lovehate: MemeMakers

In being thoroughly discouraged by what cuts it as an internet meme these days, I've decided to do a little deconstruction in determining what make a meme into the little slice of temporary pop culture phenomena that it is.

First, let's not deceive ourselves into thinking that ascertaining a meme's popularity is totally predictable. I maintain that a mainstream meme is the result of sheer luck and circumstance of a well-placed tweet or digg by a popular blogger, or a surreptitious mention on a popular podcast. So if one's heart is set on creating the next big meme, where does one begin?

Ingredient One: I Can Mistake Inglish?

Back as far as "All Your Base Are Belong To Us" people have flocked to mildly humorous examples of the English language being misrepresented or completely mismanaged to create a lasting effect that ranges from the silly to the absurd. Of course several years after the "Base" meme ran its course, "I can has cheezburger" kept up the trend, but included what will become our second step. The "Base" meme, due to its early nature, took longer to evolve and, because of it, stuck around longer. Several music and video remixes were made that required a certain level of expertise and allowed for the endurance of "Base".

Ingredient Two: Animalz R Phunny

Whether it's a cat, owl, or prairie dog, the sure sense of a odds-on meme will include an animal of some sort. With popularity going back to the early days of cats making unsuccessful jumps from sofas to tables, people love to see animals in two different scenarios: 1) being cute, 2) wiping out. The animal memes rely heavily on the minor abilities of people to use image editing to add text to photos. The partial, yet relatively minor skills involved in pushing this type of meme forward will spread it far more quickly, but ultimately cause it to flame out quicker.

Ingredient Three: Unmotivationals

The minor Photoshopping skills that people require for the text/animal mashups can also be used to create faux motivational posters. While this has become a meme in itself that would have run its course, the endless content that can be adapted has kept this satirical or parody-inspired practice in vogue. Also, the sheer ridiculous factor of the ever-growing original Motivators will continue to inspire this knockoff meme.

Ingredient Four: People Say/Do the Stupidest Things

"Stupid" people (read: wrong time, wrong place, wrong words for many of them) initiate this style of meme that propagates through video. Let's face it, it only takes the flailing of Star Wars Kid or a beauty pageant candidate exposing her sheer idiocy to capture the imagination of a mashup web generation. Remember "I like turtles!", "I'm not taking my glasses off", or "Leave Britney Alone!" If you don't, you must have been away from the web or ignoring the Fw:fw:fw: in your webmail boxes during the perfect time period. The stupidity inspires mashups, knockoffs, and responses that can keep these memes alive for a few weeks. The ease of use in spreading the word about these clips have made them some of the most popular memes of all. After all, what does it really take to email a youtube link to a friend, post it on twitter or facebook, or blog about it? But even if video dries up, you can always just add text to a picture of a person caught in an embarrassing situation that reads "EPIC FAIL!"

Ingredient Five: The Unexpected

From the early efforts of people being redirected to gross out porn to the more recent efforts that have revived Rick Astley's career through Rickrolling, the ability of someone to perform misdirection in link text or similar disguise has become as much an email meme as it has a web meme. Microblogging is a ripe medium for such an effort as it has become so simple to type "You Have to See This Car Accident" and then have the url redirect to Astley or a dozen other crazy clips. Kind of the laziest practical joke going, the misdirected link to unexpected content will always be around in one form or another.

And so we come to the part of the post where I try to create the ultimate meme. While I will try to incorporate as many of the ingredients as possible, I may not hit all of them. Cats have been done to death so I'm mashing up a picture of a soft-shelled turtle splayed out on the sand with its head half peeking out with the all upper case captions "I NEEDZ VIAGRA" across the top and "CLIC HERE TO HELP" across the bottom. In blazing red upper and lower case mix, diagonal to the top right we have "EPiC SHeLL FaiL" and the entire picture, when clicked, links to the misdirection video clip from an 80s band. While I've missed out on the Motivational parody and the human aspect in the original content, I do believe the goofy humans in the video make up for it. So we have a 1-2-5 meme with a dash of post 4.

Please feel free to send the link to as many friends as you like or mashup your own soft-shelled turtle viagra jokes as you can muster... I feel cheap and dirty.


lovehate: Social Network Porn

Hot on the heels of a Reuters story that speaks of pictures of women breastfeeding being censored from the site, several question have popped into my mind regarding the future of social networking as a part of life... okay, the title was a bit of tagline baiting.

Obvious question: If it was a man breastfeeding (or at least portraying the act of breastfeeding) would the reaction have been different? (All Family Guy fans, here's the clip you're looking for.)

If it is acceptable for a woman to breastfeed in public, how is not acceptable that an online social network of the same people cannot accept pictures of said act?

Second obvious question: Censorship concerns aside, why would anyone want to post a picture of themself breastfeeding?

The article quotes a FB rep who claims"the photos we act upon are almost exclusively brought to our attention by other users who complain." ...which users? Doesn't Facebook work on the premise that those who can see your pics should be friends or acquaintances? Why is a stranger trolling FB profiles for breastfeeders?

If social networks are to become the consolidated evolution of social intercourse in our society, then surely the gatekeepers of these networks should reflect the global views of the people that inhabit them and not the outraged complainers.

Third obvious question: Does this mean we're going to have a rash of women posting pictures of themselves breastfeeding to make a point?

Now don't get me wrong, I fully advocate a website's right to dictate terms of use. I just think a platform like Facebook, which claims such acts are necessary to "protect children", has done little to curb pictures and videos of people drinking, smoking, or pulling stunts which cause bodily harm. Aren't these practices potentially far more damaging to children than happening to see a nipple or two? Wasn't Facebook supposed to be doing a better job at keeping children off it's site where they may be subject to predators... especially the one's trolling for breastfeeding pics?

Fourth obvious question: Why should Facebook get to define obscenity?

Let's put our cards on the table. Facebook and other social networking platforms and sites want to move a large chunk of our social discourse and intercourse online, and, I'll admit, I've bought in. I tweet, facebook, myspace, plurk, friendfeed, and ping a-plenty. But we are coming to a crunch where the line will either be drawn or crossed as to the degree I can take such online exchanges. I would hope that all things that would be acceptable in my everyday life, between friends, families and acquaintances, would be fine in my online dialogues. I would hope that I wouldn't have to live in fear of a stalwart social networking site, on whim, pulling the plug on a tool I have now turned to in directing much of my communication. I don't want to think of how many old friends I follow solely on Facebook that would be lost if my account was ever pulled.

I don't like a website having that much power over my network. And while I fully admit that I am the one giving them the set up for such a fiasco to occur... isn't that their goal? Isn't the idea that Facebook can go to investors and sponsors and say we've got this demographic at this percentage, and they would leave us if Barack Obama told them to on Twitter? All it would take is the following checkbox beside a newly-uploaded pic: "If you think a child under 12 or their parent could be offended by this picture, please check this box and we'll ask any viewer to confirm age before looking." Let the users police themselves!

We are not idiots. We are not disrespectful. We are trying it your way, but with a user-generated monetization model you'd best listen to most of us and not just prudish porn miners.

Don't become like television networks that refuse to allow real language, situations, or views of the human body for fear of advertising revenues. Be the user experience we want and need you to be and we will follow you to the end of the web... or the year... or until you sellout... or until something better comes along - hey, we're nipple - I mean FICKLE!


lovehate: The Week of Lists

For many years, growing up, the week between Xmas and New Year's was simply a week to exhaust every minute of playing time with every new toy I'd received and do my best to avoid wearing any of the new clothes until they were incorporated into my wardrobe when school restarted.

As I got older, the week became an opportunity to hang out with friends, maybe indulge in a few beverages, and count down the days until the real world would descend upon us once again. This also became the time that I developed an affectation for college bowl games where I had no history, no idea, or no stake in the teams, but I simply appreciated the fact there was a game that seemed to mean something on every night. I have since learned that games like the "San Diego County Credit Union Bowl" probably don't mean anything at all except to the teams, their fans, and the execs of the San Diego County Credit Union. This is also the time I learned to appreciate a uniquely Canadian pastime of watching the early round games World Junior Hockey Championships in what was usually some remote Finnish city spelled with six Ks, 14 Ms, and the occasional I or E thrown in for good measure.

As I moved into the phase of my life where pop culture and media became omnipresent in all non-working moments, I came to a new understanding of what this week meant for media outlets: "The Top Ten Best of Worst of Most Interesting Fill in the Blanks of the Year"

So as we move into the Week of Lists, I turn to my new favorite medium, the web, to provide me with further validation for dubbing this week with such a moniker.

The venerable Time magazine has deemed GasBuddy as a best "Advice and Facts" website of the year. While some may think the address leads to a fetish site for flatulence, the page actually allows you to track where the cheapest gasoline prices are across the United States. I can already tell, by using the site, that the next time I fill up, I should drive to Texas. What I really want to know is how "groundbreaking" are they considering themselves with their 10 Essential Websites: Wikipedia, Yahoo Finance, Craigslist, ESPN, Yelp, Facebook, Digg, Google, TMZ and Flickr? Do we really need a list like this? The only site on this list that may even remotely be a stretch of knowledge to people living outside a large urban area is Yelp, and, in many cases, even if they went there, they might not find much local information anyway.

Time's Top Gadget is the Peek Email Browser that's only $99, but has a $20/month fee to do nothing but email. Here's an idea. Take the $240 you'll spend on the Peek subscription next year and buy an iPod Touch that'll let you do email anywhere there's Wi-Fi.

Amazon's Book of the Year is The Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher. Other than sounding like a Robert Ludlum title gone wrong, I can't say I know anything about this book, and, as it possibly may be the next American classic, maybe I should find out... hmmm... "The Northern Clemency begins at the perimeter of a late-summer party, amidst a din of neighbors gossiping one moment and navigating awkward silences the next. But once you encounter the Glover family--in particular, their languidly handsome teenage son Daniel--there's no turning back." Hell, if there's no turning back, I'd better not begin. I'm not too keen on reading about the "languidly handsome". Apparently neither is the Library Journal who's list contained a couple of dozen books with Hensher's nowhere to be found.

Lifehacker has taken the "Best of" list to its deconstructionist next step with The Most Popular Top Ten Lists of 2008 that have to do with all things Life2.0. Of course, for some reason, they chose 20 Top Ten Lists... and that just doesn't jive with my Top Ten sensibilities. I do, however, heartily recommend the Top Ten Conversation Hacks from August. It is rich with ways to feign interest and blow people off. has declared MGMT as their artist of the year based on user "scrobbles" and their number one album is Coldplay's Viva La Vida. NME names MGMT's Oracular Spectacular as the best CD. Amazon's 2008 album is Only by the Night from Kings of Leon. Blender and New York Magazine pimp L'il Wayne's Tha Carter Ill. The LA Times, the NY Times, The Onion and Rolling Stone pump Dear Science by TV On The Radio. And Fleet Foxes self-titled release takes number one from Mojo, Pitchfork and Under the Rader.

But my 2008 number one for useless lists goes to People magazine. And so, put on your helmets for some of the most useless, subjective choices of irrelevant celebrity topics (because celebrities really are people too):

  • Most Talked About Star: Britney Spears
  • Most Intriguing Hookup: John Mayer and Jennifer Aniston
  • Couple Most Likely to make it to 2018: Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner
  • Best Baby Style: Kingston Rossdale (for those who care, Gavin Rossdale and Gwen Stefani's kid ((for those who really care, Gavin Rossdale used to be popular as an emo singer in the band Bush)))
  • Best Body After Baby: Halle Barry
  • Best Boyfriend: Jake Gyllenhaal
  • Best Chest: Mario Lopez
  • Best Bikini Body: Jessica Alba
  • Best Celeb Smackdown: Charlie (Sheen) v. Denise (Richards)
  • Best Baby Name: Harlow Winter Kate Madden (Nicole Ritchie's kid)
  • Funniest Celeb on the Web: Sarah Silverman and Matt Damon

I feel dirty.

But shouldn't one feel at least a bit wrong in summing up people's lives, work, artistic endeavors, and business into incomprehensible selections that often defy logic and scream for validation. Shouldn't there be a nagging, twitching fear that in reading these lists I'm giving credence to an exercise that can serve no purpose but to perplex and infuriate? Can there possibly be a reason to sustain the media-frenzy madness that is "Best of" week? I suppose I could go back to watching bowl games or playing with toys. Instead, I will chum the shark-infested waters of list making with some choices of my own.
  • Best Movie: WALL-E
  • Best CD: Bend Sinister - Stories of Brothers, Tales of Lovers
  • Best Concert I Attended: Martin Tielli (Casbah, Hamilton ON)
  • Best Internet Radio - CBC Radio 3
  • Best Sci-fi TV: Doctor Who (BBC)
  • Best Variety TV: The Daily Show
  • Best Drama TV: Dexter
  • Best Comedy TV: Big Bang Theory
  • Best BitTorrent Search Engine: isoHunt
  • Best Twitter App: Tweetdeck
  • Best New Blogging Site:
  • Best New Microblogging Tool:
  • Best Free App Download: Chrome
  • Best Daily Podcast (Tech):
  • Best Weekly Podcast (Tech): This Week in Tech
  • Best Weekly Video Podcast (Pop Culture): Totally Rad Show
  • Best Decision I Made: Starting to Blog and Podcast at
Happy Week of Lists all! Hopefully we can all share in each other's pain as we endure the memories and suppositions of pop culture pundits for the next week until life begins anew in 2009. Until then, go rent WALL-E and catch up on Dexter and Doctor Who. You won't be sorry.


lovehate: Waiting in Style

I'll be the first to admit that I can be a pretty cheap bastard when it comes to most things. In ridiculous ways too - not at all consistent. I'll spend a bunch of time trying to get the best price for a room in Vegas, but won't balk at the hundreds of dollars I may lose in a session of blackjack. I will wait weeks for the right deal on a flight. Just recently I booked a short flight between Phoenix and Las Vegas as part of trip home after the holidays and waited two months for the price to go down from $59US to $41US... I probably lost money considering the Canadian dollar has crashed in that time.

What I have miserly with is the differences in decimals between gas stations. I almost always get my gas at one chain because it allows me to maximize my Flight Plan points which gets me a flight on a yearly basis. And this extra spending on gas (and dozens of other Point collecting techniques) has allowed me to fly - for the first time mind you - Air Canada's Executive Class to Las Vegas. More on this in a minute.

I arrived at the Toronto airport four hours in advance and, while this may seem ridiculous to many people, hoped I wouldn't have to endure repeated Bataan death marches of check-in, customs, carry-on scans, etc.. Much to my surprise the foot traffic at the airport was almost like a ghost town. With the amount of snow this area received last night, and expected to get tomorrow night, I thought there would be cattle calls of people wanting to get out ASAP. Apparently I was mistaken.

And so I find myself with near three hours to kill waiting for my flight to Las Vegas. Then I remember about the Executive Class booking. Such a booking has qualified me for admittance to the Terminal One Maple Leaf Club in the Toronto Airport. I feel like I've walked out an Amtrak station and onto the deck of the QE2.

Laid out before me is a quadruple spigot tap for pouring pints, about a dozen liquor bottles uptipped in shot positions, a cooler of every soft drink under the sun and a small group of people looking quite content. Not having a job where I can expense Executive flight upgrades, this world is foreign to me. It's almost too quiet. No announcements, sound-proofing, panoramic views of the runways... I feel like this is Eloi world that this lone Morlock has stumbled into. Mix me up a batch of soma-infused Freshie, I'll join the "club".

I never thought waiting at the airport could be so antiseptically-different from mixing it up with the embattled hordes jostling for room at the gates. Dear me, have I become elitist... maybe I'll come down to earth seven hours from now as I walk into my $50/night room at the Sahara on the Vegas Strip. I'll think back to the fond memories of free internet, free drinks, pomo stylings, and people who look too cool to care. Then I'll go down into the casino and see it all over again.

Tom Petty once opined, "the waiting is the hardest part." Surely he can get his agent to book him into Executive Class next time. C'mon Tom, you don't have to live like a refugee!

(PIC: not my Maple Leaf Club, but looks the same)

lovehate: The Church of Baudhism

The WEB is my shepherd; I shall not doubt.
It maketh me to dive into vast communities: it leadeth me to confide my thoughts.
It restoreth my soul: it leadeth me in the paths of hypertext for the clean code.
Yea, though I surf through the torrents and flashes with spyware, I will fear no evil: your apps are with me; the scan and the quarantine comfort me.
Thou preparest a browser before me to learn of the faceless: thou anointest my mind with wiki; my apprehension becomes understanding; 
Surely CPUs and broadband will follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell with the Web and the Network for ever.

- The Word of Baud

While some of you may be railing in sacriligious overtones of blasphemy and heresy, surely many of you must realize that the Web has become the one of the largest churches in the world. Hundreds of millions of us attend every day to read the good words of the preachers and prophets and skeptics and soothsayers all contributing to the word of Baud.

Baudhism's followers as of June 2008 total 1.46 billion people. While still behind the 1.9 billion Christians in the world, this easily overtakes all other major religions. I understand that most you are thinking that there is no way the Web could be considered a religion. I ask you to consider the following definition of religion from

"A religion is a of way of life based on tenets (or a belief system) about the ultimate power. It is generally expressed through conducts such as prayers, rituals, or other practices, often centered upon specific supernatural and moral claims about reality (the cosmos, and human nature) which may yield a set of religious laws. Religion also encompasses ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and religious experience."

The Web is a way of life for many people. It helps to define their existence. It facilitates communication. It sets the boundaries for what's considered sacred and profane within its own parameters. It provides, challenges, and allows for diverse beliefs all in one system. It accepts differences while galvanizing them all in two common frameworks: Web - the word, and Web2.0 - beyond the word. Such frameworks are subservient to the ultimate power: Network - which is, beyond the servers and the cable, the minds which make it up.

The beliefs are expressed through rituals and practices that gather up flocks by interest or history or geography. We script, we blog, we message, we update, we tweet, we read the good word of other people, we interpret and we believe. It seeks to explain the unexplainable. It seeks to define good and evil. It encourages creativity. It has zealots to be sure, but is fully accepting of those who just visit from time to time to make their contributions.

The Web defines us by defining our times and by seeking to redefine history. The winners may have written the history books, but the losers now have a voice of their own and a worldwide audience.

Lastly, people have faith in the web. That Wikipedia is taken as gospel and social networks have usurped traditional places of worship happened in no small part due to people believing in the general good of the Network.

It is said of religion that one only gets out of it what they're willing to put in. Such is the same with the Web. Our most passioned advocates are those acolytes who devote their lives to serving the Network to make the Web better. For them there is no greater reward than the work itself. I'm sure that less than a century ago, people would have considered it god-like for one person's thoughts to reach almost everyone in the world within seconds. And the Web makes this possible.

Baudhism does not disavow anyone for adhering to another belief system based on traditional mysticism. Baudhism embraces diversity, tolerance, individuality, creativity and participation. The Network shall allow access and allow inclusion, but not ensure popularity or status. As any religion, the Web can be used as a tool for such things, but these are not the ends of the Web in itself.

Embrace Baudhism. Identify yourself as a Baudhist on your next census. Celebrate holidays of any denomination because they allow people to stay home and spend more time with Web. Send greetings, send mail, chat, upload, download, interact. Become part of the trinity:

You belong to the Web.
The Web belongs to the Network. 
The Network belongs to you.

The Web

lovehate: how we hide

When Aaron Sorkin's oft-imitated Colonel Jessop storms "You can't handle the truth!", most of us sit in eager anticipation for Tom Cruise to work his manipulative magic and rip the truth from the smug colonel's countenance.

Some of the most common themes in literature arise around the tug of war topic between appearance and reality. Fiction, however, does not hold eminent domain over such a struggle. Most people spend their waking hours delving into all aspects of trying to hide reality from others and themselves while, at the same time, demanding transparency from everyone around them.

Whether it's the "flattering" clothes we choose, or the cosmetic alterations, or the airs of grandeur we adopt, we do our very best to conceal and hide what we consider a flawed reality from everyone else. We work to fulfill expectations that aren't our own by wearing certain styles. While most people admit a fondness for being able to lounge around in a t-shirt and sweats on a weekend, we are quite willing to adorn ourselves according to expectations. We will don the business suit and tie and carry the cow hide portfolio. We will gather around the water cooler or surreptitiously open chat windows to compare notes on the previous night's reality television escapades or try to derive gossip from who's spending too long in each other's office. We would be horrified to find ourselves on the speculative end of rumor, but are quite willing to exercise, with reckless abandon, character dissections of others based on the most miniscule tidbits of information. It's a small wonder we take such pains to hide in public.

We decorate our houses in the acceptable fashions, buying furniture endorsed by television homemakers if over 35 and Swedish box store consortia if under. We hang posters and prints and pictures and paintings to microcast the inner-workings of our sensitive minds to those that walk by and ponder. We allow clutter to happily gather around us for a week and will relish basking in its fort-like structures until an hour before company comes and it all must vanish in an effort to convince friends and acquaintances that we foster pristine, perfect living spaces. We have collections of place settings that remain in cloistered velvet-lined boxes or on display in glass-doored cabinets that we only use with a special brand of event or assembly. We spend hours, days and sometimes weeks on crafting our yards into elaborate Home and Garden pictorials in an effort to send a message. If the medium is the message, and our front lawns are the medium, we need to learn new languages.

We create online personas that seek to enhance our best qualities and obliterate our worst. We try to impart wisdom in 140 characters or less. We post links to oddly-interesting websites that we think other people will also like, but, more importantly, will create a perception of cutting-edge cool in whichever milieu we choose to categorize ourselves. We social network with people we met one night at a bar and will never see again. We've seen pictures of their family and friends in our feeds and, for the time being, seem to know more about them than some of our own family members. We reduce our 3D reality down to 2D profiles. We use Facebook as a verb. We twitter, plurk, friendfeed, ping, and google each other to derive snippets of information that will further feed our eternal quest to think we "know" about someone better that they think we do.

We speak less than honestly, but rarely completely dishonest. We know how to spin a message yet get infuriated upon discovering the media has. We want to divulge enough to stay relevant but not enough to make us obsolete. We obfuscate better than any press secretary. We politic better than any politician. We can manipulate as well as any cult leader, though sometimes our guilt gets in the way. We find ways to avoid conversations when the topic seems too tedious. We find ways to push conversations when our comfort zones allow for insight. We can cut to the quick to make a statement, to make a point, to make an enemy, to make an ally. We throw up shields. We duck and cover. We block emails, unlist our numbers, disassociate and move to new streets, cities and countries all in the effort to avoid truth.

Colonel Jessop was right. We can't handle the truth. Because while it sits out there like the Grail, the Fountain of Youth, or the Pot of Gold, the quest is always more important than the prize itself. What do you do when you find the Holy Grail? Have a pint?

lovehate: Living in the Chrome Trench of the Browser War

So for the past two weeks I've been trying an experiment. And while I'm loathe to call anything I do shiny or sparkly, I suppose, in a very metaphorical way, both those words would apply. I've come to the realization that I'm slowly becoming a Google fanboy and, with this in mind, I have been exclusively using the Chrome browser for the past two weeks.

Let me lay a little browser history on you though. When I first started on the net, it was through BBS calls at all hours of the day and night. Such exchanges basically included forum posts back and forth between a small group who has been permitted access. Soon after (when the www became a reality) I moved to the Lynx browser which handled only text and was, at the time, the greatest tool I'd ever seen - I honestly didn't even know what a gopher was before Lynx. Browser reality changed forever with the onslaught of NCSA's Mosaic. Which allowed for graphical browsing for the first time and consolidated many of the existing internet protocols so almost all of them could be viewed in one web application... I can't believe that was only fifteen years ago. Mosaic gave way to Netscape and Netscape Gold, which I was a fond devotee of for at least a couple of years until one day I woke up and found myself an Internet Explorer disciple, unwavering and unflinching for many years.

Sometime last year, I finally made the Mozilla Firefox leap and was glad for having done so. IE was falling quickly falling too far behind the times. The add-ons and plug-ins opened up a new realm of browsing that seemed a natural evolution. But, like those of us that filled our early web pages with animated gifs and flashing text, I realized that, ultimately, the overbearing number of tweaks and add-ons to my Firefox experience was creating a garish experience. The browser was taking a minute to load with all of the plug-ins and the five homepage tabs. While I knew I could strip down the options within Firefox, my fanboy meter was piqued when Chrome was released a few months back.

So while I was still having fun with my two dozen Firefox add-ons, I made a conscious effort to pare down my browsing frills. I had dabbled a bit with Chrome and the speed was definitely impressive. Two weeks ago, I began an experiment that has led me to making Chrome my default browser with no desire to turn back.

The benefits are numerous: speed, integrated search/address bar, speed, more screen real estate for web pages, incognito browsing windows, and probably the most appropriate portal browser you'll be able to get for the ever-expanding Google Labs, Betas, and other Apps. Also, because it's my default browser, my computer now contains nostalgic remembrances of the electronic game Simon for every html icon. 

There are drawbacks as well. When one gets used to the multi-functionality of two dozen plugins like TwitterFox, Digg, weather reports, autoposting to various microblogs, the diversity of options can be infectious. I struggled for a couple of days trying to figure out how I could survive in Chrome without having to go back to Firefox all the time... such an examination, however, yielded serendipitous results in may cases.

I immediately downloaded Tweetdeck after months of convincing myself I didn't really need it with a plugin like TwitterFox. Now Tweetdeck has a permanent home on my screen real estate. I discovered I really didn't miss Digg pop-ups every 5 minutes and that my ability to one-click post to Pownce was... well, poor Pownce - we hardly knew ye. I found the Google Application Shortcuts were a great way to always have my calendar available in an instant and that I could make almost any page into it's own browser app.

All in all, I'm quite satisfied that this Chrome conversion will have some life to it. I'll admit, there still are some bugs to be worked out in terms of some page that just don't seem to want to render smoothly every time, but those are few and far between. I'm hoping that when the onslaught of Chrome add-ons hits over the next few months, I will have the tempered resolve to not go too crazy and only pick what I need.

I don't do product reviews on lovehatethings in the traditional sense. I've maintained that short of a willingness to love or hate something, I will reserve judgment until further review. I don't do stars or thumbs ups or "out of 10s". So when I say I've put Firefox aside for the time being, I don't want to imply I hate it. I still love Firefox. I just love Chrome a little bit more... but I'm fickle - blow me away Flock!


lovehate: The Pains of Iodine

There was one word that scared the living hell out of everyone who skinned a knee or elbow as a child: iodine. Iodine hurt like hell. It was a combination of pain as well. Most types of pain can be described as searing for a minute and then it's okay, or a long-term irritation that never makes you tear up, but can cause you major discomfort with the occasional wincing. I always remember iodine as a "take no prisoners" new ring of Dante's Inferno.

Now, admittedly, I can't remember many of the details of iodine pain as a child except for the fact that I would have rather hacked my limb off than have iodine applied. Hell, there were plenty of times I may have accepted amputation and cauterizing as long as it was not followed by venom-like sting of iodine.

I can honestly say that the most intense pain I've ever felt in my life was when, in my early 20s, I had minor surgery on my back and, instead of stitching the wound, they advised letting it heal while keeping it bandaged and packed with gauze. Some of you may be feeling faint at the concept of an open wound, yet, those of you who have even a minor experience in surgery at all may know that this method can prevent future infection... anyway... back to my back, and my pain. Before leaving the hospital, as a means of disinfecting, and what I'm guessing was a standard wound dressing practice, they placed an iodine-coated dry strip in the incision.

I cannot describe the plummeting depths of pain that I went through. The only thing I could've imagined as worse was if Rod Stewart had tried to ressurect his career by remaking three CDs full of R&B hits and those songs being the only ones on your iPod, which was stuck in shuffle mode so the pain (like any good torture) was fresh and unexpected each time, while you were stuck on a desert island with the earbuds sutured into your ears, the headphone jack welded into the Shuffle, and the iPod battery on some freaky new solar battery technology, which, due to the island's location, kept the batteries fully charged.

This pain seemed to go on for hours, although it was more like a minute before I was able to convince the nurse to remove the strip and find some other way that wouldn't have me looking for the nearest upper floor window. While I can't claim to be traumatized by the event, it has become the standard by which all other pain is measured... ergo the complete parallel of the Rod Stewart example.

And I bring you through all of my personal hell to introduce the following... (ironically enough) pointed to a story about a Canadian initiative that claimed the deficiency of iodine in food and drink can lead to a 13 point deficiency in IQ. The Micronutrient Initiative has introduced more iodine in the diet of developing countries and gathered evidence to show how IQ has increased. I think that few would be surprised to accept a link between nutrition and intelligence. I daresay that one of the numerous reasons children from lower income socio-economic areas have problems in school is a result of a healthy and consistent diet. I'm not saying iodized salt will solve the world's ills, but it's good to have a long-known piece of the puzzle has another piece of empirical data.

There must, however, be a growing fear in many of these developing countries. Many of people are overworked, underpaid, impoverished and hopeless. Woe to be the government that actually has a growing populace that can start to think of a way out of their positions and consider change. Woe to be the western conglomorate exec. who has a shoe or clothing factory that pays pennies on the dollar for a 12-16 hour day of work when their workforce suddenly feels inspired with thoughts or evolution and revolution. Poverty and malnutrition has always been a more powerful tool than any gun or army in keeping a class subdued. Are governments ready, willing and able to face the full impact and pains of social change that a nutrient as simple as iodine can bring?

And I introduced that just to bring you back to this...

I fully believe that the pain I felt from my iodine hell was in fact the knowledge of the world trying to flood into my limited brain, and that, had I the fortitude to withstand the pain, I would now be the smartest person in the world.

iodized salt

lovehate: 4.2 billion to 16.7 million to 65000 to 256 to 2

Is it just me or does the world sometimes look better in shades of gray?

I'm speaking on literal and metaphorical levels here, because while I often crave bright, vibrant colors or stark black and white, often all I end up with is the 256 fountain steps of gray.

From a purely illusory perspective, many people look WAY better in a grayscale (read: "black and white") picture as opposed to being exposed in the full color spectrum. For some reason the little flaws that we can see at 4.2 billion colors start to fade away, or become insignificant, at 256. The photographers will say that this so-called "black and white" image allows for sharper definitions of contrast and allows us to see things more clearly. I suppose, in some ways, I can by that, but completely? Back to this in a minute.

In a world of politics and debate, with arguments thrown about like so many flailing matches from a pre-pubescent pyromaniac, games are often played with color, black and white, and shades of gray. Many is the time a politician will try to sell the black and white, while floundering around in the gray, with every consequence of every decision affecting the realities of those in full color. Politicians are afraid color - and I'm not talking ethnicity here, I'm simply talking reality - because their game-playing occurs on boards, on maps, on committees, and on public display, but little of it has to do with touching reality as a prime motivator. Politicians push money around for ideological purposes, claiming that the left is right or that the right has left the building, when really their 2D glasses only permit them to see the gray of the newspapers or pundit websites or the straining pixels of primetime news.

If politicians were to look at the world in color, they would start to see the flaws, not just in the system - which is a statistic - but in faces of everyone who they claim to represent; each of which is a tragedy. It is far easier to look at reports on poverty from your home constituency than to walk the neighborhoods on a day when social assistance is still a week away and the cupboards are empty. It is far easier to look at low area test scores in schools and blame the curriculum, the textbooks or the teachers for mis-educating children who walk through embittered streets without breakfast every winter morning in worn out no-name running shoes. It is far easier to shut down public hospital emergency rooms in the name of efficiency than to face the one family who lost a father, mother, sister or brother because the reported distance "new" closest ER, which was spun in the newspapers as only six minutes further, didn't take into account rush hour traffic and construction. If politicians were to look at the world in color, they would, no doubt, be stunned into a silence at the ineffectiveness of their game, and proceed to hurl the box, dice, fake money, hotels, houses, race car, iron, boot, thimble, top hat and all into the nearest open flame. It's not that a politician, on average, can't see color; it's simply too painful to look.

And so we defend our beliefs in black and white. We spout statistics and spin numbers and count and add and multiply and generate long, intricate reports with copious circling in red ink and meaningfully-highlighted grand totals. We take the black and white and, with all the best intentions, set out to resolve the issues. But the issues are not black and white anymore. The issues are grey and mottled. They are borne on the backs of centuries of value and belief systems. They are entrenched in histories of languages, totems, borders, rituals, and power struggles. All of the sudden, our black and white numbers and words don't seem so black and white anymore. All of the sudden our best intentions become lost in the give and take. All of the sudden the solution for 4.2 billion individuals has been reduced to two sides that, instead of being flexible enough to accommodate the most possible, has been pared down to accommodate 2: the remaining person at either side of the table.

Though I have been hammering politicians as an optimal example, the simple truth is that politician in all of us, who concedes, consorts, collaborates, convinces, controls, and conquers, is just as guilty. Isn't it easier for us to avoid the real? As bright and vibrant as 4.2 billion shades are, and as beautiful, inspiring and rich as this diversity bestows, for most of us, the world sometimes looks better in shades of gray. Because while the clarity of color that sometimes pierces the veil can make life worth living, it can also make life worth questioning. And so I watch, without guilt or shame, because neither would prompt such change as is necessary to make me lift the blinders 24/7. And maybe that's the greatest flaw in all of us.