Web Hostess Live: The latest from the Web

Apr 24, 2014

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. I'm running a little late today, having just gotten stuck in a massive 395 traffic jam. 

Question (not related at all to anything we usually talk about -- but then again, what ever is?):

When you are in a traffic jam that is caused by a lane closure -- the kind where an impending merge is announced several miles before it actually happens -- there appear to be two kinds of people:

1) People who, upon seeing the initial signs, imediately begin to merge into the open lanes.

2) People who continue to speed along the soon-to-be-closed lane, and then only merge at the last minute.

For the people in this chat, are you:

A) I am a Type 2 late merger, and feel is totally acceptable. Other people could do this if they wanted, and it's ultimately slowing nothing down.

B) I am a Type 2 late merger, but sometimes wonder whether its a scuzzy thing to do.

C) I am a Type 1 early merger, but the Type 2 people don't bother me.

D) I am a Type 1 early merger; I think Type 2 people are boils on the butt of humanity.

Okay! We start.

I would like to petition you, as Cupcake of the Internet, to institute a new ruling against "hating" when one really means "don't know how to use." Examples: I HATE Google Drive (interpretation: I have never spent any time trying to figure out how to use it.) Also: I HATE Outlook, iTunes, PC's, Twitter, Androids,...etc. etc. People need to realize they have personal preferences based solely on experience, and not cry big tears because they haven't spent any time figuring stuff out. Thanks! Signed, I HATE people who HATE the email program I use.

Actually, "hate" doesn't bother me so much because it's clearly expressing a personal preference and owning it. What is more noxious is when people proclaim that something is "stupid" or "bad" when they really just mean they didn't enjoy or understand it. That's placing a blanket judgment on something, instead of just acknowledging your own personal preference. I never mind, for example, if someone says, "I hated your story." I do mind when somebody says, "You are obviously a bad writer," because it's such an empirical statement and nobody ever offers evidence.

Do you watch this show? I completely missed the first season and a lot of the second - bingewatched to catch up. It is so, so, good. On one level it is a straight action series full of badasses. But there is also a lot of subtext and really well done story-telling. And Lagertha may be my favorite female TV character ever. Sorry - just needed to proselytize.

Vikings might be next on my list to catch up with online -- I've heard a lot of people recommend it. Other important binge-watching news: If you haven't seen Orphan Black, the first season is free on Amazon Prime and is meth-level addicting.

Highway engineers say that emptying a lane before it ends is wasting lane space. The problem comes because in these situations, at the merge point, traffic should alternate between the closing lane and the next adjacent (as a zipper) but some drivers don't know or care.

I am intrigued. So far every one of you who has responded has been a Type 2. I shall post some of you now.

(And then someone else needs to suggest a divisive social behavior that we may poll to see which  lines people fall on).

It is inefficient to merge well short of the merge point, by doing so, you are effectively causing more traffic to buildup behind you and further back on the highway. Cars should use all available lane space up to the point of the merge and use the alternate merge/zipper merge method at the merge point. But, most people are a**holes and feel the need to play enforcer on the roads, so this will never happen in real life. In real life, you play chicken with the scuzzbag in the lane next to you to see which of you cares more about your car or has a higher insurance deductible.

Use all available pavement. If they wanted you to merge now they would have closed the lane now. In some areas they have signs that say "Stay In Lane Until Merge Point" and then right before the lane closes "Merge Point" with an arrow. If everyone did this all traffic would flow faster.

A. Completely unrepentant, because that's the way it's supposed to be done. Traffic managers even have a name for it -- zipper merge. getting into the "correct" lane early is what causes the back-up; you're supposed to maintain your lane and merge as you get close to the lane closure, which is designed to maintain the flow of traffic.

E) type 1 early merger, realizing that type 2 late merger (or at the very least, everyone using both lanes to the fullest extent until there is a smooth zipper right before the lane closure) is actually the most efficient way to get everyone where they are going--but also not wanting to be seen as a type 2 late merger/butt boil.

Nobody gets their feelings hurt.

Whenever I post something on, say, my Facebook feed about horrible behavior by someone who would fall on the right hand side of the political spectrum (for instance the SHOCKING news that Hero Rancher Bundy is a bigot who thinks "the negroes" were better off as slaves), I know that no farther down than the second comment someone will mention "Obama" even if the original post had nothing to do with him. We need a term for this know annoyance, maybe Reflexive Right Wingism (RRW) or something?

FWIW, I'm pretty sure that when George W. Bush was in office, the same thing happened on the other side. 

OK, how about this. Google Drive is stupid, it doesn't work right, Google wants to steal your life because it's an evil company.

I would accept "It doesn't work right," and ask you to tell me more about what you meant, and probably la-la-la tune out the rest of your sentences.

Have you read the books or seen the show on CW? What do you think? It's a bit too Lord of the Flies for me, but I am still watching to see where they go with it. Mostly I just wish I had some other options for SciFi on TV. Revolution looks like its days are numbered, and not sure if Falling Skies is coming back or not.

Oh, I just saw this after I'd already mentioned Orphan Black. Are you watching it? Sci-fi and clones.

Once I was driving in Minnesota, and there was a highway patrolman directing drivers to use both lanes instead of merging politely into one lane so early. This seemed very Minnesotan to me.

Apparently Minnesota has a whole politely-written ad campaign around these issues. 

Should a restaurant that has a kid's menu tolerate kids running between tables?

It's not really up to the restaurant, is it? Because most restaurants are not going to choose to cattle-prod roving children, or to kick out entire families. It's more of a question for parents: What's your course of action when your kid is running between tables in restaurants?

It was called Bush Derangement Syndrome. I am generally a lefty and it was clear as day that by his second term some people were just incapable of thinking rationally about the president.

Eight years is probably the maximum duration Americans are capable of withstanding one person in office. Everybody was Lewinsky-loopy at the end of the Clinton years.

Should folks be allowed to smoke e-cigarettes indoors? My techies are already doing it.

Oh, how 2014! I've yet to spot an e-cigarette in the wild.

She gets one warning to sit down. After that, either one of us takes her outside to have a little chat or we leave. Decision to leave is based on weighing a variety of factors - mostly, have we ordered already and how good has she been otherwise lately.

The ultimate decision to leave -- is that done more to teach your daughter that there are consequences for misbehaving, or to save the other diners from rampant running toddler action?

D! Drivers who try to race up on the side and merge at the last minute strike me as people who think where they are going is more important than where I am going. No, it's not. Merge early or get stuck on the shoulder - I'm not letting you in. I do observe the zipper rule with other drivers who are merging before the lane ends.

Everyone is saying, however, that late merging is correct. (Late merging needs a better PR campaign).

A thousand times D! (Seriously, you Type 2 people should be really grateful that neither evolution nor technology has provided me with telekinetic ability, or eye lasers, or something, because I would go so Carrie on you if only I could...)

I am the type who, if realizing there will be a traffic jam, exits and takes local roads until once I may determine the traffic jam no longer exists.

For merges which are not zipper merges, the type 2 mergers, which I am sometimes, need to recognize that they have no right of way into the other lane. We type 2 mergers have to recognize that we must wait until there is a clear space to merge. That means many times I have to sit at the merge point while the cars with the right of way continue on. The type 2 mergers who force themselves into the other lane are the ones who give the type 2 meregers a bad name.

Fascinating perspective. I must say that I cannot remember ever encountering a driver like you, who waited until there was a clear space. All Type 2 drivers seem to brute-force in.

This phenomenon has been turned into a delightful parody meme called, "THANKS, OBAMA!" Example: http://knowyourmeme.com/photos/489946-thanks-obama

Thank you.

I took a traffic engineering class in college where we saw that using all of the available lanes reduces the backup for everyone. So, everyone should theoretically fill all of the lanes until the closure, then take turns and "zipper merge" at the end point. My question for Type 1's: How do you know when you are supposed to merge? When you see the first sign? the second? when you can see the closure itself? I've never heard a good answer on that point from people that think I am wrong.

When you're actually passing orange road work signs/flags/cones?

D), because it's been PROVEN BY SCIENCE! (somewhere, on the Internet) that the type 2 mergers slow things down for everyone, themselves included. Gradual merges keep things flowing smoothly until and past the merge point!

Now we have two competing science claims. It's a rumble.

...given the general air of Anglophilia that pervades here, but is it perhaps time to retire the "Keep Calm and [Blank]" meme. It seems played out. Also I am D, though I wouldn't say they are boils on the butt of humanity. They suck, but not as bad as people who wait to merge at the last minute into exit lanes when there is a lineup. Those people are awful.

Nobody is as awful as people who don't put on their turn lanes until they're already at the light and 12 cars are backed up behind them.

("Keep Calm" is completely overplayed. Completely).

I'm pondering divorce (not a Hax question, I have my own therapist), but wonder if there are interesting or helpful internet sites about marriage and divorce. I don't want sad forums, but I'm more interested in TED talks about marriage and divorce. Any other places I'm missing out on since this is occupying too much of my brain and browsing?

Do you want scientific analyses? Philosophical explorations? Historical lectures? I'm not immediately sure where to send you for any of the above, but some specificity might help other chatters.

FWIW, my favorite book about marriage in recent years -- which looks pretty unflinchingly at marital issues and I might recommend across the board, is called "No Cheating, No Dying," in which the author sets out to make her "good" marriage into a "great" one, and at various points ends up wondering whether she should be married at all.

Unless it is a zipper merge, the people in the lane have a right of way through that lane. The type 2 mergers must wait until there is clear opening. Any type 2 merger who plays chicken is a sc*mbag.

EVERY Type 2 merger plays chicken. (Not you guys. But seriously, everyone else).

I personally feel that if they didn't want us to merge over early, why are they telling us what lane is closed? I live in MN and they're really pushing the zipper merge, but then they say 'left lane closed' about a mile beforehand. Just say there's a merge up ahead, don't say which lane is closed, and zipper will happen by itself!

This is a genius observation.

No, you really don't smell anything. Yes, it's relatively unobtrusive. Nonetheless, I still think that there should be lounges for that sort of thing. Vaping in front of abstainers says "I'm comfortable with an admittedly tiny risk of expelling vapor traces or sending shrapnel from an exploding electronic device at you." And that's rude.

I don't know anything about the risks. But if it really is that admittedly tiny, I don't think it's rude. Not any more rude than, say, driving a car. Which emits the "I'm comfortable with the risk of possibly running you over in a car accident" vibe.

It's hard not to feel like a jerk doing the last minute zipper merge when everyone else is merging early though, even if they're doing it wrong by merging too soon.


Honestly, it's about teaching her that breaking the rules has consequences. In this case, the rule is "Running around and/or being loud in a restaurant/crowded public space is rude to others and we do not act rudely."

Thank you.

I have one. It enabled me to mostly stop smoking. I would have probably stopped entirely, except I'm afraid to use it in public. Partly because I got one of the fancy high-tech ones and vaping on it kind of make me look like I'm hitting a crack pipe. I'm also a little leery of how completely the rampant Smoker Hate extends to people who vape, even though there's no smoke, no residue, and no smell (at least with my setup). My experience has been that people don't understand it, don't want to understand it, are happy to have something to hate that's society-approved, and I just don't feel up to taking all that on.

Congrats on the stopping-smoking! (Soon there's going to be a fad where e-cigarettes are made to look like literal crack pipes, or bongs.)

I'm not either of the OPs, but for my family, it's mostly to spare the other diners. From the toddler's perspective, leaving may sometimes = winning, which is at odds with teaching them about consequences. For that, obviously, we withhold french fries.

Obviously. And if now fries, you move to Phase 2, Easter candy.

I'm home this week recuperating from surgery. Sounds like I need to watch Vikings--where can I find it? Any other recommendations?

Vikings is available on Amazon Prime, if you have it.

Recommendations are easier if we know what else you like, and what services (Amazon? Netflix?) you subscribe to.

I think I'm looking at the "rightness" of divorce. I know what some churches say about it and how many people look to marriage as a boon to society. So maybe the philosophical nature of it. Thanks for the book suggestions!

Chatters? Any thoughts?

It does seem like everyone is agreeing on the zipper merge, though, right? Now we're just debating where the zipper merge should start?

Yes. And we all must evangelize and do our parts to instruct people to wait their turns when they reach the top of the zipper.

Yeah, unless you're stuck in a room with this guy

Haven't read, posting anyway (It's from ABC, so hopefully it's SFW).

The pop-culture dilution of the "Keep Calm and Carry On" message is tragic to me. For those who don't know its origin, it was a never-used propaganda campaign from the British government, meant to be deployed in the event that England was successfully invaded the Germans. Its purpose would have been to tell Brits to, basically, "Remember That You're British" even as swastika-painted tanks were rolling down their streets. It's frightening to think that the Allies were close enough to this alternate future to even seriously plan such a thing, and the "Keep Calm and Avoid Zombies"-type jokes completely trivialized one of the more haunting footnotes in human history almost as soon as it was revealed.

I disagree. I think many do know its origin, but they only know its origin because it has so recently become popularized. Would you rather it be "respected," but by such a tiny percentage of the population that it actually does disappear into the footnotes, forgotten by all? I wouldn't.

If it were up to me (my restaurant, my home, etc) I would say no to e-cigs in that space. In part because the commercials with the dude showing the waiter it's not a 'real' cigarette bug the hell out of me. I don't want any tobacco products used indoors in any space I'm in. Snuff and chewing tobacco don't have the secondhand smoke thing - but not in my space (disgusting). I'd rather be consistent. No tobacco indoors, not "only the new fancy tobacco devices indoors"

But...why? I get "No snuff, no chewing tobacco," because you don't want to have to see people spitting brown loogies into cups. But an e-cigarette seems like the visual equivalent of someone who might chew on a pen as a nervous habit. Which, though perhaps slightly distasteful, doesn't seem like something you would outright ban.

Season 2 episodes are also on the History Channel Roku app - which I assume means they are available on their website.

Thank you.

Ok, here are some details: We have Netflix Instant, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. I like historical drama (and historical fluff like Downton Abbey), love mysteries, and sci-fi (Firefly!). Right now am watching Burn Notice and House of Cards with my hubby. Hope that helps. Thanks for any suggestions!

I love all the British crime mysteries that are available on Netflix Instant and Prime. If you haven't watched Sherlock, start there. I've also heard good things about Mr. Selfridge, though haven't personally watched.

Wow. This already exists? (Near the bottom of the article posted.)

Have a look at Dan Zak's recent dispatch from an e-cig convention in the DC area.

Note to all the people trying to make sexual innuendos via zipper merging jokes: I'm not going to post them. They're too easy. You're better than that.

I saw the best t-shirt yesterday: I can't Keep Calm, I'm Three! I hope this zips the some chats threads together.

Around the time when we start trying to tie things together and figure out what they all mean, I figure we've probably been here about long enough.

Question: is it pronounced "Roe-ku" or "Rock-you"? I think it's the former, which makes me think they missed a pretty sweet marketing opportunity.

Roe-ku. Unless you want to start a new trend?

That's all for today. See you next week -- GSTQ.

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: