Our Amazing Interwebs, Episode CCXXIV


In case you haven’t heard, a guy named Gene Marks wrote a column for Forbes magazine called “If I Were a Poor Black Kid.” Mr. Marks is manifestly not (and never has been) a poor black kid, and his column is full of all sorts of helpful advice – including a rah-rah listing of technology (Mr. Marks’s usual beat is business tech) – to help someone who is a poor black kid overcome the disadvantages of being a poor black kid, just like Mr. Marks never had to.

Here is Mr. Marks’s column, which has been virally infesting all corners of the Internet this afternoon. Go read it. Then click the logo above and read Jeff Yang’s reply column, posted on wnyc.org. Mr. Yang, like Mr. Marks, is not a poor black kid. Nor is he a rich white dude, but he has written a column ostensibly from the perspective of a poor black kid, full of actually useful advice about how a rich white dude can avoid coming across as a snotty, ignorant jackass when discussing something about which he is entirely uninformed. (Spoiler: It involves getting informed.)

I am not confident that Mr. Marks will learn anything from this episode. The snark and derision of the Interwebs are more likely to make him defensive than contrite. And rich white dudes are so hard to teach. But one can dream.

Can’t say I’m surprised

According to torrentfreak.com, a raft of music and video have been downloaded through IP addresses associated with several major content owners (Sony Pictures, Fox Entertainment, NBC Universal, etc.). These are, of course, the companies that are lobbying hard for the right to shut down websites accused of promoting or encouraging copyright infringement, without actually having to prove the infringement in court; the same companies that send the authorities after suspected downloaders of infringing materials; the same companies that have tried to bolster their failing business model by assuming their customers are all criminals.

My favorite part of this story is the “our IP address was spoofed” defense being raised by at least one of these companies that were caught red-handed swiping mass quantities of other people’s content. Because, as the article points out, if IP-spoofing is so easy and widespread, then those content owners are going to see a rash of accused infringers raising that very same defense. Good luck and have at it!

The Interwebs Continually Amaze and Astound


Hobo Lobo of Hamelin is an absolutely brilliant webcomic retelling of the story of Pied Piper of Hamelin. The art is terrific but the use of technology to enhance the visuals – you’ll see what I mean as you scroll rightward on each page – makes it a truly engaging piece of work. I was sad to see that only three (long) pages are done so far; I’m looking forward to the rest.

Click old Ratty up there to see it all.

Friday Find – Good Shoes

It’s been a while since I posted, for a variety of reasons, and I thought new musics would be a good way to get back to it. I discovered Good Shoes in a drunkard’s-walk exploration of eMusic, and fell immediately in love. They’re right in my British indie post-punk wheelhouse. 

I suck at band comparisons, but their musical sound is right in the zone occupied by their better-known compatriots Arctic Monkeys, Maximo Park, Franz Ferdinand, and Kaiser Chiefs, featuring jangly, fuzzy guitars and bright, upbeat rhythms. Rhys Jones’s vocals call to mind the croony warbling of The Rakes’ Alan Donohoe and the ranty half-speaking style of The Fall’s Mark E. Smith (combined with the earnest intensity of Pete Shelley). 

This song is high on the list of my current favorites – I can listen to it over and over:

That looks uncomfortable.

Rhys Jones’s vocals call to mind the croony warbling of The Rakes’ Alan Donohoe and the ranty half-speaking style of The Fall’s Mark E. Smith (combined with the earnest intensity of Pete Shelley). Times Change showcases the vocal similarities that make me love this band so much:

Their songs tend to revolve around matters of the heart, by turns plaintive or nostalgic (City By The Sea‘s “All I want’s a little more time to feel your heartbeat next to mine”) with an occasional foray into social/political critique (“How can you be so certain what you believe is the truth and what I believe in is not right?” from I Know). There’s nothing particularly mind-blowing or deep about them, but they aren’t especially vapid or naive either.

This is one of those very rare occasions when I discover a band I like a lot that is still active (unlike, say, The Rakes, who announced they were breaking up in late 2009, about three months before I found out about them). Good Shoes is (are?) currently touring in the UK; if they ever get to Chicago, I will be the first in line to buy tickets.

Welcome to the future

Earth | Time Lapse View from Space, Fly Over | NASA, ISS from Michael König on Vimeo.

Holy. Freaking. Crap.

I don’t think there is a better argument for continued efforts in space travel than the sheer gorgeousness of this video. Sure, you can talk all you want about scientific benefits, improved understanding of our world and the universe, not having all our eggs trapped in a single fragile basket, and so on. But I find the surge of awe and wonder engendered by this video to be far more inspiring than any of that.

Be sure to embiggen the video. It deserves your full screen.

Linguist Llama


Dammit. I am no longer a linguist, so these things are mostly going right over my head.

But it’s a llama. Goddam comedy gold.

How amazing would it be if a lolllama meme made me want to study linguistics again? (Not to mention how unlikely. There may be some Tennessee whiskey involved in my current thought processes.)

But come on. A llama. And linguistics. It’s destiny.