Web Hostess Live: The latest from the Web

Aug 28, 2014

Join in at 2 p.m. when we shall discuss all of the Internet.

Thanks for stopping by, everyone. It's the laziest of August days. Let's see if anybody's around to chat.

the video of the 9 year old who accidentally shot her instructor with an Uzi has been all over the internet and even TV. I personally wish that video had never made it to the internet just so that girl who in my mind bears no fault, will not have to relive seeing herself kill a person. I can't even begin to imagine how hard it will be for her to grow not just knowing she killed another person, but having that video follow her around and haunt her.

Luckily, the girl hasn't been identified, but I know what you mean. I felt the same way about the photo of the young Australian boy holding the severed head in Syria. That kid had no idea what he was doing, but had now been captured in horrible, bloody posterity.


What do you think the purpose of the Uzi video was? The circulated version ends with the sound of gunshots, but doesn't show the ones that actually hit the instructor. Does it teach us anything, to watch the moments leading up to the death?

Not a question, just an observation: A work acquaintance, a media professional, regularly posts the worst pictures of his wife and kids -- they're just bad: open mouths, closed eyes, awkward angles, etc. It sort of makes me cringe, and I'm shocked his wife has allowed herself to be tagged in some pretty uncomplimentary photos. I have one family member who does this too, but this relative is someone who, frankly, I think doesn't know any better/doesn't have better taste, but this work acquaintance (and his wife) should! It's part of that great Facebook effect: Seeing what they choose to share has affected my opinion of them, though in this case it's only slightly a deficit, as opposed to high school friends (who I haven't spoken to in 30 years) who I now know to be wildly opposite of me in their political/social views. Le sigh. (Upside of FB effect: I like certain young cousins/friends' children even more because they're sharing creative and thoughtful posts which give me some hope for the future.)

Maybe it's not that he's an incompetent photographer but that his wife and kids genuinely always take bad photographs. For me, if even one eye is open, the photograph counts as a win.


And untagging is a really tricky thing. Really what you're saying is, "Ugh, I look bad in this, I don't want it on my feed." But sometimes it comes across as, "Ugh, I don't want to associate with you."

It's been a few months since the Post, following many other newspapers, went to a non-anonymous system for commenters. Since implementation, it appears that the number of comments on news stories have drastically dropped. And, just from my perspective, I haven't seen the quality of comments rise. How is the move from anonymous to public comments been seen by the Post staff? Are reporters mostly happy, unhappy, or indifferent to the change? Is there any sense as to whether management sees the policy as a success? Thanks!

I can't speak for all reporters, obviously, since we all probably have different opinions. Personally, I rarely read the comments for my articles. Not because I don't care what readers have to say -- I do, and I write back to every reader email -- but because it's exhausting and demoralizing to wade through so much off-topic bile, most of which appears to be written by people who didn't read the article and are commenting based on the first paragraph and what they think the article might say.


(Truly, there is nothing more frustrating than a three-paragraph rant about how your article is bad because it doesn't mention X, when it very clearly mentions X in the third paragraph).

I have an eight year old, she will turn nine next month. She is a gymnast, who can climb the rope to the ceiling of the gym and ring the bell. She can do 50 pushups. She can do more pull-ups than I ever could do in my life. She could probably beat me in arm wrestling... Still the thought of putting a submachine gun in her hands is horrifying. That's like giving her a lighter, a can of gasoline, and advising "Now be careful..."

I started a bunch of different answers to this, but ultimately ended up with, I really don't know what they were thinking.

Obviously, they believed they were in a secure gun range with a licensed instructor, and didn't even imagine that anything could go so horribly wrong under those constraints.

What's next? The Berenstein Bears aren't bears? GSHK... Especially since she's British.

This is completely ridiculous. I don't care that the creator says Hello Kitty is, and always was, a human girl. They gave the character whiskers and cat ears and named it Hello Kitty. That's like me making you a dinner with the ingredients of pasta noodles and tomato sauce and then saying "No, no, it's roast beef! Why would you assume it's spaghetti?"

How does the commenter know that the pictures are the worst ones? Is it possible they are the best ones and the colleague wants at least some pictures of his family?

Unless the colleague just has it in for his family and wants to mock them mercilessly.

What do I do? I have my settings set so I just hide them all from my timeline, but still, SO ANNOYING.

Like, photos you are not even in? Just because they want you to see the photos? Have you asked them why they do it?

I hypothesize that some of the comment threads are so contentious because of the headline writer's choice to make clickbait and contentious headlines that skew the reader's attitude before they even read the article.

Nope, no, sorry. Maybe with a very few. But commenters go off the rails even with the most straightly written headlines.

As children, Adlai Stevenson II (the former Illinois Governor who ran for President in 1952 and 1956) and Prince Juan Carlos of Spain each shot to death a person. Reportedly Juan Carlos has suffered bleak depressions the rest of his life, although the cynic in me would note that at least unlike his victim he got to live.

I never knew this, and Stevenson is from my home town.

1) What is GSHK, and 2) I thought she was Japanese

God Save Hello Kitty, I presume? Designed by a Japanese designer for a British company, I think.

Every once in awhile the internet still surprises me

The "raw human emotion" when one person shoots 300,000 volts into their loved one's chest.


Perhaps the Post should try more gaily written headlines.


I believe that there was another lethal accident involving a child and an automatic firearm at a gun range several years ago. It's tragic, but we don't have any context for this. How many 9 year olds fire automatics at gun ranges? How many accidental deaths occur? The fact that 9 y.o was involved and that the shooting was lethal made it "front page" news.

And the fact that there was video, and the fact that it wasn't a handgun but an uzi -- I think lots of things made this shocking.

Thank you! What I can't figure out is: why is Sanrio lying to us like this? What are they trying to gain? Is it just that they knew the publicity of their lie would be enormous?

If they said, "It's a girl who lives her whole life in a cat costume," then that I would believe.

I've been to a gun range in Rockville a few times for the "intro special". Even with my years of experience, the instructors always give a person the weapon loaded with ONE bullet for their first shot. You don't know how somebody will react to the act, to the recoil, etc. If they drop the weapon or turn quickly, the weapon is empty after the first shot. Assuming you didn't freak out or drop the weapon or have it fly out of your hand due to recoil, they load it with 3 rounds. After successfully firing them, you can load as much as you want. Loading the uzi with more than a few rounds was negligence by the range operator/instructor.

Posting, just for the perspective of someone who has actually been to a gun range. (I haven't).

Batman is not a bat. Catwoman is not a cat. It makes perfect sense now.

The world is such a confusing place now.

Untag yourself. Sure it takes time but it's a way to get them off your timeline and those looking at other timelines won't see your name. Hopefully, your friend will realize you are doing this and will stop tagging you. I assume you have asked the friend to stop tagging you.

The last sentence, especially. When someone is doing something that annoys you, the first step, almost without fail, is to say, "Hey, stop doing that thing. It annoys me."

This is probably going to come across as more snarky than I mean it to be, but it also could be that the wife doesn't care. Like maybe she's just like, "yep, that's what I look like in that picture" and that's that. Very few of the photographs of me on FB are any good, and the ones that are are our professional wedding photos. The rest of them are just typical "me" photos... somewhat funny and somewhat awkward. And frankly if someone is judging me based on my FB photos...well, I just don't care. I know who I am, and maybe this wife does too.

Here, here.

Well, I'm pretty sure they're bears, but did you know they are the BerenstAin Bears? Not BerenstEin? Yeah. Blew my mind when I found out.

Stop. Just stop.

No, they're still bears. They are, however, now born-again Christians:

Does anyone else have something revalatory they would like to share about the Berenstain bears?

Can the parents potentially be held liable for either criminal charges or a civil suit? What about the shooting range?

Why? Who would bring the charges? The whole situation is completely tragic, but so long as it was legal for the kid to be there -- sometimes terrible accidents just happen.

In the early 90s, when the internet was anarchy and it's residents were mainly college students, I used to post comments on newsgroups with the sole objective being to inflame others. I don't do this anymore, but I imagine that others do. In my opinion, the comments aren't worth reading or adding to once the count reaches 70. After that, it's all flames. I have no idea why anyone would post a comment if there are already 300 in the thread - no-one is reading.

So you're the one we have to blame for all of this.

I noticed you didn't include it in your sign-off last week.

You know, one day Great Britain will have a king, and we'll have so much to get used to.

We have plenty of context. The context was that an automatic weapon was given to a little girl and put in automatic mode. Several nine year-olds successfully light fireworks on New Years Eve, but no one questions the context when some of them end up in the burn unit.


It ain't a stinkin' bunny!

It's...what? An elephant?

When Beyonce wears a onesie and gyrates her hips in front of a FEMINIST sign, she's in control. When Sofia Vergara wears a gown and stands on a rotating platform, she's exploited. What's the difference,the sign?

I saw several essays asking that same question. (Alas, I didn't see the VMA's. I was on a plane).

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart ... Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens. Carl_Jung It's a nation of dreamers and confused dreamers at that.

Okay, who is the budding psychologist who keeps sending in Carl Jung quotes for every occasion?

Now that they've brought in over $100 million for the year, can we move onto something else? People are now trying to do the most extreme thing. While on a horse etc. Shark jumped.

Patience. You just have to let it ride its course. You can always ignore it.

The conscious mind allows itself to be trained like a parrot, but the unconscious does not — which is why St. Augustine thanked God for not making him responsible for his dreams. Jung Hello parrot. Hello parrot. The birds have more common sense than most people. They live longer too.

Seriously, with the Jung.

On the Food chat Chili does not have to have meat and Ratatouille does not have to have eggplant. Anything can be defined how the creator wants it to be defined.

Well, but it's really only "chili con carne" that has to have meet in it. You take away the "con carne" and I imagine you can put in whatever you want, so long as it's spiced with chili seasoning.

I think it depends at least in part on whether someone is "in" on the joke. (My impression is that Vergara was).

I would assume she was. I think she's a smart cookie. This is based entirely on five seconds of meeting her in the ladies room once in Los Angeles, and the intelligent way she was reapplying her lipstick.

True story: hubs and I were driving from LA to Vegas, and saw the billboard for this place ("Fire a real live machine gun") and we laughed, because, really, how much does one have to be compensating to want to do this? (Okay, totally not fair, but we're commie-hippie-cheese-eating-volvo-driving-surrender-monkeys-from-LaLa-Land). Never even occurred to us that someone would think it a good idea to let a nine-year-old loose with an automatic weapon.

I could imagine wanting to fire a machine gun, just for the experience of it. I mean, why not, if it's there? 

That's some mighty fine self-justification there, buddy. I've seen some phenomenal threads happen on massively-trafficked but well-moderated sites where everyone hits the same wavelength. One of my favorites: The full-length, impromptu episode of "Law & Order" that broke out on the Onion AV Club in a Sam Waterston thread, with each commenter playing a different character/crime show cliche. (http://www.avclub.com/article/sam-waterston-will-be-the-quietly-stern-sam-waters-56866; sort by "Best" to find it.) Some of my favorites: "Dr. Elizabeth Rodgers This was no street kid. Her last meal consisted of Chateaubriand, Dom Perignon and a 1455 Gutenberg Bible." " A jogger, addressing another Well, what does she know? We're talking about someone who regularly confuses New York Magazine with the New Yorker. Do you know what she said to me the other... Wait. Do you see that? In the leaves? There's something-- Oh. Oh my god. Somebody! Somebody call nine-one-one!!!" "Police Tech Expert Explaining It's called "Tattle." Teens can post short messages saying where they are and what they're doing. The messages are called "Tats." It's great at keeping in touch with friends...but it also tells killers exactly where you are."

This sounds amazing. I can't wait to go read it after the chat is done.

I tried to hold the line on pesto, but was defeated. ("A pesto cream sauce," that abomination now appearing on menus wherever pasta is sold, is cream sauce with a little bit of dried basil in it.) But I think that people who think that "fajitas" can only be made from skirt steak are trying to keep the earth from turning.

The only food thing I hold firm on is the correct pronunciation of "sherbet," and the insistance that people not say "it's ice cream" when it's frozen yogurt.

Chili has meat - period. It's only because people are..um..um..without knowledge that the label "con carne" was added. That's why we have "chili" and "vegetarian chili".

Oh fiiiine.

Hey there -- The buddy who keeps sending in lots of Jung quotes and now other assorted other links and comments. Are you okay? Email me if you're not, really. hessem@washpost.com.

I can imagine a late Victorian parent saying this to a child. Or a friend. Or anyone, by about 1897.

How strange to think, though, that the UK now has several generations worth of kings lined up, just by circumstance of birth order.

I'm sorry, I goofed: "Best" gives you the first post in a glorious chain, but sorting by "Oldest" and scrolling down past the boring posts lets you read the whole thing in its correct order because Disqus is awkward that way. Posting for clarification because I love this thread so much and it needs to be read by as many people as possible. It was one of the most perfect confluences of genius that I've ever seen on the internet.

Thank you for the clarification. I'm sure it is glorious.

That made me hungry as I have one marinating at home and I will throw it on the grill as soon as I get there after work.

An excellent plan.

Princes used to do that all the time; in fact, I think it was in the job description. Pour JC, born too late.

Princes, vice presidents...

In addition to 'GSTQ,' my English mum writes 'DGQD' in her letter signoffs (don't go quite daft). Not sure what that says about what she thinks of me...

Guys...guys...we might have to think about changing up acronyms here. GSTQ has served us well for a long time, but I think we can all agree that DQGD is marvelous beyond all compare and reason.

I'm so seldom reading this live, and now that it is happening, I don't have anything to to say! Should I just make something up?

Oh go ahead, why not. We have to all scoot in five minutes anyway.

Been reading your chats for awhile. Never even noticed 'GSTQ' when you signed off.

Think of all the other Easter eggs you could be missing. Best go back and read four years worth of transcripts now.

Is there anything more quintessentially British than brown sauce? It's brown, and it just tastes... brown. There's no there, there.

In a Chinese restaurant a few months ago, I asked the cashier what was in the white sauce. She artfully raised one eyebrow and said, "It's a WHITE SAUCE."

And who would have thought, given the plethora of sons of George III, that a generation later they would be scrambling to find somebody, anybody legitimate, to sit on that throne, and ended up settling for a teenage girl.

...and that the "girl" would go on to be such a stoic, longterm symbol for the country. (The woman was a mechanic in World War II, for pity's sake.)



Before I sign off: I think I might be out next Thursday. I should know more by early next week, but here's the advance warning just in case.

Don't quite go daft, and talk to you soon.

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: