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"We can't stop here! This is Penguin Country!"
In lieu of anything from Penguin Pete today, click this link, if you dare, and prepare to read why "The Chinese Language is not Ready for the Desktop". And ponder, the horror, there's people out there who think just like me! Unless my Tyler Durden alter-ego got up and did it. I did just wake from a nap.
The best contender I have is "Seven Reasons Why Beef Is Not Ready For The Dinner Table", and even it lacks the same punch. So, Ubuntuforums user aysiu, thanks for doing my job today!
Y'know, normally for Christmas day I do a post with a bunch of links to online games and stuff. But this year, I figured that isn't nearly as much fun for readers. You know, like you didn't know where to find Flash games yourself? So this time I figure, let's dish up some original content, in the form of a few short rants about Ways Technology Ticked Me Off in 2010. Because there's no way that you could think of what Pete's going to say all by yourself. Nobody's that schizo.
People Who Complain About Weather When They Don't Have Weather
Online forums bring you in contact with people from all over the country. So you really get to appreciate how insulated and cut-off from the world some of the Southern states are in the winter, because you have to listen to them cry about their weather. And I'm not talking about actual mudslides or hurricanes, I'm talking about weather-complaining for the status value of pointing out that paradise is all you have to complain about. "It got to fifty-three in Florida last night, can you stand it, fiiiiiifty threeeeee! I had to put on a jacket! We got 0.5 centimeters of rain in Texas last night, the roads were awful!"
See, I'm in Iowa, and I'm here to tell you that the rule I've learned is that you don't even talk about your weather unless the weather made a serious attempt to kill you. As the tornado rips your house off the foundations and throws it at Nebraska like a sinner in the hands of a spited god, then you can thumb it out on your cell phone "Well, the weather's a tad brisk today!" Otherwise, please, just shut up, OK?
You want a weather story? We haven't even had anything like real weather this year, but here's a random event from last year's winter when we had, like, enough snow to bury the downtown skyscrapers: I'm sitting in shorts in the office at 3 AM and the window's open. It's like ten degrees out there, snow everywhere, driveway's been iced for so long that we gave up pouring ice melt and now when we come home, we just drive the car fast and charge the driveway and hope we can slide uphill into the garage. But there's more snow coming, and no matter how cold it gets, the humidity and air pressure when a storm front is pushing in makes you feel like you're in hell for about thirty minutes, so I have to open the window and let the cold arctic air blast on me just to keep breathing while I try to work.
Nice peaceful January night, whole house asleep except me and the ticking of my keyboard, and suddenly right outside the window something goes BLANG! BALALALALALALALA...!!! This goes on and on, a foot from my face, it's pitch black out there, it is the godawfulest loud noise ever, like I don't even know, is a Sherman tank going to crash through the wall, is the Terminator going to pop up in the window, what? I'm terrified out of my mind because of the suddenness and loudness of it and the adrenal is kicking in and my brain is screaming "fight!" but I can't see anything. It turns out to be an icicle that's about four feet long and as big around as my arm, which has picked this random moment to fall off the edge of the roof and lodge itself straight into the outdoor air conditioning unit, which is just below my window. With the fan running, trying to either chew the icicle down to size or break the fan, but the fan is winning this one.
There, that's just one moment of life where there's real weather. Right after this, it did one of those famous rain/sleet/snow mixes we get where it's basically unflavored 7-11 Slurpy falling out of the sky. You see me complaining about this? It has to dip below twenty degrees before I put on anything more than jeans and a Tshirt, that's how well-adjusted I am. And I know better than to grouse about that online, because some guy in Canada can shoot back, "Aw, yah big puss, you don't know what it's like to live where it's really cold!" and he's right - I don't.
Now a short one. Minecraft, I've blogged about it before, and here it is Christmas and I'm still playing the damned thing. I even quit for two weeks and came back, like falling off the wagon. I've had game addictions before, but this is the first time where it's gone beyond being fun any more and I just slump to the computer to feed the monkey. It's like having a job. I actually hear myself thinking things like, "I have got to finish the glass roof on my tree-farm right now, and then I can take a break."
Any parents out there getting this? You ask your kid to tell you about school, and they'll go "We watched a video in so-and-so's class, and then we watched a movie in another class, and then we watched CNN's KidsNews in Current Events..." All day long, they watch videos. Every now and then, I'm asking "Do they still use books any more in school?" Oh, yeah, sometimes.
You know, it's wonderful we have instant digital video technology in the schools, far be it from me to be a Luddite and criticize that, but you education people do know that we get YouTube right here at home, right? You know your kids can get CNN StudentNews right here? We used to have to yell at the kids "Turn off that TV and do your homework!" and now TV is homework. You know, kids will watch the exact same videos on YouTube from home voluntarily, along with a parent there to explain things to them one on one and a shelf full of books to read or be read to, too. It's just hard for me to see kids going to school at taxpayer expense, to get less education than they get at home for free, and not start to wonder if something's wrong. Are they still called teachers anymore, or do they just have somebody to turn on the video player?
My search rankings may go up soon, because I just discovered from Google Webmaster Tools that they still like for you to submit a sitemap. Yes, no kidding! Fire up the Franklin stove and hitch up the horse and buggy, grampaw! Hey, should I change the site design back to the 1998 web-safe color palette with all the Jello shades of crappy green while I'm at it? I'd just like to know why we need sitemaps for the world's biggest search engine to find all the pages on my site, when wget doesn't need one to spider my site from the command line?
The difference between kids and grownups online is that grownups are in a hurry.
That's really the most fundamental nut of the matter right there. That's why there are so many arguments online. Because the Internet hides your age - or at least most forum nicks do - and you have a generation gap where really both parties would see eye to eye more, were it not for the temporal economy. Kids basically have days and days of time to waste, they're just begging to fill the hours. A 16-year-old during school vacations has the schedule of a potted plant. Too young to drive, too old to enjoy losing their brain in an all-day cartoon binge, too poor to afford better video games. With adults, it's a wonder you hear from them at all.
So I see some online question posted with one of those endlessly idle speculations posted by some tot on Slashdot, asking some vapid inanity like "I caught my sister using a dowsing rod. She said she can find phone lines with it. Is there really anything to this dowsing stuff?"
Now this is as pointless an opening to a discussion as when your toddler asks "Why don't trees fly?", but what the heck, you saw it and it only takes a minute to answer, right? So you post back, "Yeah, it's bunk. Nobody's ever proven that it does anything." For another adult, that answer is fine. But we're talking about a grounded 15-year-old in a town with a population of twelve. On a Saturday. He wants details, and he's just discovered coffee, so he's ready to go until at least four AM on Monday.
To you, it's social interaction. To him, it's a sport. In his head, Marv Albert is narrating his every move.
Citations? Examinations? Cross-examinations? Devil's advocate? Corollaries? Is there a white paper on this? Does OSHA have an MSDS on it? He heard in his Social Studies class that so and so and such and such, what about that? And by then you're just "No, no, yes, no, goddamnit just read the Wikipedia entry like anybody else!" What? You elitist! "Hey, you posted here asking the opinion of random strangers on the Internet; I am a random stranger on the Internet and that was my answer!" But no, they weren't looking for answers. They have to nail this thing down, dammit. It's making them bite the insides of their cheek and pick the scab over their blackhead, they're sketching on it so hard. The Wikipedia page doesn't really come out and say "This is bunk! Quit wasting your time!" because, duh, it's written by grounded 15-year-olds who think that it's more important to keep an open mind about any kind of fringe science on the off-chance that this is one time when a thousand years of established science will be wrong.
I swear to God, I am never answering another question on the Internet as long as I live. Even if it's just asking the day of the week. "It's Saturday!" "Ah ah ah, you didn't ask what time zone I'm in; I caught you being nationalist! And what if I'm Jewish, you're not anti-Semitic, are you? So what day is it on the Israeli lunar calendar? Besides, can you really stand behind Plato's allegorical cave and assert that you know what day of the week it really is? What if the calender is a vast right-wing conspiracy?"
Or here, I'll just start posting this in response:
Because you know anybody that bored has dishes in the sink at the moment. Especially the Foul Bachelor Frogs out there. And it's the perfect motivator! You wouldn't let down Batman, would you?
On a side note... This just happens to be post #666! Just in time for Halloween.
Here are a few scenes that will at first sound common to anybody's standard of science fiction practice, but I've altered them so that they reflect what the real universe would be like. Isn't that peachy of me?
"Remarkable! These Rovorgians look just like humans, except they have blue skin and forked noses!"
"Actually, Captain, those are the boys from engineering. They thought they'd put on some make-up and have a bit of fun with you. Real aliens come from dozens of lightyears away, having evolved on planets with completely different biomes, so it would be impossible to have a coincidence where they resembled humans in any way at all."
"What is the Seguzians religion? I expect they are an entire race of warriors modeled after the Earth Japanese Shinto religion?"
"That's a pretty stupid question. There are about four major denominations of religion on Seguzia and hundreds of minor subdivisions, not including those who are agnostic, atheist, or weak of faith. Only a small fraction of them are warriors at all. In fact, you might want to sit down for this one, but they find it easier to manage the planet by subdividing it into a whole bunch of smaller nations, rather than having one world government. Exactly like you'd expect from any developed society."
"Our starship is stranded until we find a planet close by where we can mine some Hijixian crystals!"
"Will you stop being a drama queen and punch 'hijixian crystal' into the replicator already? That'll be enough to get us home. And when we do, we're court-marshalling the logistics engineer who sent us into deep space without a back-up fuel supply."
"Perhaps the aliens came for our Earth-women."
"No, actually, since the aliens are hideously abominable to us, we look equally repulsive to them, and sex with our females would be no more appealing to them than sex with a squid would be to us."
"Of course, our human emotions must be confusing to an android such as you who cannot experience them."
"Uh, if you're done being such a condescending smartass, I'll point out that I have a functional IQ the equivalent of a 1000, hundreds of terabytes of memory at my disposal, and full programming in every facet of human knowledge available. Your primal monkey feelings are no more a challenge for me to know and anticipate any more than the mating habits of salmon."
"Any luck that this is a class-H planet capable of sustaining human life?"
"You ask that every time. No, even though plenty of other life forms find the place to be perfectly cozy, it's gravity is nowhere near 9.8 meters per second ^2, its ambient temperature isn't close to 70 degrees F, its atmosphere doesn't just happen to have the exact components needed to make it safe for humans to breathe, and in any case, it's a planet, not a basketball, so it has different climates and biomes all over it just like any other planet, including Earth!"
"Hi, we're from the future! We're here to stop the assassination of your president!"
"Bullshit! In the first place, need I point out that you speak my language perfectly even down to my regional accent? Then you have clothes similar to mine, though you didn't bother to dress for my exact period instead of that cheap spandex jumpsuit of yours. You have no protection from germs of our time so you would have to be currently dying of airborne diseases that your immune system has never been exposed to. And finally, you seem overly familiar with our local customs and culture, not to mention our system of government, whereas if you were really telling the truth, you'd be as out of place in my time as I would be if I went back to ancient Egypt on a mission to rescue King Tut."
"Did the four-person rebel force infiltrate the base of the galactic overlord?"
"Uh, no. The suicide mission you sent them on turned out to be, what a surprise, suicidal. Might have something to do with the thousands of highly-trained guards who are armored like tanks and armed like a walking munitions factory, against your four kids wearing leisure suits and carrying pistols. They were greasy spots on the deck before they even made it to the gate."
"Prepare for light speed! Warp factor seven!"
"Very funny, captain, but we still have plain old regular physics in our everyday Einsteinian universe. Who's up for a sixteen-year chess tournament en route?"
A parody of the infographic meme going around the web lately. Please feel free to copy and share around the world (don't worry, it has my URL in the corner). Post it on 4chan, troll Conservapedia, critique it on Digg!