Friday Four

Friday, May 15, 2015

1. Has this entertaining article finally explained Internet trolling? I think so. The bestiary at the beginning was a funny touch, too. Take "Off-Topic Otis":

Otis is usually arguing with someone about Israel and Palestine on videos of Joey's best bits from Friends on YouTube. How they reached that topic is anybody's guess, because the thread is over 300 comments long and stretches all the way back to 2007 -- it started when they disagreed about whether Rachel and Ross were on a break. Over the years others have joined and left the argument as it's covered everything from whether the moon landing was faked to whether Zayn Malik will have a successful solo career after One Direction. Call it a draw? I would.
The post then delves into trolling as a manifestation of old human misbehavior that is merely rendered easier and made to look much more common by the Internet -- before reminding us of the following:
It's easy to obsess over one obnoxious contribution and forget that the silent majority are quietly enjoying what you're doing. Just remember that the transaction of trolling is only complete when it receives a reaction. In a weird way, you're responsible for it too. It sounds blissfully simple, but ignoring it really will make it disappear.
My policy on trolls is that their comments die when I moderate them -- unless I can use what they've written as the basis for a point I think my readers might value.

2. I had to call in the plumber Monday when a sewer line clogged. The minor hassle was a nice reminder of what a life-improving marvel the sewer, which we so often take for granted, really is -- and, for that matter, modern sewer systems. Thanks again, John Snow.

3. The latest marvel of computational technology is a hacker-friendly computer for nine bucks:
The CHIP is in the vein of small, Linux-based, inexpensive computers, like the Raspberry Pi and theBeagle Board. Crucially, though, it has built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, so you won't have to sacrifice a USB port. The computer runs a 1Ghz R8 ARM processor and hums along with 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of flash storage. It also has a full-sized USB port, and a composite video out, so it can work with older televisions. [links dropped ]
Good. With the proliferation of iPads and similarly opaque devices that seem almost magical, I sometimes wonder how well the next generation will be able to learn how computers actually work.

4. Nautilus carries an interesting list of "Top 10 Design Flaws in the Human Body".
The Greeks were obsessed with the mathematically perfect body. But unfortunately for anyone chasing that ideal, we were designed not by Pygmalion, the mythical sculptor who carved a flawless woman, but by MacGyver. Evolution constructed our bodies with the biological equivalent of duct tape and lumber scraps. And the only way to refine the form (short of an asteroid strike or nuclear detonation to wipe clean the slate) is to jerry-rig the current model. "Evolution doesn't produce perfection," explains Alan Mann, a physical anthropologist at Princeton University. "It produces function."
My "favorite" of these is the first.

-- CAV


Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, I thought I'd point out today's the anniversary of Emily Dickinson's death. And to go from the sublime to the ridiculous, two days from now's the anniversary of Lawrence Welk's death. I dunno about you, but I know which one I consider the greater tragedy.

Gus Van Horn said...

Good one, Otis!

Anonymous said...

Hi Gus,

How can Snedcat bring up Emily Dickinson and fail to mention that Lawrence Welk was her love-child by Henry James?

c andrew

Gus Van Horn said...

Exactly. That's how I knew he was, in fact, trolling.