WHAT PRICE BALTHAZAR?

Some aspects of Internet based social interaction trouble me. They can and often do bring out the worst in those participating.

In my last posting many of you were kind enough to discuss the concept of “cyber bullying.”  I am hoping your enthusiasm extends to explaining to me what is and what is not a “troll” and how best to respond to one.

I never heard the term “troll” until it was applied to Sweet Jane Says, a regular contributor at Cheeseburger Gothic/, Blunt Instrument and The Geek .  I looked into it and eventually learned that a “troll” is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or otherwise disrupts the discussion/conversation.  I’ve seen Jane do this, but I don’t consider her a troll because even her disruptive, off-topic comments that are clearly designed to provoke an emotional response are nevertheless backed up by a keen and penetrating mind.

I believe that, in addition to posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages designed to provoke others into an emotional response, for a person to be a troll their comments must lack any value, which means the troll – to be a troll – must be fairly stupid.

I don’t use the term as an insult.  I am using it to describe a lack of native intelligence that is a necessary condition to say and do things that are meaningful.  There are plenty of fine people in this world who aren’t very smart and they contribute in important ways. But their lack of intelligence bars them from places where those who live beyond their fingertips congregate and socialize. For example, tonight my wife is hosting a group of ladies who meet once a week to discuss films and books. Stupid people are not invited to these events.

The world is full of barriers that discriminate against the stupid and exclude them.  The internet has no such barriers.  The single greatest irony arising from the Internet is that millions of people who have nothing of any value to say have nevertheless found a place to say it.

Which leads me to balthazar.  Balthazar is a troll who haunts Blunt Instrument. Either he is a genius performance artist – which is how I view Jane – or he is just some dumb guy who likes to argue and uses the internet to make himself feel smarter, more powerful and more important than he can possibly reflect in the real world.

My question is whether balthazar is, nevertheless, useful.  It seems that others who post at Blunt Instrument enjoy engaging balthazar – even though they surely know he is an idiot who cannot possibly understand what is really going on. I admit doing it and enjoying it.

But this engagement also encourages him.  Balthazar has created a second persona  – called treeman – that is clearly the same person.  Everyone craves attention, especially the stupid. (Q: What are a bogan’s most common last words?  A: “Hey, mates!  Watch this!”)

So what I think I am getting at is my concern over how Internet communities deal with the equivalent of the village idiot.  Do they engage until some higher power simply gets rid of them? Or is there some other self-regulating mechanism at work?

I am interested in knowing what you think.

55 Responses to “WHAT PRICE BALTHAZAR?”

  1. To quote(ish) the Bard – “Let my thoughts be shallow, or nothing worth!”

    Not sure I agree with the Village Idiot analogy. I lived in a village which had several people, all related*, who would probably have earned that title a century ago. The village had a rather “frontier” culture and remains the only place where I have slept with a loaded rifle at my side or carried a knife as a matter of course. When in Rome . . ? Nevertheless their kindness towards and tolerance of these unfortunates would have shamed most civilised communities. It was accepted that they knew no better and could not be other than what they were.

    Trolls, while generally not bright, DO know better and choose to cause misery and anger for their own amusement and self-aggrandisement. Balthazar-treeman seems to fall squarely into that category. The best way I know to deal with such creatures is to ignore them, starve them of attention and hope that they’ll leave. But, as you’ve seen we sometimes yield to temptation and poke a stick between the bars. Reducing the troll to frothing rage is kind of fun too. In the end though, it only gives him what he wants and keeps him coming back.

    (*Very, very closely related indeed)

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  2. paulboylan Says:

    Geybeard – the “villiage idiot” analogy is, I admit, imprecise and is the result of my attempting to grapple with the “troll” concept.

    You comment about the village that was kind to its idiots is very close to what I am trying to say. In the real world, idiots are protected; the internet seems to bring out the worst both in the idiot and those around the idiot. In reference to Jane, I’ve heard what I thought were kind people exhibit cruelty that made me uncomfortable and, which I suspect that they would never have expressed in the real world.

    I disagree that trolls know better. I don’t think balthazar really knows that he is revealing how shallow and pathetic he/she/it is.

    Your final comment about tormenting the bear for amusement, but at the risk of encouraging unwelcome behavior is also what I am interested in. Is there a balance? Does it even matter? How do these things end up? My experience is limited to Jane and balthazar.

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  3. PND, trolls definitely know better, otherwise they wouldn’t be trolls. By definition there’s a deliberate intent to rile and offend in order to get a response. Balty’s entry to the ‘Megan Gale’ thread on Blunty was a case in point: offensive, targeted, and reflective of an intensely misguided smug self-righteousness impervious to rational debate. I would definitely say there’s mental issues in play but not necessarily stupidity. I wouldn’t say Jane is stupid, I’d say she is unhinged, hypocritical and has a myopic world view. The difference is probably pretty subjective between someone who is a troll and someone like Luke or DarrylITJ from Blunties past who are ‘merely’ wankers – though given the latter’s baiting of Moko on religion he’s probably not far from troll status.

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  4. paulboylan Says:

    The mental illness aspect didn’t dawn on me until now. Does a troll – as you define the term, Yobbo, i.e., someone who intentionally shits in the swimming pool to revel in the upset it causes – mentally ill? Is being a troll a manifestation of mental illness? I am serious about this.

    But even if the question is yes, then it begs a further question asking why these same people don’t do the same thing in real life – and it begs the ultimate question: what is the best way to deal with it when it happens? I tend to think Greybeard is right, i.e., ignore it and it will leave.

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  5. Usually tomatoes are chucked till the general vibe becomes irritation versus amusement. Usually by then they’ve worn themselves out or people should, and do, make an effort to ignore them. Hopefully they get over themselves (and whatever has stirred them up) to contribute something meaningful to the entire experience, or they just fade away. Many rename themselves and come back to contribute.

    What makes them tick?. In my experience either an inferiority complex due to some sorta (possibly) misguided personal view of themselves that manifests as attacking those they feel they don’t fit in with. Some sort of chip on their shoulder over someone there. The term ‘Bongingham’ springs to mind there, and/or some sort of mental deficit. Sociopathic sorta thing.

    Quite obviously there are ALL sorts of personalities that frequent JB’s blogs and chances are there is someone there that he COULD (if he chose to take the time) agree and converse with.

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  6. I don’t think of Balty (well ,the internet identity) as anything in particular- after the first twenty five rants I went numb.
    If anything he comes across like the mad guy raving to himself on the corner and I don’t feel in the least intimidated, just sort of indifferent and I wonder if he has friends or if he’s deeply unhappy or if shouting on the internet is all that makes him feel good. I just don’t care about him apart from hoping he’s not in the depths of despair. I know how irrirtating he is if you read his rants; I just ignore as an alternative to falling asleep from boredom.

    Someone like dtj is more of a hassle (troller??) because, as Moko has experienced, he baits theists and he’s certainly baited me. (Moko, I had no idea he’d done that to you till now). I tried to have a rational discussion ,in one particular blunty, about the place of respect between theists , agnostics and atheists, but no go, he was pretty nasty,so pffft. He definitely likes to bait simply because it makes him feel good, you can bet.

    Whether or not that’s a good thing and does a blog function better when everyone is civilised? I think trollage is a drag, it’s dull it’s the antithesis of interesting discussion, because we’re not talking about the likes of Oscar Wilde or the Shakespeare in the witty , clever stakes here; we’re talking about some bored , boring middle- aged person (middle age isa classic time for crack ups) who is largely invisible and powerless and so they inflate themselves in writing.
    I have a policy : I won’t say anything on the net that I wouldn’t say to the person’s face. Anything else feels like cowardice. However, I feel compassion for the human condition and the parts of the psyche which are messed up and make trollers behave on the net as they do. There’s always a big story there.

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  7. Another good topic PNB, I just pretty much ignore them. Most peoples views are pretty fixed and stridently typed words do nothing to sway them. Look at Lobes and Madoc totally opposed to each others view points trying to convince the other guy he’s “wrong”. All you get is a flame war and little forward movement on the topic.

    I suggest http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_%28Internet%29

    Also from an old wiki article I posted on the old JS Burger

    Quote

    Apologies all. From the wikipedia Troll Internet entry.

    Pre-history

    Prior to DejaNews’s archiving of Usenet, accounts of trolling were sketchy, there being little evidence to sort through. After that time, however, the huge archives were available for researchers. Perhaps the earliest, although poorly documented, case is the 1982-83 saga of Alex and Joan from the CompuServe forums. Van Gelder, a reporter for Ms. magazine, documented the incident in 1996 in an article for her publication. Alex (in real life a very shy 50-year-old psychiatrist from New York) pretended to be a highly bombastic, anti-religious, post-car-accident, wheelchair-bound, mute woman named “Joan”, “in order to better relate to his female patients”. This went on for two years, and “Joan” had become a hugely detailed character, with an array of emotional relationships. These only began to fall apart after “Joan” coaxed an online friend of hers into an affair with Alex.

    “Even those who barely knew Joan felt implicated — and somehow betrayed — by Alex’s deception. Many of us on-line like to believe that we’re a utopian community of the future, and Alex’s experiment proved to us all that technology is no shield against deceit. We lost our innocence, if not our faith.” -Van Gelder.

    Sound familiar to any one?

    Unquote.

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  8. oh, the sjs thing. I leave her be and I don’t speculate too much on what her true feelings might be when she’s at her keyboard, I can only take her as I experience her. I decided to think of it like this: she knows how power operates and she’ll whirl around the interplay in groups forever. Fortunately for me she said something very funny on that front, without realising it, and I’ve never taken her “taunts” seriously since that day. Takea leaf if you want, if it helps you.
    I don’t get into baiting anyone and I just let her be.I mean, occasionally if someone’s pushed me I’ll lose my patience but otherwise, meh, ignore.

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  9. Abigail,

    Not too upset about it. Just flares up occasionally. He’s an arsehole through and through. Good luck to him.

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  10. Abigail, just leave her be is best. That piece above was posted around 02/06/07 and it’d been notorious in Journal Space (JS the original home of the Burger) for long before that. Pet conspiracy theory JS was taken down to take out SJS as it’s actually a virus.

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  11. bangarrr – thanks I saw yours after I posted mine and now cooking (in theory) so will look properly later.

    Moko- ditto!; best option. I just try and picture this rabid little man sitting in a basement all obsessed over two or three pet issues, spinning them around and around in his head.

    Guess whose NOT coming to dinner… ? 😉

    Best revenge is living well.

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  12. “who’s”, even

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  13. Bangarrr- That’s Fascinating!

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  14. and yes, eerily familiar…

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  15. Abigail email me at bangar at internode.on.net and email you the post and comments, open offer to anyone else. (replace at with @)

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  16. For a while my stated strategy to deal with those who I thought were trolls was to ignore them, deny them the oxygen they seek. Not that I imagine they were in anyway affected by this, I hardly appeared on their radar. However if one did mention a comment of mine I would either correct any error, agree I was mistaken and concede the point or ignore it completely. I followed the advice ‘”Never argue with a fool; onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”

    I then thought about what it was to comment on a public blog like Blunt Instrument and though Brimo can only be happy with more comments so as long as I don’t degenerate into name calling and the on-line equivalent to hurling monkey poo I figure if it generates more comments than the people it drives away then it can only be a good thing.

    Another thought provoking post, where I am going to get my wry, penetrating insights on the American mind if you keep posting these thinky pieces?

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  17. So I pretty much take my que on how to treat the trolls from the person whose blog I am reading.

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  18. I found mysef up late at night thinking about Balty last week. I kept imagining retorts but they were all really lame. He made me realize that I was a sad f**k. I wish that I spent this much time thinking about more worthy people.

    Anyways…I love your blog as much as ever Paul. JS may be gone and our ineractions more sporadic but it matters naught. I can find you and feel better whenever I visit.

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  19. Flinthart Says:

    Mr Barnes’ second post there accurately reflects my opinions. You deal with trolls in accordance with the mores of the forum — and your own conscience.

    Your example of SJS is well taken. I hold considerable respect for her, and we’ve talked here and there in other locations and forums. She can, and certainly does, throw blood in the water from time to time, but as you observe, she’s no fool. She knows what it is she’s provoking, and she’s usually prepared for the consequences.

    Balthazar is — well, he tries very hard, but he’s dim. And like you, I don’t think he realises just how badly he is outclassed. I don’t think there’s any real need to do much about him, though. People will get bored with him sooner or later, and either he’ll drop away as he is increasingly ignored, or he’ll increase the stridency and aggression of his tone in an effort to draw attention until eventually the moderators are cutting pretty much everything he says. Which is the same result, really.

    Accepted wisdom is ‘Don’t feed the trolls’. That’s useful for drive-by trolls who turn up once in a while to provoke a conflagration – but in the case of a live-in troll like Balthazar, it’s pretty redundant advice. He’s just not interesting enough to warrant the effort.

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  20. ‘Is being a troll a manifestation of mental illness? I am serious about this.” Yeah I think it probably is. It’s certainly a sign of someone with a deeply messed up sense of self and major issues regarding how they think people see them etc.

    The other interesting thing about trolls – and similar sorts of invented online personalities – is that the suspicion is always when they crop up in pre-existing online communities (taking Blunty et al as an example), that it’s an ‘inside job’ – that it’s actually one of the regulars taking the piss. There’s a long-standing meme, a running joke perhaps, that SJS is actually Birmingham. There’s also another long-standing Bluntarian/Burgerista who’s developed a reputation as Man Of A Thousand Personalities through his appearances on Twitter, the Geek and elsewhere as Blarkon, FKNHVK (as distinct from actual Havock) and the short-lived but kinda amusing Insektor. And if he was better at operating the multiple personalities function on Tweetdeck we probably wouldn’t have found out who he was. As fast.

    Today is apparently ‘Post shit as Balty’ day on Blunty, too, if you want to get in and have a crack. Treeman, sadly, doesn’t want to play.

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  21. I know who Balty is if he’s treeman because he tried to friend me on fb (it was sarcasm on his part)> It was ages ago and I was much more naive about how people were operating so I jumped in to defend JB on something the guy wrote, hence the “invite”.

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  22. paulboylan Says:

    It seems the developing consensus is:

    1) there are lots of reasons trolls do what trolls do, ranging from something as obtuse as loneliness to something more acute like mental illness.

    2) Trolls can be smart or they can be stupid, but, in the end analysis, it is a distinction without a real difference.

    3) We take our cures from room hosts primarily, but there is a tendency to engage trolls until it stops being entertaining, at which point people tend to stop paying attention, prompting the troll to, most likely, go away.

    4) there also seems to be the possibility of troll rehabilitation. From what I am being told, Jane was a classic troll that seems to have moderated his/her/its modus operandi. She is caustic, but only in small spurts, which seems to be acceptable enough to tolerate.

    Abigail: This guy followed you to facebook and tried to friend you? Are you kidding? That doesn’t bode well.

    Natalia: What a sweet person you are.

    Yobbo: if you have the time and the inclination, I would love to hear more about the Man of a Thousand Personalities. Is this still happening?

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  23. But what do we call Yuri_Nahl? Surely not a Troll, since he never tries to wound or anger other participants. In your(?) words Paul, a highly skilled performance artist? Sock-puppets sometimes seem designed simply to amuse and entertain, using a different and consistent persona – just as an actor would take a role (confession: I have been sockpuppet-Lucifer in the past. But no more).

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  24. paulboylan Says:

    I think it has to do with intelligence and the underlying motive behind the off-topic comment, Greybeard. Balthazar’s comments reveal a marginal intellect behind them. Yuri’s show the opposite. As far as I know, Yuri is motivated by a desire to make people laugh. There is no malice behind his posts.

    I think sockpuppet Lucifers would be a very hot item. Who wouldn’t want one – if for no other reason than to frighten their children when they misbehave?

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  25. Paul, I should clarify that the guy called Treeman is at Fb -or was. He didn’t follow me over (that really would have been creepy).
    He used his own name there, whatever it was (dont wrry I’d never revela that publiclu anyway, even if I did remember), but I knew it was him.
    I was replying to one of his miserable comemnts on one of JB’s threads. I don’t remember what I said to him but it was a very pointed remark and he sent me a friend invite straight away. He looks a middle- aged beardy dufus, from memory.

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  26. BTW- This ‘sock puppet’ thing. That’s one of the terms Lobes used to try and insult me except I didn’t know what he meant so I just sort of looked at it and thought, what on earth is he saying *this* time? I was telling a close friend and we just laugh at that term.

    Oh “sympathy whore” another. It has no meaning outside of a special zone. Apparently I am one, or perhaps I’ve graduated to sock puppet status which officially negates being a whore of any kind. Conversely, is it once a whore always a whore in Cyberspace? Should one panic? Alternatively, feel notorious like Chopper Reed must?

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  27. I want, no strike that, I NEED a sockpuppet Lucifer more than I ever realised until someone just said sockpuppet Lucifer just now.

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  28. Abigail: It is NOT true that “once a whore always a whore” in cyberspace. I know a surprising number of whores (they prefer to be called “pros” or “sex therapists”) who pretend to be teachers or even housewives on the internet. The Internet means never having to say your sorry.

    Barnes: I am right there with you, brother. I need one now. I must have a sockpuppet Lucifer.

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  29. I’m a sock puppet for hire , gentlemen.

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  30. Imagine , life as a sex worker (I dont think that’s what Lobes had in mind for me but it’ll do)– oen so craves normality that thjey pretend to have my life. Who said I was banal? Oh that’s right, L, L Lllloo loobes.

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  31. I don’t think there’s any suggestion a sympathy whore (or an attention whore, another usage I’ve heard on the intergoogle) is an actual whore, it’s just someone who’d do ANYTHING for the above (either sympathy or attention.)

    The Man Of A Thousand Personalities (I think Moko coined that one) will remain anon for as long as he chooses (it’s not really that much of a secret who Blarkon is) but let’s say it’s someone who also appears online as themselves and doesn’t feel comfortable expressing more pointed views through that prism, as it would have a follow-on for his professional standing.

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  32. Oh hell. I never considered whether my blogging and/or commenting here and elsewhere could have negative consequences. Do you think my internet activity could affect my professional standing?

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  33. I’m kidding. I really don’t care about that.

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  34. Yes, I can totally understand why anyone would choose to hide their identity in order to be more outspoken. I do it myself because I want to protect my family but I never pretend otherwise.
    I don’t have any time for people doing it so they can troll you, like I said before, never say anything challenging on the net that you’re not prepared to say to somebody’s face.

    The amount of risk we all take on the net differs so much , doesn’t it? I don’t give too much , creatively , to the net, because I want to save the energy to real life stuff. Then I get called ‘banal’ and too safe , so you can’t win either way. But then, I absolutely love somebody like SpyNat. She’s really talented I think and she uses the net to channel her talent (as well as other mediums of course) in a sophisticated way and it works for her. Me, I won’t take her risks. Not that brave.
    PNB- speakig of risks- given your profession, yours are the right kind. they’d never get you in strife.

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  35. DrY- About the whore stuff. yes I was being a bit obtuse about that one. (I have sinced worked out sock puppets and it is very funny as an idea)

    The sympathy whore thing , again ,is just funny really because unless you know somebody, you can’t possibly know such a thing and that’s what I was getting at- there are special rules and codes on the net which you never encounter IRL . I mean, conceptually , yes, but the way they function? how much cache they carry? no. It’s like a new world ‘in here’

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  36. paulboylan Says:

    I adore Natalie.

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  37. Ana nymous Says:

    No offense paulboylan, but this discussion of internet manners/rules/etiquette is not very funny. Like my good friend, Janelle, I adore your humor enough to keep checking in. . .

    I once heard that the basic rule in good manners is to assume the offending party just doesn’t know the rules; it is ignorance, not malice that is the cause. Of course, I think that rule only applies to one’s equal; servants, whores, children all should know that the only rule they need to know is that they are inferior and so anything they do or say is open for harsh criticism. As the internet somewhat hides age/class/profession anyone using harsh criticism is either showing ill manners to an equal or boorishly assuming superiority.

    BTW–No offense paulboylan, but this discussion of internet manners/rules/etiquette is not very funny. Then again, I may may have just missed the joke. I adore your humor, and the humor it generates, enough to keep checking in. . .

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  38. Ana – No offense taken.

    I have made it very clear on numerous occasions that the purpose underlying my efforts here is self-amusement, and I am the first to admit that I am amused by a great many things, many of them situational, that no one else I know of quite appreciates the way I do. The late, great Milton Berle once told me “look, kid, just because someone doesn’t get a joke, doesn’t mean it isn’t funny. Sometimes that’s what makes it funny.”

    Irony, not gravity, is the primal force at the heart of the Universe.

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  39. It would be a very interesting experiment to ignore Balthazar, absolutely. To make no direct response to his rants and to also avoid referencing him in the third person. My hypothesis is that he wouldn’t take very long to self destruct, or find another bridge to lurk under.

    Not very hard to ignore him. Troll or not, he’s indisputably a tool.

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  40. MM, ohhhh yeeesss. I don’t have to try at all to ignore him. It’s like engaging with a 7 yr old. Could not be bothered. So charge me with child neglect.

    PNB- I am intrrigued by your statement , that you find things funny which noone else (that you know of) , is getting. Have i expressed that properly? Could you say more about this? I notice you’ve said it before and I’m curious. Do you observe this everywhere you go? is it more an Aust/ American cultural difference? or, is it soemthing about you- and do you think your parents set you on a path which makes it almost inevitable? What are you detecting in your environment?

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  41. Abigail, I would be delighted to pontificate on the subject if for no other reason than the question itself and my attempt to explain are both separately and collectively very funny.

    I “observe this” everywhere I go.

    The deep and apparent, cold, horrible humor that unites and gives meaning to everything – including that which is random and has no inherent meaning – is not an Aust/American cultural thing – although cultural disassociation is often the source of some really funny stuff.

    I really can’t say if I am the only one who relates to the universe this way. I certainly hope not – although it would be consistent within the Big Joke for me to be all alone in this.

    My affliction is not the result of the way my parents raised me. They don’t share this at all. Their perception is a bit more parochial and focused on the immediate. If they set me on a path which made this inevitable, they did it entirely by accident and without meaning to do so. Accident and random chance play a large role in the Big Joke. There is a house in New England that was hit by meteorites three times. The earth spins and wobbles as it circles our sun and, as it does so, it moves through space as our solar system travels through our galaxy, which also is traveling away from the center of the Big Bang. The odds of a house being hit by a meteorite is astronomical (pun intended). The odds that a chain of events that began perhaps billions of years ago would culminate in one tiny house on a tiny dust speck world being hit by rocks from space three times is so incredibly huge that it is hilarious. What incredibly lousy luck that homeowner has, eh? It is cosmically bad luck and is absolute proof that God exists – just not the kind of God you would want to have a beer with.

    What do I detect in my environment? All that I can. For me that is part of the game, a requirement of self-awareness, to try to notice as much detail as possible – realizing, of course, that I have senses, brain capacity, and lifespan insufficient to see what is really going on. Add the Quantum Paradox to the mix and the fact that, as I age, my senses and intellect weaken and you cannot help but see, if not sense, at least a little piece of the Big Joke.

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  42. Morgana – the tactic to ignore trolls seems to be the preferred method for dealing with the problem. However, as both Barnes and Yobbo point out (at least i think it was them) it also depends on cues taken from the forum host.

    Something else seems to have happened that is really interesting. It seems that others are impersonating the troll, who has, himself, taken on new personae. I am not sure whether this is good or bad, but it does seem to create more, not less, of what is going on.

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  43. “…although it would be consistent within the Big Joke for me to be all alone in this.”
    Hahaha yes, quite so.

    Well I envy your talent for seeing the world through this lens much of the time. I do so myself but hardly ever and not very well.I’m much better at it when I’m copying people (like you, I guess). So please don’t stop, I’m free wheeling on your coat tails, Mr.Boylan.

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  44. Oh, and what you said about people imitating the troll. Yes I found that quite funny the other day actually.I don’t knw who was doing it but I had to really laugh at the one who said “Yes, I’ve been such a tool” See, it was the first one I saw and I thought Balthy has had some drugs? Balty has a gun pointed at his head? It got funnier when I looked through the other comments and realised.

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  45. Ana Nymous Says:

    So, if amazing bad luck means that God exists then are all lucky circumstances, good or ill, determined by God? OMG, Luck = God and I have then been taking the lord’s name in vain when I curse my luck at tripping over something?

    You see, raised sans church this was one rule I was not to break, not because of fear of hell but because freedom of belief was to be respected and using the lords name in vain was therefore disrespectful to those who believe. I thought I was safe, I believe in Lady Luck, she excuses my weaknesses and humbles my accomplishments and she loves to hear her name and guidance referred to. “That’s my Luck.” And bad luck is never a punishment, only a reminder to pay attention; and good luck is always a factor in accomplishment, something to be thankful for.

    Oh, what am I worried about, those who would care would never understand.

    But the heavens raining down three times on one house? Truly? I suppose if it was my house I’d start believing in heaven and hell, although it would seem that it was hell raining down. Wow, got to think on that a bit. Just might start praying…

    Best o’ luck, ya all!

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  46. Abigail – Again, you are very kind.

    Ana – My opinions often are separate from my observations. My statement about proof of God was, perhaps, a bit strong. I should have said that the odds of three space rocks set in motion billions of years ago hitting a teeny tiny moving target are so astronomically huge it causes one to believe it wasn’t an accident.

    There are many other examples, including the incredible – virtually unbelievable – number of specific conditions necessary for life to emerge on earth and humans to evolve. The Quantum Paradox is, I believe, strong proof that God – and when I say God, I mean a creator of the Multiverse – exists. I don’t have the time to explain what that is, but it essentially stands for the proposition that the rules of this Universe prevent us from ever knowing what is really going on because the moment we get close enough to see what is really happening and have even the slightest chance of figuring out why, the very act of looking change the results.

    To me this is evidence of an all-powerful Architect. I don’t expect anyone else to agree or even understand the argument.

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  47. Getting back to Balty troll I believe he’s either an intellectually disadvantaged attention-seeker or a kid in his McMansion bedroom squeezing zits onto his computer getting kicks out of calling people “morans”. I forget who coined the minicker “Bongingham” but its typical of the mentally inept. Sure it induced a wry smile when I first saw it used, a slight nod the second time and on subsequent times it became monotonously juvenile. Its similar to people who find a particular term funny, get a laugh the first time they use it and then it becomes a permanent addition to their lexicon. e.g. I knew a guy who pronounced fragile as “fra-gilly”. Every time he saw a “fragile” sticker he’d crack the joke. Eventually we had to tell him to STFU on that one, letting him know that it was not only unfunny but really f**king annoying.

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  48. paulboylan Says:

    Therbs – First of all, thank you for posting a comment, thereby dispelling the social awkwardness that always follows my attempt to explain my sense of humor (which is always a conversation killer).

    I suspected the same thing about Balty, but Abigail seems to know who this guy is (see above). He tried to friend her and she recalls his photo and describes him as a sort of middle aged man – so the kid squeezing zits possibility is unlikely.

    But I do agree that, middle aged or not, he is mentally deficient – and I don’t say that to be mean or cruel. It is just that his language use more or less proves he is likely mentally retarded.

    I have noticed that he hasn’t been around much. We’ll see what happens when JB posts the next Blunt Instrument.

    By the way, Groucho Marx also pronounced fragile “fra-gilly.”

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  49. That’s what I mean. Some one hears Groucho say something and they latch onto it. Groucho even shot an elephant in his pyjamas once.
    ” Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?”
    He also said “Humor is reason gone mad.”
    Notice how I Americanised my spelling of humour?

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  50. PNB, I’m with you on the oberver creating their own conclusions by being an observer, I see it that way too. (I have these twin couisns who are physics grad so I’ve been fortunate enough to hear them talking aboyt this topic.

    Oh, you’ll like this perhaps; There’s a study been done “by psychologists” which states that stastically theists are less intelligent than atheists and liberals. I am both a theist and a liberal (in most things) but my defence was quicklu shot down by hard -nosed professional atheist (you know those ones?) who said “Ahh, statistics; people always object to the results based on INDIVIDUAL grounds” if you want the link just sing out,

    But thats a little aside. Back to Therbs…
    Ohhh yes those “memes” (if that’s what they are?) STFU is about the only reliable cure, other than a quick shot of ‘Round Up’. It is often accompanied by a generalised malaise about the new and the novel.

    Like

  51. That bit about the meteorites makes me want there to be a god even I don’t believe there is one ‘cos its shows a wicked sense of humour. Or a very juvenile god.

    Like

  52. Ana nymous Says:

    Thought I’d share a video for just a bit of faff:
    http://kunsoo1024.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/hell-no-you-cant/

    Like

  53. I love it when you come over all thinky PNB.

    Of course, you realise that not only Balty but all of us are only really atavars (opps, avatars); we are all figments of each other’s maginations.

    Like

  54. paulboylan Says:

    I am not sure I am comfortable with that reality, Annette, but I am sure I prefer the spelling “atavar.”

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  55. lol– from Wikipedia:
    Atavar is a 2000 AD comic strip, created by Dan Abnett and Richard Elson about the last human alive caught in a war between alien species.

    Here is a bit of strange reality: http://www.maginations.net/

    And, according to Hyren at Urban Dictionary, Magination is ” a land composed of many regions… that is located on a distant moon. It is the home to Magi and the focal point between the dream realm and reality.”

    Things have quieted down here, either the conversation has moved to another virtual space or you’re busy with reality…

    Like

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