Archive for April, 2012


The internet really is changing the world!

So it’s very hard to estimate, objectively, how much the world is actually changing. Except in the oddest of times, after all, the perceiver is changing at least as much as the world. Stairs get steeper, burdens heavier, music louder, children younger and their jargon less comprehensible (ikr?), the people who run the world more obviously incompetent, because of the shift of viewpoint, regardless of any other sort of change.

You can’t go down to the same river twice, that is to say, even if the river is the same.

Having said all that, though, the world sure has changed! :)

I went to The Mall today, to get my both pairs of glasses repaired (the world’s gotten blurrier, too, as it happens). My reading glasses have been held together with a little twist of wire for months, and yesterday I figured out that my driving glasses have been bothering my nose because although the lefthand nose-piece was still there, it was subtly torn enough that the metal bit was sticking through whenever I actually put them on.

There being no convenient way to get them repaired at home (or maybe just by force of habit, really; come to think of it I didn’t even look online for home glasses-repair kits), I went to The Mall. The Sterling Optical was having, or was involved in, some peculiar event involving a local radio station, balloons, a popcorn machine, and other arcana, but someone asked if they could help me, and when I said I needed some repairs they summoned The Guy Who Does The Repairs from the back room, and he came out and took my glasses and said it would be just a couple of minutes.

So I stood there reading news and books on my ‘Pad until he (or actually someone else, which was slightly confusing) returned with my glasses all fixed up, and then I was all done.

I strolled around The Mall a little, got a coffee, wandered through the Video Game Store, didn’t go into the book store (or even, come to think of it, notice if there is still a book store there), went upstairs and got some lunch from Asian Chao, thought I noticed a “Rounders” to open soon where the Burger King used to be, but then decided that it was actually a “Rounders” that had opened and closed again where the Burger King used to be, since the last time I was there.

There were Akoo screens on some of the columns in the Food Court, and cardboard ads for the Akoo app (which in some sense lets you control what Currently Popular Videos appear on the Akoo screens) sitting on the tables. I looked briefly at the Akoo app on my ‘Pad, but it looked kind of dumb so I didn’t get it. After I ate I bought some (really rather awful) chocolate from the all-candy-same-price candy stand, and wandered through F.Y.E. and didn’t buy anything there either.

The Mall is really a pretty impoverished environment in which to buy things. The F.Y.E. has some little devices that you can run the barcode of a CD under and possibly listen to the tracks and read about the artists on a little display; last time I was there a few of them mostly worked. This time I didn’t even bother trying; I was going to be home pretty soon anyway after all. The book store that I didn’t even go into has some random selection of books that someone (I would guess the Home Office of the bookstore chain) has decided to stock, but there’s no metadata, no reader reviews, no easy way to find other books by the same author or “readers who looked at this also looked at” lists.

Part of me says that it’s nice to be able to browse through the physical objects and decide what to buy one-to-one with the thing like that. But how much sense does that actually make? It means that I’m deciding whether to buy based on how compelling the cover design and the blurbs are, and the things I’m deciding between are limited to whatever someone (else) has decided to stock. How are those advantages?

So one thing that The Mall has is Sterling Optical where they will fix your glasses (and for free!). It also has a somewhat wider variety of coffees and ice-creams than home does, and Asian Chao and Desert Moon and fast-food chains like that. But that doesn’t seem like enough to support a whole Mall really, does it?

And then it has the persons. Quite many persons, each one interesting and lovely in a different way, with eyes and limbs and clothing of different colors and designs, and hair in various styles and lengths. Persons with voices and stories, and laughs and quiet whispers and sidelong looks.

I do like persons. :) And you don’t get to admire them when you buy books on Amazon or music on iTunes or furnace filters on Furnace Filters 4 You Now Dot Com.

But you do when, for instance, you go out to hear live music in Peekskill. (And to an interesting extent that we won’t consider further here right now you also do when you go out to hear live music while staying home.)

So the Internet gets us lots of great metadata from other persons while we shop, but keeps us from encountering the actual persons themselves, and their voices and hair and limbs.

Does this deprive us of the company of other persons, or does it just mean that we have more time to encounter other persons in non-consumer contexts? Both, of course. :) But which more, and which when, and which to whom? Them are the questions (some of them)…


Night Life

I so need to get into Peekskill more! Terrible how many years I’ve lived right down the street from this artsy little town, and gone to barely a handful of events.

Or to reuse a Facebook posting and put it more positively:

So I am sitting here in the Beanrunner Cafe in Peekskill (good crowd!) ordering soup and a sammich and mocha for dinner, listening to the music while the performers (including my little son, of whom I am wildly proud) set up, and Suzanne freaking VEGA is apparently performing down the street at the Paramount, and I am having my iPad here and I am reading my mail and buying digital books on the innerweb which instantly appear to be read, and now I am posting here, while sitting at this little table with a candle an’ everything.


and then I put up a Facebook photo gallery (my first!) of (dark, blurry, cellphone) pictures of the whole experience.

It was an absolutely wonderful time. The owners and lead performers were elated that they managed to pack the house even playing opposite Suzanne Vega (I would guess that having six High School students in the troupe and therefore drawing in parents and uncles and aunts and grammas and grampas may have had something to do with that, heh heh, although objectively speaking it was in fact a great time). The overly talkative people at the table behind me (why would you come to a live music performance and then TALK NONSTOP, LOUDLY SO AS TO BE ABLE TO HEAR EACH OTHER OVER THE MUSIC for half of the second set?) even partially redeemed themselves by asking me on their way out if the bass player was my son, because they’d thought I looked like him.

I had a big glass of wine (in addition to yummy soup and a wrap sandwich and a big mocha coffee), and while it didn’t hurt my driving-home any I feel somewhat hung-over this morning. (Or maybe it was just the kitten being all excited and/or sleeping on my legs much of the night.)

But it was so worth it…


Not the territory


I want to go ahead and complain…

So I want to go ahead and complain about people who go ahead and insert “go ahead and” before random verbs for no apparent reason.

Actually of course it’s not completely random; they go ahead and do it preferentially in certain contexts (probably not very often including that one where I went ahead and did it right there).

But anyway, it goes ahead and annoys me!

That last context is probably completely non-normative. I’m gonna go ahead and search the web for “it goes ahead and”

And we (go ahead and) find that the phrase isn’t common, but also isn’t unheard of. Never in the (what’s the word?) tenseless sense of “it goes ahead and annoys me”, but sometimes in the (what’s the other word?) nonspecific present sense of “if you give the program the wrong arguments, it goes ahead and deletes all of your files”.

Thinking about it, this phrase (clause, set of words) doesn’t always annoy me. It feels fine in the imperative, when there is some sort of giving-permission involved. To “Can I eat these?”, it’s clearly (clearly, haha) valid to say “Sure, go ahead”. Or, by obvious extension, “Sure, go ahead and eat as many as you like” or alternately “Go ahead and eat two or three, but leave the rest for the ancestors”.

(Here is Language Hat emself, who we are sure would never annoy us, saying “if you’re sure enough, go ahead and correct the Wikipedia article“, and indeed it seems quite correct.)

Even in non-imperative cases, the wording seems benign enough when there is some sense of permission involved, or notable lack of permission, where the going ahead (now that permission has been granted, or despite the fact that it wasn’t and one should have stopped) is remarkable in itself, in addition to whatever the actual activity was.

So from another web search, “I hate when you tell someone a secret and they go ahead and tell people”, seems plausible, as does “best friend knows you like someone, but they go ahead and date them”, both because, well, they shouldn’t have gone ahead, they should have stopped.

The annoying cases are when people (go ahead and) use it in non-imperative cases, when there is no permission involved at all, where it’s basically just a very long and distracting way of saying “um”. I heard a perfect example on the radio last night but of course I can’t remember it. Let’s see…

Impressive! A little web searching actually found it. The words were, speaking of the fun that giraffes an’ ellafumps have when they have food that is not all pre-processed for them: “If they have a large limb that they can go ahead and strip and pull the leaves off of, then they’ll work on pulling the bark off and then…” and so on.

That, I thought, was pretty clearly just an “um”, only much longer. Looking at it now from the wisdom of another day’s worth of experience, I wonder if this “go ahead and” might be signalling that a process, a set of steps, is coming up. That might be a reasonable excuse.

One more for now, also from NPR somewhere: “I believe it’s possible to get re-elected without taking large campaign contributions. So, why would I not go ahead and try to do that?” What’s up with that one? The sentence feels punchier and more impactful to me without the “go ahead and” (“why would I not try to do that?”). It’s hard to excuse it as a permission thing, and there’s no series of steps there.

So I will go ahead and remain annoyed by that one. :)


“An infographic my team built”: Mystery Spam o’ the Time-unit

So the other week I got this on one of my Dale Innis email addresses:

Hey Dale,

I found your site while I was looking for sites that have talked about World of Warcraft and wanted to reach out to see if you were interested in using a graphic my team and I designed, which highlights how online gaming stacks up against online dating, in a classic 8-bit video game aesthetic.

Let me know if you’re interested, would love to connect. Thanks!

Tony Shin

The phrasing strongly suggested that the writer was from a subculture with which I am not generally very comfortable (“reach out”, “love to connect”: ewwww, stranger-danger!), and I pretty much ignored it (but left it in my inbox with the several hundred things other swirling around in there), and later on I got an actual followup:

Hey Dale,

Wanted to follow up and reach out about the email I sent last week about the graphic on gaming and dating.

Hope things are going well.


Tony Shin

He’s still groping at me, but this seemed personal enough that I actually replied:

Um, hi! I actually have no idea what you were talking about. :)
What is this graphic, and how/why would I want to use it?

and he rereplied pretty quickly:

Hi Dale,

I was searching for people who have talked about gaming and those who’ve taken any interest in it, then came across your site. So I thought you and your audience might find the graphic interesting.

The infographic I was talking about lives here:

If you like it, feel free to link to it or use it in a post. Would love any feedback you or your readers have.

Tony Shin

I didn’t reply again, ’cause while visually cute I found the image kind of silly and pointless (not sure just what point it’s trying to make, various of the facts seem awfully implausible but I don’t care enough to trace down the sources, etc). And I figured that was probably the end of that.

Then, today, at one of David Chess’ email addresses, I find:

Hi David,

I came across your site while searching for resources related to ‘NORML’ and saw that you had referenced their site. That said, I wanted to reach out to see if you’d like to view a graphic that my team and I created which illustrates the benefits of marijuana legalization. Would you be interested in taking a look?

I’d love to get your readers’ feedback as well as yours!

Jen R.

This seems markedly similar! Also from the email headers the first Tony mail and the Jen mail are both coming via a mass-mailing service (Tony’s via “” and Jen’s via “”), forged to appear to be from, whereas Tony’s followup seems to have come via Integra Telecom (not an obvious mass-mailer, but similarly forged), and his reply to my reply seems to have actually come from gmail.

I should just write Tony and Jen and ask what’s going on of course :) but it is fun to speculate. Is it a college visual design course whose professor encourages the students to do this kind of thing? Is it a very clever bit of meta-spam designed to be unusual enough that gullible people (like me!) will put up weblog posts like this that actually include links to at least one of the Infographics in question, and thereby boost their Google Search Rankings (Brazil Triplets Nude!), or something like that?

Apparently there is a real Tony Shin who is perhaps actually at-ohtinytony on Twitter, although that person calls itself “Tonytones”. The account does “tweet” about various of this same kind of enormous Infographic, though, so it’s plausible.

Relatedly, here is a sort of article-thing by or about or something Tony Shin and various similar Infographics (warning: all sorts of rather cheesy ads and counters and little widgets from social media sites you’ve never heard of and general annoyances), which refers to him as “a social media ninja and creative design samurai”. Maybe these emails are part of some ninja-samurai initiation ritual, in which the student must stand on one leg atop a flagpole, blindfolded, until his Infographic gets a Klout score of at least 47.3 or something.

And here is a much less annoying site which has had several posts about the Mystery of the Infographics, including “Tony Shin taken to task“, which links to an Ohio State University professor posting about one of tiny Tony’s Infographics, and opining quite accurately I think about the various dangers of this kind of shiny information packaging. All very much worth a read.

Haven’t found anything on Jen yet, though. I think I will write to her… :)