Category Archives: Surviving the Internet

The importance of checking URLs

So it turns out I neglected to check the link I provided yesterday and the initiative in question is hosted by Objective Ministries, one of the most successful Creationist satire sites on the Intertubes. I’m not the first to be taken in, I almost certainly won’t be the last, but I should have checked a little more intently.

I would like to apologise to all seven of my readers for not doing that.

– OSM out


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Tumblr social justice II: tumblr feminism

WARNING: This post is probably going to offend some people. Don’t care. That’s their problem.

“Why do people think a belief in women equals a hatred of men?” – Wonder Woman

Feminism is a political and philosophical movement dedicated to establishing and defending equal rights for women. It has a rich intellectual heritage and has achieved great things during its history. It deserves support from everyone with a conscience or sense of perspective. I just want to make this clear at the beginning: I’m not anti-feminism. I’m pro-feminism. I think all people should have the chance to live and work and chase their dreams regardless of sex, gender, colour, creed or sexual orientation.

Large chunks of tumblr quote-unquote “feminism” is not feminism. It more closely resembles the ludicrous straw feminism you see in Frank Miller comics. Its “intellectual heritage” largely consists of “feminazi” characters from bad 80s TV shows, and its primary achievement is to be posted on tumblr, an all-devouring maw of stupid exaggerations. It is concrete proof that he, or she, who fights sexist douchebags, should be careful to not in turn become a sexist douchebag.

I want to quote you something. I’m not going to identify the source; unless it’s Ayn Rand, I don’t believe in idiot shaming. (The second thing mentioned, I have to admit, is actually relevant, coherent and sane…which makes the first thing mentioned just that much more disappointing.)

“The myth that the vagina is tighter when you’re a virgin is caused by 2 things

1) cis men love the idea of “ruining” a woman’s body  (as shown by porn) and they get some sort of sick pleasure from thinking that after having sex with a woman, she will never be the same again.”

Speaking as a cisgendered* male: I’m so grateful you decided to make a group attack against my entire gender in the middle of something that could otherwise have been entirely useful and informative. I really needed you to declare me to be a sociopathic monster on the foolproof grounds that I was born with external genitalia. That massively improved my day. It’s not hypocritical at all that you’re decreeing an entire gender to be inferior.

That’s the thing: feminism, real feminism, is about equality. It’s about preventing discrimination against women. It’s not about establishing discrimination against men. It’s about fighting sexism, not about being sexist in the opposite direction. Equal means equal.

– OSM out

*”Cisgendered”, or “cis” for short, means “not transgendered”. Outside of tumblr, it is a value-neutral statement; in the hands of idiots, as seen above, it is a foolproof barometer of moral inferiority.

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Key Phrases in Internet Slap Fights

What is said on the internet is not necessarily what it means.

If they ask you to agree to disagree: They are losing this debate quite badly and want to leave without having to reevaluate their position or admit they were wrong.

If they concentrate on semantic nitpicking at the expense of discussing your actual point: They don’t have a meaningful argument.

If they sarcastically comment about you telling them what to think: They don’t have a meaningful argument, and they have a grossly overinflated view of their own intelligence.

If they dismiss something as “your opinion”: They don’t have a meaningful argument and they resent that you do.

If they dismiss something as “like, your opinion, man”: They don’t have a meaningful argument, but they do have The Big Lebowski on Blu-Ray.

If they repeat claims that have already been disassembled: They’re not paying attention.

If they use a work of fiction as evidence of their argument: They need to get out more.

If they say there’s nothing you can say that will convince them: You need to leave, right away, because there’s no point in talking to a wall.

If they keep claiming they never said things they clearly said: They don’t respect you or the forum and you should probably just leave.

If they spout long discredited conspiracy theories: They’re an idiot.

If their sole evidence consists of a terrible pun: Either they’re not taking the discussion seriously, or they have no clue how to make a convincing point.

If they use the word “sheeple” at any point: They’re being satirical, nobody uses the word “sheeple” and means it.

– OSM out

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Surviving the Internet: Surviving 4chan

This is a joke. If you want to survive the Internet, stay well away from 4chan.

For the uninitiated, 4chan takes the form of a high-speed, low-average-IQ messageboard, in much the same way and for much the same reason that Cthulhu takes the form of a squid monster. The real secret of its existence is that there are some terrible things from forgotten dimensions which have to be trapped somewhere, and one was caged within the Interwebs.

Each captcha it flashes up when one attempts to make a post is a name of this abhorrence, which we might as well call All Ocedthu because that was the most recent one to pop up during my research incursions. When all of the names have been cycled through, it will be unleashed. The conservative estimate is that this will happen within about eight weeks.

– OSM out

and probably in need of serious therapy.

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How to Endure Edition Change Hostility

If you’re active on tabletop gaming forums, you will likely have encountered at least one example of Edition Change Hostility (ECH). It’s going on right now over on the White Wolf forums for the forthcoming 3rd edition of Exalted; Warhammer 40K has just come out of ECH within the past few months; MTG Salvation, given the rotating nature of Magic: the Gathering, spends its entire time in ECH.

If you’ve experienced it, you will probably have noticed that it is not fun. So how do you make the most of a forum while it’s stirred up into a rabid frenzy of ECH?

Well, it’s actually quite simple. You’ll just need a few things.

  1. Reinforced umbrella: Ideal countermeasure to falling sky. Can also be used to hit people who insist on talking nonsense, although tracking them down is very hard and very, very illegal.
  2. Kittenwar: Despite the unnerving name, this site simply depicts two kittens and requests that you choose which is cuter. Very useful for restoring will to live.
  3. Collection of reaction images: Because amused contempt is so much easier to pull off when you don’t need to come up with the words yourself.
  4. Party hats and streamers: If excluded for too long, middles enter a crippling state of depression and have been known to lock themselves in their rooms and talk to rocks and dust bunnies. However, if you throw a party for the middles that are being excluded left, right, and centre, they will tell you important secrets of the universe.
  5. Something you like from the old edition: Because you will probably find yourself wondering why you follow the game at all at some stage during the argument.
  6. Something you like from a totally different game: Because you will probably find yourself vowing not to follow the first game at all at some later stage during the argument.
  7. Bucket of water: Ideal tool for surviving flame wars.
  8. Inflatable rubber dinghy: To make it through the rivers people are crying.
  9. An interesting webcomic: Trust me, archive bingeing Irregular Webcomic or Hark! A Vagrant is a good way to take the sting off.
  10. Another forum not engaged in ECH: After a while, it can become hard to remember that a) there are people who are not jerks, and b) there are people who are jerks but not for reasons related to ECH. Thus, if you’re discussing, say, Exalted 3e and you need a rest, go and discuss Generator Rex or Nobilis or the Muppets or something. You’ll thank me later.
  11. A good book: Sometimes you just need to turn off the computer and go and read something that isn’t dozens of people acting like jerks to each other. Unless your definition of “a good book” involves Ayn Rand, in which case you’ll pretty much be exchanging one fire for another.
  12. Youtube: Because it’s funnier to be sarcastic with videos.
  13. Cotton candy: If you’re anything like me, a sugar rush will make you a lot more upbeat. This is likely to be very important.
  14. A sense of perspective: Just kidding. No-one on Earth has a sense of perspective.

– OSM out.

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New Words for the Web

The limits of traditional language have proved increasingly, um, limiting on the digital frontier.

So here’s some new words and phrases, mainly because I could.

This material will be on the test.


4channic Zenxhaustion: a state in which you have attained such a state of perfect indifference that even the dumbest of trolls cannot get more than a few seconds of actual anger out of you.

  • /b/ Threshold: an advanced state of 4channic zenxhaustion in which your reaction to a troll is to critique their post and give them a score out of ten.


Interprebloat: the state of major fanbases in which the nature of the actual characters is almost impossible to extract from the mass of exaggerations, parodies, shipping fics, unfunny Family  Guy references, minor background gags blown way out of context, werewolves and the deliberate manipulations of ancient alien robot Aztec invaders.


Hairtrigger Post: Something you spam off in the five seconds between reading the idiot’s stuff and realising they are a troll and that you have just played into their hands.


Whedon Syndrome: A state in which one is incapable of finishing a sentence without taking words and sticking them together into a nonsensical odd word made from bits of other words thing.


Dominant Meme: An in-joke or fandom hot-button issue that takes over entire threads whenever it is mentioned. Mention Twilight anywhere for a demonstration. (Except in the comments section to this post, because like five people read this blog and that’s too small a population for a proper flamewar.)


Recessive Meme: An in-joke that only makes sense to about five people out of nearly seven billion. Incredibly common in dubiously written fanfic, which tends to work together with terrible spelling to ensure that you cannot translate it without learning ancient Sumerian.


Linguistdicks: People who make up new words just because they read a dumb Youtube comment while watching the Muppet Show (cough, cough).

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Surviving the Internet: Logical Fallacies Part 2

Our species has accumulated so many of these things. It’s downright amazing.

Again: not a logician, magician, or statistician. Just a guy with time on his hands.


Appeal to consequences

Structure: “If everyone believed there were nearly 7 billion people on the face of the Earth, some of them would become serial killers because they have so many targets. Thus, there are not nearly 7 billion people.”

Calculating the accuracy of a statement using the consequences you think it will have is like trying to calculate the weight of a car based on its colour. They’re just…not comparable.


Argument from verbosity

Structure: “[800 pages of rambling]. Therefore, Xenu exists.”

If you’ve said too much for anyone to ever actually read, a) you win automatically, and b) you really, really need to get a life. Those are the two fundamental premises of this one.


Begging the question

Structure: “Bill will back me up on this, and you know he’s trustworthy because I can vouch for him.”

It’s quite hard to pull off a proper question-beg. The first thing you need to do is come up with a premise that already assumes that what you are trying to argue is true. Then you need to run that premise through a neatly cyclic argument so that it ends up proving itself.


Chronological snobbery

Structure: “They believed sex made babies back when people thought the Earth was flat. Therefore, sex does not produce offspring.”

According to chronological snobbery arguments, when one thing believed at a time is wrong, it makes everything else believed at that time wrong simultaneously. The logical corollary is that everything that anyone has ever believed is wrong and we should just take up chainsaw juggling instead.


Exception proves the rule

Structure: “Life is good, apart from the groin beetles. They’re the exception that proves the rule.”

“The exception proves the rule” is easily the most misused phrase in human history, narrowly beating out “I’ll respect you in the morning” because the people using that one at least know that they don’t mean it. What it actually means is that if you see a sign saying “No starting fires during January”, you can infer from that exception that the rule is “you can start fires in any other month”.


Gambler’s fallacy

Structure: “I’ve rolled all the 1s out of this twenty-sider, thereby making it more likely to come up as 20.”


More seriously (and when I’m being serious things have gone downhill), the gambler’s fallacy is assuming that the relative probability of events remains the same no matter which stage you’re at. If a die has rolled multiple 1’s, this does not make it less likely to be 1 next time. (Indeed, it could indicate that the die is poorly balanced.) Likewise, a number of black results on a fair roulette wheel (not that any casino would use one) does not indicate that red is due for a run.


Ignoratio elenchi

Structure: “All dogs are animals. All terriers are dogs. Therefore, all terriers are animals. What do you mean, we were discussing werewolves?”

Ignoratio elenchi arguments tend to be robustly logical, internally consistent, and generally correct, but do not, in fact, address the point they were trying to refute.


Kettle logic

Structure: “I never borrowed your Xbox! I returned it undamaged! It was damaged when I borrowed it!”

The favoured tactic of Bart Simpson and anyone who’s ever panicked, a kettle logic approach consists of throwing multiple inconsistent positions at your opponent, then running away.


Misleading vividness

Structure: “[describes partial birth abortion in the most grotesque terms available], therefore we should ban abortion.”

The trick to making vividness misleading is to direct it at an extreme case and hope the more mundane and reasonable variants get caught in the blast radius. Then you describe that extreme case as convincingly as possible, and let it run from there.


Nirvana fallacy

Structure: “Your suggestion of going around the quicksand is good, but it doesn’t prevent us from getting stuff on our boots or tripping over rocks. Come up with something better.”

Ah, perfection. If you have no ability to produce it yourself but demand it from your underlings, you may be a middle manager. You may also be quite fond of the Nirvana fallacy, in which you reject good solutions for being imperfect. Well, yes, everything is imperfect, even chocolate.

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