The Word

Earlier in the year I wrote a post about women and weblogging, and based on the old John Lennon song, used the phrase, “Women are the niggers of weblogging”.

People were offended at my use of the word, delinked me, unsubscribed, etc. etc. The fact that I was unsubscribed because I used the “word” didn’t bother me. What did bother me is that my writing didn’t inspire either deeper thought on the subject, or a healthy debate. I failed with that writing and it wasn’t because I used the “word”; it was because I used the “word” badly.

If you’re going to do satire, if you’re going to walk the edge with what you write, how you write, and the words you use, you better make sure that you have the skill to pull it off. I obviously didn’t.

This relates to today’s brouhaha, regarding Loren Feldman, the man who bills himself as a funny man, but who is primarily known for those instances where his “humor” has backfired. Feldman had his own failed “satirical” moment with a show he billed as “TechNigga” over a year ago, and got blasted to smithereens by all but a few buddies. Buddies, I might add, who have a lot of clout within this environment.

Feldman has since lost a deal with CNet, and today, the last of his clips were “refreshed” out of Verizon’s mobile service supposedly because of protests from those offended at Feldman’s old clip.

I’m not sure whether the protests by small but vocal groups were enough, or if Verizon found out what many of us have discovered: the man really isn’t funny. Not outside of a small group of weblogging insiders, which doesn’t translate into an audience for 15 year old text messaging girls, Verizon’s primary customers.

Some are bitching about “freedom of speech”, but I think Dare Obasanjo had about the best response to these claims:

People often confuse the fact that it is not a crime to speak your mind in America with the belief that you should be able to speak your mind without consequence. The two things are not the same. If I call you an idiot, I may not go to jail but I shouldn’t expect you to be nice to me afterwards. The things you say can come back and bite you on butt is something everyone should have learned growing up. So it is always surprising for me to see people petulantly complain that “this violates my freedom of speech” when they have to deal with the consequences of their actions.

Feldman is no Lenny BruceRichard PryorGeorge Carlin, or Whoopi Goldberg. These are funny people on the edge, funny people who actually defined both the edge, and what it means to be on the edge. They paid a price, and willingly, for both their humor and their courage.

Feldman wants the glory, but without the cost. He just doesn’t get it.

Just Shelley

47 Million. And One.

The pain was sudden and intense, a band across my chest, taking away my breath. I had been bent over, lifting several books from a lower shelf, and the pain hit as soon as I straightened up. I dropped the books and fell back into my chair, clutching my hand to my chest, just like they do on TV. Heart attack. I was having a heart attack. I was home, alone, having a heart attack.

I grabbed my phone to dial 9-1-1 but then stopped. If this was a heart attack, I should go to the hospital. However, if this was not a heart attack, the paramedics would still want me to go to the hospital. The hospital would want to do tests, and tests cost money. In my mind, I started adding up charges…probably 250.00 for an ambulance, a couple of thousand just for entering through the emergency door, EKG, saline drip, that test with the paper and squiggly lines

Let’s just stop for a moment, and re-evaluate the situation. Consider the circumstances. I had been bent over in an awkward position, and the books I was lifting were heavy. I imagine heavy lifting could cause a heart attack, but heavy lifting can cause other things, too, like a muscle strain. I felt the pain, trying to gauge its location. Yes, yes, the pain was focused in the right side, not the left. That’s good. I mean, that’s good.

The pain was still intense, though, making it hard to breathe. I grabbed the phone, but instead of calling 9-1-1, I called my roommate. I told him what happened, how I felt. Are you going to the hospital, he asked? I’m not sure, I replied.

Is the pain on your left or right? Right, I answered. Is it persistent? I thought about it, doing a mental check, and responded affirmatively. Are you having a hard time breathing? Y-e-e-s, I replied, though hesitantly, because by this time the band seemed looser, less urgent. Breath in. Hurt? Breath deeper. Hurt more?

Of course, I said to him, if I were having a heart attack, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation. True, he said. What were you doing, anyway? I told him I was lifting books from a bottom shelf. Well, does it feel like you pulled a muscle? I don’t know. It just hurts, hard to breath. Try lifting something, he said.

I picked up Zoë, and felt a twinge, in my right shoulder and chest. I put Zoë down, and it seemed like the pain was less. I picked Zoë up again. Yes, the pain was more intense. Zoë was happy, though.

I think I’ll live this time, I told my roommate. That’s good, he said. That’s good you’ll live, this time.

Zoë just purred.


IE 6 End of Life

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

O’Reilly Radar has a post with graphics related to the recent study of people using older, insecure browsers. At a glance we can easily see that most of the problem occurs with Internet Explorer, most likely IE6.

If Wikipedia is correct, IE6 was released on August 27, 2001. Come this August 27th that makes this browser seven years old, far older than most software supported by most organizations.

If we apply the same longevity to other software that’s been applied to IE6, all those who are using IE6 must still be using Windows 2000, the first release of the Mac OS X, Photoshop 3.x, a dial-up modem, AOL for chat, Yahoo for search, most of your applications are on the desktop, most of your backend processes are on a Sun or IBM mainframe, probably in Java, and probably using the JRE 1.3 or so. If you’re using a database, it’s most likely Oracle 7.x or SQL Server 2000. If you’re developing for the web, you’re most likely still using Perl and CGI, if not Java, or ASP. You might be using some Python or PHP, definitely no Ruby or Rails. If you are developing using Visual Studio, it’s Visual Studio 6, and you’re still not ready for .NET

You do your social networking through Usenet or AOL, Epinions, The Wall, or some other online BBS or forum. You can write over 140 characters. When you publish to the web, you’re hand editing your web pages, or using a freebie HTML editor, Macromedia’s DreamWeaver, Vignette, or some other larger commercial product. You might be using Blogger, though it’s doubtful. You might be using a syndication tool, though it’s doubtful. In fact, it’s doubtful that you would be reading this.

At one time, IE6 was the best there was, but that was a long time ago. We’ve used it when it was shiny and new, and it brought us innovation and delight. We used it through its usefulness, when it became more anchor than step. We’ve used it until we now curse its name. We continue to use it because no one seems to be willing to say, “It’s over”.

We should celebrate what Internet Explorer 6 brought us at one time, by letting it go. I think that August 27, 2008 would make a fine EOL date for this once great browser.