Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Idiot Watch: last update

We have been overwhelmed by the number of idiots out there, and so have decided to make this the last one. Enjoy!


Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Big tent hots up as lovers entwine

Bit of a bloggers love-in going on as Tom Harris and Iain Dale blow each other kisses across the ether. Harris says Dale is honest, principled and speaks his mind. Dale says he's very touched. Both men have built up blog audiences where people from across the political spectrum are welcome to express their views.

I've always had my doubts about Dale in particular, often he seemed to hide his political allegiance until things got heated. However the defining moment for me was during the American presidential election in November when Dale hosted a live blog-in which attracted mostly McCain supporters, but a sizeable proportion of Obama supporters too. A similar event hosted by Liberal Conspiracy attracted Obama fans exclusively. As Dale mentions, politics on the web can be a very tribal thing.

My own experience in real life is that local politicians will be intensely partisan during an election campaign, but then build personal relationships with opposing councillors to make working life on the council pass more smoothly. I expect a very similar process goes on in the House of Commons too. So in the spirit comradeliness which seems to be breaking out across the blogosphere, I too welcome Dale's inclusion on the Bracknell Tory PPS shortlist. But please remember to vote in David Young as a Green MP at the next General Election.

Mandy: Decorating tomorrows chip paper

Click for bigger.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Idiot Watch: update

Ladies and Gentlemen. Please remain calm. Another idiot has been spotted. Remember if you seen an idiot in the street or at a public event like a picnic or party conference, please do not approach them. It is best to let the authorities deal with them.

If we get any further sightings of idiots we will let you know as soon as possible.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Idiot Watch

In these times of heightened security risks, please be on the lookout for idiots. They could be hiding anywhere, and threaten you with their signs. Here's what they might look like:

You have been warned!

Know me by my name

I got my nickname in the following way. I was a bit rolly-poly as a baby, so my mum called me Podgy. This was later shortened to Pog: pretty much all my childhood friends and acquaintances knew me as Pog, some still call me it. When I opened my first email account with AOL, Pog had already been taken. Everyone was talking about the new phenomenon of "surfing" at the time, so I added surf as a suffix. The rest is history.

There's a big difference between calling someone by a nickname, and calling them a name. It is one of intent. One is friendly, one is not so friendly. Yesterday I called Tim Ireland out on his use of the term "idiot". In fact you could say that he makes his intent all too clear. It's not nice.

Tim also has a little gang of acolytes who like to follow his bullying ways. Their mugshots or "work" can usually be found here. (I notice Tim's own entry has now disappeared, probably because he is at the centre of some sort of "terrorist" imbroglio.) Except one that is. Beau Bo D'Or makes a good joke by showing a man who has just written "Julie Moult is a genius" on a steamy window, shown from an outside perspective which inverts the inscription. Like any good satirist his work can be taken in more than one way, thereby preserving an ambiguity over his own position. I usually couch against explaining jokes, but I wanted to make clear here that I don't think Beau Bo is demeaning Ms Moult in any way, in fact he's drawing our intention to the importance of perspective.

Matt Buck understands perspective too. After all, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Someone regarded as a nutcase by some, could be seen as a genius by others. Over at Liberal Conspiracy I have been frequently labelled a "troll", and Tim Ireland loves to remind everyone that I am a "sock-puppet". The answer of course is to take ownership of these bits of petty nonsense, and embrace the terms. My trolling usually takes the form of asking awkward questions, my sock-puppetry seems to have taken on epic proportions until one breathless commentator exclaims "he's posting comments bloody everywhere".

It is a curious feature of the human condition that those who rail against flaws in others often display that same flaw themselves. So it is that those who seek to exploit others perceived weaknesses are often vulnerable to the same kind of attack. Tim Ireland for instance is most uncomfortable about references to his own nickname "Manic". At item 36 of this bizarre instance of replying to a spoof list of interview questions, Ireland says:
And now that you bring it up, the nickname also dates from a more innocent time on the web, when there were fewer people around wanting to be a cock about it.
That's OK then. Or perhaps it's about time you changed your nickname. In fact I can't make my mind up about this, or whether he is really calling for the return of an earlier age of bliss on the internet.

As well as addressing Tim by name, we can also now address him by post. I know this because he wrote:
my home address has been repeatedly published online
and Sunny Hundal wrote:
a shadowy bunch of operators who are publishing his name and home address all over the internet
and Justin McKeating wrote:
and finally his home address made public on the internet
It's not exactly a secret, is it? In fact it is so widely publicised I am beginning to wonder if he about organise some kind of mail order business. I wish him luck in his new venture. I hope it distracts him from his name-calling campaigns. Maybe he should adopt a new nickname for a complete change of image. No idea what this should be, perhaps you have an idea? Answers on a postcard, please!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Gang warfare

Yesterday I accused Tim Ireland of intellectual cowardice because he wouldn't debate the merits of sock-puppetry. On 26/11/08 [year corrected] I wrote in an email to him:
... Take a look at this picture Tim, and say what you see. If you really want to have a debate about sock puppetry, Hack's cartoon blog is exactly the right place to hold it.
The day after I had invited him to debate the issue, he wrote that I was:
... currently dashing from website to website making a variety of attempts to confuse the Gilligan issue and/or mock Gilligan's accusers, without declaring (never mind discussing or defending) his own position regarding the use of multiple false identities.
The rub is in the phrase never mind discussing or defending. That was exactly what I had proposed the day before, and which Ireland has avoided for ten months. So not only is he a coward, he also tells lies about me.

Aside from not being a very great custodian of the truth, I am aware that Tim was once accused of behaviour that "smacks of bullying". It was to do with his online campaign to have Julie Moult labelled as an "idiot". Not only did he want to abuse her himself, he encouraged others to do the same. The latest example follows an an article Ms Moult wrote about Sarah Brown and twittering. The concept of bullying is of course dependent on the power relationship between the two parties. In the world of print journalism, Moult's articles get a readership of millions. In the world of blogging, Ireland's articles get an audience of perhaps thousands. Moult herself is not being bullied, but it appears that the world of blogging is being led by a would-be bully boy.

I want to offer a simple formula to help resolve this:
Either: Julie Moult is an idiot OR Tim Ireland is an idiot
My own preference is strongly for Ireland as idiot for the following reason. Whilst it could be argued that Moult writes articles which are shown to be false, she manages to hold down her job and is thus valuable to her employer. However, it is demonstrably true that Ireland writes articles where he seeks to demean others, and he gains no reward for this other than his own self-gratification.

Others may of course want to argue the balance the other way, but they have to overcome the passive-aggressive hurdle. This is that Ireland is using emotion to win his argument. Idiocy is not a current medical condition (it may have been once) so there is no objective test to determine that "Moult is an idiot", as Ireland claims. His argument is based on an objective view about the truthfulness of her articles, and a subjective opinion about Moult's corresponding worth as a human being. Moult has kept quiet about her opinion on Ireland. But her retort should of course be: "It takes one to know one!"

The case against Ireland is now mounting. In the last two days I have called him a pervert, a coward, a liar and an idiot. This is turning into an all out slanging match! Has he courage to face his accuser, or will he set his little gang of "liberal" friends onto me? I'm just about quaking in my socks!!!

Friday, 25 September 2009

On honesty

It's sometimes interesting to reflect on how other people see you, so I took a look back recently at a post Tim Ireland wrote last November.
Most of the biographical information is surprisingly accurate, but Tim gets into a complete muddle about how to spell my surname by the end. The various accusations he makes are mostly bonkers. Clearly I am an unapologetic user of sock puppets, but it now emerges that Tim maybe is too (see item 19. here). The picture Tim refers to as NSFW was taken by my wife whilst on holiday in Italy last year, and showed me lying on a bed, naked, but with my modesty covered by a paperback book. Jennie Rigg got the "no socks" joke, put poor old Tim didn't. Sorry if you want a peek, I took the picture down not long after Tim saw it, but at least several days before his post.

Tim refers to my ribbing of him as "bizarre". Here's an extract of an e-mail exchange that followed:
Tim: Oh, really? Got any more naked pictures that 'prove' how open you are about your identity? Rhetorical question. Please don't send me any.
Martin: Pervert!
I think I riled him. The following day Tim published his main post and demanded that I respond to it. I don't take kindly to people writing a lot of nonsense about me and then demanding answers, so I declined.

In the post, Tim calls me a coward and a bully. I can't really make sense of much of the "evidence" that Tim produces, so I took this as water off a duck's back. However the day before I had challenged Tim to debate the merits of sock-puppetry under a relevant post at Hack's Cartoon Diary.
Tim has never responded to this, and for this reason I accuse him of intellectual cowardice.

Having got my own accusation out of the way, I wanted to close by saying overall I find most of the exchanges between Tim and I as quite humorous. He seems so eager to cast me in a bad light he inflates his charges and lets his anger show through. Whether enjoying this is a good trait in myself is open to question. However, I won't let it worry me. I have no idea if Tim followed through with a threat to dob me in with the Green Party (I suspect they would have politely ignored his nutty accusations, as many others seem to do), but it does expose his tendency to expect others to fight his battles for him. If I get amusement by goading him along the way I suspect this is not an altogether bad thing.