Exploding Snails Will Ruin Your Birthday Party

Bickers Dinner: EscargotQuiet Marin County California was the scene of a devastating snail explosion at the birthday party of 59 year old Danville, CA resident Chadwick St.-OHarra.  The birthday boy is now suing the restaurant over the explosive injection of garlic butter and snail juice into his eye and tear duct that occurred when he used a fork to attempt to eat the snail.  One can only imagine the snail would be satisfied with the situation had it survived the frying pan.

San Jose Mercury News

In Defense of Anonymity*

*Not of “Anonymous”

Anonymity is getting a bad reputation on the internet.  Synonymous with trolling and cybervandalism, the obvious negatives have come to define the concept.  But allowing that to happen ignores the internet’s initial promise.  When combined with actual rational discourse (a stretch, I know), anonymity actually does allow us to engage in a public version of private discourse in ways that were never possible before.

Remember when we all lived in villages?  Anonymity was impossible.

It wasn’t even a word until the early 17th century.

Sure, those villages were able to raise children.  But everything about those kids’  futures were planned out for them before they were born.  Just ask John Butcher, William Baker, and Robert Candlestickmakerson.  Want to stretch your wings or think your own thoughts?  Try migration or exile.  Oh, but watch out for slavery and xenophobia while you are out on the road!  Want to branch out here at home?  I’ve picked out a nice jail cell for you.

The modern world? It finally promised us anonymity.  Sure, Debbie Downer Durkheim liked to point out the negatives, but it also allowed us to create new personas, be new people.  If we didn’t like country values, then we could try on city values.  Durkheim meet Draper.

The anonymity of the city did require us to regulate these new public personas – thank god – but it gave us some freedom for the private persona.  Sure, I have to pretend to respect you from M-F, 9-5, but when I get home I have my own little village.  Where my old provincial or new radical thoughts can run free.

Free but necessarily private, and therefore still a domain of tied up and unchallenged thoughts and ideals.

Now, here we are with the internet.  Finally, a world where one can maintain an acceptably professional public persona (that we are relatively able to choose), but where we can also open some of our private self.  Because we are able to do it through an anonymous persona.  A universe of the nom de plume!

And this is great!  Because we do all have our own progressive and regressive thoughts and concerns about controversial matters.  Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll, politics, race, gender and religion.  Thoughts that we want to have challenged, but are afraid to talk about. (Yes, even you.)

For, arguably the first time, we have a way to express them and open them up for discourse, to have them challenged.  To freely develop our private personas.  Even to exaggerate them and try on new ideas that we might not have even been willing to try before.

So what do we do with this freedom?  (Aside from abuse it through irrational trolling.) First step, voluntarily eliminate it!  We tag our online discourse to our facebook profiles.  Which takes us right back to where we were.  Either living in the modern world, of regulated professional conduct and hidden unchallenged private personas.  Or the pre-modern world, where our entire life becomes one big village, merging our personal and private personas in one big oversharey mess.

Well, that, my friends, gets us nowhere.

So here is to defending anonymity.  Use it as a chance to engage in a public discourse without fear of public repercussion.  Say what you really think and see if it holds up to public scrutiny.

Because the world might learn something from your radical new plan for combining the legalization of marijuana and prostitution, but that doesn’t mean you should have to ruin your career as a Catholic pre-school teacher just to find out.

Big Bull Bounds by Barrier

Rodeo fans and NASCAR fans are all secretly hoping for the same thing, carnage and mayhem.  Tragically they all get what they want sooner or later.

In this video from the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton a bull has had just about enough and decides it’s time to leave.

Jump to the 2:10 mark for the exciting part.

CTV has additional footage.

From SFGate and CTV.

We need to dress this place up a bit

We have to look our best

I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking we need to dress this place up a bit. The free theme we’re using is a bit too plain and there are bunch of issues I’m seeing:

  • The kerning in the headlines is way too tight (letters are running together).
  • The name of the user who posts a comment is impossible to read.
  • The sidebar is kind of boring and appears to have some sort of margin issue that I’m not exactly sure how to fix.
  • There’s absolutely no color other than white.

So here’s how you can help us win the the internet: Let’s all try to spend a few minutes looking for the best WordPress theme for how we want our site to look and feel. If you’re not sure where to look, just start with a google search for “Free wordpress themes” or something similar. There are tons of sites dedicated to distributing themes.

And try to think about how you want the site to function. We could just pick another basic, simple bloggy type theme or it could be a theme that gives the site a more “magaziney” feel like The Awl. If you stumble across a theme that you like, please post it in the comments. Then I’ll see if I can put together a list of themes in one post and we can vote on which one we like the best.

A Damn Good Show, If I May Say So

I enjoy this show, maybe you’ve heard of it? Boardwalk Empire, on HBO. Not bad. Not mind-blowing either. Just right.

It’s got a lot going on, lots of characters. Mainly gangsters and such. Prohibition. Corrupt politicians. Atlantic City. A borderline psychotic government agent who looks just like James Cagney.  Omar from The Wire shows up from time to time too, always dressed to the nines. Well, not Omar, but you know. The actor who played him. He’s really good.

Steve Buscemi plays the lead, Nucky Thompson, the “boss” of Atlantic City. He runs things. Michael Pitt’s in it too, he’s rather easy on the eyes, eh ladies (and gays)? But don’t worry! Paz de la Huerta is in this too, she’s pretty hot. See? Something for everyone!

Did you ever see A Serious Man? No? Great movie. Anyway, the lead actor there, Michael Stuhlbarg, remember him? He plays a Jewish gangster here, Arnold Rothstein. Great character. They’ve got a half-Jamaican actor from England playing a young Al Capone. He was in Snatch too. Anjelica Huston’s 20-something-year-old nephew does a star turn playing a disfigured WWI veteran. Lots of good acting here. Some of the characters have had a tendency to be a bit one sided, I must admit. But not all. This is my only gripe with the show. Not a lot of nuance sometimes. Still fun, though.

But what is it about, you say? What’s the story? It’s 1920, Prohibition’s in full force, gangsters are getting into the liquor business, politicians are gorging themselves on bribes. Atlantic City is becoming a major attraction, the Vegas of its day. You have your New York gangsters, your Chicago gangsters, your New Jersey gangsters, your Philly gangsters, all fighting with each other. So many! The show features many real-life criminal figures: Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, Arnold Rothstein, Meyer Lansky. Add a few interesting love triangles, casual mob violence, disfigured war veterans with mad sniping skills and you’ve got yourself a show. And Mark Wahlberg’s one of the producers, along with Martin Scorcese. Marky Mark!

You’ve got a wildly sprawling storyline here, okay? As of my last estimate, there are about two dozen major characters here. It’s all spread very thin. Many competing subplots, but it only serves to keep the show lively. You have a rather diverse cast here. Ethical gangsters, sadistic Christians, Blacks, Jews, Italians, Irish, Germans, WASPs, war veterans, dancing girls, naked ladies, pimps, gamblers, people getting shot in the head, the Women’s Temperance League, future President Warren Harding. Despite all the background noise, the show still manages to be somewhat engaging.  They go to Chicago, they go to New York, but it’s mostly set in Jersey. Gorgeous cinematography, though. Lots of period detail. Beautiful costuming. All in all, a good looking show.

I only know two other people who watch this show regularly. What can I say, it’s an elite club. I urge you to give it a try. It’s not bad.

Night Visions

Since the days are getting shorter, as the nights grow longer, I thought it would be an appropriate time to focus on some of my favorite night photographers.  First up is Troy Paiva, a San Francisco photographer who makes his amazing photos in junkyards and various locations in the abandoned West.  Photographing only during full moons Paiva uses a combination of long exposures and a variety of colored flashes to paint his beautiful pictures. In addition to his personal photography, Paiva teaches workshops and has a well-reviewed book out.

New “About Us” page is up

First impressions are important. That’s how you make friends and influence people and convince them to have sexytime with you.

Check out our new About Us page. If you think it should be changed, suggest your edits in the comments there.

We dodged a very trollish bullet

According to our favorite elf Adrian Chen, Tumblr and 4chan are waging some sort of troll war. We could have been attacked by kiddie porn immediately after landing in Tumblr-land. This is exactly why I’m glad we went with WordPress.

P.S.

If you create a post, MAKE SURE YOU GIVE YOUR POST A TITLE. For some reason the theme doesn’t seem to handle it well if you don’t.

P.P.S.

Let’s all create a category for each user name and put your posts under your own category to make organization better. Just click “Add New Category” on the right before publishing your post.

Library E-Books on Your Apple i-Device

Flickr User dheutsZatz Not Funny brings us good news on the DRM laden e-Books being distributed by public libraries.  Previously they were limited to devices that support Adobe’s digital rights management, but the Bluefire Reader now allows Apple i-Devices to read the free (as in beer not as in freedom) e-books.  Support your public library.