Web Hostess Live: The latest from the Web

Mar 14, 2013

A weekly chat about the best ways to kill time online. Our Web Hostess, Monica Hesse, sifts the Internet so you don't have to, searching for meaning, manners and the next great meme.

Afternoon, everyone, and thanks for stopping by for our second Thursday chat. (In a few weeks, I promise, I shall finally stop remarking on the fact that we now chat on Thursdays). We'll start at 2 p.m; here are some things to munch on in the meantime:

 

The man who shot Mitt Romney's infamous 47% video and uploaded it on YouTube has finally come forward, as a bartender named Scott Prouty. I'm fascinated that a man who tried so hard to be anonymous has now suddenly decided not to be.

Also: Google announced that it would be retiring Google Reader on July 1.

This is infinitely sad news. Google Reader was a brilliant and simple curator in an era of total madness. Or, as my favorite Tweet on the subject read: "Google Reader is to Twitter as a well-labeled filing cabinet is to a bag of insane cats."

I live in the SF Bay Area; recently, two Santa Cruz cops were killed on duty. The circumstances of their deaths is not germane to my question. On the day of their funerals, many local news stations (and others) were tweeting and blogging every few minutes with updates such as "the procession is driving past X right now" or "Y's widow has just gotten up to speak." This feels very creepy. It also feels odd when those tweets are sandwiched between completely unrelated (and less somber/serious) items in my feed. Not to mention -- I fail to see the journalistic(?) value in tracking every 1/4 mile of a motorcade or reporting on people crying like that alone has news value.

This seems to be both:

A) Completely insensitive to the family members of the police officers and

 

B) Wholly unnecessary. Last week we got into a discussion about the use of technology in classrooms, and the difference between using social media effectively and using it for the sake of using it. This seems to be a prime example of the latter, played out in a journalistic setting. If the tweeting wasn't disrespectful, it was at the very least boring and pointless.

 

But I can't wait to hear what you all think.

I am rarely a squeaky wheel in real life and this is a challenge to do even in the anonymity of the internet: I submitted the question last week about Mommyish that you posted at the end and just wanted to see if anyone came today with suggestions. Here is the original request for your convenience, and thanks again: "I've been visiting Mommyish.com for a daily reading fix in the intersection of current events, childrearing, and family trends. I find myself wishing Mommyish had less celebrity gossip and more reflective/less self-indulgent bloggers. Can anyone point me toward some other options? Not looking for online community, just reading."

I'll repost this again to see if any ideas emerge (None did last week, but I shut the chat down pretty quickly after posting that request). The parenting blog universe isn't a place I spend a lot of time. That being said, I used visit Babble.com not infrequently, because I thought it did a nice job with well-written essays on family matters. Now that it's been purchased by Disney, it seems to have lost the edge that used to be its most appealing featurs.

Monica - I had fun yesterday following the papal announcement on twitter - the tweets were so breathless leading up to the pope walking out on the balcony. What I found amazing, though (and maybe I sound like my mother right now), is that within maybe 2 minutes of the pope being revealed, the former cardinal's wikipedia page was fully updated with his new pope name and the fact that he had been elected pope. And, if you have not seen Tom Lehrer singing the Vatican Rag, please do so now. You're welcome.

No, it is amazing! After Jorge Bergoglio had been announced as the new pope from the Rome balcony, I immediately began refreshing his Wikipedia page to see updates on his bio, and whether he'd chosen a papal name. (The crowd noise being what it was, it was difficult to hear much on the television). I watched as someone falsely declared that his chosen name was Francesco on Wikipedia, and then, within a minute, corrected it to Francis.

So it seems like everyone is angry, sad, aghast, over the upcoming demise of Google Reader. I just saw that Iranians count on it to avoid censorship. They have to reconsider, right? Heck, we have Felicia Day on our side. The power of the interwebs needs to get this changed!

To be fair: Any new technology decision is universally hated when its first announced. Its our nature to be reticent. I do not, however, seen Google backing down to the wailing will of the people. That is not their way.

Tonight's dinner is pizza (get it? pizza pie? pi day? anyway...). Google Reader. Now what am I and the 100+ blogs I follow supposed to do? Any suggestions on a replacement?

The Mashable article that I linked to included some suggested replacements at the bottom. Each with the caveat of "Not nearly as elegant as Google Reader."

CT WorkingMoms.com may be an idea. Although based in Connecticut, it pertains to all places and has several blog posts a day about parents trends, problems, funny things, etc.. It may not have as many current events as you'd like but does have reflective posts.

Posting.

Although carefully following directions on a Bisquick package, the result was a right mess. Later I visit Google Images and type "bad biscuits". The result: naked people, of course. So this means there is a connection between biscuits and Spencer Tunick?

Entirely unclear. Many results come up when one Googles "Biscuits" and "Spencer Tunick," but unfortunately nothing conclusive.

because it's the only Google app I use every single day. If it ain't broke, why fix it? Or, in this case, throw it out entirely. I've now switched over to Newsblur, which has promised a seamless transition, but thus far I've tried at least six times to import my Reader data and have gotten errors - and this was after ponying up for a one-year paid subscription. I figure they're just overloaded with people like me who went all panicky at the thought of my shiny RSS going away, but still. Sigh.

Please keep trying and report back to us next week. We must all find a successful migration before July 1.

Have you read the book yet?

I have. In fact, I am interviewing her this afternoon at DC's Facebook headquarters, and then attending the public talk she's giving downtown. (Have you read the book? What would you like me to ask?)

Hi! Did anyone besides me, the OP, email you about helping me out with my STEM app project? I'm in the "solicit questions from small children" portion of things, and could use anyone with nosy kids. Thanks!

TONS of people emailed. I've just been swamped and too busy to collate them together, especially as we recently migrated to a new email system that disrupted my Process. But at least a dozen brillian women all emailed me, and I shall forward them on to you by the end of the week.

Happy Pi Day! Please, do let's take a moment to enjoy the delicious irrationality of the number and of the world we live in.

A smart friend on Twitter points out that the true Pi day occured some 400 years ago in 1592. But we shant get too caught up in the past.

A friend has been saying increasingly erratic things that lead me to no longer want to be friends with her. I don't think her husband knows about this behavior, and I'm pretty sure he'd be aghast if he knew the things she was saying. I'm thinking of sending him an anonymous email. Should I?

I...cannot imagine why you would. Unless the things you think he would find appalling are along the lines of, "I fantasize about smothering my husband in his sleep," anonymous emails rarely make anyone look more crazy than the person sending them. What would you hope to accomplish?

1. I have never used Google Reader. Does it just consolidate things for you? I feel like I've been to the ends of the Internet and back with my apparent horse-and-carriage surfing; I'd probably have been fired by now if I ever figured Reader out. 2. 3/14/15 9:26:53 <-- I'm already dreading my Facebook feed.

1) Yes. You can set it to send you only articles on certain topics or whatnot. Immensely helpful if you are doing something like, say, maniacly chronicling information on the new Enders Game movie, which some of us on this chat may or may not be doing.

 

2) My god, you are right. This day will live in infamy.

But his name is Francesco in Italian and Francisco in Spanish.

Ahh, got it. Then, a question: If the Pope's natural language is Spanish, and if he will be conducing business in Italian, then should we not all of us call him Francesco or Francisco?

 

It's like how we call Germany "Germany," which I have also never understood. The Germans call it Deutschland. Shouldn't we let countries decide what to be called?

On Alex Petri's blog, I suggested that we celebrate 1/2 as Half Day. Everyone who is still hung over from 12/31 will appreciate having a half day. How can we get that going, petition the White House, Kickstarter?

I think Change.org is the appropriate venue for this brilliant idea, which I would fully support. Now, lets get down to brass tax. Should the half day start late or end early?

This is probably so obvious it is almost insulting for me to suggest it to you, but I would like to find out how she feels about the crazy way that ANY book about being a professional woman is held to the ipossible standard of being applicable to all women. In other words when she writes a book as a very successful woman who is an Ivy league graduate, she is pillored for her advice not being practical for someone working 2 minimum wage jobs to get by. Of course it isn't! And when a male CEO writes a book it wouldn't be that way either but no one says "Lee Iacocca didn't address the needs of a man who didn't graduate high school." It seems like most of that criticism comes from other women too, which is just disheartening. Don't eat your own!

Someone else pointed this out this morning, only they used Donald Trump instead of Lee Iacocca. Lee Iacocca is obviously a better example, since one could argue that Donald Trump isn't addressing any sane person's needs.

 

Actually, only some of the criticism that I've seen has been the elitist charge. The rest have been people who say that Sandberg is blaming women for not helping themselves, rather than blaming the system for being impossible. She says that's not at all what she's doing, but some have read the book that way.

never heard of it before the question, but just glanced at it. Maybe the poster would like www.mybrownbaby.com? It also has a focus on the special concerns of parenting children of color, which I don't know if that specifically applies to this poster, but I thought I would throw it out there.

Posting.

I think it is "brass tacks" not "brass tax." Although maybe a brass tax is the way to go...

Whoopsie daisy. I didn't even catch that as I typed it. I like "brass tax" better and will use it from now on.

We're having spaghetti pie. And perhaps dessert pie, if I'm feeling ambitious.

Never heard of this spaghetti pi. Do tell.

If we let countries decide what we should call them, then we'll have to call Hungary Magyarország, but the largest city in Turkey will still be Istanbul not Constantinople.

But we could learn, no? Our tongues would need some practice, but we'd all be the better for it.

Mostly, my friend is just being incredibly two-faced. She's works in the ministry, but all she talks about with me is how she wants to write a bestseller, become a star, get paid a higher salary, etc. It's the hypocrisy between her job and her goals that makes me really no longer like her, and I don't think her husband is aware of this other side of her, because she puts on another face around him.

Ah. I see why this is bothering you in your friendship, but I still can't see the benefit of involving the husband. What do you expect him to do, ask for a divorce? Confront her and say, "I hear you've been fantasizing about getting rich?" It sounds like what you really want is someone else to see your friend for who she really is -- or at least, for how she's presenting herself to you -- but that's about making yourself feel better, right? And not about helping the husband.

 

Am I missing something here, chatters?

Thanks! You're fabulous! Seriously, if the Post ever discontinued your chat, I would fly back from San Diego and RIOT.

We'll throw a dinner for you while you're back.

I totally agree on the nutsness of calling people and countries by different names. Germany, Deutschland, Alemania are all the same country. Dumb. My American sounding name didn't change to the Spanish version when I lived in Mexico.

To be fair, I don't think we usually do this with private citizens' names, for the most part. You don't meet very many people named Juan who Americans insist on calling "John." (We just say "Wannn" in horrible accents.)

What does her daily/weekly schedule look like?

She discusses this in the book. She leaves the office at 5:30 (but logs back on after dinner and probably works deep into the hours of the night).

At my husband's suggestion I took the leftover pie crust from the fridge and pre-made pie filling in the freezer, and made mini-pies in muffin tins. We called them breakfast and will probably also call them dessert.

Correct.

Hungary is also Latin. When in Rome ...

I have no idea what you're saying except that maybe when in Rome, we should all eat spaghetti pie.

Francesco is Italian for Francis, and the Spanish for it is Francisco. I am sure they will call him Francesco in Italy, Francisco in Latin America, Franz in German-speaking and Francis in English-speaking countries. It's not a big deal.

Did you just get here? We have had this whole discussion already, lamb. (And: It can not be a big deal, but still be ridiculous.)

So much for "Don't Be Evil." At the risk of invoking Godwin's Law, I suggest that their corporate slogan is taking on the irony of "Arbeit Macht Frei" (see how I used "irony" correctly there?).

Well. They can take away Google Reader, disappoint thousands of users, and still not be evil. It's not evil to disappoint people. Just highly disappointing.

Uhhhh, and how do you plan to get everybody in the world to call it Alemania?

Cage match.

Poster seems to be suffering from the delusion that minister=saint. Maybe you're just someone she feels comfortable venting her frustration about the downsides of her life (and every profession/vocation/lifestyle has some). Maybe the ministry truly isn't for her, but If you can't handle the fact that a human being sometimes wishes she had a boatload of money, this is not the friend for you.

You know, I had the same thought when the pope was elected. I know that this particular pope is a famously humble man, taking public transportation and living in a modest home, etc. But do you think, in general, that popes ever get elected and then think, "My house is going to be SO NICE."

I beg to differ, many Chinese use a more "American" name both here and in China if they plan to be working with westerners. I've worked over there a few times and everything was set up with their western name, not their real one.

Right. But that's because they choose to do it. Not because they say, "My name is Chinese Name" and we say, "Hmm. I can't pronounce that. I'm going to call you Janet instead. They sound kind of alike."

The thing I couldn't get over when I was in Spain was how Christopher Columbus had a different name there -- Cristobal Colon. He's kind of a big deal there, and we have completely "Americanized" his name, when he had a perfectly good one. And why him, but not Amerigo Vespucci? And all the "Columbus" cities are based on the wrong name!

And Cristobal Colon is such an infinitely better name, really. Just more pleasant all around.

I know you've given it before, but can you provide your email address again? I work for an STM publishing company (also in San Diego) and I'd love to get in touch with the OP about her idea. Thanks!

It's hessem@washpost.com. And on Twitter it's @MonicaHesse

Explorer John Cabot was actually Italian Giovanni Caboto, but since England footed the bill, John Cabot is what went in the history books.

I thought you were joking and was forced to look this up and learn something. (FYI, Wikipedia says Zuan Chabotto is how he signed his own name).

I agree with Monica's advice. First, it sounds as though your friend is honest more than anything else - who doesn't sometimes aspire/long to be more than they are? Egos can grow like weeds. Second, I don't know that you can throw her a hypocrisy parade while simultaneously choosing the coward's route of an anonymous email. Tell the husband in person or from your own email account if you must (though I agree with Monica that your motivations are more in line with making yourself look better) or don't tell him at all.

And before you tell the husband, have you told the wife? A sit-down that said, "Look. The amount of time you spend talking about fame and money makes me uncomfortable?" The husband really has nothing to do with the problem.

You take spaghetti sauce (I think about a cup or so), extra basil (or not), any pizza toppings you might want, mozzarella (I forget how much, but I guess you can do it to taste), and a 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese. And 4ish cups cooked spaghetti. Take a pie pan, put a little olive oil in and spread around. Mix everything together. If you use meatballs, cut them in slices or pieces. Pile it into the pie pan, cover with foil and cook for 30ish minutes at 350. Cool a little, cut in wedges and serve. This is from a Molly Katzen kid's cookbook, I think Honest Pretzels. Goes well with salad.

Genius. I do not know that I would have the patience for such a recipe, because once the noodles are cooked, I'm pouring some sauce on them and eating, not baking them for another 30 minutes. But genius nonetheless.

First we have to make the people of Missouri pronounce their state one way or the other but not both.

This is true. People from Missouri always say, "There's only ONE way, and it's THIS one," but I swear they're split dead down the middle.

Which of the criticism of your book do you think is fair or agree with? In response to the poster who talked about the unfairness of not holding Sandberg and other women like her to write an all purpose book Lee Iacocca and men like him. She in part wrote this book for a large group of readers so of course it is fair to point out ways if falls short. If she wants to say that it's for a small group of women then her TED talk already did that and made sense for that audience. As for some of these men they didn't even pretend that their audience wasn't a small niche and the wannabes.

Actually, thanks -- I was going to point this out. She does say that her advice is applicable for a large audience, and that claim has invited criticism.

Love you newish chat picture, very glamerous and sexy! Who is that in the background? Is it another Postie?

I think that's my great aunt Diane, since the picture the Post is currently using was taken by Father Cupcake at my cousin's wedding. If the photo hadn't been cropped, you would see I'm standing between my grandparents.

I agree with you, Monica. And I'd like to point out to the OP that being "in ministry" has NOTHING to do with vows of poverty. Priests, for example, are DEFINITELY NOT required to take a vow of poverty. I worked for four years in a retirement home for Catholic priests. It's EYE OPENING. Multiple cars, mountain and beach houses, other expensive trinkets, vacations to any place in the world. I'm not saying it's right (in fact I think it's the opposite) but just because you think it's hypocritical doesn't mean it's not also very normal.

A good friend of mine is a priest, and has been very upfront about salary negotiations, job perks, etc. We like to think of the ministry is a calling, but the people who are called to it still have to function in the modern world.

I feel the exact same way about mac and cheese. It is perfect right off the stovetop. Why do I need to put breadcrumbs on it and wait another 30 minutes?

Ridiculous.

Twitter has apparently tried to focus on being a mini-RSS feed reader (where journalists and celebrities provide content and average folks read it). Now that Google Reader is going away, an obvious filter and archive for content is being lost. So why can I still not find a simple way to archive/export my Twitter favorites, at least half of which are links I may want to read again, or at leisure?

It's a problem, and one that I've dealt with occasionally by opening a Gmail draft and just cutting and pasting things I'd like to read later. It's both absurdly old school, and also very General Petraeus.

 

The bigger question you ask: Archiving the Internet is a gargantuan task. I think we're still sorting out how to figure out what's important, when it always turns out that the things we think will be fascinating to future generations aren't the right things at all.

Or pie, actually. When you live at the pool in the summer, you develop recipes to take to the pool. Spaghetti pie sits in the thermos bag for an hour until you are ready to eat, it's easy to eat, and not messy. And we haven't died yet from leaving it in the thermos bag for longer than one hour.

I thought those recipes were called "peanut butter and jelly sandwiches."

Nonsense. Latin was the universal language of the educated back then. You might even call it a lingua franca.

Hahaha

Does this mean, when he says, "Touch me and I'll kill ya"...we can say to the new pope, "Lighten up, Francis"? At least he didn't sing "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina" from the balcony. (rimshot)

What would have happened if he'd begun to sing a song from Evita? Would the other cardinals have body-blocked him away from the balcony and said, "Nevermind, we'll come back with someone better."

 

Make your mac and cheese, add one can of mushroom soup, one can of mushrooms, one can of peas and one can of flaked tuna. Mix it all up. Put in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Makes enough for four or for one for four nights running. Very good.

Is this my mother? The casserole of my childhood.

clearly so you can get crispy corners.

I don't know how this conversation became so overwhelmingly about macaroni and cheese, but such is the chat. And such will be the chat again and again, until the end of time. Talk to you next Thursday, same time and place.

In This Chat
Monica Hesse
Monica Hesse is a staff writer for the Post Style section. She frequently writes about culture, the Web and the intersection of the two.

Read the The Web Hostess Archive .
Recent Chats
  • Next: