Flamewars, 1839 Style

I’ve heard a lot of people say that the need to have arguments in public and win popular support is an unintended consequence of social networking services. I think that things like Twitter and Facebook make it easier and that they vastly expand the reach of an argument, but that we’ve had that urge to have flamewars long before the internet.

Here’s a data point for my thesis: a placard from 1839 that wouldn’t seem out of place on any online debate, aside from the dated language.

"TO THE PUBLIC: The object of this placard is to inform the Public that Gen. Leigh Read has declined giving me an apology for the insult offered me at St. Mark, on the 5th inst. That he has also refused to me that satisfaction, which as an honorable man, (refusing to apologise,) he was bound to give. I therefore pronounce him a Coward and a Scoundrel. -- WILLIAM TRADEWELL, Tallahassee, Oct. 26, 1839."

This article also appears in Global Nerdy.


Scooby-Doo and the Mystery of the Tea Party Ghost

Given that the United States’ health care reform bill has passed, I thought it would be a good time to share this great “Scooby-Doo” parody created by Terrence Nowicki:

Comic: The Mystery of the Tea Party Ghost

Nowicki even included a bonus comic:

Next time: Scooby and the gang unmask Glenn Beck. "He's not really a journalist!"

Accordion, Instrument of the Gods It Happened to Me Music

Las Vegas Travel Diary: Playing Accordion at Cabo Wabo

Once upon a time, the great Van Halen were known for producing some really fun rock and roll. As far as I’m concerned, they haven’t been the same band since David Lee Roth left and Sammy Hagar took over as lead vocalist, and since Eddie Van Halen’s transformation from gifted guitarist and synth player into incoherent alcoholic with a penchant for Smoking Loon wine (which is pretty decent, if consumed in moderation).

Joey deVilla playing accordion with Dayna from 3 Digit IQ at Cabo Wabo Vegas

These days, the Van Halen guys are probably better known for their food-related side projects. Michael Anthony has a line of hot sauces and Sammy Hagar has a couple of nightclub/restaurants bearing the name Cabo Wabo, the newest one of which opened in Las Vegas in November.

Joey deVilla playing accordion with Dayna from 3 Digit IQ at Cabo Wabo Vegas

While in Vegas last week to attend the MIX10 conference, my coworkers and I dropped last Sunday to get some food and tequila:

Jamie Wakeam, Paul Laberga and Mark Arteaga

We ended up catching (and joining) the band 3 Digit IQ, who do a weekly live karaoke night there.

Joey deVilla playing accordion with Dayna from 3 Digit IQ at Cabo Wabo Vegas

Naturally, I had my accordion with me, and you’ve probably already guessed what happened.

Joey deVilla playing accordion with Dayna from 3 Digit IQ at Cabo Wabo Vegas

The video at the top of this article shows me doing a couple of numbers with them – I Wanna Be Sedated by the Ramones and Ritchie Valens’ hit, La Bamba – and the photos show some of the fun we had.

Joey deVilla playing accordion with Dayna and Jason from 3 Digit IQ at Cabo Wabo Vegas

I wasn’t the only one with an accordion; their keyboard player, Botielus, had his accordion with him, and we had a great time jamming.

Joey deVilla playing accordion with Jason and Botielus from 3 Digit IQ at Cabo Wabo Vegas

We stayed a bit longer than we’d planned to because people who join the band get free tequila (Sammy Hagar’s own brand, Cabo Wabo, which is pretty smooth stuff). Apparently people who bring accordions get free tequila for their whole table, and well, the night gets a little bit fuzzy from there. Rest assured, the local constabulary did not get involved.

Joey deVilla playing accordion with Dayna, Jason and Botielus from 3 Digit IQ at Cabo Wabo Vegas

My thanks to 3 Digit IQ and Cabo Wabo for the fun!

It Happened to Me Play

Las Vegas Travel Diary: St. Patrick’s Day Drink Specials

In honour of St. Patrick’s Day and to keep the ordering process simple, just about every bar in Vegas had this sign posted outside, offering these Irish-themed drinks specials:

St. Patricks Day Drink Specials: Guinness $3, Jameson Irish Whiskey $2, Bud/Bud Light $2

To be fair, the Bud and Bud Light came in festive green bottles.

It Happened to Me Play

Las Vegas Travel Diary: What Happens in Vegas Gets Automatically Recycled for You in Vegas

Take a look at this sign, located right by Mandalay Bay’s elevators:

We'll do the recycling for you. Your conscience has more exciting things to worry about. The contents of all trash recptacles on the property are sorted for recycling. feel free to deposit recyclables everywhere.

That’s right: rather than having to figure out which of your garbage goes into separate bins marked “paper”, “plastic”, “organics” and “trash”, you simply use the trash cans on Mandalay Bay property. Someone else will riffle through the mountain of trash and do the separating for you, leaving you free to do more Vegas-y things, such as recreate the events from The Hangover.

I’m glad I don’t have that job.

It Happened to Me

Las Vegas Travel Diary: Everything You Need for a Visit to Vegas

This vending machine in the men’s room in Accordion City’s Pearson Airport dispenses everything you need for the perfect weekend in Las Vegas:

"Travel store" vending machine featuring: Tylenol, condoms, Ice Drops breath mints and Body Play tattoos.

The offerings from the vending machine are outdone by the goodies awaiting guests of the Mandalay Bay hotel, where I’m staying. Miniature Snickers bars trump breath mints every time!

Cocktail shaker, can of Snickers miniatures, can of M&Ms, can of sour cream and chives Pringles, can of original Pringles, 3 boxes of assorted nuts, "The Love Box" and "The Travel Box"

Being the rather – ahem – “earthy” person that I am, I had to inspect “The Love Box”. Its contents are listed on the back of the box, which I photographed and posted below:

"Contents: two lubricated prophylactics, two personal lubricants, two obstectrical towelettes, two oral fixation mint packers, one massage oil, one feminine fresh wipe"

Is it me, or does the list of contents sound a bit…clinical?

It Happened to Me Play

Las Vegas Travel Diary: The Gun Store!

It’s still here after all these years – the ad for The Gun Store, which greets you at the baggage carousels at Las Vegas’ McCarran airport. It’s far more memorable than a mere “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign:

Sign: "Try One! Shoot a real machinegun! MP5, Uzi, Thompson, MP40, AK-47, Sten, M16, Greasegun, M249 SAW. The Gun Store"