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

Sep 19, 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, and thanks for stopping by. I didn't have time to pull together links or a poll today, so we're all going to wing it together. Luckily there are a few things in the queue already to cover my shameful lack of preparedness. We'll get started at 2.

Have you seen this video?  I have a hard time believing someone would find a used stuffed animal in Colorado, transport it to Florida, and list it on e-Bay three years later.

Yeah, it stretches my credibility-o-meter a bit -- I mean, surely more than one blue monkey with a cut-off tag exists in the world. That being said, if anyone has been hanging onto a Grover doll that they found in Iowa circa 1986-87 and would like to sell it back to me, I'm willing to go high.


P.S. I might have liked this video even better if the kid had been like, "Oh, cool, can I have some juice now?" because what had been a large traumatic narrative for the parents had actually been long-forgotten by the kid.

Can I just say that I should not of tried to read today's comic on a smartphone.

Just how I felt about The Oatmeal's cartoon from earlier this week. Which also made me hug my dog for a long time until she looked at me and said, "This is stupid. Let's chase the squirrel again."

Naked Harry and then naked Kate. Will those royals never learn? The British press might not be publishing pictures of the topless princess, but everyone with Internet access has already seen them.

I think there are essential differences in the naked Harry and naked Kate tales. Just me?

So- I just signed up for a free trial of Amazon what? Any one have any suggestions on how to dive in?

Oh, I hope so -- because I've been considering an Amazon Prime subscription for awhile, and I just never see enough there to make me feel like it's worth it. Would love to hear from any subscribers about what they've discovered there. Some people say they do it just for the free shipping -- after a few orders, its paid for itself.

Monica - Not asking you to spoil a scoop or anything, but can you give us a taste on upcoming articles you're working on?

Not a blessed thing -- if you've noticed my absence from the paper and you think it's because I'm working on something gargantuanly awesome, you'll be disappointed. I'm on leave from the Post until December, and though I am working on something gargantuan, it's a Young Adult science fiction novel, not an article. (For those of you who have been kind enough to ask: The book is called Stray, and the anticipated publication date is June 2013.)

...but they were surreptitiously recorded at a private event. Don't candidates have any expectation of privacy?

I think that the fact that the video was private is precisely what disturbed some people, no? Because they felt that they were getting an unfiltered view into what he "really" thought.


You bring up an interesting question, though. Are there circumstances in which we would have felt wrong about watching the contents of the video? What if, instead of addressing a roomful of doners, he had been addressing his wife, in a space he thought was private?

THIS. The only reason I get Prime. And it's worth it.

An acquaintance admitted last week that he now buys shampoo and batteries on Amazon Prime. I don't think he's seen the inside of a CVS in a year.

I have now learned that if I ever want to make a similar video about my kids, there should be a minimum of adult talking. It ended up being more about the mom. That said, I did get something in my eye by the end.

Yeah, but can you blame her? She was so proud! She had just accomplished an impressive and Herculean mom task!

I use it for the free 2 day shipping and the free lending library. And it does pay for itself after a few purchases.

Yes, but what good things have you read in the lending library? That's where I keep getting stuck. Every time I browse the library, I come up short in finding things I'd want to read. And I'll read some pretty crappy things.

To me, the issue is not only was the candidate speaking to a relatively large group of people, I'm sure the expectation on his part is that those people would go back and repeat some things to their like-minded friends. And as such, it runs the risk of being repeated to not like-minded people. This is just that on a grand scale.

So, if he'd said it to just one or two people, would you feel differently?

I have an Amazon Prime subscription. Not only is it great for discounted or free or super fast shipping of orders, I love being able to watch movies instantly. In the interest of self disclosure, I do not have cable or satellite TV, so am left to broadcast TV. So, on a cold winter's Saturday night when I don't want to go out and there is nothing on TV, I can ALWAYS find a movie to watch. Caught up on Mean Girls just the other night. You can also watch a lot of short films, like Between the Folds (about computational origami) or Helvetica.

Speaking of documentaries online -- a recommendation. The other day I came across this site while trying to find a place to watch Lauren Greenfield's documentary "Thin" online. Not only did they have "Thin," but they had a gajillion other wondrous looking documentaries -- some I'd heard of and many I hadn't.


Carry on.

I mean, I get them: They push traffic to an artist's official page, they are cheaper/faster to edit than traditional videos so they build buzz more quickly for new singles, and all dem kiddies are on the Youtube anyway so artists need them just to compete. But does this idea that every song needs a visual association change our ideas of what experiencing recorded (and even live) music should be like? Are future rock shows going to be like operas where all the lyrics are displayed as supertitles?

 NPR did a piece on lyric videos a few months back that's worth a look. Your questions on the necessity of visual associations is really interesting. Anyone care to ring in? I wasted a few hours last weekend clicking through videos for VH1's "Best Songs of the 2000s" -- I'm a sucker for countdown shows -- and can report that I was irritated when the video that popped up on YouTube wasn't the official video but rather the live performance. Then I felt incredibly musically spoiled.

I had Amazon Prime free for a while (students (or those with student email accounts) and parents, I think, can get free accounts short-term) and it was great! But I ended up buying things I didn't need, just because it was so easy and I didn't have to worry about putting together an order of more than $25 to get the free shipping. For me, not having Prime is a good way to control my spending because otherwise I had no self-control!

I'm going to post a whole bunch of these general observations in quick succession, without comment -- and then I'm not going to post any more unless you have a specific recommendation for a specific book/item/series. (I"m getting a lot of "Do it! There's so much cool stuff" postings -- which is only useful if your idea of cool stuff is the same as the OP's idea of cool stuff.")

Here's the deal - get it right before Xmas. Use it to ship all of your last minute guilt-ridden gifts post-haste to your home to cover your shame. This will get you 2 day delivery for waaaaay less then actual standard shipping would have and you'll get it faster (plus never interact with humans). Bask in the awesomeness of having free 2-day shipping on all your nerd needs for the next year. It's the way to go.

I can count on one hand the books I've read or bought because of Amazon's recommendation. I read book reviews and go to the library.

I think you can borrow a Kindle book a month, too. Which might come in handy if the library doesn't have a copy.

Prime does pay for itself; we can't live without it. Plus, you can get access to a lot of Amazon On Demand videos; we have it activated on our PS3 and the kids can now watch Mr. Rogers any time they want.

I LOVE IT. I have had it since its inception, basically, and I read/watch so much that it essentially pays for itself. The free shipping alone makes it worth it to me, and if I need something fast, that shipping is discounted, too. DO IT.

The Hunger Games, A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick, Fast Food Nation, Harry Potter, Richard Castle books...

Okay, but I've already reeeead all of those. ("Teacher. Give me a gold star.") But yes -- those are good, specific recommendations. Are you still here, OP?

Thanks, cupcake. Now I'm never going to get any work done!

My pleasure.

Would he be naked in this video?

Yes. He would also be playing pool, and they would stop midway through to apply sunscreen.

Yes, I would feel somewhat differently about that. People should be able to speak in very small groups without being recorded surreptitiously, barring a warrant for a wiretap.

Interesting. I think someone earlier sent something in directly opposing this viewpoint -- I'll try to find it and post in conjunction.

It would still be an indication of his attitude toward the people he wants to vote him into office. Relevant no matter how you slice it.

Here you go.

I agree, one was partying in public and while his security let people take pictures on their camera phones two feet away. The other was on a private vacation in a private villa unaware that someone was using a telephoto lens to take pictures.

That being said, if I were Kate Middleton, I don't think I would even take my clothes off in the shower. I would by a lovely Burkini, or perhaps a scuba suit. 

What the photographer did was wrong, but I'm still shocked that that couple would not anticipate this happening.

DEF a huge difference between the two. I'm really really enjoying all the phots from the SE Asia tour though. The hula dancing is so adorable and nerdy! 

It really is. Whether or not they'r likeable, they've done a marvelous job of appearing that way.

Jesus was married? I wonder if the ancient paparazzi have any etchings of her topless.

Anyone who read the Da Vinci Code already knew this. Obviously.

Gangnam Style flash mob right here at 2:25. Spread the word.

Oh no! We missed it! Did you do it without us?

A nats fan has used crowdsourcing to try and convince the Nationals to let teddy win a race.

Teddy cannot win the race. I want him to -- God knows we all do -- but we also must recognize that the minute Teddy wins the race, it's all over. The hope is gone. Teddy should win the very last race before the stadium is torn down. Until then, we must be heartbroken. It is the only way.

Thanks Readers! yes- I am still here and loving the info. I have a 3 year old and think that just having her have access to vids all the time would be cool- I am too thinking that with the one click ordering and free shipping my spending might get outta control though. I'll try it for this month and report back!!!

Excellent. Sally forth and tell us how you do.

In the last chat or two, we were discussing varying acceptable response rates for emails, texts, voicemails, etc. Along those lines, how often should websites, facebook pages, twitter accts, tumblrs, blogs be updated/posted to before we consider them abandoned or inactive?

Excellent question. I have many  feelings on graveyard blogs. I tend to think they're live until a final message is posted saying otherwise. At the same time, I find posts written simply to apologize for not posting to be irritating, for myriad reasons.


Chatters? Thoughts?

Wrong, Cupcake. The photographer was on a PUBLIC road.

Yeah, I know that. But you and I both know there are things that are legal and still wrong.

Exactly. She cannot be unaware of the existence of helicopters, telephoto lenses, etc.

However, not only is the magazine getting lots of clicks, but many of those clicks seem to be from people with the attitude, "I am horrified by this, just disgusted, I mean, I'm going to look anyway, but I feel really bad for Kate."


I haven't seen anyone who thinks less of Kate Middleton after this incident. Maybe it's a boon for everyone.

Sorta like Lucy actually letting Charlie Brown kick that football.


I'm uncomfortable with the victim-blaming and assumed passivity of Kate Middleton. For all we know, the conversation went like this: "Honey, I want to sunbathe topless and don't care who sees, but I won't if you and the Queen will be upset." "I love your boobs (but please don't mention them in the same sentence as my Gran). Go for it, but let's be clear, this conversation never happened." "Love you, babe." "Back atcha." (But far more British-sounding)

Yes, but if that were the case, you would think the reaction from the family would be quiet, resolute ignoring -- not raging, frothing and lawsuit-threatening. 

Maybe I am just older than most of your chatters, but I recall paparazzi photos taken of a pregnant Diana sunbathing in a bikini (unheard of, at that time), also while she was on a 'private, secluded' vacation with her husband. I think the lesson is, if you are considered photo-worthy, there IS no privacy

Yes, that's what I meant. Nobody knows more than Princess Di's children the levels to which paparazzi will stoop or reach. If they're outdoors, someone's looking. (And frankly, probably, if they're indoors too).

As someone who works in publishing, I have issues with Amazon's lending library--as in, Amazon just throws things up there without necessarily having consent of the authors/publishers. So, despite having Prime, I don't think I could use the free books in good conscience.

Fascinating. I know that Amazon has gotten into trouble with some authors, who were stunned to see their eBooks marked down to "Zero dollars" without their consent, thereby depriving them of the royalties that would have come with the regular price. 

Pretty sure it was not only wrong, but illegal, just because you are standing on a public road doesn't mean you can shoot pictures of private property. I believe they call it in the legal world Invasion of Privacy.

I'm also pretty sure that no one on this chat is a lawyer specializing in the privacy laws of England, or France, or wherever it was that Will and Kate were on vacation.  So I'll just respond with an archy mom-ish, "Even if you can, doesn't mean you should."

It's nice for the free shipping, but don't get lulled into thinking the free kindle book per month is any great shakes. You have to wade through a bazillion self-published books. As for the streaming, David Pogue had a nifty article comparing the value of Amazon v. Netflix (Aug. 29, NYTimes -- the hyperlink's too long to post).


Can you please, please cheer me up?

I just saw this! How would you like to be cheered? Has our sparkly and warm conversation done anything for you? Anything at all? 


I'm sorry to hear about your bad news.

I read the blog posted last week about the stalking and murder of a woman named Morgan in Colorado. I lost several hours catching up and am totally addicted. Has anyone else been sucked in like I have?

I have! Here's a link to the blog, for any of you who weren't around last week. What I find really intriguing, in addition to the case itself, is the question of the reliability of the narrator. Morgan's mother, who writes the blog, is convinced that her daughter was murdered. Other articles I've read imply that police aren't sure there ever was a stalker at all. I could go on and on. At any rate, it's a compelling read for more than one reason.

The palace is not claiming it was illegal, though, just that it was offensive & outrageous & hurtful & all that. It wasn't illegal, it was unethical, and wrong.


Forgot to add that I have a knickerbocker Grover from 79. Will that do?

Like this? It looks similar to the one I lost, but, you know, I know it's not -mine-. Because my parents already told me mine is living in a new happy home with someone who will love him forever and ever and ever.

Did you find out if is real? The blog is fascinating, what else should I know??

It's a real blog, but, as I mentioned above, it's a complicated story that leads to a lot of questions. For example: If the family put up motion sensors and trigger-lights all over the yard, then why were they never triggered -- except by the family themselves? The elusiveness of the truth is what makes the blog such a compelling read -- and whatever the truth, it's a devastating loss for the family.

I broke up with someone, he had a meltdown and angrily posted something on my facebook. He is apologetic and wants to get back together, but the whole taking our business into the internet thing has me questioning things more than the initial reason we broke up. Do we (the royal we) think its ok to forgive someone who acted like a middle schooler via social media?

We think we should think long and hard before proceeding with this. His behavior wasn't merely middle school, it was vindictive, it showed poor judgment, and it showed disregard for not only your feelings but also your personal and professional future -- because who knows who could have seen what he posted? At the very least, he would need to understand all of that before we would consider getting back together with him.

Is the weather lovely where you are? Is there primo local produce at your local farmers' market?

And if the weather is atrocious, I hope you can find a movie and a Grover to hunker down with for the rest of the afternoon.


That's all for this week -- see you next.


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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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