Beware of the Lulz

A troll posts nasty or random comments in a discussion thread with the intent on creating a reaction. Apparently they believe they’re doing something useful — puncturing your self-regard or educating you on how stupid you are.

“Lulz” is how trolls keep score. A corruption of “LOL” or “laugh out loud,” “lulz” means the joy of disrupting another’s emotional equilibrium. “Lulz is watching someone lose their mind at their computer 2,000 miles away while you chat with friends and laugh,” said one ex-troll..

I came across this remarkable story about trolling that raises some wild questions about the health and future of our culture and the Internet.

Some more choice quotes from the New York Times story:

Fortuny spent most of the weekend in his bedroom juggling several windows on his monitor. One displayed a chat room run by Encyclopedia Dramatica, an online compendium of troll humor and troll lore. It was buzzing with news of an attack against the Epilepsy Foundation’s Web site. Trolls had flooded the site’s forums with flashing images and links to animated color fields, leading at least one photosensitive user to claim that she had a seizure.

Fortuny disagreed. In his mind, subjecting epileptic users to flashing lights was justified. “Hacks like this tell you to watch out by hitting you with a baseball bat,” he told me. “Demonstrating these kinds of exploits is usually the only way to get them fixed.”

“So the message is ‘buy a helmet,’ and the medium is a bat to the head?” I asked.

“No, it’s like a pitcher telling a batter to put on his helmet by beaning him from the mound. If you have this disease and you’re on the Internet, you need to take precautions.” A few days later, he wrote and posted a guide to safe Web surfing for epileptics.

Confirmation Bias

From wikipedia:

Confirmation bias (also called confirmatory bias or myside bias) is a tendency for people to favor information that confirms their preconceptions or hypotheses regardless of whether the information is true. As a result, people gather evidence and recall information from memory selectively, and interpret it in a biased way. The biases appear in particular for emotionally significant issues and for established beliefs.

David Brooks believes it’s the underlying problem in the US.

The ensuing mental flabbiness is most evident in politics. Many conservatives declare that Barack Obama is a Muslim because it feels so good to say so. Many liberals would never ask themselves why they were so wrong about the surge in Iraq while George Bush was so right. The question is too uncomfortable.

The Wedding

It’s Monday morning and I’m in the basement sitting at a small desk staring at my computer and pink insulation. Sonja and I have been living with lots of family at my brother Tyler’s house in a small suburb of London Ontario. I’ve spent the last 6 days traveling from Nelson, standing at Tyler’s wedding, meeting long-missed relatives, and swimming in the hotel pool.

The wedding was beautiful in all the traditional ways — the elegant bride, the dramatic church, the loving parents and precocious children — and it had it’s share of drama, but really only in potential, as everything was held together by a fundamental decency and sense of love. There were a awkward moments, and I was responsible for more than my share, but I think in the end, it was just, fun.

1 week later: I don’t have any photos to share right now other then this one of Sonja and I riding a stretch limo from the airport in Toronto to her parent’s place in North York (we had actually ridden it all the way from London with Tyler and Tammy).

Press Credentials

I haven’t been to Shambhala in 5 years. The memories are fading but I can still see moments from those 72 hours of relentless beats, wondering heat-stricken among cross-eyed ravers, clouds of dust and dirt choking me with each gulp of warm water. I think I had fun.

This year, once again, I’m not going. I have to work, or should I say: I have chosen to work. But thankfully (since I’m nosy), I can still follow out what’s going on. has two media passes and Sonja and Natalka have volunteered to brave the dancing hordes and file live reports throughout the day.

You can follow what’s going on at News in the Kootenays, Arts in the Kootenays, and Sonja’s personal blog.

Dave, what are you doing?

We ask so much of our servers — hundreds of thousands of requests per day, no breaks, slave wages… It’s a hard life. Well, this morning our server decided it had enough and went on strike.

You’ll probably notice that everything is running slow or not at all. There is simply too much traffic for the amount of available memory.

So what are we doing about it?

This morning and afternoon we started a complete backup of the whole system so that this evening we can resize the server – double the memory, double the hard-drive space, etc. This means the server will be slow for the rest of the afternoon and then be down for about a half hour this evening. After that, you should notice a significant increase in speed.

Thanks for being patient while we grow!

The one radical tactical shift

When I encounter a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, I have 3 choices: try harder, give up, or make a radical shift in how I think about it so it no longer appears insurmountable, or even an obstacle. In rock climbing, I face this choice all the time. The third choice almost always seems to be the right one.

Here’s an inspiring video by Lewis Pugh about how he made this choice while attempting to swim across a lake on Mount Everest.