The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Learning How to Use Tools

Posted on | December 29, 2014 | 21 Comments

“The Internet has created a huge megaphone. That’s great, but it often creates so much noise that the people on the receiving end can’t hear anything.”
Jake Brewer, manager at

Let me try an analogy here: The library is full of books, and there is a rack full of magazines at the grocery store checkout line. People don’t complain about the “noise” from print media because it is not interactive, it doesn’t jump out at you on your smartphone, on your laptop, in your social media feed. Technology is just a tool. The complaints people make about online media are not necessarily inherent to the technology. Rather, it’s how we use these tools that causes problems.

Educated people know how to go to the library and find the book they want. Obnoxious idiots publish stupid books — “Snooki” from MTV’s Jersey Shore, for example — but educated people ignore that “noise” and instead seek out books that contain useful knowledge. By the same token, the multiplex theater at your local shopping mall shows lots of stupid movies, but you read the reviews, watch the previews and only buy tickets to the movies that seem worthwhile to you.

Educated people also know how to use online technology to find what they want. We filter out the “noise,” and choose from among the various tools — the Drudge Report is a tool, Twitter is a tool, Google News is a tool — to acquire the information we need.

When Jake Brewer complains about “noise” on the Internet, he doesn’t mean that he is unable to find what he wants online. No, he is an educated person, very sophisticated in his use of Internet tools, and has no problem accessing the information he seeks. What Jake Brewer is complaining about is that the online audience he wants to reach with his message — whom he presumes to be less educated and less sophisticated than himself — is distracted by “noise,” which he defines as information less important than the message Jake Brewer is sending.

Guess what, Jake? It’s called democracy. Idiots who spend all day sending each other cute puppy videos on Facebook? Democracy.

Let’s go back a few years, Jake. It was Jan. 21, 2009, and Barack Obama had just been inaugurated as our 44th President.

I’m sitting a couple blocks north of the White House and the buzz around here is intense. Still.
The sense that we are in the middle of a massively-historical moment is palpable, and there’s a lot of talk about yesterday’s inauguration ushering in new era for our country. To be honest, I’m as taken up as anyone with the hopeful possibilities that 2009 and beyond can bring.
I hear “new era,” and I immediately start thinking about what those words can mean. My deep, personal hope is that this new era will be defined by the decision of our country to move boldly into the clean energy future we must achieve.
I’m even more hopeful after hearing these ideas inserted so prominently into President Obama’s inaugural address. . . .
We need to act. Now. And just as we came together in record numbers to vote new elected officials into office, the young people of this country WILL act.

Our response is bold. It is equal to this historic moment. It is audaciously hopeful, and infused with the energy and vitality of an entire generation of Americans ready to turn good intentions and rhetoric into reality.
37 days after President Obama lost the “-elect,” we are going to bring 10,000 young people to Washington to hold our elected officials accountable for rebuilding our economy and reclaiming our future through bold climate and clean energy policy.
And whether this was your first election or your twentieth, we need you to be here with us. Or at the least, we need you to support us.
Power Shift ’09 will be one of the “Where Were You Moments” of our generation. You can join us in DC starting February 27th for four days of learning, connection, music, inspiration, and the largest lobby day on climate and clean energy Capitol Hill has ever seen. . . .

That was your Huffington Post column, Jake. What you were hustling then as now re-directs to, “a grassroots-driven online community that seeks to empower and serve as a hub for the youth climate movement.” At the lower right-hand corner of that page, we learn this is a “Project of Energy Action Coalition,” and here are all the “green” groups in that coalition. So, what was that “Power Shift ’09” conference you were hustling, Jake?

The first Power Shift Conference took place from November 2 to 5 in 2007 with between 5,000 and 6,000 students and young people in attendance. . . . The event was also attended by a number of keynote speakers which included Al Gore. The main aim of the first conference was to urge elected officials to pass legislation which would include . . .

  • The creation of a 5 million-strong Clean Energy Job Corps
  • The reduction of greenhouse gases to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, which scientists say is the baseline for mitigating the worst effects of global warming
  • A moratorium on new coal plants and divestment from fossil fuel and highway subsidies.

On February 27 to March 2, 2009, the second American Power Shift Conference took place. Similarly to the first summit, it included workshops, panel discussions, and speakers focusing on addressing climate change and environmental justice. This time, keynote speakers included Van Jones, Bill McKibben of, Ralph Nader, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

OK, Jake: How much were you paid to promote that “Power Shift” conference on Huffington Post, and who paid you to promote it?

People get paid good money to hustle stuff on the Internet. Some of my best friends make their living that way, Jake, but none of my best friends would ever take a dime to hustle that phony “climate change and environmental justice” bullshit.

So I was reading that story at the New Yorker about the “King of Clickbait . . . Emerson Spartz, an Internet-media entrepreneur in Chicago,” and I came across your quote, Jake, the one about how the Internet “creates so much noise that the people on the receiving end can’t hear anything,” and it pissed me off. Who the fuck is this douchebag, who gets paid money to create noise on the Internet, complaining about “noise” from other people that drowns out the noise he is paid to create?

The Internet is a powerful tool, and it told me that Jake Brewer is a ginormous douchebag who hustles “climate change” bullshit.

And the Internet couldn’t find Jake’s apology for that.

UPDATE: Really amazing, what the Internet can tell you.



21 Responses to “Learning How to Use Tools”

  1. M. Thompson
    December 29th, 2014 @ 12:15 pm

    The internet, is like nuclear power or stupidity.

    You can use it for good or evil, but you don’t want to get any of the waste on you.

  2. RS
    December 29th, 2014 @ 12:32 pm

    What the Left really hates about the internet is uncontrolled access. That “megaphone” about which he complains is merely a means by which viewpoints, news and opinion which counter the Leftist/Progressive narrative are disseminated. That is what the Left cannot abide. They can no longer function as the gatekeepers to information.

    As for the problems associated with technology, too many people, especially in business, have become seduced by the succubus of “constant connection,” to the point where we are inundated with the most trivial stuff, all to create an illusion of “busy-ness” and productivity. If I have a problem, I can either solve it myself or dispatch an intra-office email to ten people seeking input and wait for a response, secure in my belief that I have accomplished something. Meanwhile, ten people receive an annoying “beep” on their desktop, which causes them to stop what they are doing, read, formulate a response, keyboard it in and send it. Their responses generate more responses, all of which take who knows how many man hours which further reduces actual productivity. Meanwhile, the original problem remains unsolved or, more likely, is overtaken by events and becomes moot.

    The problem is not separating the wheat from the chaff in seeking information on the internet, it’s separating the wheat from the chaff in our own communications.

  3. robertstacymccain
    December 29th, 2014 @ 12:33 pm

    Amazing how “send everybody in the office an email” is considered work by some people.

  4. Jim R
    December 29th, 2014 @ 12:37 pm

    I wonder what this fellow thinks of how web browser homepages like Bing and Yahoo push various news stories (and it seems to me that the selection is rather liberal). Is this the “noise” of which he speaks?

    Or is it only “noise” when he doesn’t agree with it?

  5. robertstacymccain
    December 29th, 2014 @ 12:40 pm

    It’s “noise” when it’s not what Jake Brewer is paid to promote.

  6. Squid Hunt
    December 29th, 2014 @ 12:45 pm

    This was brilliant.

  7. RS
    December 29th, 2014 @ 1:09 pm

    The definition of “work” has devolved to the point where it now consists of avoiding responsibility and accountability. “Cover your ass,” is today’s business mantra. I draw upon 30 plus years of both owning a business and dealing with rather large national corporations. It’s amazing to me how few people there really are who have the balls to make a decision and be prepared to deal with the consequences. The trick is to find out who those people are, deal with them and ignore everyone else.

  8. DeadMessenger
    December 29th, 2014 @ 1:50 pm

    And the people who think that’s “work” are the professional meeting attenders. The sort of people who drag me away from actual work to provide me with a “toolkit” (aka a bunch of buzzword-laden Powerpoint slides) to “enable my success” (aka turn me into a meeting-attending drone like themselves).

  9. kilo6
    December 29th, 2014 @ 2:00 pm

    I was taught that finding “busy work” in any area of your life was one of the 3 forms of sloth.

    The 3 forms of sloth being:

    1- the familiar definition of indolence or sluggishness.

    2- finding futile or pointless activity to do when you actually have other obligations

    3- Eric Holder

  10. Daniel Freeman
    December 29th, 2014 @ 2:01 pm

    So “signal” is like gravity, relative to your perspective. That actually makes a certain kind of sense. Of course, in this analogy Jake is a junk satellite, sullen that not everything revolves around him, and liable to burn out in freefall if he ever connects with the whole rest of the world.

  11. joethefatman
    December 29th, 2014 @ 2:32 pm

    At least the sloth isn’t actively trying to ruin America.

  12. Phil_McG
    December 29th, 2014 @ 2:51 pm

    Hi, @jakebrewer! I’m from the Internet, and I’ve been appointed to tell you what a ginormous douchebag you are.

    Succinct. True. Brilliant.

  13. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    December 29th, 2014 @ 3:19 pm
  14. RKae
    December 29th, 2014 @ 3:23 pm

    Technology is just a tool. The complaints people make about online media are not necessarily inherent to the technology. Rather, it’s how we use these tools that causes problems.

    I’m going to disagree. Just because a tool is used responsibly by one person doesn’t mean it’s free of inherent problems. The pill is used by married people, but there’s no denying that it altered the culture and empowered the sex-for-fun movement to the point where they completely took over. That was inherent in it. It was inevitable.

    Likewise, easy surveillance is altering the way people think about privacy. When the East German Stasi did it, it consumed man-hours; agents were needed. However, our Stasi can track millions with barely any humans working.

    A super-powered tech Stasi is far worse than a human Stasi – not just because they can spy more, but also because it breaks down the resistance to the idea through learned helplessness of the masses.

    Making something commonplace makes it acceptable, and that falls under the heading “inherent.”

    Also, there are technologies that are flat-out evil and cannot be excused with the “just a tool” defense. There is no peaceful purpose for a weaponized virus, for example.

  15. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    December 29th, 2014 @ 3:38 pm

    Nice one!

  16. Dana
    December 29th, 2014 @ 3:42 pm

    No, Mr McCain, you got it completely wrong. The esteemed Mr brewer isn’t complaining that people can’t be selective enough due to the “noise,” or sophisticated enough to find what they want, but that there is so much more out there that they can find, beyond what the “gatekeepers” of the professional media believe ought to be published.

    Rush Limbaugh was so very much hated by the left not because of what he was saying, but because the liberal gatekeepers had no control over his message, and couldn’t simply decline to “publish” what he wanted to say.

    Then came the internet, and the professional media and their editors really lost control; even some guy who couldn’t spell Stacey right could set up a blog, and, Heaven forfend! the public could find what he wrote, and actually read it.

  17. kilo6
    December 29th, 2014 @ 4:01 pm

    But Sloth is one of the Seven Deadly Sins

  18. Adobe_Walls
    December 29th, 2014 @ 4:02 pm

    Actually I’ve always found it difficult to get people to use their stupidity for good, and that was my job!

  19. Adobe_Walls
    December 29th, 2014 @ 4:30 pm

    The advantage of email (as opposed to using the phone) in business is that two people can have a conversation without actually being available to talk at the same time. The problem is lack of follow through. In every General Contracting Co. there is someone assigned to disseminate information to the subcontractors on any given project. The problem is most of the subs actually on site aren’t or weren’t computered up and might not even be aware that sometime in the last decade email had become the main method of communication. I can’t count how many times I heard in meetings ”but we sent you an email”. Long story short, email and the internet in general can provide timely and efficient communication. It can just as easily produce catastrophic failure to communicate.

  20. Adobe_Walls
    December 29th, 2014 @ 4:35 pm

    I think the senate should confirm the Sloth for Attorney General.

  21. Adobe_Walls
    December 29th, 2014 @ 5:08 pm

    ”Making something commonplace makes it acceptable”
    That is by far the greater danger. I don’t think the NSA can access and anyalise all the data they collect to be ”real time” effective. It completely removes the people skills from intelligence. I see no reason to suppose that big government is any better at intelligence than it is at health care. The people protecting us can’t stop a bombing in Times Square or Boston. After the event they reveal years of info they’ve collected on the perps but that’s after they have a name that makes the data about them stand out. We probably are more threatened by license plate readers than the NSA.