Day: 2015.03.19

Literacy in the Time of Facebook

This is what it comes to.

Either Empire viewers are really, really stupid, or Facebook is.  Flip a coin.One of the underappreciated qualities of whatever excrement happens to be “trending” via social media is that we can discern a little something or other about the audience. You know, like a “Most Popular” sidebar in which we discover that for everything else going on, people would rather read about Rhianna going on vaction, or Jennifer Lawrence nude, or, hey, how about Martha Stewart having a threesome.

This is what we do with literacy.

I suppose, then, that while it is easy enough to say we shouldn’t be surprised that the season finale of a popular television series is trending, I’m not certain why the trending aspect is the fact that a finale is a two-hour episode.

But, you know, it’s Facebook, so … right.

Yeah. This is what we do with literacy.


Image note: Facebook “trending” widget, 19 March 2015, 1:49 PDT. Apparently people who didn’t watch the show need to know how long it was. Wait a minute, that doesn’t work, does it? Why would we care? Oh, dear. That means either Empire viewers are really, really stupid, or Facebook is. Flip a coin.

Morbid Humor to Bug Your Conscience

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 18 March 2015.It’s true, I have a rule that I should complain whenever a setup or punch line is so obviously answered; never presume your audience that stupid, and never oblige them to be pedantic. To the other, if the whole point is to get us laughing at infanticide, well, yeah, I can certainly cut out some wiggle room.

And, hey, since it’s really easy to hyperextend spoonerisms, at least I didn’t go with riggle womb, because that would be way too political.





Huber, Adam. “Loss Word Puzzle”. Bug Martini. 19 March 2015.

An Obvious Question with an Obvious Answer

To: Facebook casual gaming advertisers

re: Why would I want to?

There are, certainly, a few things I might say about this or that. “Won a big win”? This must be what we call the dynamic evolution of language. I’ve been learning a lot about this aspect of human communication over the last few years, from friends on the internet. And it turns out I’m some sort of old, pedantic fuddy-duddy, beacuse I have yet to understand that the language must evolve, and that means it must diminish its communicative utility. Sentence structure, proper spelling, and even basic literacy are just too oppressive for free, intelligent humanity.A Facebook advertisement cajoling users to play casual video games because their friends are.

Never mind. Inside joke. Filler material.

Look, the bottom line is that these constant adverts telling me that my friends are playing and winning your games actually discourage my participation.

And, seriously, if I want to gamble, I’ll go to a casino. If I want to play slots, I’ll consider assisted suicide instead.

But no, you’re not actually contributing to the species. Indeed, your endeavors are to its detriment.

Stupidity and Incompetence, or, What Republican Voters Want, or, Ted Cruz


Just remember that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) wants to be president. And remember that for some reason, Senate Republican leaders saw fit to give him the chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveneness. David Levitan picks it up from there. The summary, from

During his critique of NASA’s spending on earth and atmospheric sciences at a recent committee hearing, Sen. Ted Cruz made some misleading claims regarding the agency’s budgets and the science that it conducts.

• Cruz said there has been a “disproportionate increase” since 2009 in funding of earth sciences. There has been an increase — and it is larger than some other NASA areas — but spending on earth sciences is lower now as a percentage of NASA’s budget than it was in fiscal 2000. And the increase reflects an effort to restore funding that had been cut.SciCheck: Factchecking science based claims (

• Cruz also suggested that the “core mission” of NASA does not include earth sciences. In fact, studying the Earth and atmosphere has been central to NASA’s mission since its creation in 1958.

• In criticizing NASA’s spending on earth sciences, Cruz also said the agency needs to “get back to the hard sciences” — meaning space exploration and not earth and atmospheric research. The term “hard sciences” refers to fields including physics and chemistry, which are central to the research being done as part of NASA’s earth science programs.

Now, perhaps it might occur to wonder why Senate Republican leadership would put so dishonest and incompetent a person in any committee chair. And the answer is about as obvious as it can be. Remember how conservatives like to complain that government does not and cannot work?

Yeah. This is called laboring to prove the thesis.

And if it occurs to wonder why anyone would go out of their way to sabotage an entire society just to prove a petulant political thesis, we need only remind that this is what your conservative neighbors want. This is what they vote for. Stupidity and incompetence are of great value in the Republican Party, right now, since they have nothing left but to try to wreck the place just so they can thump their chests and boast about being right all along, that government cannot and does not work.


Levitan, David. “Cruz Distorts NASA’s Mission, Budget”. 18 March 2015.