Today, the Internet Needs You!

Today is Be Nice to Someone on the Internet Day.

Grumpy CatThe rules are simple. The Internet has too many grumpy, lonely, broken, discouraged people. Get out there and show someone on the Internet a little kindness!

Today, you can brighten the life of someone on the Internet. Today, you can let someone know he or she is valued and appreciated.

Today, the Internet needs you.

Quit reading this blog post and go make someone’s day!

343. All the Internet Needs Is Love

This Wednesday, March 4, is Be Nice to Someone on the Internet Day.

The Internet fascinates me. It’s a wonderful, dangerous place: a chiaroscuro mess of light and darkness. With its worldwide reach, teh internetz enables communication, creativity, cruelty, corruption, and the propagation of funny cat pictures. It offers invaluable services like email, social media, and online commerce, along with dangers like fraud, false advertising, malicious software, addictive porn, and trailers for Michael Bay’s movies.

One of the worst things about the Internet is that it can be really, really mean. People use it to scoff, scam, argue, insult, bully, rage, and slander. It has even created brand new forms of abuse like doxing and trolling.

Yes, the Internet can be awful. What can we do? Well, I have a suggestion.

Save the Internet!

So… who is with me?

(I should point out that my sign and its slogan have nothing to do with the recent ruling by the FCC to protect net neutrality—which is a fantastic idea, by the way. Nah, my sign is just a reminder than the Internet is a mess, and it needs saving in a way that goes far beyond net equality.)

The Internet has problems, but there’s hope. If I may echo the words of Linus in A Charlie Brown Christmas, “It’s not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love.”

All the Internet needs is love.

This Wednesday, March 4, is Be Nice to Someone on the Internet Day. This is the fourth time we’ve done this, so you may already know how it goes!

On Wednesday, send someone an encouraging message or email. Go to someone’s personal profile, account, channel, blog, or webpage and leave an uplifting comment. Find someone you appreciate—whether an artist, musician, blogger, friend, or total stranger—and let that person know he or she is appreciated!

Do something—anything—to show the Internet a little love. After all, the Internet is basically a community of people, and loving people is one of the best things we can do.

Amor vincit Interretium, dear reader: Love conquers the Internet. This Wednesday, March 4, please be nice to someone online and make the World Wide Web a better place.

Let’s save the Internet!

The Man Who Fixed the Internet

The Internet is a wonderful, nay, miraculous, invention. This intangible web of information, media and funny cat pictures transforms my laptop, a humble slab of plastic and silicon, into a window unto worlds real and imagined.

There are times—dark times—when the Internet fails. Some dark, vile sorcery makes the Internet disappear by severing its connection to my laptop. It is at times such as these, dear reader, that we who use the Internet have three options. We can live without Internet: a lamentable fate. We can attempt to restore it ourselves: a venture fraught with frustration and difficulty. Our best and final option is to seek a hero to fix our Internet for us.

The video above is the epic tale of such a man, a story worthy of a place among the myths and legends of old, to be handed down to future generations and never forgotten.

Behold, dear reader, the Ballad of a WiFi Hero.


This post was originally published on April 9, 2014. TMTF shall return with new content on January 19, 2015!

315. Fans, Geeks, and Shipping: A Momentary Study

Today we delve once again into anthropological study as we take a look at shipping. No, I don’t mean the transportation of goods. The word shipping also denotes a strange, fascinating, and occasionally outrageous trend observable in communities of geeks across the Internet.

As an eminently geeky blog, TMTF must investigate this sociological phenomenon. For science! Grab your pens, clipboards, and safety goggles, ladies and gentlemen. Let’s get geeky!

(Wait, give me ten minutes to research shipping on Wikipedia, that splendid fount of Internet knowledge. All right, let’s begin!)

We begin with a preliminary note about fandom. A portmanteau of fan and kingdom, a fandom is a community of people united by a common attachment to something. To put it more simply: a fandom is a group of fans. The word also refers to the subcultures created by these groups, and to each fan’s individual predilection for the object of attachment.

As the word shipping used in the context of fandom, it denotes a wish for two people, usually fictional characters, to have a certain kind of relationship—usually a romantic one. (I suppose shipping can involve more than two people, but I prefer not to pursue that thread of inquiry any further.) The term is the gerund form of the verb ship, which is derived from the word relationship. Fans ship their favorite characters by pairing them up. The word ship also functions as a noun, referring to a specific pairing.

In other words, shipping is fans wanting people (real or imagined) to find happiness together, which is sort of sweet, extremely silly, and just a bit creepy.

I didn’t know much about shipping before looking into it; I thought it might make an interesting blog post. I was astonished to realize how fully developed and widely accepted a practice shipping has become. Many fans pen fan fiction, create artwork, or write music promoting their preferred ships. Some fans argue about them—after all, this is the Internet.

Shipping has become so widely practiced that it apparently has its own terminology. A sailed ship, for example, is a pairing that actually happens. A joke ship is a ship too ridiculous to be taken seriously, and a sunken ship is one that has no chance of happening. (Wikipedia has a list of nearly twenty shipping terms. It’s insane.) Portmanteau combinations of names often represent ships, such as Romuliet for Romeo and Juliet. (Yes, Romuliet is an awful word; I hate to think of what terrible violence ships have inflicted upon the English language.) Some fans become so invested in certain ships that they declare them OTPthe One True Pairing for those characters.

I thought shipping was mostly a joke, but I was surprised to discover its complexity and ubiquity across the Internet.

What’s that? You want to know my preferred ship? That would be milk and coffee, thanks for asking. What finer OTP could there be?

293. Adam Turns into the Hulk and Rants about Internet Ads

Caution: This blog post contains furious ranting. Sensitive readers, and readers averse to things being smashed, are advised not to continue.

Life is full of necessary evils: taxes, dentists, and spinach, to name just a few. Of all these necessities, none are more evil than advertisements. Billboards are an eyesore and television commercials a nuisance, but Internet ads are the worst.

Yes, I understand the necessity of advertisements. Websites, blogs, and email services don’t pay for themselves. I appreciate these services, and I’m thankful to use them for free, but some of the ads they throw at me are abominably bad.

These adverts are misleading, intrusive, insulting, offensive, or simply so stupid as to be painful. They make me angry, and it ain’t pretty when I’m angry. Internet ads are such a blasted bother!

They’re terrible… make me sick… I really don’t feel well… stupid ads… I… I…

BLOG SMASH!

FREAKING ADS. SMASH! SMASH THEM ALL!

HULK HATE ADS. HULK HATE THEM ALL!

WELL, HULK THINK SOME ADS OKAY. SOME ADS CLEVER OR FUNNY. THESE ADS NOT BAD. HULK APPRECIATE TIME, EFFORT, AND CREATIVITY PUT INTO THEM.

(HULK NOW USE OXFORD COMMA. YOU NOTICE? HULK THANKS ALL WHO CHIMED IN ON GRAMMAR DEBATE!)

A FEW ADVERTS OKAY, BUT MANY INSULT HULK, LIKE SHADY ADS PROMISING HIGHER TESTOSTERONE, LARGER PENIS, EASY WEIGHT LOSS, OR BIGGER ABS. (HULK ALREADY HAVE BIG MUSCLES. NO NEED BIGGER ABS!) SUCH ADS ARE BLATANTLY FALSE ADVERTISING AND SHOULD BE SMASHED.

ON SUBJECT OF DISHONEST ADVERTISING, HULK HATE ADS DISGUISED AS COMPUTER UPDATES. SNEAKY ADS SAY THINGS LIKE “Click here to update Windows!” OR “Important updates are ready for download!” BUT ARE OBVIOUS FAKES. WHERE THEY LEAD? VIRUSES? PORN? HULK NOT WANT TO KNOW.

SOME ADS INTRUSIVE. WHEN HULK GO TO EMAIL OR NEWS SITE, AD SOMETIMES EXPAND TO TAKE UP WHOLE SCREEN. HULK MUST STOP, SEARCH FOR TINY “Close” ICON, AND SHUT WRETCHED AD.

ADVERTISEMENTS DESERVE SPACE ON INTERNET. HULK CONCEDE THAT. BUT ADS NOT WELCOME TO TAKE OVER HULK’S COMPUTER SCREEN. IT’S INAPPROPRIATE AS SALESPEOPLE BARGING INTO HULK’S HOME.

AND SOME ADS HAVE “Tweet” OR “Post to Facebook” OPTIONS. WHY WOULD HULK INFLICT ADS ON OTHER PEOPLE? HULK DISGUSTED BY COMPANIES WITH AUDACITY TO ASK HULK TO PROMOTE THEIR PRODUCTS FOR FREE. HULK NOT PAID TO ANNOY PEOPLE WITH ADS.

ADS DON’T HAVE TO INTRUDE TO GET MESSAGE ACROSS.

AND THAT MESSAGE CAN BE AWFUL. FOR EXAMPLE, FACEBOOK GIVE HULK ADS FOR SHADY “Adult game—18+ Years only!” BROWSER GAMES, ADS PLASTERED IN PICTURES OF BIG-BREASTED GIRLS IN DEGRADING POSES AND SILLY LINGERIE.

WHY DO INTERNET ADS ASSUME HULK IS VOYEUR OR PERVERT? WHY DO ADS DISRESPECT WOMEN AND ASSAIL HULK WITH SOFT PORN?

INDIGNANT HULK IS INDIGNANT.

LOOK, HULK KNOW ADS NECESSARY. HULK UNDERSTAND, BUT CAN’T INTERNET HAVE QUALITY CONTROL? CAN’T REPUTABLE WEBSITES RESPECT THEMSELVES AND VISITORS ENOUGH TO RESTRICT SLEAZY, DISHONEST, INTRUSIVE, MISLEADING, OR POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS ADVERTISING?

DOES MONEY MEAN MORE TO INTERNET THAN SAFETY AND DIGNITY OF HUMAN BEINGS?

HULK PLEAD WITH INTERNET. PLEASE. PLEASE BE RESPONSIBLE IN MONITORING, APPROVING, AND DISPLAYING ADVERTISEMENTS.

HULK OUT!

I… ugh, I have a headache, and my room is a mess. Did I just have another Hulk episode, or are my typewriter monkeys to blame? You know, I’m going to blame my monkeys for this one. Freaking primates.

The Internet Won’t Let It Go

Disney’s Frozen came out last year, but the Internet continues to obsess over “Let It Go,” the film’s most catchy song. Heck, even TMTF jumped on the sleigh bandwagon. Most of these fads die out in a few weeks, but “Let It Go” continues to echo round the Internet.

I keep stumbling upon great arrangements of the song. In addition to the electronic version I shared last time, here are a couple more.

The video above is yet another lovely piece from The Piano Guys, who were last heard round these parts rocking “Pachelbel’s Canon.” I haven’t the faintest idea how they managed to get an entire freaking piano into that ice palace, nor how they filmed all those sweeping shots, and I don’t really care. This blend of “Let It Go” with Vivaldi’s “Winter” gives me chills. (Pun intended. I’m so, so sorry.)

If classical music isn’t your thing, here’s a Weird Al-style parody from the adorkable comedy duo Debs and Errol based on Star Trek: First Contact, my favorite Star Trek film. (Sorry, J.J.) I’m not really a Star Trek fan, but this video made me grin.

Weird Al himself was apparently thinking of doing a Star Trek parody of “Let It Go,” but Debs and Errol beat him to it.

Question: Do you have a favorite version of this song? Let us know in the comments!

283. The Storm and the Internet

As my dear readers have probably guessed, I like the Internet.

Seriously, the Internet is amazing: an invisible, intangible, worldwide web of information, news, pictures, videos and funny cat pictures, all accessible through a few clicks or keystrokes. Need something? Type it into Google or some other search engine, wait a few seconds and voilà! You have it! Even the world’s best libraries can’t compare to the Internet’s incredible speed, marvelous efficiency, up-to-date accuracy and comprehensive variety.

A couple of weeks ago, a strange thought drifted into my caffeine-addled mind. The Internet brings together the best (and worst) of humankind in one place. Anyone anywhere with an Internet connection can contribute to the Internet, building a vast and ever-expanding construct—something entirely artificial. The Internet is unprecedented. Nothing like it exists, or could possibly exist, in nature. It is a unique triumph of humankind, one only humankind could create and sustain. The Internet is something to which people, cultures and societies everywhere have contributed.

It made me think of the Tower of Babel.

Most of us know the story, I think. The book of Genesis in the Bible describes how humankind came together in an early age of Earth to build a tower to heaven. This building, the Tower of Babel, had two purposes. It was a monument to the pride of humanity and an anchor to prevent them from scattering across the world.

God, however, had other plans. He confounded the language of the people building the Tower of Babel. Construction halted when its builders couldn’t communicate, and humanity eventually spread over the earth as God had planned.

I’m not saying the Internet is evil—good heavens, no! I think the Internet is fantastic.

Nevertheless, I can’t help but notice its similarities to the Tower of Babel. The Internet has united humanity in a way Babel could not; thanks to online translators, even differences of language are not a problem! The Internet records the greatest accomplishments of humankind, and could even be called a monument to human achievement. It’s an artificial world ruled by immediate gratification, quick searches, streaming videos and instant communication. The Internet is a world over which humanity holds absolute sway.

Weeks ago, on the same evening I pondered the Internet and the Tower of Babel, there was a terrific storm. It was majestic, exciting, terrifying and awesome. Trees bent and thrashed in the wind. Rain dashed against my windows. Lightning flashed and thunder cracked. As I dozed off, a flash of lightning penetrated my curtains and closed eyelids to wake me up instantly—it was as though lightning had struck right there in my bedroom.

As I lay awake, I kept thinking about the neat, well-behaved world of the Internet and the wild, overwhelming world outside my window. The storm and its peals of thunder seemed almost like God laughing.

In the morning, appropriately enough, the Internet was gone.

It took nearly a week to have it fixed. In that time, I did more reading than usual. My younger brother and I leafed through my copy of Hyrule Historia and waxed nostalgic over our childhood memories. We enjoyed life without Internet. It wasn’t bad at all.

Now the Internet is back. I’m thankful to have it, and glad to be reminded that it’s just a tiny part of a much bigger, better world!

No Internet

My connection to the weird, wonderful, wireless network known as teh internetz has been tragically broken.

A recent thunderstorm seems to have damaged my router, which blinks feebly and then dies every time it’s plugged in. I’ve called my Internet service provider, but they keep refusing to send technicians to resolve the problem.

Look, is it my fault that one of my typewriter monkeys bit the last technician they sent? Can’t we forgive and forget? Honestly.

My Internet connection won’t be restored for at least a few more days. For this and other reasons, TMTF must take a break for one week.

This blog took a break just a few weeks ago, and my honest intention was not to take another for a long time. I apologize for failing to update TMTF more regularly. I also blame my monkeys. If one of them hadn’t bit that technician, my Internet might have been fixed by now.

TMTF shall return (I hope) on Monday, June 30.

Thanks for your patience, dear reader, and thanks for reading!

The Man Who Fixed the Internet

The Internet is a wonderful, nay, miraculous, invention. This intangible web of information, media and funny cat pictures transforms my laptop, a humble slab of plastic and silicon, into a window unto worlds real and imagined.

There are times—dark times—when the Internet fails. Some dark, vile sorcery makes the Internet disappear by severing its connection to my laptop. It is at times such as these, dear reader, that we who use the Internet have three options. We can live without Internet: a lamentable fate. We can attempt to restore it ourselves: a venture fraught with frustration and difficulty. Our best and final option is to seek a hero to fix our Internet for us.

The video above is the epic tale of such a man, a story worthy of a place among the myths and legends of old, to be handed down to future generations and never forgotten.

Behold, dear reader, the Ballad of a WiFi Hero.

259. What Blogs Should I Follow?

Some time ago, I tweeted a question to my fabulous followers on Twitter: I’d like to follow more blogs. What are your recommendations?

This tweet, like the voice of one crying in the wilderness, went unheard and unanswered. I would like some answers to my question, though, so today I’m asking you.

I’d like to follow more blogs. What are your recommendations?

Specifically, what great blogs delve into subjects like culture, Christianity, writing, video games, literature, film and media?

If you enjoy a blog, or think I might like a blog, or write a blog, share it!

What blogs do you recommend? Let us know in the comments!