Wednesday assorted links

1. Do you wish to keep Freddie “…cranky and independent for a little while longer”?

2. Curb Your Enthusiasm is returning to HBO.

3. “This history indicates that Congress has already made an exception for itself by not adopting the 2004 overtime-pay rule update. That inaction raises the question of what Congress will do if the board recommends that both chambers adopt rules conforming to the DOL’s recent overtime-pay rule.”  Link here.

4. ““The truest Sichuanese food has only about a century or so of history behind it…” — is Sichuan food in decline? (NYT)  And how Beijing is turning Koreans into Chinese.

5. David Henderson on what to do about London housing.

6. How European women shifted away from the right and toward the left.


#1 Too few points made for how long it is. Also loses much of its impact if throughout you keep in mind that the noble "adversarialness" that got Gawker in trouble is outing a gay man and publishing another man's sex tape, both without permission. Without those none of this would be happening.

As (hyperliberal) Con law professor Erwin Chemerinsky stated: "The case stands for a very limited proposition: It is wrong to post a video of someone having sex without the person’s consent. The only thing that this verdict should chill is posting sex tapes without the permission of those involved, and discouraging such invasions of privacy is a good thing."

Sounds like Prof. Chemerinsky is just worried about his sex tapes getting published.

I had the same terrifying thought.

It's called kompromat, and it fits his last name.

It's probably okay for Gawker to get sued and lose over the Hogan matter, as it seems like not exactly everything was on the up-and-up. They should have (and I believe already have) won the lawsuit for outing Thiel, whose homosexuality as a prominent and vocal Republican, even if not a politician, was newsworthy and did not include any ethical (distinct from moral!) violations.

The problem is that they're continuing to face lawsuits that are essentially harassment. In an ideally libertarian world, this would be no problem, but an ideally libertarian world includes the crucial assumption that the cost of presenting and defending against lawsuits is basically trivial. Obviously, this is not the case, which gives someone an extremely wealthy person like Thiel the ability to harass companies/individuals against whom they hold grudges indefinitely.

It seems problematic, as the kids say, to claim that it's ok to out Thiel if he's a Republican, but not if he were a Democrat.

It is probably newsworthy and therefore legally defensible in either case given that Thiel's outspokenness on political issues made him a public figure. It would be more problematic legally if Thiel was a less outspoken executive, as I think that Gawker would have to prove that he was indeed a public figure. It is perhaps not okay morally to out either person, but it was probably ethical by journalistic and legal standards to out Thiel. (I tried to make this distinction clear.)

Regarding Dem/Rep, it obviously goes without saying that Gawker would be more likely to respect the privacy of someone they viewed more favorably. Nonetheless, I think that it is a more interesting news story that a Republican would be gay (political affiliation is against some gay interests) than if a Democrat were gay. After all, Donald Trump points out his black supporters, not his white ones. Similarly, it was a big story that Rachel Dolezal, holding a leadership position in the NAACP, was really not black, while it would not be particularly interesting if she was just a random person who was pretending to be black. (Actually it might be pretty interesting if she were posing to take advantage of diversity hiring practices, but you know what I mean.)

To my knowledge, Thiel never filed any personal suit against Gawker for outing him; it simply contributed to the general loathing of that fueled his campaign against them.

The more compelling question to me, in any event, is the ethicality of Gawker's decision to run the story. Setting aside "newsworthiness" (about as pliant a term as one can concoct), outing someone without their consent is either ethical, or it isn't, but Gawker's editorial line suggested "it is when we don't like the person for other reasons."

My understanding is that Thiel's complaint was not that he was outed, but that in outing him, Gawker outed and harmed people associated with him but not otherwise newsworthy. Thats just from memory, so take with salt grain, 1 (one).

Gawker thinks that it's ethical to out prominent gay Republicans because Gawker thinks that gay marriage is an important civil right. Therefore, prominent gay Republicans, who are part of a party actively opposing gay marriage, forfeit their right to privacy through what Gawker views as a betrayal of their duty to support, or at least not undermine, things like gay marriage for their fellow gays. (Post-Supreme Court decision, this reasoning would not apply since there are not really a lot of rights left to attain. Not sure if Gawker continues to follow this policy or not, but it seems like it would no longer be ethical even by their previous standards.)

To me, the question becomes whether it is ethical to out someone if you believe that your cause is righteous enough to provide enough positive ethics points to make up for the negative ethics points of outing someone. I suspect that you might describe this as simply re-wording your question, but I think that there is a distinction between the reasoning I describe and the theory that Gawker outs "when [they] don't like the person for other reasons."

Except that Republicans aren't the only people Gawker has outed.

Then how do we know Gawker doesn't like them?

In one case, they attempted to out someone who was/is the like CFO of a medium sized company. They justified it based solely on the fact that they perceived him as wealthy and powerful. The person in question is the brother of a somewhat famous political figure, if that helps you connect the dots.

I'm having a hard time buying that they outed him out of spite for or connection to his brother instead of them thinking that a publishing executive is just of public interest because NYC media gossip is the most fascinating thing in the entire world, but I completely agree that it was unethical. Since Gawker retracted the post, I am inclined to conclude that they (or at least Denton) also found it unethical, so the Gawker standards of ethics do have a line somewhere.

Yea, since they took down the post i, too, cannot verify what they said, but i distinctly remember them justifying the decision to post that story because the person in question was rich and powerful, which sounds to me a lot like, we will out you because we dont like you, and not so much like we will out you to serve a greater good. The underlying thinking might have been that NYC gossip is interesting, but, again, if memory serves, they never actually said that.

Yea, Gawker tried to out the CFO of a rival media company and only took it down after suffering dramatic reader backlash (note this was also after the Hogan case had started moving forward, so the decision to take down the post can't exactly be viewed as driven purely by ethical concerns). The site has also been on a years-long crusade to out James Franco.

Did Thiel ever state his personal opposition to gay marriage? If not then even this bullshit justification falls flat. The argument that he is a Republican, and *some other* Republicans disagree with gay marriage is so tenuous as to be unbelievable. Under this reasoning, Thiel lives in California, and a majority of Californians voted for Prop 8. He must be fair game.

I think we are more or less in agreement. It's not like I am saying Gawker doesn't deserve to go down for Hogan/the-incident-about-which-we-are-being-coy-to-respect-whatever-privacy-is-left. I'm just saying that Gawker's outings seem to be operating under some genuinely believed moral/ethical framework, however dubious and apparently unsustainable their viewpoint may have been on this matter. I think the generous interpretation of outing the rich and the powerful is that the rich and the powerful have an outsized influence on policy and culture, so the closeted rich and powerful are doing their less privileged fellow gays a disservice -- but again, Gawker rejected even the validity of even this justification when they removed the post.

Well, Denton rejected the validity of that justification, under much howling and protestation of the Gawker staff. I think you are right that they believed themselves to be operating under a moral/ethical framework, i just think that their framework was so laughably shitty as to be indistinguishable from "we will out you because we dont like you" Perhaps on that we differ, but only slightly it seems.

Maybe the difference is that I am taking the Denton framework as the Gawker framework, while you are taking the Gawker framework as that of the staff. Craggs, especially, was pivotal in both Hogan and this other case, and my view is that his framework was simply that any stirring up of shit is good.

It was Daulerio, not Craggs, who was instrumental in posting the Hogan tape (although I believe Craggs made the situation worse by gleefully disobeying a court order to take it down). That Gawker has a distinguished line of such childish editors suggests that the framework goes further up the food chain.

If there is the concern that the wealthy will harass opponents into silence, then those who are concerned should vocally support anti-SLAPP legislation (which allows for the early dismissal of such lawsuits, potentially with recovery of cost by the defendant against the harassing plaintiff). I think most states already have such legislation, but there is no federal legislation as I recall.

Howling into the void about a threat to some idealized version of "the media" will be far less effective at achieving the desired ends.

Okay, I probably support anti-SLAPP legislation as you describe it, although I am too lazy to research it. But that means that my complaint about current events is now logically consistent!

6- I think English women voting left will rue the day. Look at the new mayor of London Sadiq Khan ( Labour party) whom they love , He is trying to ban ads on London buses that " sexualize" women basically women in underwear ( did anyone really have a problem with it, all women magazines are full of women in underwear). He is disguising it as feminism ( " fat shaming etc..) when in fact his agenda is Islamism ( cover up women). He is promoting diversity in the police force ( what could be wrong with that). It will ensure more Muslims in the police force and higher up in the hierarchy and more islamic control

I bet he won't push for women police officers but if he does more of them will wear the hijab in the name of diversity. ( like in Scotland)

slowly islamization and a push toward enforcement of islamic norms ( in the name of diversity and respect for other cultures of course ) is creeping up. These women voting left are the useful idiots

That is a really crazy theory. Good luck with that!

don't act surprised when it comes to pass

I value Freddie's writing, but I am also wealthy person, and I feel compelled to respect his philosophical opposition to money and power in the sphere of provocative media and forego a donation.

Look at you Robert! You attempted to be clever by conflating "I don't like rich people using their money to silence other people," with, "I don't think rich people should be involved at all."

How many pats on the back did you give yourself for that one?

Lex Luther is a villain. Lex Luther runs a large corporation. Bruce Wayne runs a large corporation. Bruce Wayne is Batman. Batman runs a large corporation. Ergo, Batman is a villain?

Oh wait, it's not the money and power that defines the issue, but what they do with the money and power!

Oh, so you didn't read his essay. "From every direction at once ... the ability to meaningfully check the powerful and connected degrades." "We have paid Hillary Clinton surrogates constantly appearing on cable news with no disclosure that they take money from her campaign. We have support for TPP in unlabeled advertorials for Goldman Sachs at We’ve got Media Matters, still routinely discussed as some sort of independent watchdog, acting as nothing else but a paid wing of the Clinton campaign, run by professional hatchet man David Brock."

He's not arguing that rich people using their money to silence other people is bad. He's saying he doesn't think wealthy or powerful people should be involved at all; the wealthy and the powerful are undermining journalism, period.

#1: "But what you do have to recognize is that there is no such thing as provocative media that does not sometimes provoke."

That post makes me wonder if De Boer actually read anything Gawker published. Most of its 'provocations' were, in fact, dumb stunts like publishing "Peter Thiel is totally gay" blog posts and publishing sex tapes of a 60 year old washed up wrestler. These were publicity-seeking, profit-driven clickbait, not acts of an adversarial media organization "genuinely challenging the interests of power." Can he seriously not tell the difference?

Yes, I think the "profit-driven clickbait" is an essential issue here. We are talking about a for-profit news organization that attempted to (and actually did, except for the huge legal liability part) increase its profits by invading someone's privacy. I cannot see how publishing a Hulk Hogan sex tape without permission somehow challenges those in power. In fact, it seems like a case of someone with power (Gawker) abusing that power to trash someone without it. It could just as easily abused this power to trash Hogan (and increase profits) in response to Hogan endorsing Trump, rather than (apparently) doing it purely for profit-seeking reasons.

In terms of their establishment power, Tyler Cowen > Hulk Hogan. So do we need Gawker to publish some Tyler Cowen sex tapes (which I think we have to assume are out there), in order to challenge the establishment?

And it's important to note that Gawker didn't limit these salacious gossip stories to individuals of at least arguable public interest. If the peons Gawker had already trampled on had the resources to go up against it, the narrative would be quite different.

So do we need Gawker to publish some Tyler Cowen sex tapes (which I think we have to assume are out there), in order to challenge the establishment?


"In terms of their establishment power, Tyler Cowen > Hulk Hogan"
Show your work.

Either the author can't tell the difference between serious adversarial journalism and a new, hip version of the National Enquirer; Or he likes the partisan nature of Gawker media. I'd be inclined to suspect it's the latter. The author seems too intelligent not to have grasped the underlying nature of Gawker. I think this is just a Left winger circling the Wagons.

Freddie is fairly vocal in his distaste for Gawker's execrable brand of outrage journalism--he never fails to remind Gawker writers that they capirciously ruined Justine Sacco's life for no good reason--even if he finds it preferable to what he perceives as docile traditional media serving dirty capitalist interests.

I didn't mean to imply that the author was specifically in the tank (or a paid shill) for Gawker. But as you said, "he finds it preferable to what he perceives as docile traditional media serving dirty capitalist interests".

Honestly, I suspect that Freddie would shed no tears for Gawker were one of its less-famous victims independently annihilating it in court. His concern is not for the institution at all, which you suggested to be the case, but is instead for the precedent set by the form of the destructor.

I think this must be where I most significantly depart from Freddie (though I can't recall reading anything of his before): Gawker seems to be an aggressive proponent of a different orthodoxy, and one that is seemingly more willing to use its power to suppress opposing speech than the docile traditional media. I think it manages to be worse in essentially all ways than traditional media, and that all it serves to do is drag traditional media more in that direction.

The marginal revolution comments section seems to do far more to challenge current orthodoxy than anything I've ever seen on a clickbait site.

Was he ever curious about who is bankrolling the lawsuit against Mark Steyn?

Probably not.

Not to mention that Nick Denton is fabulously wealthy himself. I'll wager his wealth is many times that of Hulk Hogan's. Isn't the adversarial media supposed to punch up?

Don't worry, he exploits his writers more than enough to keep them low on the totem pole.

1. I tend towards the radical in my support of free speech and expression (in terms of both freedom from legal and social ramifications for exercising those freedoms), but I have trouble working up any concern for Gawker. From my limited interactions with their product, their "provocation" tended to be of the type that would suppress speech and expression (i.e., as another piece of the internet outrage machine that will destroy the lives of those whose speech and expression goes outside the confines of Gawker et al.'s morality). Even their legal strategy and post-litigation statements seemed to follow this mold (seeking to introduce into evidence another video where Hogan apparently says something racist, and then mentioning its exclusion as somehow an error on the judge's part).

Freddie and many others have this idealized notion of "the media" that has never matched reality and never will. The media has been, and always will be, either a profit-sacrificing attempt by wealthy owners to spread their own ideology or support their preferred political faction, or a for-profit venture whose interest in criticizing the establishment exists only to the extent that it might deliver a ratings/readership bonanza.

Free speech and expression comes from the individual, not from news organizations, and this is where our focus should be. If Peter Thiel starts suing private individuals for criticizing him on Twitter or on personal blogs, then I will be concerned. When Peter Thiel funds a private party to sue a for-profit corporation that attempted to increase its profits by violating a private party's privacy, I am less concerned.

Gawker's PR spun on a dime from claiming to be a bold alternative to "the Media," to claiming to be "the Media."

In fairness to Freddie, I don't think his vision of what media "should be" is based on a false nostalgia so much as on a utopian idealism of what people can be. From what I've read of his, he thinks that the economics of clickbait are broken because they lead to quantity over quality and sensationalism over sober analysis. His preferred alternative within the capitalist paradigm is to convince consumers that news is worth paying for, so that the economic incentive shifts towards providing high-quality work of the sort that individuals want to put their dollars towards.

Never mind that few people are really all that interested in quality journalism, and even those who are have basically never evinced a willingness to bear the full cost of it throughout human history (traditional print media has always relied more on ads than on subscriptions revenue). But at least he has a coherent vision, even if it's one incompatible with the world we actually inhabit.

"From what I’ve read of his, he thinks that the economics of clickbait are broken because they lead to quantity over quality and sensationalism over sober analysis. "

If that's the case how come he's defending Gawker. Gawker is probably the leading example of low quality and sensationalistic journalism.

My guess? Because the other party is a wealthy plutocrat. Opposing anything and everything they do is like, Marxism 101.

Piecing things together, it seems like he thinks any resistance to the currently docile, traditional media is a positive that will potentially awaken the giant from its slumber. I think, instead, that Gawker and the like simply drag traditional media in an even worse direction. So we eventually end up with low quality clickbait journalism that is completely in the pocket of the establishment and a safe proponent of prevailing orthodoxy.

#5: Vote for Brexit

Isn't #6 partly explained by the fact that conservatism in the West broadly is shedding its religious element? Secular nationalism/"identity liberalism" is the norm in Europe, and is finally coming to fruition in the US in the form of Trumpism.

If anything, I think "identity liberalism" is more common in US than in Europe.

Interesting. I think I know what you're getting at. The identity liberalism I'm talking about is..."the newly emergent position of identity liberalism. This is a perspective that employs a progressive identity-based normative discourse typically considered to be the preserve of the multicultural left to defend a right-wing politics of assimilation."

More here:

#4 Progressive vs reaction politics incarnated in Sichuan cooking... I have to check if the Sichuan restaurants in my town serve this fish scented eggplant. My experience is that Sichuan does eggplant really well.

Is the spicy eggplant that is almost ubiquitous at Chinese restaurants in the US the same as the eggplant dish described in the article? Or theoretically the same, but modified for American tastes and ingredients? Or a completely different dish that isn't even attempting to emulate the Sichuan eggplant recipe?

fish Scented eggplant is not really on a Sichuan dish, AFAIK.

Sichuan food too me is peppery.

Yeah, it's not really for pussies.

3 - For a local ecosystem that decries the iniquity of unpaid labor while relying almost exclusively on interns for grunt work, it should come as no surprise that Congress hypocritically exempts itself from any employment law it can.

If Gawker is really the groundbreaking pioneer in internet media that everyone says it is, can I blame it for the omnipresent nihilistic lefty snark that pervades so many Gawker-type sites? Thanks for that, Gawker.

2) My mom will be thrilled. She watched the entire series while recovering from a stroke earlier this year and loves it. I watched several episodes with her and it is a great show. I wonder if uncertainty over Game of Thrones' future production schedule has HBO scrambling for a reliable must-see show to preserve its subscriber base.

1) A lot of de Boer's criticisms of the mainstream media sound downright conservative. But he is off-base with his defense of Gawker and criticism of Thiel. Urso excerpted from a Chemerinsky column above that I think is an important read: Key sentence: "Gawker is trying to invoke the First Amendment to justify conduct that is not and should not be constitutionally protected."

I put Gawker in the same category as Milo Yiannopolous, and I don't envy anyone who feels an ideological duty to defend either (and I think the left's defenses would be muted if this case involved Breitbart rather than Gawker). Gawker is juvenile trash at its best and hateful, destructive, vindictive trash at its worst--like Milo! I used to follow Gawker's property Gizmodo until a particularly stupid incident in which Gizmodo's writers spent their entire time at CES sabotaging demonstrations--for example, by using universal remotes to turn off television sets during a demonstration and flummoxing the presenter. I don't miss their low-quality journalism. As I see it, Peter Thiel holding a media corporation legally accountable is far less of a threat to our way of life than a company like Gawker, that can and does literally summon mobs of people to confront and accost ordinary individuals in person for making stupid jokes on Twitter, or makes 'news' by antagonizing people trying to do their jobs.

Although many of de Boer's criticisms echo conservative complaints, I don't particularly share any of them. Sponsored content, advertorials, and cozy relationships with powerful figures are increasingly necessary because media is now more disbursed and revenue is limited. Personally I like it because every mainstream news article produces dozens of reactions from bloggers, tweeters, or other smaller news sites, many of which are knowledgeable and high-quality (although admittedly most aren't). The very forces dismantling the legacy media and 'threatening its integrity' are, in fact, saving it.

Actually, the left would celebrate if Gawker was a right-wing site:

I don't think there's any doubt that if the roles were reversed the attitudes were reversed. Which is why I'm unimpressed with the attempts above to retroactively impose some sort of coherent moral or ethical framework on Gawker's actions. They're childish bullies.

#2...Much more important than any damned election.


Women score higher on Agreeableness in the Big Five personality inventory. They're more likely to form opinions by consensus rather than combative debate. One would expect them to hold more conventional and mainstream intellectual opinions than men. Since the 1970s, the "respectable normal" political orientation has probably shifted from center-right to center-right.

I thought communists dismissed free speech as some sort of bourgeois decadent nonsense, no? Surely "after the revolution" there will be no gawkers whatsoever?

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