There, I saved you a click.
There, I saved you a click.
The nation's patent trolls, perhaps sensing increasing outrage about their parasitic practices, have grown more aggressive. They've increased (successful) lobbying efforts. Moreover, they've begun to resort to preemptive litigation — not just suing people for infringement, but suing people for contesting their trollish business model. This year saw one patent troll suing the Federal Trade Commission in an effort to halt its investigations, asserting that the troll's shakedown letters are protected by the First Amendment. The FTC's motion to dismiss is pending.
Thanks to tipster Jenny, I learned of another stunning example of patent troll aggression in Texas.
Atavistic metamorphosis proposes that cancer cells are cells that have reverted, evolutionarily, to their ancestral, independent status as unicellular organisms. It is from there that cancer only occurs in plants and animals/humans (multicellular organisms). This also explains why cancer does not occur nor can be induced experimentally in unicellular organisms such as bacteria, fungi and protozoa.
Sunil Dutta, a "professor of homeland security" at Colorado Tech University, was an LAPD cop for 17 years. Today, the Washington Post ran his column explaining how citizens should interact with the police.
First, Dutta talks about the challenges cops face from rude civilians:
Working the street, I can’t even count how many times I withstood curses, screaming tantrums, aggressive and menacing encroachments on my safety zone, and outright challenges to my authority. In the vast majority of such encounters, I was able to peacefully resolve the situation without using force. Cops deploy their training and their intuition creatively, and I wielded every trick in my arsenal, including verbal judo, humor, warnings and ostentatious displays of the lethal (and nonlethal) hardware resting in my duty belt. One time, for instance, my partner and I faced a belligerent man who had doused his car with gallons of gas and was about to create a firebomb at a busy mall filled with holiday shoppers. The potential for serious harm to the bystanders would have justified deadly force. Instead, I distracted him with a hook about his family and loved ones, and he disengaged without hurting anyone. Every day cops show similar restraint and resolve incidents that could easily end up in serious injuries or worse.
Note how Dutta unsubtly conflates genuinely dangerous things — like threatening to set off a gas bomb — with curses, "tantrums," and "outright challenges to my authority." This sleight-of-hand miscategorization is how cops convince us they need the power to order us to refrain from gathering in one place to protest or put away that menacing cell phone or stop being developmentally disabled around them. See, cops know what is dangerous, and if you say they shouldn't be able to tell you not to do whatever they say is dangerous, you're really saying you should be allowed to set off gasoline bombs at the mall.
We are still learning what transpired between Officer Darren Wilson and Brown, but in most cases it’s less ambiguous — and officers are rarely at fault. When they use force, they are defending their, or the public’s, safety.
"Rarely" is an empirical term; Dutta does not cite evidence. Certainly cops are very rarely deemed responsible by the justice system for use of force. But a rather rather large number of people are killed by police every year; we don't know exactly how many, and we have no reliable resource to test law enforcement asserts that the killings are justified. Never mind lesser violence, like tasing and pepper spraying people, or things not classified as uses of force, like forcible torture and rape of suspects under the guise of "investigation," or situations where police got innocent people killed through idiocy.
But this is Dutta's main point:
Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me. Most field stops are complete in minutes. How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?
Note now nicely this dovetails with Dutta's first point. First, Dutta gets to decide what is dangerous and what he can order you to cease doing. Because gas bombs! Second, if you keep doing it, that's a tasing. Or a beating. Or a shooting.
Dutta's message is this: a cop can always tell you what to do, and you have to take it, or else. (The "else" is violence.)
We have a justice system in which you are presumed innocent; if a cop can do his or her job unmolested, that system can run its course. Later, you can ask for a supervisor, lodge a complaint or contact civil rights organizations if you believe your rights were violated. Feel free to sue the police! Just don’t challenge a cop during a stop.
This is either blissfully naive or breathtakingly dishonest. Do we have a justice system? By name, yes. Is it effective in deterring cops from abusing citizens or punishing them when they do? No. If you go and ask that supervisor to lodge a complaint, better have a lawyer's phone number, because you may get threatened and harassed. If you hope the cop will be charged criminally for misbehavior, you're going to be waiting a very long time for no result. When it comes to breaking the law, the system treats you one way and cops another.
But Dutta's rationales are mere window dressing. His core message is this:
Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you.
The outrageous thing is not that he says it. The outrageous thing is that we accept it.
Would we accept "if you don't want to get shot, just do what the EPA regulator tells you"? Would we yield to "if you don't want your kid tased, do what the Deputy Superintendent of Education tells you"? Would we accept "if you don't want to get tear gassed, just do what your Congressman tells you?" No. Our culture of individualism and liberty would not permit it. Yet somehow, through generations of law-and-order rhetoric and near-deification of law enforcement, we have convinced ourselves that cops are different, and that it is perfectly acceptable for them to be able to order us about, at their discretion, on pain of violence.
It's not acceptable. It is servile and grotesque.
Last Friday, as the killing of Mike Brown continued to roil Ferguson, Missouri, the Ferguson Police Department released a police report and surveillance video showing a young man shoving a protesting convenience store clerk and leaving with merchandise. Mike Brown's family lawyer confirmed that the video showed Brown, but decried its release as an irrelevant smear. Later Ferguson's police chief later admitted that officer Darren Wilson did not seek to detain Brown based on the robbery, but because Brown was walking in the street.
Would the alleged robbery1 matter, in any case brought against Darren Wilson for the death of Mike Brown?
It might matter legally, but only for narrow reasons. It does matter practically, but shouldn't.
Last week some writers at Jezebel made a public complaint about its parent, Gawker Media:
For months, an individual or individuals has been using anonymous, untraceable burner accounts to post gifs of violent pornography in the discussion section of stories on Jezebel. The images arrive in a barrage, and the only way to get rid of them from the website is if a staffer individually dismisses the comments and manually bans the commenter. But because IP addresses aren't recorded on burner accounts, literally nothing is stopping this individual or individuals from immediately signing up for another, and posting another wave of violent images (and then bragging about it on 4chan in conversations staffers here have followed, which we're not linking to here because fuck that garbage). This weekend, the user or users have escalated to gory images of bloody injuries emblazoned with the Jezebel logo. It's like playing whack-a-mole with a sociopathic Hydra.
The writers further complained that they had repeatedly informed Gawker Media of the problem, but higher-ups failed or refused to do anything about it. A couple of days later, the writers announced that Gawker Media had responded and was taking steps to deal with trolls barraging them with rape porn.
This complaint was ridiculed in some circles. No, I won't link them. The ridicule seemed to be based on the propositions that (1) it's silly to think that Gawker should be responsible for what some third-party troll is doing to its employees, and (2) it's silly to be upset by that sort of thing.
This is a good example of the phenomenon I like to call "bless your heart for thinking that, but it's not the law, dipshit."
American employers are, in fact, responsible for taking reasonable steps to protect their employees from racial or sexual harassment by third parties. This is the example I use when I train companies on sexual harassment prevention: if the UPS guy is constantly and creepily hitting on your receptionist, you need to do something about it. You may think that it is outrageous that this is the rule. Cool story, bro. That's what the law is, and if you employ people or advise anyone who employs people, you're a fool to ignore it. Here's how the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit — hardly a bastion of liberalism — recently summarized it:
Similar to the reasoning we set forth for employer liability for co-worker harassment, “an employer cannot avoid Title VII liability for [third-party] harassment by adopting a ‘see no evil, hear no evil’ strategy.' “ Ocheltree v. Scollon Prods., Inc., 335 F.3d 325, 334 (4th Cir.2003) (en banc). Therefore, an employer is liable under Title VII for third parties creating a hostile work environment if the employer knew or should have known of the harassment and failed “to take prompt remedial action reasonably calculated to end the harassment.” Amirmokri v. Baltimore Gas & Elec. Co., 60 F.3d 1126, 1131 (4th Cir.1995) (quoting Katz v. Dole, 709 F.2d 251, 256 (4th Cir.1983)) (internal quotation marks omitted) (applying this standard to co-worker harassment).
In that case, the Circuit overturned a trial court judgment for the employer, finding that there was sufficient evidence to go to trial on the employee's complaints that an asshole customer had created a hostile environment and the employer didn't do anything about it:
Applying this standard here, we conclude that a reasonable jury could find that Dal–Tile knew or should have known of the harassment. Here, Freeman presented evidence that Wrenn, her supervisor, knew of all three of the most major incidents: the two “black b* * * * ” comments, and the “f* * *ed up as a n* * * *r's checkbook” comment. Wrenn was present for the first “black b* * * * ” comment, which Freeman complained about to Wrenn afterward. Freeman also complained to Wrenn specifically about the other two comments from Koester almost immediately after they occurred.5 When Freeman complained to Wrenn about the “f* * *ed up as a n* * * *r's checkbook” comment, Wrenn “scoffed and shook her head and put her head back down and continued on with trying to pick the nail polish off of her nails.” J.A. 102. When Freeman complained about the second “black b* * * * ” comment, Wrenn simply rolled her eyes and went on talking to a co-worker. J.A. 112. In addition to these most severe incidents, Wrenn was also present the time Koester passed gas on Freeman's phone and Freeman began crying and had to leave the room.
That supervisor, Wrenn, reacted rather like the critics of the Jezebel writers: "why, exactly, is this an issue we should care about?" That attitude was rather expensive for the defendant company in this case.
Or maybe you think that trolls constantly posting rape porn isn't severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile working environment. No, thanks, I don't think I'll borrow your laptop. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but everyone isn't entitled to the law being what they think it is. Minimal exposure to pornography isn't severe or pervasive. If someone puts up a centerfold and you complain and it's gone the next day, courts wont' find that to be sufficient to create liability. But being constantly exposed to pornography calculated to upset you — meant to troll you? That's probably over the line. "Although most cases involving pornography in the workplace include other elements such as threatening or offensive remarks, see, e.g., Waltman, 875 F.2d at 471, there is no necessary reason why the presence of pornography alone could not create a hostile work environment so long as the pornography was sufficiently severe or pervasive." Adams v. City of Gretna, 2009 WL 1668374 (E.D. La. June 12, 2009).
Let's put it this way: Gawker Media made the wrong choice when they ignored complaints, and the right choice when they started taking steps reasonably calculated to address the complaints. I'm not certain that the writers would win a lawsuit if Gawker had continued to put its head in the sand, but if I had to choose the stronger case, I'd choose the writers.
Preventing harassment is, for whatever reason, a subject that upsets people. Go ahead, be upset. Say it's ridiculous! But part of my job is training companies to minimize liability risks, and I'm here to tell you: if you don't take it very seriously as an employer, you might as well start writing checks to litigators right now.
I was all set to write a post making this point: it's offensive and irrational for the police to say "we have to protect the identity of a cop who shoots a citizen, for safety" when the criminal justice system routinely names suspects and defendants — either openly or by leak. People are accused of horrible crimes all the time, and does the system hold back their names out of fear that they or their families will face retribution? No.
But Kevin Williamson has already done a great job writing that post:
Here’s a microcosm of the relationship between state and citizen: We know the names of the nine people charged with felonies in the Ferguson looting, but not the name of the police officer at the center of the case.
Here's what I want to add to Kevin's observations: this particular piece of special pleading for cops is not unique; it's part of a pattern.
If you are arrested for shooting someone, the police will use everything in their power — lies, false friendship, fear, coercion — to get you to make a statement immediately. That's because they know that the statement is likely to be useful to the prosecution: either it will incriminate you, or it will lock you into one version of events before you've had an opportunity to speak with an adviser or see the evidence against you. You won't have time to make up a story or conform it to the evidence or get your head straight.
But what if a police officer shoots someone? Oh, that's different. Then police unions and officials push for delays and opportunities to review evidence before any interview of the officer. Last December, after a video showed that a cop lied about his shooting of a suspect, the Dallas Police issued a new policy requiring a 72-hour delay after a shooting before an officer can be interviewed, and an opportunity for the officer to review the videos or witness statements about the incident. Has Dallas changed its policy to offer such courtesies to citizens arrested for crimes? Don't be ridiculous. If you or I shoot someone, the police will not delay our interrogation until it is personally convenient. But if the police shoot someone:
New Mexico State Police, which is investigating the shooting, said such interviews hinge on the schedules of investigators and the police officers they are questioning. Sgt. Damyan Brown, a state police spokesman, said the agency has no set timeline for conducting interviews after officer-involved shootings. The Investigations Bureau schedules the interviews at an “agreeable” time for all parties involved, he said.
Cops and other public servants get special treatment because the whole system connives to let them. Take prosecutorial misconduct. If you are accused of breaking the law, your name will be released. If, on appeal, the court finds that you were wrongfully convicted, your name will still be brandished. But if the prosecutor pursuing you breaks the law and violates your rights, will he or she be named? No, usually not. Even if a United States Supreme Court justice is excoriating you for using race-baiting in your closing, she usually won't name you. Even if the Ninth Circuit — the most liberal federal court in the country — overturns your conviction because the prosecutor withheld exculpatory evidence, they usually won't name the prosecutor.
And leaks? Please. Cops and prosecutors leak information to screw defendants all the time. It helps keep access-hungry journalists reliably complaint. But leak something about an internal investigation about a shooting or allegation of police misconduct? Oh, you'd better believe the police union will sue your ass.
Cops, and prosecutors, and other public employees in the criminal justice system have power. It is the nature of power to make people believe that they are better than the rest of us, and entitled to privileges the rest of us do not enjoy.
The question is this: are we so addled by generations of "law and order" and "war on crime" and "thin blue line" rhetoric that we'll accept it?
Last year I talked about how the notorious and thoroughly evil Brett Kimberlin had sued several bloggers in Maryland state court for being mean to him. This is not to be confused with the ludicrous racketeering case that Kimberlin filed in Maryland federal court against a laundry list of detractors.
Today Kimberlin lost his state case at trial. He didn't just lose — he lost conclusively. After the close of Kimberlin's day of "evidence," the judge granted a motion for a directed verdict against him. Under Maryland law, that means the judge necessary found "a total failure of legally sufficient evidence to prove" Kimberlin's remaining defamation claim. The judge didn't just find Kimberlin's evidence unpersuasive; he effectively found it irrelevant.2 I await with interest a more specific description of the basis for the judge's ruling, but I previously talked about how Kimberlin's case was meritless because he was trying to misconstrue protected statements of opinion as defamatory statements of fact.3
Congratulations are due to the defendants — William Hoge, Aaron Walker, Robert Stacy McCain, and Ali Akbar. (I will update those links as each posts their version of the victory.) Special congratulations — and thanks and admiration — are due to attorney Patric Ostronic, who represented some of the defendants pro bono through what must have been a very time-consuming and annoying case. In a system that fails to stop the Kimberlins of the world from lawfare, the Patric Ostronics of the world are essential to protecting my rights and yours.
Kimberlin, as always, was the author, editor, and publisher of his own book of failure. Dave Weigel describes Kimberlin's opening like this:
This was after Kimberlin's opening statement, interrupted dozens of times by objections, as he tied the case to Benghazi, the suicide of Robin Williams, and the motivations that spurred the 9/11 terrorists.
Furthermore, even though the court ruled that Kimberlin could testify on his own behalf (despite a statute suggesting that people convicted of perjury may not), Kimberlin did not testify. Perhaps he was concerned about how testifying would expose him to a cross-examination that would lovingly recount his history of lawlessness, sociopathy, and crazed litigiousness. Perhaps he recognized the risk of a new perjury charge. Perhaps he realized that he would look ridiculous questioning himself. Perhaps he never planned to, and the purpose of this was always mere harassment. Whatever the reason, his failure to testify led to the directed verdict, and will make it very difficult for him to prevail on appeal.
The surprise in today's trial: I've chosen to dismiss my very competent counsel and self represent. I needed this. #BrettKimberlin
There's no kind way to say this: that was a stupendously self-indulgent and idiotic thing do to, that risked both Akbar's case and that of his codefendants. The good result doesn't magically make it more sensible, any more than it was a good idea to play Russian Roulette because it went fine and you won $10. Trial lawyering ain't rocket science. But it's an acquired skill requiring specialized knowledge of a lot of picky rules. It's a minefield. You can open the door to otherwise inadmissible evidence from the other side, you can make a hash of your own evidence so it isn't admitted or its effect is blunted, you can spoil your impeachment evidence and fail to discredit the opposing witnesses, you can alienate the judge and jury, you can fail to preserve essential rights both for trial and appeal, and you can drag your codefendants' case down with you. I hope that nobody will take Akbar's example to conclude that going pro se in a free speech case is a swell idea. Ask Roger Shuler how that turns out.
This result bodes well for Kimberlin's remaining ludicrous and vexatious claims in federal court against a wide variety of people and institutions. The federal court will see the result and, no doubt, view Kimberlin with even more skepticism. The state ruling may have legal effect in the federal case — let's let Brett Kimberlin discover why and how. And, most importantly, the trial shows that for all his braggadocio about having filed a hundred suits, Brett Kimberlin is too nutty and disorganized to do even a half-assed job in court. If only one could litigate by drug dealing, perjuring, and blowing the leg off innocent bystanders, he would have been an elite courtroom attorney.
Kimberlin is not done yet. this is what he said to Dave Weigel:
Kimberlin tells me he’ll appeal, and that as far as the bloggers go there’ll be “endless lawsuits for the rest of their lives."
No doubt he will continue to pursue vexatious litigation. And, so long as he mouths the right political platitudes, he'll always have a coterie of vapid and dishonest hagiographers, lapdogs, and deranged cyberstalkers. Kimberlin's rhetoric happens to be aimed at credulous "progressives"; Orly Taitz demonstrates he could have attracted a different crowd of supporters by mouthing conservative homilies.
But if Kimberlin won't give up, neither will the people he tries to censor. Lawyers like Patric Ostronic will step up. This victory will make it easier to recruit pro bono counsel to defy Kimberlin.4 His defeats will continue to mount and it will be easier and easier to convince judges to dismiss his cases. Sooner or later, a team will put together a motion to have him declared a vexatious litigant — thus blunting his ability to harass through litigation. Once he's declared a vexatious litigant in one jurisdiction, others will follow more easily. Most of all, more and more people will do what he hates most: talk about who he is and what he's done.
Kimberlin's not going to silence any of these defendants.
In these parts, we're all understandably outraged about the War on Dogs, an apparent precursor to the rising police state. After all, we've befriended some of the cutest dogs on the planet.
It's only fair, then, that I give the copper his due. Today, I went to the public library. Following local custom, I had pulled through one parking spot and into the one opposite to set up an easy departure. In that space, I was flanked by an SUV on one side and a white minivan on the other.
After czeching out some language-related materials, I made my way to the parking lot. There, a police cruiser was parked laterally in front of my vehicle and the adjacent minivan. The latter's owner had left the building when I did. Ignoring me, the policeman intercepted that guy.
"License, registration, and proof of insurance, please."
"There's a dog in your vehicle. It might be 110 or 120 degrees in there. Your windows are up. His life is at risk. That's illegal."
They unsealed the door, and out popped the panting head of a large, goofy, loveable canine, none the worse for sweltering.
Nobody had parked behind my drive in the interim, so I backed up, drove around, and went on my way, wondering how this had come to pass, and feeling glad for dog's sake that it had.
Well done, Office X of the Y police force. Well done.
Smart people are a-dime-a-dozen. Very smart people are common. Though geniuses are statistically uncommon, humanity's surging tide produces tens of thousands of them in every generation.
But even geniuses are people, and people tend to play the hand that is dealt to them, or else discard just a few cards to draw new ones. Few question the rules of the game or why they should play it at all.
The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz depicts a rare genius who questioned the premise of the game. It's terrific and moving. I bought it, downloaded it, and watched it on my iPad on a plane trip, all of which seemed very appropriate. It was well worth the time and attention and money.
Rain, Rain, falling down
Grey sky shadows, and my sad heart
. . . and so on.
Now, I am not personally offended by improbably-breasted women in comics. I recognize them for what they are: a cultural signal, like golf pants or McDonalds' Golden Arches. Their presence on a book or comic cover signifies that you will encounter nothing unfamiliar or unsettling therein. Anatomically incorrect breasts are the dogs-playing-poker of fantasy art.
Back in February I wrote about a rather despicable lawsuit filed by Japanese-American plaintiffs seeking to remove a statue in Glendale, California commemorating the "comfort women" — women enslaved as prostitutes in World War II by Imperial Japan. The plaintiffs argued that Glendale's statute interfered with the United States' diplomatic relations with Japan, thus violating the Supremacy Clause. I'm pleased to report that United States Judge Percy Anderson — not a judge you want yelling at you, for what it is worth5 — has dismissed the case without leave to amend.
The plaintiffs, you might recall, were represented by megafirm Mayer Brown. This resulted in really awful publicity from Mayer Brown, not just from pipsqueaks like me, but from Above the Law and Marc Randazza. Mayer Brown soon substituted out of the case in favor of a rather smaller firm. Meanwhile, defendant the City of Glendale – ably represented by their City Attorney's Office and by competing megafirm Sidley Austin — filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that the plaintiffs were clearly incorrect in arguing that Glendale's comfort women statute interfered with the United States' international relations. The motion is top-notch work; I've uploaded a copy here.
In his ruling, Judge Anderson found that the plaintiffs had not alleged any specific facts — as opposed to conclusions — supporting the notion that a city's monument could interfere with national diplomacy. Absent such facts, the complaint failed. Judge Anderson echoed the argument made by many critics that the plaintiffs' theory would make a wide swath of public monuments vulnerable to litigation:
Any contrary conclusion would invite unwarranted judicial involvement in the myriad symbolic
displays and public policy issues that have some tangential relationship to foreign affairs. For instance,
those who might harbor some factual objection to the historical treatment of a state or municipal
monument to the victims of the Holocaust could make similar claims to those advanced by Plaintiffs in
this action. Neither the Supremacy Clause nor the Constitution’s delegation of foreign affairs powers to
the federal government prevent a municipality from acting as Glendale has done in this instance . . . .
Judge Anderson therefore dismissed the federal claim and declined to exercise jurisdiction over the remaining state law claim. He also found that the City's anti-SLAPP motion was without merit because it was directed to a federal claim: generally speaking state anti-SLAPP statutes can only be used against state claims. That ruling spared Judge Anderson the more difficult question of whether a municipality has speech rights covered by the anti-SLAPP statute.
This is the right result. Plaintiff's claim on behalf of reactionary Japanese political interests were only the appetizer; the main course would have been suits against many Armenian Holocaust memorials, brought on behalf of the Holocaust-deniers of Turkey. Citizens, through their local governments, ought to commemorate history as they see fit.
6:46 AM (5 hours ago)
Dear Business owner,
This letter regards to the website www.popehat.com
My name is Joel Marami. I am the director of digital marketing at NGRWebTeam. We have some very good news. We have discovered why your website has not been effective as it could be.
OUR ANALYSIS IS AS FOLLOW;
No.1 – The organic traffic to your website has been extremely low. We have measured it at less than 40 percent. It really should be at 80-90%. Since it is not, you are missing out on at least twice as much exposure that you could and should be getting.
No.2 – People who are searching for your type of Business on search engine like GOOGLE, YAHOO and BING are not being driven to your website due to an insufficient number of in-bound links instead; they are being driven to one of your competitor’s websites. This is business that your company is losing to the competition. This is totally unnecessary. Certainly, anything worth doing is worth doing well. With some adjusting this can mean an increase in business of many thousands of dollars per year.
No.3 – The social presence of your website is minimal to be most effective; your website should be actively found on over 10+ high social media websites. This increased social presence will expose your business and your website to people who live, work and frequent your local market and geographical area…If people are not aware of your existence, they will do business with one of your competitors instead. As the saying goes.. OUT OF SIGHT …OUT OF MIND..
Overall, based on our research, we can certainly improve the results you have been getting by increasing your Company’s online presence and resolving any critical online reputation management issues that you are having. We would also like to discuss your website’s conversion rate optimization with you. We can convert more of your visitors into becoming actual customer.
Invite for consultation…CALL NOW! Or Email Back. We can proceed from our corporate e-mail ID…this is just a once-off measure to avoid spam.
Ken At Popehat
8:56 AM (3 hours ago)
Thank you for writing! I was staring out at the vast expanse that is today, feeling the slight tremor in my hand, hearing the faint red song, and wondering, wondering, if today will be the day that . . .
. . . and then your letter came.
"We have some very good news. We have discovered why your website has not been effective as it could be."
Wow. That is good news. I've been thinking about that a lot, Joel, and it's been a complete mystery. The market for foul-mouthed easily-distracted clinical-depression-prone footnoted free speech over-analysis is HUGE. HUGE, Joel. I have built the better mousetrap, where "mouse" is "your free time and peace of mind." The world should be beating a path to my door. Other that incident with the Thai food delivery guy nothing of that nature has happened.
"OUR ANALYSIS IS AS FOLLOW;"
We're fallow? That's kind of harsh, Joel, but fair. We have plowed deep lands in the blogsoil but recently have not left our seed. That seed would grow into strong things — mighty things, Joel — things like police abuse rants and Downfall videos and apocalyptic fantasies and innovative communications paradigms like "snort my taint." But we have not left it, and so nothing grows.
Can you help us?
"The organic traffic to your website has been extremely low. We have measured it at less than 40 percent. It really should be at 80-90%. Since it is not, you are missing out on at least twice as much exposure that you could and should be getting."
This is outrageous. All Popehat content is organic, localvore, fair trade, and non-exploitatively cultivated, except the Clark stuff, but that's cultural. Why are we not getting organic traffic? Are the big blogs stealing it with their fake "natural" content? That chaps my ass. Should we market more heavily in Portland? I'm not going to have to wear skinny jeans again, am I? Because last time a rivet popped and the shopgirl lost an eye. She has to wear a patch. They will only let her work in pirate-themed stores and she's terribly allergic to parrots and morally I just don't think I can go down that road again.
"People who are searching for your type of Business on search engine like GOOGLE, YAHOO and BING are not being driven to your website due to an insufficient number of in-bound links instead; they are being driven to one of your competitor’s websites"
Unacceptable. Totally unacceptable. IF ANYONE IS GETTING DRIVEN AWAY FROM POPEHAT IT IS GOING TO BE BY DESIGN. Ideally as early in the process as possible. Is there a way to force a popup before people surf to Popehat? It could use algorithms. As many as 3 if they are reasonably priced. The popup could say things like "our analysis of your web browsing history suggests that you're a huge whiny fuckstick. Are you sure you want to expose yourself to the sort of blog written by someone whose parting words to his seven-year-old today were 'don't make me teach you Daddy's leisurely crawlspace game'?" That way we get only pre-selected QUALITY hits, like a record of the month club.
"The social presence of your website is minimal to be most effective; your website should be actively found on over 10+ high social media websites."
Got it. Question of clarification: does it have to be our website OPENLY hanging out on other websites, or can it be subtle? Because I troll 10 major websites every day, easy. Yesterday I left an Eid al-Fitr prayer on Townhall that made three guys so scared they got their camouflage sweatpants out of the hamper. Then I left a meditation on truck nutz colors on Salon that triggered an editor, twelve interns, and half the readers and apparently made Alex Pareene lose focus and get his foot caught in an escalator. But those don't say "Popehat." Do those still work building our social presence?
"resolving any critical online reputation management issues that you are having."
That would be great. I have a list of words. I want our site to be unassociated with those words and those words to have nothing to do with our reputation. The words include "taint" and "pony" and "twatwaffle," all of which we regret for various legal and philosophical reasons. What can you do for us? Can you manage us to be more cool-popular? Is it anything like managing a boy band? Can I be the cute one? I always have to be the sullen one. I've been the sullen one for forty-five years and it fucking SUCKS. I am THROUGH with it.
So see what you can do for me, Joel.
Very truly yours,