Miscellany

A Note on Why the Internet Goes to Hell When It Dies

[#nevermind]

Did you Know? In 2009, Eminem tweeted proof that he scored 465,800 in Donkey Kong, making him one of the highest scorers in the world. [via Salon.com, 11 November 2017]The Internet—(no, I do not like Capitalizing the Word)—sees fit to inform me that—

In 2009, Eminem tweeted proof that he scored 465,800 in Donkey Kong, making him one of the highest scorers in the world.

(via Salon.com; #nevermind)

—and no, it is true I did not know this before; nor is it clear how I should feel about this information. No, seriously, other than the fact that some editor somewhere saw fit to include a trivial widget to tell me stuff like this, I had precisely no reason to care.

Meanwhile, something, something, and now for something completely different.   

Hey, how about this: If I blame Tom Clancy, how fucking smart are you?

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Not a Comedy Sketch (Spamtastic)

File photo by Lucy Pemoni/AP Photo.

“A spokesman for the Institute for Human Services, said people are stealing Spam because it’s easy to sell. ‘It’s quick cash for quick drug money,’ Carvalho said.”

Associated Press

There really is nothing more we could possibly add at this time; some circumstances should speak for themselves.   

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Image note: Detail of file photo by Lucy Pemoni/AP Photo.

Associated Press. “Honolulu store owners say thieves are targeting cans of Spam”. 21 October 2017.

The Detail (Devil Not Included)

A coffee cup at Terra Vista. Detail of photo by B. D. Hilling, 2013.

Be careful with this one. Via Science of Us:

This might seem like too thin a point to harp on, but it’s actually important given people’s tendencies to over-extrapolate from limited study findings: “People who are more racist are more likely to make unprincipled arguments about free speech” is a very different claim than “People who make principled arguments about free speech are more likely to be racist.” This study supports the former but doesn’t say a word about the latter, and there really are some people who are committed to certain free-speech principles regardless of the content of the speech involved. All the more reason to have these conversations in as nuanced and principled a manner as possible.

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Singal, Jesse. “Are People Who Defend Free Speech More Racist Than Those Who Do Not?” Science of Us. 8 May 2017.

What Bugs a Sith Lord (When Nature Strikes Back)

When history looks back on this period of American thought and communication, we might from our present vantage in that past to be wonder how prominently will stand out the question not of re-definition, but, rather, de-definition. Once upon a time it was enough to simply mutter and growl that transition is a noun. Detail of Bug Martini by Adam Huber, 8 March 2017. Meanwhile, pretty much any noun in the language can now be converted to a verb; simply apply the gerund form to mean, approximately, “using the [noun] as the [noun] is to be used”.

This makes sense in some cases; ’tis true enough that some words simply were as such when they arrived in our knowledge. There is a Fulghum joke in that, but it’s a regional thing, or it would be except nobody really cares. But it is, in fact true. We saw with a saw, for instance, and that is simply how the word arrived in our lifetimes.

Robert Newton Peck once explained it is always a lasso and never a lariat; you lasso with a lasso, but do not lariat with a lariat. And maybe he was wrong, but the lesson stuck. American pedantry is a thoroughly internalized empiricism.

So it goes. For the moment it suffices to blame Adam.

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Image note: Detail of Bug Martini by Adam Huber, 8 March 2017.

The One About a Spare Cerebellum

Fight: Mikasa awakens ― Detail of frame from Attack on Titan episode 6, 'The World the Girl Saw: The Struggle for Trost, Part 2'.

This is … er … a lede:

Here’s a horrifying little story to kick off your weekend: A 16-year-old girl in Japan recently had a tumor surgically removed from her ovary — and when her doctors split it open, they found a tiny brain growing inside.

Or, you know, as the headline from Science of Us explained, “Doctors Found a Tiny Second Brain Growing Inside This Woman’s Tumor”.

(more…)

A Trivial Question About Your Coffee Cup

A coffee cup at Terra Vista. Detail of photo by B. D. Hilling, 2013.

Cari Romm explains, for Science of Us, a few details about why “It’s Okay to Never Wash Your Coffee Mug”:

As Heidi Mitchell wrote in a recent Wall Street Journal column, it’s fine to never wash your mug, as long as you’re not sharing it with anybody else. Better than fine, in fact: It may actually be the most sanitary option.

There are two caveats to that statement, infectious-disease expert Jeffrey Starke, a pediatrics professor at Baylor College of Medicine, told Mitchell: One, it only applies if you’re not sharing the mug with anybody else. And two, “if you leave cream or sugar in your mug over the weekend, that can certainly cause mold to grow”―in which case, wash it out.

The bottom line, Romm suggests, is that “letting your mug live in its own filth may be a safer bet than the alternative: scrubbing it with the disgusting communal sponge in the office kitchen”.

And, yes, there is the bit about putting the sponge in the microwave, but this still begs a question.

Who says you absolutely must use a sponge?

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Romm, Cari. “It’s Okay to Never Wash Your Coffee Mug”. Science of Us. 3 November 2016.

Jeff and the Band Name

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 31 October 2016.It is a personal principle of humor that there is always a Jeff. Never mind.

I will say, however, that I know an age peer whose given name is Johnny, and one of my parents’ generation whose given name, apparently, is Jimmy. And you can damn well blame Adam for making that random slice of vignette relevant to anything under the sun.

Also, what’s the name of your next band?

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Image note: Detail of Bug Martini by Adam Huber, 31 October 2016.

The Brotherhood (Bros Before … Now, Wait a Minute!)

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 21 October 2016.This is the thing: Blame Adam.

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Image note: Detail of Bug Martini by Adam Huber, 21 October 2016.

A Note on Narrative (Gregariously Pensive)

Democratic vice presidential nominee, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, speaks at a rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at Florida International University in Miami, Saturday, 23 July 2016. (Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP Photo)

Setting aside the extraordinarily stupid headline … okay, look, Trip Gabriel explains::

The meeting of Mr. Pence, a Republican, and Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, two pensive and little-known nominees, might be the least anticipated vice-presidential debate in 40 years.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland on February 27, 2015.  (Photo: Gate Skidmore)Pensive? I’m sorry, but, really?

When Sen. Kaine was named the Democratic running mate, “gregarious” is a word that went around quite a bit. And while the two words are not specifically listed as antonymous, the one includes synonyms like affable, convivial, and outgoing, while the other matches up with absorbed, wistful, and withdrawn.

How about a show of hands among the press: How many of you just say or write whatever because the word sounds sexy or artistic or, you know, like, whatever?

This is a fun challenge for the day: Craft a narrative sentence properly describing someone as “gregariously pensive”.

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Image notes Top ― Democratic vice presidential nominee, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, speaks at a rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at Florida International University in Miami, Saturday, 23 July 2016. (Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP Photo) Right ― Indiana Governor Mike Pence speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland on February 27, 2015. (Photo: Gate Skidmore)

Gabriel, Trip. “After Trump-Clinton, Vice-Presidential Debate Isn’t Exactly ‘the Return of Elvis'”. The New York Times. 1 October 2016.

Something About Beer (Under the Influence)

So … er … ah …

HopsYou know that thing where you’re out to drinks with friends, and you’d very much like an IPA―but then the first person to order chooses an IPA, and you feel like you can’t order the same thing, because that would be weird? So you order an amber ale instead. The drinks arrive, and you unhappily sip the second-choice beer you already regret ordering.

(Dahl)

… really?

No, seriously. I … I … I mean … really?

This actually happens?

Science of UsYou know, that thing. Or maybe you don’t. It’s a semi-regular scene from my own life, anyway, and it’s also a scene from Wharton professor Jonah Berger’s new book, Invisible Influence, which is about the unseen ways the people around you shape your behavior. The beer anecdote is a brief rundown of a study conducted at a brewery by the consumer psychologists Dan Ariely and Jonathan Levav, who argue in their paper that people are highly motivated to signal their uniqueness, even when it comes to something as small and dumb as ordering a beer.

Alright, then. I just learned something.

No, really, I had no idea.

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Dahl, Melissa. “The Annoying Psychology of How Your Friends Influence the Beer You Order”. Science of Us. 9 September 2016.