Digging it!

November 5, 2013

Digging it!

Oh, thank heavens!  I’ve found a new gopher client.

Finally I can upgrade to Firefox 4!

Really?  What do you think I’m doing right now?  Huh?


Er, I mean: Thanks for dropping by!



Erstwhile browser Firefox has had its version 4 out in Beta for a little while, to mostly good reviews, it seems.  Haven’t tried it yet myself.  But in beginning to consider it, today I noticed that this version drops native gopher: support.

Perhaps you are asking, “What the hell is ‘gopher: support’??”

Remember that the Internet, and in particular its oft-cited TCP/IP stack, is the medium for a variety of “protocols”. Among those are HTTP — the one that may retrieve you a “web page” if you ask your browser to fetch a “resource” with a well-formed URL, like “http://yourmom.org/fetish” .

That “http” bit before the colon is, yup, the name of the protocol.  Which, if it were “gopher“, well, that would be the Gopher protocol.  Or, in the case of Firefox 4, a big ol’ WTF.

So perhaps, by now, your question has become, “Okay so what the f’ing hell is the ‘Gopher protocol’ then??”  In which case, you probably didn’t follow that link in the previous paragraph.  But even if you did, I’ll let the Overbite guy put it this way:

“Gopher is a mind-set on making structure out of chaos….  All Gophers organize themselves around similar menus and interface conceits. It is not only easy and fast to create Gopher content in this structured and organized way, it is mandatory by its nature. … As an important consequence, by divorcing interface from information, Gopher sites stand and shine on the strength of their content and not the glitz of their bling.”

(That’s from an ArsTechnica article last year, btw — picked up under BoingBoing’s “OLD SCHOOL” tag, natch.)

Oh I remember, “back in the day,” on the SparcStations in the lab, a little script would periodically run which would retrieve via gopher — from a NOAA site, if memory serves — a current satellite image of our part of the globe, and make it my tvtwm background image.  I suppose today one would use cURL.  Again from the article,

Basically, it’s the Web without commercial users, graphic design, Flash video, cookies, and popup windows.

Yeah … not a lot of want ads out for Gophermasters these days, wot.  Oh well.  At least we have infallible memory allocation.  Finally!

2204355 Reconsidered

July 3, 2010

Update: Apparently, that chiptune was the theme from Alf.  Like, remember the Eighties?

So, there were absolutely no racist undercurrents involved in this meme.

Which, to paraphrase Dr. Freud, sometimes a black man holding a piece of fried chicken is just a black man holding a piece of fried chicken.

Howbeit, is this an old meme yet?  Once again, the Internet is perfectly self-aware.  Said one commenter:

At first I lol’d then … later I meh’d.

Somebody give that netizen a watermelon.

Deconstructing 2204355

July 1, 2010

Imitation is the something something of something...

In response to this rather poor parody of the seminal chicken dance piece, un tal “TheKickoff09″ observes

hahahahahhahahaha is it bad that the first thing i thought was what its not as funny bc ur not black…your love of chicken isnt as great! lol not to be racist hahaha my friend laron always says white people cant love chicken as much as him.

well .. [sic], obviously.

However tortured its articulation, the comment is of course basically correct:  “kylewuzhur” clearly just doesn’t get it.  Even the addition of boobs, while effective in improving the overall critical response, still misses the mark.

But what, exactly, is “it”?  What is so mesmerizing, so universally transfixing about the 2204355 that it aspires to the pantheon of viral Internet memes without a hint of overt editorial content?

It’s really a semiotic quagmire for me … why is it so captivating?  Is it racist?  Is it captivating because it’s racist?  Does the patent ridiculousness mitigate or undercut the racism?  Or is the patent ridiculousness the primary carrier, with a latent racist message giving it sticking power in the group mind?  What is this hold it has on us?  (Or is it just me?)

Which, first we should inventory the basic design elements:

  • A central dancing figure, male, isolated from any context
  • The palette is his two-toned jacket:  tan and chocolate, the latter matching the man’s skin almost exactly.
  • He is obscured: the low contrast of the brown-on-brown, pixelated and posterized.
  • Instead of a contextual scene, a hypnotic, horizontally scrolling rainbow of primary colors forms the background.
  • A chiptune soundtrack in common time — loud, high-energy, suggestive of an eight-bit videogame animation.

The basic plot points:

  • The dancer:  a black man, holding a piece of fried chicken in each hand,
  • chewing as the scene opens.
  • The camera pushes in, as our protagonist
  • bites the drumstick in his right hand.  Still chewing,
  • he inclines toward us first his left shoulder (2 beats),
  • then his right (2 beats).
  • He chews and jives for another bar or so, then
  • flashes a white-toothed grin as
  • he thrusts toward us first the right-hand drumstick (2 beats),
  • then the left (2 beats).  Finally,
  • we are looped back to the beginning of the clip,
  • the chicken-dancer having receded to his original position
  • as the soundtrack continues, to loop later in its own time.

Is that all there is?  And how many times through have you watched it?

How may times through which loop?  The dance?  The tune?  The color scroll?  Each is hypnotic in its own way, but taken together, the superposition of frequencies is its own mesmerizing effect.

Then there’s the elephant in the room, or rather:  the black man holding fried chicken on the twenty-first century Internet.

There’s no getting around the fact that this taps into a racial stereotype that can almost pass for a cultural commonplace.  But dim the lights just a bit, and the ramifications into a shared subconscious encoding a centuries-old narrative of pain and guilt become clear.  There it is: the patent hilarity shot through with a thread of guilt at our own amusement — secret shame as we continue to enjoy the performers we brought in through the back entrance.

“Bite and Smile!” meets “Dance, boy!”  And so another ephemeral Internets star is born.

Personally, semiotics aside, I’m intensely curious as to the mind of the creator/perpetrator here.  Not to mention the vector of the virus.  But both, I’m afraid, will have to wait until the watermelon-flavored sequel to this adventure.

I love you, Internets — you sprawling, demented palimpsest of our imploding attention and shards of relevance you.  There’ll be plenty more time to get your google on come morning; now go to bed.

the Coxinha Roll

June 30, 2010

I suppose by now you’ve seen the 2204355 ….

[a pixelated black man with a piercing gaze despite dancing with a drumstick in each hand against a rainbow-colored background]

Behold the flickering face of the collective unconscious.

My favorite quote so far just scratches the surface what is uniquely Internet about this:

Ironically the “I’m Feeling Lucky” no longer really works since the articles about it are outranking the page itself.

Jamie Dubs on knowyourmeme

I think this goes much deeper than anyone suspects.
Except maybe Time … and, well, those guys are idiots.


Prescient ⇒ he done cut that

Some allegedly noteworthy tidbits from the recent infotrawl …

  • Science, prescience, nescience, conscience … The Latin stem for knowing — scire (‘to know’) — ultimately derives from the Indo-European root skei- (‘to cut or split’), which has also yielded schism, ski, shin, and even nice.  So an incisive remark, cutting deep enough, may lead to knowledge:  cleaving the false from the true.
  • Chicken McNuggets contain petroleum products and an “anti-foaming agent” found in Silly Putty.  You know, for safety.
  • So, it seems there’s been some innovation in the way English speakers begin sentences.  Specifically, with “So, …”.  Which, I think, my daughter and I are trying to jack around into the next evolutionary step: “Which, …”.
  • There’s been a lot of truck lately with the vuvuzela.  Which, for example, you can add its sound to any YouTube video now I think.  World Cup gone Abo?  So, lutely!  (Which, that’s not really meant to make sense.)  Frankly, the word itself bothers me — it suggests a synthesis of “vulva” and “uvula”, with some “zazz”-like tmesis slipped in.  Though -zela, I think, is actually a delightful little bit of Nguni participial morphology, which could conceivably add said zazz to practically any verbal.  Howbeit, the overall effect here is still markedly Disturbing.  Which, then you put it in context

That’s all for tonight, Internets.  You’re welcome.

Blood Falls – Taylor Glacier, Antarctica (no toilet delivery)

Well, not really blood per se.  Just a form of involuntary self-expression – an outpouring of ferrous crimson from a loosely coordinated colony of extremophiles, cloistered for a couple of millennia in a buried, anachronistic body of brine.

Six months and one week, this time.  But change is afoot … slow but perhaps striking.

Also, it might interest you to know that Amazon.com will ship you a $2,000 toilet … but only in the “contiguous United States.”

The noise of long silences

November 21, 2009

Well, it’s been a year less one day since my last post.  A whole year.  Yup.

Why the long silence, you ask?  (You don’t really ask.)  Is my life so devoid of noteworthiness, my perceptions so dull and unremarkable, my mind so feebly febrile, or do I simply lack the resolve to piss my stream of consciousness out into the Internets and allow it to puddle in some dark corner of some hard drive platter?

Perhaps I’m just “going green”…. after all, that’s no mere hard drive platter.  Surely, it’s a distributed, redundant cluster of storage hardware, geographically scattered across colocation facilities spanning the globe — a fault-tolerant SOA, spinning and chilled and served and ECN-delivered into your eager browser, should it ever visit?  You gotta know there’s a carbon footprint for each of these bits!  I’d hate to scribble away the ecological future of my hypothetical grandchildren!

Or I’ve been busy.  So busy.  Working for a living.  Raising a family.  Watching television.  “Sleeping.”  Yes.

Or I’m afraid.  What if you find out what I think?  What if I sound like an idiot?  What if I give away a Valuable Secret?  What if the employer finds out, takes objection, fires my ass?  Will the NSA/FBI/CIA/TSA/ETC take an interest, make my life inconvenient, constitutionally or otherwise?  Am I paranoid enough?

Or I’m indecisive.  There is so much material!  So much to say!  Where shall I put it all?!  How to organize it?  What to focus on?

How will I come off?  How will it all end?  “Will your heart ever reap what your head, it sows?”

Well, remember this:  we were all connected long before we were all “connected”.  We are the instruments of the universe’s self-contemplation.  Love thy neighbor as you love thyself; do not be a willing part of Creation’s more self-mutilating tendencies.  Open up and share.  Make the fuzz warm and the warm, fuzzy.  Be the better impulse you would push into the world.

What was that noise?  More later.

Where’s the content?

November 22, 2008

Continuing the thought:  what does one do with a “blog,” anyway?

For one thing, stop putting quotes around “blog”, I imagine.  That’s probably something only an old, unhip, crusty type character would do.  While you’re at it, stop the ironic pluralization of “Internets”.  It is still acceptable, however, to refer snidely to “tubes” in the appropriate context.

Some people seem to start a blog as an instrument of a particular mission:  an enabler, a voice, an organ, a repository of evidentiary gatherings — clippings and ruminations.  That’s what Jon Taplin did, once he decided Obama was the horse to back as we raced into a big pit of financial poop leading up to the 2008 election.

Most blogs seem to talk about the Internet.

At its best, this involves timely citation and evolution of emerging memes:  a relevant news item, new evidence to support an argument, a fresh angle on a topic.  The CPI numbers today explain why the DJIA will end the year below 7,000; Geraldo thinks that swelling ranks of dog lovers may not be priced into Palin’s poll numbers; Larry Lessig never argued that access to a Gift Economy was a constitutional guarantee, but he should.

Or it’s a way to follow someone’s footsteps (or record your own) through the Labyrinth that has found its way online.  Spelunking the tubes.  I got off the Information Superhighway to take an info leak, and ended up wandering deep into the cryptozoological forests, where I tripped over some monaural recordings from a blues bar in 1963.  Later, I unearthed these knitted items in a nearby location.  Then, kittens with captions!

This genre runs the gamut from delight to debasement.  As does its cousin:  the narcissist obsessed with self-documentation.  Well, that’s the darker end.  At the better we find the competent writer, whose soul is perhaps actually interesting as well as artfully shared.  Yes, it entertains; but shouldn’t she be writing her next book or magazine article?

Is this one of the ways the internet connects us, then?  We all sit here writing about what we’ve seen on the Internet, which largely consists of the lot of us writing about what we’ve seen on the Internet?  How long until this begins to warp the psychological fabric of an increasingly online society — souls connected constantly, though they seldom venture out into the street?  (Do we still have streets?  Someone should check.  Does Google have a satellite fleet for that yet?  Or, their having had one, has it already been retired — cutting costs by delegating to programmatic generation of topography that might-as-well-be?)

I’m all about making a scrapbook of what fruits life has dropped today, or stones it’s left for me to stub my toe on as I journey along the various paths the day sets for me.  Real or virtual, original or recycled, add your voice to the chorus — after all, that’s where all the “content” comes from.  Perhaps the agenda comes — open coding — from the clustering of this outpouring, these isolated or intertwined (by turns) narratives for and from we thousands of hitherto unconsulted nobodies.  After all, isn’t that who “everyone” is?

And then we turn and see it’s already happened.  The prevalent sensability that nothing is worthwhile — is, in a sense, real — unless it is recorded on line.  That’s how we know who are friends are .. and where our friends are .. and what their buying habits and/or christmas list might be.  I tell the machine what I’m doing right now, and up until that moment had I really been doing it? No one can say.

Almost without our noticing, it has become a fixture of the psychological landscape.  And so, when the policeman comes in, abruptly ending a dozen hours of webcast in which the teenager’s breathing had slowed and stopped to a silent chorus — typed from how many untraced, uncounted keyboards across logged sockets reported on only in the aggregate — scrolled in counterpoint of ZOMFG and don’t-do-it-bro and ROTFL and whatever else one types into this channel at these hours, with this content (is there disbelief?  or do we ever escape any more from the sense of “Is that happening now?”) — when this happens, we pause and ask ourselves:  where’s the content?  Did I need all the bandwidth I’ve consumed to achieve this?  Could we have achieved more with less?

It’s like I’m discovering the internet all over again.  It feels like I’ve told both of us all of this before.  Only more of it has happened now.  The tools are different, sure.  (Can I talk about how this “rich text editor” is still not emacs?)  But the narrative spins on — ever faster, ever brighter, more pixels and optimized codecs, leaving reality behind at the speed of light, apotheosizing into our new cybernetic selves in a still barely-articulated, inchoate hope that in shedding the flesh we will not only survive the singularity but bring it about.

What are you doing right now?  Your social network wants to know.


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