Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Hey! When did Cracked become good?
A whole lot of the people still reading this are saying, “Of course I'm depressed! People are starving! America has turned into Nazi Germany! My parents watch retarded television shows and talk about them for hours afterward! People are dying in meaningless wars all over the world!”
But how did we wind up with a more negative view of the world than our parents? Or grandparents? Back then, people didn't live as long and babies died more often. Diseases were more common. In those days, if your buddy moved away the only way to communicate was with pen and paper and a stamp. We have Iraq, but our parents had Vietnam (which killed 50 times more people) and their parents had World War 2 (which killed 1,000 times as many). Some of your grandparents grew up at a time when nobody had air conditioning. All of their parents grew up without it.
We are physically better off today in every possible way in which such things can be measured … but you sure as hell wouldn't know that if you're getting your news online. Why?
Via Shadesong, 7 Reasons the 21st Century is Making You Miserable
Growing up, Mad Magazine was the humor comic to read (heck, my Dad got me a subscription to it, much to the consternation of Mom), whereas Cracked was the sad, second rate ripoff of Mad Magazine (so sad and second rate that I think I only picked up a single issue).
How odd it is, then that the Mad Magazine website is the sad, second rate ripoff of the Cracked website, as this Cracked article attests—a well written, funny and yet informative article on why we're so miserable when by rights, we shouldn't be.
Tom Baker. My first exposure to Dr. Who was via PBS in the early 80s and at the time, the Doctor was all curly hair, teeth, jelly babies and a very long scarf. And that voice. It's hard to forget that voice. Kind of an English James Earl Jones type voice. Very distinctive. And because he was my first Doctor, he's still my favorite Doctor. It also didn't hurt things that several of his best shows where written by a fellow named Douglas Adams.
Douglas Adams. His most famous work was The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a unique story that has the virtue of being a radio play, a series of books, a television series, a stage play, two musicals, a computer game and a movie, all of them very different but at the same time, the same thing. Remarkable really. By the late 80s/early 90s, he had an interest in some of the odder aspects of computer science—basically fractals (there's a whole subplot in his book Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency about fractal patterns) and interactive fiction (he wrote a few text-based adventure games). So it was natural that he heard of Ted Nelson.
Ted Nelson. Creator of the oldest vaporware product in history—fourty-seven years and still just “six months away.” I am, of course, talking about his hypertext system called Xanadu, which the World Wide Web is just a mere pale shadow of Xanadu's capabilities, which is he quick to point out.
But there was a time, in the early 90s, when all three appeared in Hyperland (link via Jason Scott), a documentary about the capabilities of hypertext. Well worth viewing if you are a fan of Douglas Adams, Tom Baker or Ted Nelson (or all three, like I am).