The internets giveth, and the internets taketh away. Digital assets rise and fall. Today’s improbably serendipitous client is tomorrow’s 404.

Case in point: remember that adorable little Gopher app from — no, seriously — not that long ago? Yeah, you guessed it:

Screenshot 2016-05-11 19.56.03

Of course there is a missing button here:  “No! Not OK!”

Screenshot 2016-05-11 20.05.36


Or perhaps:  “Well then in exactly what the fuck store is it currently available?!?”

And who knows? Gopher 1.0.4.ipa could perhaps be coaxed, via the horrors of, to burrow into my iPhone 6S…

More practically, though:  Good night, sweet Geomyidae. Guess you won’t be digging ’round these parts no more.

And I reckon I’ll keep using Firefox 46.0.1 despite it all.


hello, MMXV


To whomever it was that bet me I couldn’t get through 2014 without writing something here:  pay up, sucka.

Digging it!


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 “” .

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!

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.

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


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 will ship you a $2,000 toilet … but only in the “contiguous United States.”