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January 24, 2008

What’s wrong with Digg, in a screenshot
Posted by Patrick at 08:12 AM *

“Warning: The Content in this Article May be Inaccurate.” Gee, an Onion article? Really? You think?

Coming soon: Digg readers report that What’s Opera, Doc may not be an entirely faithful performance of Der Ring des Nibelungen.

Comments on What's wrong with Digg, in a screenshot:
#1 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 08:50 AM:

Ooo, am I first? Cool.

I actually wish that Onion article had done one thing differently: When they brought up Bill's ineligibility due to term limits, "Bill" should have said "The Bush Administration has suspended the rest of the Constitution; why not that?"

But wow that makes the Diggies look like dummies.

#2 ::: Julie ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 08:57 AM:

What? You mean Wagner did not write Kill the Wabbit?

Can't trust anything these days.

#3 ::: Dan ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 09:01 AM:

I'm with you, Patrick. It's the warning at the top which really seals it for me.

#4 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 09:18 AM:

Thank heaven those "readers have reported that this story contains information that may not be accurate" or we'd all believe it, like we believe everything else we see online. Where would we be without those alert folks at home?

#5 ::: JeremyT ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 09:31 AM:

When I saw this headline in my RSS reader, I thought for sure I would see a list of the top 10 digg stories, and they would all be about Ron Paul.

#6 ::: jm ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 09:39 AM:

But Bill would totally run again, if not for the fact that Hillary would bite off his head, devour his sweet, sweet viscera, and use his dessicated husk to incubate her eggs for the 2012 campaign.

Of course, if Bill did run again, the Republicans would have to break out Zombie Bob Dole to challenge him. And they just can't afford to buy the steady supply of cow hearts it would take to induce Zombie Bob Dole to run.

#7 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 09:50 AM:

#6--jm--You have killed me. My revived corpse is typing this, even as my co-workers cluster together, trying to decide whether to let people in a higher pay grade know, or just hope that I'll keep my share of the work done before the buzzards on the roof of the building break in to clean up the debris.

#8 ::: Evan Goer ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 09:54 AM:

Patrick and Teresa,

Please start marking links in Sidelights or Particles with a big fat "[SATIRE]" tag. Time and time again, you link to The Onion, or this Jon Swift character, or some other allegedly satirical site... and I'm sure I speak for all of us when I say that this sort of thing is very confusing. Thanks.

#9 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 09:54 AM:

I bet half the Republican blogosphere believes it and has their bile-generators cranked up to 11 by the end of the day. And half of them will never believe it isn't true. The top conspiracy theory about the Democrats between now and election day will be about a plot to fake a write-in landslide for Bill.

#10 ::: Donald Delny ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 10:17 AM:

Ahem. Post #8, suitably modified:

<satire>
#8 ::: Evan Goer ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 09:54 AM:

Patrick and Teresa,

Please start marking links in Sidelights or Particles with a big fat "[SATIRE]" tag. Time and time again, you link to The Onion, or this Jon Swift character, or some other allegedly satirical site... and I'm sure I speak for all of us when I say that this sort of thing is very confusing. Thanks.
</satire>

#12 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 10:36 AM:

Along these lines, every April 1st, one of the NPR news shows has a fake news segment. I'm always disappointed when, inevitably, one of the letters from their listeners gets all huffy because NPR aired a fake news story on April 1st. (The ones where the listener clearly didn't get it are especially disappointing.)

BYTE magazine in the 80s, IIRC, used to have a fake article in their April issue. By the time we hit the 90s, they'd stopped this because it was confusing readers. I think the last time they did it, they even pointed out the fake article within the same issue.

I'm avoiding Digg because I don't have lots of free time right now. (I'd rather save the free time for Making Light.) So, I'm not going to check. But I hope some of the comments on that Digg point out that the article was from The Onion.

#13 ::: Sean O'Hara ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 11:10 AM:

Given that Onion stories have been picked up by legitimate news media before -- there was a case a few years ago where they did a story about Congress wanting to install a retractable dome on the Capitol, which got picked up by the Chinese press -- I don't think it's entirely stupid to warn people that it's a joke.

#14 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 11:20 AM:

That nutshell doesn't encapsulate even the smallest bit of what's wrong with Digg. They should change the name to Rigg and have done with it.

#15 ::: aguane ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 11:28 AM:

#8 & #13

It's simple. If you think "hmm that's odd" and you aren't quite sure if you believe it, look for a second source.

Note: If you find a second source make sure it isn't referencing your first source as it's only source.

#16 ::: aguane ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 11:29 AM:

*shamefully reaches up and removes the stray apostrophe that made it into that last sentence*

#17 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 11:43 AM:

jm #6: Wouldn't Zombie Bob Dole also require a large supply of The Blue Pill that Must Not be Named as well as bovine hearts?

#18 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 11:46 AM:

aguane: It's simple. If you think "hmm that's odd" and you aren't quite sure if you believe it, look for a second source.

Note: If you find a second source make sure it isn't referencing your first source as it's only source.

You've just described good reporting, and good intelligence gathering, in a nutshell.

It really is that easy.

#19 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 11:57 AM:

Fragano #17: Only if they need him to stand up.

#20 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 12:16 PM:

Uh ... remember the Onion article published right before Bush's first inauguration: "Our Long Nightmare of Peace and Prosperity is Finally Over"?

Bush swore to do "everything in [his] power" to undo the damage wrought by Clinton's two terms in office, including selling off the national parks to developers, going into massive debt to develop expensive and impractical weapons technologies, and passing sweeping budget cuts that drive the mentally ill out of hospitals and onto the street.

During the 40-minute speech, Bush also promised to bring an end to the severe war drought that plagued the nation under Clinton, assuring citizens that the U.S. will engage in at least one Gulf War-level armed conflict in the next four years.

"You better believe we're going to mix it up with somebody at some point during my administration," said Bush, who plans a 250 percent boost in military spending. "Unlike my predecessor, I am fully committed to putting soldiers in battle situations. Otherwise, what is the point of even having a military?"

On the economic side, Bush vowed to bring back economic stagnation by implementing substantial tax cuts, which would lead to a recession, which would necessitate a tax hike, which would lead to a drop in consumer spending, which would lead to layoffs, which would deepen the recession even further.

That was "satire".

#21 ::: Chaos ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 12:37 PM:

Jon #20: Perhaps that article should have had a disclaimer on Digg, too.

“Warning: The Content in this Article May be Accurate.”

#22 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 12:46 PM:

Re #20: It's extra scary when satire looks so much like True Sight. But the whole Bush Junior era can seem like it was scripted by a vicious satirist aiming to skewer the Right (or human nature in general, as seen by the ultimate pessimist).

#23 ::: Darth Paradox ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 01:04 PM:

Contrast that Onion article to this chart...

Satire is dead. Or it least, it's been beaten to the punch by reality so many times, I can't tell the difference.

#24 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 01:43 PM:

re: Finding a second source - you're giving people credit for noticing that something looks wrong in the first place. (Ok, in this specific case the fact that it appears in the Onion should be a clue, but more generally...)

I totally bought one of NPR's April Fool's stories. They said that the Boston Celtics would be henceforth pronouncing their name with a hard "c", after recently-signing a hot new 6'8" Irish player. Or something like that. Of all the sports I don't follow, basketball is the one I ignore the most, and it seemed perfectly reasonable to me. I'd still be calling them the Keltics if I hadn't listened to a gameshow later in the week and one of the questions hadn't been "which was the fake news story?"

Point being, if you don't have a context from which to say, "hmm, that's odd", you're not going to go looking for confirmation of the validity of the statement. (And maybe I'm just feeling depressed about the political state of our country, but I wouldn't be surprised if this "story" starts getting emailed around on all those "Barack == terrorist" lists.)

#25 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 01:51 PM:

Darth, #23: One minor caveat about that chart -- I don't think it's entirely fair to blame Bush for all of the increase in gasoline prices. A great deal of that is being driven by increased demand in China and India.

Of course, one can also argue that the increased demand in China and India is at least partly due to the number of American manufacturing jobs which have been sent overseas, which puts it back on Bush at one remove. And the rest of the chart is definitely all him.

#26 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 01:55 PM:

Lee, the price of oil hasn't really risen: the dollar has tanked. And THAT is ENTIRELY to be laid at Bush's door.

#27 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 02:10 PM:

I love linking to The Onion articles to support outlandish statements; it works best if concealed with Tinyurl or some other link alias redirecting service.

Of course, for safety's sake, I tag satire much more often than I used to, to help prevent people from taking it literally and throwing cinder blocks at me because they think I'm advocating a position that I'm trying to lampoon.

#28 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 02:30 PM:

Darth @23, there's also the annotated version of the original Onion article from a few years ago.

#29 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 02:50 PM:

'I actually wish that Onion article had done one thing differently: When they brought up Bill's ineligibility due to term limits, "Bill" should have said "The Bush Administration has suspended the rest of the Constitution; why not that?"'

what term limits? I thought those applied to consecutive terms? Am I mistaken on that?

#30 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 03:03 PM:

The one April Fool's article that got me was in the US Hang Gliding Association magazine... Article from a guy who was talking about how in the early 80s he got DARPA to give him a grant to develop a wheeled trailer with wings that he could tow behind his hang glider, the idea being that you could put camping gear in the trailer and thus land on high places at night, camp, and then next day run off and fly onwards. Great story with a picture of the saucer-shaped trailer behind the old-style glider in flight, and an explanation of how his wife and best friend in the chase vehicle were having an affair while he was in the air, making the entire expedition a subject painful enough that he abandoned the experiment...

Seemed to me that DARPA had given money to far sillier things, and a couple thousand was totally reasonable.

#31 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 03:06 PM:

bryan 29: The relevant portion of the 22nd Amendment (the rest is about when it should take effect, and that it has to be ratified and so forth) is

No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once.
So no, Bill isn't eligible.

#32 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 03:29 PM:

Madeline F: For about thirty seconds that looked good. Then I started to think about the physics of the takeoff, and keeping the different lifts from being a problem.

But it's almost plausible. I can see someone selling someone at DARPA on it.

#33 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 03:57 PM:

ok, I seem to remember some different scenarios where it was posited a two term president could become president for a third term, I think it was something like if they were another's vice president, or otherwise in the line of succession. Obviously a different thing.

#34 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 03:58 PM:

Terry Karney @ 18

You've just described good reporting, and good intelligence gathering, in a nutshell.

It's just too bad that good reporting is in such short supply and gets so little respect that we have to constantly explain what it is.

#35 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 04:40 PM:

#31,#33: Taking the quoted portion of the 22nd Amendment literally, I think that Bill Clinton can be President again. He just can't be elected President again. i.e., as bryan suggested, if he is put in the line of succession.

#36 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 04:45 PM:

John 35: Except that the 12th Amendment requires the Veep to be fully qualified to be President. Now, a case could be made that "fully qualified to be President" does not exclude Bill, since he's qualified to BE POTUS, just not to be ELECTED POTUS, but I think that's splitting hairs.

I think if he ran for Congress and was elected Speaker of the House and the POTUS and VPOTUS both died, he could legally be POTUS. But that seems unlikely!

#37 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 04:51 PM:

John Chu: No, B. Clinton can't hold the office again.

Hrmn... the reasons are complicated, and it's possible that he might be allowed in the line of succession, but he can't do it by running, and he can't do it by being VP (because the requirements fot that office preclude).

So, it might be the case that he could, as Speaker of the House, or Secretary of State, assume the office, but that's a long way from certain.

We went round on it a little while ago, but I forget the thread.

The short story is, the 12th Amendment requires the President to meet the same requirements for eligibility as the President, so Bill Clinton can't be VP.

He'd have to be in the House a long time to make Speaker (and the succession would be a big sticking point). The same is true as President Pro-tem of the Senate.

SecState might be doable, but that's not all that high in the succession.

Perhaps he might be appointed to some office, deep in the order of succession, and left to placehold during the State of the Union, and end up in charge when some disaster blew up the Capitol.

#38 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 05:06 PM:

The short story is, the 12th Amendment requires the President to meet the same requirements for eligibility as the President,.

The discovery of `tautological statements' by prominent logicians in the late-18th century lead to an upsurge of interest in the practical applications of tautological statements. One striking example was the Twelfth Amendment, which was intended as a research project into the effects of tautologies on the legal system.

It was ultimately discovered that tautological statements did not offer much advantage over other logical statements, and their use was discontinued by the Civil War, and most were removed from the statute books, including the famous New Jersey law that stated `all illegal actions are illegal, under penalty of the punishment for illegal actions' (1813 Crimes Act of the State of New Jersey, Section 158). However, owing to the difficulty of amending the Constitution, the Twelfth Amendment remains, a memorial to days when people were building a new country, using new ideas -- the Rights of Man, the separation of powers, self-determination, and the tautology.

#39 ::: Evan Goer ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 05:25 PM:

#10 Donald Delny: Ah, thank you! :) Forgot those tags.

#12 John Chu: The huffy NPR listeners are all part of the great Performance Art project that is NPR's April Fools Day. The real fun isn't the fake news story, which might be worth a "heh" at best; it's the bonus April Fools Day celebration on April 2!

#40 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 05:28 PM:

Keir@38, you win this thread.

#42 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 05:51 PM:

Bill Clinton would make a great Secretary of State... or Sec-Gen of the U. N.

BTW, I had a horrible dream last night: I dreamed (seriously) that the Democrats blew it somehow and the Republikan candidate had won the Presidency. I was walking along the seashore, watching the sunset, totally melancholy, sort of an apres-nous-le-deluge moment.

#43 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 05:53 PM:

Gack: I hate the way my brain doesn't process that sort of error (I look at it, and the missing bits get filled in).

The 12th, of course, requires the Vice President, to meet the same requirements as the Pres.

Sigh.

#44 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 05:55 PM:

Terry @37, the relevant law that specifies the presidential succession following VP isn't in the Constitution, it's in the US Code (here, to be exact), and specifies that only Constitutionally-eligible individuals can act as President in the event that such successions are invoked; thus, for instance, Madeline Albright would have been skipped in the succession list, as a non-native citizen.)

I don't know off the top of my head whether Cabinet members ineligible to be President get their names in the "you get to sit in the bunker during the State of the Union" drawing, so I can't comment on that particular scenario.

#45 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 05:59 PM:

Lizzy L: I would be having an apres le deluge moment.

#46 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 06:09 PM:

lorax: Yep. The complication is (and I don't think Clinton would make an issue of it, were the situation to come to pass) that he isn't elected, and so the oddities of eligibilty could be hauled into court.

Albright, quite clearly, was completely ineligble for the office (being precluded by the Constitution).

But the language of 12 and 22, don't, specifically, preclude succession from outside, and a determined person might decide to drag it into court; arguing that the person wasn't elected, and so was eligible.

I don't think it would fly, but as a thought problem... I wouldn't say, absolutely, there is no way for Clinton to be president again.

#47 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 06:15 PM:

rading in depth, it looks as though (e) covers it. That doesn't mean I can't see someone trying to fight it, but on it's face, he can't hold the office again, no matter how one slices it.

#48 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 06:24 PM:

what about a help I'm drowning myself because this world is too stupid to continue living in moment. I bet the french have a word for it.

#49 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 06:36 PM:

Cat Meadors @ 24 speaks very much for me. It would be nice to have enough knowledge of everything that comes my way that I could judge any new addition sensibly. But I don't. And won't. And don't have time to play fact checker on every damn thing that comes my way, not if I want to be any good at the tasks to which I owe most attention. If I go to the Onion of my own free will and read things there, I've got context: it's a humor/satire site and I know it. If I see a story quoted without much source...well, for starters the "it's too weird" defense doesn't work. What really bothers me, though, is the chest-beating I sometimes run into from people who obviously fancy themselves the bull elephant alphas of the intellectual world who delight in mocking anyone who falls for a hoax. The hell with that. I'm not nearly as impressed by cleverness these days as I am by charity and good will. I flag hoaxes and strangeness when I send things out, and I've gotten some thanks for it. It strikes me as a decent way to behave in a world where so much makes so little sense. My friends lists are not playthings, and I'm not volunteering to be anyone else's toy, either.

Speaking of context: for me, at least, the left sidebar is context. It tells me that Patrick or Teresa found something interesting, and "guess why" is part of the ensuing fun sometimes. So the above diatribe is not intended to suggest that I think our hosts are intellectual bullies. I would in fact be happy if more folks I read had some equally tidy little marker for the "this is everything else, some serious, some strange, some silly, somewhatever" corner of the world.


#50 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 06:36 PM:

Cat Meadors @ 24 speaks very much for me. It would be nice to have enough knowledge of everything that comes my way that I could judge any new addition sensibly. But I don't. And won't. And don't have time to play fact checker on every damn thing that comes my way, not if I want to be any good at the tasks to which I owe most attention. If I go to the Onion of my own free will and read things there, I've got context: it's a humor/satire site and I know it. If I see a story quoted without much source...well, for starters the "it's too weird" defense doesn't work. What really bothers me, though, is the chest-beating I sometimes run into from people who obviously fancy themselves the bull elephant alphas of the intellectual world who delight in mocking anyone who falls for a hoax. The hell with that. I'm not nearly as impressed by cleverness these days as I am by charity and good will. I flag hoaxes and strangeness when I send things out, and I've gotten some thanks for it. It strikes me as a decent way to behave in a world where so much makes so little sense. My friends lists are not playthings, and I'm not volunteering to be anyone else's toy, either.

Speaking of context: for me, at least, the left sidebar is context. It tells me that Patrick or Teresa found something interesting, and "guess why" is part of the ensuing fun sometimes. So the above diatribe is not intended to suggest that I think our hosts are intellectual bullies. I would in fact be happy if more folks I read had some equally tidy little marker for the "this is everything else, some serious, some strange, some silly, somewhatever" corner of the world.


#51 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 06:47 PM:

Bleah. Sorry about the double-posting.

I actually meant to add a clause to my diatribe. Part of the reason I so dislike gotcha games is that they presume far, far too much about other people's circumstances. I actually do like analytical games of the "figure out what's wrong with this" sort...when I'm not otherwise occupied. If someone had sent me one last night, I'd have jumped on it for a change of pace from mending from stomach problems. If someone sent it today, I'd just get pissy, and doubly so if I felt pressured to deal with it. Because today I spent time trying to be a calm influence for a diabetic friend who may be facing a foot amputation (but who isn't sure yet, and hates the waiting, which is dragging on), and providing referrals to better-informed people for a teenaged friend who found child porn archived on the computer of a relative of their parents' generation and wondered what a sensible response should be. Not easy stuff, and I certainly didn't try to be an expert, but because I'm pretty good at looking things up, I was able to suggest folks to contact who are in a better position to help, in each case.

After that, a gotcha game would be something on the spectrum from depressing to infuriating.

Now, sure, the would-be gotcha player could then say something like "I had no idea." But that's the whole damn point. We don't know. We never know with complete confidence and seldom know as much as we extrapolate or guess about others' circumstances. And it's bad times in a lot of ways, as we've discussed here in many threads. The sort of intellectual game that's entirely suitable for a teen or college student in comfortable conditions may not work as well for a depressed, weary, exhausted adult watching their society and economy collapse, and there isn't a good excuse for constantly failing to notice that one's buddies are in fact not all teens and students anymore and that there is cumulative socioeconomic damage in the vicinity.

Invitations are better than pushes, for things that might be fun or might not be. And an invitation like "This hoax delighted me no end" is best of all, for a whole lot of people's circumstances a whole lot of the time. If others want more, they can tell the initiator, too, and this is also better than having one's life inaccurately judged for its current level of support for gamesmanship.

In retrospect I could have just said that opt-in approaches are good for anything that may mess with perception and analysis.

#52 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 07:58 PM:

Bruce Baugh #51: Uck. I hope your surroundings get more enjoyable right quick.

#53 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 08:22 PM:

Ethan: Life with chronic disabilities is one giddy ride. But thanks.

#54 ::: GiacomoL ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 08:34 PM:

Cat @#24: I was talking sport with a Scotsman once, and somehow the conversation went from the Celtic Glasgow ("keltic") to Boston Celtics ("seltics"). The guy pointed out that the "Boston Keltics" indeed were good this year. I explained the difference, but he clearly thought I was a fool.

#55 ::: Calton Bolick ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2008, 08:56 PM:

Bruce Baugh in #50 speaks for me.

#56 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2008, 07:43 AM:

Another thing to consider: Even if your hoax article contains what appear to be obvious clues to its hoaxiness, ordinarily intelligent readers might miss them for good reasons. Take, for example, two articles Mark Twain wrote in his newspaper days.

In his first story the chief clue is so ineptly described you have to read the story two or three times carefully to get it:

I depended on the way the petrified man was sitting to explain to the public that he was a swindle. Yet I purposely mixed that up with other things, hoping to make it obscure—and I did. I would describe the position of one foot, and then say his right thumb was against the side of his nose; then talk about his other foot, and presently come back and say the fingers of his right hand were spread apart; then talk about the back of his head a little, and return and say the left thumb was hooked into the right little finger; then ramble off about something else, and by and by drift back again and remark that the fingers of the left hand were spread like those of the right. But I was too ingenious. I mixed it up rather too much; and so all that description of the attitude, as a key to the humbuggery of the article, was entirely lost, for nobody but me ever discovered and comprehended the peculiar and suggestive position of the petrified man's hands.

So when he wrote another hoax article he tried to be a little more obvious, describing a man who murdered his wife and children as a confirmed bachelor. Unfortunately, the crime was so sensational that the clues were overwhelmed, and didn't register with anybody:

He never got down to where the satire part of it began. Nobody ever did. They found the thrilling particulars sufficient. [...] I found out then, and never have forgotten since, that we never read the dull explanatory surroundings of marvelously exciting things when we have no occasion to suppose that some irresponsible scribbler is trying to defraud us; we skip all that, and hasten to revel in the blood-curdling particulars and be happy.

The article is included in the Library of America's two-volume collection of Twain's short works. I knew it was a hoax before I read it. Even so, until I read the essay linked above I never noticed the guy who'd murdered his wife and children was a confirmed bachelor.

#57 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2008, 08:15 AM:

Wesley: A good cautionary tale. :) Hoaxing well is hard work sometimes. (Sometimes it flows smoothly, but obviously even real talents for it can't count on that every time out.)

#58 ::: elizabeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2008, 04:51 PM:

I fully expected that to be an article from the 1996 election, given the general sense of timeliness that digg has.

Ooooh, I bet could make myself a hitmagnet with "10 News Stories You Read in 1996"!

#59 ::: Hector Owen ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2008, 07:49 PM:

GiacomoL @ 54: From your link I see you are a Mancunian. Do you not follow the football at all? Or could that Scotsman have been from Edinburgh? A Glaswegian would know of the Celtic ["Seltic"] Football Club the same way that a New Yorker, fan or not, would know about the Yankees, and that Houston ["Howston"] Street does not sound like the name of the city in Texas ["Hewston"]. Here's a discussion of the pronunciation. Here's a video that starts with a song, "Hail, hail, the Çelts are here." Perhaps it's a general exception for sports teams. Or perhaps that Scotsman had studied classical Latin, and was having a 1066 and All That ("weeny, weedy, and weaky") moment. Or are you playing a joke on Cat Meadors (#24) and have taken me in as well? Once the hoaxing begins, there are so many possibilities …

#60 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2008, 01:34 AM:

I heard a rumor that if Hillary becomes President, NY will appoint Bill to fill out her term. I think that's unlikely because besides the fact he'd be moving down, I think he's having a lot more fun traveling and talking.

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