for tech news scoops. So all that to say: until TechCrunch hires some reviewers who bother to use the product, don’t trust a TechCrunch product review.

Dear PodTech videoblogger Loren Feldman, who usually entertains and interests me:


Shut the hell up.

The Future Internets That Never Happened

I wrote an article at Valleywag (disclosure: I write articles at Valleywag) about the future internets that never happened: Web 2.0, the Semantic Web, Cyberspace, and other stillborn internets. My favorite is Bill Gates’s Road Ahead, which is now brought to you by Steve Jobs.

Conservapedia: Like Wikipedia without all the, you know, knowledge

Ever wish Wikipedia weren’t so damn accurate? OMG me too! Thank the internet gods for Conservapedia, the Conservative response to Wikipedia that got noticed by the New York Times today! In case you’re saying “Oh dear lord why,” Conservapedia has a list of answers. One item reads:

Wikipedia’s article on Feudalism is limited to feudalism in Europe and did not mention the feudal systems that developed independently in Japan and India until this defect was described here.

That last bit is how most of these items read, now that Conservapedia got noticed and the offending Wikipedia articles it named got fixed – which happens every time someone publicly criticizes the site, since, well, that’s how Wikipedia works.

But let’s see what the articles for “feudalism” looked like on Conservapedia and Wikipedia on the day that Conservapedia made this claim (February 2, according to Conservapedia’s logs).

Conservapedia: 251 words
Wikipedia: 3328 words, including a mention of Japan and India

Great fact-checking, dudes. Since then, the Wikipedia article has expanded to include more non-European feudalism, while the Conservapedia article…has stayed the same. If having info means being a dirty lefty, count me in.

HuffPo Drama Level: Yellow With A Chance Of Book Deal

We turn our attention to the megablog known as the Huffington Post, center of an important news story: the Guardian’s “What is a blog?

Haha, no, that bores me to hell too. The reason I’m interested in HuffPo is the whopping seven-page account by Denis Collins of his time on the jury in Scooter Libby’s trial. Collins is a journalist who somehow stayed on the jury despite his relationships with several witnesses.

Collins wrote a book on the CIA, Fox News’ John Gibson points out, wondering if another book is in the works after this episode. And if so, asks Gibson, wouldn’t a guilty verdict make a better climax than not guilty?

In other HuffPo drama news, the site deleted comments expressing wishes that Dick Cheney had been killed by a suicide bomber that instead killed 22 other people. After Bill Maher questioned the decision to censor the comments, arguing that they were protected free speech, Fox News spun the story to say that Maher wishes Cheney were dead. While we’ll never know what’s in Maher’s heart of hearts, it’s safe to say that the man’s learned his lesson since the days of calling American war planners cowards.

Shel Israel on why Walmart should blog

Shel Israel thoroughly explains why Walmart should blog:

And of course these ills will not be cured by a blog. I simply said that Wal-Mart would do better with a real blog–not their current lame abuse of cyberspace–than they will with a War Room.

Would a genuine open-ended blog receive nasty comments? You bet they would. But these nasty comments are already being said—whispered and shouted—in all sorts of places, by all sorts of people. Hell, I’m taking a few good shots right here.

Israel decides that Walmart, whether or not it should blog, won’t blog. They’re complacent, they’re #1, they think they have nothing to fear.

I’d see it failing for another reason: When have you been impressed with creative work from Walmart? When has any dialogue redeemed them for you, made you forget the town-destroying, wage-dropping, and law-skirting that pissed you off?

And don’t you just know they’ll make a pop-up greeter that tries to give you a damn smiley sticker?

Neil Kramer and the Information Superhighway of Broken Dreams

I found my favorite linkback ever this week: Neil Kramer of “Citizen of the Month” wrote a tale of fame and fortune in the blogosphere. Blogebrity is, of course, heavily featured in: The Information Superhighway of Broken Dreams.

Those were the innocent days. I lived with three of my fraternity brothers (and our pet monkey) in a small apartment in Northern California. My bedroom looked out on Google HQ’s vast parking lot. At night, I would see the familiar Google sign as it lit up the night sky and I would talk to it as if it were a god.

“One day, people will search for ‘Citizen of the Month’ on Google, and I will be first on the list.”


Sure, I now got invited to all the fancy parties, but I was always stuck going home with the plain-jane librarian-blogger and not the really hot female bloggers who wrote about women’s shoes. These nights were terrible. I remember one time — right in the middle of fucking one of these librarian-bloggers, we got into a big fight over the pros and cons of the Dewey Decimal System. After that night, I knew I wanted something MORE.

And the comments:

Please accept my apology to all librarian-bloggers for my statement about your sexuality. This piece was written tongue-in-cheek. In reality, there’s no one better in bed than a quiet librarian-blogger who takes down her bun, pulls off her tortoise-shell glasses, and fucks like a wild animal.

So, please, no more angry emails. — Neil

Then, after I filed this post “to cover” and added Neil to the C-list: Hell is… [Actually being put on the Blogebrity C-List after mocking it.]