“Public” Pressure Didn’t Oust Mozilla’s Anti-Gay CEO — A Privately Held Company Did

mozilla-foundation-logoTake it easy on the champagne popping, will ya guys?

Yes, Mozilla’s recently-appointed CEO Brendan Eich is gone, following an uproar over his $1000 donation in support of California’s anti-SSM Proposition 8.

And while there will inevitably be hand-wringing about the PC thought police and liberals are the real hate-crimers and blah-de-blah, the reality is that this is how it’s supposed to work if you’re a free-market-fixes-all-ills zealot. The guy wasn’t charged with anything, he wasn’t accused of any crimes; he faced no government censorship. Enough consumers made it clear that they weren’t comfortable with the company’s leadership that internal voices convinced him to resign, and that was that.

A win for capitalism! Hoorah, or something!

Here’s the thing, though: despite the best efforts of individual people, many of them from within Mozilla, to get the word out about Eich’s donation, it was the popular website OKCupid’s decision to publicize the issue that made headlines. Until they threw their massive web presence behind it, there was nowhere near enough threat to Mozilla’s operations for them to care who or what Eich had donated to.

So if you’re glad to see a company being held accountable for its CEO’s bigotry, thank a major private corporation today! (OKCupid is owned by InterActive Corp, which also owns Match.com, and which promptly removed all of OKC’s prior writings criticizing fee-charging dating sites like Match.com from the OKC website after the acquisition, giving you a pretty good idea of how dedicated to transparency that corporate culture is.)

I’m not sorry to see Eich go, but I’m not sure it’s much of a victory for civil rights when everything is so dependent on a wealthy, influential corporation’s willingness to lend their might to progressive causes.

Ah well. I suppose in this case it’s the only way it was going to go down. What were all us end-users gonna do, boycott the browser we weren’t paying to use anyway?

If Your Caption Contradicts Your Headline, You’re Not Even Trying to Fact-Check

Friends, you know how I’m always telling you not to rely on free internet “news” sites for your news? And you know how it sounds really snobby and old-fashioned, which I admittedly am?

This kind of shit is what I’m talking about. With no particular intent to pick on MLive.com (Booth Newspapers’s generic-template online news site) – if your headline talks about a “6-foot python,” the photo caption directly below it should not reference a “7-foot boa constrictor.”

michigan-live-firefighter-python-rescue

Which, whatever. It’s a heartwarming local interest story so who cares, right?

But at the point where that’s the standard, I’m going to have to fact-check everything I read from your site by Googling around for other, confirming sources anyway, so why would I even bother reading?

(Short answer: I don’t, unless someone posts a Facebook link, which I guess is how these sites are planning on driving traffic anyway.)

I feel old, grumpy, and a little stuck-up about this, but I’m not wrong. If you’re referring to the same snake as a “6-foot python” and a “7-foot boa constrictor” before I’ve even started the article, you’re not even trying. Not a little, tiny bit.

Ah well. I’m sure they’re not paying the skeleton staff of MLive.com enough to care. Subscribe to a real newspaper, guys, seriously.

The “Blue Dragon” Glaucus Atlanticus, While Beautiful, Is Not a Good Fursonality

You may have seen one of these floating around Facebook recently (or around the oceans of the world, if you live a much cooler life than I do): the Glaucus atlanticus sea slug.

blue-dragon-sea-slug-glaucus-atlanticus

Gorgeous, isn’t it?

That’s a real critter, with some very weird biology: it drifts around the ocean, nibbles off the top of other soft-and-drifty sea life, and in the case of the poisonous ones (like the Portugese man o’war, which it loves to eat) stores the larger creature’s toxin-bearing nematocysts in specialized sacs at the tips of those beautiful blue feathery “fingers” you see in the picture above.

That means pictures like this one are incredibly stupid, since the beautiful, alien-looking slug in question might or might not be able to deliver a powerful jolt of venom when picked up, depending on what it’s been noshing lately:

blue-dragon-sea-slug-glaucus-in-hand

But at any rate, it’s rare and beautiful and has “dragon” in one of its common names, and this is the internet, so of course people have made furries out of them.

glaucus-atlanticus-sea-slug-furry

(As usual, I’ve left the most explicit examples out. Feel free to Google around if you want to see similar drawings with humanish naughty bits exposed.)

Which really begs the question: if you are into anthropomorphized animals in a sexy way, and part of that thrill is giving characters the identifying characteristics/attributes of their “template” species, what the fuck do you do with a G. atlanticus?

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not seeing the fact that, like most slugs, G. atlanticus is hermaphroditic as a turn-off for the target market here. I know the internet better than that. I’m just curious how you make “functionally brainless, floats wherever the current takes it; often attacks much larger and deadlier creatures” into a compelling human personality. A drunken hobo that picks fights with biker gangs, maybe?

Let this one go, boys and girls. The “blue dragon” is beautiful, and has a very nerdy name, but it is not your go-to “fursonality.” Trust me on this one.

Phishers of Men

phishingThe identity-phishing scams that make it through my filters these days are getting more and more plausible. I have conflicted feelings about this.

On the one hand, identity theft bad, boo, no. Wouldn’t wish it on anyone, hate to think of people falling for these, etc.

On the other hand, some of the black hats have clearly started hiring writers, and I’m always happy when my fellow freelancers get chances to put their English degrees to use. I swear a consulting company must have done a Best Practices Review for some of these scam artists, and told them that their chief corporate vulnerability was the inability to write a bogus e-mail in plausible-sounding English.

Lately the spelling and grammar has improved a lot, and (I suspect not coincidentally) lately a lot more have been making it through to my inbox/comments page, too.

The stories are still absurd, however (wealthy heirs seeking someone in the US to wire transfer their riches to, etc.), which makes a pretty compelling case for literary education to me: if you don’t read fiction, how are you going to recognize it when it lands in your inbox?

Read a book – spite a scammer! There are library posters waiting to be made.

Some Friendly Advice for Angry, Unhappy Billionaires

Is anyone else noticing a theme lately?

From Politico this morning:

“I hope it’s not working,” Ken Langone, the billionaire co-founder of Home Depot and major GOP donor, said of populist political appeals. “Because if you go back to 1933, with different words, this is what Hitler was saying in Germany. You don’t survive as a society if you encourage and thrive on envy or jealousy.”

home-depot-logoThis is getting depressingly consistent.

I assume the idiocy of comparing calls for a minimum wage increase or higher taxes on the top income brackets with Nazi aggression is self-evident enough that we don’t have to unpack it in any detail here (for what it’s worth, wealthy business owners tended to do pretty well under the Nazis unless they were, you know, Jewish), but I would like to offer some advice for Mr. Langone and anyone else who owns billions of dollars and still feels angry, unhappy, and threatened:

Do something else with your life.

Seriously. If you have that much money and you spend most of your time feeling fearful or oppressed, you are doing something wrong. Whatever you’re doing is not working, and you need to change it.

It should not be possible to be that unhappy with that much money. You have to be actively seeking out misery in a way that is mindboggling to me. Get the fuck over yourself, take a trip to Majorca, and blow a couple million bucks on booze and whores. Or donate it all to God of one stripe or another and become a monk. Or do fucking anything except what you’re doing, because Jesus Christ, how can you have the freedom to do absolutely anything you want and choose to spend your time bitching about how the fascists are coming for you?

You don’t have to keep being a plutocrat. You can quit that shit any time. Stop obsessing about next year’s profits or your political capital or whatever and go waste your ill-gotten gains in total self-indulgence for the rest of your goddamn life. Maybe it will be a useful reminder that your life is fucking great, and if it isn’t, maybe the money that you’re so terrified of losing isn’t doing you any fucking good.

You idiots.

Hope it helps.

I Do Not Get #FF

Twitter, ugh.

Using it sometimes feels like playing Mao, you know? Like it’s this completely arbitrary game where in theory you figure out the rules as you go along, but really it only exists so that the people who already know the rules (who are nerds) can enjoy the dirty thrill of hazing without any of the physical strength and/or social skills necessary to actually intimidate, and therefore haze, another human being.

Mao is such bullshit. Anyway, where was I? Oh, Twitter. Right.

followfriday

I use Twitter in a bunch of different incarnations. Some are more professional than others. Some get more use than others (my personal @GeoffreyCubbage account, for example, has languished for years now).

But in every incarnation, I’ve received at least one “#FF” tweet.

What is #FF, you may ask yourself, if you’re not one of those obnoxious people who live on Twitter and already know this kind of shit?

I have no fucking clue. Or rather, I know what it means. It’s “Follow Friday,” for the untutored among you, and in theory the author of a #FF tweet is basically saying “here, look at all these other Twitter feeds; I follow them and think they are cool so maybe you would like to follow them too.” It looks like a hashtag followed by a blob of usernames:

twitter-ff-tweets

In the world of Twitter, this seems to be a nice thing. So people are occasionally doing a nice thing for me: sharing my Twitter handle and encouraging other users to follow it.

Woo.

Only, what do you do with that? Reply and say “thanks”? Retweet it yourself? Go look at the other names in the #FF tweet?

I don’t know, and so I let them quietly wash by me, because I am too afraid of committing some grievous social sin to act. It’s nice to know some social anxieties lurk beneath this aggressively competent facade I’ve constructed online. Still a nerd at heart!

But never a nerd who made people play Mao. God.

Groupon’s Chicagoland May Not Look Quite Like Your Chicagoland

Ah, “Chicagoland.” That blessedly vague friend to advertisers everywhere.

It manages to combine the allure of the big city with the friendly, folksy suggestion of “the Heartland,” all in one phrase that’s as juicy and delicious as an all-beef hotdog (no ketchup!).

It also apparently describes a swath of land encompassing most of northern Illinois and a bit of Wisconsin, all of which is “near shopping” in Chicago. Land.

Everyone does it, but Groupon is far and away the worst offender I’ve found to date. This should be particularly embarrassing since Groupon launched in Chicago, but that hasn’t stopped their copy writers from assigning any hotel with a Midwestern zip code to the Chicago destinations section. Search for hotels or “getaways” in Chicago and you’ll end up as far afield as Elmhurst (half an hour from downtown in good traffic), Buffalo Grove (closer to Wisconsin than it is to Chicago), and, my personal favorite, this gem:

groupon-hotel-chicago-algonquin

…in Algonquin, IL.

Algonquin? Yes. Algonquin. It’s a place. I didn’t know either. Let me put it this way: when your promotional copy is urging people to visit Schaumburg’s Woodfield Mall (“where you’ll find Lord & Taylor, Armani Exchange, The Cheesecake Factory, and Rainforest Cafe”) as a driving-distance attraction worth driving for, you’re not in Chicagoland anymore.

You might not even be in “land” anymore. Here there be dragons, or at least creepy storefront evangelical churches and weird, low-rent, specialty businesses like VHS tape repair.

Not Chicagoland. Come on, Groupon. Show some local pride as you slide inexorably into obsolescence.

You can get offices in Algonquin after the bankruptcy.

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