INDIGNITY VOL. 3, NO. 101: Doing numbers.


INDIGNITY VOL. 3, NO. 101: Doing numbers.

Another Day, Another Indignity

GOOD MORNING! We are now more than 100 newsletters into our third calendar year of Indignity, a fact that we would have commemorated with Vol. 3, No. 100 yesterday, had your editor not lost count over the long holiday weekend and gone ahead and written a regular post. But here is No. 101, a popular and successful number in its own right.

How are we doing? Back in Indignity Vol. 1, No. 1, I suggested that I would be able to buy a desk to work at. I did that right away, more or less!

The Indignity Nerve Center.

In Vol. 2, Nos. 10 and 69, we tried to educate everyone about the dangerous ways of orcas, including their attacks on ship rudders off the coast of Spain, long before the rest of the Internet became aware of the situation.

In Vol 3., No. 7, after our money for running things at Popula ran out, we said, as we turned the Indignity Paywall back on, that we would aim to increase our rate of publishing from twice-weekly to something more than that. With the help of the Indignity Morning Podcast, the Weather Reviews, and the award-winning Mr. Wrong column, we have generally been able to deliver something to your inbox each day of the workweek, Summer Fridays semi-included. We hope you have enjoyed the extra reading material.

We also said we would think about trying to start hitting a more consistent delivery time each day. Oh, well.

Part of the theory behind providing more abundant output was that the more items we published, the more opportunities there would be to add readers—and paid subscribers, without whom this would all be impossible.

That growth has been hard to come by. It feels as if we have lost some of our previous ability to reach new readers this year, thanks to the ongoing decline of Twitter. There was always debate about how useful Twitter was to publications that wanted to attract a larger audience, but it definitely worked for me. If you were a small-scale or independent publisher, and you had a certain facility with writing in 140 or 280 characters (plus screenshots), it was the best place to go tell everyone you'd written something, and then to banter or argue with them about it, leading new readers to discover it.

That's all ruined now. Elon Musk is welcoming and promoting more and more Nazis and malignant idiots on the site—last night, I saw a genuinely shocking cascade of raw pseudobiological racism over there—so that more and more normal and normal-ish people have disengaged from it. Meanwhile the algorithm seems to have disfavored sharing links from elsewhere, especially Substack.

With apologies to Substack Notes and Mastodon and Bluesky—all of which have their own virtues—there is no replacement for what Twitter used to do. As the enshittification of Google and the demolition of the open internet continue, the basic act of putting something up online where anyone can find it and read it and share it seems to be going the way of making an analog phone call or owning your own physical copy of a recording of a piece of music. It's a lonesome situation for writers.

So we depend more than ever on you, our existing readers. If you're an unpaid subscriber, please take this opportunity to become a paying subscriber!

Besides seeing the Indignity Paywall removed, granting full access to all of our posts, as a paid subscriber you will be able to use the comments. If 20 people become paid subscribers after reading this post, I will personally go in and use the comments, as in the old days at Gawker when Nick Denton came up with his "Kinja Bonus" system.

Also if 20 people become paid subscribers after reading this post, I will send one of them a personally autographed copy of 19 Folktales, written by me and illustrated by Jim Cooke. The winner will be randomly selected with this 20-sided die:

The d20 will be rolled by this cat:

Max Read, friend of Indignity and proprietor of the Read Max newsletter, has endorsed 19 Folktales as "a beautifully typeset book" of "not 'modern' folktales, not eye-winking parodies, but simply folktales, about giants and berries and rutabagas and glass mountains and so on."

If fortune, via the cat and the die, does not settle on you, you can still buy the book directly.

And you can have the satisfaction of knowing that your subscription dollars support Indignity's ongoing work of writing for you. What has that work included? Our most-opened emails since our relaunch, reaching or breaking the magical 50 percent threshold, have been:

Vol 3, No. 88: What Are You Worried About?, a Mr. Wrong column about global apocalypse.

Vol. 3, No. 85: Ron DeSantis Is a Real Possiblity, about the uncertainty of the 2024 election.

Vol. 3, No. 12: Post-Newtonian, about Little Debbie Fig Bars.

Our most-read items in that span have been:

Vol. 3, No. 19: The New York Times Can't Tell the Truth About Its Trans Coverage

Vol. 3, No. 47: Peanut butter and what? A conversation with Hamilton Nolan

Vol. 3, No. 42: Bret Stephens Is Lying About Iraq

One great fear of anyone publishing in our heavily quantified era is that the numbers will start to make demands about the subject matter and the tone, pulling a publication into an ever more narrow niche. You, the readers of Indignity, seem to be doing a pretty good job of preventing that from happening. Our analytics say you may want more posts about snack food, and also Ron DeSantis, unless possibly something else—? We are happy to oblige!

Some other notable posts from our full history of publishing:

Vol. 1, No. 20: The Nice Kind of Calipers

[T]hat is all there ever is to phrenology. No evidence can have the power to contradict it, let alone disprove it, because it insists on going where it's designed to go. The existence of genetic differences between populations, any populations—Basque, Dinka, Cornish—proves humans are not the same, which (with a quick wave of the hand) proves that the differences between Black and white people are ordained by nature.  

[Kathryn Paige] Harden believes, and The New Yorker invited its readers to believe, that it's possible to make this landslide of motivated reasoning flow uphill.

Vol. 1, No. 37: Wait, Why Is Elon Musk the Richest Person in the World?

Whatever you think of Elon Musk—even if you believe he is a true visionary with the potential to transform civilization and redistribute life around the solar system—how is it possible for him to be worth more money than any other person engaged in every other money-making activity, throughout the global economy? Besides being a boutique automaker, he's co-founder of one very successful tech startup, PayPal, and he's a competitor in the privatized space-launch field, and he's a cryptocurrency speculator. All of that seems in principle like it ought to add up to "the portfolio of a fairly rich person," not "the world's supreme business empire."

Vol. 1, No. 41: Unpacking the Can, a discussion with Tim Marchman of the Popping Tins newsletter

Popping Tins: Now that you mention it, the Cronenbergian flesh-grain on the can is an odd touch. Is it meant to represent that the can itself is flesh, disgorging more? I'm confused.

Vol. 1, No. 42: Slice Through the Clutter of the Holiday Giving Season With a Little Something From the Personal Collection of Sylvester Stallone

Perhaps the most intimate item on the block, here’s the mouth guard of beloved silver screen pugilist Rocky Balboa, carried in the oral cavity of Hollywood Hero Sylvester Stallone all the way to Academy Award honors!

Vol. 2, No. 6: The Sweet Smell of Success

RED: Naw, I'm done with this. I'm done. I said TAN, you dumbshit. You goon. You fucking SCAB.

BLUE: Who was Tan?

RED: Tan was a goddamned M&M. A real M&M, a natural, you fucking SKITTLE.

BLUE: Whoa, whoa—

Vol. 2, No. 8: Apples Are Like Cigarettes: An Interview With Fruit Reviewer Mary H.K. Choi

MARY H.K. CHOI: Apples are a gamble. Some of them are from LAST YEAR.

INDIGNITY: What? Last year meaning four weeks ago, or—?

MARY H.K. CHOI: Ahahahah no I mean from ages and ages ago. They’re treated with an ethylene blocker and kept in cold storage for up to ten months or something. And you can tell when you bite into them because you can almost hear the little gasp.  You just know that you’re eating a corpse even though it looks fine on the outside. It’s like Melisandre the red witch lady from GoT.

Vol. 2, No. 39: Fine, Give Trump His Twitter Back

When Twitter finally did ban @realDonaldTrump, to stop him from whipping his followers into paranoid violence about his defeat in the election, only the most ghoulish media producers and consumers pretended to miss him. The day his tweets went away, it felt as if someone had abruptly stopped beating America over the head with a clanging metal pipe.

Vol. 2, No. 60: What Bret Stephens Gets Right

This is on the very short list of things I unironically admire about Bret Stephens. He respects his job. He may not respect it in the sense that he tries to write good columns, or to grapple with the complexity of the world, or to avoid linking to sources that say the opposite of what he claims they say. But he respects the idea of being a New York Times columnist, very much.

Vol. 2, No. 87: The Sky Drones Are Advertising That No One Can Protect the Skies

[I]t makes me glad to know that the drones have to do a scummy workaround—that they know they're doing something wrong. The idea still survives, however tenuously, that it's not in fact a good or nice thing to jam a floating billboard up into the dome of the heavens where everybody has to see it. Some things are still off limits.

Vol. 2, No. 92: That's Right, Ron DeSantis Is a Backup Quarterback

For people who can't stop covering politics as if it's a spectator sport, the pundits have a strange inability to grasp basic sports archetypes. The Republican Party is a sports fanbase, and Donald Trump is the quarterback who led their team to a shocking Super Bowl upset. He's a star and a legend, his contract is impossible to get off the books, and only nerds and haters care about his fundamentally unsound statistics or his ever-lengthening list of off-field troubles.

Vol. 3, No. 8: Wrong Place, Wrong Time

Also, not that you asked, but I don’t care what you think about the Mr. Wrong column, unless you SUBSCRIBE TO INDIGNITY. Then you can put all the Comments you want in our Comments area and make it your own Chum Box, but this time “chum” doesn’t mean cut-up bait fish and stuff to attract big fish to catch, to wit: Advertising. In this case “chum” means “friends,” who will be your fellow Commenters, who are good and nice and are Signaling their Virtue, if you will, by Commenting on all things Indignity, and showing that they pay the cash money and SUBSCRIBE TO INDIGNITY. Also-also, if you put a Comment in the Comments about the Mr. Wrong column, I still don’t care what you think about the Mr. Wrong column, but I will thank you for your support!

Subscribe to Indignity! Also, if you need any writing or editing or beautiful typesetting done, please let us know. Until we have multiplied those subscription dollars by four or five, side gigs will remain an essential part of our Economic Model, such as it is. Keep us going, by all available means. Remember: as long as we're here, there will always be antique and eldritch sandwich recipes for you.

Thank you for reading!


New York City, June 20, 2023

★★★ Clouds covered the morning after a sweaty night. Toward midday, shadows started forming. Even when it got bright out, haze kept scattering the sun till ordinary white clouds showed up dark gray against the glare. Someone popped a wheelie on a moped in the bike lane, came down, zoomed through the intersection, and then came back the wrong way through a red light. The air had cooled but gotten more damp. Jets of water splatted on the playground. In the night, through the open window, the sounds of dirt bikes and of arguments both kept revving up.


Indignity Morning Podcast No. 92: Our long slide into darkness.

Tom Scocca • Jun 21, 2023

Listen now (5 min) | The Indignity Morning Podcast is also available via the Apple and Spotify platforms.

Read full story →


WE PRESENT INSTRUCTIONS for the assembly of select sandwiches from Nine Hundred Successful Recipes, by Lulu Thompson Silvernail, Domestic Science Teacher for The Southwestern Milling Company, Inc. Published in 1923, this book is in the Public Domain and available at for the delectation of all.

3 hard cooked eggs
1 onion, size of walnut
1 green sweet pepper
6 large lettuce leaves
1/4 teaspoon dry ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon oil or melted butter
Dash of cayenne pepper

Chop eggs, onion, lettuce and sweet pepper together, having all in minced form. Add mustard, paprika, salt and oil or butter. Mix well and spread between thin buttered slices of bread.

1/4 cup tasty cheese
1 onion, size of walnut
Dash of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 cucumber (medium size)
2 hard cooked eggs
1 tablespoon melted or creamed butter

Place onion and cucumber in chopping bowl and chop fine. Run eggs through ricer or sieve and add to the chopped mixture together with cheese, pepper, salt and paprika. Add the butter last and mix all together and spread. If the tasty cheese is used, which comes in tin foil, it is in soft form and creams well with other ingredients.

If you decide to prepare and attempt to enjoy a sandwich inspired by this offering, be sure to send a picture to

Thanks for reading INDIGNITY, a general-interest publication for a discerning and self-selected audience. We depend on your support!