thinglets: Shazbot! Cheryl Mork Sentenced for 3rd through 8th DWI

I don't know if she drank so that she could help see Orson, but apparently Cheryl Mork of Saratoga, Wisconsin just couldn't stay sober (and out of her car) long enough to get convicted for the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, or 7th offence of drunk driving. Instead, they had to package them all together in a tidy bundle that resulted in 3 years in prison, 180 days in jail, and 5 years extended supervision.

During her sentencing Mork apologize by sitting face first in a chair and saying, “I’d just like to apologize to my fellow human beings for putting their lives in danger.” Although she didn't add, "especially that 7th and 8th time 'cause I was really shitfaced! Na-Nu! Na-Nu!"

She was sentenced by Wood County Circuit Court Judge Zappen Jr., whose actions really hold little interest to me other than the fact that it has become my new favorite tongue twister... try it 5 times fast!

thinglets: Two Girls Married to Frogs

Well, when you thought you'd heard it all, something appears in the far periphery of your radar that just doesn't seem to make any sense. With this in mind, I offer up the lead from the article entitled "Two Girls Married Off to Frogs":

In a bizarre ritual, two minor girls, both seven, from the remote Pallipudupet village in Tamil Nadu's Villupuram district were married off to frogs on Friday night. The ceremony, an annual feature during the Pongal (harvest) festival, is conducted "to prevent the outbreak of mysterious diseases in the village."

I figure if we were, for years, ready to accept the marriage of Miss Piggy and Kermit, this isn't too far of a stretch... I fear, however, that California may have to set up another Prop referendum to make sure this doesn't happen in that state.

No word in on whether any of the frogs have turned into Prince or the frog formerly known as Prince.

Frog Prince

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.


thinglets: When Pandas Attack!

Apparently when there are over a billion people in a country I guess that, by process of elimination, that increases the total number of screwups. A giant panda at the Beijing zoo has now bitten the THIRD person who's fallen into its cage.

My favorite quote: "The panda is a national treasure, and I love and respect [him], so I didn't fight back," Zhang said. "The panda didn't let go until it chewed up my leg and its mouth was dripping with my blood."

You know what? I don't care if it's the Pope or President gnawing on my leg - I'm picking up the nearest rock or branch and going homerun derby on his skull.

psycho panda

thinglets: Panasonic Invents Paperless Fax

Why does this strike me like when my dad first said "I bought a cordless screwdriver" and I replied "Haven't they been cordless for centuries". Panasonic now wants you to buy a fax machine to essentially do email. With smartphones and internet messaging devices of all sizes, it make me wonder why someone would want to buy something the size of a fax machine to receive an email on. Can't people finally get behind the scanner/pdf process yet?

You can read about it here if your Japanese is good or here if it's old reliable English you crave. If not, you can take solace in the fact that if you haven't sent a fax in years, and wonder why people still do, you're really not missing out by shaking free of the early adoption on this one.

paperless fax

thinglets: Boy Scout Gets All 121 Merit Badges

Okay, first off, "Badges? We don't need no steenking badges!"

Seriously, congrats to the boy/man who's 18 now, but that's not the point. One might as well be dedicated to something. I never was a scout or a cadet or anything that required formations. If I could get a merit badge for blogging, maybe I'd also stitch it to a sash. My concerns lie more in some of the 121 subjects that these badges are based on.

  • American Business (updated in 2003) - Already obsolete. See "recession" or go back to pamphlets from the early 1930's.
  • Aviation (initiated 1911) - read: How to drum up pilots to fight the Kaiser.
  • Basketry - really!?!
  • Cinematography - And so we find what all those Steven Spielberg donations were really all about before he resigned in 2001.
  • Collections - I guess it's deconstructionist to just claim one is collecting badges.
  • Computers - That this was initiated in 1967 is a bit scary... Boy Scouts or Bilderberg!?!
  • Fingerprinting - what was the motto again, To Serve and Protect?
  • Golf - What!?! that a Titleist?
  • Graphic Arts - Teaching Scouts to Photoshop their first crush's face onto celebrity bodies.
  • Indian Lore - I'm sure the folks in New Delhi will be thrilled.
  • Journalism - Not a bad idea, but I'm at a loss as to who might be qualified to teach journalism these days.
  • Mammal Study - read: Sex Ed.
  • Motorboating - Getting ready for your future in the Hamptons.
  • Railroading - Am I just cynical or isn't this the same as American Business?
  • Rifle Shooting AND Shotgun Shooting - Two different badges. I suppose if you're bad enough at Rifle Shooting they just give you a Shotgun to spray your prey into tenderized little bits.
  • Stamp Collecting - Soon to become Domain Squatting.

Like I said, I applaud the young man for enduring what must have been some torturous endeavors to attain all 121 badges. I'm curious as to whether, under the multiple Citizenship badges, Scouts are required to learn tolerance for sexual orientation as well considering the leadership fought like hell to remove Scoutmasters for being gay in 2000.

Then again the Scout Oath calls for all Scouts to be "morally straight".

Boy Scout Badges

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!