Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Monday, March 30, 2009

Ode to the Comment-o-sphere from a Grizzled Blog Pioneer

Time was, a man staked out a plot of web-land, set down all his wordly possessions, and started writin' a blog. And well, sooner 'r later he'd write a post that some gal 'r fella really took a shine to. And that gal, she'd be so excited she'd write a comment right on that there blog's little corner of web-land. And some other fella'd read that comment and he'd be darn near tears he'd be so eager to contribute somethin' about the post, 'r maybe even about the other comment, that he'd comment 's well. And sooner 'r later you had a little ecosystem, bubblin' right there in that comment section. Sometimes things'd get real heated between commenters, and we used to call it a Flame War.

'Course now the comment section of the blogs is a ghost town. Boarded up server space, empty comment boxes. Tumbleweed could float along fir miles without hittin' a comment. Times've changed, I 'spose. Commentin's done on that there Google Reader these days. I think it's hard to keep track of, it's no fun, and most important it lacks that personal touch we had in the blog comments. How'd we let this Great Migration happen? I guess it just started slow and then one day we just noticed all the comments were gone. That's what them city slickers call "progress," I reckon. Don't seem any better to me.

I guess I'm just a washed up old-timer, but every day I wake up, take in the Lord's glorious sunshine, and check them there comments, hopin' against hope that a little miracle has been dropped into the comments section of my little slice of web heaven. I'm still waitin'...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tragedy in Buenos Aires

BUENOS AIRES (AP) - March 18, 2009 - In an international incident sure to spark tensions across the equator, American tourist Charles Frankenson (pictured at left with wife Annie) strangled an attractive Argentinian couple to death near Buenos Aires´s Plaza Dorrego in the San Telmo district.
Asked to explain himself later while in police custody, Frankenson cried, ¨I JUST WANTED THEM TO DANCE THE TANGO! IT´S A MEME! THEY WERE SO ARGENTINIAN AND ATTRACTIVE AND WELL-DRESSED WHY COULDN´T THEY JUST DANCE ONE FUCKING TANGO! I´ve been in this city for five days and I haven´t seen any of the memes I came here to see! The women are sipping Coca Light instead of wine, the steak came with cream sauce instead of in its own juices, there hasn´t been a single protest- hell there hasn´t even been a fucking soccer game for these energetic brown-skinned people to scream about! I was heading back to Omaha tomorrow - I just snapped!!!!¨
Asked to comment on the matter, President Barack Obama tentatively defended his countryman, telling reporters ¨Now look. Let´s wait until we have all the facts before we jump to any conclusions. My aides tell me that Mr. Frankenson was very hot and had not drank any water because he didn´t know the word for ´water´in Spanish and did not want to suffer the awkwardness of pointing to the water and being asked whether he wanted it ´with gas´or not and not really getting what the difference was. And you know, I myself was pretty miffed when I went to Rome on the one day the guards at the Vatican were getting their crazy uniforms laundered and wore standard military attire instead. So I think a little sympathy is in order here for Mr. Frankenson.¨President Obama then turned to an aide and yelled, ¨Make sure those damned guards are wearing the uniforms when I´m in Rome next time! I´m the fucking leader of the free world- I think I deserve some fucking silly uniforms. Jesus¨

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Belly of the Beast

So I went on a pub crawl last night and met new friends and then all today I have been outside doing outdoorsy things in Buenos Aires like walking around, touring the beautiful cemetery in Recoleta, getting a tan, admiring the fashionable olive-skinned beautiful Argentians in the cafes. ¨This is life!¨ I think to myself.

But as happens when there is a lull in one´s day, one´s mind starts to wander. Specifically, it starts to wander toward the internet. ¨Come on, Dan - it can´t hurt to check your email. And if a couple web sites slip in there who´s really hurt? But I draw the line at Google Reader.¨ I tried to resist the temptation, but it was just too strong. So I tentatively headed to the nearby internet cafe.

I walked in. I saw a few fashionable young Europeans sitting near the door. ¨This won´t be so bad,¨I thought. I went to the attendant´s table. I requested a computer. ¨Numero cuatro¨ I was told. I began to walk over to the computer. I looked up. Sitting at the next computer over was the fattest, palest, wormsiest, ugly glassesiest American I´ve ever had the misfortune of laying my eyes upon. ¨This is not a good sign,¨ I thought. But I sat down anyway. ¨I´m going to do this, and it´s going to be fine. On my terms. No lingering on blogs and news sites for hours. In - and out.¨ So I opened my mail, and there wasn´t much to see. And I Wikipediaed √Čva Peron because I´d just seen her grave. ¨This is harmless. I´m in total control.¨

But just as that thought enters my head I look over at the obese pasty wormsy American´s computer. And staring back at me is a nightmarish scene of indescribable horror. This is a rough - it really doesn´t do it justice - approximation of how this scene I am about to recount looked through my eyes. On this man´s Internet Explorer were tabs as far as the eye can see. He had them stacked in three rows - I didn´t even know rows were possible. I scan the labels on the tabs: Talking Points Memo, Huffington Post, Marginal Revolution, The New Republic, Salon, Slate... ¨Oh dear God, I´m in trouble. OK. Stay calm. You can handle this. Just refocus on your core sites and you´ll get through this thing.¨ I took a deep breath. I was about to return to the part in the Wikipedia page discussing the musical Evita when this battle of wills took a dramatic turn for the worse. I decided to look, out of curiosity, at which tab the man had open. And it was... I can barely say it... THE DRUDGE RETORT! Reading The Drudge Report is a signal of a certain level of internet addiction and general depravity. But reading The Drudge Retort - that goes beyond internet addiction and general depravity to a level of addiction and depravity where the separation between you and the Internet breaks down and the concept of a ¨real life¨ceases to exist. The Drudge Retort is a site for people who find The Drudge Report´s news to be too mainstream and uncontrarian and seek a site that caters more to internet nerds´taste. This is The Drudge Report that links to every story that questions the existence of global warming and throws a picture of a baby with a leg sticking out of its head on the front page.

At that point I just lost all of my willpower. A chain reaction of ctrl-clicks soon resulted in a collection of tabs that rivaled my neighbor´s. And that is the sorry state I find myself in at this moment. ¨Let´s go to that fun St. Patrick´s Day party at the Irish bar that girl told us about last night,¨my traveling companion says. ¨What did you say,¨I ask, ¨Geithner AIG Obama Natasha Richardson Ski Accident Bailout American Idol Rigged Bernanke Al Franken Recount? Yes that sounds fantastic, let´s do that.¨

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Vienna, 1945

(Jakov, an Austrian Jew, returns to Vienna after having been at Dachau Concentration Camp for 3 years, to reunite with his old Christian friend Hans)

Hans: Hey Jakov, how was Dachau?

Jakov: Hans, it was terrible. Grueling labor, no food, the constant threat of death. But at least I had a girlfriend - her name was Anna, and she had beautiful brown hair.

Hans (to their other friend): Oh sure, he goes to camp and now he says he has a girlfriend. How do we know that`s true? You probably told the other campers that you had a girlfriend in Vienna.

Jakov (sheepish): No comment...

Monday, March 09, 2009

On Torture

With all this talk of Obama stopping America's torture practices, I got to thinking about some of the worst tortures out there. Of course there are physically excruciating tortures like The Rack, etc. fine those would be awful. But then I got to thinking about the psychological tortures. The Sensory Deprivation Chamber would probably be the worst one imaginable. You can't see, you can't move, you can't hear, you can't smell, you can't taste, you can't touch. It's just you and blackness and your thoughts. I couldn't handle it, though perhaps others might respond differently as i'll get to in a second:

Me (inner monologue): This isn't so bad... (beat).... AHHHHHH... Fuck i can't even hear myself scream.... am I even screaming? I can't tell anymore... This is it.. I didn't even watch one episode of The Sopranos- oh yeah The Sarah Silverman program good idea Dan watch that first... I read about The Sopranos and its commentary/influence on American society in Frank Rich columns... Oh god, stop deluding yourself Dan you know that doesn't count... AHHHHH... nothing... I am going to die...

Rich (inner monologue): Oh cool this peace and quiet is a great opportunity for some organizational activities in my life that I have been putting off for the last week. Let's see, I just ate at CraftSteak, and it was tasty but not worth the price; have to add that to EatRichly.com under New American Cuisine. Also, with the baseball season coming up, I have to look into what ESPN.com and SI are saying about CC Sabathia for my fantasy team now that he's moved to the National League. Oh shit, are they taking me out of here? But I haven't even figured out my color-coding scheme for organizing Google Reader shares by subject!