Wacky Hijinx

I usually cringe listening to prank call comedy, which seems to be a dominant form of humour these days, at least if you listen to net.comedy streams much. Easy, nasty funny, I guess, which is what folks seem to like.
Me, I’ve only made maybe two prank calls in my life. The last one was about a decade ago, with my buddy Rick, who died after the Bali bombing last year, and even then we were already way way too old for that sort of thing. When our random target *69’d us and yelled incoherently, we freaked out and left for the bar, like the weenerdogs we were. It was unforgiveably stupid, but it was a marvellous thing at the time. We took a certain pride in not acting our age. I still do.

Dmitri’s Taxidermy Service : Yes, hello?
Rick : I need taxidermy. Do you stuff anything?
DTS : What you mean, anything?
Rick : Do you stuff anything?
DTS : Yes, animals, many animals.
Rick : A donkey? Would you stuff a donkey?
DTS : Donkey? Like horse? Very big, very expensive.
Rick : But you can stuff my ass?
DTS : Donkey?
DTS : *click*
5 minutes pass.
DTS : I call cops on you, you f–ko! You f–king f–k! Stupid!

This Jack Nicholson soundboard (Warning : may take approximately forever to load up if you’re on dialup) almost makes me want to make some prank calls, though, even after our total failure to achieve comedy escape velocity that last time all those years ago.
Even though it’s Pure Evil.

Thank You, George

An open letter to George W, purporting to be from Brazilian writer Paul Coelho, translated from the Portuguese here :

Thank you for showing us clearly the enormous abyss which exists between the decisions taken by leaders of nations and the true desires of their people. Thank you for helping us see with painful clarity that whether it is José Aznar of Spain or Tony Blair of the UK, that our so called elected leaders don’t have the slightest regard or respect for the fact that over 90% of their population are against war. Thank you for allowing us to witness the ease with whichTony Blair was able to blithely ignore the largest public protest held in England in the last 30 years.
Thank you, because your insistence on war forced Blair to go to Parliament with a plagiarized dossier which consisted of notes written ten years ago by an arab graduate student. As a result we were able to witness the unbelievable farce of Blair insisting that these notes represented “proof” gathered by the British secret service.
Thank you for for making Colin Powell descend to the ridiculous by showing the UN Security Council photographs, which a week later were publicly denounced by Hans Blix, the weapons inspector responsible for verifying the disarmament of Iraq.
Thank you, because your position on war resulted in the French Foreign Minister, Mr. Dominique de Villepin, in his speech against war on Iraq, being honored by a standing ovation. This is an honor which, if I am correct, has only happened once before in the history of the U.N., and that was during a presentation by Nelson Mandela.
Thank you, because due to your strenuous push for war, for the first time the Arab nations of the Gulf, usually so divided, have found a reason to unite and have recently issued a joint resolution in Cairo condemning your proposed invasion. You have brought about a unity of opinion amongst the arab nations, that they had not achieved on their own.
Thank you, because as a result of your administration’s rhetoric blasting the United Nations as “irrelevant”, even the most undecided and reluctant nations have been inspired to take a position against your country’s attack on Iraq.
Thank you for your extraordinary foreign policy. Attempts to defend your ambitions have caused British Foreign Minister Jack Straw, to attempt to argue a case for a “moral war”, and with each attempt lose more international credibility.
Thank you for attempting to divide Europe, which after a century of war and upheaval has been fighting for unity. This was a warning clearly seen by all of us, and it will not be forgotten.
Thank you for finally managing to achieve what few have managed in the past century: to unite millions of people, across the continents and give them a common cause to fight for, even if that cause is the exact opposite from yours.
Thank you for letting us feel that even if our words are not being heard, they are at least being repeated. This will give us strength in the future.
Thank you, because without your esteemed help, we wouldn’t have known the extent to which we were capable of mobilizing. Perhaps this appears useless today..but it will serve us in the future.
Thank you.
So, now that the drums of war seem to beat with unstoppable ferocity, I want to add an insight, words uttered by an ancient European King to a would-be invader:
“May your morning be glorious and May the sun shine brightly on the armor of your soldiers, because in the afternoon I will defeat you.”

Fiddle-farting around

I’ve been farting around with a sorta-new design, and your comments are welcome. Gooder, worserer? Look weird with your 5 year old browser?
I’ve done some checking with the latest Mozilla, Opera and IE versions, and it looks OK, but I’m too damn lazy to do much else. If it’s egregiously broken on your browser/OS combination, I’d hate love to hear about it, though. After having been patted on the head from a number of places around the web for this current design (which was never intended to be, like, flashy or anything, but was just what came out of my head when I was thinking about what I wanted the ‘bottle to look like), I’m hesitant to slap up something that blows or sucks or otherwise moves air about in an unpleasant fashion.
But I feel the need for a spring cleaning.
Thank you for your kind patronage.
(Edit : Also, as some small compensation for your debugging assistance, I offer you this, which is way cool, if you like stuff like that. I do.)


For me, it’s always been Alphagetti, which is pretty much the same darn thing as Spaghetti-o’s, I guess, except without the mystery meat. But only if eaten with a large stack of lightly-toasted white bread that has been ‘buttered’ not with butter but with Parkay margarine.
I haven’t had this particular childhood-conjuring treat in years, living as I have been in the blessedly canned-noodle-and-tomato-sauce-free wastelands of Asia. But just thinking about it makes me feel all gooshy inside. And slightly constipated.
This by way of saying that Skot is a dangerously amusing young man, and deserves your undivided attention for at least a couple of minutes (which are, it must be admitted, veritable eons in these days of waking-life REMs).

Who and What

A thought this morning that is a follow on of sorts from my Anti-America piece a couple of days ago, that I don’t have time to flesh out right now, but that I want to remember. This idea is in part why my little Anti-America post was not called Anti-American. It smacks a little of pop-psychology crap, and may be obvious to many, but the more I think about it, the more I feel it.
It seems de rigueur when people think and talk about themselves that they answer the question “What are you?” You know – I’m a Man, I’m a Democrat, I’m an American, I’m a Dyke, I’m a Rotarian, I’m a Patriot, I’m a Mother, I’m a Christian, I’m a Programmer, I’m a Liberal. (I’m a Woman, I’m a Republican, I’m a Korean, I’m a Heterosexual, I’m a Shriner, I’m an Activist, I’m a Father, I’m a Buddhist, I’m a Teacher, I’m a Conservative) And so on, in endless permutation.
I reckon this is a sure way to shred the last few tatters of one’s soul – defining oneself, and thinking about oneself in terms external and collective. And for many people, if my collective noun isn’t the same as your collective noun, you can easily be categorized as Other, and claws-out monkey shrieks and feces-flinging may well ensue.
Better to know the answer to the question : “Who are you?” Granted that this one is a hell of a lot harder to answer, perhaps.
The best answer has got to be “That’s for me to know, and you to find out! Nyah!”


Bill Moyers interviews Chris Hedges :

HEDGES: “During a lull I dashed across an empty square and found shelter behind a house. My heart was racing. Adrenaline coursed through my bloodstream. I was safe. I made it back to the capital. And like most war correspondents, I soon considered the experience a great cosmic joke. I drank away the fear and excitement in a seedy bar in downtown San Salvador. Most people, after such an experience, would learn to stay away. I was hooked. ”
MOYERS: You were hooked on?
HEDGES: War. On the most powerful narcotic invented by humankind is war.
MOYERS: What is the narcotic? What is it that’s the poisonous allure?
HEDGES: Well the Bible calls it, “The lust of the eye.” And warns believers against it. It’s that great landscape of the grotesque. It’s that power to destroy.
I mean one of the most chilling things you learn in war is that human beings like to destroy. Not only other things but other human beings. And when unit discipline would break down or there was no unit discipline to begin with, you would go into a town and people’s eyes were glazed over. They sputtered gibberish.
Houses were burning. They had that power to revoke the charter. That divine-like power, to revoke the charter of another human being’s place on this planet. And they used it.
MOYERS: I would have thought that being captured and held by the Iraqis as you were, would have cured you of your addiction. But yet it didn’t.
MOYERS: So I still don’t understand it. I have to be honest. I mean I just don’t understand why you keep putting yourself back into that which you hate.


Oh, yeah. I’d almost forgotten about all the hoohah, but I noticed yesterday evening that I didn’t win that Bloggie I was shortlisted for. Whew. Thank the galloping gonads of jehovah for that small mercy. An honour to be nominated, of course, yadda yadda, bikkety-boo, *thud*.
“I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.”
Groucho Marx


Shelley speaks, in pellucid and evocative language, of the tensions between the individual and community, conflicts between the strength of uncompromising individuality and the sense of responsibility to others, which are often expressed in ways contrarian and discordant. If you read her words often, you know that she cherishes this part of herself, and is proud to be the one who pushes back, who questions, about matters political and gender-related, about issues social and relating to the blogosphere, and this is one of the things many other people cherish about her too. I’m glad – more than glad, I’m indebted in a multitude of ways and even if I disagree with her on the details deeply grateful – that she is around to kick against the pricks, as exhausting and demoralizing an avocation as that is.
One of the many reasons I feel indebted to her (and to others around the ever-more-loosely-joined virtual neighbourhood of which I feel a part) is that she kickstarts thoughts in me, and if I’m at the precise juncture where the caffeine has overcome my natural lethargy (like right now), I’m liable to write about them. The exercise of deciding whether this is a Good Thing or not is left to the reader.
The following is long and personal, and no doubt philosophically suspect. So sue me!
Particularly in these difficult days, people accuse me of being anti-American, and I invariably admit that I am, although perhaps not in the sense in which they mean it. The phrase anti-American almost certainly means different things to different people, and in different languages (long ramble about the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis excised – I’ll leave that for another day). Occasionally I’m even asked why, although this is rare, and like dg here, it’s usually as part of a low-intensity injoke that bounces around Metafilter occasionally : ‘Why do you hate America so much?’
I wish I were able to trace back to the beginning my first stirrings of anti-American sentiment, way up there in my Northern BC village. That sort of thing is a fool’s game, though, particularly when your long-term memory is as wildly inaccurate as mine. We only got two television channels up there – CTV and CBC – and so there was no nose-upturned pseudo-intellectual pooh-poohing of American entertainment, though you can be sure I affected a whole range of other arrogant smartboy behaviours, feeling as I did a lone island of brilliance in a sea of millworkers and fetal alcohol syndrome genetic sports.
The second album I remember buying was The Clash’s London Calling – perhaps that was the trigger.
With lyrics like

The judge said five to ten-but I say double that again
I’m not working for the clampdown
No man born with a living soul
Can be working for the clampdown
Kick over the wall ’cause government’s to fall
How can you refuse it?
Let fury have the hour, anger can be power
D’you know that you can use it?
The voices in your head are calling
Stop wasting your time, there’s nothing coming
Only a fool would think someone could save you
The men at the factory are old and cunning
You don’t owe nothing, so boy get runnin’
It’s the best years of your life they want to steal
You grow up and you calm down
You’re working for the clampdown
You start wearing the blue and brown
You’re working for the clampdown
So you got someone to boss around
It makes you feel big now
You drift until you brutalize
You made your first kill now

it fired me up in a way that I still feel, bowel-deep and still burning decades later. But really that album, political as it was, had very little in the way of attacks on America itself – it chose broader targets, and knocked them over with rakish, snarling aplomb.
Like Shelley, I read Ayn Rand as a teen too, and everything else I could get my hands on, which, thanks to a mother visibly relieved that I was more interested in books than cars, was almost everything I could think of, but it didn’t leave much of a mark on me, I don’t think. Similar expressions of libertarian ideals in Heinlein’s juvenilia and other SF novels did leave their mark, though. I remember quoting him, sneeringly, over the years : ‘specialization is for insects.’ But I was too interested in individuals (which I mentioned in another context, in a post of which I’m particularly proud, here) to care much about -isms. This decision, this disdain of politics, has stayed with me to this day.
So how does a disdain of politics and a Clash song jibe with a repeatedly-reiterated anti-Americanism? I’m getting to that, honest.
One of the things that Shelley’s piece today started me contemplating was how my feelings on individuality differ from the ones she expresses so well, and how imagining myself as a contrarian (if people-loving) curmudgeon all these years has molded my life. When I think about it, lyrics from another song bubble up into my mind, and I suppose they express the root of my feeling as well as anything else :

I thought thought that I could find a way
To beat the system
To make a deal and have no debts to pay
I’d take it all take it all I’d run away
Me for myself first class and first rate
But all that you have is your soul
Here I am waiting for a better day
A second chance
A little luck to come my way
A hope to dream a hope that I can sleep again
And wake in the world with a clear conscience and clean hands
‘Cause all that you have is your soul

All my life, I’ve fashioned myself as the Outsider, the exile, the individual, rugged or otherwise. I feel little to no obligation to any sense of community, other than that which is mandated by my own sense of what is right. It has roots, no doubt, in childhood bereavements, and first saw the light when a psychologist diagnosed me as a kindergarten sociopath. It matured with the fingernails-ripped-out clawing at the well-walls of my hometown – let me out! – and has evolved slowly since. It’s led to me to live as an expatriate all over the planet for most of the last 15 years, complaining about my new hosts, wherever they have been, and equally kept me from returning home. It’s made me unwilling to consider myself part of any group larger than a self-selected circle of close friends, virtual and otherwise. It’s led me inexorably to spending a significant portion of my waking hours in front of a computer, typing my life out for people I have never met.
But it’s also made me a better man, in many ways, I think, if a somewhat solipsistic one. I do believe that all you have is your soul, and that, absurd as it seems, is true even if there is no such thing as a soul. That’s an argument I’m not interested in, as it simply doesn’t matter. But I believe that once you have done your best to detach, in best buddhist fashion (though I hasten to add that I am no more a buddhist than I am an evangelical christian) – detach from political or religious affiliation, from outmoded and useless labels like ‘left’ and ‘right’, from exhortations to patriotism and considerations of race, from fretting about whether this group or that is disadvantaged or exploited – and tried to live according to the dictates of your conscience and love and do what good you can for those you know….well, we all want that, in one way or another, don’t we?
At the end of the day, ignoring the clamoring of the crowds to join in and be a part of something is the strategy of the hermit, and I am no hermit. I partake, joyfully or furiously, depending on the provenance of the brain chemicals circulating intraskull, with as much enthusiasm as someone might who defined themselves by their job, or their religion, or their gender, or their sexual preference, or their nationality, or their political affiliation, or their race.
So why do I hate America so much, though I’ve said over and over again that I love many American people? Because America does evil, and I cannot help but hate that which does evil, all the while knowing that it is evil. There’s no need for me to recite the litany of Terrible Wrongs that America has done – no matter how you sit on the love/hate/fear/security map, you know those things of which I speak.
This is not to say that other nations, other governments, other groups political or otherwise, today and in the past (and no doubt far into the future) have not done great evil. Cambodia, Germany, Japan, Rwanda, Russia, El Salvador, Guatemala…. any of us could go on, endlessly, and point to massive evils that, in sheer scale if nothing else, dwarf the worst that anyone could accuse America of.
For me, though, disappointment is the key to my dislike of America. Deep, weary, beaten-down disappointment. Disappointment at the massive disconnect between the way that America portrays itself, and the way that many Americans who are ignorant of both history and geography perceive America. Regardless of how shocked people may have been at the million corpses littering the ground in Rwanda a decade ago, I believe that were the blood of those multitudes on American hands through action rather than inaction, the shock and outrage would be many times more powerful. When I was young I expected – and many people, American and otherwise feel the same – that America would always be a force for good in the world. Americans are supposed to be heros, damn it! That’s what their movies tell us, and their television, and their news agencies and their government. That’s what their duplicitous sold-out scumbag of a president keeps repeating in halting tones when they trot him out to read another script about ‘smoking out the evil-doers.’ And nothing, we all know, is as disappointing as a fallen hero.
(Of course, you can probably guess that I directly blame George W Bush and his administration for the death of one of my best friends, as much as I blame the sack of sh-t who set and detonated that bomb in Bali. They loaded and cocked the gun – that little Indonesian just pulled the trigger. Their bumbling PR-driven war in Afghanistan drove al Qaeda members to Indonesia, the nation with the largest Muslim population on the planet, where those escappes were no doubt instrumental in the murder of all those people in Kuta. My resentment of the abject stupidity of the conduct of the little Bush-te revenge-war has only honed my anger and resentment and disappointment to a fine edge.)
But to people not dependent on their politics or their nationality to define themselves, to someone for whom identity is not built on ideas and groups outside of him or herself, the words of Official America are at so far a remove from the realities that anger and disappointment are the only responses that seem rational. Anger that wrong is being portrayed as right, to the apparent unquestioning satisfaction of many who would fight evil if they recognized it. Disappointment because America, the great power of our world, could do so much good, and instead has been locked into a path that will bear bitter fruit for everyone for as far as the mind can see into the cratered, smoke-shrouded wasteland of the future.
I love Americans, many of them. I hate America because through those who lead that powerful nation, it seems to be hellbent on making a world that is worse in every way that’s important for most of the people in it. And I feel this way not because I am Canadian, or ‘lefty’, or religious, or anything else other than who I am. I hate America because I want so desperately to love it.

World of Assholes

Like everyone else, I noticed Dr Weinberger’s and Doc Searls’ World of Ends this morning, linked from Bb. I have taken the liberty of making a response, of sorts, in the form of a satire fetchingly entitled – in true profane wonderchicken style – ‘World of Assholes’.
Although I do disagree with many of their points, I recognize the good will in their intention, and intend this in turn as good-natured if pointed ribbing, not ideological warfare. Manifestos by their very nature invite a kick in the ass, though, and I’m willing as always to step up to the plate. (And mostly I was just annoyed that I didn’t get one of those emails Shelley mentioned. Heh.)

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The Nutshell

  1. The Internet is complicated.
  2. The Internet isn’t a thing or an agreement : it’s a place.
  3. The Internet isn’t stupid, but it’s filled with stupidity.
  4. Adding value to the Internet adds to its value.
  5. Value on the internet goes unnoticed unless some high-traffic node connects it to the mainstream.
  6. Money moves to the greedy.
  7. The asshole of the world? Nah, the world of assholes.
  8. The Internet’s three vices:
  9.   a. Americans dominate it
      b. The wealthy populate it
      c. More inhabitants does not automatically mean more value, except to those who want to sell you something

  10. If the Internet is so complicated, why do so many seem driven to try and simplify it?
  11. Some mistakes we can stop making already.


1. The Internet is complicated.

The internet is probably the most complicated thing in history, although it’s built on technology (TCP/IP) that is deceptively simple. Confusing the technology with the creativity and conversation is like confusing the truck with the beer it’s carrying.

2. The Internet isn’t a thing or an agreement : it’s a place.

Actually, it’s probably all three, but aphorisms have to be pithy, so you’ll excuse the confusion. The best way to understand something that’s complicated is to examine the metaphor or metaphors one uses to describe it or think about it. In America, football is a metaphor used to think about business, and war is a metaphor used to think about football, for example. This helps us to understand why bombing the living sh-t out of Iraq will magically make problems with the economy go away.
The internet feels like a place to most people – an environment that exists out there independantly of whether of not they are participating in it. The wires and servers, the hardware and the software – the things give the protocols a way to interact. The protocols are an agreement, and they allow the space to exist. The space is where we exist when we are on the net. See also : highway, truck and beer.

3. The Internet isn’t stupid, but it’s filled with stupidity.

The internet isn’t about packets, it’s about people. Just like in the real world, many of those people are egregiously stupid, and say and do stupid things. There are a few barriers to entry – literacy and money are two, for example
– so this makes the situation slightly less excruciating than it is in our daily lives offline.

4. Adding value to the Internet adds to its value.

If you change something about the way the internet works to favour a certain way of communicating or a certain technology, you may well be having a negative impact on other aspects of the environment. If all you are doing is adding something, however, the expected rules apply. More is, however, not necessarily better, for anyone except those who want to make money. See also : 8c.

5. Value on the internet goes unnoticed unless some high-traffic node connects it to the mainstream.

It’s entirely possible that the most brilliant minds of our generation are out there in the net hinterlands, exposing their genius for the world to see, and nobody is seeing it except the googlebot. Unless a higher-traffic node or nodes of the net (with a human intelligence in the driver’s seat) notes and disseminates the value that is being created out on the edges back into the middle and out again, nothing happens, and our new Shakespeare or Einstein labours unnoticed.

6. Money moves to the greedy.

If value goes unnoticed until the Big Nodes notice, then you or your product needs to get noticed by the central hubs somehow. Once that happens, the greedier you are, the more you’ll make. Mostly it’s about knowing the right people, just as it is in Real Life.

7. The asshole of the world? Nah, the world of assholes.

Because the internet is a place, it’s populated by all sorts of folks : the good, the bad and the fugly. Many people with even a shred of decency and integrity left bemoan the cesspool of evil, filth and stupidity that much of the internet has become. For some, the metaphor we used to use to describe my end-of-the-world hometown when I was young might be appropriate : The Asshole of The World.
This comes as a natural consequence of human nature, of course, and is to be expected. Just as in any other place, there are the good neighbourhoods and the bad, the saints, the sinners, and the scumbags. The internet may route around damage, but it builds a bus route directly to porn and cheap laughs. (You got here, didn’t you?)
Regardless of whether the internet is the rectum mundi (ahoy! fake latin to port!) or not, the place is unimportant without the people who populate it. Unfortunately, just as in real life, many of them are deeply unpleasant : the world of assholes.

8. The Internet’s three vices

So, those are the facts about the Internet. See, I told you they were complicated.But what do they mean for the behavior of the corporations and corporatists that keep trying to make the internet into a mall or a propaganda tool or a surveillance network?
Here are three basic rules of behavior that are tied directly to the factual nature of the Internet:
  a. Americans dominate it
  b. The wealthy populate it
  c. More inhabitants does not automatically mean more value, except to those who want to sell you something
Let’s look a little more closely at each…

8a. Americans dominate it

Americans, with their brash ways, their aspirations to Empire, their big hair and good teeth. Ah, those wacky Americans. They built the internet, and they’re determined to make it a mirror of their crumbling society. It’s a safe bet they’ll succeed.

8b. The wealthy populate it

Not too many poor folks on the net. Damn near none, in fact. Most people who can’t find enough fresh water to drink on a daily basis (well over half the population of the planet) don’t have access to a personal computer. And the wealthy got wealthy f–king the poor, personally or by proxy, so nothing’s new there.

8c. More inhabitants does not automatically mean more value, except to those who want to sell you something

A virtual space cannot get overcrowded, but it certainly can get messy and loud. But more people online means more targets for marketers, more data for surveillance units, more money for telcos. Go go go!

9. If the Internet is so complicated, why do so many been seem driven to try and simplify it?

There’s money and recognition in talking down to people.
Could it be because the three Internet vices are the exact analogue of how governments and businesses view the world?
Americans dominate it: The American government (and many of its people) are keen to dominate the world politically, militarily, and economically. Why should the net be any different?
The wealthy populate it: If you haven’t got enough money to buy my products, then f–k you.
More inhabitants does not automatically mean more value, except to those who want to sell you something: More human targets mean more sales, and more data for the Information Awareness miners. If they’ve got the money to get online, they’ve got the money to buy stuff, and if they’re breathing, they’re quite possibly a threat to the American government.

10. Some mistakes we can stop making already.

Enough already. Let’s stop banging our heads against the facts of Internet life, and go outside for some fresh air.
We have nothing to lose but our cupidity.

Comedy Gold


Usenet September happens everywhere eventually, and although it’s true the Something Awful forums are not as wildly creative as they used to be, by god, the goons can still occasionally pull off a thread that floors me. This is one of dozens of equally brilliant .gifs from a recent ‘animate art’ thread. The tenor of the forum is full-on Teen Geek, but the creativity is scorching, sometimes.

A New Hope

A read of this thread at MetaTalk just might reveal to those of good faith something of significance for weblogging and for journalism, being born all a-squall. It’s an exciting idea, and an inspired way to leverage the enormous number of Smart People who are connected to one degree or another to Metafilter (and kuro5hin), and if it really does amount to something, will be a great gift from MeFi to the wired world to commemorate The Mothership’s upcoming fourth birthday.

Dirt Stick Stone

About a year ago, I squeezed out the following brainfart

…is it only a matter of time until Hollywood starts regularly hiring hundreds of blogtemps to fire up new weblogs, post furiously and praise to the skies the latest piece of crap opus by Jerry Bruckheimer or some other purveyor of soul-destroying cinematic garbage, interlink to themselves and a few ‘a-listers’, start offering large cash incentives to Kottke and Rageboy and other high-traffic blognodes to link back to the rent-a-bloggers, and watch the Google rank for their new Product soar? Or record companies to promote their wares? Or governments? Are recent, highly-successful experiments in spiking the GooglePunch like the recent one by Matt Haughey the tip of the iceberg? How soon before big business catches on, before the Office of Strategic Mind Control realizes the subtle power (if they haven’t already) of the interconnectedness of blogs and begins working blogspace like the infopimps they strive to be? Before this ‘place’, too, becomes branded and corporatized? (Forget the stone-knives-and-bearskins, bandwidth-wasting crudity of banner ads – savvy marketers will work the medium, pimp the actual hyperlinks, and tickle Google till it quivers, moans, and page-ranks, gratefully. Linkwhoring could become a serious business. Perhaps we could form a mafia, a Blogga Nostra, and skim a little of that corporate cream off the top, broker linkage deals, extort flame-protection money.)

And today, as weblogorrhea reaches epidemic proportions, Dr Pepper’s soulless, clue-deficient marketing shills are actually giving it a go, boys and girls.

Next comes a blog-related twist on viral marketing — recruiting ‘key influence bloggers’ to promote Raging Cow by sharing their enthusiasm, linking to the site and distributing special screensavers, banners and skins. Beginning with an initial group of six people in their late teens and early 20s — flown to Dallas with their parents for an induction session — Dr Pepper hopes to develop a ‘blogging network’ to hype Raging Cow and “be part of the ‘in the know’ crowd,” says its brand-marketing honcho Andrew Springate. Those spreading the news via their blogs won’t disclose their flackitude, says Springate, because officially they’re not paid Dr Pepper employees; they only get promo items like hats and T shirts.

*Takes off tinfoil helmet*
Doc Searls is quoted as saying in response to this : “In my view blogs are the antidote to viral marketing.”
In my view, this clumsy teentastic attempt at manipulation – more likely to attract attention to itself (which, let’s face it, has got to be the real goal here, rather any genuine attempt at marketing juice thanks to the efforts of some cadre of hiphop dipsh-t teend00d bloggers pimping their avatars for some gear – it’s a metacampaign, kids!) and spawn subtle and inventive imitations as a result of the MSNBC article and other media attention – is the first salvo in a coming war of web words. Blogs aren’t the antidote to viral marketing, they’re the petri dish where the virulent brain-colonizing memetic equivalent of Ebola will be grown. Call it wEbola, and reach for the mental prophylactic of your choice. At stake are our very souls!
That’s complete bullsh-t, of course. I’m just flinging hyperbole around to make this all seem a little more interesting, you know, ’cause I can. The truth is, even if I do disagree with Doc’s quotable quote there, if I should happen across a weblog pimping some craptacular, pointless and inevitably unnecessary new product (“Buy this crap! Buy it you f–kers, or we’ll lose our jobs and have to whore out our children!” – now that’s a marketing campaign I could respect), well, *click*
Heck, I even refuse to read weblogs that perfunctorily link to Amazon, for christ’s sakes, never mind ones that are busy flogging some sh-tty sugar drink. But this sort of thing is going to get more sophisticated, mark my words, brothers and sisters, and more insidious. The marketrons will continue to colonize the new frontier. I have seen the enemy and he is us.


After much screwing about, I had this layout working flawlessly in Mozilla, near as I have been able to tell, but I just downloaded 1.4a, and the sidebar over on the right looks very weird indeed.
Does anyone else see some weird font sizing with the new (or older, for that matter) builds of Mozilla? I’d appreciate any feedback you can give…
Edit : Fixed, with thanks for the feedback. Repeat 100 times : I must not edit templates while drinking. I must not edit templates while drinking.