Dear «Company XYZ»:
When I visit your web site,
- I do not want music or voices to start coming out of my computer speakers, especially if what I’m there for is to check my bank balance.
- I do not want to wait the extra 7.2 seconds it takes for your WAAAY TEH K001 Flash Intro to download. Neither do I want to wait the additional 2.6 seconds it takes my browser to load the Flash plugin and start playing said WTKF intro. Especially if what I’m there or is to check my bank balance.
- In fact, if what I’m there for is to check my bank balance, all I really want to see is
- an appropriate level of security in your authentication mechanism, and
- my frickin’ bank balance
- If, on the other hand, I am at your web site to order a particular book (You remember those heavy, paper things? Yeah, one of those.), all I really want to see is,
- a small number of forms to fill out and pages to click through before I find the book;
- an appropriate level of security when you collect my credit card number; and
- a link to come back to when I get worried that my book hasn’t arrived yet.
- I do not particularly care (most days) what others who viewed my search results ended up buying, nor which consumer electronics and lingerie were of interest to people who bought the book I just bought. I came to buy a book, not a frickin’ sateen iPod sleeve.
The remainder of the rant is left as an exercise for the reader.
That will be all.
“On a Sunday in midsummer, George W. Bush accompanied Karl Rove to the Episcopalian Church Rove sometimes attended,” writes [Paul Alexander, in Machiavelli’s Shadow: The Rise and Fall of Karl Rove]:. “They made their way to the front of the congregation. Then, during their time in the church, Bush gave Rove some stunning news. ‘Karl,’ Bush said, â€˜thereâ€™s too much heat on you. Itâ€™s time for you to go.’”
We’re reminded by the nice folks at Vanity Fair (How the Web Was Won) that, among other Internet-related notable anniversaries, this year marks the 15th year since the Mosaic browser made its appearance.
Not coincidentally, this summer also marks the 14th summer since we first discovered the Web. (It took a year for the Windows port to reach us here in River City.) Anybody who has anything to do with Web work probably has a story about their First Time, and there’s nothing especially remarkable about ours. But it is a fond memory, and we’re finding that we’ve reached an age group whose members do like our little reminiscences.
The local independent bookseller (now long since absorbed by Borders, sadly) was running a sale on a funny thing called Internet in a Box, which turned out to be a relatively inexpensive way to get Mosaic and a workable TCP/IP stack on one’s Windows 3.1 box, and to get hooked up with an ISP. (This was also back in the good old days when disk compression software let you expand your available hard drive space by almost a factor of 2—Oh! the fun we had with those extra 40 megs!)
So, we bought the Box, loaded the browser and the stack, signed up with the local ISP (which hasn’t, remarkably, been absorbed by anybody—still local, still independent, and still our bandwidth supplier of choice) for a dial-up connection, and revved it all up.
Can’t remember where we started our browsing adventure, nor how it was that we got to an Australian academic site. What sticks in the memory is the mind-blowing (at the time) realization that this document, this “paper” that was slowly downloading and rendering on our little Windows machine in our tiny attic apartment—that this was a document that by rights “lived” in Australia, on the other side of the world. And there it was, appearing right before our eyes.
Of course, it wasn’t too long before we found our way to other wonders—the Cambridge Coffee Pot is especially memorable—but it was that first realization that this Web thing could teleport information from the other side of the Earth, on demand that drew us into a technological love affair that hasn’t ever ended.
drbonzo puts on quavering old-man voice
I remember my freshman year in college, when I somehow managed to get into the â€œadvancedâ€? physics section that was separate from the â€œregularâ€? class albeit for just the first semester.
One of our very favoritest classmates was a weasley little man (reminiscent of â€œCleverâ€? Hans von Spakovsky, come to think of it) who was extra full-of-himself and quite impressed with having been labeled â€œadvanced.â€?
In the last class of the Fall semester, Andrew (for that was his name) said, in his best, whiniest Clever Hans voice, â€œOh, thatâ€™s right. Next semester weâ€™ll be in class with them.â€?
And the professor, bless his heart, looked Andrew in the eye and said, â€œBut Andrew, you are â€˜themâ€™.â€?
All the twittering going on today, here and elsewhere in the â€™sphere, reminds me of poor Andrew. Whether youâ€™re an Obama-ite who wishes the Clintonistas would just â€˜get over it,â€™ or an Obamamaniac dreading the likely influx of Clinton staffers into the GE campaign (â€?Icky! Icky!â€?), or a disappointed Clinton supporter who knows in your heart that the Wrong Candidate Won, or whatever â€¦
The fact is, we all here are â€˜themâ€™ â€” bright, passionate people who know that any one of the Democrats who started out this primary would be better than McCainâ€™s promise to continue the Bushist train-wreck for another four years. Itâ€™s not about you, itâ€™s not about me, itâ€™s not about Barack or Hill or any one person. Itâ€™s about taking back our country from the thugs whoâ€™ve hijacked it over the past eight years.
So câ€™mon, folks â€” letâ€™s get lined up to kick some serious ass in the General. Our country needs us.
We’ve decided it’s time to end our more-than-year-long radio silence. Why? No particular reason, although there are a few events things within the sphere of our attention today that bear noting.
- The long national struggle that was the Demo. primary season is over. More in just a few minutes on that note.
- Vanity Fair proves that it’s still relevant. Of course, we’ve known that ever since we got turned on to James Wolcott, but this delicious oral history of the invention of the Internet proves the point. Can it really be 15 years since Mosaic hit the scene? Yes, it can. More on that in a couple of minutes, too.
At long last, we’ve discovered one tiny thread of resemblance between ourselves (Dr. Bonzo) and the character of Neo in The Matrix:
Trinity: My name’s Trinity.
Neo: The Trinity? Who cracked the IRS d-base?
Trinity: That was a long time ago.
Neo: Jesus …
Neo: I just thought … you were a guy.
Trinity: Most guys do.
Just in case our Gentle Reader was wondering: no, Dr. Bonzo does not know kung-fu.
Much ado has, appropriately, been made of GSA head Lurita Doan’s defense of a particular statement she had made that, she claimed, was a confusion about “tense”—she had been using (she said) the “hortatory subjunctive,” rather than making a declarative statement of intention.
Now, our expertise lies in the condemnation of heretics, not in grammar. Nevertheless, this “defense” of Doan’s is at once so laughable and so wrong on so many levels that we cannot restrain ourselves from comment.
First, the “hortatory subjunctive” is a mood, not a tense. Wikipedia will tell you more than we can about what tense, mood and aspect are all about, but we can say with certainty that a mood is not a tense. And we can also agree wholeheartedly with Rep. Sarbanes, who insisted (during his questioning of Doan) that the statement in question was not an exhortation (cohortative or hortatory mood) but was, plainly and simply, a declarative statement in the future indicative.
What baffles us—aside from the whole display of utter incompetence and disregard for, well, anything worth regarding—is this puzzle: what on Earth did Lurita Doan think she would gain by tossing around five-dollar grammatical terms like “hortatory subjunctive?” Did she think it would be a good idea to make her questioners (you know, the Congress-critters who are supposed to provide her with “oversight”) feel dumb or something? Quoth Chairman Waxman, “You’ve already told us that that future tense sentence didn’t mean it because you didn’t know future tense or, you know, something about a hortatory something or other. God, I feel like Tony Soprano.”
Not, we think, the feeling one wants to inspire in the man who’s shortly going to be telling you that you’d resign if you were smart—on national TV.
“Almira Gulch … For twenty-three years I’ve been dying to tell you what I thought of you! And now… well, being a Christian woman, I can’t say it!”