Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Most Invisible Story of 2006.


Or, if you’re s stickler for proper terms of venery, a “priapism of trolls”.

No, not merely those specific CHUDs who stand on the highway overpasses along that Bridge to the Fucking 21st Century (arewethereyet!arewethereyet!arewethereyet!) and heave cinderblocks into traffic, but all of those at all levels who carry their disease.

That singular virus that politically lobotomizes these dead, squishy things and animates them into aggressively parroting the language of men for the sole purpose of sniping, sabotaging and propagating disruption.

But not randomly.

At least the little felon who lobs rocks at cars for kicks is patternless. He wants to feel that smiting-action-at-a-distance rush of destroying something far away. Like Homer J. says, that “surge of power, like God must feel, when he's holding a gun.” But he can get that adrenal kick from putting a hole in anything.

Trolls exist to derail the train, but always in one direction. Always to the right, which means their actions are not random, opportunistic chaos.

Trolls are purposeful.

Trolls have a plan.

So let’s better define who and what is a troll and who/what is not.

Digby, as usual, reaches into style heaven to pluck down a clearer picture and describe them in their Aspect.

When Time Stood Still

by digby

I've noticed something interesting among the family rightwingers lately: they have simply disappeared Bush and the Republican congress from their minds. It's the weirdest thing. You talk politics with them and they are already going on about how the Democrats are ruining the country with their big spending and high taxes. You ask about Bush and they look at you blankly and start talking about the Clintons.

They are fully back in minority victimhood mode without missing a beat. And there is a sense of gleeful excitement about the whole thing --- "heh, heh, I just hope I live long enough to see what that horrible woman is going to do to this country."* If you mention Iraq, they shrug their shoulders and start babbling about John Kerry and the draft dodging Clinton. Some lament that the Democrats wouldn't let us win it (we should have "glassed 'em.") For the most part, they seem absolutely thrilled to be in the minority and they are already doing the only thing they have ever really been good at --- carping about Democrats from the sidelines.

For their Attribute, let us turn to Wiki for a definition of the term “the ELIZA effect”; one familiar to the Big Iron Tech veterans out there.

Emphasis added by moi:


The [ELIZA] effect is named for the 1973 chatterbot ELIZA, which parodied a Rogerian psychotherapist. ELIZA was programmed to ask questions about whatever topics the user mentioned:
HUMAN: "I don't have anything against my father. He was okay ..."
ELIZA: "Tell me more about your family."

ELIZA was found to be surprisingly successful in causing emotional responses from users. However, none of ELIZA's code was designed to do so.

Upon observation, researchers discovered users subconsciously assuming ELIZA's questions implied interest in the topics discussed, even when they consciously knew that ELIZA did not simulate emotion.

Logical fallacy

The ELIZA effect is a special case of the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent:
If something is motivated by X, it behaves in manner Y.
This program behaves in manner Y.
Therefore, this program is motivated by X.

Even if the program is motivated by X, it does not follow that the observed behavior Y resulted from motivation X. Furthermore, it cannot even be demonstrated that the program is ever motivated by X. Indeed, in many cases, motivation by X is impossible (example: "The program thinks I am attractive".)

The ELIZA effect is a lesser logical fallacy than anthropomorphization, as the computer user knows that the computer is not a human or a complete artificial intelligence. The user nonetheless implictly assumes the behavior has the same causes as the same behavior would have in a human. The assumption is a fallacy because the computer cannot experience human motives. While the programmer may have had the motivations the user assumes, this cannot be deduced solely from the programmer's response: the program's behavior may be an unintended side effect.

The ELIZA effect ends if the user consciously recognizes that the computer cannot be motivated in the assumed manner.

Trolls are no more or less than wingnut ELIZAs.

Like our local Hate Radio (WIND 560) that brags on a sign as big as the sky "Liberals Hate Us" as their sole reason for being, trolls are intellectually and emotionally dead. Reflex-meat that exists solely to echo Conservative bigotries and goad a useless fury-response from sane people.

Because you cannot reason with a troll: you can only sweep it aside.

They live fully submerged in a conservative bilge tank. All they know of “Teh Liberal” is lurid fiction, squeezed through the spleen of Rush Limbaugh, the venom sacs of Charles Krauthammer and the bright ties and pudding-soft tones of David Brooks.

All of their granite-headed certainty despite the fact that the Troll has been wrong about Every. Single. Fucking. Thing.

For years, and all while the unserious, Sans-A-Beltway Left has been mostly right.

And the magic ingredient that makes it all work is as simple a salt: This ridiculous dance works is because, frankly, most of them are idiots.

Dumb as doorknockers.

And as harmless as doorknockers…until a bunch of 'em are collected into a sack and used to beat Liberty to her knees.

Which is why Media Trolls are the biggest unreported story of 2006.

And 2005.

And 2004.

And so forth.

Because this ocean of Redtards aren’t just a waste of carbon: properly pandered to, they become a profitable demographic.

Properly stampeded, they become a Movement.

And so in this wingnut Universe of simultaneously universal certainty and universal stupidity -- where words stop being words, and questions stop being questions -- we see the rise of Media Trolls.

In the name of “objectivity” Media Trolls will reflexively gut-punch anyone Left of center as unserious or shrill or weak or marginal or unwilling to see the wisdom of The Center…which is defined as whatever square foot of pundit real estate they happen to be squatting on today.

And yet a troll is a troll because while it cannot be tricked or drugged or even accidentally trip over penning a paragraph of anything clearly praiseworthy of doings on the Left, it will happily turn right around and waterboard the King’s English until it pukes up sentences that, over and over again, miraculously omit simple, blinding truths about the astonishing incompetence, perfidy, corruption, theocratic obsessiveness and narcissistic insanity of the Right.

Sick of getting punched in the face by Christopaths and segregationists, the Mainstream Media has trained itself to heliotropically follow whatever Conservative Talking Points are the Revealed Truth of the Day from the RNC.

Trolls are not interested in real truth. The truth is just noise to them. Instead they dig through their linguistic rucksack to find new ways to vector their propaganda.

When they run out of new way, they’ll make do repeating old, long-discredited lies.

And their audience does not care, because they are trolls too.

An echo chamber, where “You talk politics with them and they are already going on about how the Democrats are ruining the country with their big spending and high taxes. You ask about Bush and they look at you blankly and start talking about the Clintons.”

It’s not that they’re mistaken; it is that they are no longer fully human.

This is Troll.

And this.

And this.

This is a Concern troll.

As is this.

And this is a "Some Democrats say..." troll

And the big story – the invisible story – is that our press will not report on this huge and mortal threat inside their own perimeter.

Will not lend any of their constitutionally-protected light to the cause of illuminating the fact that the media lets evil men hide in the shadows their own trolls cast, and from Noron to Kristol to Jeff Gannon to the lowliest troll barnacling the belly of Eschaton, they are all the same, and the rest of the press keep making the same stupid mistake over and over again.

As Clinton and Kennedy and Colbert and Stewart has shown each in his own way, instead of giving the liars and the hellmakers shitting up our First Amendment a pass because people like Chris Wallace have business cards that say “Journalist”, the only way to deal with a troll is mockery and a sharp elbow to the throat.

The Catholic Church moved serial child molester Oliver O'Grady from parish to parish to parish for years and let him wear the collar and call himself “Father”, but no Deity worth Her ichor would have this monster as a priest in Her church.

And Alphonse Capone called himself a “business man” even as he slaughtered and terrorized his way into gangster history.

Hell, even I have creamy, 100 lb. cover stock business cards that read “Ephram Zimbalist Beefhammer – G-Spot Cartographer and Personal Orgasm Coach to the Stars” “.

But that doesn’t make it true.


MikeEss said...

Drifty, where did you get the term "priapism of trolls"?

If I do a Google search on the term, all I get is my use on Punkass Blog (not a Googlewhack, unfortunately...)

Just curious... :)

driftglass said...


One of my fav words in general, and as I was writing this there was one of those multiple-dire-warning-label drug commercials running in the background (may cause drymouth, priapism, head-blammies, napalmic fecal discharge, etc.)

They mentioned it, and it seemed perfect.

scout said...

you sir, have once again hit the nail on the head, not only with pinpoint accuracy, but with flourish.

the press has truly been the biggest hurdle we reality based folks have had to overcome, and it seems that even with the writing on the wall after the november rout, they keep stacking it higher with more tonnage of bullshit.

the thing they don't get, the trolls, is that while we can't get over their mounds of mendacity, we have learned to get around them. and thanks to you and digby and gilliard and tbogg and shakes sis and trex and and and... we've found that we much prefer that route anyway.

redoubt said...

We've got a "liberals hate us" station here in Atlanta, too. WGKA, 920 AM, sandwiched between religious programming and Spanish talk radio. When the skywave goes up, their signal goes down.

The trolls from Trollhattan won't admit they've been wrong, so they'll yelp louder like the whipped dogs they are. They see enemies under every stone (they should see mirrors under every stone); in fact they wouldn't exist without enemies to hate. Hell, they're mad that the Soviet Union went away and left them with no one to hate, so they have to make stuff up.

US Blues said...

"G-Spot Cartographer"

Mind if I share that with a young woman of my acquaintance? ;-)

Loveandlight said...


How appropriate for a Hate Radio station.

montysano said...

I just spent 10 days at the beach, disconnected from cell phones and Internet, but at the mercy of CNN, Fox News, et al.

As the execution of Saddam proceeded, I was bombarded with the usual graphics: "JUSTICE FOR A DICTATOR!!!", etc, along with grueling minutiae of the execution. No where, not once, not at all, was there any discussion of the wisdom of the USA handing over Saddam for some sort of macabre Youtube show conducted by Sadr's forces. No mention that, once again, the Cheney Administration had managed to Fuck Things Up, that we are being led by people whose incompetence is simply staggering. I mean, we simply handed Saddam over to..... our enemies, with no conditions or oversight, and hoped that it wouldn't Make Things Worse? Beyond belief.

No one made much of the fact, during the beatification of Gerald Ford this past week, that he pardoned the most criminal, deranged, dangerous politician in American history (or was until George W. Bush came along).

For that sort of sober, serious thought, I had to come back home, get online, and visit driftglass, and Digby, and Firedoglake, and ......

I'll go ahead and say it: the smart people, the serious people, are out here in Left Blogistan. All else is simply a circus, a ministrel show.

Mr. Flibble said...

I don't think that they are quite "all the same."

I think there is good reason to suspect that many of the uber-trolls (the high class ones we have to endure firing up the television) do it because there is good money in it and they like to hobnob with wealthy people. And what about the free drinks and meals at Sam and Harry's! They're paid or bribed to be trolls and (in private) laugh at the ones you describe.

Of course, in one sense this is a difference without significance. Both are just as impervious to reason. But I think the troll I described is the far greater threat. They know they are being reckless, but they just don't give a fuck as long as they get their USDA-prime filet mignon and $100 merlot.

Thank god for the Internets and blogs like yours, Drifty.

Anonymous said...

Hey, that's a photo of Seattle's Fremont troll, which rests beneath the Aurora Bridge! We pass it often when we're out for walks.
Well, trolls must be combatted and defeated by energy as relentless as theirs. You appear to possess it, as well as eloquence. Thank you, driftglass.

eddie blake said...

ephram zimbalist jr played tha acerbic ALFRED in the BATMAN, superman 7 JUSTICE LEAGUE cartoons....

...NOW of course i will associate him with HARDONS>...

...happy new year DRIFTY, commenters ALL...

gay veteran said...

redoubt: ...in fact they wouldn't exist without enemies to hate. Hell, they're mad that the Soviet Union went away and left them with no one to hate, so they have to make stuff up.

Left them with no one to hate? How about brown people? Niggers? Fags? Feminazis? Oh no, there's lot of people for trolls to hate.

Alyssa said...

I listen to WIND when I am driving late at night and need to stay awake. Works every time. Although usually when I get home I'm so wired and pissed off that I can't sleep at all...

I used to use this same technique on long drives back to Chicago from Branson. Whatever righty or Christian Talk Radio I could find. Better than Jolt!

Anonymous said...

You're absolutely right Drifty. People like Stirling Newberry (from TPM Cafe and The Agonist), Paperwight, and now especially Digby, have all typed up similar stuff over the years.

It's why there's no lefty on the teevee save Robert Reich when he battles Stephen Moore on CNBC and Keith Olbermann. The marginal viewers are all trolls! TV news is so devoid of fact that intelligent people have mostly turned off from it (save for masochists like myself), so the only people left for CNN and other possible lefty turners to draw are the reactionary, reality TV show fans.

Thus CNN hires not Jim Hightower, but Glenn Beck. There might be a powerful credibility boost over the long haul with someone who doesn't call Muslim Congressmen terrorists, but that doesn't draw the priapisms who watch goddamn Deal or No Deal.

arghous said...

Dear Mr. Beefhammer:

I'd like a refund please. I purchased a "Map to the G-Spots of the Stars" from one of your many curbside purveyors.

Look, I understand you'd want to leave out Lucy Liu's for you own reasons, but dang it, omitting Bobo Brook's just isn't cricket!

justme said...

mikeess, perhaps it's in here

Ah, the joys of the collective noun.

StupidBaby said...

beautiful as always Mr Driftglass. Thank you.

dcnative said...

Some show the other night led with the teaser "Rosie O'Donnell ties with Satan on poll of most evil." It took them til the bitter end of the story (2 mins later) to mention that Dubya had rated numero uno.

And I thought, "whahhhhh??"

Trolls exist because what they sell still pays for audiences. Until that sad equation changes, we'll have to deal with them, I'm afraid.

driftglass said...

Glad you liked it.
Now off to the NaCl Farms I go.

The Fool said...

reflex meat that vectors propaganda...very nice

Mr. Driftglass, you are the best writer on the internet.

fahrender said...

if i be tickled by the blog of driftglass ..........
that was plumb orgasmic !!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Sir? I was pretty sure d r i f t y is a Ma'am...