Allowed a choice in the matter of peeing in public restrooms, I’ll take a closed stall over an exposed urinal or (kill me) communal trough. I’ve been the same all my life, I know, because one of my youngest memories—let’s say age nine—has me wriggling out of the church pew one Sunday Mass and taking my good sweet hymnless time going down to the basement men’s room, which was empty and echoed the very silence that filled it, but in which I nonetheless elected to use a stall. Standing over the toilet, I could not immediately urinate, as urination was more excuse than emergency in this case, and besides I had a nervous bladder, a condition that had prompted me to seek the privacy of the stall in the first place, out of fear that someone else would enter the restroom. In short order, someone did. It was another kid; I could tell from the insolent little dress shoes, just like mine, slapping at cheap tile. The shoes paused near the bank of stalls. I tried not to breathe. The mystery kid spoke in a snotty, aggrieved voice.
“Why are your feet facing the wrong way?”
Was this really happening? Was it inconceivable to this boy that one could also urinate in a stall? Blessed with anonymity and shocked by my own vitriol, I replied:
“Why don’t you mind your own fucking business?”
The kid shifted his weight for a moment.
“Oh,” he finally said, horror closing his throat. “… oh my god.”
He fled the premises and returned to the homily, leaving me to relieve myself in peace, though not by the method he supposed. And I hope the falsehood haunts him still.
"Come on…oh no oh please God come on…"
My tween bladder seized up after waiting in line for twenty minutes for a communal trough at a Steeler game. There were easily a half dozen men waiting to move in on the spot at the trough. I shook it. I flicked it. Nothing. I hung my head and zipped up, feeling countless burning, half-drunk sneers (Why would you make the rest of us wait if you didn’t hafta go ya little faggot?) as I moped through the denim corridors.
“I mean why the hell do these Darths feel the need to advertise how evil they are? A good villain does not think he is evil. He thinks he is doing the right thing. That is what makes him so fucking scary. I mean why the hell would anyone deal with someone named Mr. Insidious? Does the Trade Federation really think this guy is gonna honor his deals? If a Sith lord really wanted to mess with people he’d call himself Darth Fruitbasket or something. Then when he shows up with the planet killer gun everyone would be like like “Whoa, what!?”.”—Penny Arcade - Star Wars crap
The course of the space program, and in many ways that of the United States was forever changed when NASA launched the Mercury Space Program. The Mercury program learned from the past and provided the bridge to our future. In many ways, our organization, Mercury One, is going to do the same thing. We will take and learn from the lessons of the past by getting our history right and instilling the values and ethics of the Judeo-Christian world and prepare us and the upcoming generation for the tomorrows yet to come.
Uh, OK. Stupid, but sure, fine. But what does your charity do, exactly?
Donations will go to making sure that Mercury One will fulfill its mission to inspire, organize, and mobilize to improve the human condition physically, mentally and spiritually with malice towards none and charity for all.
No, but…I mean…that’s just restating your mission, I’m wondering…that is…
Glenn Beck’s chosen icon of American exceptionalism is a $392.6 million taxpayer-funded program that from his perspective accomplished little more than embarrassing the Russkies.
Over a century ago Thomas Edison got the patent for a device which would “do for the eye what the phonograph does for the ear”. He called it the Kinetoscope. He was not only amongst the first to record video, he was also the first person to own the copyright to a motion picture. Because of Edisons patents for the motion pictures it was close to financially impossible to create motion pictures in the North american east coast. The movie studios therefor relocated to California, and founded what we today call Hollywood. The reason was mostly because there was no patent. There was also no copyright to speak of, so the studios could copy old stories and make movies out of them - like Fantasia, one of Disneys biggest hits ever. So, the whole basis of this industry, that today is screaming about losing control over immaterial rights, is that they circumvented immaterial rights. They copied (or put in their terminology: “stole”) other peoples creative works, without paying for it. They did it in order to make a huge profit. Today, they’re all successful and most of the studios are on the Fortune 500 list of the riches companies in the world. Congratulations - it’s all based on being able to re-use other peoples creative works. And today they hold the rights to what other people create. If you want to get something released, you have to abide to their rules. The ones they created after circumventing other peoples rules…
SOPA can’t do anything to stop TPB. Worst case we’ll change top level domain from our current .org to one of the hundreds of other names that we already also use. In countries where TPB is blocked, China and Saudi Arabia springs to mind, they block hundreds of our domain names. And did it work? Not really.”—The Pirate Bay mocks SOPA with hilarious press release
But in my recent research, I’ve talked with a lot of them. Not just the “lololol we r legion” kind either. The real deal. Guys who now work for McAfee or run their own security contracting firms. When I asked them about whether further government restrictions on internet behavior, like SOPA and PROTECT IP, would limit piracy, their response was unanimous:
Clever pirates will always find a way. Clamping down on the entire web will only punish those with good intentions and push those who wish to download terabytes of copyrighted content further underground.
The following is a quote from Phil Zimmerman, creator of PGP, one of the most important pieces of 20th century technology. It’s from an interview that will appear in my upcoming book:
I think that there’s something grotesque about having the internet turned upside down just for the entertainment industry. When you look at how much economic activity is driven by the internet and compare it to that of the entertainment industry—the entertainment industry is not that big! It’s a small part of it.
For the entertainment industry to have this control over the internet…it’s like if auto industry was assembling cars at the command of companies who manufacture FM radios. Imagine if the people who make FM radios had absolute control over where highways can be built, and dictate crashworthiness. It’s perverse. This is an example of powerful lobbies purchasing legislation.
The problem here isn’t the copyright issue. One could go on forever about how this will smother entrepreneurship in the tech industry because big companies like Google, let alone web startups, won’t be able to afford to hire moderators to continuously monitor their user content, let alone a team of lawyers to fight copyright claims. Recent statistics show that 48 hours of video content are uploaded to YouTube alone every minute. Can you imagine what it would cost to monitor that volume? This blunderbuss approach puts the U.S. government in a position of editorial control that we previously would have criticized China for allowing, only to support broken business models and expand the perpetual game of whac-a-mole that is online piracy.
Meanwhile, the potential for collateral damage of free speech is real and opens up the possibility of bad actors only needing to accuse a site of some minor copyright infringement in order to silence free expression that might be happening there.
Internet memes seem to be moving towards the smallest sub-cultural groups possible and catching on that way.
- I made Judgmental Bookseller Ostrich as a joke on how there was starting to be an advice animal for every possible field/major/career.
- People who didn’t care about Ryan Gosling care once there’s a blog of him talking about a field of stat-based library science all of 200 people have a degree in.
- Shit Girls Say became Shit every possible racial, religious, and sexual identity say or have said to them.
Like, now it’s not enough for things to be universally funny? If they are micro-funny I feel super-special that someone made them Just For Me and I’m obligated to share/love them?
So memes are getting bigger by getting smaller? The hyper-specification of internet humor? Identity-based memetics? Anybody?
Agreed: Memes are getting bigger by getting smaller. Memes are becoming platforms for audience-targeted humor. Advice animals remain culturally relevant longer than LOLcats, because each reader can more easily home in on the advice animals that appeal to her. Same with the Goslings, etc.
Why this shift? First, our tools are getting more sophisticated. Aggregators like Metafilter, blogs and Digg are being replaced by Reddit, which lets people break down their reading experience into subreddits by topic, and Tumblr, which lets people subscribe to blogs (encouraging more loyalty to single-topic blogs that they otherwise wouldn’t remember to visit daily) and easily spin off their own blogs. (Twitter does both of these on a smaller scale.) YouTube is more useful now that everyone can afford a decent camera.
Second (and in a virtuous cycle with point 1), normal people are getting savvier about the internet. Every aspiring comedian knows to make YouTube sketches instead of just hoping their improv group gets discovered. Social sharing (via Twitter, FB and Tumblr) means a video about what white girls say to black girls will more easily reach the people who recognize the trope, and it also makes normal people derive some pleasure out of passing along culture, which used to be this thing that only nerds did. Sites have filled every part of the nerd-to-normal spectrum, so there are millions of people out there who think that 9GAG or Memebase invented everything, unaware that it (almost) all trickled up from Reddit, Tumblr, the advice meme generators, 4chan, MLKSHK, Something Awful, BuzzFeed, etc.
Third, there are people actively trying to create new franchises. BuzzFeed is exceptional at this. (Digression: They come up with some really clever new stuff, while keeping the site palatable to a decently mainstream crowd. I hope they develop some interesting ways for audiences to filter out what they don’t care about, making them a platform that could compete with Reddit, as opposed to just competing with blogs.) Inventive blogs can accidentally create whole meme genres, as The Hairpin did with Women Laughing Alone With Salad, inspiring the stock photo cliché meme trope.
Not really important, but: What do we call these memes that can contain memes? Metamemes? Or is that precluded by the constant use of “meta” to mean “self-referential”? “Meme tropes”? “Megamemes”? “Meme genres”? UGH
I wrote about this in relation to 4chan and Summer of Megadeth in Epic Win. We want to feel connected, a part of ~something bigger than ourselves~, but not too big. Group participation doesn’t feel as special without some exclusivity. Sense of connectedness is strengthened when the group’s aesthetic and iconography are positioned against a broader alternative. So multi-layered jokes rife with obscure references that only a handful of people will understand help us to feel like we’re in a cool club. We lol and say “OMG this is s000 us.”
"It was hard when we lost. Hopefully next year we can win. We really just have to focus our minds on running with the ball, and also throwing and kicking it. It’s important to keep your eye on the prize and not let a loss like this keep you from trying your best next time."
From this article: “Even though the region boasts some of the finest farmland in the world, there is a startling lack of fresh produce here.”
My mother-in-law is a vegan who lives in the woods (yes) in southern Ohio. And even though it’s an hour and a half to the nearest grocery, she and my step-FIL are still alive. People who actually cook for themselves instead of going to restaurants every night like they’re Lorenzo de Medici don’t have such a “struggle” for “survival.” Have your manservant go to a supermarket, A.G.
“The mentality of the Midwest is, green is garnish,” explained Heidi Van Pelt-Belle, who runs Füd, a vegetarian restaurant in Kansas City.
“At parties, I will sometimes approach a group of acquaintances already engaged in conversation. This is a gamble, as there is always a chance that they will be speaking on a topic in which I’m not particularly well versed. On these occasions, I feel trapped by polite obligation. They didn’t ask me to join their conversation, and by walking away after only a few moments I fear that I am tacitly implying that I find them uninteresting. So I stay for a bit, nod my head and say “Hmm”, and “Really?” until I can come up with an often awkward observation to justify the time spent standing there. Then, having completed whatever social penance I feel that I owe them, I walk away as politely as I can.
This morning, I spent 30 minutes perusing Jezebel.
“Holy shit look at this retard. So random. What’s he doing, suckin’ up all the dirt in the subway? Hey everybody, look it’s the subway janitor.”—Every single person on every train I used to get from Williamsburg to Harlem at 2:00 am last night while carrying an unboxed vacuum cleaner. Laugh it up, idiots. We’ve all seen stranger things in the subway.