trollI’m closing the comments but reserving the right to re-open them at a later date.

The comments you don’t ever see because I don’t even approve them aren’t constructive, useful, or worth the time I spend reading them.

I have a lot of funny, smart, insightful readers. They tell me they rarely comment because they fear the trolls. That makes me sad.

This blog is mostly a sketchpad for popular culture musings, outbursts about squirrels, and observations on the small absurdities of life. I rarely blog about my research on online communications, but I have to mention that I’m fascinated by the arguments trolls make for their behavior.

A perpetual favorite of mine is the nostalgic re-appropriation of American West mythology into a “Ye Olde Internet as Frontier” argument – a popular argument for maintaining the status quo in many domains, to be sure, but even more ridiculous, in my opinion, when applied to blogging.

“Our communication style (read: swarming schoolyard bullying) used to be the norm when the Internet was like the Wild West (read: people who had the privilege/financial ability to be online had a megaphone and majority for shouting down minority groups online) but now it’s all puppies and rainbows online (read: people call them on their shit) and we’re the only ones still speaking Truth.”

Simply because there are people pushing back against you now doesn’t make you a persecuted minority.

“I got away with it then, I should get away with it now!” is a poor justification for being a jackass. Anywhere. Full stop.

And, to be clear, adopting these tactics to troll trolls is, in my opinion, a bad practice.

Communications research is increasingly bearing out the hypothesis that trolling commenters are becoming bolder, more aggressive, and that their presence affects the ability of other readers to critically evaluate the information they read.

Curious about this? Here’s a fascinating study to get you started, from the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication: “The “Nasty Effect:” Online Incivility and Risk Perceptions of Emerging Technologies” (Ashley A. Anderson, Dominique Brossard, Dietram A. Scheufele, Michael A. Xenos, and Peter Ladwig. Article first published online: 19 FEB 2013 DOI: 10.1111/jcc4.12009).

My decision to cut off the comments is based on the less high-minded fact that I just don’t have the energy or patience to wade through all of the misogyny, creationism, and anti-science hysteria to decide what to approve and what to moderate.

You can still reach me on twitter, and I hope this change doesn’t end up being permanent, but for now that’s just the way it’s got to be.

Have you watched the Cinefix Homemade Movies of the the Death Star Trench Run scene from Star Wars: Episode IV? Trust me, even if you think this idea is dumb, stick with it until about the 2nd minute and the genius of it will slowly be revealed to you.

[embedded video: Homemade Star Wars

If you want to really nerd out, there’s a side-by-side comparison available:

[embedded video: Homemade Star Wars side-by-side comparison]

Via laughing squid.

Earlier today, curator of cool Todd Mason sent a link to the horror list for Richard Littler’s Scarfolk Council, a brilliant, disturbing, hysterically funny blog concerning a fictional town in the UK.

Scarfolk is a town in North West England that did not progress beyond 1979. Instead, the entire decade of the 1970s loops ad infinitum. Here in Scarfolk, pagan rituals blend seamlessly with science; hauntology is a compulsory subject at school, and everyone must be in bed by 8pm because they are perpetually running a slight fever. “Visit Scarfolk today. Our number one priority is keeping rabies at bay.” For more information please reread.

It’s apparently quite the cultural phenom but I’ve been living under a rock lately and was unaware of it.

I don’t know if it would have more or less resonance for me if I’d seen it prior to becoming lodged in JunglePete’s childhood memories circa the late 1970s. (I didn’t actually meet JunglePete until we started going to school together in 1982). The last few weeks have started to feel like an elaborate prank. Or an episode of Fringe.

There was that incident with the Siamong in the Wendy’s restaurant I told you about earlier in the week. Then, yesterday, I had a random conversation with a visitor while at my volunteer gig. Although it’s a public place, I don’t feel comfortable repeating conversations I have with visitors so I’m omitting most of the details, but you’ll get the gist from the post I’m lazily copying from my facebook update:

I don’t share much personal info w the public when volunteering in the forensic anthropology lab. Yesterday a retiree from Venice, FL visited & I said I was also from Sarasota. Then I took out an osteomyelitic tibia, like one does. The rest of our lengthy conversation can be summarized as (osteology)(bio archaeology)(osteology)(osteology)(my daughter dated a fellow who lived on a monkey preserve)(osteology)(bio archaeology)(osteology). I said nothing at the time, but when I got home I verified that I am, in fact, trapped in Jungle Pete Corradino’s childhood memories. Please send help. And bananas.

I didn’t offer up that I knew someone who lived in a monkey sanctuary. I don’t know if the story is true or not, although when I asked JunglePete about it he told me some vague story about knowing the family in question that took place in the late 1970s, which is good enough for me.

If you don’t have much patience or don’t understand why poking around the Scarfolk site is so entertaining, I just found a post by David Barnett, who wrote a rather lengthy summary review for with some great examples of the images on the site. Barnett concludes:

Scarfolk is a triumph of psychogeography and pretty much what the internet was invented for, as far as I’m concerned. Go visit, by all means, but don’t say you haven’t been warned. And when—if—you leave Scarfolk, I guarantee that there are certain things you won’t look at in the same way ever again. For example… are those children looking at you in a bit of a weird way right now..?

Now, if you’ll pardon me, I need to go finish a conference paper abstract so I can delve back into the Scarfolk archives.

Home again after the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference, which was a 4 day whirlwind. Think I’m kidding about the whirlwind part? Here’s the pdf of the schedule – it’s 501 pages long.

(The conference is actually going on until 9:45 tonight but we attended 3 panels between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. and then our brains melted. Well, I can’t speak for Husband, but I can assure you mine did. While I’m writing this, I’m watching Project Runway and I’m having trouble following the plot. Yikes).

My conference paper on the TV show Supernatural was well-received and everyone else on the panel was fascinating so I was in great company:

horror (text, media, culture): television and New Media horror

“Translating tradition: domesticating seasonal horror through television.”
Derek Johnston (panel chair)

“Beyond salt and fire: the agency of human remains in the Supernatural Universe.”
Rebecca Stone Gordon

“Control is Being taken away from You”, Marble hornets and transmedia horror.
Ralph Beliveau and Amanda Kehrberg

I should probably edit the draft of my first TED DeExtinction post so I can get that online tomorrow. I intended to post about that last week and so it concludes with the delusional statement that I’d blog from the PCAACA conference. We can see how well that worked out.

When we got Windows 95 (probably sometime in 1998), it took our admins about 30 seconds to see the true purpose of the system alerts. The first one I got read, “Report to the roof immediately, await further instructions.” It took some people longer than others to catch on that not all windows alerts were created equally.

Some of my former co-workers may still be up on the roof, actually. Someone should probably check into that…

This morning on facebook, a friend posted this AV Club post about a tumblr devoted to the Lovecraftian horror of Windows 95:

If you’re old enough—and Lord, does it make us sad that this is now something you can remember if you’re “old enough,” like there are now, “You know you’re a child of the ‘90s if…” e-mail forwards—then you remember that great, shimmering bastard of an operating system, Windows 95.

Posted about their post? There must be a less awkward way to say that.

The rest of their description is funny so you should visit the AV Club before you mosey over to tumblr to relive Windows 95 Tips, Tricks and Tweaks, and possibly open a gateway to another dimension.