We Got Yer Internet Nice Things Right Here, Buddy
Our new Sunday thing -- bringing you a bunch of stuff that's a time-out from the usual rottenness -- seems to have gone over pretty well last week, so hey, let's keep it up with the nice stuff, because there's plenty of unremittingly grim/horrifying content for the rest of the week. No, don't worry, we'll still cuss, because after all, this is Wonkette's version of "nice," fuckers.
Twitter Doesn't Have To Suck, Part Slasher Flick
Yes, of course Twitter is terrible. But as several people noted in reply to our discussion of a couple awesome historians on the platform, Twitter is simply an especially vivid demonstration of Sturgeon's Law: "Ninety percent of everything is crap." So to reduce the ratio of crap in your timeline, we urge you to follow some of the non-crappiest people on Twitter dot com, like SF/fantasy writer Sam Sykes and fantasy/comics/screenplay/bloggything writer Chuck Wendig, whose posts can single-handedly improve your experience on the Twitters. Individually, they're hilarious and smart. Together, they're dangerously smartfunny. Consider this thread from July 2017 where they improvised a beautiful send-up of slasher-movie tropes. It all starts mundanely enough, and then quickly goes brilliantly strange:
Sam Sykes: @ChuckWendig yo, can you help me out
Chuck Wendig: hey what do you need
Sykes: I don't know if I told you but I recently became a camp counselor
Wendig: that's cool
Sykes: it was going super well but there's some kind of crazed serial killer roaming the grounds right now
Wendig: oh shit that sometimes happens
And then the horror jazz is off and running, with Wendig offering Sykes all sorts of useful suggestions for dealing with the situation, because you know, sometimes all you need is a calm, genre-savvy adviser to help you through a crisis:
It goes from there, a lovely example of two smart people who know how to build a narrative having perfectly deadpan fun and, not incidentally, going viral as fuck. How viral? How about viral enough that somebody decided it should become an actual slasher movie? You Might Be The Killer, directed by Brett Simmons (with Sykes and Wendig helping as producers) premiered at Austin's Fantasy Fest in September, and aired on the SyFy cable network in October. You can rent the darn thing on Amazon, or buy a blu-ray disk -- with a kickback at those linkies to Yr Wonkette, even. Here, lookit the trailer:
But Wait! More Twitter Wonderfulness!
From journamalist and all around wonderful tweeter Talia Lavin, who you ALSO should definitely follow, comes this saga of toying with a spammy troll, who turns out to be surprisingly persistent. Screenshots all by Ms. Lavin:
LIMNED, motherfucker! And then the capper, with the guy finally noticing Lavin's been talking about some crazy astral plane, followed by Lavin's coup de grace. Or coup de Goodnight, Gracie.
Aren't you glad she plugged in her phone? (There's an entire Twitter subgenre of people freaking out over screencaps of phones with distressingly low batteries).
Quokkas: Cuteness As An Economic Resource
From the Atlantic comes this short documentary by David Fried about the almost unbelievably cute Australian marsupial the quokka, which looks like it's smiling all the time and has no natural predators on its island home off western Australia. But there's more to this story than cute animals, of course: Rottnest Island is trying to capture as much revenue as possible from the hordes of people coming to take selfies with the critter, which not incidentally is vulnerable for extinction thanks to human encroachment on its habitat. Yeah, it's a "light" documentary, but it's also an unsettling reminder that people are idiots.
Evolution and Beauty
The New York Times brings us this nifty science longread about how the "conspicuous, metabolically costly and physically burdensome sexual ornaments" found in some animals has led scientists to rethink a purely utilitarian view of evolution. If these examples of animals making reproductive choices that aren't simply related to simple fitness for survival in an ecological niche, then what the heck is going on? Spoiler Warning: No, it's not because God made them pretty.
That NYT piece and the quokka story also remind us of a sobering New Yorker book review from a few weeks back, about a new reality of science writing: Increasingly, the job of studying nature is about documenting the disappearance of the very organisms and ecosystems that researchers have made their field of study. For scientists (and for journalists covering their work) this raises some worrisome questions about priorities: Since global warming is one of the key factors in the extinctions they're documenting, how do we talk about preserving these species? Are attempts to shore up ecosystems anything more than doomed efforts (yep, it's Titanic deck chairs simile time), or is the value of doing something absolutely necessary as part of the call forfixing the climate mess? Can we even afford hope, when maybe a swift kick to the flight or fight response -- emphasis on fight -- might be more appropriate? Damned if we have an answer, but most climate scientists are increasingly agreeing that action on climate change will have more to do with sociology than with computer models.
Crickets! Crickets Everywhere!
Oops, we got all heavy on you! That's fine -- we're pretty sure our definition of "nice" in this column will often include lots of thinky pieces on stuff that isn't necessarily all puppies and hugs, because thinking beyond a tweet's length about important stuff is part of what makes life good, too, so there.
On t'other hand, there's this hilarious Washington Post piece from a week or so back about what happens when you order a buttload of crickets online to feed your pet lizard. It's one of the best Holy Shit This Went Hilariously Crazy Fast stories we've seen in a long time -- positively Dave Barryesque. If you don't want to use up your free WaPo stories too fast, go see the original Twitter thread. Trigger warning for people freaked out by bugs.
Bonus observation by Nicole Cliffe (who you should also follow on the Twitters):
Short Linkies to things You Might Like!
From the military blog Task & Purpose, a "that really happened!" story about the Army helicopter crew that flew food and medical supplies to Woodstock in 1969. Yes, THAT Woodstock. Groovy!
From WaPo, a brief history of the "Democrat Plantation" trope in rightwing discourse. Yeah, it's not "nice," but it's fascinating.
Bleeding Cool would like you nerds to know there's an ASSLOAD of Doctor Who screenplays (and other BBC goodies) available to download from the Beeb Itself, free for nothing! (Some libertarian will inevitably show up and tell us hard-working British taxpayers PAID for all that wonderfulness, and that is THEFT). Via iO9.
More bleeding! The New Yorker has a cool thinkypiece on blood, by a hematologist.
After Cory Doctorow wrote a blog post about people who've found ways to unlock unclaimed and auctioned electric scooters piling up in impound lots, a lawyer for Bird scooters tried to send a DMCA cease and desist nastygram, demanding the post be taken down. One of Doctorow's many jams is internet openness and railing against misuse of the DMCA, so that didn't go well.
Also, the lawyer for Bird Scooters is named Linda Kwak. Yes, commenters got silly.
Star Wars Tot Is Adorbs
Oh, look, it's a toddler who knows how to milk a lightsaber fight for every last ounce of hamminess. Bravo to dad and tot!
Mark Hamill took notice!
And yes, some smart person added appropriate lightsaber sounds:
Could this tot be the one to restore balance to the web? Check that little guy's midichlorian count!
[Sam Sykes on Twitter / Chuck Wendig on Twitter / Talia Lavin on Twitter / Atlantic / NYT / New Yorker / WaPo / Task & Purpose / WaPo / New Yorker / BoingBoing / Mark Hamill on Twitter / Photo by ruerto42, Creative Commons license 2.0]
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.