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Anyone? Anyone? Didn't think so.

posted on Mar 10, 2010
So there I am, just like I am 50 times a day, checking out this funny pic on the neener-net, when it suddenly occurs to me that I am reading a metablog of a reblog of a digital photo of a frickin' pencilled note! 

I'm pretty sure this says something important about the nature of reality, but on the other hand does anybody actually use reality any more?

Edit:  Okay, I think it is becoming a trend to write your blog using some antiquated technology and then post a photo of yourself doing it.  I'm seriously considering composing my next mobu missive in lead type, and then making a woodcut of me doing it, and then digitizing the photo into Morse code so that I can send it by telegram to my website.

CSS is awesome

posted on Feb 1, 2010
Said so much more eloquently than I ever did.  Available at Zazzle, for the web designer in your life.  And if there is no web designer in your life, my birthday is today.

Google's business model explained

posted on Jan 5, 2010
Google's launch of their NexusOne phone didn't impress Wired.  No worries, if you're Google.  Just pair that crappy review with a Google ad for Blackberry, and you make money either way, right?

Speaking of la revoluçion...

posted on Mar 22, 2009
Propaganda 04
North Korea has a CafePress shop.

This is the real thing, not a gag.  But I don't think a gag shop could be any funnier.  I mean, how do you satirize this?  The products are all called "Propaganda" for starters.  (Maybe it's just me, but the Propaganda Trucker Hats are particularly ironic.)

It's so bad, I actually want some of those t-shirts.  I don't particularly want to give Kim Jong-Il my 20 bucks, though.  Maybe there are pirated versions available somewhere.  (Mind you, is it even piracy if the country doesn't acknowledge copyright?)  And, disappointingly, you can't buy any PRK Propaganda thongs, which is a serious oversight on their part, because I know CafePress offers them, and they make such great stocking stuffers.

Revenge of the Nerds

posted on Apr 24, 2008
Is Mike Arrington a dick?
I learned the answer at:

Unsure who Mike Arrington is or what he did to deserve this, I decided to check out Wikipedia, and learned that:

J. Michael Arrington (born March 13, 1970 in Orange, California) is a serial entrepreneur, the maintainer of TechCrunch, a blog covering the Silicon Valley and wider United States technology start-up community, and a dick.

Must be true, in that case.

Dumb-ass Quotes

posted on Mar 5, 2008
There's a bit of a feud going on right now between stick-up-the-ass designers and tasteless ignorati about smart quotes. (That's when your quotes go left or right depending on whether you are opening a quote or closing them.) The discussion was stirred up by a website, Apostrophe Atrophy, which finds fault with signage that uses non-directional apostrophes, and seems to think that a huge design faux-pas was committed in each case. Certain font geeks, like John Gruber, seemed to agree. Then the backlash started, in the comments section of a page that initially presented non-directional apostrophes as an "unforgiveable graphic design gaffe".

I'm going to throw my hat in with the back-lashers here (as you may have guessed by the fact that I'm not using smart quotes anywhere in this post or site).

First of all, apostrophes are not quotes! They are completely different punctuation marks, which serve a different purpose. Telling someone to use "smart quotes" in place of a non-directional apostrophe is just plain ignorant. It's like telling them to replace their minus signs with em-dashes, or their zeroes with Os because the latter characters seems to be more typographically sophisticated. Guess what? It's not sophisticated, it's dumb.

By convention, apostrophes can be represented using non-directional marks, or using right-single-quote, at the discretion of the writer or typesetter. This is simply because in the early days of type you would use economize by reusing similar glyphs for different purposes. The use of single-quote for apostrophe owes itself to this glyph multi-purposing. That doesn't make it any more correct than using lowercase L for the number 1, which was also very common. (Old typewriters didn't even have a "1" key!)

Computers need to distinguish between Ls and 1s, so we're diligent about using different characters for them now. Computers don't care about opening-vs-closing quotes, however, so we're going to be arguing about this one for some time to come. Today, we consider both versions of apostrophe to be correct, and if a particular one is dictated, it is only because of a publication's style guide, or a particular font designer's intent, not any universal design or punctuation rule.

Esthetically speaking, directional quotes that resemble 6's and 9's also have a very crude serif feel to me. They look like fallbacks to the ancient typewriter fonts that put balls on the ends of their glyphs (such as American Typewriter Light). Why designers should feel that a design ethic that traces back to Underwood typewriters is superior to something from after, say, the Second World War is a mystery to me. When quotes must be directional, I usually prefer wedge-shaped marks. (In fairness, the non-directional apostrophe in many fonts is equally ill-conceived, being either a repurposed mathematical prime mark, or a crude rectangle that has no trace of type design whatsoever.)

Directional quotes enclose text (just like parentheses). Sometimes (often!) using a directional apostrophe is just plain bad typography, since it visually implies a closure where there is none. Example: The contraction ‘’tis’ is little used these days. Distinctive apostrophes (which usually means non-directional apostrophes) should always be used, in my opinion, to avoid typographic muddles like this.

Lastly, smart quotes look like crap on many viewing platforms. There are many reasons for this. The web is a low-resolution medium, and apostrophes and quotes occupy only a few pixels. Furthermore, the actual character codes and glyphs used vary widely, depending on whether something was pasted from Word, typed using HTML entities, referenced as Unicode, or something else. The compromises that get made in some cases to make smart quotes appear "smart" are truly awful. It often involves font- and character-set switching so that the quotes are rendered differently than the surrounding text, with faulty spacing and sizing. Reading the Wikipedia page on quotation marks on some browsers that have to jump through these hoops is enough to make you want to kill the inventor of smart quotes. Nothing looks dumber.

So you wanna be a writer?

posted on Dec 14, 2007
So... here's an interesting employment ad, copied directly off of Craigslist:

los angeles craigslist  > central LA >  writing jobs

Writer / End Of The World.
 Reply to:
 Date: 2007-12-13, 10:18PM PST

 I am making a small book and needs fact in regard to End of the world. If you believe that now is the end of the world and you have solid fact I will buy the info from you for $5.00 each fact, For example you can say: According to ABCD- EFG this is the end of the world. I need a total of 200 solid believable facts it equals $1000. I will buy as little as 1 fact for $5.00 All payments are done by please do-not email any facts until you have talked to me and you get a confirmation. You can call or email for us to call you back.
 23852 pch #720

This raises a number of troubling questions.  For example:
  • What are you going to do with your $1000, given that the end of the world is nigh?
  • Is $5 really the going rate for hard facts about the end of the world, or are they being cheap?
Now, the whole thing may seem a bit flaky, but a bit of research into the employer, a Hollywood film production company, shows that it is in fact fully legit.  Take their 2006 production, Iron Man, for example:

The Iron Man (2006) tells a story of a man, Tony, who is dissatisfied with the stifling rituals of the ordinary life and decides to take a drastic turn from routine into adventure... In order to do so, he invents two golden balls a.k.a. a penis enlarger to upstart his new life. However, when the golden balls donít immediately deliver the riches, Tony starts to waver in his decision when an unsuspecting stranger gives him advice that will soon help Tony explode the penis enlarging balls onto other balls and their masculine deprived counterparts and catapult Tony to the zenith of his success.

There is a lot more, involving the Dalai Lama and Rocky, but I don't want to give away the ending.  Suffice it to say that if the quality of writing continues to meet this high standard, that I, for one, will be buying their little book about the end of the world, once it gets published.

Spam of the week

posted on Sep 6, 2007
Spam is so tediously dull these days, it's rare that I come across one worth commenting on.

But courtesy of Kevin H., a Nigerian-style scam landed on my desk yesterday.  The interesting thing about it, is that it was a snail-mail scam.  It had the usual blah-blah about unclaimed millions in a bank account (in this case the unclaimed estate of a victim of the Madrid train bombing), and it purported to be mailed from a lawyer in Spain, whose name is Denis Dorkry.

The whole thing wouldn't have been worth a second thought, except for the fact that the postmark indicates that the letter cost 78 Eurocents to mail, which is more than a dollar.  The sucker rate would have to be astronomically larger than for email Nigerian-scams for this to pay off.  We can assume, therefore, that the scammers have a hacked postage meter and the post mark is forged.  I wonder what the penalties for mail fraud are in Spain?

A bit of sleuthing turned up a few other tidbits.  First of all, Mr. Dorkry is in fact a lawyer in Spain, and his website is more professional than the scam letter would otherwise suggest.  In the scam letter, he mis-spells his name as "Dorky" at one point, which is (1) funny, and (2) evidence that the author is not, in fact, Mr. Dorkry at all, since we can assume that the real Mr. Dorkry (as the British-trained Barrister that he claims to be) has a lifetime of practice avoiding that unfortunate and embarassing typo.  I also suspect that the real Mr. Dorkry would know how to spell "confidential", among other words that lawyers tend to use from time to time.  So we also have a case of the scammers attempting to steal the Mr. Denis Dorkry's identity.

I kiss you!

posted on Jan 17, 2006
The most awesome home page on the internet.  (If you're fond of hairy Turkish men, that is...)

Why Wikipedia beats the snot out of the Encyclopedia Britannica

posted on Dec 16, 2005

You may or may not have been following the PR battle going on between Wikipedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica.  If not, you can catch up here.

Anyway, I just received this weird little spam:

From: "Neateye" <>
Date: December 15, 2005 4:43:11 PM PST
Subject: Gouranga

Call out Gouranga be happy
Gouranga Gouranga Gouranga!
That which brings the highest happiness...

It was strange enough, that I decided to find out what it was all about.

I went to Encyclopedia Britannica online, and searched for Gouranga.  All it had to say on the matter was "Sorry, we were unable to find results for your search."

Meanwhile, over at Wikipedia, I did the same thing.  Wow.  Not only did I learn far more about Gouranga than I ever wanted to know (did you know that if you run over a group of Hari Krishnas in Grand Theft Auto, the word "GOURANGA!" appears on screen?) but I found a detailed analysis of my actual spam message, including a purported reply from the author of the spam, and simple instructions for filtering the spam message if you get it a lot.

Wikipedia 1.
Britannica 0.

Spam poetry

posted on Aug 23, 2005

Proof my handwriting my signature wire urgently confirmation place chairman am I? And what are you going to live on? You'll have a beggarly existence. Heard Kurolesov confess that some wretched widow had gone on her knees to Merci! Merci! Merci! ... But the foreigner was long gone. And so was... It's not any Yalta, he just went to the country! Receiver. I'm entirely at your service, my dearest Ivan Savelyevich! Order the side of the bed and cried: How long will this circus under the bedlights ahead. One was home, Margarita opened the door to the stairs and checked whether... An amazingly strange evening, thought Margarita, I expected anything night. She wakes up and the handkerchief is there. Shes tried burning it into cross paths with him, would certainly have recognized him even by the... And the most interesting thing about this bunk, said Woland, is that on second-floor level. But even with this slow flying, just at the entrance little bridge, and under it a muddy spring runlet. Joyless, destitute.

The 10,000 names of Britney

posted on Apr 10, 2005

People don't seem to have much trouble spelling "Spears", but her first name is a killer.


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