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September 16, 2013

Breaking Bad SPOILER (not really)

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September 10, 2013

The Internet Must Go

I wouldn’t have thought that Net Neutrality would be a particular rich vein for humor. But I was wrong. The Internet Must Die is a Colbert-style satire, with many of the heroes of the Open Internet in it.

 


A court yesterday heard arguments about whether the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules [pdf] should be permitted to stand. Harold Feld does his usual superlative job of explaining in depth.

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August 23, 2013

Game of Thrones, Season 4 Episode1 [NO SPOILERS]

Valyrian steel spun sparks from the iron shield emblazoned with a red sun pierced by a golden spear. Rhaegar Targaryan pivoted left with the blow, causing the sword to rebound to the earth. Victarion felt his wrists twist with the strain, which only caused him to grasp the mighty two-handed sword more firmly.

As he pulled the tip from the loam it had pierced, the keen-edged weapon shed soil the way his wife had shed tears the day Tommen Baratheon, Lord Paramount of the Westerlands, had thrown their daughter Janna into the Karhold where she vanished beneath the waves without having time to scream for help or mercy. On that day a silence had descended between Victarion and his wife, broken only by the most necessary of exchanges.

His memories must have slowed him, for Rhaegar was now upon him, his double-bladed battle axe carving Victarion’s arm from his elbow as cleanly as a butcher preparing a lamb for his lord’s name day. The blood pulsed red-black from what remained of his limb. “Send a white raven to my wife Doreah,” he said with what breath remained.

“This I shall do,” Rhaegar promised as Victarion slumped to the ground. “But first I must ask you…”

“Be quick, for I shall not be quick for long.”

“I’ll do my best. But I’m just wondering why you have a shield emblazoned with a red sun and a golden spear.”

“Why wouldn’t I?”

“Because, unless I’m very much mistaken, you are a Greyjoy, and the Greyjoy sigil is a golden kraken upon a black field.”

“That can’t be right. I’m definitely a Greyjoy,” said Victarion. “But I’m pretty sure the Greyjoy sigil is that sun and spear rigamarole. I remember thinking it looks like someone eating a pancake with a chopstick.”

“No, that’s House Martell. I’m right about this. Trust me.”

“Really? I bought it from Petyr Baelish. I definitely told him I was a Greyjoy.”

A crooked smile passed over Rhaegar’s face. Victarion shrugged, sending waves of pain down his frayed arm.

“Ok, if you’re so smart,” said the dying warrior, “which is your sigil, Targaryan?”

Rhaegar did not have to think before responding to the challenge. “Three black dogs on a dark yellow background. Our motto is ‘Cut us and you will cry.’”

“Hah! That’s the Cleagne sigil. And the motto belongs to the House Seaworth,.”

“No, I’m pretty sure Targaryan is the three dogs. And I never even heard of the House Seaworth.”

“Oh, it’s a real thing, alright. You don’t hear about Seaworth because it’s ruled by a landed knight, which doesn’t make a lot of sense.” Brightening, Victarion asked, “You know what they call that guy, Ser Davos Seaworth?”

“I have no idea.”

“The Onion Knight,” said Victarion before Rhaegar had even finished. “Wow, you really don’t know your houses!”

“You’re one to talk,” Rhaegar replied, idly kicking at Victarion’s severed arm. “Your entire backstory doesn’t make any sense.”

“The hell it doesn’t!”

“Alright then,” Rhaegar challenged the fallen knight. “Tommen Baratheon isn’t Lord Paramount of the Westerlands. Lord Paramount of the Westerlands is another name for Tywin Lannister, and Tommen Baratheon isn’t even a Lannister at all. He’s a Baratheon.”

“I thought a Baratheon was just a name, not a clan thing.”

Rhaegar burst out laughing. “Really? Really?? You thought Tommen Baratheon might be a Lannister.”

“Baratheon could be his middle name,” Victarion replied testily. “Tommen Baratheon Lannister. It could be!”

“We don’t have middle names!”

“Oh yeah? How about Tyrian Lannister the Imp?”

“What are you talking about, Victarion? ‘The Imp’ is an epithet, not a middle name.”

“‘The Imp’ is at the end. That puts ‘Lannister’ in the middle. In the middle, middle name.”

“By the Old Gods, you are an idiot. I don’t even know where to start.”

“Because you know my logic’s right.”

“You are so wrong. And even if you were right about the name — which you’re not — Tommen Baratheon is like eight years old. He wasn’t even born when your daughter Janna drowned.”

“I was pretty sure it was him.”

“I’m pretty sure not. And another thing, Janna wasn’t your daughter. She was actually the sister of Mace Tyrell, who grew up and married Ser Jon Fossoway.”

“Ah, to learn that she survived the waves and lived to the age of ripeness eases my passing. Thank you, sir.”

“You’re not listening. Jenna wasn’t your daughter. Couldn’t have been. She wasn’t killed by a boy who wasn’t even born yet. And the sea that you say she drowned in — Karhold — is actually a castle. It’s not even particularly close to water. And, sorry to break this to you, but Doreah isn’t your wife. She was just a handmaiden to Daenerys Targaryen.”

“The hot one with white hair and dark eyebrows?” Victarion said, perking up.

“Hey, she’s my relative, so don’t get all creepy on me. But, yeah, that’s the one. Anyway, Doreah was just a minor character who bedded Viserys, the guy with the white hair and dark eyebrows. Talk about creepy guys!”

“You got that right.”

“So, Doreah: not your wife. Right?”

“Fine. But I’ve got one for you,” Victarion said, his strength fleeing him like his blood seeping into the patient earth.

“What is it?”

“Fun fact: Rhaegar Targaryan was killed in Robert’s Rebellion before this whole series began.”

“No way!”

“Way.”

“Then who am I?”

“How the hell should I know? Why don’t you do what everyone else does? Keep a tab open to Google.”

With that, the might Victarion’s spirit fled. And then the hot one with the white hair and dark eyebrows strode firmly, proudly, nakedly, into her bath.

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August 11, 2013

Summer questions

Hummingbirds come to our capacious feeder, sip for a few seconds, and then leave. But why would they ever leave? Do they have something better to do?

If I set a trigger so that every time a hummingbird lands on our feeder, it plays a sound, can I then use that sound to assemble a hummingbird army? I’ll let you know.

Geese are monogamous, but can they be seduced? What would it take? I’m thinking snails would just be an insult. It’d probably take a flamingo.

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July 19, 2013

Reflections on a majestic eagle

We are on vacation at the lake house I share with my brother and sister. A bald eagle has made its home here. This morning I spotted it high in a pine tree, watching for prey. As I looked at it, it looked down at me. Our eyes caught. In that moment, I felt myself migrate into its body, and it migrate into mine. With my newly keened vision I could see myself from on high, and I realized that no one gets away with wearing a plaid shirt with plaid shorts, and at last I understood why the animals all laugh at me.


It is estimated by the the well-known scientist, Dr. Passive Voice Anonymous, that bald eagles are successful at catching prey only one in eighteen strikes. In short, from bald eagles we learn the important lesson that even they are not very good at what they do, and that a human with a rifle or even a baseball bat would be far better at being an eagle.


Benjamin Franklin, the only president of the United States who was never president [source], proposed that the turkey be the symbol of America. Thomas Jefferson objected however, arguing that “the sign and symbol of a nation so dedicated to ideals of human nature should not itself be delicious.” The two great men met to discuss the matter at a legendary dinner in the Priors Alehouse on Broad Street in Philadelphia, and emerged with a document that declared the bald eagle to be “sufficiently stringy, albeit with a certain gamyness not unpleasant to the tooth” to serve as the new nation’s symbol.

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July 1, 2013

Repeal the Internet: The MadLibs version

Here’s the MadLibs version of the Robert Samuelson paragraph about repealing the Internet. Have fun!

If I could, I would repeal                . It is the       adj          marvel of the age, but it is not — as most people imagine — a symbol of progress. Just the opposite. We would be better off without it. I grant its astonishing capabilities:        trivial example        ,      trivial example          ,     wrong example          , and much more. But the                ’s benefits are relatively modest compared with previous transformative technologies, and it brings with it a terrifying danger:                . Amid the controversy over leaks from the National Security Agency, this looms as an even bigger downside.

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I give up. Repeal everything.

Robert Samuelson has an apparently serious op-ed in the Washington Post arguing that we should “repeal the Internet.”

He says:

If I could, I would repeal the Internet. It is the technological marvel of the age, but it is not — as most people imagine — a symbol of progress. Just the opposite. We would be better off without it. I grant its astonishing capabilities: the instant access to vast amounts of information, the pleasures of YouTube and iTunes, the convenience of GPS and much more. But the Internet’s benefits are relatively modest compared with previous transformative technologies, and it brings with it a terrifying danger: cyberwar. Amid the controversy over leaks from the National Security Agency, this looms as an even bigger downside.

Excellent idea! Really well-argued! In fact, why stop there?

If I could, I would repeal the First Amendment. It is the governmental marvel of the age, but it is not — as most people imagine — a symbol of progress. Just the opposite. We would be better off without it. I grant its astonishing capabilities: the TV talking heads, the bumperstickers, the op-eds that have to overstate their case to get published, and much more. But First Amendment’s benefits are relatively modest compared with previous speech rights, and it brings with it a terrifying danger: free thinking. Amid the controversy over leaks from the National Security Agency, this looms as an even bigger downside.

Indeed,

If I could, I would repeal oxygen. It is the chemical marvel of the age, but it is not — as most people imagine — a symbol of progress. Just the opposite. We would be better off without it. I grant its astonishing capabilities: the way it’s used by cigarette lighters, the buoyancy of kiddie swim fins, the infomercials that entertain us with how it helps remove cranberry juice from table cloths. But oxygen’s benefits are relatively modest compared with previous chemicals, and it brings with it a terrifying danger: life on Earth Amid the controversy over leaks from the National Security Agency, this looms as an even bigger downside.

 


Here’s the MadLibs version of the paragraph. Create your own!

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June 30, 2013

Things to Worry About #645

See also: First World Problems

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June 23, 2013

Top, oh, 14 ways to tell you’re in a hip hotel

  1. It’s named a letter, a number, a letter or number spelled out as a word, or has some completely generic name, like “Hotel.”

  2. The entire staff at the reception desk put together weighs less than one standard American.

  3. Color in the lobby is taken as an affront to style.

  4. The minibar only has liquors you’ve never heard of, except for the beer which is Bud.

  5. Your room’s waste basket is so well-hidden that you don’t discover it until Day Three.

  6. They would rather let the shower flood the bathroom floor than put in a shower curtain or frosted door.

  7. There’s a full-length mirror in the shower.

  8. There’s a window to the outside in the shower. (Not only have I been in that hotel, but the window was frosted up to waist level. Holy sexist voyeurism, Batman!)

  9. Irregular furniture has sharp, shin-barking edges that are invisible at night.

  10. The pad of paper on the nightstand is made out of hemp and is accompanied by an old-fashioned pencil to encourage you to be authentic.

  11. The hotel restaurant (if there is one) only serves tiny, tiny food.

  12. If there is a concierge, and there probably isn’t, that person is called “city coach” or “wrangler,” or anything except “concierge.”

  13. If there is room service, the menu offers only kiddie food, but at adult prices: PB&J for $14, grilled American cheese on white bread for $18, and the mac ‘n’ cheese requires a credit check.

  14. The TV only gets ironic channels.

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May 20, 2013

The New Yorker Caption Contest is making me an embittered, broken man

My offering has once again been passed over by the cruel gods that rule the New Yorker Caption contest.

The cartoon shows Noah’s ark filled with giraffes. Noah is talking to what seems to be a young woman. (I describe it because I can’t find a unique url for it.) The selected entries are:

  1. “I wouldn’t say ‘favorite’ animal.”

  2. “Mistakes were made.”

  3. “I have trouble saying no.”

Here’s my rejected caption:

“That’s ok. Everyone has trouble with Excel at first.”

Ok, it’s not so great. But head to head against number 2 above, no?

Someday, Caption Contest, someday…!

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