[asleep at the wheel]

James Lileks' Bleat for yesterday touched on a raw nerve: the clickbait ads that way too many websites insert into their content.

Essentially, they say to readers: "The owners of this website think you are gullible, foolish, or ignorant enough to click on some of these obvious dimwitted efforts to grab your eyeballs."

Not to pat ourselves too hard on the back, but that's why the "ads" on Pun Salad are simple Amazon paid links, a cheap method to get eye candy into an article. And my Amazon Associates account says that almost nobody buys anything; I have smart readers.

Anyway, Lileks does this far better than I,

I made the mistake of clicking on a link to read a stupid piece, and the stupid piece was, indeed, stupid, but also pitched me into that realm of Very Bad Internet that makes me think I’ve dropped into a parallel world of unutterable banality. You know, this place -


If you attempt to imagine who spends time in this place, you will assemble an uncharitable composite of oldish gullible people, scrolling and clicking and tut-tutting and wondering if the camera really did see too much. Some variant of that headline has been infecting the chumshite sites for ten years. It’s as if nothing is happening. We’re stuck. Music, architecture, culture, politics, it’s all in the ditch upside down spinning its wheels.

Or maybe no one spends much time in this internet. It’s a vast unpopulated space full of billboards blinking at no one. Is it constructed by mediocre people? Or is it tuned and adjusted by cynical people to appeal to mediocre people?

I recommend you click over to see further examples with Lileks' commentary. It's genius and experts will be furious, but you'll know what to do in case of societal collapse. Hint: the library will be closed.

Also of note:

  • He's not talking about the pot shops. The fabled land across the Salmon Falls River, Maine, has the rather totalitarian slogan "The Way Life Should Be".

    Too bad, other-state residents. You're living a life that shouldn't be that way. Tsk.

    Anyway, one of the ways life should be, according to the Maine Secretary of State, is that you shouldn't be allowed to vote for Trump. Matt Taibbi looks at The Mess in Maine.

    This year the public is being forced to research questions in which they have no say. We all understand now that there’s a disqualification clause in the 14th Amendment. We also understand that this clause seems to have been written with deliberate vagueness. I’m no lawyer, but I doubt the 14th Amendment was designed to empower unelected state officials to unilaterally strike major party frontrunners from the presidential ballot. If it was, that’s a shock. I must have missed that in AP Insane Legal Loopholes class. Is there any way this ends well? It feels harder and harder to imagine.

    As far as I can recall, it wasn't mentioned in AP Destroying Democracy In Order To Save It class either.

  • In the Too Little, Too Late Department… Rich Lowry looks at Francis Collins’s Covid Confession. Collins is "former head of the National Institutes of Health during the pandemic and current science adviser to President Biden."

    “If you’re a public-health person and you’re trying to make a decision, you have this very narrow view of what the right decision is,” Collins said at an event earlier this year that garnered attention online the last couple of days.

    This is not a new insight, or a surprising one. It’s a little like saying Bolsheviks will be focused on nationalizing the means of production over everything else, or a golf pro will be monomaniacal about the proper mechanics of a swing.

    The problem comes, of course, when public health, or “public health,” becomes the only guide to public policy. Then, you are giving a group of obsessives, who have an important role to play within proper limits, too much power in a way that is bound to distort your society.

    Francis Collins, again: “So you attach infinite value to stopping the disease and saving a life. You attach zero value to whether this actually totally disrupts people’s lives, ruins the economy, and has many kids kept out of school in a way that they never quite recover from.”

    True and well said, but that’s an awful lot of very important things to attach “zero value” to.

    I bet Fauci is furious about Collins's apostasy.

  • Via Arnold Kling, Helen Dale and Lorenzo Warby write on Weaponising Emotion. Just this one little excerpt:

    There is a persistent pattern of progressives demanding respect for their moral judgements while clearly feeling entitled to treat others’ moral judgements with contempt. Part of the reason they resist labels—not only “woke” but also Yascha Mounk and Andrew Doyle’s more descriptive terms—is because they are “simply being moral”. Their sense of owning morality is palpable.

    Here's hoping I avoid palpating a progressive's sense of morality in 2024.

Last Modified 2024-01-22 6:01 AM EDT