The Macalope Weekly: Debatable

This week we look at things that are debatable, just perhaps not in the way that some people intended. For example, can anyone at Business Insider look themselves in the mirror each morning? Debatable. Also, are online debates where readers vote for a winner worth anything? At all? Debatable. Finally, if a scandal can’t be pinned on Apple, can it really be called a scandal? Debatable. Apparently.

Stop the linking madness!

Once again Business Insider has earned its grotesque merit badge in master link-baiting.

The piece (as always, no link, because ew) is titled “Here Are Some Of The Crazy Things Apple Fanboys Believe That Aren’t Actually True.” And (waiiiiit forrrr iiiiit…)…

…it’s a ten-page slideshow.

You know, when “Web journalism” is one day brought before a wrathful God to answer for its crimes against humanity, this may well be exhibit #1. Does anyone need further proof that Business Insider is not writing for anything but clicks from angry Apple fans?

The entire piece can be accurately described as “content-free”; Business Insider’s Matt Lynley has created a veritable corn field full of straw men that he then lights on fire because, well, they sure do burn purty, don’t they?

The last item on the list is simply “Apple fanboys will believe just about anything they read.” Wait, how is that one of the “Crazy Things Apple Fanboys Believe That Aren’t Actually True”? Others include “Apple computers are immune to viruses and malware” and “Apple devices don’t crash.”

None of them are true, of course. OK, yes, you could find one commenter somewhere who believes each of the items on this list, just like you could find a commenter somewhere who believes any other crazy crap. Like “Business Insider is a respectable news site.”

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But it’s not really worth bothering to reply to the items on this list, because no group of enthusiasts of any subject could be held to that standard of perfection. This list is more accurately a list of crazy things people think we believe.

It’s easy to blame Business Insider. It’s also accurate, because jerkbags like Lynley and his boss obviously care nothing about accuracy or writing anything of value—they’re just interested in garnering page views. But it takes two to link-bait. Yes, dear readers, part of the fault lies not in the stars, but in ourselves. And when the Macalope says “stars” in this instance he more means whimsical drawings by Kurt Vonnegut that look like stars. (Warning: crude joke by one of the greatest literary minds of the 20th century.)

This isn’t complicated. The Macalope likes to give the benefit of the doubt to the serial jerks he takes to task. Maybe they really believe what they’re saying. Maybe they don’t know any better. But Blodget and Business Insider have made their intentions pretty clear. And by linking to Business Insider, even to say “Get a load of these whimsical drawings by Kurt Vonnegut!”, we drive traffic to them. Which is what they want in the first place. The more traffic we drive to them, the more ridiculous crap they have to come up with. How long can this go on before they just start showing up drunk at our workplaces, trying to take a swing at us?

For them, for us: Stop. Linking. To. Business. Insider.

Only you can end the cycle of abuse.

Because they apparently won’t.

Oh, great

It’s time for another edition of ZDNet’s Great Debate, which asks the important questions about technology—such as “Which columnists don’t mind jumping through hoops like trained poodles in order to prop up false equivalences?”

This week’s battle royale pits the iPad against the Kindle Fire (tip o’ the antlers to the Four Misanthropes of the Apocalypse). Yes, it’s round after round of a thrilling tête-à-tête with Jason Hiner for the iPad side and Violet Blue for the Kindle Fire.

Why are they assuming these two devices are locked in a winner-take-all caged death match? Beats the Macalope. But he hopes you like your arguments fabricated out of whole cloth!

The Kindle Fire exceeded everyone’s expectations…

Uh, no, actually. Harry Marks has the links that disprove that. If there were referees in this game, Blue would have a penalty for just making crap up. But there aren’t, so onward to what’s wrong with the second half of Blue’s first sentence!

…making converts out of iPad fans.

Oh, totally. Because there’s nothing iPad fans want more than a slow and stuttering user experience wrapped in cheap hardware.

The Fire is a tablet for everyone…

Editor Ackbar says: “Your brain can’t repel trite platitudes of this magnitude!”

Plus, Prime customers can watch streaming movies and TV shows for free…

Free! ($79 subscription required. Void where prohibited by law.)

…the app marketplace isn’t censored the way that Apple’s is…

No! It’s censored in a different way which is significantly more awesome! Apparently!

The Fire is more durable than the iPad…

Plastic is just better than glass and aluminum. It just is! In all instances! Shut up!

People will want a Fire in addition to their iPad, and that won’t be true in reverse.

Why? Because Violet Blue said so, that’s why! Hiner is currently behind in the voting, apparently because ZDNet’s registered readers prefer pundits who aren’t going to let silly things like “lack of any actual evidence” stop them from making an argument.

Which, admittedly, is ZDNet’s target demographic.

Amazon’s App store is also far more friendly to developers than Apple’s…

Right, because it always works out so well for them when Amazon unilaterally decides to give their app away and give them nothing for the privilege.

Ugh. It goes on and on, but you get the general idea. While Blue thinks the Kindle Fire renders the iPad useless, Hiner more reasonably argues that both devices have their appeal. Which is why registered ZDNet readers think he’s a loser. The problem with these “debates” is that they tend to favor the person who’s willing to drive fastest around the bend of extremism, over the railing of sanity, and into the ravine of…well, whatever kind of ravine is full of crap like the Great Debate.

Saturday Special: Privacy problems

The mother of all brouhahas broke out this week as Trevor Eckhart showed that Carrier IQ, a piece of software no one had ever heard of but which is apparently on most smartphones, was tracking what privacy experts call “a whole mess o’ your personal data.”

(These are simple country privacy experts the Macalope’s talking about. Not your fancy big-city privacy experts with their town cars and entourages and late night parties.)

Pretty much no one’s hands were completely clean in this case of possibly purloined personal particulars (including Apple’s), with the exception of Microsoft’s. Go figure. Congratulations to all 18 Windows Phone 7 users! No one’s been logging your keystrokes! Possibly because no one cares.

Despite the widespread nature of this infestation, it didn’t stop some platform partisans like Thom Holwreda from taking petty pot-shots at the opposition.

As a sidenote, it amuses me to no end how someone like John Gruber has mysteriously and quite suddenly adopted the “it’s the carrier’s fault!”-mantra now that iOS has also been found to include CarrierIQ. Which is ironic, since it appears that Apple is the only one including CarrierIQ (slightly butchered, but still) within the operating system itself, whereas on Android, it’s a carrier thing.

Gruber’s already responded to this, but the Macalope wonders how else Holwreda thinks something like Carrier IQ would get on the iPhone. For the record, Apple says it’s stopped using Carrier IQ in “most of [its] products”, which is mostly reassuring, but kind of like being told that your risk of having a terrible disease is only 1 in 3. (“Most of our customers have not been infected with Lyme disease!”)

Of course, since it’s not an Apple-only scandal, it’s not getting the press attention it might. As Austin Heller noted (tip o’ the antlers to Gedeon Maheux):

# of NYT articles/posts on “Antennagate”: 7. # of NYT articles/posts on “Locationgate”: 7. # of NYT articles/posts on Carrier IQ: 1.

In fairness to The New York Times, though, people just expect to be treated like crap by carriers and handset manufacturers whose names don’t rhyme with “Bapple.” Wait, is there an Android handset manufacturer named “Bapple”? The Macalope wouldn’t be too surprised to find out there is.

The Macalope wrote just the other day about how it’s a fact of life that people are going to use Apple as an example because it’s the top dog, the head honcho, the big cheese. But he hadn’t really considered the inverse, that certain things wouldn’t get noticed as much if the finger couldn’t be pointed at Apple—even if said things were demonstrably more egregious.

If a tree falls in a forest, it apparently doesn’t make as much of a sound unless Apple’s holding an axe.

[Editors’ Note: Each week the Macalope skewers the worst of the week’s coverage of Apple and other technology companies. In addition to being a mythical beast, the Macalope is not an employee of Macworld. As a result, the Macalope is always free to criticize any media organization. Even ours.]

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