Category Archives: Blogs

Premature post

The best laid plans….

My schedule is totally messed up today, and I figured that I would write a post in advance and have it automatically uploaded this morning.

But when it came time to hit the “send to blog” button, I forgot to add a scheduled delay.

So…the post about the Butler Cult in Kailua, intended to appear this morning, went online Sunday afternoon.

And I won’t be back here until Tuesday.

So it goes.

Profiting from fear mongering

Just in case you missed this sobering Washington Post item a few days ago, do take a few minutes to check it out (“What was fake on the Internet this week: Why this is the final column“).

The “What was Fake” column started about 18 months ago to debunk fake Internet “news.”

But it really didn’t work because the Internet has gotten more partisan and more blatantly cynical in creating and passing on fake news. Too many online sites now pride themselves in profiting off of fear-mongering, or so the WaPo writers concluded.

I find its conclusion profoundly depressing.

If you’re a hoaxer, it’s more profitable. Since early 2014, a series of Internet entrepreneurs have realized that not much drives traffic as effectively as stories that vindicate and/or inflame the biases of their readers. Where many once wrote celebrity death hoaxes or “satires,” they now run entire, successful websites that do nothing but troll convenient minorities or exploit gross stereotypes. Paul Horner, the proprietor of and a string of other very profitable fake-news sites, once told me he specifically tries to invent stories that will provoke strong reactions in middle-aged conservatives. They share a lot on Facebook, he explained; they’re the ideal audience.

And more:

Needless to say, there are also more complicated, non-economic reasons for the change on the Internet hoax beat. For evidence, just look at some of the viral stories we’ve debunked in recent weeks: American Muslims rallying for ISIS, for instance, or Syrians invading New Orleans. Those items didn’t even come from outright fake-news sites: They originated with partisan bloggers who know how easy it is to profit off fear-mongering.

Do read the column. And do ponder its implications.

Have a nice day.

Probably no post today

This is a travel day.

We’re on the way back today from Washington, D.C., leaving the Washington Hilton at 6 a.m. (I think that’s 1 a.m. Hawaii time).

We’ve been here for Meda’s major professional meeting of the year, the annual meetings of the American Society of Criminology. She had a good conference, while I mainly relaxed and got some little jobs done.

Hopefully we’ll be back home on time, and I’ll be ready to blog on Monday.

Check back tomorrow, please.

Comment woes continue

[Update: I made several changes this morning, including changing the WordPress “theme”, and suddenly several of your test comments have come through properly. Could it be fixed??]

I’m still working through suggested solutions to the ongoing problem with comments.

Although a few comments are getting through, most reports I’ve received concern comments that were entered but then just disappeared, or nothing happened when attempting to leave a comment.

Here’s where you can help.

Take a moment to write a brief comment and submit it, then let me know what happens. At some point I’ll hopefully stumble into the solution and it would be good to know when the whole comment machinery is working again. You can email me at ian(at)

Apologies for the disruption.

It’s a major pain in the you-know-what.

Problems leaving comments?

I’ve gotten several reports that comments are being rejected, or just not processed.

I’m not seeing rejected comments from my side, so I’m not sure what’s going on.

If you’ve experienced this issue, please email me with any details (

I’ll try to troubleshoot the problem, to the extent that I am able.