September 30, 2011
The Onion News Box

The Onion News Box
by dvanvliet, on Flickr

You’ve no doubt heard about the Onion kerfuffle that happened yesterday. They did an article about Congress holding kids ransom and “livetweeted” developments in realtime, and the Capitol police had to be called because people are stupid.

Most of the uproar stemmed from the first tweet, which simply said “BREAKING: Witnesses reporting screams and gunfire heard inside Capitol building.” Some people, including Chris Hayes, thought The Onion had been hacked; others apparently thought it was real. Michelle Malkin didn’t think it was funny because it made light of a serious issue (“Maybe if some of these humorists had relatives who worked in the Capitol they would have thought twice”), while one of the people in the comments said it was “equivalent to yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.” Xeni Jardin of Boing Boing called the tweet “troublesome” because it didn’t contain any “subtle indicators” of jokes like hashtags or links to longer comedy pieces, and insisted the joke had backfired (if her criteria for a backfired joke is “people fell for it,” then every Onion article has “backfired”). Apparently people are calling it a #TWITTERFAIL (I involuntarily shuddered as I typed that) for The Onion.

Here’s the thing, though. Yes, on its own, that tweet is not funny. But that’s because it’s not a joke. It’s the SETUP to a joke. Imagine if these people read someone tweeting “Man walks into a bar…” They’d go “Whoa whoa whoa. They didn’t make it clear this was a joke. There’s no indication this was a joke aside from the fact it came from Where is the funny? There’s nothing funny about a man walking into a bar. How can they joke about this when alcoholism is rampant? #notfunny #twitterfail #jokebackfire

It reminds me of the insane overreaction to that great New Yorker cover satirizing Barack Obama conspiracy theories. I barely remember what the reasoning behind the overreaction was, something about how it wasn’t clear it was a joke (obviously people should start putting JOKE ALERTS on jokes). In any case, pundits should stop playing Comedy Cops unless they have a degree from an accredited clown college.

September 27, 2011

delicious cloudsI guess it’s “complain about website redesigns” week here on! I have written before about social bookmarking website Delicious, now free of its Yahoo! owners. They announced a redesign/rehaul at midnight last night, and I eagerly clicked the link only to be greeted by a bunch of 502 errors. When I could finally get on, I was inundated with a bunch of “stacks,” which are collections of links with MORE MEDIA. It looks like an interesting feature but I doubt I’ll ever use it. Then, I discovered that basically all the functionality has been removed from the site and replaced with a bunch of whitespace. Currently, I can’t see all my tags (just the top 20 or so), there’s no way to change the amount of links on one page, you can’t see who saved a link (just the first person), editing my “profile” doesn’t work, the title bar says “ – Discover Yourself!” on EVERY page (isn’t that a big web no-no?), I can’t see links from my network unless I click each individual person, getting to my bookmarks involves two clicks (well, one “hover over a drop-down menu” and one click), clicking on “oldest” doesn’t actually take me to the oldest page (???), and more fun surprises I haven’t discovered yet, I’m sure. Now, it’s probably unfair to criticize them at this early juncture, since they say they’re working on adding the features back, I’m really not sure why they couldn’t have waited until all this stuff was taken care of instead of pushing out this redesign RIGHT THIS SECOND.

The previous incarnation of Delicious was one of the most beautiful sites on the web. It was nice to look at but it still had a ton of functionality under its deceptively simplistic exterior, and I’m sad to see that site go. It’s good that the new Delicious is trying to appeal to more people instead of remaining a niche utility, but it’s coming at the expense of alienating their existing users.

September 26, 2011

up with chris hayesI think Up with Chris Hayes, MSNBC’s new weekend morning show, is a good show and you should consider watching it. And I think I’ve liveblogged enough MSNBC shows for me to qualify as an expert on that channel. This is the show that Morning Joe wishes it could be: just a bunch of youngish journalists and academics sitting around a table, actually discussing things over coffee and baked goods. This being MSNBC, they’re pretty much all liberals, but there’s usually one conservative who serves as the odd man out. So far there’s been no hacks or lame talking point reciters, everyone is interesting and has interesting things to say. Host Chris Hayes is a likable guy – he’s not as sanctimonious as Lawrence O’Donnell or Keith Olbermann, he just seems like someone who’s still in college with a sincere intellectual curiosity about everything, and his giddiness is palpable. When I watch this show I actually feel like I’m learning something; usually when I watch Meet the Press and I hear John McCain or David Brooks repeat the same ol’ talking points, I can feel the hour I’ll never get back physically leaving my soul.

There’s a couple things that sorta bug me, though: one, the people in the control booth can be a little slow on the draw – frequently Hayes will ask “do we have that quote…?” and have to wait five seconds while they put it on screen; once he held up a book to the camera and they neglected to cut to that camera. Two, since this airs really early and I live on the west coast, I have to watch it on the Internet… which isn’t necessarily bad, but the clips from yesterday’s show were out of order, and some segments teased in other segments were omitted. MY IMMERSION WAS RUINED. Finally, I have yet to see anyone eat any of the baked goods on camera and it makes me really mad for some reason. Don’t just let it sit there and go to waste!

September 25, 2011
facebook timeline

I’ve been reading a bunch of articles about the new Facebook changes and I still don’t understand any of it. All this vain, self-aggrandizing “timeline” junk. Something about opening up the “like” button to other verbs. Something about reading sites from inside Facebook (???) (I see the days of AOL keywords are back). “Passive sharing” which sounds creepy as hell.

And I noticed the other day that if you click the drop-down arrow on a friend’s post it says (SUBSCRIBED TO [FRIEND]), as if your friends are just disposable magazines or something. It’s such a weird, dehumanizing choice of language. It’s something a weird robot from space would say. “ZERO-POINT-ZERO-ONE DOLLAR MONEYCOIN FOR YOUR BRAIN-FORMATIONS, HUMAN COMRADE”

I thought these guys were supposed to be the only ones who “get” social?

September 22, 2011
It’s been five years since I unleashed my Simpsons fansite,, on the world!!!

bart dancelisa musicbart dance

To mark the occasion I gave the site a spiffy redesign. Here’s what’s different:

  • The title is bigger and bolder
  • Social networks and share buttons up the wazoo
  • The episode guide has been split into five parts… this is to prevent the old episode guide from getting too big
  • An improved menu
  • Some minor edits & updates to the reviews, 36 types of episodes, and political labels pages… I might go back and make some major-er edits to those pages in the future

Most of the changes are behind-the-scenes:

  • Everything has transitioned from html to php
  • I rewrote the css from scratch… trying to make everything more consistent, and get out of bad habits
  • Every page has been marked up with metadata combining open graph and, so the sharing experience will be improved

And some upcoming stuff:

  • I’m cooking up some new pages I’m going to be adding in the coming months… stay tuned…
  • I will probably redesign the news section soon to make it more consistent
  • Might do a mobile stylesheet, if I can figure out how to do one. I tested the redesign in my brother-in-law’s iPad and it looks alright though I admit the sidebar links could be touch-friendlier. I don’t have a smartphone so I don’t know what it looks like there

Let me know if anything looks messed up or whatever, ok? Thanks

September 19, 2011
RIP Ziggy creator Tom Wilson


September 19, 2011

So I watched the Emmys last night… I wasn’t planning to, but it was on, and I had nothing better to do. The thing that really cheeses me off is that it’s this platform where they can help raise the profile of a critically-acclaimed but audience-challenged show, maybe give it a boost that’ll help it stave off cancellation for a while. But instead they just vote for like the four same shows over and over again. It’s really maddening. I know, I’m not supposed to care about award shows, but I invariably do.

I watched one episode of Modern Family about two years ago and I thought it was pretty okay. I chuckled a couple times. If, for some reason, I was held hostage and forced to watch sitcom reruns, and the hostage-taker was kind enough to allow me to choose which sitcom out of several pre-determined options, I would probably choose Modern Family over something like The King of Queens. It’s just a really average sitcom that for some reason the Emmy people have decided to be their official comedy show for the next four years (I guess this means 30 Rock‘s days in the sun are over).

Sidenote: I was never quite clear on whether Modern Family‘s supposed to be a fictional documentary, or if it’s just shot like one but isn’t. Not that there’s necessary anything with the latter approach; Arrested Development made good use of it. I remember there being a bunch of talking head scenes but no Jim-looks at the camera. Another Sidenote: I rewatched some of the original Office semi-recently, and I was a little surprised at the relative infrequency of talking head scenes compared to the current crop of mockumentary shows, where they take up about half the episode.

Edit: Mobutu Sese Seko (not sure if that’s his real name) wrote a much more articulate and coherent thing so please forget whatever I wrote above and read that

September 8, 2011

beebe x chalkyYou all know what shipping is, right? OK good.

I thought I’d take this opportunity to write down MY SHIPS, just for reference.

Disagree with my pairings? Well frankly I don’t care what you think. These are MY ships, and if you can’t see why these pairs would make the perfect couples, you need to open your eyes.

Maybe now people will stop sending me their Hermione x Draco fanfiction. Ugh!!! They are totally wrong for each other!

September 5, 2011

thank the makerYou know, whenever C-3PO says “Thank the maker,” he’s basically saying “Heil Hitler”

Just something to think about next time you’re watching a Star War

September 3, 2011





September 1, 2011

I thought Disney’s live-action Doug stage show was kind of nightmarish:

doug live

But that was before I saw this picture of their live-action Phineas & Ferb show:

phineas & ferb live

closeup of isabella in phineas & ferb live