CSotD: Re-inventing the Internet

Not to single out Benjamin Slyngstad in particular. He’s just one of a whole lot of cartoonists and late night hosts who have decided that Joe Biden should not be president because he said “Malarkey.”

And, however he means it, what he says here is probably true.

We may be reaching the “Al Gore is a Liar” stage of the Biden campaign.

Al Gore was branded a liar for claiming to have invented the Internet, discovered the pollution of Love Canal and served as a character model for Erich Segal’s best-selling “Love Story.”

Whatever policies he had in mind took a back seat to hilarious gags about what a crazy, ridiculous liar he was.

As you may recall — though a whole lot of people don’t — he hadn’t claimed to have “invented the Internet.” He said he had helped bring about the legislation that allowed it to happen.

Which was true.

And he didn’t claim to have discovered Love Canal, though he did say he was among the early champions of cleaning it up.

Which was also true.

And Erich Segal said that, while Oliver Barrett was mostly based on Gore’s roommate, Tommy Lee Jones, Gore himself was part of the character, too.

So that was more of a mix-up than a lie.

However, Jay Leno couldn’t get boffo laughs from jokes about mix-ups and press errors and misunderstandings, so Al Gore became a punchline for jokes about liars.

How many votes did those jokes cost Gore? Who knows?

But enough that we ended up counting hanging chads in Florida.

And dead bodies in Iraq.


Anyway, as Paul Fell suggests, some people use a less polite word for nonsense, and we expect a candidate’s opponents to throw that stuff around.

The real malarkey in all this is the notion that voters see past the jokes and cheap shots and analyze a politician’s policy proposals.

You can’t see what isn’t being covered, and, besides, we all like a good laugh.

And then cartoonists and late-night comedians got a whole second set of jokes over that hilarious “counting chads” thingie.


Which brings us to this related

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Mike Luckovich)


(Pat Bagley)

When motion pictures were invented, President Wilson eagerly proclaimed that they would be a great medium for teaching history.

The movie that so thrilled him was “Birth of a Nation.”

And when Al Gore invented the Internet, it was seen as a means for people to be able to gather information and discover facts for themselves.

And then Facebook happened.

At least Woodrow Wilson wanted a racist view of history to be taught.

Zuckerberg doesn’t seem to care what sorts of distortions and malarkey/bullshit (your choice) are being spread on his money machine, particularly if the spreaders pay him for the privilege.

His pose as a neutral figure in all this would be more convincing if he hadn’t had a super secret dinner at the White House which he refuses to discuss.

CBS had good coverage, to the extent that Zuckerberg would admit he was even in the room:

(Gayle) King pointed out some people would say “the optics weren’t good,” adding, “Did he try to lobby you in any way?”

“No. I mean, I don’t think that that’s– that– I think some of the stuff that people talk about or think gets discussed and these discussions are not really how– how that works… I also want to respect that it was a private dinner and… private discussion,” Zuckerberg said.

He genuinely doesn’t get it.

You can either be head of Facebook and pal around with politicians or you can have private discussions.

You can either eat dinner with the president or you can have private dinners.

I once interviewed Hal Kennedy, the long-time anchor of KKTV’s local news, and he said he mostly enjoyed being well-known and having people come up to him in public, but it had its drawbacks.

He told me he’d recently been swapping out his old water heater and, halfway through the project, realized he needed a part.

It meant, he said, that he had to wash up and change his clothes, because, if he went to the hardware store the way he was, someone would say, “I saw Hal Kennedy the other day, and he’d been drinking.”

That’s how celebrity works, Zuck.

If you want to be a private citizen, give it all away and go live in a cabin on a mountain somewhere.

Granted, you’re a geek. But you’re a very rich geek who made his pile by inventing a platform on which people could spread malarkey.

You can afford to buy a clue.

Or perhaps you’ll understand our response to your “private dinner” with the president better if we put it in meme form:


Special Holiday Juxtaposition

(Dave Granlund)


(Between Friends)

So, apparently, there’s a shortage of Christmas trees, which has driven up prices.

It’s Jay Leno’s fault.

If he hadn’t turned Al Gore into a laughingstock, Dick Cheney would never have become Acting President and crashed the economy such that, back in 2008, tree farmers couldn’t afford to plant trees and a decade later, we have this shortage.

If I lived in the city, I’d have an artificial tree, though not with music, thanks.

Half the joy of a tree is in cutting it yourself. The other half is in putting it in your livingroom before it dries out, drops needles and becomes a fire hazard like those net-wrapped, long-haul city trees.

Then, when the holidays end, you drag it into the woods behind the house and it becomes a hiding place for birds until it just becomes part of the forest floor.

As opposed to leaving it out on the curb for the city to deal with.

Though maybe I’ll write a book about a magic pelletizing plant that springs up every January and turns all the Christmas trees in the city into wood pellets, then disappears again like Brigadoon.

Yeah, I know.

But these would be magical wood pellets.

This is the only holiday pollution I worry about.


5 thoughts on “CSotD: Re-inventing the Internet

  1. Speaking of Malarkey, who else remembers Walt Kelly’s Simple J. Malarkey, his sendup of Joseph McCarthy? His best performance was when Kelly cast him as the King of Hearts in the trial from Alice in Wonderland.

  2. It occurs to me that, before the Internet fragmented us all into tiny groups, we were much more culturally literate, not only knowing phrases like (Simple J) Malarkey, but learning, from Mad Magazine and the standup comedians on Ed Sullivan, a lot of Yiddish.

    Aside from whether or not we respected — much less “revered” — our elders, we were just a whole lot more universal in our worldview back when we gathered at the video hearth in the evening.

    You can’t turn back the clock, but you don’t have to be so damn proud of your provincialism and ignorance, consarn it all.

  3. I used to get an eyeful of the latest fake tree technology whenever I walked through Hested’s Department Store. Some years they were green. Other years, white and silver predominated, with a spotlight that shone through colored gels to put a lightly queasy tone over it. One year, they were self-snowing fake trees, which blew little styro pellets into the air over themselves so they would fall and tumble through the branches, and then the majority would land in a large cone at the bottom, as if the vet was trying to keep the tree from chewing on its stand.

    The corridor by the self-snowing trees was littered with the little pellets, which must have eventually all escaped by being part of the small percentage that missed the cone each time around.

    I have two fake trees. After a couple of years of stringing lights on the first one, I went ahead and splurged on one with its own lights wired to the fake branches. I got both of them cheap by working at the place that sold them. Last year I didn’t even bring the tree down from the attic. This year, I’m using my energy to practice holiday tunes on the piano, in anticipation of a paying gig next week.

  4. FYI, more modern interpretations of “Birth of a Nation” note that the Wilson fandom story is as much myth as reality. The whole “he loved it” story was created by the film’s author, not by the eyewitnesses, who said he left without saying a word.
    – It was not the first film shown at the White House and it certainly was not the first film Wilson ever saw!
    – It wasn’t shown at the White House to honor the film, but because the family was in mourning and could not go to the theater.
    – The major film endorsements came from the showing to Congress and the Supreme Court afterwards at the Press Club
    – and while the film quoted Wilson in the title cards, they did not quote his(mild) denunciation of the Klan that was in the same book.

    Of course Wilson was racist. But he was well within the mainstream of the time. Teddy Roosevelt’s comments on race were as bad and often worse. The awful thing is that Wilson’s racism was within the mainstream because the mainstream was really, really awful.


  5. “Aside from whether or not we respected — much less “revered” — our elders, we were just a whole lot more universal in our worldview back when we gathered at the video hearth in the evening.”

    We didn’t have any choice, there was only one set. Programs had to appeal to a wide spectrum, unlike today’s narrowcasting. Variety shows like Ed Sullivan and Red Skelton booked rock performers despite the ill fit.

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