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July 21, 2008

The Internet, finder of lost things
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:05 PM *

Remember when, if you needed to remember the date of the Treaty of Westphalia1 or the members of the First Triumvirate2, you had to go find a book with the information and look it up? Remember when every true fact, and a heck of a lot of false ones, were more than a click away?

Remember trying to explain Schoolhouse Rock, or Tom Lehrer, or Bagpuss, without recourse to examples?

Remember when, if you lost track of something like this, you knew you would never find it again without the most extraordinary luck?

I think I just found another piece of my sensawunda as well. How about you? What have you found lately?

  1. October 24, 1648
  2. Pompey, Caesar and Crassus
Comments on The Internet, finder of lost things:
#1 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 05:14 PM:

Episodes of the Batman television series and the 1966 film, which I introduced to my younger son (he's twenty, and had no idea they existed). He's now taken to saying things like 'Holy sardine, Batman.'

#2 ::: Jennifer Barber ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 05:14 PM:

I just had a similar experience--I idly asked if anyone on my LiveJournal friends-list knew how to do something I've been wondering about for a couple of years now, and shortly afterward someone popped up with the programs I'd need and the steps required.

I love the internet.

#3 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 05:20 PM:

The internet allowed me to find my friend Yoko after a 9-year gap during which the internet was unleashed onto the the world.

#4 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 05:22 PM:

When people referred to the Wayback Machine, it always sounded like a wish, or at best a euphemism for a deep Google search. I didn't realize what it actually was, and that it actually is. But very recently someone here linked to it, and I took a look, and found an old blog post I had managed to overwrite. So thanks, ML!

#5 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 05:37 PM:

As a librarian, I love it. It means that the boring part of our job has mostly been automated away and we can focus on the more interesting parts.

"Information, meet You."

"You, this is Information."

#6 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 05:49 PM:

A few weeks ago, there was a RASFW thread about the first SF book you ever read. I recalled some titles that I had read when I was perhaps six years old. (They were published around 1970.) Then I thought, hey, I might as well buy those.

A week later, I had all six stacked on my desk. Thank you Internet (specifically

But there's another layer to this story. I had long forgotten the titles and authors of these books. I only had them recorded because I asked on rec.arts.sf-lovers in 1991. I was able to describe enough of the storylines for someone to remember the books. Thank you Internet-of-yore (specifically Steve Hoy of

(The books were by Bamman, Odell, and Whitehead.)

#7 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 05:58 PM:

Serge @3:
To the extent that People are Things, yes, I have also found long lost people on the Internet. My best friend from high school turns out to be an editor at Locus; seeing her again at Worldcon in Glasgow was six kinds of wonderful. And I'm even in touch with my very first boyfriend, thanks to the marvels of Twitter.

Tony @5:
Since I work in the field of library search engines, I know exactly how you feel.

#8 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 06:04 PM:

Oh, do I ever know this. Whenever I lose my net connection (e.g. last month, when the wonders of BT lost me my net link for nearly a week) it becomes agonisingly hard to do virtually anything. Even in fields like mine (software development), where it's theoretically possible to reinvent every wheel yourself, it's really really *annoying* to not have recourse to the accumulated public knowledge of the netted world. I hit walls all the damn time, permanently slowed to the rate of one human thinking. I can't leap from problem to solution by way of some other helpful person's thought at all. It's horrible.

In fields like history and so forth, or indeed any of the historical sciences, where you have a choice of finding the information in incredibly dense and (sigh) often-badly-indexed or just plain lost books, or not getting it at *all*...

... however did we manage before search engines?

#9 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 06:06 PM:

I too live in the world of university libraries, research institutions and digital databases.

Research and methods for writing history and biography are so different now.

Love, C.

#10 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 06:07 PM:

However, unusually, I've performed no research today of any kind, not even one single tiny fact.

I've been grocery shopping and cooking. It's been too hot to do either for so long er'tr out of everything -- and My Person is home again!

Love, C.

#11 ::: Annie G. ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 06:17 PM:

I found my great-great-grandfather. We were going through some papers after my grandmother's death and discovered a medal from Gettysburg engraved with his name. An internet search led me to a number of Civil War history sites, and I found the roster of his regiment. The site also had a picture and the location of his grave. Which turned out to be within 10 miles of the house my parents have lived in for 30 years. We visited last October. It was fascinating to be able to learn so much-- so easily!-- about a side of the family that we knew nothing about.

#12 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 06:30 PM:

Me, last night: "Hey, wasn't there a book a couple years ago about the CIA or the Pentagon or whoever doing experiments on weird psychic stuff during the cold war?"

Me, today: has a hold at the library on "Men Who Stare at Goats"

#13 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 06:40 PM:

Yesterday I found a recording of Tammy Faye Bakker singing glurge-a-riffic songs.

I was skimming this article in the Atlantic Monthly : Is Google Making Us Stupid? -- and thought, no. It's definitely making me smarter. I have always been absent-minded. Where before a fact that fell out of my head would have stayed fallen, now I can retrieve it quickly. If a brain is like a computer, the internet brings that metaphor to reality -- I can access and load into temporary memory (the kind I use to think about something) tons of information that I never had to memorize. Then I can trust that it'll be there, retrievable, if I ever need it again, and can use my limited brainspace for more immediately important things.

I don't think the internet is making us dummy terminals, though. I don't have the incredible recall of someone like my brother. (My brother is the kind of person who can memorize, recall, and hold forth about tremendous quantities of facts. I've always envied him, because I have to rehearse things until I'm ready to scream if I want to give a talk without recourse to notes, and still usually stumble. Whereas he could give you a 30-minute lecture on, say, ethanol policy off the top of his head.) So I need the external memory of the internet more than some people. But some of those facts do stick in my head, in enough detail for my brain to put them into analysis -- so I end up synthesizing some very interesting ideas that I would never otherwise have come to. And because the detailed facts are quickly available, it's easy to refine those ideas.

#14 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 06:47 PM:

Over on SmartBitchesTrashyBooks, the HABO* bits are incredible. With a minimum of description, readers are able to identify romance novels. Much like people here ID SF/F/H. Impressive as all get out.

*Help A Bitch Out

#15 ::: Jacob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 06:48 PM:

Lost (or merely coveted) Lego sets of the early 80s. Every book I can think of wanting, without having to remember for more than 30 seconds that I want it - long enough to order it, rather than having to remember it long enough for my next trip to a bookstore. People - occasionally, but not as often as most people seem to, perhaps because I'm a misanthropic monster. A definition of absolutely everything a mere search away - and not just a bunch of undistinguished search results, but a real article written and edited by real people and guaranteed to be on-topic, cross-referenced to information on absolutely everything else.

This subject reminds me, sort of, of a remark that goes around in geeky circles: the idea that you don't have to remember anything anymore because you can just look it up, and so that part of your brain responsible for remembering facts atrophies. Sounded plausible or at least like a good line to me, but the more I thought about it the less it seemed to be the case for me. The availability of Wikipedia and search engines has resulted in being able to remember more information because it's so easily refreshed in passing. Can't remember whether that rebellion was 16th or 17th century? Quick Wikipedia check, ah it was 16th, that fact now refreshed in my memory and ready for new connections.

Pre-Internet, well: 16th or 17th? Hmm. No idea. I guess I could look it up, but that seems like a lot of work. So I'll just keep letting that memory fade away, vaguer and vaguer.

And because of the variety of subjects I wind up covering in a typical dig through Wikipedia (and usually Google & Amazon & sometimes Flickr too, for more background or books), the amount of interconnected stuff that's been recently in memory is much larger than it would be if I had to go to the library to find a set of books on a subject, and then wind up running around in the library trying to find the connections. The interconnections are key to having some novel thoughts on the subject, and the fact that you can know those connections without great effort helps you fit your own thoughts into the pattern. It's not just a set of disconnected facts, in other words.

As I mentioned, Google plays another role in finding background information, and so does Amazon for locating relevant books (and sometimes Ebay for locating relevant physical objects), and Flickr for finding the right photos. So it's not just Wikipedia. But it sure is mostly Wikipedia.

Anyway, point is, I don't think Wikipedia or the wider Internet makes you stupider. I think it makes you much smarter. Hooray for the future.

#16 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 06:49 PM:

For me, it was looking at pictures broadcast back from the Mars Rover. I had sort of gotten used to the idea of my computer being a "window on the world", but to have it suddenly be a window onto another world... that was mind-blowing.

#17 ::: Jacob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 06:50 PM:

Caroline posted at #13 while I was composing with a similar thought. In case the repetition seems odd.

#18 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 06:52 PM:

I found pictures of my grandmother and her family when she was young. All we had were pictures of when she was in her sixties and seventies. And I'd never seen any pictures of her brother and sister, or of her parents, and even her grandmother. But they'd been posted by my third cousin, whom I'd never met (although I'd met his sister and played chinese checkers with his younger brother, almost fifty years ago).

Just Googling around, looking for mentions of the family in the county in which they lived. Mind you, I'd never have found them if I'd looked for the family name--my cousin had changed the spelling.

It's amazing to see how much I resembled my grandmother at a certain age, allowing for hair length and glasses.

#19 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 07:38 PM:

Caroline #13: Ubu Web, that you link to, is worth its own post about the magic of the internet. That's one of the most amazing resources in the entire world, I think.

#21 ::: Rich ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 08:02 PM:

That Skywhales video is... just a tad disturbing for some reason.

#22 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 08:16 PM:

abi, thanks, I think I'll just borrow your sensawunda for a while. That Skywhale thing is freaky.

Internet? Well -- I work in Puerto Rico for companies mostly in Europe, and my bank is ... somewhere now. This would only have been marginally possible pre-Internet, as I do technical translation for about 15 agencies. I got my start on; in the pre-Proz fax days, in fifteen years, I managed two translation jobs, and neither established any more. So - I found my entire lifestyle, one I'd wanted way, way early on in life but, pre-Internet, had no idea how to achieve.

Then there was the time they had baklava at the daycare's parents' party and I ate two pieces and my wife thought she'd asked me to snarf some for her but I misunderstood. The next day, I looked up baklava, went out to Kroger for the ingredients (even I'm not so foolhardy as to try making my own filo dough), and made her an entire tray of it.

Knowing how to make bagels. Knowing how to make salad dressing. Knowing what to expect this week, as our first dog enters her first heat cycle. (Yikes!)

Downloading fresh software every time I think of it. This week, as we start a new homeschooling year (ish), I got the newest Logo; this time, it clicked, and both kids were happily doing geometry exploration, just like the articles say they're supposed to, while I piddled around for an hour and got about 40% through an implementation of Pong.

Dumber? Hell, no. The Internet makes me, in apprehension, like a God. And every year it is better.

#23 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 08:18 PM:

Oh, my lord, Abi, what a gift. My father and I sat in the theater in, what, 1984? and watched Skywhales in astonished wonder. We talked about it in hushed tones for days.

Much more prosaic but also lost from my youth:
Irish Language Lab, by way of Michael Nesmith.

#24 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 08:21 PM:

Bittorrent got me the entire run of Max Headroom. Also Freakazoid. I am grateful.

That's all that comes to mind off the top of my head. Unfortunately, this is because right now this minute most of my head is taken up with trying to remember this gosh-darn ghost story I read in some compilation or other many years ago. It popped back into my head and I'm going crazy trying to identify the tale. And, darn it, the Internet is not helping me!

Synopsis: There's this widow, she runs an inn [where?], she's going broke, she's going nuts trying to figure out how to put dinner on the table for her guests. The ghost of Mark Twain appears to her and says, "Serve them turnips." She's like, "what?" The ghost reiterates. In desperation, she takes its advice and serves turnips baked, roasted, mashed, sliced, etc. The guests eat it all up, complimenting the innkeeper on the tender roast pheasant and imported caviar and such. Good news for the innkeeper--until all her guests DIE OF TYPHOID!!! Or food poisoning. Or something.

Google keeps giving me Mark Twain's short story "A Ghost Story" and instructions on how to make a jack-o-lantern out of a turnip. I am not amused.

Because the internet brings us communities of people who can Name! That! Story! In five notes!, and because this thread conveniently showed up during my feverish ransacking of Google for an answer, I appeal for aid to the Fluorosphere.

#25 ::: Hank Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 08:47 PM:

> What have you found lately?

A deepening respect for and admiration of librarians, especially reference desk people, because as noted above by Tony Zbaraschuk "... the boring part of [their] job has mostly been automated away and [they] can focus on the more interesting parts."

And people like me can take on some of the boring part to an increasing extent, figuring out how to craft useful search strings, urging people to do it for themselves, and endlessly encouraging people to look it up, whatever it is, rather than relying on fallible human memory.

"It's a poor sort of memory that only works backward" (Lewis Carroll)

It's a poor sort of memory that only works, imperfectly, up to the point in the past where I last looked something up or thought hard about it.

"A memory is only as real as the last time you remembered it. The more you remember something, the less accurate the memory becomes."

Search engines improve on this astonishingly, by remembering anything _anyone_ indexed for search has looked up, written down, or asked about up to within the past day or so.

It ain't the future, but I can see it from here.

#26 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 08:57 PM:

At work, we were sent a drawing in Visio format - one of them, anyway - which we couldn't open and when we finally got the viewer we couldn't print it correctly.

I googled 'Visio conversion' and found a downloadable program that converted it to PDF. Problem solved in less than five minutes.

Without the Internet, we couldn't have found the converter.

(For amusement, google: "Cat found" possum)

#27 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 09:02 PM:

I fell in love with Quenya when I was little and now I can learn to speak it. There's my sensawunda right there.

#28 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 09:38 PM:

As someone with relatively limited mobility, I love how the Internet gives me the ability to see places I couldn't get to in real life, learn things I couldn't experience directly, and keep in touch with/meet people I might never see in person.

#29 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 09:48 PM:

Alex @23 - !!!!!!!!!!

I've been saying "PoTAAAto" to my kids all their lives, and now they can see why! Wow!

Melissa @28 - speaking as someone with full mobility, I have to say I agree in all respects.

#30 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 10:12 PM:

Let's see. What have I found on the Internet?

My last three jobs: the first in 1991, the second in 1998, and the most recent in 2008.

Friends all over. The chance to interact with some wonderful minds. Music videos I haven't seen since 1986. The tools of my trade: editors, languages, libraries, techniques. Incredible insights into the human condition. Poetry. Matt Harding doing a goofy dance all around the world, with people joining in. Rick Astley. Places to stay, places to visit, places to just be. Beautiful words, beautiful music, beautiful photos, beautiful videos.

What have I found on the Internet in the last 10 minutes?

Another reason to be sad I can't make it to Denvention. (Sigh.) But perhaps I'll still hear back from an old friend.

#31 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 10:13 PM:

I remember my grandfather hauling out a movie projector on a visit and showing a few old black-and-white cartoons, including this one. It creeped me out and stuck in my memory. I probably could have found the title by digging through some animation history books, but Betty Boop isn't exactly a hot property on DVD and I doubt I would have seen it again anytime soon if not for YouTube.

Speaking of DVD: Netflix is amazing. The VCR was an incredible thing back in the eighties--you could rent movies instead of waiting for them to show up on TV. But the available video rental places didn't have the most wide-ranging selections. They had all the latest stuff, but a haphazard mix of older films, and some movies were tantalizing mysteries--I never did find a VHS of the original Cat People, for example, and while I could occasionally buy a copy of something like Dead of Night my budget was small and I had to pick carefully. And there were plenty of movies I never heard about. Now I can see any movie that's had a DVD release. Netflix is what allowed me to become a film buff.

The internet also introduced me to my favorite insane old-time detective stories. This can be doubly laid at the feet of the internet: I first heard of Cleek: The Man of the Forty Faces from Bill Pronzini's Gun in Cheek, which I would never have had a chance to read if I hadn't ordered it off the internet. (I'm very glad waiting for lucky finds in used bookstores is no longer my only option for finding out-of-print books.) Then I recognized the title while browsing Project Gutenberg. So I downloaded the thing, and it was odder than I could have imagined.

#32 ::: Dr Paisley ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 10:14 PM:

Neil Young performing "A Day in the Life" in Madrid, with the audience singing along.

#33 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 10:20 PM:

If you find something on the Internet, better bookmark it because you'll never find it again.

And half the time if you do bookmark something, when you go back it'll be 404.

#34 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 10:38 PM:

I am hoping to someday find Walter Lang's 1928 silent film version of Alice Through the Looking Glass which I remember watching as a Super 8 film as a kid.

#35 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 11:05 PM:

A while back I found a couple of old (well, fairly old) photos online that documented the Allen Varney Games incident; that was a real nostalgia hit for me.

#36 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 11:06 PM:

The end is near! Scott Adams (of Dilbert) said that the holodeck is the last invention that mankind will produce - once we get that, we're doomed. The Internet is just the holodeck in one abstract dimension.

(Now that I've got that off chest, where can I find Magic Boy?)

#37 ::: Pat Kight ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 12:29 AM:

The Internet is my cybernetic brain enhancement. I'm pushing 60, and running out of personal storage capacity; for any new chunk of information that goes in, it seems, a corresponding chunk must be dumped - and I don't seem to get to choose which one. Thanks to the Internet (and strong search-fu), I am able to at least appear to be as sharp as I ever was, and sometimes sharper.

The day Google comes up with an ap that jacks straight into our skulls, I'll be standing at the front of the line.

#38 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 12:39 AM:

The Internet was instrumental in finding me my new job, new house and facilitated our recent move across country. Sure, we could have done it without the Internet but it would have taken ten times as long and a lot more effort.

And, now that we're on the other side of the country, the Internet helps us keep in touch with friends and relatives 3000 miles away, or further. Just the other morning, my wife was chatting with a friend in Sweden while downloading episodes of Dr. Horrible and I was looking for houses in Portland.

I did a presentation during my recent job interview, on how web 2.0 apps like Flickr and LIbraryThing can be used in an Academic Library. During the research process, i found that the Library of Congress has put hundreds of historical photos online, as has George Eastman's House.

I'm likeing the 21st century, even without my jetpack.

#39 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 12:43 AM:

I rediscovered a sculptor of geometric forms, whose work entranced me 20 years ago. I'm still entranced.

#40 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 12:43 AM:

Speaking of bookmarking things and having them go away... some little while back, I had bookmarked a photo of Anthony Scott Head as Frankenfurter in RHPS in London. When I went back to show it to someone later, it was no longer there. I don't suppose anyone would have a working link to a copy?

#41 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 12:48 AM:

James D. Macdonald @33:

Blinklist. Works great for keeping track of bookmarks across platform and on multiple computers.

#42 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 01:26 AM:

The internet gives me socialization. The doctors disagree, but what do they know? I talk and listen and make friends, some of whom I eventually meet in person, and that's what we do in real life, innit?

#43 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 01:50 AM:

When I was little, we had a board game called "Mr. Bug goes to Town" . I still vividly remember the drawings of the characters. Decades later on TV I caught a snippet of old cartoon that seemed oddly familiar - it seems likely that the game came after the film, which had to be one of the earliest tie-in-marketing ploys. This thread has inspired looking it up - and BANG there it was. No one in my family remembered the movie, or how or when the game came to us.

#44 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 02:37 AM:

Dr. Paisley @ #32, wow. Thank you for that. Neil Young playing that live two weeks ago in Madrid.

That right there is enough to make me love the internet. Holy smokes. Neil Young covering Lennon/McCartney.

And apparently Young has used that song as an encore before; on that YouTube list of related videos is his performance of it in Dublin.

#45 ::: Sharon M ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 02:55 AM:

I love how the magics of the internets let me retrace my steps to the cool thing I forgot to bookmark (see comment #33).

I can say - let's see, I know I was at Interesting News Aggregator and I think there was a link there to Thing, and then a link to Other Thing, and - yes! There's the link to Cool Thing!

Also, I'm really enjoying Read later (with handy Firefox extension action).

#46 ::: Carol Maltby ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 04:03 AM:

Finding online that over 50 years ago, when I was the first child to be born in that generation, that my beloved great-uncle had written to someone working on a family genealogy that I was "the apple of her great-uncle's eye."

#47 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 05:22 AM:

Lee @ 40: Um...Anthony Stewart Head. And I found this for you, and also this (Mr. Head starts his bit at about 4:00 or a hair later.)

And I guess this counts as my sensawunda for the moment... :)

#48 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 05:27 AM:

Oh, and this one, too. (Unfortunately, not really a video. But the audio rocks. Muchly. ;)

#49 ::: Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 06:06 AM:

Hank #45 The memory rewriting itself into a better story effect is very real. One good reason to blog is to help curtail that effect in yourself and others, by seeing what you actually though at the time.

YouTube as a shared cultural memory repository is a fine thing too.

#50 ::: september blue ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 07:20 AM:

My great-uncle's grave, thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. My father was named after him, and there are lots of faintly-remembered family stories about where he fought, but all anyone remembered about where he died was that he'd been brought back to England after he was wounded. Turns out, he was buried at a church two miles away from where my parents live; we cleared the moss off the stone, and my dad puts a wreath on the grave every Christmas.

#51 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 08:17 AM:

If I may confirm to national stereotype jsut this once, I'd like to moan about some of the memory gaps of the internet. Despite all the wonderful examples in this thread a lot of information isn't available online yet, frex newspaper articles from before the mid-nineties or information on quite a lot of subjects which are neither well known nor the recipient of fannish love.

One example: some time ago I read The Pre-Raphaelite Tragedy, an art book by William Gaunt, who judging by the backcover blurb was once an important art critic. Try and find information about him online however!

#52 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 09:09 AM:

I found my sister! (Half-sister, parents divorced, haven't seen her since she was 3. She's in college now.) Haven't actually gotten together with her yet, but I hope to this summer - she can meet her niece, and how cool is that?

And it makes explaining all kinds of stuff to your child SO much easier. "Who's Penn and Teller? What do you mean, Strawberry Shortcake? Who's on First?" - here, kid, let me show you. (This morning I woke up with the Ewoks cartoon theme stuck in my head. Why? I do not know. But I do know that I can show it to my daughter and prove that I'm not COMPLETELY insane.)

#53 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 09:13 AM:

My favorite internet find is The Williams Trivia Contest Depository, a collection of descriptions, teams lists, scores, questions, and even essays about the 8-hour trivia contest that happens at my alma mater on the last day of each semester. It's a 40+ year tradition, and an amazing experience, and rereading all the details reminded me of that. (The prize for winning is running the contest the next semester, and I was on the teams "Cthulhu Matata" and "At 200 mph, There is No Diplomatic Immunity," in 1997 and 1998--right after I had graduated and didn't need that sleep to prepare for exams anymore. Good times.)

#54 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 09:15 AM:

kouredios @ 53... "Cthulhu Matata"

Now, that's a Disney movie I'd pay to see.

#55 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 09:16 AM:

The Speech Accent Archive, which I found when trying to explain to a colleague who is a non-native English speaker about what non-Midwesterners sound like.

Also nice to get a little vocal slice of home if you've moved away.

#56 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 09:23 AM:

Serge @54: Because of the awesomeness that is this site, I have the exact wording of our first question of the night (the answer of which, by tradition, must be the team name):

Following in the vein of the descriptions given by travelers to the New World of the strange flora and fauna, a hybrid creature was born one fateful night last May. Like those centuries-old accounts, the components of this beast's anatomy seem disparate at best, horrifying at worst. What is this thing, which combines the body of an Elder God with the frozen, psychotic grin of an immature baby meercat?
Answer: Cthulhu Matata.
Song: "Devil Inside," by INXS

#57 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 09:27 AM:

kouredios @ 56... the body of an Elder God with the frozen, psychotic grin of an immature baby meercat

That's something they'll never show on Animal Planet's show Meerkat Manor.

#58 ::: Gabriele Campbell ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 09:59 AM:

Today I found a moron.

Again. There are plenty who tend to forget their moronism will be all over the net in no time short.

I also found YouTube recordings of some of my favourite opera scenes played on TV ages ago, and I can't imagine to plan a journey without the net ever again. I do use the internet for research as well, but it hasn't replaced books.

#59 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 10:53 AM:

And yet...

still there is nothing to tell me where I left my sunglasses.

#60 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 11:13 AM:

Some newspapers have their entire archive online, and for free. The New York Times is one, which makes it a valuable primary resource for American history and other research work.

Again, the databases are invaluable, and many of them are available from your home desk via the portal of your university or public library. I can even access Lexis from my home computer!

Love, C.

#61 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 11:16 AM:

Sarah S @59:
still there is nothing to tell me where I left my sunglasses.

True. Your keys, however, are another matter.

#62 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 11:26 AM:

Sarah S @#59:

And yet...

still there is nothing to tell me where I left my sunglasses.

Can't help you with the current lost pair, but thanks to the Cory Doctorow story Someone Comes To Town, Someone Leaves Town (wherein The Inventory is the important idea for this post) and some other web-thing I cannot recall right now I can offer an idea for the future:

RFID tag all your stuff, and put a small web-enabled RFID scanner in your living area. If you lose the next pair of labeled sunglasses in your living area, you can web-search for them...


I just found Cory's book again, 'cause I was looking for that Inventory reference. I have also found, in the past, archives of a number of my old Ten Page Technical Rant posts to the LCML, back when I was in or recently out of college and still had an active vehicular hobby involving a truck referenced in my current internet "handle". (Look for the Nuclear Parking Brake and you'll see my tendency to verbosely provide a plausible - if impractical - solution to a given problem/question)

I also found ML, via BoingBoing, and have stuck around.

Haven't found many old friends yet, but that's mostly because I haven't taken the time to get set up on FaceBook or similar.

#63 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 11:33 AM:

Syd, #47-48: SQUEE! Thank you! (And I do know what his name is -- I claim late-night brain-fart.)

#64 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 11:43 AM:

cajunfj40 @ 62... put a small web-enabled RFID scanner in your living area

How long before the scanner is misplaced?

#65 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 11:51 AM:

Serge @ 64: Simple: Just RFID the RFID scanner, and you'll get an infinite loop that tells you which dimension to look in.

#66 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 12:04 PM:

cajunfj40 @ #62: but don't take any of your stuff with you to the hospital.

#67 ::: Carrie V. ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 12:09 PM:

Holy crap! Abi, I saw "Skywhales" when I was 10, once, never saw it again, but I never ever forgot the last couple of scenes. It never even occurred to me to go looking for it. Wow. Just wow. It's just like I remember.

My own contribution: Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future.

This was my favorite TV show when I was 14. No one else had ever heard of it. Then I discovered the fan site. Power on!

#68 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 12:24 PM:

Carrie V @ 67.. You did know that "Captain Power and..." was produced by Michael Straczynski. Yes, the creator of Babylon 5.

#69 ::: Neil Rest ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 12:25 PM:

It so happens that the immediately previous thing I did with my browser before reading all these comments was pull up my bookmarks/notes on the Sarajevo Haggadah. My hairdresser is Bosnian, and will be going home for a visit in August, so I timed my next haircut for the end of July. I'd mentioned the Haggadah once and she'd never heard of it, so I'm going to print out a couple of pages for her.

Meanwhile, right here, the mentions of obscure movies prompted me to search for my favorite, and found two versions of the early Douglas Fairbanks farce, Mystery Of The Leaping Fish!

#70 ::: Carrie V. ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 12:29 PM:

I did indeed! I kept trying to explain to people that this was more than a cheesy kids show. The internet told me about Straczynski, so now I know I'm not making it all up. (The internet also got me a DVD set of episodes. Score!)

CP also shares a few writers and producers. There are hints of B-5 all over the thing.

#71 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 12:29 PM:

Ginger @ 65... This reminds me of something I read in the early 1990s that poked fun at Virtual Reality - specifically Virtual Offices. He pointed out that virtual offices would be neater than real offices - at first anyway. They'd eventually look as disorganized as real offices, and the virtual office's user would then create a new virtual office within the VR. Kind of like the movie The Thirteenth Floor, with one VR within one other VR within yet another VR, ad infinitum.

#72 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 12:30 PM:

Sometimes I fear for the cookbooks in my pantry. I almost never use them. The Internet is my cookbook. Whether it's a particular dish I want to cook (may I present the Holy Grail of Saag Paneer), or an overabundance of a particular ingredient I want not to waste (the CSA started harvesting turnips last week, which is probably why that dang ghost story popped into my head; and the Washington Times gave me soup), a successful evening in the kitchen is one Google or Recipezaar search away.

Uncle Jim is of course right about bookmarks and 404s. This is why the scripting demigods of the Firefox add-on community gave us Scrapbook. (It's also good for turning several pages full of blog entries and forum posts into several hours of reading for the train.)

Hey, Cajun! Who are we, chopped liver?! *g*

And that RFID idea? That will make my husband go squee. He wants to replace our car look and home door lock with rfid sensors. I am slightly nervous about this, but I don't think it will actually see implementation for years, or until he runs out of other things to do, whichever comes first.

#73 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 12:33 PM:


When your friend tells you she hasn't yet seen Ghostbusters, and you don't want to leave the house or wait on Netflix to amend this woeful state of things, the Internet is your friend. Boy is it ever. Between bittorrent and YouTube, our friend could soon recite "When someone asks you if you're a god, you say YES!" with the best of them.

#74 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 01:01 PM:

Small Mystery Solved on the Internet:

When I was a child, my dad and uncles would sing St. Anselm's Proof of God to the tune of Waltzing Matilda every time they got together. Dad's been gone twenty years, and I never got around to asking the uncles whether they made that up themselves, or where they got it. They had the kind of education which made it very possible they had made it up.

So, anyway, a few years ago I found it. Origin unknown, a piece of academic theological folklore filk.

#75 ::: Jason Aronowitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 01:07 PM:

Ginger @65: If you have to recover an RFID from another dimension, be sure to pull it out the same way it went in. Otherwise, you will have a DIFR.

#76 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 01:14 PM:

mmm Saag Paneer. Just like the author, it's one of the benchmarks that I use to measure Indian restaurants. I definitely agree with the idea that the Internet is my cookbook (lime, tamarind, corn and jalapeno? Check.)

The net is definitely my offboard brain, so the idea the whole concept of serendipitous discovery is no longer unusual but a norm, at least for me. I've been excited to watch my eldest (12 yrs) grow up with this as a core element of her environment - it should be very interesting as she enters her academically intense years.

#77 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 01:38 PM:

The absolutely best thing I've ever found on the Internet is my partner. We met in a Usenet newsgroup, and come December we'll have been together for 10 years.

#78 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 01:51 PM:

About the original post: I never had that problem with Tom Lehrer, even Back In The Day. I had memorized many of his songs (my parents were and are big fans) and would sing them at the drop of a hat.

I doubt this won him fans, but they did understand what I was talking about.

#79 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 02:12 PM:

One thing I really like about the internet is something that WFMU's Beware of the Blog pointed out recently--there's almost no such thing as obscurity anymore, at least not in the sense of hard-to-find. I read about some exciting forgotten album in a magazine or in someone's blog, and I no longer have to think "man, I wish I could hear that," because I probably can with a quick torrent or blog search. Similarly, if I come across a record that it seems even the internet has forgotten, I can rip it and post it myself, and others can find it (I need to start doing this).

Of course, on the other hand, the easy accessibility of formerly obscure music means I now have a very overwhelming folder on my desktop with several hundred albums I absolutely need to listen to right away.

#80 ::: Bacchus ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 02:16 PM:

James D. Macdonald #33: "And half the time if you do bookmark something, when you go back it'll be 404."

Oddly enough, I've been criticized for urging people not to contribute to that problem, which is to say, for urging them not to break links when it's avoidable.

This thread eloquently demonstrates that web resources often have value that is completely invisible to, and unexpected by, the owner/hoster of the resource.

#81 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 02:36 PM:

Since I was given an iPhone as a gift, the internet can be my brain extension everywhere. At the Fourth of July symphony & fireworks celebration, they played the Armed Forces songs, as they do every year. And as she does every year, my mother wondered aloud what the words to the Coast Guard song were (her father was in the Coast Guard but never sang the song). I was able to look it up for her in the middle of the picnic -- and found both the WWII lyrics and the original (1927) lyrics. The WWII lyrics are better, in my humble opinion: how can you argue with the line "The Axis feels our might" ?

I never thought of myself as the kind of person who would use a smartphone. Weren't those for corporate workaholic types? But I end up using it much more for looking up interesting facts (and useful facts, like where the nearest Subway is) than for doing anything work-related. It makes me really happy to be able to find things out quickly.

On the other hand, I'm looking for an SSH iPhone app so that I can run simulations from my cell phone. I joked about this with the grad students when I did an internship at a nuclear lab a few years ago -- running your experiment from your cell phone while lying on the beach. My lab experiments can't be run remotely (unless I invent quite a system of waldoes first), but simulations and data processing could...

#82 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 02:43 PM:

Lee #77: I'll second you on that one, wrt my spouse.

#83 ::: Zed Lopez ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 02:44 PM:

Found: my spouse.

Lost: a short posting by a techie describing a boss who'd read about domain-name spoofing, and who, whenever something strange was going on, would suggest "Maybe we're being domain-name spoofed." The techies told the boss there was another attack called "goofballing", and, sure enough, the boss started suggesting "Maybe we're being goofballed." (I must be wrong about the name being "goofballing" or this would be easier to find.)

#84 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 02:50 PM:

Half sesawunda, half "this is our life":

Searching the present:

I couldn't do my job without google. Last week we found a bug in the application I work on, that resulted from installing a new version of the content editor we use. It took me a few minutes of search to confirm that it was in fact a bug in the editor, already known to users, and a few more to discover that it had been fixed, and new version posted the day before. I downloaded the new version, installed it, and the bug was gone. Prior to the internet, this process would have take several weeks and a lot of phone calls.

Searching the past:
I have a lot of old books on film and animation, including textbooks and histories with stills from old movies. There are a couple of stills from a paper cutout silouette animation called "The Adventures of Prince Achmed" made in the 1920's. I searched the net, but could not found any copies except films that cost hundreds of dollars to purchase, and couldn't be rented except locally. Then one day I tried again, and found a small VHS tape sales company run by a retired couple in Arizona who had tapes made from the best available print at the time, for only $15, and a week later I was able to watch the film, which was as beautiful as I'd hoped.

Searching for people: I'm still not sure how I feel about this, but I got a letter from my mother a couple of weeks ago. We've been estranged for more than 20 years, and she found me by googling me and finding my blog. On the other hand, a couple of years ago I googled for my best friend in elementary and high school and found his website: he's a professional jazz musician, just as he'd wanted to be.

#85 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 02:59 PM:

Caroline @81: I'm looking for an SSH iPhone app

You can have all the OpenSSH goodness you want from your iPhone if you don't mind jailbreaking it. Don't worry, it's pretty easy and fairly stable. Lifehacker has a great tutorial here.

#86 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 03:18 PM:

Mary Dell @ 39

Thank you, thank you for that link. I love mathematical sculpture, and I don't think I've seen that one. In return, one you may have seen before, but is always worth looking at, Bathsheba Grossman's mathematical sculpture, much of it made on a rapid prototype machine (aka "3D printer").

#87 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 03:42 PM:

Lance Weber @ 85, I am actually thinking of writing my own and trying to get into the app store with it, unless someone else already has. The 2.0 jailbreak seems to still be very much in beta, so I'd prefer to wait until it works stably, since that's my only phone and I really can't afford to have it bricked.

Also, the OpenSSH iPhone app looks like it's meant to allow you to SSH from a machine into your phone (to transfer files to your phone, or use the EDGE connection on your computer), rather than SSHing from your phone to another machine (which is what I want to do). Am I missing something?

#88 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 03:49 PM:

Ok, I'm a sappy sentimental sort, and I encountered this for the first time today:

Christian the Lion

And I cried.

#89 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 04:06 PM:

Serge @68: You did know that "Captain Power and..." was produced by Michael Straczynski. Yes, the creator of Babylon 5.

He was also the head writer for the early episodes of 'The Real Ghostbusters'. I recall watching that regularly; it was syndicated here M-F with two episodes back-to-back starting at 7 am. Unlike Carrie V., I don't have the excuse that I was 14 at the time.

#90 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 04:09 PM:

Caroline @87: You get both the client and server openssh tools/libs, then use MobileTerminal for your outbound. And good luck with getting an ssh app approved by Apple, perhaps you can succeed where others have been told the app falls outside their acceptable terms of use. I know I'd certainly prefer an official app.

#91 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 04:22 PM:

Ooh! I loved the Real Ghostbusters. My daughter was 4 years old and we watched it together.

#92 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 04:36 PM:

Re. "lost" stories/books, I managed to find a book which I'd read from our school library nearly three decades ago by describing the plot on a forum on abebooks - someone came up with title and author within 24 hours - fantastic!

Xopher @ 78
"and would sing them at the drop of a hat."
No "At The Drop of a Hat" was Flanders & Swann...

James D. Macdonald @ 33
"If you find something on the Internet, better bookmark it because you'll never find it again.

And half the time if you do bookmark something, when you go back it'll be 404."

I really hate it particularly when "official" websites go and re-organise and stuff gets lost (e.g. when NOAA re-organised and all their really useful oil spill documents moved. Luckily I'd already downloaded them (and had them referenced with date of downloading and url at the time of downloading).

In my job (writing/editing a large electronic encyclopaedia on wild animal health) the stuff it's possible to find on the web is amazing and saves me huge amounts of time heaving large, heavy bound volumes of journals around and standing over photocopiers.

Still, if you don't know how and where to look, you can waste a lot of time - good librarians or others who do know how/where to look are a huge (and often underappreciated) asset.

#93 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 04:42 PM:

Lee @ 77, Fragano @82: Me too. :-)

#94 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 04:42 PM:

I found out about Twelf. That's what has me gobsmacked, at the moment. Thanks for asking.

p.s. I have a metatheorem prover, and I'm not afraid to use it.

#95 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 04:56 PM:

Things have gone so far that I'm always a little impressed when a search term turns up no results.

Writing this comment has been a bit odd. For years I'd tried to remember a book from my high school library. No luck until, long story short, I found a trace of it on Loganberry Books' "Stump the Bookseller" feature. The book is Lillian Lieber's Infinity (just reprinted, squee!). Amazon's front page showed me ... corn stickers. They're stalking me across threads.

Bruce Cohen (StM) @84, finding people is definitely a mixed blessing. I found my father's obituary online. Basically, I'm estranged from his side of the family, which was active on their part (for reasons I have literally no clue about), more or less passive on mine. And still, despite minimal contact over a period of around 40 years, I did feel hurt that neither I (3d daughter) nor my mother (2d wife) were so much as mentioned. (I exist anyway. Ha!)

#96 ::: Carrie V. ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 04:59 PM:

#89 and #91. My favorite bit of dialog from "The Real Ghostbusters:"

Venkman: Cthulhu? What's Cthulhu?
Spengler: Cthulhu makes Gozer look like Little Mary Sunshine.

Once again, YouTube comes through with the episode, "Collect Call of Cthulhu." The villain is Clark Ashton. Teehee. I totally didn't get that when I was 14.

#97 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 05:29 PM:

Lee @ #77, Fragano @#82, Zed Lopez @#83 & Clifton Royston @#93:

(smacks head)

Me too!

Now, if the post had asked what was the most important thing I'd found on the Internet...

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @#72:

Hey, Cajun! Who are we, chopped liver?! *g*

*ahem* See above, y'all aren't anymore chopped liver than my spouse is...

And that RFID idea? That will make my husband go squee. He wants to replace our car look and home door lock with rfid sensors. I am slightly nervous about this, but I don't think it will actually see implementation for years, or until he runs out of other things to do, whichever comes first.

Heh, he sounds like me! Too many ideas, not enough time/money/tools/workspace to implement them faster than they pile up... RFID can be worrisome (read Cory Doctorow's Little Brother for some info, or just Google the Instructables from that book, or look for RFID US Passport issues), the problems can be mitigated. Any convenience can introduce new potential points of failure, but it doesn't have to.

#98 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 06:20 PM:

Thanks for the RFID pointers, cajun! ...and glad to know that none of us are diced organ meat. Hee.

Just wanted to report back, FWIW, that I finally found that dang ghost story. It was on Page 291 of Gumbo Ya-Ya, a compendium of New Orleans folklore. (Happened to notice it on the shelf and have a lightbulb go on in the brain.) Apparently it was raw turnips, not baked/fried/etc., and the guests died one by one... of a surfeit of raw turnips. How does that kill, I wonder, if not simple through malnutrition? And how exactly does "having eaten a great quantity of raw turnips" feel, that one of the guests should be able to report that feeling at the hospital?

But I suppose that these are questions that *can* actually be answered by The Internets. And if The Internets can point me in the direction of articles from the New Orleans Item Tribune from 1925 through 1930, which Gumbo Ya-Ya says actually reported the deaths and the story, then the Internets will deserve a fresh batch of cookies.

#99 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 06:41 PM:

Another random Betty Boop here...

I found the only recording of my grandfather -besides the reel-to-reel he sent my mom when I was a baby, singing "aint she sweet" to me - here (warning: early 30's era racism, weirdness). He's got the pretty Samoan Tenor voice - Bimbo's singing voice, among others.

I also found god - well, the church I go to and sing at - on the web. I thought I was only looking for Christmas music, but my subconscious apparantly had other ideas. I suppose I could have just looked in the phone book under Episcopal Churches, but that wouldn't have told me which parish had the most funny hats and incense.

#100 ::: Lin D ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 06:58 PM:

I'm able to carry on a slang and acronym punctuated conversation with a friend in Englad without constantly having to ask "what? what?"

I've never had a good memory, which is why one of the few things I ever memorized was large chunks of the Dewey Decimal System. I rarely knew details of something, but I always knew where to look it up. Now, my fingers do the looking.

My mother recently got an internet connection, and she's really excited about Recent Earthquakes for southern California.

#101 ::: Lin D ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 06:59 PM:

*sigh* spell check not so much

#102 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 07:14 PM:

Echoing #77, #82, and #83: Yes, I first met my spouse in a newsgroup (with a vibe similar in some ways to this forum), met her "IRL" 16 years ago this month, and we'll have been married 13 years this October.

For me, no other online find will ever top that.

#103 ::: Cassandra Phillips-Sears ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 07:30 PM:

In highschool, I found friends who encouraged me to write instead of die. After college, I found my fiancee.

I also found great videos of squid.

The internet's kind of great.

#104 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 07:35 PM:

...a friend in Englad...

I've just found the name for my superhero sidekick on the internet*!

Last thing I found before that: not only is there an extensive Crime Traveller fan site, but that there's a petition to bring it back 10 years after it finished.

Lost not found: Some years ago I read something that suggested that Vandals liked to dress in and paint their faces and shields black, while Goths preferred greens and blues, but i can't find anything on this. I'm beginning to suspect i made it up.

* although I will be writing it Eng-Lad

#105 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 08:56 PM:

Neil 104: Point of information: 'Eng' means 'tight' in German. Make of this what you will.

#106 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 09:27 PM:

A note about finding things in your household via RFID: See Cory's Themepunks.

That's the story that made me realize he, too, was a plausible New Heinlein, which is related to why Cory is such a shit magnet (which I don't mean as a bad thing, except toward the shits).

#107 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 09:28 PM:

I've met a large number of good friends through the internet - many of them in the early/mid nineties, when most of my classmates didn't know what the internet was.

I recently reconnected with the one classmate who did know what the internet was - it turns out he had worked with one of my LinkedIn contacts.

I like finding old video games I played as a kid, too. Some old stuff that I played on our Commodore 64, and newer stuff (relatively) from our first IBM compatible PC's.

#108 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 09:59 PM:

Another thing I've found on the interweb: Making Light, the first community either online or in RL that I've been in for a number of years, mostly due to health problems, layoffs, and several years of clinical depression. I was coming out of the depression when I first started lurking here, but being here has helped me get through some things since that otherwise would have been much harder to deal with.

Shorter me: thank you, more than I can say.

#109 ::: Karen ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 10:22 PM:

After Abi mentioned introducing her 7-year-old to Calvin and Hobbes, we got three volumes for my 7-year-old Mythbusters fan. He loves it, seems to tap into the frustrations of aspergers in a way that is just right, right now. I thought I remembered them so well, there was no need to buy them; lost indeed. So thanks. (it's also kind of scary that with Calvin being nominally six, even dear sprog is reading as an older person.)

#110 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 10:45 PM:

Speaking of wondrous events, how could I forget the mind-boggling experience that Teresa and I shared, learning that we were suddenly related by marriage?

#111 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 12:17 AM:

Lee @ #77, Fragano @ #82, Zed Lopez @ #83, Clifton Royston @ #93, cajunfj40 @ #97 and John Mark Ockerbloom @ #102, if you can count the old Commodore user dial-up community called Q-link, then "me too" - my husband (of 3 years) and I met 17 years ago playing Trivia games and hanging out in "Bonnie's Bar" between sets.

#112 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 01:31 AM:

Nicole @98, I find myself wondering how much of the history of New Orleans may have been lost because it never made it out of the city onto the Internet.

#113 ::: Bob Rossney ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 04:18 AM:

I spend a lot of time poking around on YouTube, because it yields amazing things. Want to see Public Image Ltd.'s appearance on American Bandstand? (Yes. You do.) It's there. Sonic Youth singing "I Wanna Be Your Dog" with David Sanborn on sax? Sure. Wire performing on German TV. Pink Floyd playing "Astronomy Domine" on English TV. The Pixies unplugged. Richard Thompson singing "Vincent Black Lightning 1952." Tindersticks' astonishing "Talk to Me" performed on Jools Holland's show. The Big Friendly Jazz Orchestra (Japanese girls' high school's jazz band) ripping through Miles Davis's "Haitian Fight Song" and, also, "Sing Sing Sing." Fiona Apple singing Elvis Costello's "I Want You." (Brrrr.) Buddy Rich playing drums with the Muppets. John Cage's appearance on "What's My Line?" Quasi, getting me crushed-out on Janet Weiss all over again. "Five Golden Sections" from _The Catherine Wheel_. D.Boon alive and well and screaming "what the hell is the United States doing in Central America, I don't fucking know!"

#114 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 04:18 AM:

Google Books continues to be a never ending source of fun 'in the geek degree' for me. Especially when I can find full preview copies of anything made of awesomeness. For example: Records of Salem Witchcraft: Copied from the Original Documents.

Oh my giddy aunt!

#115 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 05:04 AM:

I don't know how parents managed to keep babies alive before the internet...I look up something beby-related almost every day now. Of course, a lot of the advice is potentially wrong, but that's true of the call-your-mother method too. And with the internet there is always plenty of counter-advice.

#116 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 07:45 AM:

Rob Rusick @ 113:

Want to see Public Image Ltd.'s appearance on American Bandstand? (Yes. You do.) It's there.

Oh, yes, yes I do, but I cannot find it! Help me! Help me!

#117 ::: Manny ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 07:59 AM:

My sons (8 and 10) just assume that they can ask me anything at all and I will have the answer for them in a minute or two. No matter where or when now that I have the Blackberry with the unlimited data plan. They do read, a lot, but one of them explained that he likes his shark book because "it loads pictures faster".

A new future every day.

#118 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 08:11 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @116: Oh, yes, yes I do, but I cannot find it! Help me! Help me!

You'll have to ask Bob Rossney...

#119 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 08:23 AM:

Manny @117 - I think kids have always assumed their parents had all the answers. It's just that now we actually can, and don't always have to resort to Making Stuff Up. (See: Calvin's Dad.)

(Actually, we make stuff up anyway, because life's more entertaining that way. It's gotten to the point where our daughter won't believe any "strange-but-true" stories we tell her without calling Grammy to confirm. But that's good! Don't just trust people because they say something's true, even if they are your parents.)

#120 ::: Manny ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 08:27 AM:

I am amused by Experts who say we are less social because of computers. I just sent a message to a musician who is out on the road somewhere and who I know only online about Thai peanut sauce, and to another musician in the UK about his EP that I just ordered online, to make sure the shipping fee he listed would cover his cost. That was, of course, after I Googled to get the correct name brand name of the chili paste I prefer and had a look at the UK guy's new haircut.

#121 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 08:31 AM:

#118, Rob Rusick -

It's with the happy trees? *evil grin*

#122 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 08:35 AM:


I didn't read the thread correctly, and assumed that "Bob Rossney" was a person of some importance related to the band or the youtube upload and Rob's post was a hint on how to find the video. I didn't see that he was the original poster of the "look what you can find!" post.

Sorry for what is probably quite a tired old joke, Bob.

#123 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 09:23 AM:

Cat Meadors @ 119

You are evil and have a low sense of humor, and I love it. Children should always be a little confused; it makes them more open to discovering the truth themselves. And it can be highly amusing in an evil and low kind of way.

#124 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 09:24 AM:

105: "..."

(Does not want to know how Xopher knows this, does not want to know how Xopher knows this, does not...)

#125 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 09:44 AM:

Cat Meadors, Bruce Cohen (119, 123): At least one grownup in the child's life should be "Calvin's Dad", and I'm proud to say that I have done my best in that arena.

I even re-used the Calvin strip for my own benefit, when I explained to my son that the world used to be in black-and-white.

#126 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 09:55 AM:

Manny @120

Yeah, the Experts don't know what they're talking about there. I met my husband on-line. I email my father nearly every day with a link or a clipping or a joke that's not quite worth the commitment required by a phone call, but is nonetheless worth his seeing. I have a dozen or so knitting buddies, all of whom I met online, whom I chat/post with daily, all of whom get together at least once a year for a knitting and drinking festival.

Aside from that, the fact that I do 90% of my shopping for things like books and clothes and yarn online means that, with the time I'm not using to run errands, I can go to the pool with my kids, grow a bumper crop of backyard tomatoes, have dinner with my friends, and be more social in 3-D.

And I won't even go *into* the usefulness of the net for my job. Except to say that yesterday I found an obscure article about Richard Barnfield, an even more obscure one about the Elizabethan penny, found--and began to work out--a perplexing reference in Das Kapital, and....

I wonder if experts have ever seen the internet?

#127 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 09:59 AM:

Ginger @ 125... I explained to my son that the world used to be in black-and-white

...except on Sundays.

#128 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 10:39 AM:

Bob Rossney #113: In addition to all the awesome things you listed (and thanks for eating up a half hour of my life!), don't forget all of Iggy Pop's appearances on talk shows. And also his performance of "Ray of Light" at Madonna's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction. It'

#129 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 10:45 AM:

Serge @ 127: That's right -- on Sundays, everything was closed.

That is what you meant, right? ;-)

#130 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 10:47 AM:

Aside from the joys of Making Light, and contact with distant friends (one met via email), I was able to wallow in the past a few years ago when I started posting my concert write-ups of San Francisco in the Sixties. Met a lot of survivors from those days, including some of the musicians, and some sent me home-made CDs of old shows. Great fun, even though most of that has petered out now that I've stopped posting on the site.

#131 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 10:51 AM:

Ginger @ 129... on Sundays, everything was closed

Were you living in Toronto?

Actually I was referring to the Sunday Funnies (which were Friday Funnies where I grew up) being in color.

#132 ::: A.R.Yngvw ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 10:59 AM:

I love that I can look up old TV shows on YouTube. For the first time (living in Scandinavia) I could actually get to watch BLAKE'S 7. :)

In all this cheer, I had a sad thought: What about the have-nots? What's it like to *not* grow up with unlimited information? Is this the new gap between the well-to-do and the poor -- and how wide is it really?

#133 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 11:01 AM:

This guy (Digital Mayhem, in comments) says he's working on an official/legit iPhone SSH app which he claims will be out mid-August. He could be full of it. (That's the other thing you find a lot of on the internet.) $60 is also a bit steep.

I can't figure out what terms of use that would be against, either.

#134 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 11:13 AM:

Speaking of the Real Ghostbusters (and stuff I wouldn't have found without the internet):

TimeLife is releasing the complete series on DVD

Found via an RSS feed from TV Shows on DVD which is currently down for maintenance but is an amazing resource for DVD release information.

#135 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 11:18 AM:

Serge, #131: Sounds more like Toledo to me!

#136 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 11:24 AM:

Lance Weber @76: Barbecue your corn. Don't be afraid to char it a little. Dip half a lime in good, spicy chili powder and rub it all over the corn. I imagine a squeeze of tamarind juice would go well with that, too.

Things found on the Internet: William Addison Dwiggins, whose typefaces populated the books of my childhood. The half-remembered Green-sky books by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. A cousin from my family on the other side of the world. One of my current significant others. (The other one says he first developed a crush on me when, in an IM chat, I linked the Neal Stephenson Slashdot interview.) Things too countless to name!

#137 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 11:25 AM:

Lee @ 125... Toledo? This reminds me of Marvel Comics's Silly What-if issue that asked, among many other things, what if all superheroes lived in Toledo. The answer? They all spend their time drinking beer and playing pinball machines.

#138 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 11:33 AM:

Serge @ 131 : I knew that..I used to read the huge Sunday comics spread on the floor. Geez, talk about downsizing (Sorry! "Right-sizing"!).

I've actually lived in Guelph, not Toronto. So close, and yet -- so far.

Add to the list of "Cities That Close On Sundays" the name of Baltimore. The only things open were the newspaper places.

#139 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 11:40 AM:

Ginger @ 138... I was so eager to see what was going to happen next in the Friday Funnies's SF strip that I remember one winter when the newspaper was late and I actually paced back and forth in the snow until the paper arrived.

#140 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 11:49 AM:

#138 ::: Ginger

Add to the list of "Cities That Close On Sundays" the name of Baltimore. The only things open were the newspaper places.

In Kearney, Nebraska, the only places open on Sundays were the churches. Maybe gas stations? But those in their fancy clothes sneered at the greasy-handed guys as they drove by. thinking of one of the "Back to the Future" films where someone pulled into a service station and four guys in uniforms ran out to pump the gas, check the oil, add air to the tires, and wash the windows.

"Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear..."

#141 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 12:00 PM:

Tlönista @136: That sounds really good! I'll give that a try later this summer when the mature corn hits the farmers markets. What I had here were four leftover ears of sweet corn from the first July harvest (which really just wants to be boiled and served with butter and salt, grilling would be overkill). I've been experimenting with Indian(Asian)/Mexican fusion chutneys-salsas and was googling for inspiration.

#142 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 12:11 PM:

#113 The Big Friendly Jazz Orchestra (Japanese girls' high school's jazz band) ripping through Miles Davis's "Haitian Fight Song"

Charles Mingus

[ /pedant]

#143 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 12:14 PM:

The Internet doesn't have everything, though. I've looked for a copy of the old video of "High Flight" where the F-104 soars through the clouds while the poem is read offscreen, and not been able to find it. :(

#144 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 12:19 PM:

Carol Kimball @140 -- Shell is trying to re-introduce those services over here. I hadn't registered that when I went to fill up recently, and for an embarrassingly long moment it didn't even compute what the guy was asking me. Fill up my tank for me? What is this thing of which you speak?

#145 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 12:23 PM:

John L. @143: If you ever find it, let me know --
this Air Force brat would enjoy seeing it again.

#146 ::: Susan Kitchens ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 12:31 PM:

Oh, my. I see I've discovered this thread a couple of days after it was begun.

I found a catalogue listing for some letters that my great grandmother wrote 100 years ago when she and her husband moved from the Boston area to Billings, Montana. (I've got later letters she wrote to her daughter.)

Her name? Misspelled. Am now corresponding w/ the librarian who fixed the listing (at my request); librarian did some research and told me the date of her death.

#147 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 12:43 PM:

Jon Meltzer @#142:

#113 The Big Friendly Jazz Orchestra (Japanese girls' high school's jazz band) ripping through Miles Davis's "Haitian Fight Song"

Charles Mingus

[ /pedant]

"Mingus Mouse plays the bass."
/A DOOM Babba DOOM Babba DOOM/

My wife and I can pretty much recite the entire Ella Elephant Scats Like That book without having the book in hand. Thanks to rote repetition learning via multiple readings of said book to our daughter. Fun book, really, but more than 20 repetitions in a few hours can get wearying... We're trying to teach her to say "Mama, book!" or "Dada, book!" when she brings a book over for reading. At least she'll put the book back on the shelf sometimes when asked to after we read it...

#148 ::: Mike Adelstein ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 01:21 PM:

My internet moment occurred almost a year ago after my twins were born. I decided that I wanted to find a copy of Burl Ives "The Little White Duck". To my shock, it was out of print. I think I spent a whole day on the internet searching for it to no avail (my wife wanted a new copy for the kids). Then, in a flash of insight, I opened up itunes and found it available for download. One fired CD later, I am happily listing to "The Donut Song" with the twin in the car. Who knew? I do wish, however, that itunes had a feature where you could order the covers and booklets from CDs.

So many of my favorite works (I have to include books and CDs in that statement) are only available in digital format now (or in the case of some of my favorite childhood books, are only available if you have an independent printer print a copy for an extra amount). There is still something to be said about holding something real -- rather than a digital version. "Progress" is a double edged sword I guess.

#149 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 01:25 PM:

I worked in a full-service gas station for a few years. I didn't serve the cars, I was the cashier, but it was still pretty cool. The people working the front would wash the front and back windows, check the tires, check the fluids, and pump the gas. This was in 1991-1994, and as far as I know, the station is still there and doing full service.

#150 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 01:41 PM:

Ginger 124: Sure you do. I took German in high school and college (university to you non-USAians). I distinctly remember the AP German test, where the phrase "die enge Stadt" (the "tight" city) appeared, and I realized for the first time that it could also mean "congested" as with traffic, or densely populated.

See? Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. On the other hand, "tight boy" really has only erotic meanings (though not necessarily pornographic; one could be referring to highly toned and defined musculature, for example). And I should add that "-lad" and "boy" in superhero names refer to anyone under the age of 30.

Debbie 144: Self-serve is still illegal in New Jersey. Allegedly for safety reasons, but I think actually to preserve jobs.

Gas is still cheaper here than in New York.

#151 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 02:06 PM:

Back in the early 1990s, my wife and I were driving around Oregon. When I pulled in to refill, I got out of the car, turned on the pump and next thing you know, someone was right next to me saying "Sir, please step away from the pump."

Luckily his name wasn't Lennie Briscoe otherwise I'd also have had a wisecrack thrown at me.

#152 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 02:19 PM:

Xopher @ 150 - Yup. It always annoyed my husband when people would drive down from New Jersey and then sit under the "SELF-SERVE" sign waiting for him to do it for them. (I worked at a fast food place, and was simliarly annoyed by the people from Delaware who'd say "but it says 95 cents on the menu!" Yes, welcome to Maryland, we have here something called "sales tax"...)

Re: more things found on the Internet - Amazon's MP3 store is a dangerous place. I found the same Peter and the Wolf that I had as a child - the recording is pretty crap, but for a dollar, I'm not complaining. Much. I'd been meaning to play that for the kiddo for awhile, and the instantaneous gratification was worth sacrificing a bit of quality.

#153 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 02:39 PM:

Ginger, #138: Are you sure it's the comics that have gotten smaller, and not you that's gotten bigger? I went back to my childhood neighborhood 15 years after moving away, and even though I'd reached my full adult height before we left, everything still seemed smaller!

#154 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 02:48 PM:

Lee @ 153... Are you sure it's the comics that have gotten smaller, and not you that's gotten bigger?

Something doesn't sound right about that sentence.

#155 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 03:16 PM:

John L. @143 and Lori @145 There is a fellow who is selling a DVD for around $30 with three versions, including (he says) the "rare original USAF 1960s Television Sign-Off Piece, featuring the F-104 "Starfighter." I am also an AF brat who'd love to watch it again.

#156 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 03:16 PM:

Xopher @150 -- Self-serve is still illegal in New Jersey.

The year is 2008 CE. Gaul The US is entirely occupied by the Romans spirit of DIY. Well not entirely! One small state of indomitable Gauls civilized gentlepersons still holds out against the invaders.

(And I used the internet to refresh my memory for the quote, so I'm not completely off topic.)

#157 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 03:19 PM:

oh! sorry about the serial posts, but I just found this copy. The quality isn't very good, though.

#158 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 03:37 PM:

Tlonista #136, Lance Weber #141:

As per the Nero Wolfe Cookbook, wrap the corn (still in its husks) in alumin(i)um foil, and put it on the barbie for about ten minutes while the steaks are doing their thing. Or you can substitute butter for the husks. I think it might be fun to combine the rub/spice method with the foil, grill, and see what happens.

#159 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 03:42 PM:

Xopher @ 150: Oh, I get it. "Tight" just has other associations for me. Maybe it's because my partner and I have laughed once too often over the old joke ("Now clap your hands" "I can't" ...).

#160 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 03:45 PM:

joann @ #158, Woohoo! A fellow owner of that cookbook! I rarely have the cash for the ingredients for Fritz's meals, but the corn and maybe the hedgehog omelet are inexpensive enough to try.

#161 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 03:55 PM:

Linkmeister #160:

Or the ingredients are too exotic for this part of the country. I did see shad roe this spring--just once--but it was gone before I could persuade myself that I should have some even though spouse hateses fish eggs.

(Of course, some of the ordinary local ingredients are off--in both senses--at the moment; nobody's selling jalapenos due to the recent unfortunateness in re salmonella. I am informed that cooked, baked, and pickled ones are OK, so I can keep on with nachos, but I am still worried about the chances for this year's Hatch chile crop.)

#162 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 04:04 PM:

@#74: I first heard "Waltzing St. Anselm" sung by Ted Nelson (of Hypertext fame) in the summer of 1962. He told me it was written by a friend for a Hamburg Show at Swarthmore, but I've forgotten the author's name.

#163 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 04:41 PM:

Xopher #105, #150 Hmm... origin story - John Bull goes over to Germany and gets a bit drunk, or, as my Mum might say "tight" and, while recreating the 1966 World Cup Final with cutlery for some locals, accidentally mentions the war. The next morning he wakes up covered with bruises, a pounding headache and no idea what happened next. He assumes that he was in a fight and survived thanks to his Union Jack tie*, which the man in the second hand store he bought it from told him belnged to Winston Churchill. In fact, the tie is just a tie, the Germans were too polite to drespond to his faux pas and the bruises are from when he passed out and fell on the floor while demonstarting Geoff Hurst's final goal.

* He really ought to be Brit-Man, but as ought to be clear, he isn't very bright

#164 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 04:45 PM:

joann @158: I think I got this from Alton, I pull the husks back but not off, de-silk the corn, re-cover with husk then soak the ears for 20 minutes in water before grilling.

I imagine you could easily modify by soaking without re-covering, then dry the ear, apply spice run, re-cover and grill. Mmmm. I think I'll experiment with that later this summer.

#165 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 04:54 PM:

I used the internet to find out about the history of the emergency services.

#166 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 04:54 PM:

Lance #164:

Sounds good, but I can never remember to do a soak/marinade in time to cook whatever it was. Corn is particularly last minute, as in: what do we want with the steaks that I'm about to start the grill for? (I can barely remember to get the water boiling before the rest of the steak process gets started--one more reason to grill.)

#167 ::: Edward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 05:06 PM:

Amazing finds on the internets:

Old friends

Making Light

Family history from 1680's Massachusetts (My ultimate American ancestor was whipped naked in public at age 15 for breaking and entering)...

But the TRUE sensawunda is knowing that we are living in what will eventually be known as THE pivotal point in history... 300 hundred years from now, this era will be taught in schools in far more detail than the Industrial Revolution is taught today... We are living at one of the most momentous times in history, and a lot of people don't realize it... that boggles me...

#168 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 05:23 PM:

Edward Oleander @ 167... Amazing finds on the internets: Old friends

...and new ones.

#169 ::: Harry Payne ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 05:37 PM:

I taped Skywhales when Channel 4 showed it on UK TV in 1984. I still have the tape, and it's backed up on several digital formats.

Robert Llewellyn, aka Kryten from Red Dwarf, did the voices.

Phil Austin, and Derek Hayes, who made Skywhales, also produced another short animation in the 1980s called "Max Beeza and the City in the sky". I only saw a review of it in an early issue of Starlog, which was a shame, as the plot revolved around Max raising funds for "Bison for the deaf" and featured another character called the Wicked Stepladder. Sounds like a gas.

#170 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 06:59 PM:

There is, of course, this curious artifact of the pre-YouTube world. (Nice, that it's frozen in Internet carbonite now.)

#171 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 07:50 PM:

#153: The comics really have gotten smaller. They didn't just shrink, either--they changed shape. At one time many Sunday comics took up an entire page. And the dailies were once half again as long as they are now. Check out one of Fantagraphics's Popeye reprints (and you do want to check them out. The cartoons--even the Fleischer versions--are thin gruel by comparison) and you'll find a 1930's Thimble Theatre had six panels of about the same shape as one from a typical four-panel Doonesbury. Also, if you look at the 1950s-1980s Peanuts strips and compare them to the 90's strips you'll find that at some point Charles Schulz had to switch from four square panels to three.

I have a couple of Krazy Kat strips cut from 1927 newspapers my parents found in their house. They were printed at a size of 2 7/8 inches by 11 3/8 inches.

#172 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 10:22 PM:

AD: The people! The things!
ZB: The things are also people.
AD: The people! The ... other people!

I haven't dug out as much information as most of you -- the geekiest thing I've done is use various mapping services to get the coordinates of airports, so I can add them to a distance-calculating program without having to find a library big enough for a good gazetteer -- but I've been fascinated by many of the links people come up with. Mr. Bean's air-drums, the mechanical music machines someone posted here, ... Sir Arthur Eddington (who I just looked up) was exaggerating; this world by itself is stranger than we can imagine, but now we can see where our imagination fails. The Naval Observatory's map of timezones (there are a lot more than you'd think) and a plausible explanation for the (known to be false) type specimen for the Darwin Awards are among the disappearances I regret; but just having seen them was a broadening experience.

#173 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 01:20 AM:

joann, #158, if it's in foil, it's just steaming on the grill.

Lance, #164, it's the husks and cob that you're soaking, so it would be a good thing to recover the corn with the husks. You're soaking so the corn won't burn on the grill, and you're essentially steaming the corn.

#174 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 02:52 AM:

dcb #92: Sometimes it's still there. There are exquisitely detailed zoomable topo maps of an area I will not identify on a government site I will not name because I'm using them for a fanfic. I found them by running a Boolean search that looked like a paper wasp's nest. They don't show up on the main site page or any page that it leads to. Apparently somebody decided to remove public access to the maps by simply deleting the links on those pages. But you can still access them directly.

Other wonderful things I've found:

For years, I jotted down lines from songs on the radio asfastasIcould and just hoped to catch the title and artist so that I could request the song again (public radio, they actually take requests!). Now I go to mudcat dot org and find the whole song by searching on a phrase.

I also found a gently used library copy of the Child Ballads via online search. Now if I could only find a copy of this other book that has most of the surviving tunes . . .

It is highly unlikely that I will _ever_ be able to go to a bardic. But I can sing along with Leslie Fish at home.

#175 ::: Pete Darby ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 06:14 AM:

Well, someone forwarded something to me this morning which she wouldn't have found without teh intarwebs...

Happy Birthday!
24 July 1971
Your date of conception was on or about 31 October 1970 which was a Saturday.

Great. Thanks. Now I've got this vision of my parents getting it on, on a drunk saturday night, in addams family outfits while "The Monster Mash" plays in the background.

There is not enough alcohol in the world to kill the braincells that need to die right now.

#176 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 08:44 AM:

Pete Darby @ 175... drunk saturday night, in addams family outfits

Did you ever see Hitchcock's North by Northwest, specificall the scene where Eva Marie Saint is sitting down with James Mason and Martin Landau standing behind her, and Cary Grant makes a crack about Charles Addams?

And did you know that Ted Cassidy, who played Lurch in the TV show, also was Thing?

#177 ::: Pete Darby ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 09:02 AM:

And I'm just thinking "I thought James Arness was the Thing.. oh wait, wrong Thing."

#178 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 09:41 AM:

Serge @ 137

And all their secret identities have been on unemployment since the plants closed.

Ginger @ 138

When I was growing up, all the US Northeast states had what they called "Blue Laws" which made it illegal to have certain kinds of business open on Sunday: department stores, liguor stores, groceries, etc, etc. (if you smoked, you'd better not run out of cigarettes on Sunday; I think even the stores that were open weren't allowed to sell them then). The Supreme Court finally agreed that was maybe just a little too much religious interference in people's lives.

And, no, it's not "right-sizing" either. The correct term is "cap-sizing". Ask any hourly worker.

#179 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 09:44 AM:

Woah! I just found something modern, that I cannot find anything about on the Internet. The child just handed me a bag of "Westrim Crafts PVC Nuggets" (style 15160) that she got from who knows where. I'd link to a picture, but... nothing on the Internet. I have no idea what they are or what you're supposed to do with them, and GOOGLE HAS FAILED ME. I feel... I don't even know how I feel. Kind of like when you're going through the optical illusions book and it gets to the page that explains how to find your blind spot. Only worse. It's a commercial product, how can it not exist on the Internet?

#180 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 09:49 AM:

Xopher @ 150

Self-serve is still illegal in New Jersey. Allegedly for safety reasons, but I think actually to preserve jobs.

Ditto Oregon. The last time the question came up on the ballot as an initiative, someone ran an ad on TV showing a poor, helpless old grandma starving to death by the self-service pump, waiting for someone to fill up her tank. Also, someone started a rumor campaign about how people who didn't know how to work a gasoline pump managed to burn themselves to death.

Politics: it's not just for public office anymore!

#181 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 10:30 AM:

Theophylact at #162:

Where did you see Ted Nelson singing in 1962?

(I'm his son.)

#182 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 10:40 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 178... My favorite part of that what-if was a newspaper's front page announcing that Doctor Doom had just destroyed Manhattan. It showed an atomic cloud rising out of Manhattan and quoted Doom. ("It was easy!")

#183 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 10:42 AM:

Lost thing I have been unable to find on the internet:

There was once a company called Formatt that made acetate shading film (like Zip-a-Tone, but not the same brand). I had the catalog a while ago and it was a very large selection.

I draw a blank when I search for it though. The only thing in the world that has that brand name today, it seems, is a matte box that mounts on a camera.

#184 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 10:42 AM:

Lost thing I have been unable to find on the internet:

There was once a company called Formatt that made acetate shading film (like Zip-a-Tone, but not the same brand). I had the catalog a while ago and it was a very large selection.

I draw a blank when I search for it though. The only thing in the world that has that brand name today, it seems, is a matte box that mounts on a camera.

#185 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 11:26 AM:

I'd try asking at an art or graphics supply place. (I think with the advent of digital-everything, they may have folded.)

#186 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 11:41 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 178: Oh, yes, I recall Blue Laws very well. Maryland was still a Blue Law state in the 1980s, although New York had relaxed the restrictions somewhat by then.

For government employees, it's "A-76", and "MEO". Yet another thing for which to thank Our Shrub in Charge.

#187 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 02:46 PM:

Marilee #173:

If it's got char marks, it wasn't steaming.

#188 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 07:07 PM:


Might this be a start?

#189 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 07:10 PM:

Re: Meeting people via the Internet: My husband and I met via a BBS.

#190 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 08:49 PM:

One thing I haven't been able to find online is a full sample of the Grog Caps decorative font (which, if I remember correctly, was a Letterpress font). The letters were crafted from cartoony guts and eyeballs, and was somewhat reminiscent of the art of Ed "Big Daddy" Roth.

#191 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 08:51 PM:

My partner and I met on a fannish mailing list. Because of the internet, I convinced my boss to let me leave the country and work from (her) home.

I still have my job, and while my prospects for promotion may now be totally sidelined, we did just buy a house on Gabriola Island.

#192 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 09:44 PM:

pericat, forgive me, but your "while my prospects for promotion may now be totally sidelined, we did just buy a house on Gabriola Island." is remarkably reminiscent of the "No, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night" ad campaign.

Or maybe I just have a quirky sense of humor.

#193 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 11:21 PM:

Cat, #179, here's Westrim. I can't think of what they'd call "PVC nuggets" unless it's oddly shaped beads for the stuff you put together. What do they look like?

Erik, #181, your grandmother is Celeste Holm? Wow. (Yes, your dad is famous, too, but your grandmother is a fabulous actress!)

Ibid, #183, These folks have it. Scroll down a bit.

joann, #187, if the corn has char marks inside the foil, that's transferred heat. It's still steaming. Otherwise, you could just lay the corn on the grill.

Earl, #190, sorry, couldn't find that. Feorag would probably know.

#194 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 11:32 PM:

Linkmeister @ 192: Ha! Perhaps so. :) All I really meant was that it's not a path that was open to me where I was, and if it weren't for the internet, would be yet unthinkable. I'll not amount to anything at my job, but my job is not my life, and my life has so much more in it of the stuff that makes me happy. And all to do with being able to do the job part remotely.

#195 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 12:18 AM:

Marilee @ 193

Wait, whoa, stop, hold it a second here. Ted Nelson is Celeste Holm's son? And therefore Dan Dunning's half-brother? Talk about a small world: Dan and I were in the same class in high school, and I met Celeste once when she came to see him (he was a boarding student, I was day-time). And though I've known of Ted for 30 years (I still have a copy of Computer Lib/Machine Dreams), I've never met him, though I think we have at least a dozen mutual friends and acquaintances from Silicon Valley, and the hi-tech community in general.

Yes, Celeste Holm is a terrific actress, though I have to say that her public persona was even more impressive to me as a teenage boy. She was incredibly gracious and charming, and I had a crush on her (sorry if that's too much information, Erik).

#196 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 09:56 AM:

Melissa Mead & Marilee - nope, that's the first place I looked. The packaging looks not completely new, so I'm guessing it's something that's been discontinued, probably due to lack of popularity. (If I can't find any craft sites with instructions on how to use these things, they can't have been that great.)

They look like something you melt (like multicolored seed beads with no holes, mostly, but there are a two or three larger pieces like heart-shapes), but, uh, I don't want to melt PVC in my house. Hey, maybe it's something that's been discontinued due to extreme toxicity! (Although if that were the case, you'd think I'd find it on a recall/class action site or something.)

#197 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 11:44 AM:

Thing I wanted I couldn't find on the internet: a family tree of the characters in _The Worm Ouroboros_. I was surprised to find so LITTLE on the internet on _Ouroboros_.

#198 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 01:22 PM:

Erik @ 181: FX: [jaw dropping]

Not that I have had any personal connection with your father, but Computer Lib/Dream Machines did confirm me in my belief that computers were what I wanted to do with my life. Amazing books.

#199 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 01:46 PM:

Re: PVC nuggets

They sound like the plastic version of what you fill bean bags with. The advantage over beans/lentils/rice is that you can wash the finished bag of them without it getting mushy, or moldy, or sprouting.

#200 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 06:27 PM:


Oh! Oh! do you mean the little plastic bits that come in what look like craft-paint bottles, and they soften in hot water so you can mold them?

#201 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 11:00 PM:

Melissa, that's probably it!

#202 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 11:59 PM:

That sounds like Playfoam Remoldable Sculpting Beads

#203 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 12:26 AM:

Janet Croft @ 197

ISTR that the Ballantine paperback from the early '70s had a one page genealogy chart. Unfortunately, my copy is long gone, so I can't check. Anybody have a copy and could check on that?

Eddison is not as popular as I think he deserves to be, and most of the interest seems to be in the Zimiamvian Trilogy; Ouroboros tends to be somewhat of an orphan. This despite the thing that got me interested in it, a review by no less than Theodore Sturgeon in Fantasy & Science Fiction that absolutely raved about it*.

* Paraphrasing from 40 year old memory: "Head, shoulders, trunk, and groin above every other heroic fantasy."

#204 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 12:43 AM:

Bruce: I kept expecting 'knees and toes' to be in there somewhere.

#205 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 12:54 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 703: ISTR that the Ballantine paperback from the early '70s had a one page genealogy chart. Unfortunately, my copy is long gone, so I can't check. Anybody have a copy and could check on that?

I thought I did, but it turns out I have a Pan edition (British) of the same vintage and with the same cover (and no genealogy).

Eddison is not as popular as I think he deserves to be, and most of the interest seems to be in the Zimiamvian Trilogy; Ouroboros tends to be somewhat of an orphan.

The trilogy has its charms, but the Worm has more fantasy and less of his dubious (and, at at least one point, cringe-inducingly racist) philosophy.

#206 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 02:43 AM:

Xopher @ 204

The way I heard it, Sturgeon always stopped at the groin.

#207 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 01:03 PM:

Clifton Royston at #198:

Not that I have had any personal connection with your father, but Computer Lib/Dream Machines did confirm me in my belief that computers were what I wanted to do with my life. Amazing books.

Me, too. Something like that. I bought a copy out of Roger Gregory's trunk. Must have been 1978.

I met Ted once, over Chinese carry-out, at a house full of Xanadudes in Silicon Valley. I'm sure I thanked him for his book. I remember he told me that Mies van der Rohe said, "God is in the details." I probably could have learned that somewhere else, but I learned it from Ted Nelson.

Because of Computer Lib and especially its acedoublesque flipside Dream Machines, I could see the Nineties coming.

Which is exactly what I wanted from a computer book.

#208 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 06:20 PM:


I just wish I could remember what they were called. Arg!

#209 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 06:27 PM:

This looks similar, onlty the pellets I had came in multiple colors:

#210 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 08:49 PM:

I don't think it's Friendly Plastic, those are big strips, but I went searching for PVC pellets, and apparently they're what fills a lot of beanbag things. I wonder if Westrim used to have kits to make beanbags.

#211 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 10:06 PM:

The website showed a bucket of pellets as well as the strips. Only in white, though.

#212 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 09:49 AM:

wrt remote jobs (as started by pericat): after the 2005 Worldcon we went up to Orkney -- where we were astounded to find a serious building boom going on. (It had spread far enough to threaten the fairgrounds (which IIRC had deliberately been put a long way from Kirkwall's downtown to keep away the smells of concentrated livestock) and to come close to the Highland Park distillery.) Apparently there's enough wideband to mainland Britain that people can telecommute -- I don't know how they stand Orkney winters, but it's a win for people who like that kind of open space within walking distance.

#213 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 11:15 AM:

Really found it this time. The stuff that comes in tubs is called Floam.

#214 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 12:10 PM:

Nope, it's not beanbag pellets or moldable plastic or floam. (Trust me; if they sell it in a craft store, I should recognize it. That's part of why this is so strange to me!)

After some more digging, I think they must have only been sold as part of a kit, but somehow the kid got them solo. I've found some kits that have similar-looking pellets (Makit & Bakit - a different brand, and I've only seen their "suncatcher" type kits, but the Internet says they do have opaque pellet ones too.)

I still have no idea what the other, big bits are for. Kiddo opened the package; there were three each of teddy bear and heart beads. Maybe for stringing onto the finished product? It doesn't seem like enough to actually do anything with - what's only 6 beads big? (The beads are about 1/4" long - only "big" compared to the itty bitty pellets.)

#215 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 12:58 PM:

#214, Cat -

The descriptions you've given make me think of little bits of plastic I've seen...somewhere. I want to think they were inside a sealed toy as a decorative element or noisemaker or stuff to work through a puzzle or something like that.

The bits I'm thinking of looked a little like they were slices off of a stick of plastic - the sliced-off ends weren't even, and the non-sliced sides were round or occasionally hexagonal.

But I can't remember any more clearly than that what kind of toy they might have been inside, and I definitely haven't encountered the stuff I'm thinking of as a craft material. About the only craft I could think of to use the material I'm thinking of for would be making some kind of a scavenger hunt toy, like this one. I can't image that they would work better than sand for the purpose, but that doesn't always stop the craft-goods manufacturers.

#216 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 01:06 PM:

Westrim is now part of 'Creativity', which also does Blue Moon beads. FWIW. They're in Van Nuys, somewhere. (Google helped find this out.)

#217 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 01:23 PM:

Cat - what I'm thinking of looks a bit like this but without holes. Is that close?

#218 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 03:02 AM:

Neat thing I have not, so far, been able to find online: a map of North America, or preferably the world, from the early Cretaceous--ideally the Hauterivian. I have found a lot of Jurassic, mid-Cretaceous, and late Cretaceous maps, but nothing from that particular span of time.

#219 ::: romsfuulynn ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 02:03 PM:

19th century Biblical proof texting in Unitarian and Universalist writing in Google books to refute Biblical literalists.

This is response to really distressing posts on news stories about the shootings at the Knoxville UU church (Tennessee Valley UU Church.) The posts were working from an assumption that Unitarian and Universalist views on the bible and finding wisdom in various sacred scriptures was somehow new. Found a 1889 article in "The Unitarian" in about two minutes.

#220 ::: mike ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 10:58 PM:

I recently found "Great", a 1975 Oscar(r)-winning cartoon about Isambard Kingdom Brunel, then followed up with a 2002 Jeremy Clarkson polemic positing IKB as the greatest Briton ever.

#221 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 11:45 PM:

Lance Weber @ 141 ::: I'll give that a try later this summer when the mature corn hits the farmers markets. which time you will be cordially invited over to my place for my Kinda-Sorta Cajun Corn Chowder.

Generally, when the Whole Foods is selling Longmont corn 3 for a dollar, it's time to hit the Farmer's Market hard.

Xopher @ 150 ::: Self-serve is still illegal in New Jersey.

Bruce Cohen (STM) has already pointed out that that's the case in Oregon... but I was always told (when John and I lived there, 1996-1999) it was a way of creating/preserving jobs. No one told me it was to protect people from dying of old age while waiting in vain for service...

Colorado finally nixed one of its remaining blue laws: You can now buy liquor on a Sunday in this state. Well. I overstate. Liquor stores are now allowed to stay open on a Sunday in this state. Should any choose to do so, this should cheer up those on a last-minute dead-dog-party supply run this WorldCon/Denvention.

It may be less than a boon to liquor sales in Wyoming, however.

#222 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 11:58 PM:

I have to admit, I had a day a week or so ago when I wished pumping gas was not self-serve. I absolutely HATE the smell of gasoline on me.

i gave the clerk at our corner gas station the $20 I wanted to buy. I went back out to pump the gas. The asshole who had put the dispenser handle back HAD LEFT THE CLICKER THINGIE ON. so when I took it off the pump it started gushing gasoline.

It missed my clothing but got my hands and my shoes (fortunately I wore a pair of clogs, which I seldom wear in the summer, rather than sandals). Shoes had to be aired on porch, Dawn(r) took care of the gas sell on my hands.

#223 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2008, 02:22 PM:

St. Anselm song written by Charlie Harris, who introduced it to the world at Swarthmore in the 1950's.

#224 ::: bartkid ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 11:56 PM:

>I think I just found another piece of my sensawunda as well. How about you?

I am still frustrated in not being able to track down a particular science fiction short story collection: Each of the stories dealt with the humorous travails of this one mad scientist who kept on getting things almost right. For example, in one story, he breeds human-sized rabbits to fill out the military's requirement for cannon-fodder. The only problem, all the rabbits are female. (This collection was written probably in the 1950s or 1960s, well before women served in the regular forces.) All the other stories in the collection have that same humorous twist ending.

For the life of me, I have NEVER come close to finding out the title or author.

Any pointers, anyone?

#225 ::: Stephan Brun ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2009, 05:27 PM:

Whe hey! I just found Drow Tales and Moonless Age again! Thank you, Google, you're my bestest friend! ('xcept for you guys, of course...)

Tomorrow, when the flu abates, I'll search for the other web comic I'm missing (The one about the young female elf running about in the forest (ca 2003). I think she had a bow and some kind of bird, and the author/artist kept writing about graphics tablets and other tools)

#226 ::: rodger ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2012, 09:21 PM:

The kids toys comments especially the Floam comments were funny. I can only imagine trying to explain that one.

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