The Web Hostess: What you're missing (or not) on the internet

Aug 15, 2012

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. Thanks for stopping by, and apologies for my unexpected absence last week. We'll get started at 2 as usual, and until then, I'll throw up a few things to get the conversational ball rolling.


Beginning with: CNet is reporting that the company Modern Meadow has been awarded a $350,000 grant to develop a 3D bio-printer that would produce meat.


I'm going to say this sort of has to do with the Internet, because clearly we must discuss: Would you eat this meat?

A) Yes.

B) No.

Next up:

The Olympics ended this weekend. Now that all of the facts are in, we may finally anoint the best meme to come out of the games. Do you vote for Queen Elizabeth is Not Amused?  McKayla is not Impressed? Ryan Lochte is the new Ryan Gosling? Something else?


Defend your choice to the death. No, just kidding -- to the Pain. No, just kidding -- just to the fictitious medal stand.

If you spill liquid on your computer such that is does not operate properly, how do you fix that? After the liquid dries, will the computer return to operating normally?

Ha. Ha. Ha. 

Funny story. The reason that I was unexpectedly absent from the chat last week had to do with me spilling a bowl of cereal all over my laptop. If it had been anything else, I could have gotten upset, but, you know, there's no use crying over spilled milk. At precisely the time when I should have been chatting, I was instead dissassembling my computer and gently swabbing everything down with rubbing alcohol.


The good news it, the computer seems to now be working fine again, with the exception of a sticky "7" key, which has to be pressed three or four times before working now. If it's okay with you guys, we'll just say there are 8 days in a week, 6 deadly sins and, I don't know, 12 or 13 of Santa's reindeer, and then we can move on and never discuss this again.

I plan to join Facebook soon, and I admit I'm a little nervous. Can you or the readers recommend either online or offline resources (recommended privacy settings, etiquette, etc.) for a Facebook beginner?

You're in luck -- social networking blog Mashable recently posted a fairly comprehensive "so you're new to Facebook" piece.  I think it does a decent job of introducing readers to nuts-and-bolts aspects of being on Facebook: what does it look like, what do various terms mean, what privacy settings are available, etc.


The most important tip for beginners, which this piece touches on, is that you shouldn't feel you have to dive in head first. You can -- and probably should -- just observe your friends for awhile, to get a better sense of what's considered typical or acceptable behavior in your friend circle.



I can tell it's going to be a good chat when there's a "Princess Bride" reference in the intro.

As you wish!

I would not be eager to try the bio-printer meat substitute. However, this could be just the thing for those restaurants that say that they will cook your steak "to your likeness".

"One Cupcake-shaped steak, please."

I would not eat fake meat. I would much rather eat less meat, but higher quality, real meat. I do not eat fake meat now made with vegetables and other plant material.

Well. This would be real meat. Made from meat. Not from vegetables. It would just not be harvested from a slaughtered animal.

I would probably eat 3-D printed meat. But only if they don't name it. I learned that lesson from Blobby the lab-developed beef and Chester the Carrot in "Better Off Ted"

It seems one can learn many useful things from this show. Should I start watching it?

Wow, the Post really does not manage its chats very well. If a chat is cancelled, why is it still listed on the schedule? If it is delayed, why aren't there any updates? My favorite section of the Post's website has been the chats, but now they seem all but neglected. Leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Again -- Last week wasn't the Post's fault at all. It was mine, or my laptop's, if you'd prefer to blame the machine. The Web producer had no way of knowing that I wasn't chatting, because I didn't inform her. First I just forgot (At the time, I was panicking becaue the entire novel I've taken leave to complete is stored on this computer), and by the time I remembered, I couldn't have reached her anyway. Seeing as my computer had become a milky, short-circuited mess.

by the rumors that RPattz has moved out of the house he shared with KStew?

Severely traumatized, obviously. It will be next to impossible to watch Breaking Dawn 2 and not think about the backstory of their relationship. I'm hard-pressed to think of another occasion where the star's personal life infringed so much on the movie itself. How could they do this to me? (And by me, I mean, each other).


Oh come now. Anyone could have accidentally upset a whole bowl of liquid over an expensive piece of electronics and then forgotten to inform a colleague that they would be missing a regularly scheduled obligation they had been fulfilling for three years. It could happen to all of you.

When he incorrectly identified the Jefferson Memorial as the Lincoln, I was inwardly squirming. Very relieved it was corrected a few seconds later.

It seems like this is currently horribly inefficient and expensive. Not saying it will not get there eventually, but currently what is the point? And unless the idea is to use non-meat "meat", I don't see how this does anything to reduce actual consumption or livestock...? That said, I'd probably try it, assuming I'm not paying $100 for the same thing I could get for $5 at the grocery. I'm just inwardly cringing at the thought of those material cartridges for your printer.

It wouldn't necessarily reduce the consumption -- but it would reduce the land used up be meat production. Cows need a lot of space, doncha know.

A relative is in the process of getting divorced. I'm still friends with the soon-to-be ex on Facebook. I have no ties to the ex other than the relative; is it appropriate to wait until the ex removes me as a friend? Or should I do it first?

Follow up questions: Is the divorce acrimonious? That is to say -- are you removing the ex out of respect to the relative, or do you simply feel no need to remain online friends with someone you don't anticipate seeing in real life? 


What I'm getting at: If the divorce was amicable --  if the ex is a decent person and the marriage just didn't work out -- then I don't see a need to immediately unfriend him or her and drive the point home further: "You are losing a whole family here."


Possibly. Less gristle...and isn't most meat about the marinade, spices and sauces accompanying it anyway?

As a vegetarian, I am truly struggling with this. I don't eat meat because I don't want to kill animals. But if no animals had to die for this meat, then it should theoretically be vegetarian-friendly. And yet,  I still get the heebie jeebies.

And now they're going to dump her from the Snow White sequel!

That, I can be less upset about. Did you see that movie? No good.

It HAS to be McKayla. It's EVERYWHERE.

It it not my favorite. I get why it's everwhere. It just never seems particularly clever to me.

I've finally started letting my boys (elementary school age) explore the web a little (in the past, I have pulled up specific sites for them). They discovered a site with a bunch of cats dressed up and in silly poses set to music. That cracked them up for a half hour. They then found the Nyan Cats and that is now the funniest thing they've ever seen in their life. They now sing that godforsaken song all day long. That is all.

Your parenting job just got so much easier. If what tickles your kids' fancy is cats on the Internet, they will never run out of material.

I think McKella is not impressed wins, if only because she submitted her own "not impressed" entry. She's probably a normal, nice kid but she can really put on the stinkface. She did teach Jenna Bush how to Dougie, so that's something.

When meme subjects participate in their own memes, it simultaneously elevates it and ends it. Like Texts from Hillary. I mean, once the Secretary of State sends her own text, where do you go from there?

From an ambulance, about the status of your kid in said ambulance. Stress relieving, or overkill?

Overkill is the nice word for it.

Unless the status update was something like, "Jimmy needs a rare AB+ blood match, stat. Do any of my 700 friends have this, and can you meet us at the hospital?"

Yes, you should definitely watch. You also learn important things like only playing the clean needle game with clean needles and the impertence of communicationizing. It is one of the most hilarious shows that no one has ever seen.

Thank you. I wish I could reciprocate with another underrated gem, but I only watch what everyone else is watching.

I thought of you when I saw this quote from Helen Gurley Brown in an XXFactor blog post on Slate: " You cannot sit around like a cupcake asking other people to come and eat you up and discover your great sweetness and charm. You've got to make yourself more cupcakable all the time so you're a better cupcake to be gobbled up."

The other alternative is to just bake everyone batches of cupcakes, in which case they are pretty much guaranteed to want to spend time with you.

much preferred the Games when athletes were seen and not heard (from). Old quote (attributed to various wags) about keeping quiet & being thought an idiot vs. opening mouth and removing all doubt.


Chat quality: Yes, that may be the reason for yours, but the Reliable Source has been listed the last couple of weeks when they're on vacation, and Carolyn Hax was the wrong day--clearly someone should be paying attention but isn't. Better Off Ted: oh, yes, you should watch! It's only two 13-episode seasons of a sitcom, so it's not even a particularly big commitment.

I will tell the Source gals they've been sorely missed.

Not impressed with the McKayla meme?

That would be the way to end it. A hall of mirrors. McKayla being not impressed with McKayla being not impressed with McKayla being not impressed with McKayla...

Printing meat could also be a precursor to printing organs for transplant. It's not necessarily an end product, could be more of an intermediary technology step. Like Friendster.

I adore that you have just linked printable meat with Friendster.

Yes, the divorce is quite acrimonious and bitter; obviously I'm only hearing one side of the story, but the ex isn't a decent person. So I guess I should quickly defriend? It's been interesting to see the ex's side, of which there isn't much.

I don't really think you're under an obligation to -- merely having someone in your friend list isn't like you're inviting the ex to family barbecues that the relative is also attending.

But these circumstances make it more justifiable for you to be the one to unfriend.

Isn't it interesting that this online relationship-ending is becoming more complex than the real-life version? In real life you don't have to unfriend the ex because, as you point out, you didn't have a relationship with him/her apart from the relative anyway. You just carry on as usual. On Facebook, however, you now must take clear cut action.

I think that, given the opportunity, I would *try* this meat but to state whether I would *eat* this would depend completely on more research, taste, etc. But hell, I will try almost anything when it comes to food!

An excellent practice.

Until they want their own kittens instead of internet ones and you become a cat hoarder. Or is that just me?

Maybe they can have one cat and turn him into a meme.  It will all be one big learning experience.

I am easily confused. When I was reading the 3D meat printer article, I thought it was saying it could take any meat and shape it into any 3D pattern, say, a steak burger shaped like a shoe. Yet as I read further, they are talking about growing meat in vitro, without having the meat coming from an animal. Am I now understanding this correctly? And may I then get this in vitro meat served in the shape of a shoe?

You are not confused. You understand it perfectly.

I wish you could reciprocate too, because I'm running out of underrated gems to watch on Hulu or get on DVD from Netflix (no more Netflix Instant, sigh). I'll also recommend Prisoners of War on Hulu, an Israeli drama about two soldiers who return to their families after being held for 17 years. I think Showtime's (which I also don't have) Homeland was based on it or is similar to it.

Ooh -- Prisoners of War sounds fascinating. 

My current television struggle involves trying to track down and legally purchase the British series Case Sensitive, based on the novels of Sophie Hannah.

I would give a larg, yet to be determined prize to anyone who could help me achieve this goal.

In they can create in vitro meat, can they create in vitro human meat? Would there be medical reasons to do so?

Are we talking about cannibalism now? 

Just don't be an idiot like me and turn the computer on right after spilling liquid into it. Then it goes sizzle POP! And will never work again. I did cry, but my spill wasn't milk. It was some crappy wine that wasn't worth a laptop.

But then, you know, at least you had the wine to drink after.

Please tell me you back up your files. And that the panic was understandable cushioned with a "At least I backed up last night!" Not pulling the female/computer version of Colin Firth's character in Love Actually, as he watches his entire manuscript get swept into the lake...

I had emailed myself a copy of the book the night before, so I would have lost only a day of work or so. So it was cushioned panic, but also, "I don't have time to research and purchase a new laptop this week while I am trying to meet a deadline" panic.

Don't we have to start somewhere?

And we end...where?

I think they're already doing this or have tried with, like, a kidney or something. Don't know if it was usable, though. These 3-D printers are already doing a lot in manufacturing different products and really are amazing, although I just can't picture them in my head (possibly because I still own one of the cheapest, smallest inkjet printers ever made, which is what I keep picturing)

Me too. My Epson inkjet, preparing me a burger.

But I loved the shot of the American and Iranian Olympians hugging each other. You just saw the jackets, but what an image.

This hug right here?

running away from things is the best by far.

He reminds me a little bit of Jason Bourn-illa Soft Serve, a meme which, ahem, I personally named myself.

That's a rare blood type and I have it. Good thing I only have 90 friends or facebook would suck me dry.

No kidding.

As long as it was inspected regularly, I'd feel more confident in it than some of the meat from our current agricultural system. But honestly, I'd like to see more money going to grants that would encourage people to eat insects for protein. No lab processing time at all.

There would need to be a lot -- and I mean a huge, vast, staggaring amoun of money -- invested in that program before I would participate. I get it, logically. I get it. I just can't.

Facebook should create a option by which you gradually unfriend people over time. You could choose the duration of the unfriending, and spread over the course of it you would both graudally see less of it each posts/statuses/links etc, until at last you disappeared from each other's friend list altogether.

This is really a very genius proposition. The other person need only think that you had begun to post more and more infrequently. Why has no one done this yet? 

I agree that online relationship ending does take a clear cut action, but it is also basically 100% invisible. You don't have to directly say to them "I'm unfriending you" and unless they have only 2 FB friends (may be possible here) the chances of them noticing you are gone are near zero. I have been quietly unfriending the most obnoxious of the political posters from my FB friends list, the ones who have no nuance or nothing to add, they just repost garbage from other people. It is quiet and easy. So there is that. Printable meat is people...wait...paper...never mind


I showed my 2 year old some funny cat bloopers video and she cried for 4 hours. She thought the cats who were jumping onto a chair and not quite making it and flopping over were being hurt. I thought we were going to have this great laugh but it just made me feel evil. For months afterwards every time I said "let's watch a video" she would say "NOT THE CAT ONE!"

Hahahaha. (Were the cats being hurt? Are you sure?)

I like the Lochte one because people have to write something, as opposed to just inserting a photo into another photo.

This is why my favorite is Queen Elizabeth. I mean, first, I obviously love Queen Elizabeth (did you know she trained as a mechanic in World War II)? But I feel like some of the text people have written is genuinely brilliant -- getting at everything from imperialism to aging to the state of Britain and debates about the monarchy.

What about bug meat? Would you eat a cockroach or a mosquito? You can't say you love those bugs and everyone prefers them dead.

Yes, but I'm afraid of them. Just like you wouldn't go eating the Boogie Man. Because he's scary.

I would TOTALLY keep the ex-family member as a FB friend. Of course, I'd limit my settings so they couldn't see MY wall, but I'd want to be able to sneak over to theirs and see what they've been up to. I would love to be able to be FB friends with my ex-aunt, but she and my uncle divorced before FB. Damn them!

The Facebook-as-soap-opera approach.

Cupcake, your advice was spot-on. Deleting someone makes a statement, and I think if the divorce is mutual, the

Whatever else this chatter meant to post got cut off, but I'm posting it because I think we can all agree the important part of the message was, "Cupcake, your advice was spot-on."

Yes, long-distance cannibalism if you want, but also made-to-order replacement organs (with the possible additional value of being able to "print them out" in hard-to-reach locations, like Antarctica. To tie two threads together, on the "designer organs" idea, check out Repo Men with Jude Law from a few years ago.

Yes, someone posted the organ transplant angle earlier. But they failed to tie it to a hidden gem angle, so you get more points.

So what is the Cupcake-approved method for not crying over spilled milk? USB hard drive? Cloud storage? A bizarre code involving every third word of your most recent tweets?

I'm all about the cloud. I should be all about the USB as well, but I don't trust myself not to lose it.

Given that the divorce is acrimonious and bitter, I suggest waiting a few months to defriend your relative's ex. If you do it when the divorce is still new, you're supplying the ex with potential ammo to be lobbed towards your relative. Like so many awkward/uncomfortable situations you can be third party to - best to lay low and remove yourself when you're least likely to cause a disruption or be noticed.


This is in our future. Going to a restaurant where you can try human meat. First it will be sickos who do it, then it will be a cool thing for the rich to try, then it will be normal.

I'm posting it here because I think we all want a record of this if it comes to pass.

Oh Dollface. Do you think that the BBC's website was not one of my very first stops? These DVDs are coded for playback in Regions 2 and 4 -- Great Britain and the commonwealth. They wouldn't play on an American System. I need DVDs for Region 1, which is the States.

Vegetarians:Would you eat this in vitro meat? I would presume those against killing animals might consider it, while those who do not eat meat for dietary reasons would not. Or am I wrong? That is why I ask.

See, you would think that, but as I already stated earlier. I don't eat meat for the against-killing-animals reason, and I still have a hard time getting over the mental hurdle of this one.

Scary thing, scary thing, scary thing, current event thing, scary thing, meta thing, silly thing, scary thing, scary thing...TELETUBBIES! [audible snort]


You can buy it from

You can buy -the British-coded DVDs.- 


Come now, people. I need an American DVD, or I need a site where episodes can be legally  purchased for download.

Actually, perhaps this should have been one of the scenarios I posed on our "How much stealing is this?" chat a few weeks ago. There are, after all, lots of sites that would allow me to illegally download this show. Assuming that I have exhausted all other options, on a scale of one to five, how evil would the illegal download be?

(Don't worry. I shan't do it.)

Try Wonderfalls (pre-cursor of the creator who went on to other slightly-less-underrated gems of Dead Like Me and Pushing Daisies) was fantastically quirky and far too short. Also, it may not be underrated but just slow to my radar, but I'm loving Luther from BBC


Am I just a grump that I find Google's daily homepage "doodles" annoying? I mean, part of Google's original appeal was its simplicity.

Not alone. The doodles have become too much for me as well. They're stretching.

Ammo? That someone unfriended them on FB? That's ammo?

Well, if the ex is truly unbalanced or vindictive: "I see you're trying to turn everyone against me! Everyone! What have you been telling them? Blah-blah unfriended me yesterday!"

you can play a Region 2 dvd on your computer - you just answer the question that comes up and your computer switches to Region 2. The only problem is that your computer will only allow you to switch from Region to region 4 times and then you're stuck in whatever region that is. Or you can buy a Pioneer DVD player from Bombay Electronics and it plays all regions. Prize, please.

Oh, good grief. This solution seems to require an inordinate amount of work. I don't know if I am desperate enough. Yet.

While AB+ is rare, it's a universal recipient. That means if you have AB+, you can safely be given A+, A-, B+, B-, AB+, AB-, O+, and O-. The worst is if you have O-, the only blood you can safely receive is O-.

I'm going to be honest. I just pulled AB+ out of nowhere. But I am enriched by  this impromptu lesson.

and Mo Farrah by a landslide (I think I'm mixing metaphors)

And with that, we are finished.

Thanks for stopping by, apologies for the cancelation last week, and I'll do my best not to let it happen again. Though if one of you who are friends with me on Facebook wants to send me a reminder next Wednesday, that probably wouldn't be the worst idea in the world.

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.

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