Okay. Now I have no idea what they’re doing up there.

Odd day and odd week; I am turning out massive amounts of copy for places hither and yon. I am a full and true believer in the arrival and final victory of Spring, and enjoying this interregnum where the trees are bare, because I know too soon it will be all green all the time, and it usually takes about a week before we buy that as the new norm. I want to savor the brief period between the acts.

I want to do nothing but play Bioshock Infinite, even though it seems to get the connection between religion and abolition absolutely completely wrong. It doesn’t matter; it’s the most astonishing game I’ve ever played. Hard to describe to people who don’t play games, how you enter and inhabit the world completely. You’re in the story in a way no other medium can provide. It seems odd that this revolution in storytelling is still relegated to the margins, an art-form beneath movies, plays, and novels. It does things those old forms cannot.


Augh: 1:43 AM, and I'm updating this, because I must. IMPORTANT UPDATE TO THE EVENTS DESCRIBED BELOW.

After posting this entry I got an email from the editor of the site where my content appeared. I not only accept the apology for the careless attribution of some minions, I find his actions and modus operandi so commendable it deserves a separate post tomorrow, in which we meet someone who actually has the principles the web needs.

We return you to yesterday's complaint, already in progress.


Wrote this last night, while cranky.

And . . . what, now, exactly? It’s late at night, and the page is white. The big daunting screen waiting for the projector to fire up. I’d written a big thing I intended to unfurl today about Internet Thievery, but I’m waiting on a response from the website’s editor.

It goes like this: I put up a video on YouTube. They used it on their site. That’s fine; bravo. Except that they downloaded the video and put it up on their channel, which is inexplicable except to get ad revenue. When I pointed this out they credited me on their page and said nice things about my site, but that’s still different from taking it down and embedding my video on their article. When I discovered the lift I went through the site looking for other remnants of lileks.com, and found them. Again, I don’t care if people take images from the site, but taking lots, and taking my words, and not crediting the original source, well, it leads me to believe that everything on the site is taken from somewhere else.

It all makes you tired, in that oh-who-cares sense. But. The internet depends on people who find things and scan them and put them up. These are the devoted collectors, the obsessives, the oddballs, or just the people who have an abiding interest in feeding the Beast of Novelty to add to the general amount of daily amusement out there. I started this site in 1996 (!) because I wanted to pitch in. Because we became trained quite quickly to open up Netscape and say “entertain me, Internet” and I thought I had something to add to this grand communal effort. It was a new medium and I wanted to be in on the ground floor.

Once upon a time the new stuff came from “home pages” and the like; now, I suspect, it’s from blogs that still use a 2004 Blogger template, and Flickr.

Correction: the internet used to depend on those sorts. Now there’s a big thick layer of blather and snippy snark atop the Interesting Things stratum, with Upworthy click-bait headlines and / or identity-group outrage du jour posts on the big sites and ungodly mess holes like HuffPo that have a million things bobbing around like zombies in a wave pool.

Example: Gizmodo today.

I winced when I saw the headline for the story about new luxury towers jutting up through the Midtown skyline: "Too Rich, Too Thin, Too Tall." But I didn't get far into the story, written by Paul Goldberger, one of the most well-respected critics of our time. I had to put down my computer and blink back my anger after the opening paragraph:

These days, it is not just a woman who can never be too rich or too thin. You can say almost exactly the same thing about skyscrapers, or at least about the latest residential ones now going up in New York City, which are much taller, much thinner, and much, much more expensive than their predecessors.

Now hold it right there.

If modern adults are actually blinking back anger at the use of a 80-year old phrase in the context of architectural criticism it is clear that the phrase can never be used anywhere, ever, again. It produced this remark in the comments:

Had to have a conversation with someone today who spat out the old "lock and key metaphor" and I accused him of objectifying women. Apparently he knows "objectifying women" is bad but not what it actually means because he vehemently denied it. "In your previous statement, women are the locks?" "Yes." "A lock is an object." Blank stares.

Another comment pointed out that keys are objects, too.

Of course, the Someone wasn’t just using the lock-and-key metaphor in the context of, oh, web security; it has a particular sexual meaning which is endlessly derided. It’s dumb Bro Philosophy, and anyone who would defend it - particularly in a workplace conversation, as the author later notes - is an idiot. In the brief tableau described, however, the sin wasn’t just using the metaphor, or knowing that objectification is Bad, but not realizing that the means to describe this view of women relied on objectification, which was an entirely separate sin. It’s like being punched with brass knuckles and then getting into a dispute about the fact that they’re illegal.

Eventually your public discourse becomes a series of assumptions about every topic that isn’t lunch or the weather, and you build into your speech the expectation that someone will be blinking back anger, which must be avoided. Anger is proof of offense and offense is proof of authenticity, and authenticity - meaning, that’s how you feel - is inarguable, and hence elevated to the status of irrefutable.

Perhaps it’s a consequence of living the Age of Abundant Discourse. When I was growing there were people on TV reading scripts; people in newspapers saying very boring things; people in magazines writing news and anodyne opinion. There were novels in which great important things were thrashed out, or octopoid aliens shot with laser guns. Then the internet opened up the gates to all, and conversation flourished like never before in human history. You didn’t have to wait for a thin glossy fortnightly magazine to arrive to have your worldview reinforced or given an interesting tweak or occasional challenge. Everyone who disagrees with you is just a few clicks away. In theory, it’s better; in practice, it privileges the micro-furies of those who wander this broken land wearing the bright crimson band of OUTRAGE. (Want to see my band? I should post a selfie.) In theory it’s an expansion of dialogue; in practice it’s the creation of tribes who use words like, well, “privilege” to signal who’s in the tent discussing Serious Things and who’s outside worshiping rocks.

Add the trolls and the thieves, and it can be a tiresome place.

It is also the first medium whose tone is defined entirely by people under 30. They came of age in the flowering of the internet’s possibilities; is it possible that the illusions of a global medium made them feel atomized and alone in real life, and so they required fierce online tribalism to compensate for a lack no other generation had felt before? I don’t know. I know that I was reading a piece written by one of those Internet Guys who did that One Cool Thing, and he was dancing on the grave of golf, of all things. Golf was in decline and that was great because it was for white males. Also there were clubs involved and apparently a dress code. But mostly white males ha ha.

The author, as you might wonder, is a white male, but he doesn’t golf, which gives him points. And he criticizes those who do, which gives him more points. Me, I have absolutely no interest in golfing whatsoever, so I laughed at him and moved along to the next story in the feed. I didn’t take him out of my feed, though, for one good reason: he didn’t suggest banning golf. Or shunning golfers. Or advocating the elimination of the “hole in one” figure of speech because it privileges a demographic element in disfavor.

It is certainly accepted that you can be too rich these days, and measures must be taken - but rare that anyone suggests you can be too thin-skinned. When I was growing up we were convinced that the diminution of speech would be a top-down effort, imposed by the Man. We had no idea it would be the work of a volunteer army of Langoliers, disassembling up the lingo of the hideous past, judging words for their evanescent penumbras of privilege and triggering effects and -phobias and other manifestations of the old order. Free speech is all well and good, but if it doesn't bring about the right result right away, really, is that helpful? If a virtue stands in the way of everything we know is absolutely good and necessary, is it really a virtue at all?

(1:51AM note: remember, the site responded, and I have no complaint with them. Tune in tomorow.)




So, no murder, then. Drat!

At least he has reason to grin this time:

The first i are recaps. How did he get out of the flaming box?

He shoots some metal struts with a pistol on the floor and knocks down the side of the box. The henchman, who had pointed the Electrical Fire Bolt at a crate and set it on fire, does not turn the bolt on Captain America, but runs away.

Maldor isn’t particularly worried; now that the Forces of Good have invented a Fire Bolt Locator, it’s not much use. But the loss of the Robot Controlled Truck - something previously not discussed, as far as I can tell - is critical, because . . . . I don’t know, qualified drivers are hard to get these days.

Even the soundtrack seems confused:

They use the serial standby, the Televisual revisor that can see anywhere somehow but is never ever used to peek in the women’s locker room,.

hey find the Robot Controlled Truck. It’s surrounded by police, so they can’t activate it and have it drive home.

Meanwhile, there’s a will to be read from one of the dead scientist; he leaves lots of loot to Maldor, except for the Mayan Jewels, which will be sold to finance an expedition to search for a lost Mayan city, which I guess has jewels. Rinse, repeat.

Well, the Crusading District Attorney dismisses the cops who are guarding the truck. Because that’s completely his call and falls well within his jurisdiction. Once he gets in the truck, the bad guys take control

You can tell the truck is an instrument of dark forces; it has a logo for the League of the Scarab.


Things forgotten so far: the Purple Death; the Vibrator Machine; the Thunder Bolt.

Now they’re going to put high explosives into the truck and run it into the house of Professor Dodd and blow him up so Maldor doesn’t have to give back the jewels. Wait a minute - I thought the truck was vitally important and necessary -

Oh, never mind. Fistfight.

Shall we dance?

The DA shoots one of the bad guys; person kill count up to seven now in the last few days, I think. He goes after the truck, but he has to put on his Justice Jammies first:

He gets in the robot controlled truck and can’t change its course, so he’s driving right towards the professor’s house!


Use it to peel grapes, maybe. Tune in next week!


Strib blog in short form in the morn; Tumblr, of course. See you around!




blog comments powered by Disqus