February 2011 Issue

Semper Ubi Sub Ubi


Yeah, well, OK, it’s March. What, you miss February? Let’s review: around here we had ice, snow, ice, ice, high winds, snow, ice, slush, mud, more mud and frozen mud, and then we finished up with a “rare late-winter” tornado that took out a farm a mile away from us. And I’m not even counting when the power went out because some enterprising miscreants broke into the substation and stole a bunch of copper wiring. This whole place is starting to look a bit post-apocalyptic at the edges; the latest thing is to break into businesses while they’re closed on the weekend and steal all the plumbing and heating fixtures.

By the way, can someone please explain why we have Ohio Air National Guard Black Hawk helicopters flying low over the house several times every day now? When we first moved in we had the four o’clock Huey every afternoon, a homey old Vietnam-era bird (with that thud-thud-thud sound you could hear ten miles away) which just sort of floated slowly by in the distance. Now these things come in a treetop level and make the whole house shake. Last week we had one sort of hovering at low altitude over our north field for no apparent reason. If they know what they’re doing, fine, but I’m getting a very disquieting student-driver vibe from this behavior.

So AOL bought the Huffington Post. This is hilarious. A zombie falls in love with a fluff farm. The schmuck who runs AOL just got through admitting that 60% of their profits come from people who pay $25/mo. for AOL dialup accounts they don’t need because they have broadband access and AOL is free on the web. Heckuva business model, dude. What’s next, Medicare fraud?

As far as I know I still have a free AOL “press” account they gave me back in 1994 when I was writing a book about the internet. It still worked a couple of years ago, and I have no doubt that, had I been paying for it, they’d still be charging me.

I’m sure that Ms. Huffington is as happy at being crowned Queen of AOL as a shape-shifting reptilian overlord can be. And I’m sure that we can look forward to many more features hewn of the same fearless journalistic stock as her now-legendary “What Time Does the Superbowl Start?.” (That article has since been re-written to seem less whorish, but it originally began:”Are you wondering, “what time does the Superbowl start?” It’s a common search query, as is “what time is the super bowl 2011,” “superbowl time” and “superbowl kickoff time 2011,” according to Google Trends the evening before the Super Bowl. It’s easily answered too. Super Bowl 2011 will take place on Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011, at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time and 3:30 p.m. Pacific Time.” As one commenter noted, “Most pathetic SEO spam ever.”)

Unfortunately for Arianna 2.5, less than a week after the grand announcement of the sale, Google released a crowd-sourcing plug-in for its Chrome browser that lets the common folk blackball “scraper” sites like HuffPo, and a bit later re-jiggered their search algorithms to devalue “content farms” and thinly-disguised search-engine whores (and plagiarism factories) like … HuffPo. It would appear that Google, which has profited enormously from promoting garbage search results for years, has recognized that the worm has turned and that they had better clean up their act. That is not good news for HuffPo, Demand Media, and their idiotic how-to-boil-water ilk.

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