I can’t Gopher that

If the Internet and the World Wide Web were in fact one and the same, this would have made a little more sense:

[W]e completely forgot that December 25 is the birthday of something glorious, magnificent, and wonderful for all mankind.

We’re talking, of course, about the Internet. On Dec. 25, 1990, a British physicist, computer scientist, and all-around genius named Sir Timothy John “Tim” Berners-Lee, with help from Robert Cailliau and a then-student at CERN, arranged for the very first successful Internet communication between a server and a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) client.

Al Gore will be heartbroken. (He’s very sensitive.)

Then there’s this:

By June 1993 the World Wide Web had a whopping 130 websites. A year later, that number grew to 2,738, and by January 1997, shortly after its sixth birthday, the Internet sported an estimated 650,000 websites (most of which were 100% 8-bit porn ads).

By January 1997, I’d already written thirty-four Vents.

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Aghast workplace

The Smoking Gun reports on an atmospheric disturbance:

A federal employee was formally reprimanded this month for excessive workplace flatulence, a sanction that was delivered to him in a five-page letter that actually included a log of representative dates and times when he was recorded “releasing the awful and unpleasant odor” in his Baltimore office.

In a December 10 letter accusing him of “conduct unbecoming a federal officer,” the Social Security Administration employee was informed that his “uncontrollable flatulence” had created an “intolerable” and “hostile” environment for coworkers, several of whom have lodged complaints with supervisors.

For the defense, Dave Schuler:

My immediate reaction to this report was that the man might have a cause of action under the Americans With Disabilities Act. Was the manager qualified to determine whether it was a controllable behavior? I’ve had employees who were frequently flatulent and have been known to pass gas occasionally myself. I strongly suspect that most of us have. The idea of reprimanding them for it never occurred to me. I just gave them a wide berth.

Come to think of it, someone always brings broccoli to the office potlucks. Hmmm…

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How to drop names

Lesson 1: Be sure you’re dropping an appropriate name.

Facebook screenshot referencing Hakkar the Soulflayer

Mentioning Hakkar the Houndmaster would not have been quite so effective.

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1 broke girl

Beth Behrs, born on Boxing Day (that’s today) 27 years ago, plays a no-longer-wealthy heiress in the CBS sitcom 2 Broke Girls, and made TV Guide’s Hot List last season:

Beth Behrs

Somewhere on her CV is a credit for having appeared in the world premiere of Dangling Conversations: The Music of Simon and Garfunkel, while studying at American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, about which production I have been able to find out next to nothing. As an S&G fan since Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., I’m understandably curious.

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What you get is no tomorrow

Steve Sailer wonders if we should blame the fame:

[M]aybe it’s Wikipedia’s fault. You can now look up every goddam mass shooting you want these days in Wikipedia. I wasn’t familiar with the Winnenden massacre in Germany, but now, having read up on it in Wikipedia, I am.

In particular, I wonder if there’s an urge to Up the Ante due to people being able to study up on what did and did not grab the media’s attention in the past, and allow potential shooters to test out their creative brainstorms against the historical record on Wikipedia. Shoot people at a nursing school? Boring. It’s been done. Dress up as the Joker and shoot people at a Batman movie? Now we’re talking. That should get attention.

The more you can check up on Wikipedia, the more you can make yourself exceptional. How many people do I have to shoot to be assured of going national? How many people do I have to be a cause célèbre? Who are the best kinds of people to shoot?

Which ultimately leads to this question:

Finally, do we have to give so much publicity to this little bastard? How many others are getting jealous and thinking about how to top him?

For “little bastard,” you might try substituting “creepy little weirdo,” which has fewer overtones of badassery.

See also Harry Chapin’s epic “Sniper.”

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Unsheath the Visa

Sonic Charmer doesn’t bother to buy music anymore, because hey, it’s on Spotify for free. How long can this go on? Not very, he suspects:

What’s going to have to happen, at some point in the near future when Spotify/The Powers That Be have determined that Spotify’s market (for lack of a better term) penetration is big enough, is that Spotify is going to slap a fee even onto all of its “free” users.

Yes, X% will revolt and cry foul and curse Spotify and vow to never use it again, but (1-X)%, having gotten the Spotify habit, will acquiesce and pay, and that tradeoff will be worth it to The Music Industry, so they’ll do it.

At which point, you have to wonder about pricing. There already exists a pay service called Rdio, which charges $5 a month for Web streaming, $10 if you also want it to come to your mobile, matching Spotify’s current pricing for “premium” (read: “no ads”) service. Being one of those old mossbacks who still buys stuff, I’m probably not in the target market for either service — but things are changing so quickly that at some point I may have to pay attention, if nothing else.

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Dead mag rapping

Former Gawker troll Alex Pareene has at least one thing in common with me: he can’t stand Donald Trump. And I will give him this much: the only time he’s going to miss Newsweek will be next year, when he can’t put them on his Hack List anymore:

You hire Tina Brown because she knows “everyone,” and knowing “everyone” translates into “buzz,” which never quite translates into “profit” or “increased circulation.” In Tina Brown’s Newsweek, friends fawningly profiled their famous friends, who were also friends of Tina’s. Other friends were allowed to write stories so incredibly misleading that other outlets took it upon themselves to perform basic fact-checks. Then that friend’s wife trolled every Muslim in the world.

Newsweek, of course, is now dead — putting a hashtag on your cover is pretty much a white flag of surrender — but that can’t possibly be Brown’s fault:

In a long interview with Michael Kinsley, Brown absolves herself of responsibility for Newsweek’s death, saying the magazine had “an unfixable infrastructure and a set of challenges that really would have required five years in an up economy to solve.” The interview is in a recent issue of New York, a successful general interest magazine that prints weekly.

One wonders why she just didn’t blame it on George W. Bush. All her friends would have nodded in unison.

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An old hope

Virginia Postrel asks: “Did George Lucas read Vogue?”

After reading this, I think he just might have.

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Talons to South Beach

There was chatter earlier this week about how LeBron James had managed to draw no fouls in a couple hundred minutes of playing time. I expected this streak to continue — hey, they’re playing in front of the home crowd on Christmas Day on national television, fercrissake — but ’twas not to be. In fact, King James got rung up for three personals and a tech tonight, but it didn’t matter a whole lot: the Thunder eventually started getting stops in the fourth quarter, but they didn’t get buckets in between those stops, and five consecutive free throws by Ray Allen and Chris Bosh — the Heat didn’t miss a foul shot all night — put Miami up 103-97 at the horn.

Let us not minimize James’ accomplishments. He went 12-20 from the floor (though he didn’t nail any of three 3-pointers) for 29 points, picked up eight rebounds and delivered nine assists. At the wings, Mario Chalmers and Dwyane Wade teamed up for 41 points. Off the bench, Shane Battier didn’t score, but he added to his reputation as the South Beach Enforcer. The Heat trailed the Thunder in rebounds (39-34), but led in assists (20-14) and shooting percentage (48-42). And there were those 19 of 19 free throws. The Thunder managed twice as many, but missed six. (And, I mention purely in passing, lost by six.)

If Erik Spoelstra had a specific game plan tonight, it was probably “screw with Westbrook’s head.” Russell wangled 11 rebounds and 21 points, though his delivery was off (three assists, 5-19 shooting) and several calls he thought he should have gotten, he didn’t. But communication breakdowns happened all night, not just with Westbrook: Miami got off a lot of uncontested shots. Kevin and Kevin were mostly on track, Durant leading everyone with 33 points, Martin leading the OKC bench with 15 — but empty possessions take their toll, and the Thunder had four in a row in the fourth quarter, even while they had Miami’s offense temporarily stymied.

The sad-sack Mavs will drift into OKC on Thursday night, after which the Thunder take a trip to Houston. Maybe being closer to home will do them some good.

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I’ve passed this way before

It’s not something you have to be a pony to experience, either.

The music, incidentally, is Whovian in origin.

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Make mine a flackery daiquiri

It’s no surprise anymore to see press releases passed off in your local newspaper as actual news. (I’ve done it myself once or twice, and by “once or twice” I mean “probably less than twenty or thirty times.”) Seeing them on the front page of the paper, however, remains a bit off-putting. In this week’s City Sentinel, Verizon Wireless got a full quarter of the page — admittedly, below the fold — to push their Global Service Plans. I didn’t pay much attention to it until I read the inevitable “About Verizon Wireless” paragraph, which they for some reason (space considerations, I assume) didn’t bother to trim, making it even more obvious that this was a press release. This is the opening of the paragraph in question:

Verizon Wireless operates the nation’s largest 4G LTE network and largest, most reliable 3G network. The company serves nearly 96 million retail customers, including 90.4 million retail postpaid customers.

“Postpaid,” in cell-phone context, means that you use up your time and your data and they send you a bill for it. The opposite is “prepaid,” wherein you buy blocks of time in advance and get no bill. Why would they need to specify that in a press release? I’m guessing it’s because none of these Global Service Plans apply to the five and a half million Verizon customers who don’t have “plans” at all, and the investors, who are the only people who actually read these things deliberately, might think they need to be told that. Now were I in the target audience, I’d be wanting to know, for instance, what the hell 4G LTE is.

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Person of the year

In this day and age, it’s hard to take Time seriously, especially their hotly hyped Person of the Year announcement, which hasn’t meant anything to me since 2006. This year’s selection, a chap named Barack Obama, is at least reasonable given Time’s avowed criterion: the person who, “for better or for worse … has done the most to influence the events of the year.” I would argue that Mr Obama deserves it more this year than he did in 2008, when he was pretending to be a blank slate.

Ralph GillesI get into this Person of the Year business myself somewhat reluctantly, but I have a criterion of my own to push: the individual who actually performed during the preceding months the act I think is most consonant with my own personal values, without benefiting me personally. [Note: This is decidedly at odds with the Time selection, which one always has to assume is done for the benefit of Time Warner, if not necessarily for its customers.] Based on that criterion, the most deserving individual for 2012, barring something miraculous happening in the next week, is Ralph V. Gilles, president and CEO of SRT Brand and Motorsports, and senior vice president of product design for Chrysler Group LLC.

This selection was perhaps foreshadowed by this piece I wrote in October:

Bloomberg News ran a piece a week ago that indicated Fiat, in its capacity as High Overlord of Chrysler, might be contemplating building Jeeps in China, and a phrase to the effect that they “may eventually make all their models in that country,” hinting at multiple lines, was apparently interpreted as meaning that Jeep was actually moving all its production to China. Which they aren’t, as Chrysler is taking pains to point out.

Which prompted the following exchange on Twitter:

Tweets by Donald Trump and Ralph Gilles

Few things in life are as satisfying on a gut level as telling Donald Trump that he’s full of shit. My congratulations to Mr Gilles, who in addition to this feat oversaw the revival of the Viper, SRT’s V-10 powered halo car, which adds further to his own personal halo.

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You better shop around

Motown #1'sAmazon’s MP3 store was giving this package of ostensible Motown #1 hits away for next to nothing, and while there wasn’t anything here I actually needed, I figured I had to download it to see what’s in it. And I can recommend it to those who don’t already have these tracks stuffed into their music players — but not to anyone else, really.

Everything here is in stereo, which is nice; however, nothing has been remixed, which means you get the same old worn-to-a-frazzle masters that Motown has been slapping haphazardly onto CDs for a generation, complete with weird ideas of separation, audible tape slap, and in the case of “Heat Wave,” a peculiar edit that differs substantially from the 45 you remember: an extended instrumental break and an early fade (right on top of “Don’t pass up this chance / This time it’s true romance”). The Sixties material, I think, should have been presented in mono. The Seventies stuff, starting around “What’s Going On,” is decidedly better but no revelation. And the last actual #1 here is “I’ll Make Love to You” by Boyz II Men, from 1994; the gratuitous addition of a 2004 Michael McDonald cover of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” which never made the Billboard Hot 100, remains a mystery to me, unless Berry Gordy was wanting to throw a few extra cents to Valerie Simpson and the late Nickolas Ashford. And the Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell version of “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing,” credited in the tags only to Gaye, is a better tribute to Nick and Val anyway.

Speaking of tag curiosities, five of these tracks are listed with genre R&B, the rest with Pop. Then again, with prices like this — I paid less than $2 — you have to figure that Motown didn’t go out of its way to spend any money on the presentation.

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Me, I want a twelve-bar loop

Apparently this took place only because both acts were on the same label:

And let’s face it, Alvin was born to sing the blues.

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Lackanooky Valley

Population: always an odd number. Please have exact change.

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Flourishing in a subniche

View count at FIMFictionThe little counter on my user page at FIMFiction was showing this startling statistic yesterday. At least, I think it’s startling, considering (1) I started from scratch, like everyone else, but perhaps not like everyone else, I didn’t expect to rise much above that point; and (2) I have not exactly been rushing to embrace the most popular story concepts in a desperate attempt to grab an audience. (I have never once enjoyed Featured status.)

What does that number mean, anyway? From the site FAQ:

The total story views number on your profile page is actually just the sum of the most viewed chapter on each of your stories. For example, if you had a story whose highest-viewed chapter had 300 views, and another with 200 views, your Total Story Views would be 500.

In most cases, I would expect this to be Chapter 1, since most readers start there, and if they don’t like it, they don’t go on to Chapter 2.

I am decidedly uncomfortable with bragging about this, but hey, you should see what I did when I got my two millionth visitor to this place.

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