These guys hate the things that they own

These guys hate the things that they own

Come on man we can't even have one full day of celebrating the death of a monster without losing a good one too? Maybe Shane MacGowan was holding on long enough to see Kissinger arrive in Hell?

Rest in peace to an Irish great and a hearty rest in fucking piss bozo to one America's most evil pieces of shit. I guess the lesson here is if you smoke and drink your whole life you'll die relatively young but if you kill millions you'll make it to one hundred.

For today's main thing we're gonna slow things down a bit and have a nice simple conversation. Joining me is "friend of the blog" and Defector's own David Roth. We talk about the recent news about Sports Illustrated posting AI-generated bullshit articles, the success of Defector, ethical blogging under capitalism, Israel and Palestine, and Bill Belichick, among other things.

Stick around after that (for paid subscribers only) to read me on Democrats already scolding and sneering at people who are saying they might not be able to vote for Biden after his enabling of this ongoing genocide in Palestine. I got so mad doing it I forgot how to write no good. It goes in part like so:

Whoever the president is tens of millions in this country are nevertheless immiserated and brutalized and imprisoned as a matter of course. Yes I believe Trump could get those numbers up if he wants to. But maybe a lot of the panicked alarm-sounding from the liberals over Trump is simply that they feel like they'll have to pay attention and care again once the man pulling the suffering switch is a Republican.

Or you can jump to it right here.

Is this an existential crisis for democracy or not?

Grab a subscription today to read that piece and get every issue of Hell World. Here's a coupon for 28% off one year.

Ok here's me and Roth. "Enjoy."

It’s been a while so it seemed like it was time to do a good old fashioned just have a chat with somebody type of post.  

I think that seems reasonable. You've been doing really good work, but also this is a really bad time, and it's gonna burn you out if you keep having to do that stuff. 

Alright let me just start off with the first question that I ask anyone I interview: Do you condemn Hamas? 

I think that's a good question. A good place to start. But is there anything in your questions to do with the Major League Baseball offseason? I'm mostly prepared on that. Have they made a formal offer on Shohei Ohtani? Because I don't think he's a good fit there. 

The Red Sox? I do! Where do you think he's gonna go? There were rumblings that the Red Sox were gonna be in the mix for him.

To the extent I have inside information on it, apparently it's gonna happen soon. The thing that people keep telling me, and I can't tell if they're doing this to make me mad or not, is not to count out the Atlanta Braves. And I just really would love to count out the Atlanta Braves in this case.  I would love to do that. 

Well, there are a couple of things that I always say. One is you can't count out Ol’ Touchdown Tommy, and the other is you can't count out the Atlanta Braves. 

Two of my favorites. Did I tell you about the time I saw Tom Brady in real life?  It was in an art gallery. He was there with Giselle and they were straight up shopping, like they were gonna buy stuff. In 2018, something like that. I remember I noticed her, and I was like, damn, that lady's really tall. He was just wearing cargo shorts and a backwards hat, and I was like, what is this donkey doing, looking at Lucio Fontana? But I guess the answer was buying two Lucio Fontana canvases. So good for him

I wonder who got them in the divorce. 

I hope they each got one. I think that would be nice for the kids. Seems equitable.

Speaking of that, how did you like your Giants the other day against the Patriots? 

It was one of the worst football games that I've seen even a minute of. The Giants are really, I mean both teams are breaking new ground. Don't you just want Belichick out at this point? 

Yeah, we're all pretty much sick of him. I've told you before, I still listen to Felger and Maz... 

Nice. The thinking man's Toucher and Rich. 

And all the callers are like "get him out of here!" I've had enough of it. I can't stand the dude anymore. Especially his shit-eating interviews. That's not cute anymore when you fucking suck. 

Like refusing to name a quarterback or whatever. It's one of those deals where it's not like he's any different, but it does kind of remind you how amazing it was he got away for twenty years acting the way he acted every single day. As soon as it stops working, everybody's like, "uh, Jesus Christ, has he always been like this?" And yeah, he has. But for two decades everyone was like "I love it. I love how rude he is to me. That's my favorite thing about him."

One thing I don't understand, and I guess media jobs are precarious, but I don't understand why no one in the Boston media has ever talked back to him with something like "Do you think I'm a fucking piece of shit? Are you treating me like I'm fucking stupid? You didn't answer the question." They don't even say that. "You didn't answer the question."

I think the one thing that will piss a beat guy off too is that they’re on a deadline. The newspaper is coming out, it's gonna be on the doorstep in twenty minutes. All they need is for you to just say a thing! Say something! Describe Jerod Mayo's game plan to me. He'll be like "No, I don't have time for that. It's too important for me to keep my thoughts about whatever it was that happened in this game as my own. That's Patriots information." Again, it's incredible what winning a bunch of Super Bowls will do, because that's like the one thing you can't do. If he was polite, if he gave them anything other than "Both teams played hard" he would… Well he got away with it anyway. He got away with it until he had too many Belichick guys on the roster and not enough actually good football players. 

Spending too much money on special teamers. 

This has always been my theory with him. A Belichick guy is like a fullback who played at Navy, or Rutgers for some reason, and then just some guys that played college lacrosse. And he wanted to see how many of those he could still have on a team and win eleven games. And the answer is like a lot! But fewer than he has now. 

Right, right. You can do that. Well, it turns out you can do that when you have the greatest quarterback of all time. You can do this like weird Jon Bois team construction. 

You can simulate it out until the heat death of the universe and you'll still win twelve games every year if Tom Brady is your quarterback. 

As much as I know how much Hell World readers love to read sports chat…

The AFC East chat! 

I was going to write in the intro of this piece today we have David Roth “friend of the blog.” Would you say that's accurate? 

Yeah, I would say so. I mean, I consider myself a friend of the blogger. 

The Blogger in general?

You know, he’s a pretty good guy. 

Oh, me? Okay. Oh, yeah. Yeah, friend of the specific blogger. 

Yes, of The Blogger. I think of it as like a Tom Joad thing. Wherever there's a guy writing a blog. Look for me. 

The Royal Blogger. I mean, I guess that is kind of true. You are a friend to bloggers at large. Did you do your Spotify thing, by the way? 

I don't use Spotify, and it's not a stand on principle. I just don't stream music like that. I've really enjoyed looking at other people's though because my friends are all at the stage of being dads where half of it is like Shotmaker and Unwound and then the other half of it is just like the Wiggles. Which is always a really psychotic mix to encounter visually. I get a kick out of that. 

Sports Illustrated Published Articles by Fake, AI-Generated Writers
Sports Illustrated was publishing articles under seemingly fake bylines. We asked their owner about it — and they deleted everything.
Scorn Illustrated | Defector
On Monday, the website Futurism reported that Sports Illustrated has been publishing AI-written stories under the bylines of journalists who do not, strictly speaking, “exist.” The site had created bios for these imaginary authors; the author photos, naturally, were AI-generated. If you have ever en…

Well, speaking of blogging, you wrote a great piece yesterday. It was sort of based on the reporting by Futurism on Sports Illustrated. For people who haven't seen that, can you sum up what was going on there? 

Sports Illustrated the magazine got sold back in 2019 from a publisher to... I'll go quickly through this part. It's gross, but I think it's all important. So they got sold to something called the Authentic Brands Group, which is not a publisher. It is a branding company that buys the rights to things like Marilyn Monroe's autograph and then licenses them. 

And so they bought it because they liked the Sports Illustrated wordmark, like the cool font on the words Sports Illustrated. And they've been putting that in other things. There's Sports Illustrated brand brain pills and Sports Illustrated brand dry fit workout wear and shit. That's their gambit. And then they licensed the magazine, the rights to publish the magazine, to a company that's now called the Arena Group, that is run by some kind of serial shithead chum box types. Just lower end internet publisher guys. Although they've come pretty close to the big time before. The CEO of that company was briefly the CEO of the Los Angeles Times. And he had this idea that he was basically going to turn the Los Angeles Times into a sort of 2012 version of SB Nation, where it's mostly people barely getting paid or not getting paid writing journalism, and then you like stand some prestige actual professional grade stuff on top of it. That didn't work out because there was a bunch of sexual harassment allegations and the Times ended up putting him on suspension.

But then he got his chance with his company to do that with Sports Illustrated, and they've been doing that over the last few years. So they laid off a ton of people. They've continued to shrink and shrink and shrink the number of editors and writers that are there. And then they've stood up these sort of team specific sites, most of which are just kind of like spammy shit that you'd remember from the internet of ten or fifteen years ago. So it's kind of a curiosity gap headline where it's like “Patriots linked to running back” and you're like, oh shit. And then it's like, you know, they activated some guy off their practice squad or whatever. It's just like, it's all a trick to make you click something and see something that is not interesting. And then you're like, ugh. 

I feel like somewhere along the way we lost the definition of what clickbait is. 

Now it just means something that's mean about a powerful person. It has a definition, you know. It’s like a real thing. 

Right. It used to be something like “You won't believe how old these ten celebrities look” or something. And then it’s a really poorly photoshopped image of, I don't know, Janet from Three's Company or something. 

A 65 image slideshow and you're seeing it because it promised you that Harrison Ford's fucked up kid is in there somewhere. And the idea is that you're just like mashing that arrow button trying to get to it.

So they've done that. And then the latest thing, the thing that Futurism nailed them for, really impressively, comprehensively nailed them for, I think, is that they've been running… So all of this runs under slash whatever, so it all looks like the same shit. It looks like the same stuff that Peter King is doing or Tom Verducci is doing, because Sports Illustrated has a magazine that still exists. They still have a bunch of world class sports writers doing really good work. That's the part that's kind of weird about all of this is, that they didn't replace Sports Illustrated with the bullshit, they just sort of are crowding out the actual thing with all this bullshit. And the stuff that Futurism nailed them for is that they'd been running AI-generated, they called them product reviews, but it was basically like, if you've ever read AI stuff… Have you had that experience where you're looking for a recipe or something and you find something that's designed to look like a blog that isn't? 

Yeah, you can tell right away. It's kind of fascinating in a way because you get the same sort of revulsion as when you see some guy post a picture of a hot babe with 19 fingernails. You get that same innate disgust, like when you smell rotted meat or something, when you read AI copy. 

It's uncanny. I always feel like this, especially with the creeps that are doing the thing where it's like “who's gonna even want a girlfriend when you could have this?” It's just some weird waifu with a breast in the middle of her forehead. You have to be like, "I guess I could look past that." There's something unholy about it.

Just do things that are real! Have real stuff instead. You don't need to live like this. 

So all these Sports Illustrated product reviews were similar to that. As with all AI stuff it's just like eating all the freely available shit on the internet and then just shitting it back out for you. Being like, here you go, here's some information for you based on information available elsewhere. Some of which is presumably also other AI-generated stuff at this point. It’s completely beyond useless. It's just like something that they're tricking you into clicking. Then you see it and you're like, oh, all right. You know, that's on me. And then you either close the tab or you hit the back button and you go try to find something that's real. 

All that stuff was on the Sports Illustrated website, too, alongside Stephanie Apstein writing about baseball and Emma Baccellieri writing about women's college basketball. That is disgusting to me, just as somebody who cared about Sports Illustrated. But also it sucks. It cheapens the whole deal. Sports Illustrated's owners sort of defended it. They didn’t exactly deny that it was AI. They basically said that the third party contractor that was putting that stuff up on their website, with their knowledge, said that it was all written by humans. 

Yeah but they had fake profiles with AI-generated authors! The other thing I liked about it was that the Sports Illustrated statement read like it could have been written by AI. And it was also signed by nobody, too. It was just a spokesperson. 

The thing I keep going back to with this, beyond like how fucking obviously tacky and haram it all is, is is it that hard if you're the CEO of a media company to write something? There's no one around you that could just write a few sentences for you? Or you couldn't do it yourself? Is it really easier to ask ChatGPT to apologize for something that you did? How fucking hard is that?

It doesn't seem like it saves anyone any time.

Especially in this case, it's creating more work. Now the next question is: "Did a person write this either?" They have be like, "uh just give us 24 hours to generate a response to that."

I don't know who wants this shit. It's slop made by nobody for nobody. And obviously it's not just Sports Illustrated. A lot of companies have said they're gonna be experimenting with this and then gotten in trouble. AV Club maybe.  

Yeah, it was AV club. I mean, first of all, it shows the owners don't fucking respect or care about any of this stuff at all. They don't care about the readers, but they're also like, whatever, they will literally look at anything if you put Star Wars in the headline. 

G/O Media Offloads Shuttered Jezebel To Paste Media Group | Defector
G/O Media chief executive and parasitic bozo Jim Spanfeller has finally succeeded at something. He managed to find a buyer for Jezebel, the popular feminist publication that he shuttered indefinitely on Nov. 9 after determining that he and his lackeys couldn’t align its content with their company’s…

Speaking of that, I keep losing track of who owns what from the old, you know, G/O, Gawker pile, but I guess the guy from Paste just bought Jezebel, did you see that? 

Yeah, we're trying to figure out what's going on there, because it seems... Well, whatever, I mean, I don't know a thing about Paste, so I shouldn't speculate on that. I don't trust a single thing that Jim Spanfeller, who's the guy that owned Jezebel until recently, says, and I certainly don't trust him to have done right in terms of that sale. I mean, all of it, it's just like these guys hate the things that they own. All these like fucking venture capitalist types that buy publications. What I don't get about it is…I guess maybe it's a better business. I can't really tell. Good journalism costs money to produce, right? Even mediocre journalism costs some money to produce. And AI stuff theoretically doesn't cost any money to produce, although the money's getting spent somewhere. Every time you use chatGPT the ocean rises another quarter of an inch. There's still a cost associated with it. 

But the thing that I don't fully understand with this is what you get from it when you buy… Popular Science is another one that's recently been struggling with. 

After 151 years, Popular Science will no longer offer a magazine
The long-running publication has come to an end.

Yeah, I think that they just get shut down?

They fired everybody. Popular Science has been around like 150 years. Jezebel has been around like fifteen years. When you buy sites like that, with an archive of old stories that people are gonna find and that show up in search results, and in many cases are very good and very useful, that in itself is worth something. You'll make money just having that. They're not gonna make a ton of money, but you're not spending any new money on it either. Why would you destroy the value that's latent in that, just so that you can ride a website all the way down into the ground? Until it is completely indistinguishable from the shit that we were talking about where it's “Calista Flockhart today will depress you”? Every website has to be that? Just because it's cheaper to do? 

We chose not to continue to eat shit
You can expect the same idiots who made your favorite website
The Deadspin gang is back baby. Meet Defector

It’s really infuriating. You were asking why would someone do that, and I was gonna say, well, that's why you and I are not big time website publishers. But then again you actually are one now with Defector. I was just thinking about the last time we did an interview for Hell World was right after Deadspin got shivved by Jim Spanfeller. (Then I talked to a bunch of the Defector gang when you launched).

Deadspin used to be the one website URL that I typed into my browser. Now Defector has taken over that role. 

That’s awesome to hear. 

Obviously I read many other websites, but you know what I mean.

That's fine but I’d really I'd rather you didn't mention that part about the other websites. 

Oh, sorry. 

We’ve got pretty much everything you need. 

Well, you did ask for a final edit on this interview so I can take it out. 

I appreciate that. Thank you for that. 

No problem. 

It's very ethical. 

But yeah, you guys, it was a month or so ago, you put out your annual report. What were some of the highlights from that? And what is some of the stuff that you guys have learned about caring and giving a shit about your publication? 

I think it's sort of similar to what the lesson was at Deadspin. That's the part of it that was frustrating. Deadspin was an ad supported business, we are a subscription business. And so for Deadspin, the traffic was higher, but traffic was how you made your money. At this point our traffic is good, but it's not the most important thing anymore. The way that it used to be at Gawker, there was like a leader board, like in that episode of Succession or whatever, showing what posts were doing the best and shit. At this point we've tried to train ourselves not to think like that anymore, which is kind of a challenge. But the idea is, basically, the same. We're a cash business, a small business, the idea is you give your customers what they want, and then they will continue to purchase that from you. So in some ways it's been really clarifying and less stressful in a way that I have a hard time putting into words. All the other places that I worked it was clear that at some point the person that owned all the shit would get bored. And just sort of shuffle you out. Not because they were pivoting to video or whatever, but because rich people, at that level, basically don't read. They certainly aren't interested in anything beyond gossip within their own little circles. And no journalist makes enough money to move in those circles. I guess Michael Wolff or whatever does. Guys that are literally at lunch with billionaires every day, those are the guys that are valuable to rich people.  

Rich people like that are the guys that listen to an audiobook at two times speed called The Mind Power of the Mind. 

Yes, right. The Thinker’s Difference. That's where you unlock your personal excellence. 

For us, as long as we just do good posts, the business will grow. It's not gonna grow leaps and bounds ten times or whatever, but we've all got these jobs, we're all making decent salaries and have good health care and all that other shit, and we like each other so that feels good. The thing that was frustrating with Deadspin was that it was a whole business that got built over a really long time that was all kind of grounded in the same shit. It was based on what you were saying about people typing in the URL. I used to do that too before working there. You did that because you trusted that as you read down the page you're gonna see stuff that you liked. 

Part of the other ways that we used to make money at the old Gawker or G/O media or Gizmodo or whatever was that they would have these sort of affiliate deals. The type of thing that floats the internet. There's a thing where when people buy something, if they did it through the link on your site you’d get some money back. They curated it though. Those things were written like blogs, and it was actually like good shit. It wasn't just like shoveling a bunch of garbage at you the way that the Sports Illustrated product reviews were. All of that rested on the same sort of foundation of, like, trust, but then there's this other, not exactly parasocial, but there's this element of it where it's like, well, these people wouldn't lie to me. I generally understand them as having similar values to me. Where we differ, I understand why we differ, so I can trust them. As soon as you fuck that up everything else just falls apart. Well it doesn't necessarily fall apart, but it's a drift, right? Nothing is holding it together in this model of a sort of a self -contained business. 

And so for us, when we add new shit to our site… We've done very well with Kelsey McKinney's Normal Gossip podcast. It’s excellent. It's also like a fucking juggernaut. It makes a ton of money. And that is part of what makes it work with us. It’s not just that Kelsey is a part of the team and stuff. It’s that it fits with our shit. It fits with our worldview. And the readers and listeners seem to get that. 

But if you're not thinking about the readers, and if you don't have some sense of what they might want, and some inclination to try to give it to them, which seems like the most elementary thing in the world, which is not, I guess, a consensus position among the people that own sites like this, then at that point you're just another search result, and it's catch as catch can whether anybody would ever read your shit. You don't expect people to come back to it. 

Some of what you said in there is how I think about Hell World, but I also have this sort of vestigial capitalist somewhere deep in my psyche that's like "the line's not going up!" you know?  Working in digital media for like 20 years or 15 years or whatever, you had to be aware of stats all the time. But now I make a nice living, I don't do anything that my readers would be offended by… Offended is not the right word, but…

I think for you, not to blow smoke up your ass, the thing Hell World, like instantly, instantly clicked for me with is, not just that, stylistically, it's you getting to write the way that you had wanted to write while you were having to use your fucking indoor voice writing for the Globe or whatever, it also springs from your values, right? You're not gonna write anything in there, you're not gonna publish anything that you don't believe right?


Which is the promise of the idea of the newsletter. I think that obviously resonates with people. It also does a lot to generate the sort of trust that I was talking about. You're not gonna hop off and do some spon-con for the United Arab Emirates because you want $1,500 extra dollars.

Not for $1,500.

It would actually cost you more just from a business perspective, if your readers started seeing that shit and saying who is this guy? That, to me, makes a lot of sense. The challenge with that is that it's like, there's people on the other side of this where you see, especially with Substack, where there's people that have sort of staked out this weird little reactionary position where they just have to get upset about the same shit that Tucker Carlson is upset about for the rest of their lives. 


It's the same thing with their readers. Their readers will also leave if they think those people are like going woke or getting soft or whatever. But that means that you have to have grandpa politics in order to keep having health insurance. That fucking sucks. That's a bad deal. 

Didn't you call that Taxi Driver Mindset or something? 

Yeah, it is. You have to be out there being like “sick,” “venal” as you move through the world in your car. “The animals come out at night.”

Rorschach’s diary shit.

It’s embarrassing. The thing to me that's hardest with that is, even if you're that type of guy, and I don't even want to dignify these guys by saying the names, but if you put on your weird Rorschach hat, or mask I guess in this case, and you just type like that for six hours, and then you take it off and go kiss your wife and make dinner, that's still bad for your soul. And also I don't believe it's possible at some point, right? 

No, you can't fake it entirely. 

If you pretend to be somebody for eight hours a day sooner or later you become that person right? 

Substack Has a Nazi Problem
The newsletter platform’s lax content moderation creates an opening for white nationalists eager to get their message out.

You probably read the article yesterday by Jonathan Katz about all the Nazis making money on there.

I was shocked by that. I'll be honest. I knew that there were a lot of shitheads on there, I didn't realize that there was Gruppenführer SS newsletters. Jesus Christ, dude. You didn’t notice when they called their newsletter that?

We need a new word for literal Nazis, because we'll be like, Elon Musk is a literal Nazi. And fine maybe he is, but meanwhile, these are the dudes that are literally the literal Nazis. 

Right. That’s what they want you to call them. Thanks very much! Like noticing someone just got a haircut. 

That's a weird one man. But it always brings me back to, you know, today the Spotify thing came out, like I said, and people are sharing them, and then there are always people saying "How can you use Spotify?" And I think that about Substack too, but then it's like, well, I'm still on Twitter. I'm still using Twitter. 

Something I said before is that there's no ethical blogging under capitalism. I guess there is with you guys though. You guys figured it out!

I think ours is decently ethical, but it helps that the rest of the field is falling so far back that our lead is lengthening even if we've just sort of gone at the same speed.

But I think it's still, you know, it's a business. That's the capitalism aspect of it. It helps, and it's good, and it's a relief after all the mystification of "where does the money actually come from?" when I worked at Vice or whatever. I knew that it was fake. I guess in our case I know that if we keep doing a good job people will keep paying for it. That's awesome. That is a relief. Also, though, people could leave. If you decided that your values were different. People can vote with their feet. 

We've had people do that. We get emails every now and then. Especially some of the stuff that Samer has written about Israel and Palestine. You get some readers coming in and they're all mad and they're canceling their subscriptions, and I get it. I understand why they would want to do that. They thought we were one way, but we're the other way. The thing is you can't just pander to those guys. I'm not gonna beg every last person that subscribes to stay subscribed. We have to be us. It's still weird though because that can go in any number of directions. 

I've definitely lost a number of subscribers lately. In a way I feel bad because I haven't really written about anything besides Palestine over the past two months or so, but then at the same time it's like, well, that’s a pretty good thing to focus on. 

I haven’t written about it and I’ve barely posted about it. I feel weird not doing it. What you're doing, I know that it takes a toll. You can read it in the writing and it comes through. How could it not? But there's also this other part of me where it's like that's not my job. Lord knows I spend enough time fucking thinking and reading about it. But it’s gonna be weird to look back at what work I produced while this atrocity was happening in plain sight, and everybody's looking at it and talking about it every day, and there’s me just goofing on the Baltimore Orioles for being cheap. I'm not gonna feel great about that when I have to answer for it later in my life. It's sort of a choice. Not necessarily from a business perspective, just from the perspective of I don't want to write about it. 

How are things in your family and your broader group of Jewish friends? Is it all getting torn apart and stuff?

Yeah. It's weird. It breaks down generationally. My family's been way more normal about it than I think I would have feared. It’s not necessarily contentious, but it's a bunch of people that really like to talk and have opinions. Generally those opinions align, it's not like my mom's into Q Anon. They're all normal, you know, my parents watch MSNBC and shit. So they're normal in that way, which is to say they have like a psychotically high regard for like Mitt Romney randomly. All these things that happen to people that watch MSNBC you know? It’s like, who told you this? Where did you get this?

But the thing that I have not done a good job on, and that I've been thinking about recently is, I have friends that are more in that either activist Jewish space, or that are involved with more explicitly Jewish ventures, where they work or what they write or what they do, and I haven't necessarily reached out to see how they're doing. You and I are, I think, just on that Gen X side of things, where there's a part of me that I turn into hacky Dennis Leary. Which is stupid, because I love my friends. I value them, my family. But as soon as I start thinking about reaching out to check in, see how you're doing, I'm instantly wearing the leather jacket and smoking a cigarette on stage and being like “Oh you got to hug your friends now? You got to see how your friends are doing now?” 

But that's stupid. I should just check in with them. But I have not. You've done a good job with this with domestic politics, and I think this one is unique in that Israel means unique things to different generations of Jewish people. Because it's been all these different things through those different generations. And then also, there's an abstraction to it, I think, even relative to national politics, which I think is at its maximal abstraction in my lifetime around this moment. People can be extra crazy about this shit because it's not actually happening to them. 

Right, right. 

I feel like there's probably people that are really suffering for this. I've been, you know, feeling bad, but I haven't... I’ve been lucky, I guess, in that sense, that I haven't had any real knockdown drag outs with anybody about it. I'm sure that there's a lot of that going on, though. I'm fortunate. 

All right, let me just see how we can wrap this up here.  

Can I ask you a question real quick? 


You have been writing a lot about Palestine. I think I know the answer to this, but what is making you do that? Is it just that you feel like this is so bad that it would be irresponsible to write about anything else? 

Yeah. I think it's one of the worst things that I've seen in as long as I can remember.

I agree.

Also I’m antisemitic. 

That’s what I was hoping for. Whether I’d be able to bait you into finally coming out with it. I should tell the readers that’s not the first time Luke has admitted that to me. 

Well by the rules that we established earlier you do get final cut on this interview. 

It has to stay in.

You could say why do you care about this instead of any other humanitarian disaster going on around the world? And it's like, well, no, I try to pay attention to and write about as many as I can. Something I wrote once was you can't hold the breadth of the tragedy in the world in your heart all at once. You'd explode.

I think part of it has to do with the fact that it’s basically us doing it. The U.S. 

Yeah. The hard part with any of this shit is you get a little bit of catharsis from writing it, and then it just keeps getting worse. I've had that with, again, with domestic politics it's one thing to feel like you're shouting into the void about how “Trump is actually bad” or whatever. And as terrible as he was, this is a level of carnage, literal carnage, that really brings home how little say you have in what is happening in the world. 

Well, it's very demoralizing, but it's also been heartening to see so many people doing good protest work and marches and all that. 

I've been heartened by that in a way that is not abstract. It's at least nice to see that it's not everybody just putting their head down and going back to work or whatever, which would be worse. 

All right, I guess that's it. I was going to talk about the vote scolding for Biden already going on or Elon suing Media Matters, but that would probably take us another hour to talk about. 

You’ve got a lot to transcribe here as it is. 

That's pretty much why I want to stop the interview. Not that I'm not enjoying it and this isn't good stuff. I'm just looking at it, and it’s like oh shit, I'm going to have to transcribe 40 minutes now. God damn. 

You should not have to do that. Feel free to edit for clarity. Hell, make some stuff up for me. 

I'm going to run it through ChatGPT and see what this baby spits out. 

I’m really looking forward to it adjusting my tone upwards. If I don't come out of this sounding like fucking Clippy for Microsoft Word at the end we will have both failed.