Just Gopher it

There was an awful lot of Internet to be had before the World Wide Web, which dates to the early Nineties. But using it wasn’t the slightest bit intuitive, since everything needed either a properly configured terminal, a gateway from some online service, or a dedicated client. (That said, you can still get Gopher plugins for some Web browsers.)

One could argue that today’s wild and woolly Web is a step down from those halcyon days, and such an argument might begin this way:

The Internet has proven itself to be a place where any idiot can post anything he wants (I mean, look at this blog), and some other idiot will find it and agree with him. I long for a day that may never have existed in the first place, where the Internet was simply a repository of scholarly information about legitimate subjects. I look at the purity and innocence and wonderment with which my son has discovered it, and I remember my first internet searches in the library of Dublin Scioto High School in 1995. It was like finding the world’s greatest microfiche catalog.

Of course, in 1995, the Web had started to catch on, um, world-wide, a process that wasn’t even slightly accelerated by the opening of this site the following year. And, well, there were other factors:

Of course, being that I was seventeen years old in that library in 1995, my first web search ever was for “Pamela Anderson.” I then waited approximately ten minutes for a picture of her in that legendary red Baywatch bikini to load on my screen. It was a glorious day.

I may as well admit that I snagged a few pictures — GIF, of course, — from the barely raunchy Go Graphics forum on CompuServe, almost a decade earlier.

Which, in the end, proves that just having access to an encyclopedia won’t make anybody smarter. Teenaged boys will still look at pictures of girls in bikinis (or less). Old maids will still take pictures of cats. Twentysomethings living in their parents’ basements will still find ways to play RPGs. The Internet has just allowed us to be who we already were on a much grander scale. It hasn’t changed us. It’s magnified us.

Sometimes I think it’s engulfed us.


Nor does she sweat

Every time I find myself thinking I might be just a little bit strange, I stumble across something like this subreddit devoted to Taylor Swift’s armpits.

The person who created the subreddit has now departed, but now that the Daily Dot has run an article about it, said founder is now speaking up:

Just for a bit of background the sub was created after someone posted a photo of Taylor in /r/taylorswift that had a nice shot of her armpit. I made a comment about how it looked nice and was subsequently banned for “being a creep is not tolerated” So I figured why not make a sub. I posted all the original links (which is why for the first few months of posted they are all by [Deleted] as well) and advertised the sub in relevant other posts. And so the sub grew. I routinely delete my reddit account and start a new one so as to not allow too much info to be displayed on one account.

Since when is “being a creep” not tolerated on reddit? There are some places where it’s mandatory.

And it’s not like this is the only body part of hers that has overly zealous fans: as one commenter noted, “Pretty much every (visible) part of Tay has a sub devoted to it!”

I realize that bringing this up without an actual sample of the wares is an unreasonable thing to do, so here’s a nicely revealing shot from the 2014 AMAs:

Taylor Swift at the American Music Awards

I didn’t check to see which other Swift-related subs might have the same picture. I did fish this one out of the archives, in which she gives the impression that she knows you’re looking under her shoulder and isn’t going to let you:

Taylor Swift in a 2009 London photoshoot

But I do try to keep all my obsessions balanced, so here’s a bona fide, ponified Tay.

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When the brain hurts

Depressed? “Buck up,” they say. “Smile a little.”

They are, of course, full of crap.

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Beyond small government

Behold nonexistent government:

Delaware’s smallest town has a big problem.

Hartly, with a population of 74, has no functioning government. There’s no one to pay the bills, collect taxes, enforce codes, or apply for state aid.

Taxes for Delaware’s tiniest incorporated town haven’t been collected in at least two years and the town is thousands of dollars in debt. How much, exactly, is anybody’s guess.

The situation has left it in a precarious position with only two clear options: reform the government, which may not even be possible, or dissolve the charter and get swallowed up by Kent County.

Part of that debt was incurred by extralegal means:

Much of the town’s debt could be repaid if former Hartly treasurer Richard Casson Jr. repaid his debts to the town. Casson was sentenced to one year in jail in 2004 for embezzling $89,000 over a three-year period. Part of the sentencing required him to repay the town. To date, he’s only reimbursed $5,390, according to the state prosecutor’s office.

I’m wondering if this statistic might mean something:

The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 81.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 59.4 males.

This is tantalizingly close to Jan Berry’s desired ratio. Unfortunately, Hartly is hard by the Maryland border, away from the ocean, so there’s no surfing.

(Via Fark.)


Into the Valley of Death

I blame Lance Thomas:

The Oklahoma City Thunder has acquired guard Dion Waiters from the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Oklahoma City’s protected 2015 first-round pick and as part of the transaction, Lance Thomas was sent to the New York Knicks, Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti announced today.

Included in the deal, the Knicks acquired forward Lou Amundson and center Alex Kirk from the Cavaliers in exchange for guards Iman Shumpert and JR Smith.

And there you have it. Thomas was unavailable, Waiters hasn’t cleared medical, and the Thunder were under the gun from the opening tip.

Well, it sounds nicer than what really happened, which was a complete and utter inability to put the ball in the net, even on point-blank shots. At halftime, OKC had made 14 of 50 shots (28 percent!?) and the Warriors were up by 20 points. Things did not improve over the next quarter and a half, and Scott Brooks saw it was a lost cause. Golden State took a little longer to pull their starters — they left Harrison Barnes in to collect a season-high 23 points — but by the 4:00 mark we were pretty close to proper garbage time. Make that blowout time: Golden State 117, Oklahoma City 91.

Or maybe there was something else about Barnes’ 23 points: Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 22 in a 5-21 brickfest. Sub-Phil Jackson psy-war, but subtle enough. Anthony Morrow had 17 from the bench by hitting more than half his shots; Kevin Durant scored 14 by hitting three of 16. Bright spots: Steven Adams with 10 points and nine boards; Kendrick Perkins picked up six points and six rebounds in eight minutes. But that was pretty much it for the Thunder.

And besides, all you really need to know here is this: Klay Thompson, all by his lonesome, went on a 13-0 run in the first quarter. He cooled later on, finishing with 19, but the luxury of a shooting guard who can shoot is still sort of a novelty in PrestiLand. Thompson’s joined-at-the-hip wingmate, Stephen Curry, also chunked in 19; Justin Holiday put up 12 for the reserves.

So the Warriors go up 3-0, enough to win the season series. (There’s one more, in OKC, but … meh.) If there’s a lesson here, it’s that 59 rebounds don’t matter if you can’t put the ball in the cylinder once in a while, and 30 makes out of 98 tries (5-28 from long distance) is below any reasonable definition of “once in a while.”


I didn’t 4C this

Still, I should have guessed that the pitch would be something like this:

Jonathon Ramsey of Autoblog said it best:

We haven’t watched a car ad with this much European panache in quite some time — and let us be clear, we’re using the phrase “European panache” in its marketing sense, which is code for “women in lingerie.”

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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Not quite a frolic

I wish this guy well, but I’m not especially optimistic about the prospects:

We all want friends that we can bare all to.

But for one man in Southmoor, he’s looking for that in a more literal sense.

Avid naturist John Weston, 72, is hoping that in 2015, he can some forge firm friendships with fellow enthusiasts.

He had been part of a naturist society but stopped going following the death of his wife Margaret. However, after watching the Channel Four documentary The Naked Village last month, he has been inspired to get back out there and make an appeal for fellow nudists to socialise with.

However, he’s not in a position to go seeking them out himself:

Mr Weston, who has difficulties in walking due to thrombosis, wants to establish a small community of dedicated nudists to come around his house in Southmoor, and enjoy being naked together.

Mr Weston said: “It would be great to have people to be naked with and chat to. We could go in the garden now I’ve got the gazebo.”

Note to self: Get quotes for gazebo construction.

(Via nudiarist.)


Surrounded by morons

Nicole questions whether she can remain committed to tossing up the occasional bon mot for our reading and dancing pleasure:

I’m not sure I’m going to keep up with this blog on a steady basis. At least for the next few months. I find that I have lost things to say that anyone would find interesting. I’m increasingly less hopeful for a return to a semblance of sanity in the general populace and there’s really no point in discussing anything with people who already have the narrative they want to believe set in their heads. If you are so scared of life that you have to cling to your world view despite proven facts, then I don’t need to waste time talking to you. I don’t even mean convincing anyone to change their minds about anything. Every discussion doesn’t have to end with both parties agreeing. Simply that it’s a waste of time and breath to try to discuss anything with someone who won’t admit what is real and proven and what isn’t. Belief isn’t the issue for me either. Believe all you want to in things that can’t be proven or disproven. Faith is a personal matter and I hold nothing against you for any faith or belief you have. But when you insist that things are true that patently aren’t, I just don’t see the point in talking to you. Willful ignorance is worse than honest ignorance. Ignorance in pursuit of a political goal is detestable.

That latter reminds me of this Upton Sinclair observation: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” Academic and political grantsmanship — like Janus, a single organism with two faces — demands that you toe the line or not get paid. Most people in this predicament follow the path of least resistance.

Still, frustration with the human race affects different people in different ways. It evidently makes Nicole want to go somewhere else where she won’t encounter all these farging jerks. Me, I’m more the stay-the-course kind of person, although it helps that I’m older than dirt and therefore can remember times when the conventional wisdom was 180 degrees — well, 150 to 210 — away from what it is now, and can remind people of it when necessary. This isn’t a better position, morally or otherwise, but it’s the one that’s most compatible with what’s inside me: I was a didact when didacticism wasn’t cool.


Not so awfully slick

So this shows up on Facebook:

Johnson's Dance Wax

It’s been decades since I even thought about this stuff: the packaging here suggests late 1950s or early 1960s. And, well, you have to figure that if it’s wax, S. C. Johnson & Son would be selling at some point. The current product line doesn’t seem to include dance wax, which was probably rendered superfluous by urethane coatings, though they do still sell the long-established Glo-Coat floor wax, which, so far as I can tell, is not suitable as a dessert topping.

Once in a while some sort of dance wax shows up for sale:

The store had several large cans of Golden Star Powdered Dancing Wax (“For all Dancing Floors … Sprinkle the wax lightly over the floor before the dance and the feet of the dancers will do the rest. Do not use too much.”). No UPC on the can, no zip, the given address “North Kansas City 16, Mo.” Golden Star Polish, the manufacturer of Golden Star Powdered Dancing Wax, still exists, kicking out mops and mop frames. To dance with. I have no idea how old this can is, or when dance wax took off as a packaged product. I found a 1907 dance wax can for sale on eBay. More recently, I eyeballed some swing kids on a web-based “BBS” mewling about people using dance wax and the ensuing ass-landings/litigation. It doesn’t taste that great, either.

For what it’s worth, Golden Star eventually moved across the state line into Kansas.

If you really, truly must have dance wax today, you can get it from Triple Crown, an Omaha-based manufacturer of shuffleboard supplies. (Which makes sense, right?)


Strange search-engine queries (466)

Why, yes, this feature has been going on for a long, long time, as the number implies. (Here’s the first episode.) So long as people hunt down weird stuff, I may as well reveal it.

will ford bring back the probe:  Not even for you, sweet cheeks.

reggie jackson flin flon:  What, is the D-League expanding into Manitoba?

susanna hoffs shower scene:  Good heavens, someone hasn’t seen The Allnighter.

functions of hold in mazda premacy:  Dear automakers: You may as well quit printing up those expensive owner’s manuals, since nobody is even looking at them.

www.whaddem porno .com:  Whad ya talkin bout?

mazda 6 5 speed automatic gearbox faults:  Unless I miss my guess, you’re already looking at one.

one is never too old to yearn meaning:  Some are, however, too dumb to comprehend even the simplest expressions.

I will drink the wine while it is warm, meaning:  You’re never too old to yearn.

what vehicles have cd4e transmission:  Did you try Wikipedia? (Of course not.)

parella lewis breasts:  Typically, two, situated side-by-side.

illuminatium page 57:  Visit your local Fnord dealer for complete details.

hong call miss glass of mr pibb theory:  Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.


A little slow on the meme there

I found this floating around a Facebook page I am alleged to have liked:

Attempted meme: Bought a penis enhancement device on eBay, bastards sent me a magnifying glass

Regular readers will know that something like this has already happened, though it happened some place other than eBay.

And is embiggenment truly an enhancement? (I suspect all the guys, and perhaps some of the girls, are nodding Yes.)


Don’t sing with your mouth full

Last night, I was stocking up on $5 MP3 albums from Amazon — a couple of which, admittedly, could be had on CD for $4.99 — and this scurrilous tune was found in the downloads:

I have no idea how old this track is, though it has to be from before 2005; Dr. Demento has played it once. Composition is credited to “Kaniger,” so this must be Marty Kaniger and the other members of Big Daddy, who have a sort of ad hoc compilation called Cruisin’ Through the Rhino Years, stuff ostensibly recorded for that label, though obviously “It’s Hard to Say I Love You” came out on Muff-Tone (MT-069, of course). The B-side? Don’t ask.

Incidentally, this is hardly the first song on this particular topic, though arguably the most famous one in the post-78 rpm era was almost immediately banned once its subject heard it.

(You might not want to play these in the company of people who are easily offended.)

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Nobody saw it

One institution apparently not doing so well these days is the American motion-picture theater, with the butts/seats ratio in decline:

The next time you’re at the movies, look around — does there seem to be more empty seats than they’re [sic] used to be? Your eyes aren’t lying, as we just left one of the worst years for movie theater attendance since 1995. That is the year of Waterworld and Showgirls, so you know it’s bad.

Bad films, yes; bad box-office performers, only moderately so. Showgirls made back $37 million of its $45-million budget; Waterworld, which cost about $175 million, earned $88 million in the States, but twice as much overseas, enough to balance the books.

You want a box-office bomb? Try Cutthroat Island, with Matthew Modine as the dull-witted cabin boy to pirate captain Geena Davis. It cost just under $100 million to make, and has yet to clear $20 million in revenue.

North America had its lowest number of folks heading to the movies in two decades in 2014, reports the Hollywood Reporter, citing about 1.2 billion consumers who purchased movie tickets between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31.

I contributed, I suppose, to that dismal performance, having attended exactly one film last year; everything else I saw was either DVD or over the Net.

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The personal gets more political

We have thrown in the towel, says Francis W. Porretto:

Time was, the American mantra was “Mind your own BLEEP!ing business.” It’s been years since that was the case. These days, it’s “There oughta be a law.” The shift in attitudes could hardly be more dramatic.

The evidence is everywhere. Just one example: What’s the Republican slogan about ObamaCare? “Repeal and Replace.” Why “replace?” Why not simply repeal the monstrosity and let people make their own decisions about how to pay for medical products and services, as free people once did? Too simple? Too easy to measure against a standard for achievement? Not “compassionate” enough?

Actually, since government interference in the healthcare market is a major factor in the ridiculous pricing of healthcare services these days, rolling back the ACA would not accomplish the presumed desideratum of making this stuff affordable; they’d also have to scrap, or radically redesign, Medicare as well. This isn’t happening, and probably won’t be until Logan’s Run is mandated.

But there’s no arguing with this:

Stop kidding yourself. Politicians worship political power. They want politics involved in everything. If they could get away with it, they’d pass laws about how you should sit on the toilet — and a hefty schedule of fines for violations. Their party alignment makes no difference whatsoever.

They’ve already passed laws about how much you can flush, which has had one obvious effect: multiple flushings for the same load, there being, in this case anyway, a limit to how much crap Americans will put up with.

Inevitably, there have been system issues as well, which should remind you of something you learned in Algebra I: the moment you change an item on one side, the equation no longer balances.

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A grade-A typo

Ben Zimmer, examining newspapers’ use of a common synonym for excreta, turned up this presumed typographical error in the San Jose Evening News for the 18th of May, 1916:

Clip from San Jose paper 1916: Austrian Construction Engineer on Roanoke Perished When Shit Went Down

Isn’t that when this sort of thing usually happens?

Well, not in this case, says Zimmer: “Go down in the sense of “happen” is dated to 1946 by OED and the slang dictionaries,” thirty years too late to have made the San Jose paper.

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Down the road from 90210

After graduating from Sarah Lawrence, Gabrielle Carteris did things like ABC Afterschool Specials, and in 1990, signed on to the new Fox series Beverly Hills, 90210 as demure but passionate Andrea Zuckerman, trying to act so nonchalant in the presence of heartthrob Brandon Walsh (Jason Priestley).

Gabrielle Carteris in her carefree high school days

She stayed on 90210 for five seasons — she’d gotten married in 1992, and bore her first child two years later — though she’d return for occasional guest spots. She found lots of one-shot work, including this job that didn’t quite work out:

To be the symbol of the new 24-hour talking Internet, Motorola nominates a virtual woman named Mya, a long-legged blonde, clad in a shimmering silver business suit and displaying spunky hair and a ubiquitous telephone headset.

Her animated figure is showcased in a new 60-second television spot created for Motorola Inc., the cellular telephone and semiconductor giant that is now trying to sell software and Internet services and jazz up its image.

Carteris was hired as the voice of Mya, though the character’s appearance was not based on the appearance of the actress: Motorola’s instruction to the digital-processing house was to make Mya look as human as possible yet still be obviously artificial. The product never got more than a trial run, and was abandoned after a couple of years.

Meanwhile, Carteris was getting involved in the politics of Hollywood. In 2011 she was elected president of the Los Angeles AFTRA local; in 2013 she was elected executive VP of the merged SAG-AFTRA.

Gabrielle Carteris takes on new responsibilities

Yesterday she turned 54, which can mean only one of one thing: her first year at West Beverly Hills High School, she was twenty-nine.