Apr 20

Contemplating the Nihil

Saturday evening, 10 pm. Due to a bad bipolar day I’ve done exactly jack shit today. As of this writing I’m eating my first meal of the day: chicken nuggets with ranch.

In other words, I have …

“Stupid! You so stupid!”

As I suggested last weekend, I’m seriously considering making SB a strictly Monday through Friday venture. Today, well … today I gave myself a swift kick in the ass in that direction. Another craptacular post like this will seal the deal.

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I’m just about to this level of futility myself
Image credit:
The Trentonian

Perhaps it’s time to watch Weird Al Yankovic’s masterpiece UHF again. I just need to forget Victoria Jackson is in it.

Apr 19

Friday Crap Roundup X

Woo hoo! We’ve made it to the 10th Friday Crap Roundup! What’s the anniversary gift for that? Ah yes … iPads.

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Just be glad it’s not spyware behind Door #3 … this time.

Quite Simple, Really

SB is not a soapbox for me or anyone else, so I try to keep the political comments to a minimum. However, this graphic I came across on Facebook earlier this week is too good not to share.

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No caption necessary.

Hey, What About …

Longtime readers have no doubt noticed I haven’t said much about Cracked or the gym recently. The reason is quite simple. I haven’t done anything with either. Doing something about that is on my agenda for the next few days. No, really. Trust me.

A Word on Phnom Penh Nightlife

Since I started this blog around 10 weeks ago I’ve deleted nearly 550 spam comments … and kept four which were legitimate. It’s obvious these people don’t read the posts. Case in point: one guy told me, “I like Your Post about Khmer Karaoke Celebrities.” Um, WTF?

SB has covered some 1,250 topics since its inception, but I’m pretty sure “Khmer karaoke celebrities” isn’t among them.

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Yup … pretty sure.
Image credit: dalbera

I would have kept the comment, but I don’t want to encourage the bastards. Let them hawk their fake Nikes and Dutch porn sites elsewhere.

Track of the Week

Rush was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this week, an egregious slight finally rectified. Let the lobbying for Mojo Nixon commence.

About damn time.

Apr 18

Fighting the Electronic Prostate

There almost wasn’t an SB post today. It’s not my fault, dammit. My Internet connection has been spotty at best, holding just long enough for me to open a web browser before it takes a dump again. The fact cable modem support is an exercise in futility doesn’t help.

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“Is your computer on? Did you power cycle the modem? Did you sacrifice an ocelot to the Rapa Nui?”

With the possible exception of watching Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, there’s nothing more annoying than a craptacular Internet connection. Granted, this doesn’t happen near as much here as it does in the 2T, but it’s still a pain in the ass. Especially when I have shit to do. How bad is it? Well, it took me a solid hour to download a single photo from Wikimedia Commons.

I better end this post before I push my luck too far. Sorry ’bout that.

Apr 17

History Wednesday: Pranking Made Elementary

Last week’s History Wednesday was a bit on the dark side, so this week I wanted to lighten the mood. What happened in Boston earlier this week only makes the call for a less intense article all the more stronger.

Today History Wednesday travels back to 1917, but not to the bleak, war-torn landscape often associated with that year. Instead this story takes place in the countryside of Great Britain, specifically a town called Cottingley in West Yorkshire. It was here in this unassuming hamlet nearly a century ago that two girls pulled off a hoax that bamboozled an entire nation and made a very famous author look foolish indeed.

And so it was in this pastoral environment of rural north-central England that 16-year-old Elsie Wright and her 10-year-old cousin, Frances Griffiths, often found themselves dirty and wet after playing in the stream near their home. They explained to their exasperated mothers that they frequented the area because fairies lived there.

One day, the girls decided to “prove” it. Arthur Wright, Elsie’s father, was an amateur photographer who had set up a darkroom on the property. Consequently Elsie – a gifted artist – was somewhat adept at photography as well. Using illustrations from Princess Mary’s Gift Book, the girls made several two-dimensional fairy drawings. Elsie then took a picture of Frances with the figures.

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Pictured: Photoshoppe -13.0.

A couple months later the girls repeated the prank, posing Elsie with a “gnome.” Arthur Wright, who was sick and tired of the girls screwing around with his equipment, forbade them access to the camera after that.

That should have been the end of it right there. However, Elsie’s mother, Polly, believed the photographs were the real deal. A couple years after the incident she took them to a local meeting of the Theosophical Society, a group that researched esoterica such as, you know, fairies.

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Kind of like this, but without the LSD.

Needless to say, the photos were a big hit. Edward Gardner, a leading member of the Theosophical Society, became their prime apologist. After they were featured at the society’s national conference, they were “authenticated” by a guy who merely said the negatives weren’t tampered with (which was true). But hell, close enough, right?

Well, they were close enough for a certain Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, an active Spiritualist who learned about the photographs through his editorial contacts. As the more astute among you know, Conan Doyle was a famous Scottish author best known for creating a character named Sherlock Holmes. He totally bought the “fairies are real” line, even after the photographic companies Kodak and Ilford expressed their, um, doubts.

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The mustache, however, is obviously fake.

That’s when things started getting seriously stupid.

In order to corroborate the “evidence,” Conan Doyle sent Gardner to Cottingley to meet the Wright family and get some more fairy photographs. Gardner brought with him two new Kodak cameras and some marked photographic plates. He taught the girls how to use the cameras and then left, charging them with taking the pictures themselves. The girls in turn would only take photographs when no one else was around, as they were the only ones the “fairies” trusted. Sure enough, three new fairy photographs appeared and the plates were dutifully shipped back to Gardner in London.

CottingleyFairies4

“Hey, hey. Let’s tell them we found a way to turn brown sauce into diamonds. They’ll totally go for it!”

So did Gardner or Conan Doyle catch on? Oh, hell no! Upon hearing of the new photographs, Conan Doyle replied:

I had your note and the three wonderful pictures which are confirmatory of our published results. When our fairies are admitted other psychic phenomena will find a more ready acceptance.

Conan Doyle triumphantly published his findings in December 1920. While some fell for the hoax, many others were quick to call bullshit. In other words, the world wasn’t completely stupid in 1920 after all. As for Elsie and Francis, they finally owned up to the hoax.

In 1983.

Apr 16

Bits for Vanity

There are two types of people in this world: people who occasionally Google themselves, and damn liars. Last night I felt that self-congratulatory urge.

lanemyspace

Wait, Myspace is still around?

I’ve been on the Internet for some time. It’ll be 20 years in October as a matter of fact. As a result there’s a lot miscellaneous electronic flotsam related to me. For example, a Google search might lead you to incorrectly assume I’m still an insurance agent or even running for Governor of Idaho. Sadly, neither has been the case for years. You might also notice I edited a book many moons ago. That remains true.

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Pictured: Hardcore writer’s narcissism.

I admit I have an easier time finding information about myself on Google than some. “Lane Startin” is a fairly distinctive name, much more so than, say, a “John Smith” or a “Jennifer Jones.” That means I can reasonably assume anything that turns up is about me.

Which makes results such as this all the more perplexing:

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Flabbergasting.

I suppose when and if this blog becomes an integral part of society they’ll let me have a Wikipedia article again. But knowing Wikipedia as I do, probably not.

More Facebook Crap

Hey! Did you know SB’s staff cats Djoser and Sneferu have Facebook pages now? Click on their names to “like” them. They’ll be eternally grateful, I think ….

Oh yeah, I have a Facebook page to “like” as well. Also, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter!

Apr 15

No Snark Today

I went into today’s post with a few snarky things to say about Facebook and their recent timeline change. Then I read about what happened in Boston.

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The City of Trees stands with Beantown.

Now I don’t feel snarky or funny. I don’t think it’s appropriate today anyway. Mark Zuckerberg’s skewering will have to wait.

Apr 14

Time to Cut Back?

I’m considering making SB a weekday-only venture, or at least allowing myself to take Sundays off. There was no inspiration in the 2T this morning. There was no inspiration on the long, dull road back to the Command Center, either. That worked before. Not today. Not even old Ministry or relatively new VNV Nation could summon the Muse.

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This is actually one of the more interesting scenes on that drive.

Well, it did give me a few ideas for tracks on the upcoming Taxil and the White Noise EP. I recently came across a cache of public domain newsreels from the early 70s. I could totally sample some of those. Maybe I could play a couple notes on the bass and mix it all together. Hell, I might actually produce something halfway interesting.

Like yesterday thoughts also turned to the weather, especially after I hit the Boise city limits. I beheld a sure sign of spring despite the recent cool weather. There’s running water in the Ridenbaugh Canal, which flows just a little north of the Command Center on its way to Lake Lowell in the dreaded 2C. For the canal-illiterate, they keep them dry around here during the winter months.

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“Dem taters ain’t gonna water themselves, ya know.”

So, um, I’m home. The Pyramid Brothers are well. I’m OK. My audio software isn’t, as it decided to take a 10-minute newsreel track and compress it down to one second. That’s not gonna work. Let’s see if it can bring it back. Perhaps, but it apparently needs all my CPU power, which means I need to shut down Firefox. That means this post is over. See y’all tomorrow.

Apr 13

Treatise on a Boring Saturday

The worst enemies of a blog like this are boredom and mediocrity. Unfortunately, today is rife with both. A day to drink water, get a headache and contemplate the depressing silence enveloping you. It’s bland, blasé. Dare I say stagnant?

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Yes, comrades. I dare.

Although it’s sunny out, it’s one of those windy days you’d just as soon not be a part of. You know it’s cold. You don’t have to go outside or look at the weather. Crispness is seen in the air by those in the know. That in turn keeps you inside … where absolutely shit bloody nothing is happening.

It’s that time of year in the 2T. Especially during March and April, southern Idaho has a hard time remembering what the hell season it is. One day it’s an idyllic spring wonderland. The next, your internal barometer wonders if the Idaho State Bengals lost their football game yet, or if the ass-whipping this week has an evening kickoff. Many other places experience this phenomenon, but it’s here where I grew up and therefore here I write about.

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It used to be worse.

Back in the 80s a day like this was made to watch golf, mainly because nothing else was on. Also because to this day that’s pretty much all Dad watches on the weekends. Yes, even now I can hear the announcer’s forebodingly soothing intonations as Craig Stadler‘s ball finds the water hazard on 16. “Deep into a watery grave.” So much for his chances at that year’s Bob Hope Desert Classic.

After the United Airlines golf sign-off the day invariably degenerated further into the likes of a bad TV movie or worse, The Love Boat followed by Fantasy Island. There are very few specific memories from these ordeals. It’s all a blur of Charo, polyester and toothpaste commercials.

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“Abandon all hope, ye who sail with Gopher.”

Later on I’d try to break the monotony with bike trips to the neighborhood Circle K and/or 7-11. But Big Gulps only go so far in terms of entertainment value. Barring something unexpectedly cool such as a hailstorm, the day would lethargically and mercifully.

Sunday might be a better day, but after Saturdays like this the odds were never good.

Apr 12

Friday Crap Roundup IX

It’s Friday and I’m in the 2T again. Beachy has one of those teacher inservice days, so I had to interrupt her Smosh and Fred Figglehorn habit to write today’s FCR. Believe me, that’s not an easy task. Once I’m done I get to take her to Hop 2 It. Oh joy. At least she’s paying her own way this time ….

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NOTICE: FATHER CARRIES NO CASH
Image credit: Channel R

But First, A Shameless Plug

I’ve known Travis Hill since we were in fifth grade or something like that. He’s into hockey, writing and snark, just like me. If you enjoy SB, I venture to guess you’ll like his stuff too. You can find it here, here and here.

He doesn’t know I’m doing this, and when he finds out he’ll probably have some off-color remark for me. That’s part of his charm.

Speaking of Remarks …

SB got its first real comment in well over a month earlier this week. Feel free to comment at this site, you slackers. Constantly deleting Engrish spam hawking fake Air Jordans gets old after a few weeks.

Anyway, commenting on “Messing With Spammers,” Ray told SB he also encountered the infamous “gr8tits2play.” He wrote in part:

How can I report this user? That ISP address or whatever. Oh well my only option is to report it on Fling and hopefully they will warn others. I didn’t sign up for the other site because I couldn’t find her user name, so I Googled – you guessed it – gr8tits2play. should I respond back with something, or don’t reply?

(Ed note: link NSFW)

Good questions, Ray. You did the right thing by reporting the account to Fling and by NOT signing up to “her” site. The dating site is probably not going to “warn others,” but it should delete the offending account with extreme prejudice. I imagine they’ve already done so as of this writing. I don’t recommend responding unless you’re going to troll them like I do. That just invites more spam.

As for tracking where the e-mail came from, what I do is find the originating IP address in the e-mail source. A “View Source” option should be available in e-mail clients such as Thunderbird and Outlook. Finding the source in web-based e-mail, such as Hotmail, can be problematic.

The source consists of a bunch of computer gobbledygook. What you want is something that looks like “Received: from [1.2.3.4].” The numbers in the brackets are the IP address. There may be several lines like this; the one you want is usually the last one.

Once you have the IP, do a search on an IP lookup site such as IP2Location. The result should tell you where the IP originates and what ISP it’s registered with. This doesn’t work every time, but it’s the best way I know of to track an e-mail’s origin. If someone out there knows a better way, please share with the class.

Of course this only works with an actual e-mail. If all you have is the communication on Fling (or wherever), you’re not going to be able to track the original IP, although the site admins can if they so choose.

By the way, if you do troll them let me know. Definitely share if it nets you hilarious results.

My Message in Your Modem

SB reached an auspicious milestone earlier today. All you Rush fans out there should appreciate this:

2112views

And the geeks shall inherit the earth.

Let’s Network … Or Something

Hey! Now you can “like” me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter. The Mayor of Boise, members of the Idaho Legislature, and the Idaho Statesman all follow me. Why not you?

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In other words, the city knows my every move.

Oh yeah, for what it’s worth I have a Pinterest account too. I don’t use that much, though.

Track of the Week

I like me some trance, y’all.

We’re not in Kansas anymore.

Apr 11

It Begins …

Ha, ha! I warned you! Now I’ve gone and done it.

taxilandthewhitenoise

Oh, snap.

Yes, that’s right! I have “discovered” a long-lost recording of my 31 February 1982 concert at the id-famous Owyhee County Pork Sausage Distillery in Dickshooter, Idaho. My performance of John Gage’s classic 4′33″ brought down the house. Have a listen:

Damn, I’m good.

This was put up on YouTube only yesterday, yet the reviews are already remarkable! B. T. from London, Ontario, Canada, an accomplished musician and regular SB reader, said:

Enthralling performance! Although I must say that the opening was a bit disturbing…. And I can thank you for now knowing that there is a Dickshooter, ID. Always learning from you….

Beachy had this to say:

Dad, that is just wrong and weird! Weird and wrong! Wait … did you do it for people who like plaid? Who like plaid and beige? Beige, plaid people?

The rest of Taxil and the White Noise is currently in production. 4’33” will be available soon in MP3 format from Amazon and iTunes. Look for it!