Open Thread: You’re Never So Old That Your Parents Can’t Embarrass You

Without Twitter, there would be no Trump. And given what we’ve learned about Russian troll farms, there would certainly be no President Trump…

But this week gave us one of those rare occurrences when humanity in all its weirdness shines through the internet. Perhaps because of the relentlessly dark nature of how this all went down, a delightful twist on the #HimToo hashtag brought some joy to the Twittersphere earlier this week.

It was the work of @MarlaReynolds3, a.k.a. “BlueStarNavyMom3” a.k.a. former marine Pieter Hanson’s mother. In a now-deleted Tweet, Hanson’s mama wrote a note filled with self-pity for her son, who won’t go on dates because of all the false accusations out there against noble boys from terrible, lying women…

…To the delight of many, it turned out that Mama Hanson had embarrassed her son, the aforementioned marine, badly.

Amazingly, Pieter Hanson himself dissented in a delightful response, also on Twitter:

And with that, Twitter went to work. We did what we do best on Twitter, made memes and tweets that corresponded to the hashtag that inspired more people to make memes and tweets to troll these poor guy’s mother who eventually deleted the tweet, which is very much a rookie move because someone’s always got a screenshot…

Since I am an Old, can I get away with describing the cited trolling-tweets as on fleek?

Late Night Open Thread: Social Media Is A Bad Place for the Clueless

Since I use this blogging platform largely to share online links and embed twitter posts, I can hardly condemn social media as a concept. But as the saying goes: Nothing can be made foolproof, because the fools are so ingenious.

Although I suppose it’s some kind of progress when, if a tween girl must be pimped out to support her family, it’s done through virtual reality. Allow me a ‘kids these days’ moment over a world where Buzzfeed and Netflix collaborate on a documentary series “Inside The World Of Teenagers With Millions Of Followers”

Being an adolescent is inherently awful, but the best thing about it may be the complete lack of shame teenagers feel for the things they love. The breadth and depth of their fandom — say, for some online influencer with millions of underage fans — might be perplexing for those of us older than 18, but it makes perfect sense for teens who love whatever they love with their whole being…

Danielle Cohn is one of those teenage curiosities that most of us old enough to vote (have you registered yet?) don’t know much about despite her alarmingly potent online popularity. At the wee age of 14, she already has a startling 2.6 million Instagram followers and 11.2 million on an app called TikTok. (You might know TikTok better as, the app where the youth lip-synched and bopped around in front of their phones in 15-second video clips. It changed its name to TikTok in early August.) Cohn’s videos don’t exactly sound worthy of millions upon millions of followers: They’re largely just her, in full hair and makeup, lip-synching in front of her camera phone and a bright ring light, shaking her hips and smiling wide. And yet.

Cohn looms large online, but in person, she is teeny tiny. Her Instagram is, like a lot of young girls, seemingly curated to make her appear older, but in person she just looks like a pubescent girl with a remarkable amount of hair extensions. When I met her earlier this year, she was living in the Studio City neighborhood of Los Angeles with her mom, her brother, and a gray puppy named Silverpom who was suffering from an eye infection. She and her family are from Florida, but moved to LA so Cohn’s career as an influencer could really take off, and eventually be parlayed into a Hollywood career, as attempted by so many internet celebrities before her.

Cohn’s burden is twofold: Not only does she have a hungry and demanding fanbase to appease, but she’s a significant part of her family’s financial backbone. There’s online popularity to maintain, but also new clothes to buy, agents to compensate, and of course, the family rent to pay through her live events and sponsored posts…

Ultimately, there’s nothing explicitly sexual about Cohn’s act online, nor is there when she shows me how she makes one of her videos in person. She mostly mugs for the camera and flips her hair and points and cocks a hip and acts out sassiness. It’s a reminder that our anxiety about a girl like Cohn being sexualized comes only because we, as adults, are sexualizing a child. I believe her when she says her work is chaste…

And now I am, in my own small way, part of the problem (am I wrong to assume kids like Cohn attract as many older male followers as they do other young girls — or that the platforms monetizing them don’t really care?) Excuse me while I go find a new onion for my belt…

Tuesday Morning Open Thread: It’s Never Easy

Saturday Morning Open Thread: A (Robot) Dog to Personalize

In my experience, dogs can be briefly fooled by fake dogs — objects that look like dogs, or sufficiently sophisticated dog-sounds audio — but even the fairly dumb dogs aren’t fooled for long by something that doesn’t smell like a dog, because smell is the sense in which dogs put their faith.

Humans, on the other hand… well, in some ways we’re easier to fool, because we trust our sometimes-treacherous minds more than we do the evidence of our senses. So I basically agree with Kevin Drum, at Mother Jones, when he says that “Robot Puppies Will Soon Be Man’s Best Friend”:

Sony ended production of its robot dog, Aibo, more than a decade ago, but now it’s back and better than ever…

When I talk to people about artificial intelligence, the most common pushback has to do with emotion and sociability. Sure, maybe robots will be better than us at driving cars or doing taxes, but they’ll never replace a conversation with friends or provide any kind of emotional support. A robot brain just can’t do this.

I couldn’t agree less…

… [W]e’re more easily fooled on emotional matters than other things. Geoffrey Fowler is an adult, and knows perfectly well that Aibo is just a hunk of silicon that’s programmed with a few tricks to seem sort of doglike. But he found Aibo adorable anyway. I’ll bet elderly folks who don’t get much company would too. So would I if they made a cat version. And that’s despite the fact that even the 2.0 version of Aibo is obviously very, very limited. But give it another ten years and we’ll barely be able to tell Aibo apart from the real thing…

Actually, I suspect that 2028 robot dogs will be easy to distinguish from their “real” (wetware) counterparts, because what humans are really good at is coming up with ways to ‘personalize’ everything around us. And in some ways, having cybernetic pets to display exactly our most personal specifications of the Ideal Dog will be a boon to the old-school biology-based canines. There will be far less incentive for foolish people to adopt a puppy from the latest fashionable breed (Cocker spaniels! No, Irish setters! No, Chihuahuas — wait, French bulldogs!), only to neglect or abandon the poor thing because it doesn’t stay small and cute, and it doesn’t come with an off switch. And there will be less pressure on breeders to select for exaggerated physical features that inexorably lead to unhealthy, miserable animals (German shepherds with crippling hip dysplasia, Borzois with epilepsy, Cavalier spaniels with heart problems). Tomorrow’s celebrities will be able to order a turquoise-blue, purse-sized robo-Yorkie with inset rhinestones… or a mechanical direwolf-lookalike with laser eyes and fullbody tattoos to match its owner’s ink. There will still be old-fashioned biological dogs — certainly purebreds, and probably a (hopefully much smaller) population of mixed-breeds and rescues, because biology is frequently stronger than human ingenuity. Heck, some people will probably have both ‘live’ dogs and robopets… and, knowing people, some of us will cherish our silicon-based ‘toys’ as fiercely, if not in the same way, as we do our ‘real’ pets!

Respite Open Thread: LOOK! ANIMAL MEMES!

What a terrible day for Paul Bronks’ twitter feed to go to ‘protected status’. (I sincerely hope it’s temporary.) Apart from @BoringEnormous, which are your favorite sources for fauna-related respite japes?

Interesting Sunday Read: Something About Bob (Woodward)

Olivia Nuzzi, professional journalist-assassin, sizes up Bob Woodward, professional journalist-legbreaker, in NYMag“Bob Woodward on the ‘Best Obtainable Version of the Truth’ About Trump”.

IMO, she did a really good job of getting past the old man’s practiced patter and demonstrating just how cozy the Beltway Media Village expected to be with this season’s Temporary Oval Office Occupants, whether or not that warmth is reciprocated — or deserved:

Entering the author’s home required walking past a stack of the books on the floor. It’s a warm and colorful place, full of eye-catching paintings and, at this particular moment, lots of people and one medium-size dog. Woodward introduced me to his wife, the journalist Elsa Walsh, and then ushered me into a dining room. Over the course of 50 minutes, we discussed his philosophy and methods. But first, my tape recorder malfunctioned in front of America’s most famous journalist…

Nuzzi: I am but a humble newbie, visiting the Great Master…

I wanted to talk to you about how you decide who is credible. It is difficult for me, sometimes, to determine who is credible, even at the most senior levels of the administration at this White House. Mostly at the most senior levels in some ways.
Particularly if it is on the record and public. It is kind of a press release.

I agree to a large extent. But I am curious how you decide who is credible. Because somebody like Rob Porter, he is obviously very present in this book. I won’t guess about your sourcing. There is a lot to suggest that his character is — there is a fundamental flaw there.
In what way?

Well, by some personal accounts he is a very flawed human being. He is allegedly abusive. There is a lot to call into question his honesty.
Say that again.

There is a lot to suggest that he may not be an honest individual, right? So why do you decide to trust somebody like that?
Well, I am not going into the sourcing but there are — you test it with other people and documents and notes and it makes a big difference when somebody tells you something and you get your hand on the document itself. So because I had the luxury of time, of essentially two years to work on this, not quite, even. Ever since Trump was elected you can cross-check and see…

Woodward: I review theatrical performances on the world’s most important stage. Why should anyone expect me to take an interest in the actors’ personal hobbies?

In a review, Isaac Chotiner at Slate asked if you were perhaps the last optimist.
Really? I have not seen this.

He had a lot of criticisms of the book and one of them is there is this sort of view, a bias towards the people who cooperated, and they are presented in an almost heroic way.
But see, he does not know that. No one knows that except for myself and my assistant Evelyn.

Do you think that is true?
I know it is true.
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Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Trump’s Real Base Is Furious & Thrashing

Forget the carefully crafted folktales about humble salt-of-the-earth workers — the True Trump Believers are American Poujadists, middle-class small business owners and their spokespersons, the ‘populists’ whose only political interest is in keeping their taxes low and all people-not-them ‘in their place’. People like Ross Doubthat, for example. Or Erick Erickson, Voice of the GOP Gated Community, who’s been losing his meagre moiety of marbles on twitter all week…

‘Serious’ GOP professional looks for a pony in that shitpile…

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