posts tagged with 'internet'

back online with a few updates

I was without the internet for a few days while Dan took my computer into work to teach some awesome iMovie summer camp. I didn't miss much in my time away from connectivity: one email from a friend, 145 spam emails, 8 blog posts in the RSS. I feel like it's a very peaceful time in my life right now, where no one relies on me to be online and I don't rely on the line so much for stimulation. Though I did freak out that Dan was taking away my calorie counter. I've been using the MyPlate app on livestrong.com to a degree that borders on idolatry. But after I told Dan, "It's fine; I'll just get fat," he pointed out that I could log into my account from Harvey's iPad. I don't know if that counts as recreational internet use or not. At any rate, the ice cream I inhaled today did not go unrecorded.

Speaking of livestrong.com and their calorie and fitness counter, I've noticed they associate a much higher number of calories burned with biking than with swimming, which is funny because biking is easy for me and makes me lose my apetite, whereas swimming is excruciating and makes me immediately want to eat 1000 calories of McDonalds.

Speaking of biking, I have a guest blog post over at Momentary Delight today. It's about sustainability and faith, and also about biking in the rain. You should check out the whole series over there, because there are more thoughtful authors to come. Though I doubt any of them can claim as high of a calorie burn from transportation. Well, if Dan writes something maybe, Mr. biking to work while carrying my computer.

Speaking of iMovie, here are some clips of my kids singing. Their third song should answer the question once and for all: Who is the king of the jungle?

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sad internet news

We have mentioned the Sparkling Adventures blog here before. They are the victims of some unfortunate events this week. There was a tragedy on Saturday, the baby died. Now is appears the father is at fault.

I have some thoughts which start off with a confession. When all I knew was that the baby had died, my first instinct was to suspect they had taken lightly one of the safety precautions that all of us hippies take lightly, and we would all face condemnation as a result. God forbid the baby had suffocated while sleeping in bed with his parents, or fallen ill with a disease that might have been prevented by vaccinations. It's not that those risks are incalculable, it's just... well yesterday I was thinking if I would have to make my kids wear shoes all the time if the whole world was gonna turn against hippies, so when I found out that it was murder I kind of felt relief.

Which is to say, I felt suddenly happy to have some distance. I am a hippy but not a murderer so bad things will probably not happen to me.

It's funny how closeness and distance works on the internet.

I don't know Lauren of Sparkling Adventures, but I feel like I do because I read her blog. I love reading blogs because I appreciate the inside glimpse into someone else's heart. I think our desire to connect with people we don't know is a beautiful thing. I also have a blog, and I appreciate that other people read it, not because we serve ads (we don't) but because the people who read my blog have an accurate picture of the inside of my mind, the disgusting sin menagerie that it is, and then when these people go and talk to me in person despite what they read on the blog it's like grace in action.

If I like reading blogs because they connect me to other people, I had reading news. The point of news is to sensationalize awful events, with the result that each person feels more isolated and fearful about the world around them. Whereas blogs reflect the complexity of experience, news creates a video-game summary of it. Identify the bad guy. Fire. We all feel safer but more disconnected.

This week the Sparkling Adventure family transitioned from the bloggers to news items, and as such there doesn't seem to be a healthy way to relate to them anymore. Except this one thing:

As Christians we are called to intercede for people, which means we personally stand up in the gap between an individual and God. Ezekiel 22:30 says "I sought for a man among them that should make up the hedge and stand in the gap before me for the land that I should not destroy it: but I found none." When someone does a bad thing, the gap is a very scary place to stand. And yet this is the place where we get to see God, where He connects people more powerfully than reading blogs ever can. So Lord God, I ask that you would show your face to David, Lauren, Aisha, Brioni, Calista and Delanie. I ask that Your presence would give them peace that passes all understanding, even mine. amen.

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social not-working

Our small-group leader* has got us all on Google+. Or he wants to, anyways. So far it looks like it's just me. I feel like I'm at a party for really cool people and I don't know any of them; also it's really dark so I don't know where they are. Am I extending this metaphor too much? As of now, my "circles" are largely, sadly, empty.

I know we've done this before, but it feels special every time. Where else in my life do I find myself in such desperate pursuit of the "new hotness"? Actually, my pursuit is generally pretty lackadaisical, but here's an instance where I've actually managed to get on the ground floor. Sure, everybody else is already on the way up in the elevator, but close enough.

Some people are already complaining about the lack of anonymity inherent in Google+, but while I agree with them in principle, for me that's actually part of the draw. I hate being anonymous! I'm engaged in a constant effort to supplant all those other "Dan Archibald"s from the top of the Google search results, and giving Google yet more (carefully curated) personal information is a great way to forward that goal. That's also why I started signing my full name when I comment on blog posts, in case anyone was wondering. And look, it's working!! Sure, at the time of writing my best results are only numbers three and five, but we're getting there.

So yeah, Google+. Join up and friend me, or circle me, or +1 me; whatever they're calling it this time. My profile thingy is here.

*It's a Christian cult thing, if you're curious.

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more on stuff

Pursuant to our earlier discussion, I just wanted to point out that someone else agrees with out position on stuff. The Path to Freedom family are the most hardcore homesteaders on the internet, and they recognize that you can't make stuff without a lot of other stuff. Of course, organization is good too, and Harvey and I spent an hour or so this evening trying to create a more usable space. The new combined office and sewing room here is pretty crowded and disorganized as well at present, but that's not stopping us from getting work done in it! Leah is on the verge of finishing her second project of the day, and I have no doubt that details and pictures will be forthcoming presently.

Did anyone know that writing stuff on the internet is technically publishing and therefore public?

I had a very sheepish email exchange today with Megan from SortaCruchy who apparently checks her inbound links and didn't appreciate me snarking all over her kitchen makeover. Which, cough cough, is totally fair. My comments were pretty bitchy. Usually on this blog Dan and I try to avoid hurting people's feelings by insulting rich people (or parents, or Americans) in general, thus heaping approbation equally on societal problems as well as on our stage-three selves. When I do point out a blog in particular, like I did with SortaCrunchy, I figure my tiny opinion wouldn't make a blip on the radar of any professional blogger. Like I've said before, we have a very small audience, about 100 readers, mostly folks who know us personally and have stopped listening to anything we have to say long long ago.

I told Megan upon receiving her thoughtful email that I, like her, am trying to work out God's calling for me and my family amidst a world that's profoundly broken. While we may appreciate different aesthetics in home decoration, we both are trying to do the same thing: live faithfully with hearts that are broken for the wider world, taking tiny actions that we hope and pray will make some kind of a difference.

When I found myself so frustrated earlier in the week, I was thinking of Jackie Pullinger who writes in her book Chasing the Dragon about some of the distractions that kept her side-tracked at the start of her missionary work in Hong Kong. Her first year there she fell in with a group of other missionaries from Britain and spent one frustrating summer agonizing over how much swim costume was too little to preserve her modesty at the beach. It's not that God didn't care about her modesty, it's just that he had bigger issues for her to attend to, like the raging drug problems in Hong Kong's walled city. And this is what I, admittedly poorly, was trying to convey in my blog post about the war on stuff: that me and everyone, all of us American Christians (but especially me) are so distracted by what books I should read and how much tv I shouldn't watch that I'm doing a shitty job of loving the people that God put right in front of my face and asked me to love, the people just around the corner who I could love without stretching myself very much, and the people elsewhere in the world who I could probably love too if I gave Jesus one friggin un-scheduled un-bounded second of my time.

I have always appreciated SortaCrunchy for a being an earnest and thoughtful commentary on mothering with faith in America. Which is why, despite getting all worked up over the stuff issue earlier in the week, I didn't remove Megan's blog from my RSS. After all, it got Dan and me started on a useful conversation about what we have and what we value in our lives, and also it's nice to have other mothers to read about, and all the same I like making fun of things when the mood strikes because I am a rather insecure petty and broken person.

On a personal note, I have been so sick today with nausea, and I'm terribly fearful that I may be so sick every day forever, which is to say for the rest of this pregnancy, which is to say forever. Please send lovely warm wishes in my direction, I need them.

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Facebook: the movie

The past two evenings Leah and I watched The Social Network, the movie about Facebook's founding (we try and take in a film every year or two to, you know, stay current with modern popular culture). It was quite enjoyable and I'm sure completely accurate—judging by how annoyed I am by so many facets of facebook, it makes sense that it was conceived by people who were, without exception, complete jerks.

However, my attention was distracted from the intricacies of the plot relatively early, in the midst of a thrilling scene featuring facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg typing on his computer:

"Mozilla didn't have spellcheck on text boxes in 2003!" I exclaimed to Leah. She muttered something roughly affirmative to make me stop talking, but I couldn't let it slip. Wasn't this supposed to be a film about technology?! (Well, that and co-ed strippers and snorting coke off of half-naked sorority girls...).

In the end, though, a little research proves that I'm probably wrong, and the filmmakers right. This page suggests that Mozilla had in fact implemented spellcheck by the end of 2003, and that even if they hadn't a computer-user as savvy as Zuckerberg could have found a way to use one even if wasn't yet officially supported. Also that the Mozilla devs were pretty snarky back in the day, but that's neither here nor there.

So yeah, good movie!

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because no one on the internet has ever complained about facebook before

So Facebook is apparently offering email now, or will soon, or something: it's part of this new messages business which I admit I don't fully understand. Clearly I'm totally on top of this subject and in a perfect position to comment about it on the internet. So yeah!

While we were kind of excited when we first joined facebook, the enthusiasm didn't last. Leah still posts occasionally, especially when she wants to plug a particular blog post to a larger audience, but taking a look at my profile indicates that I haven't had anything "on my mind" since March of this year. Tweeting once a month is about all the social networking I can manage these days, I'm afraid.

But that's fine, because facebook totally sucks. You know, there's this thing called the internet, which provides a wide variety of services: games, instant messaging, blog publishing, even email! All available on open, public platforms that don't harvest your data and sell it to the highest bidder (though I suppose that the success of gmail shows that people don't really worry about that anymore). But no, it's all so much more fun when we do it within the facebook ecosystem. Didn't walled garden portals go out with AOL, like fifteen years ago?!

Here's what I think is happening. Just like the browser took over from the operating system as people's primary way of interacting with their computer (don't think that's true? just try using a computer without an internet connection!), facebook is now taking over from the browser. And since these sorts of cycles are constantly speeding up as we move inexorably towards the singularity, we can expect within months the creation of a facebook ap that offers its own messaging. At this point new computers will be set up to open to facebook on startup, because the rest of the web will be dead (just like Wired said). Hey, as horrible as that seems, it won't be all bad if it stops people typing "google" into the google search box built into their browser when they want to find something on the internet.

I know, I know: most of my complaints about facebook sound like the grumpy old-man ramblings of someone who's owned a domain name for eight or nine years and who totally remembers someone once talking about reading Usenet. But once you read the following, copied directly from an actual update auto-posted by a facebook ap, you won't be able to do anything but agree with me that facebook must be evil:

Johanna just found a lonely Sea Turle in Fish World and put it up for adoption! While maintaining their fish, a Sea Turle made its way in to Johanna's tank! While roaming the open waters this turtle lost it's way and it needs a new home!

Yeah sure, the content isn't facebook's fault, but the very fact that the site provided the platform upon which this atrocity could be committed is enough to forever damn it in my sight. Except, you know, when I want to catch up with old friends I haven't talked to in a while.

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he does those tricks so we don't have to

Following in the footsteps of every cycling blog I read, I wanted to alert you to the existence of this video. Even if you don't think you'll like watching an individual with a less-than-average instinct for self preservation jump his bicycle off high ledges, you may enjoy the scenery!

Leah very strictly instructed me that I was not to try any of that. We wouldn't mind visiting Scotland, though.

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the future is election day

We're living in the future, apparently, because this political video takes all your personal information and photos from facebook and uploads them to the Matrix, and by the Matrix I mean a Move On dot Org ad staring the boobs of that girl from House. It's worth signing in and watching, if only to be tickled by your own cute mug thrown into the Terminator ride at Universal Studies. Oh, and don't forget to vote.

I wish I could quit you!

I totally don't even know what that title refers to specifically; I've never even seen the movie. Is it something about gay sex? In this case, however, I wish it to refer to Facebook and intend the sentiments to be taken not as my own, but as those of a bunch of whiners who came up with something called Quit Facebook Day. I know, right? Pretty lame. If somebody can't stay off Facebook for just one day—Memorial Day, no less!—they've got problems. What's that? The site is actually about deleting your account over privacy concerns? Well, that's lame too.

Obviously, it's a little disconcerting that your Facebook login info—and all your friends' info, too—now follows you all around the internet, thanks to Facebook Connect or whatever it is that puts those little "Like this" buttons on the bottom of thousands of stupid articles and web pages. But privacy? I hate to tell you folks, but when you make an update on Facebook the little button you push to send it in is labeled "Share". And as anyone with any sense knows, when you share anything on the internet you need to consider it public property, because one way or another it will be. If it's any interesting, of course. If it's not, nobody will care. And as far as data security goes, you get what you pay for when you're relying on a free third-party site to manage your internet presence. You want to control your own settings? Get your own hosting!

Perhaps my lack of concern means that I don't fully understand what Facebook—or indeed "social networking" in general—is really about. I don't, contra the assumptions of the quitfacebookday.com folks, find it at all "engaging, enjoyable and quite frankly, addictive". Oh-for-three! It is a way to connect with friends and coworkers with whom I would otherwise not communicate, but since I'm not going to share anything with those folks that I wouldn't want getting out to a wider audience, I'm not bothered about privacy. Or maybe I don't care because I don't see the wider plot afoot, as spotted by a commenter a Wired article about the whole to-do:

Mark Zuckerberg is a Jew and so is [Wired writer] Fred Vogelstein. Convenient isnít it, how a group comprising 1% of American society seems to always coincidentally prop up its weak and stupid members? The Jews are always looking out for each other, and ONLY each other. Fellow Americans, you have to watch the Jews very, very closely, and question them at every turn, or else they will take everything from you.

Ohh-kay.... I'm going to read that as trolling satire and walk away.

Anyways, reading all the articles published this weekend about the affair, one thing (from a PCWorld article) made me laugh:

The organizers of "Quit Facebook Day," Joseph Dee and Matthew Milan, both of Toronto, couldn't be reached for comment.

Well sure, no one could get in touch with them: they're not on Facebook!

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bad farming weather, good farming climate

They say that snow is the poor man's fertilizer, and this past weekend we saw the truth of that—but unfortunately it was from the wrong side of the argument. It was a low-snow winter here in Eastern Massachusetts, so our snow's been gone from the garden for a couple weeks. Over the last three days we got socked with a rainy nor'easter, which, instead of dropping a couple (or eight or ten) feet of insulating snow that would slowly melt into the soil, spent 60 hours lashing us with rain. Floods, soil loss due to runoff, soil nutrients washed away... oh woe! Not to mention, of course, our flooded basement.

Still, it's sunny now and warming up quickly, and the daffodil shoots are already three inches tall. And talk of gardening is popping up all over the internet—and not just gardening, but the sort of real lifestyle changes that go under the heading "urban homesteading". Or, of course, suburban homesteading. Folks are writing about starting seeds, preserving food, living locally and sustainably... even dropping out of the rat race to raise chickens!

Alright, so that last link from the New York Times Magazine isn't so good. Not only are the folks at the Times are a little slow in acknowledging the "Radical Homemaker" movement, they're pretty classist and dismissive in their presentation ("highly educated women"? Times needs to make sure we don't think these folks are plain old hicks). But hey, there are real people who want to have chickens—not to mention gardens and pantries full of homemade preserves—and I think that's pretty cool!

[Edit to add one more garden-starting blog post.]

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local politics goes worldwide

It's election time here in Bedford, and the race seems to be a little more, ah, contested than usual. Which is to say that it looks like there are more candidates than positions. So hey, we're seeing some campaigning! Some of it is being done along traditional lines—front-yard signs, operatives going door-to-door—but this year we've also seen an explosion of local politics into cyberspace. Yes, our humble candidates for local office are presenting their arguments to the whole wide world on the world wide web. So who has the best site?

The incumbent, Cathy Cordes, presents a solidly web 1.0 design. At first glance it appears underwhelming, but closer examination reveals strengths that demonstrate her campaigning acumen. The site has an attention-grabbing masthead that matches her other campaign material, it unambiguously announces the date of the election, and it features a list of Bedford residents who are proud to stand up and show their support, in solid Times New Roman, for Ms. Cordes.

Bill Moonan's site, on the other hand, is a bit more modern-looking, but rather curious is the absence of any title or even design in the masthead. Perhaps it's blankness is a sign of Mr. Moonan's willingness to be, like Paul, all things to all men. On the plus side, the site has tons of content for the curious voter to peruse.

Finally, there's, Robert Avakian. He's the outsider in this race, the one the political establishment doesn't want involved in town government, and he shows it with a sleek design featuring the catchy slogan, "Elect Robert Avakian for Political Office." Let's hear it for generic Google Sites templates! At least he has a relevant title tag, not to mention a totally sweet zooming-star-underline logo (though the designer in me positively cringes at the visible catch between the straight part of the underline and the beginning of the curve). There are some things I'm curious about, though; for example, the mysterious box on the front page of the site headed with the single cryptic word, "Why":

An independent voice who will be:
Hard on the issues and
Work with people to
Find Common Ground

"Why" indeed! Why the colon, why the line breaks, why the capital letters? Is it some sort of poem? An acrostic? A secret code to his supporters? What does "AHWF" really stand for?!

Actually, I don't really care about any of that. In his platform Mr. Avakian says he will "oppose unnecessary tax increases" and calls for a "moratorium on affordable housing". So he wants rich folks to keep their money and poor ones to stay the heck out of town. Alright, in a race with three candidates for two spots that's all I need to know!

Election is tomorrow, Bedford residents: see you at the polls!

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"netiquette"

I may have joined facebook some time ago, but I never wholly embraced the site or its ways of doing things. There are reasons for that reluctance which I may elucidate at a later time, but for now suffice it to say that I do not have enough facebook experience to know how to respond to the relative flood of birthday messages which have appeared on my personal facebook page, or "wall" (as it is known). Do I thank each person on their own wall? Respond to each wall post? Post a "status update" thanking people in general? That last sounds the most promising, but will it make those friends who didn't offer a greeting feel bad about their lapse? (Or make it seem that I am angling for more birthday love?)

Clearly, I'm out of my depth here. This is the kind of thing that would be covered in finishing school, if any such thing still existed in this digital age, and if any finishing school would ever let me in (doubtful, considering both my disreputableness and my finances). I am open to suggestions; I would ask for them in the comments, except that I'm never asking you for anything ever again.

You know what? How about if I just thank everyone right here. If a certain friend—and I mean a real friend, not just a facebook friend—can write a comment about the blog on my facebook page, then doesn't it seem reasonable that I can respond to facebook posts here. So: Thanks, guys!!

Anyone who's anyone should be reading these pages, anyways!

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the book of faces

It was perhaps inevitable that once joining LinkedIn proved not to be the end of the world, Leah and I would eventually find ourselves on the Facebook. Which must mean it's played out now, unless it has been for some months already. Add us or friend us or whatever it is you kids do these days; chances are that if you know what Facebook is you know better than we do how to indicate the location of our virtual presence on the site, which is not as easy as you may have expected. I may be at this url, but then again, I may not. I don't know what those numbers mean.

blessed freedom...

...from the ball and chain of the computer.

That's how Leah describes her liberation from having to track Harvey over the next couple days, as we journey to Maine for the little baby's first camping trip. The lack of blog posts and real-time Harvey tracking will be made up for by pictures and videos on our return on Sunday (if we make it that long!)

tv is dead to me now

I have discovered that there is a great deal of Olympics sports content available online. It's awesome! Today I watched some of soccer, weight-lifting, judo, cycling, sailing, basketball, dressage, field hockey, and archery—some live, and some in replay. And the best part? No annoying commentary! Although I must confess is it slightly problematic trying to figure out what's going on in, say, a 150-mile cycling road race or a dingy race in fluky winds without the disembodied voices of knowledge talking over things. The judo was tricky too: we couldn't figure out the scoring. But then I looked it up on Wikipedia and it all made sense.

See, who needs tv? The internet can now provide for all of our needs.

why are you reading this?!

I spent too much time today reading things on the internet. It turns out there are a couple other people writing things on here, in blog posts and news articles and forum threads and things. They write fast too, and no matter how hard you want to read to the end you just can't make it—and the effort takes up time that might be better devoted to other, more worthwhile activities. Or at least watching Euro2008 on the tv. (I like these sporting events that happen several timezones east of me and thus at a reasonable time. Not like some basketball games I might mention. Though of course that was all worth it!)

In any case, we will now try to read less and produce more. If you would like to do likewise, I'd understand it if you stop reading my posts here. On the other hand, they are pretty entertaining...

dear internet,

I haven't written to you in a while because of being busy and then being upset about not getting the job I wanted. But let me say for the record that I think you're really cool, no matter what some other people say.

Thanks for being so awesome,
Danny

wasting time

With the warmer weather over the past month or so we've been taking more after-dark walks with the dog, and every time I can't help but notice how many households have the tv going. We barely watch ours any more, so we're out of the habit of spending our evenings staring at the flickering tube, and also out of the loop when it comes to the latest tv obsessions. Apparently there are programs that people watch regularly, every time they appear! I can't imagine wasting that much time in the evening; don't folks have better things to do after a hard day of work?! There's so much content on the internet that needs reading!

Er... that is, everyone has their own favorite time sink. Both Leah and I have largely moved from tv to the internet, but in my case at least I don't know how much of an improvement that is when it comes to my personal productivity. At least I can't distractedly turn on the tv when I'm working (not that I could even imagine such a thing) but the delights of the internet are always a temptation to me. There's always new content to read! Although it must be said that it is not, largely, more intellectual than America's Next Top Model season 7, to pick a random example.

Perhaps I'll switch to reading books instead. That's more intellectual, right, and inherently productive? As long as its romance novels, of course. Yup, it's books for me for now on, and no internet at all. Except for writing in this blog, of course. And maybe Comics Curmudgeon.

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link me!

Inspired by Janet and the desire to read someone's profile, Leah and I have joined LinkedIn. Yeah, we're a couple years behind the times on the whole social networking thing. You can't early adopt everything! Needless to say, we have a long way to go when it comes to building our "connection" networks; and even though one call to action in a week is plenty, I feel it is necessary to ask—to abjure!—anyone who's on the LinkedIn to add me as a friend. I mean, as a connection. A serious business connection. Don't bother adding Leah, though; there's no competition between us, so she won't mind if I get more connections than she does.

Hi honey!

My little profile page is at www.linkedin.com/in/danarchibald, if anyone wants to take a look at it.

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no fool I

I managed to mostly avoid the internet today (and other lesser forms of media distribution as well) so as not to expose myself to the juvenile japes and pranks which are all too common on the first of April. Pagan superstition! Although I have to say some of the superstition, when I checked on it this evening, was kind of amusing. And while it's kind of annoying not to be able to trust anything you hear, at least the internet can't squirt water on me. YET!

mail call (and call and call...)

It's very disconcerting when you're not sure if you email is working. How do you check? Besides sending emails to yourself every 15 minutes, of course. That's what I did today, as I waited for not one but two emails from a client. Predisposed as I am to believe that most problems are not my fault but also to fear that they are, it made for a nervous afternoon. Evening too! On the other hand, I got some good reading done in between clicking "check mail" every 20 seconds.

mailing it in

I have nothing to say. Yesterday was my birthday, and I did nothing but laze around and eat and enjoy the devoted affection of my loved ones. Then today I taught a second grade class. So I'm still recovering from the combination of those two activities. To fill up this day on the calendar I will merely point you to this amusing story on the MetaFilter community weblog. Enjoy!

Also, take a look at this ad that appeared on the bottom of the page when I accessed it:

Smilies that talk? Ugly glossy oversized smilies that talk? I cannot imagine anything more terrifying.

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