The Onion

Ground Control to Major Kelly [Three Best Things 5/17/10 - 5/23/10]

THING 1: Help me help my friend in DC from MetaFilter. An internet forum takes on the Russian mob… no, that’s literally what happened. The dad in Taken could’ve saved a whole lot of trouble if he’d simply paid the $5 MeFi registration fee.
THING 2: New Social Networking Site Changing The Way Oh, Forget It by the Onion. This is exactly what you think it is, and you will not regret reading it.
THING 3: I knew it was coming, and it still got me. That means it’s like a dry heave, but in a good way:

Bonus Thing

The perfect soundtrack for old footage of NASA missions? Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone,” chopped & screwed. This video simultaneously makes no sense and is the most fitting depiction I’ve ever seen of everything about outer space. The glory and horror and striving and solitude — who would’ve ever guessed we’d need an American Idol to soundtrack space travel?

I’ve watched this thing every day this week. I could hammer out 10 pages on it by tomorrow night, but I’ll spare you that if you at least watch it through the 1:53 mark.

A Phony's History of the iPad [Three Best Things 1/25/10 - /1/31/10]

J. D. Salinger

In 1965, author J. D. Salinger retired with the world heavyweight book-writin’ title belt. By the early ’80s, his Catcher in the Rye was simultaneously the most-banned and second-most-taught book in American schools. He died this week at 91.

Holden Caulfield says: “Boy, when you’re dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you’re dead? Nobody.”

The iPad

To paraphrase Dee Dee Warwick and Mike Tyson, iPad’s gonna make you love iPad. Need one good reason to convince yourself that you’ll never fall for it? How about twelve?

There’s this: “If the first personal computers required permission from the manufacturer for each new program or new feature, the history of computing would be as dismally totalitarian as the milieu in Apple’s famous Super Bowl ad.” And this: The thing that bothers me most about the iPad is this: if I had an iPad rather than a real computer as a kid, I’d never be a programmer today.” But the iPad isn’t meant for computer geniuses. It’s meant for their moms.

The iPad is crap futurism whose lack of Flash compatibility might give us a future without Flash. That would be fantastic. The future also promises nine tablet computers that might wind up being as good, better, or cheaper than the iPad. (As with MP3 players and smart phones, Apple wasn’t the first or necessarily the best; they were the loudest biggest and shiniest most magical.)

Holden Caulfield says: “It’s funny. All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they’ll do practically anything you want them to.”

Also relevant:

Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn, who also died this week, shoehorned all history into a single narrative and avoided citing his claims — which you can get away with if you’re writing a history text like this, but not if you’re writing one like this. He didn’t exactly become a historian’s historian. But he achieved a harder thing; he made young people see history for what it is: an evolving story with unreliable narrators, usually written by the winners.


One of Zinn’s last interviews, with PBS in December 2009.

Holden Caulfield says: “People always think something’s all true.”

A word:

Has anyone checked on Matt Damon this week? Good Will Hunting was basically Catcher in the Rye: Math Version, and Damon’s character is a big Zinn fan. In fact, Damon was Zinn’s real-life neighbor growing up, and was one of the first people to read a draft of A People’s History.

Status update: ENGINE is sad for Matt Damon.

Three Best Things 9/7/09 - 9/13/09: "I Forgot To Remember To Forget"

  • Remembering the Beatles: Chuck Klosterman plays really dumb-smart, breaking down the remastered box set released this week by some “Liverpool pop group, a 1960s band so obscure that their music is not even available on iTunes.” With the remasters plus Beatles Rock Band, this week felt like a tiny Beatlemania. It was fantastic. While we’re remembering, here’s an idea: Annual Beatles Day.
  • Remembering 9/11: branding the 9/11 Memorial. More critically, remembering 9/10.
  • Remembering one of the greatest humans of all time. No, not Billy Mays. Norman Borlaug, the agricultural scientist whose contributions have saved literally hundreds of millions of lives so far, died at 95.
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