I Will Not Delete Comments At Your Request

Commenters sometimes ask me to delete some of their previous comments, or other peoples' comments.

I am not going to do that. Let me repeat points I've made a few times, but which apparently need to be made again and again:

  • This blog is a private, non-profit hobby run by exactly one person, me. I have no staff, no helpers, no assistants.
  • I like having a comments section and am usually amused and stimulated by what goes on there, because the vast majority of commenters have something interesting to say.
  • Many comments contain points of view with which I strongly disagree and are phrased in ways I wouldn't choose myself. I let them stand anyway because they contribute a point of view to the discussion.
  • I have a real job, and therefore a limited amount of time to work on this side hobby.
  • What little time I do have I put into writing new stuff
  • I have neither the time nor the inclination to search through thousands of past comments to find ones which someone regrets having posted, or which they think is inappropriate.

Yet if a comment comes to my attention which I don't like, I reserve the right to delete any comment, at any time, for any reason, at my sole and unappealable discretion. Period. This blog is not a democracy; if I find a comment crosses the line, I will nuke it.

I define the line, and I don't do so in any consistent way. Nor do I read every single comment ever posted here. I have only deleted a very few comments during the life of this blog. If you ask me nicely, I might explain why I did so, or I may ignore your question. I am ignoring it not because I dislike you, but because I have only a limited time to work on this blog, and I would rather spend it creating new posts than adjudicating disputes about old posts.

I suspect you would rather I spend my time that way as well.

So, with that in mind, feel free to comment away. But please do not ask or expect me to intervene in the comments section. Handle it yourselves.

This Blog is Now Moving to Facebook Permanently

For those of you already on Facebook, please visit my Facebook page here and sign up.

From now on, I will be posting exclusively to Facebook. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • Trying to keep up discussions on two different platforms is too much effort for a side-project.
  • On Facebook, I can control who sees these posts, and make sure they're more likely to reach people who, let's say, are likely to understand the spirit in which they're posted. On a blog, they reach everyone. This was tolerable as long as it was the only option available, but now with Facebook, there is an option, so it's long past time to switch.
  • Integrating videos and pictures is much easier.
  • Responses on Facebook are instant, and I can read and post to Facebook from anywhere, including smartphone
  • The commenting and response functions on Facebook are light-years easier to use and more responsive. I can't say how many times I've wanted to 'like' a particularly good comment here, but no go.

I understand that some of you have privacy and other concerns about Facebook, but that doesn't affect my decision. The advantages of Facebook are so overwhelming now that there is no real choice. Blogs are horse-driven carriages, Facebook is a modern luxury air-conditioned bus. Everyone get out of the carriage and on to the bus. You won't regret it. 

Also, anyone can take simple steps to keep themselves anonymous on Facebook. It's quite easy. Create a profile not using your real name or information, and upload a random picture. Bingo, you're done. Nobody will check it, nobody will close your account, and you will be free to read and comment and post on anything as long as I friend you.

All you need to do is create a profile, then visit my Facebook profile here. Request to add me as a friend. Because I limit the number of people I friend (spam friend requests are common on Facebook, don't friend anyone whose name you don't recognize or who's not already friends with someone you know) please let me know you're from the blog. Do this either my adding a message to your friend request, or, if you use a fake name, by making sure your fake name has the word 'joy' somewhere in it. 'Joy Buzzer'. 'Richard Joyington'. 'Mr. Joyboy'. You can also use your real name, as I do. I've been Facebooking for years under my real name, and I've never noticed a single piece of spam mail or any problems.

Alternatively, you can simply 'like' my page and follow my public posts without friending me. It's up to you. I've enjoyed blogging here for the past few years, and I look forward to continuing the debates on Facebook.

I don't want to be too much of a martinet here, but this decision is final and irreversible. I've even shut off comments on this post, since reading complaints about this decision benefits neither me nor anyone else. See you all on Facebook!

German Joys Erwache!

“The art of not reading is a very important one. It consists in not taking an interest in whatever may be engaging the attention of the general public at any particular time. When some political or ecclesiastical pamphlet, or novel, or poem is making a great commotion, you should remember that he who writes for fools always finds a large public. A precondition for reading good books is not reading bad ones: for life is short.”

― Arthur Schopenhauer, Essays and Aphorisms

For a few months I ignored Arthur Schopenhauer's advice -- always a dangerous thing -- and blogged about the Great German Migration Kerfluffle of 2015. 

I wound up that blog a few days ago, and will resume regular(ish) posting here. There might be some politics or migrant-related posts, but not many. As I said in the last post on the other blog, the whole immigration debate has become much more grown-up in recent months. I may jot off one or two posts about the issue when I think I have something interesting to say, but mostly this blog will avoid retail, day-to-day politics from now on.

Now to try and cut through the ennui and find something interesting about Germany.

The Birth of a New Blog


Conundrum: This blog is supposed to be about Germany in general, and it's not supposed to be very political. A little political, but not very.

Yet lately, the German immigration crisis has generated so much fascinating controversy that, like a crow toying with a bright, shiny object, I can't seem to let go. The immigration posts are taking over this blog, but the subject is so momentous that I feel obliged -- nay, compelled! -- to keep posting about it. 

Solution? I'm going to split off immigration posts into a brand-new blog called "How Many? Which Ones? The German Immigration Blog" (h/t Ralph for the first part of the title).

Stay tuned here for announcements and links.

A Note About Sources

Many of you have complained about the fact that I sometimes link to right-wing websites such as Gates of Vienna or Politically Incorrect news. Sometimes I link to left-wing websites. Sometimes I link to cute cat videos. Sometimes I link to flatworm-eating contests in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Let me make clear that I know that these websites are nativist anti-immigrant sites. I have excellent Google-Fu, and can spot political bias a mile away. When I put a link in a post without comment, the purpose is solely to point you to information that confirms what I said in my text. The purpose of the link is not to endorse every single article, picture, and comment on that site. The purpose of the link, I repeat, is solely to point you to information. If the link I cite to has a political bias, I am aware of that fact already. I do not need to be told. Also, I do this blog in my spare time. I will cite to the first website that provides information to back up my claim. I will not waste minutes or hours until I finally get to an ideologically 'non-objectionable' website, if such a thing exists.

If you can direct me to information that disproves what I put in the link, then I would love to hear about that. If you simply don't like the political tendency of the source I linked to, but cannot disprove the facts reported there, I don't care.

I am also aware that Steve Sailer recently excerpted one of my posts about Merkel's Millions. I read Sailer regularly. I do not agree with all of his political positions, and I'm sure he doesn't agree with all of mine. But he's a punchy writer with an original perspective who actually does often highlight important information the mainstream media ignores. If you don't agree, read more of his posts. For every one that has you seething with outrage there will be another that will have you, perhaps grudgingly, saying 'the man does have a point'.

To sum up: if your comment consists of nothing more than clutching your pearls, dropping onto the fainting couch, and exclaiming: "How could you have cited that site?!?", you might as well save the effort.

German Joys Comment Policy

The comment policy on this blog is, in the words of Potter Stewart talking about pornography, "I know it when I see it."

If a comment makes any sort of argument, from whatever perspective, that's fine.

If it contains anything that I think might be illegal under German law (Holocaust denial, legally actionable libel and insults, endorsement of violent crimes), then I'll remove it. Not necessarily because I endorse that approach, but because I live in Germany and try to follow the local rules. Plus, I don't want to get sued. So far, almost nothing like that has ever showed up here, so I'm not that concerned.

I will also remove a comment if it fills me with despair for the future of the human race. You know, something like this. That hasn't ever happened so far. 

Needless to say, the views expressed in comments are solely those of the commenters. The fact that I have not removed a comment does not imply endorsement.

That's about it.

A Shout-Out to My Readers and Commenters

I'm not a sentimental man, but I'd just like to take a minute to thank all the readers and commenters of this blog. According to Typepad, that extremely fickle mistress (lookin' at you, MM), these are the stats so far, and the recent trend:



As you can see, the ratio of posts to comments is 1 to 3. The comments are the life-blood of this blog. The difference between screaming in a padded room and having a pleasant conversation over mimosas. And unlike so many bloggers, I have never had to disable, remove, or screen comments, except to prevent spam. No matter what the language, the discussion in comments is always civilized, even when you're tearing me -- or another commenter --a new asshole.

And ohne Scheiß, as they say in Cologne, I've learned an incredible amount from the comments to this blog. Just today, I learned how to download classical concerts from Youtube in good sound quality. That's just the tip of the iceberg. I've even used stuff from the comments in my boring academic publications. Don't expect a cut of the profits (currently € 0.00) though.

I don't have to tell you to keep it up. I know you will, and I'm counting on it.

In Defense of 'Serial', a Brilliant Podcast about the Epistemology of Investigation

If you haven't been following 'Serial', the podast from Chicago Public Radio, you should. It's like nothing you've ever heard before. Go to the podcast website and listen to the episodes in order. 'Serial' patiently re-investigates a 15-year-old American murder case:
On January 13, 1999, a girl named Hae Min Lee, a senior at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County, Maryland, disappeared. A month later, her body turned up in a city park. She'd been strangled. Her 17-year-old ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was arrested for the crime, and within a year, he was convicted and sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. The case against him was largely based on the story of one witness, Adnan’s friend Jay, who testified that he helped Adnan bury Hae's body. But Adnan has always maintained he had nothing to do with Hae’s death. Some people believe he’s telling the truth. Many others don’t.
'Serial' uses the unique openness of the American criminal justice system: the reporter, Sarah Koenig, plays audio recordings of the actual trials of Syed (the first ended in a mistrial), interviews jury members, and plays for us long excerpts of her conversations with Syed from the Maryland Correctional Center. She re-interviews witnesses at the original trial, and many who didn't testify. She visit the places where things important to the case happened. Experts on everything from cellphone tower tracing to attorney competence to police investigations to psychopath and personality disorders weigh in on both the original evidence and what Koenig's team have uncovered since the trial. She discovers some new evidence that seems to point away from Syed's guilt, and other new evidence that is either ambiguous or, as we lawyers say, 'unhelpful' to Syed. And then she speaks directly to Syed on the telephone and asks for his comments on what she's found. Syed is not your average convicted murderer -- he's intelligent, articulate, and a model prisoner, and knows precisely when to parry and when to thrust in response to accusations.
The podcast has sparked huge interest, with over a million people listening, and partisan commentary raging all over the Internets. The last episode broadcasts today and is already available for download, but I haven't heard it yet. The comedy sketch above satirizes one aspect of 'Serial' -- its open-endedness. Many want the podcast to end with everything tied into a neat little bow: Syed is innocent, and I found the magic bullet that proves it! Syed is guilty and has been lying all along, and I uncovered the magic bullet that proves it! To these people, the podcast seems to meander back and forth between trying to convince listeners Syed is innocent and sadly confirming the charming young sociopath's guilt.
This attitude slights 'Serial's' genuine achievement, which is precisely its openness, its effort to bring the reader along on a journey to genuine understanding. Journalists -- especially German ones -- are prone to be condescending crusaders, spoon-feeding their readers one-sided narratives intended to hammer home Approved Opinions™ about everything from the death penalty to fracking to immigration to Greek finances. To make sure nothing complicates the lesson, these journalists swallow the most outlandish tales of victimization, ignore glaring contradictions, and leave contrary viewpoints and empirical verification outside in the cold. Not all of them, to be sure -- there are lots of German journos doing solid, thoughtful work. And the problem ain't just Germany. Why, just last month a major American magazine published a made-up-story of gang rape based on a teenager's romantic catfishing ploy without doing even the simplest verification.
Koenig treats her listeners like adults, in fact almost like accomplices in the investigation. And on the way, she illustrates a number of points that ordinary people don't understand about criminal investigations (full disclosure: I was a criminal defense lawyer in a previous life):
  • Eyewitnesses who saw the same incident often -- in fact usually -- describe it in inconsistent ways, which makes eyewitness testimony one of the leading causes of false convictions.
  • Many criminal cases are based on the testimony of acomplices who are just as guilty, if not even more guilty, than the defendant they testify against.
  • Men and women who are guilty of crimes can adamantly and convincingly protest their innocence. Many can even do so sincerely, because they have convinced themselves they are innocent.
  • Since most normal humans are lucky enough never to have never encountered a sociopathic liar willing to recite detailed, convincing lies to another person, they are often taken in by these people. (I'm looking at you, European women who marry American death-row inmates).
  • The way in which a person reacts to news of a loved one's death is so individual and unpredictable that it's meaningless as a clue to guilt or innocence.
  • If you hire a private criminal defense lawyer in the U.S., there is no effective real-time regulation of that person's fee policies or performance. If they make an error that leads to you being convicted, you can only argue about that after the fact in expensive appeals, and you face a forbidding standard in proving your case.
  • Notorious criminal cases attract unstable people who will do everything from claiming responsibility for horrific murders to fabricating evidence for or against the accused.
  • If you investigate any incident long enough, you will inevitably come across spectacularly improbable 'coincidences', such as the fact that the man who discovered Lee's body happened to be a notorious streaker who once intentionally exposed himself naked in public to a female police officer in uniform. (After he waggled his dong at her he ran away. She found his clothes and confiscated them).

During her patient re-investigation of Lee's death, Koenig encounters almost all of these vagaries of investigation. She shows how the fabric of reality attending the actual events starts dissolving immediately, and decomposes further with every passing day until the original pattern is irretrievably lost -- or distorted by bias, error, or selective memory. Koenig can't wrap the events up in a neat little bundle because this isn't fiction, there is no bundle, there is no happy ending. It is to her credit that she chose a case marked by ambiguity, and that she resisted the urge to channel the facts she found into a pat, tidy, misleading narrative. By doing so, she conveys profound truths about memory, bias, violence, and justice. 'Serial', if you ask me is journalism at its finest.

Internet K-Hole / Das Internet K-Loch

The new batch of photos from the inimitabe Internet K-Hole is up on tumblr. Curator Babs welcomes submissions -- in fact one of the new photos is from my personal hoard (can you guess which one? No, not the one above). Given how metal-friendy Germany is, there are doubtless thousands of snaps moldering in basements in Hereford, Oer-Erkenschwick or Dibbersen that need to be on Internet K-Hole. Get after it, comrades.

Bleg for Facebook Solutions Please?

As I noted, I now post mainly to Facebook. This blog is a hobby, not a business, and I only have spare time in which to maintain it, so I am not going to waste time copying identical content from Facebook to here. I did add an RSS feed to my Facebook profile, apparently, but I'm not sure how that works.

What would be ideal is to have Facebook posts appear here as well as on Facebook, so that all my readers will be happy. So I've been looking into options.

However, the solutions that have been proposed so far don't really work for me. I could migrate this blog to Wordpress, which apparently has some sort ot integration feature, but Wordpress is a much more time-consuming and technical platform than Typepad, and the migration process is not worth figuring out.

I tried to put a Facebook 'Like Box' widget on this blog but I have tried that and it doesn't show up. Apparently you cannot use this widget for personal facebook feeds, but only facebook pages (which are mainly used by businesses or groups). If I convert my personal profile to a page, according to Facebook, I lose my entire history.

So what I'm saying, dear readers, is that I am out of ideas. I am now looking for is a simple, easy way to have my Facebook feed show up somewhere on this Typepad blog, without moving or migrating or converting anything. I am even willing to pay a certain amount of money (for some sort of app) to make this happen! It just has to be simple.

If anyone has ideas, I would be grateful to hear them in comments. And not to be too shirty about it, but if you're considering posting yet another comment about how Evil Facebook Is, don't waste your time. That train sailed long ago.