Winky winky

from the NY Times, Pagan Kennedy (no, not a typo)

“The first line of my obituary is going to mention the smiley face,” says Scott Fahlman, who would rather be remembered for his research into artificial intelligence. But like it or not, Fahlman has become famous for three keystrokes. In 1982, as a young professor at Carnegie Mellon University, he realized the need for a symbol to temper the bickering that plagued online forums. The Internet was just a baby then, and yet already flame wars raged. Fahlman decided that a smiley face could be useful as a “joke marker” (as he called it) to take the sting out of mocking statements or pranks. And so he hunted around the keyboard for a way to make the face. “But what do you use for eyes?” he wondered. Once he found the colon, the rest was easy. He dashed his suggestion off to friends. “I didn’t even proofread the message,” he says.

The emoticon — perhaps one of the first online memes — spread to other campuses, hitching a ride in e-mails. And as the Web expanded in the ’90s, so, too, did the colon-hyphen-parenthesis. “Wherever the Internet went, the smiley face was there within weeks,” Fahlman says. The symbol has endured because it’s a quick way to soothe hurt feelings or express joy. But Fahlman still hears complaints that it is a hallmark of lazy writing. His critics tend to raise questions like “Would Shakespeare have used a smiley face?” Yes, Fahlman says, if Shakespeare were around today, thumb-tapping a screed “about parking at the Globe Theater, he might say something intemperate. And then he might think twice about it and want to use an emoticon.”


Tyler Schnoebelen, who has a Ph.D. in linguistics, analyzed millions of Twitter messages to understand how people use emoticons.

You found that about 10 percent of the tweets in your sample had emoticons in them. Why so many?
In a full paragraph, you might be able to express how you’re feeling. But it becomes harder in a tweet, where you only have a few words.

What is the difference between people who use 🙂 and people who use 🙂 ?
The people who use 🙂 follow a younger set of celebrities. They swear more, and they use spellings like “sooooo” and “loooove.”

What about 😉 ? Is it a flirt?
Yes, we can assume that. It tends to appear near words like “horny,” “attractive,” “hot” and “dirty.” It doesn’t occur near words like “pleasant” or “irritated.” The world of 😉 is sexy.

Do you use emoticons?
Actually, yes, I’ve become a connoisseur of them. I love the :))) — it’s like saying “I’m soooooooo happy.” But I don’t personally use that emoticon, because to me it looks like someone with multiple chins. And over the last year, I’ve been using the 😉 a lot.

So now that you’ve finished this research on the emoticon, you’re ;)-ing a lot?
Yes, now I do more flirting.


Western-style emoticons often read from left to right, as “sideways faces.” Japanese thumb-typists, meanwhile, have invented their own system.

m(_ _)m

Bowing down in apology






Wearing headphones







more …

o(`ω´ )o


Very Upset


Best comment thread of all time

So, this is the funniest comment thread I’ve ever seen.  From Gawker. I copied and pasted just so I could read it forever.

It’s a Food Product, Essentially’: Fox News Starts Spinning Pepper Spray Cops

Tonight, Fox News hosts Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly got to talking about a UC Davis police officer’s appalling use of pepper spray on nonviolent protesters over the weekend. Guess what direction the conversation took!

If you guessed “needlessly deferential to authority and dismissive to the suffering of protesters,” you guessed correctly!

“I don’t think we have the right to Monday-morning quarterback the police,” O’Reilly says, “particularly at a place like UC Davis, which is a fairly liberal campus.” God forbid! We’d never want to question Lt. John Pike’s decision to generously and indifferently dust peacefully sitting protesters with pepper spray from only a few feet away. Especially given that Davis is, you know, a liberal campus! And, gosh, even if we were going to Monday-morning quarterback the police, shouldn’t we remember, as Megyn Kelly tells O’Reilly, that pepper spray is “a food product, essentially”?

Now, look, Kelly and O’Reilly aren’t saying the cops did the right thing! God, no! “I agree [the tape] looks bad,” Kelly says. It’s just that the protesters were sitting in a place where they weren’t allowed to sit, so it’s kind of their own fault! And in any event what right do we have to judge a cop for spraying a simple food product on the faces of a bunch of liberal college kids doing something criminal? You know? Maybe he was just trying to feed them?

Megyn Kelly on fire hoses: “It’s a sports beverage, essentially!”
Megyn Kelly on police dogs: “It’s a family pet, essentially!”
Megyn Kelly on tasers: “It’s static cling, essentially!”
Megyn Kelly on rubber bullets: “It’s a pencil eraser, essentially!”
Megyn Kelly on hand grenades: “It’s a Fourth of July firework, essentially! God bless America.”
Megyn Kelly on beanbag rounds: “It’s a game of cornhole, essentially!”

promoted by yourfriendandmine
Megyn Kelly on brains; “It’s skull space-filler, essentially.”
Megyn Kelly on nightsticks: “It’s an olive branch, essentially!”
Excellent meme material..make it happen!
Megyn Kelly on waterboarding: “It’s a water park ride essentially!”

promoted by yourfriendandmine
Megyn Kelly on Auschwitz: “It was a three star hotel, essentially.”
Megyn Kelly on fingernail extraction: “It’s a mani-pedi, essentially!”
Megyn Kelly on genital mutilation: “It’s a Brazilian wax, essentially!”
Megan Kelly on her haircut: “It’s a style, essentially!”
Megyn Kelly on vet beatings: “It’s greeting liberators, essentially!”
I was going to say:Megyn Kelly on waterboarding: “It’s a Neti Pot, essentially!”

promoted by Rozelle’s Bagman
Megyn Kelly on being laid off when your wife is pregnant: “It’s European style family leave, essentially.”

promoted by Rozelle’s Bagman
Megyn Kelly on zip-tie handcuffs: “It’s a Livestrong bracelet, essentially.”

Edited by Rozelle’s Bagman at 11/21/11 11:49 PM
Megyn Kelly on Jerry Sandusky: “He was having sex, essentially”.
Megyn Kelly on HIV: “It’s a common cold, essentially!”
Megyn Kelly on the 9/11 hijackings: “They were like that Steve Miller Band Jet Airliner song, essentially.”
Megyn Kelly on tear gas: “It’s like a sad story, essentially!”
Megyn Kelly on flashbangs: “It’s like a surprise party, essentially!”
Megyn Kelly on sleep deprivation: “It’s like a cup o’ Joe, essentially!”
Megyn Kelly on stress positions: “It’s like yoga, essentially!”
Megyn Kelly on mock executions: “It’s like make-believe, essentially!”
Megyn Kelly on the rack: “It’s a chiropractor, essentially!”

promoted by Rozelle’s Bagman
Megyn Kelly on her lipstick: “it’s a fashion statement, I am just a mouth”.
Megyn Kelly on the deaths of Tupac and Biggy: “They were a product of feuds, essentially!”

Edited by RealAmurrican at 11/22/11 2:35 AM
Megyn Kelly on mustard gas: “It’s a hot dog condiment, essentially!”
Megyn Kelly on nuclear weapons: “It’s a microwave dinner, essentially!”
Megyn Kelly on sound weapons: “It’s a boom box, essentially!”
Megyn Kelly on Molotov cocktails: “It’s a flirtini, essentially!”
megyn kelly on guantanamo: “ít’s a carribean vacation, essentially”

promoted by AUsername
Megyn Kelly on arsenic: “It’s a vitamin, essentially!”
Megyn Kelly on handguns: “It’s a slingshot, essentially!”
Megyn Kelly on Hitler: “Basically a guy with neat hair and a cute moustache”

promoted by gschristopher
OK this is ludicrous! here’s the play by play 1 the officers were apparently
ordering the protestors to disperse WITHING THEIR LEGAL AUTHORITY! and the
protestors were PASSIVELY RESISTING! 2 the chancellor wanted the police to
remove the protestors! that means the protestors were trespassing – BTW this
means that the protestors were breaking the law! 3 a law enforcement officer is
allowed to use a reasonable amount force to affect an arrest! 4 a law
enforcement officer is not only expected to, but TAUGHT to use one step above
the level of resistance on the use of force scale in order to overcome
resistance. 5 chemical munitions are not considered inherently dangerous and
they ARE made from chilli peppers, specifically the pepper oil that makes them
hot called Oleoresin Capsicum! and yes it is in it’s concentrated form. 6
Excessive force in this situation would have been if the police used force that
causes or could cause great bodily harm to the protestors. IE beating
them with clubs or sticks or using rubber bullets on passively resistant
protestors would be an excessive use of force. – they did not do that they used
pepper spray to entice the protestors to disperse on their own (by seeking out a
way to wash the spray out of their eyes) 7 if you had a drunk shouting at you
on your front lawn you would expect the police to arrest said drunk. and if he
was passively resistant he could be pepper sprayed too. The only difference is
the drunk is drunk and the protestors are protesting. they are both
trespassing. 8 if you want to be mad at someone be mad at the chancellor not
the police. the police were doing their jobs. The chancellor was not.

promoted by Wannabeer
Well! Someone certainly spoiled the mood.

promoted by yourfriendandmine
Megyn Kelly on incest: “It’s fatherly love, essentially!”
Megyn Kelly on slavery: “It’s the ideal ownership society, essentially!”
Megyn Kelly on atrocious and unnecessary spellings of first names: “It’s the most Anglo-Saxony-looking way, essentially!”
Megyn Kelly on landmines: “It’s like a treasure hunt, essentially!”

Edited by Mameshiba at 11/22/11 7:30 AM
promoted by yourfriendandmine
Megyn Kelly on pepper spray chemical burns: “It’s an affordable chemical peel, essentially!”

promoted by atlasfugged
The courts disagree with you. Look up the Humboldt case and marvel at how this police action is going to cost the city and university a huge chunk of cash. Protestors must be physically aggressive or attempting to flee in order to warrant the use of “pain compliance” techniques like pepper spray. Just because the police manual decided locking arms in a seated position is the line between peaceful and non-peaceful does not mean the courts agree.Also, “civil disobedience” by definition requires breaking the law. Now to head you off at the pass, I’m going to point out that you cannot equate sitting in a sidewalk with anything violent, destructive, or theft related. Why? Because violence involves hurting someone, destructive involves breaking something, and theft involves something being taken. Sitting in a sidewalk is asking someone to walk fifteen feet to the left or right (oh, the inconvenience!) and akin to sitting in the front of a bus or at the counter in a diner.

Shortest version possible: the Constitutional right to peaceful protest assembly is not trumped by local yokel nuisance-because-they-disagree-with-me laws.

Megyn Kelly on germanshepardman: “He’s a patriot, essentially!”
Megyn Kelly on the electric chair: “It’s a massage chair, essentially!”
Megyn Kelly on Fox News: “It’s entertainment, essentially!” Oh, wait a minute….
Megyn Kelly on Homelessness: “It’s urban camping, essentially!”
Megyn Kelly on the rack: “It’s advanced Pilates, essentially!”
Megyn Kelly on child porn: “It’s a home movie, essentially!”
Megyn Kelly on irony: “It’s a traffic jam when you’re already late, essentially.”
Megyn Kelly on carpet bombing: “It’s a heavy downpour, essentially!”
Megyn Kelly on germanshepardman: “He’s a product of the US education system K-8, essentially!”
you forgot ‘essentially’megyn on essentially: “its the essence of the meme, essentially”

on herself: “i’m a new internet meme, essentially”

Edited by valleymann at 11/22/11 12:52 PM
It’s fine because the lawz says it’s fine! Move along, nothing to see here.
This, and the ensuing comment thread, is one of my favorite things that has ever happened. Great work!
Megyn Kelly on Casey Anthony: “She lost her kid, essentially!”
5. It may not be legal to pepper spray nonviolent protesters. HEADWATERS FOREST DEFENSE v. COUNTY OF HUMBOLDT.“…alleging that the officers’ use of pepper spray on the activists’ eyes and faces during three peaceful protests constituted an excessive use of force in violation of their Fourth Amendment rights.”

“…in light of Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 121 S.Ct. 2151, 150 L.Ed.2d 272 (2001), in which the Supreme Court describes the way in which to proceed when state officials assert qualified immunity in a § 1983 excessive force action.   Having reviewed the facts and circumstances of this case in light of Saucier, this panel reaffirms its conclusion that Lewis and Philip are not entitled to qualified immunity.

4. They were nonviolent protesters. What is one level above “just sitting there on the ground, passively waiting to be arrested”? Apparently, it is, “getting sprayed in the face with weapons-grade pepper spray.” Good to know.

According to some people who were there, several people had already been peeled off the line and cuffed when Officer Pike ordered them to stop because he was going to spray them. In other words, the arrest could have, and indeed WAS being effected without the use of pepper spray. Therefore, the pepper spray was gratuitous.

Do you understand that the students WANTED to be arrested? They felt that it was unfair that so few of them (3, IIRC) had been arrested for something they all participated in, and formed the line specifically to induce the officer to arrest them. The students want to be arrested. The cops want to arrest them. Where in this does the continuum of force even come in?

7. If a drunk was peacefully resisting on my lawn, I would not expect the cops to pepper spray him, because you don’t need to use violence to arrest peaceful protesters. They just lay there and you cuff them and carry them off. THAT’S THE DEFINITION OF NON-VIOLENT PROTEST.

@Joshua Bardwell “They just lay there and you cuff them and carry them off” <- This &
This thread is 100% win! Latecomer additions…Megyn Kelly on GOP Presidential debates: ” So it’s reality TV, essentially”
Megyn Kelly on skydiving accidents: “So it’s like regular skydiving, but faster, essentially”
Megyn Kelly on rape babies: “So they’re like regular babies, just more surprising, essentially”
Megyn Kelly on Bill O’Reilly: “So he’s Glen Beck, essentially”

Megyn Kelly on blowjobs: “It’s a job application, essentially!”
Gawker, can you repost this tomorrow, so this comment can win COTD please!?
Greatest….thread….EVER!!!! Whatever I can do to keep this one, I’m doing it..
Megyn Kelly on preemptive strikes: “It’s our turn, essentially.”

Megyn Kelly on Listening to Glenn Beck: “It’s a labotomy, essentially!”
On President Obama: “He’s someone who couldn’t play in the NBA, essentially!”

Occupy Wall Street – And put your money in the Credit Union

My Advice to the Occupy Wall Street Protesters

Hit bankers where it hurts

By Matt Taibbi

October 12, 2011 8:00 AM ET
occupy wall street new york protest matt taibi

Protesters with the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement demonstrate in New York.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

I’ve been down to “Occupy Wall Street” twice now, and I love it. The protests building at Liberty Square and spreading over Lower Manhattan are a great thing, the logical answer to the Tea Party and a long-overdue middle finger to the financial elite. The protesters picked the right target and, through their refusal to disband after just one day, the right tactic, showing the public at large that the movement against Wall Street has stamina, resolve and growing popular appeal.

But… there’s a but. And for me this is a deeply personal thing, because this issue of how to combat Wall Street corruption has consumed my life for years now, and it’s hard for me not to see where Occupy Wall Street could be better and more dangerous. I’m guessing, for instance, that the banks were secretly thrilled in the early going of the protests, sure they’d won round one of the messaging war.

Why? Because after a decade of unparalleled thievery and corruption, with tens of millions entering the ranks of the hungry thanks to artificially inflated commodity prices, and millions more displaced from their homes by corruption in the mortgage markets, the headline from the first week of protests against the financial-services sector was an old cop macing a quartet of college girls.

That, to me, speaks volumes about the primary challenge of opposing the 50-headed hydra of Wall Street corruption, which is that it’s extremely difficult to explain the crimes of the modern financial elite in a simple visual. The essence of this particular sort of oligarchic power is its complexity and day-to-day invisibility: Its worst crimes, from bribery and insider trading and market manipulation, to backroom dominance of government and the usurping of the regulatory structure from within, simply can’t be seen by the public or put on TV. There just isn’t going to be an iconic “Running Girl” photo with Goldman Sachs, Citigroup or Bank of America – just 62 million Americans with zero or negative net worth, scratching their heads and wondering where the hell all their money went and why their votes seem to count less and less each and every year.

No matter what, I’ll be supporting Occupy Wall Street. And I think the movement’s basic strategy – to build numbers and stay in the fight, rather than tying itself to any particular set of principles – makes a lot of sense early on. But the time is rapidly approaching when the movement is going to have to offer concrete solutions to the problems posed by Wall Street. To do that, it will need a short but powerful list of demands. There are thousands one could make, but I’d suggest focusing on five:

1. Break up the monopolies. The so-called “Too Big to Fail” financial companies – now sometimes called by the more accurate term “Systemically Dangerous Institutions” – are a direct threat to national security. They are above the law and above market consequence, making them more dangerous and unaccountable than a thousand mafias combined. There are about 20 such firms in America, and they need to be dismantled; a good start would be to repeal the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and mandate the separation of insurance companies, investment banks and commercial banks.

2. Pay for your own bailouts. A tax of 0.1 percent on all trades of stocks and bonds and a 0.01 percent tax on all trades of derivatives would generate enough revenue to pay us back for the bailouts, and still have plenty left over to fight the deficits the banks claim to be so worried about. It would also deter the endless chase for instant profits through computerized insider-trading schemes like High Frequency Trading, and force Wall Street to go back to the job it’s supposed to be doing, i.e., making sober investments in job-creating businesses and watching them grow.

3. No public money for private lobbying. A company that receives a public bailout should not be allowed to use the taxpayer’s own money to lobby against him. You can either suck on the public teat or influence the next presidential race, but you can’t do both. Butt out for once and let the people choose the next president and Congress.

4. Tax hedge-fund gamblers. For starters, we need an immediate repeal of the preposterous and indefensible carried-interest tax break, which allows hedge-fund titans like Stevie Cohen and John Paulson to pay taxes of only 15 percent on their billions in gambling income, while ordinary Americans pay twice that for teaching kids and putting out fires. I defy any politician to stand up and defend that loophole during an election year.

5. Change the way bankers get paid. We need new laws preventing Wall Street executives from getting bonuses upfront for deals that might blow up in all of our faces later. It should be: You make a deal today, you get company stock you can redeem two or three years from now. That forces everyone to be invested in his own company’s long-term health – no more Joe Cassanos pocketing multimillion-dollar bonuses for destroying the AIGs of the world.

To quote the immortal political philosopher Matt Damon from Rounders, “The key to No Limit poker is to put a man to a decision for all his chips.” The only reason the Lloyd Blankfeins and Jamie Dimons of the world survive is that they’re never forced, by the media or anyone else, to put all their cards on the table. If Occupy Wall Street can do that – if it can speak to the millions of people the banks have driven into foreclosure and joblessness – it has a chance to build a massive grassroots movement. All it has to do is light a match in the right place, and the overwhelming public support for real reform – not later, but right now – will be there in an instant.

This story is from the October 27, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone.

Last week’s news

Gender-Spotting Tool Could Have Rumbled Fake Blogger
New Scientist (06/17/11) Paul Marks

A gender analysis program developed by Stevens Institute of Technology researcher Na Cheng and colleagues could have successfully determined the sex of a 40-year-old U.S. man writing online as a gay Syrian girl, according to tests.

The software permits users to either upload a text file or paste in a paragraph of 50 words or more for analysis. The program was based on a vast corpus of documents that the researchers screened for psycholinguistic factors, and they winnowed the more than 500 factors they uncovered down to 157 gender-significant ones.

These cues were then combined by the program through a Bayesian algorithm that guesses gender according to the balance of likelihoods suggested by the factors. The program has three gender judgments to choose from–male, female, and neutral.

A judgment of neutral might signal that someone is attempting to write in a gender voice that is unnatural to them. When fed text, the software’s assessment of a male or female author is only precise 85 percent of the time, but the researchers say its accuracy will improve as more people use it and alert it to wrong guesses.


This was a huge deal to some of my online buds last week, particularly the gay activist ones.  It was interesting hearing their reactions to this, but since it was last week, I can’t remember why.




I like the way this woman thinks.  I had never heard of her until today, when Van sent out his quotes of the day about Mignon McLaughlin.  I keep wanting to call her Filet.


Courage can’t see around corners, but goes around them anyway.

Every society honors its live conformists and its dead troublemakers.

The hardest learned lesson: that people have only their kind of love to give, not our kind.

What you can’t get out of, get into wholeheartedly.

What you have become is the price you paid to get what you used to want.

Hope is the feeling we have that the feeling we have is not permanent.

Nobody really listens to anyone else, and if you try it for a while you’ll see why.

Women usually love what they buy, yet hate two-thirds of what is in their closets.
All from Mignon McLaughlin, 1913 – 1983


Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they can not communicate; they can not communicate because they are separated.

On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” And Vanity comes along and asks the question, “Is it popular?” But Conscience asks the question “Is it right?” And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.

Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.

Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.
All from Martin Luther King, Jr, 1929 – 1968

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,

begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.

Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.

Through violence you may murder the liar,

but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.

Through violence you may murder the hater,

but you do not murder hate.

In fact, violence merely increases hate.

So it goes.

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,

adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness:

only light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

~ Martin Luther King Jr.

[update:  An interesting note:  Last year, the number of accusations of employer retaliation (retaliation against an employee for complaining internally or with the EEOC) outnumbered racial-discrimination charges for the first time since the EEOC started operating in 1965. Retaliation lawsuits tend to fare better with juries (are easier to prove) and get higher settlements. ]

Happy Birthday, Al

It’s Pi day! And Albert Einstein’s birthday.


All of us who are concerned for peace and triumph of reason and justice must be keenly aware how small an influence reason and honest good will exert upon events in the political field.

As far as I’m concerned, I prefer silent vice to ostentatious virtue.

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.

If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to think of an empty desk?

Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person.

The American lives even more for his goals, for the future, than the European. Life for him is always becoming, never being.

The Lord God is subtle, but malicious He is not.

Why is it that nobody understands me and everybody likes me?
All from Albert Einstein, 1879 – 1955