Web Hostess Live: The latest from the Web

Sep 14, 2017

See you at 2!

We'll start at 2!

Monica, I can't think of anyone better equipped to comment on this article, which argues that the smartphone has made a generation of post-Millennials "miserable". Have you seen this in your experience, even though you seem like a Millennial?

Hi Monica! I am about halfway through your book and I am really enjoying it! Both the writing and the reporting are really great. Congrats! I keep thinking how cool it would be to see this as one of the next installments of Ryan Murphy's American Crime Story anthologies! The location, the people, and the fires would make for such a rich series!

Hey, thanks! (btw, for those of you in the DC area, I'm doing a reading at D.C.'s Johns Hopkins campus this Friday evening at 7, at 1717 Massachusetts Ave. It's me and couple other Hopkins grads. I hear there will be free cheese. Would love to see you).

For the last few weeks, WaPo has been making me re-log in CONSTANTLY. This is despite the fact that I have my log in info saved on both devices I read from, and have each device set to "keep me logged in". What is "CONSTANTLY", you ask? In the course of reading a single chat transcript yesterday, I had to log in three times. Once when I first opened it, once after I minimized the window for under 30sec and found when I pulled it back up I had the log in page again, and once when I clicked a link in the chat to a WaPo article- apparently the fact that I was already logged in on one tab of my normal browser did not convey to the new tab. It's infuriating to the degree that I've started using NYT instead of WaPo when I want to do a quick catch up of the news. I am a paid delivery subscriber of many years, fwiw, and had never had an issue till the last few weeks. That it is happening on multiple devices that run on different platforms tells me it's not coming from my end. Please please let whomever needs to know to fix this. It may sound silly but it's frustrating enough to have to log in a dozen times over the course of a day that it will eventually drive me away entirely if it can't be fixed.

This does sound frustrating. And bizarre -- I haven't experienced anything like it and, as you might imagine, I spend a lot of my day on the Post's site. )Has anyone else run into this? I'll pass onto the tech folks).

Just read the story about Mr Miranda singing show tunes on the Senate choo-choo train. Man, that guy seems so relentlessly upbeat and filled with jollity! He unnerves me. Well, this isn't exactly a question, I guess.

My favorite part is that he sang the Trolley Song. Meet Me In St. Louis is a brilliant musical that never gets its full due. But every song is amazing. Except for The Boy Next Door. That song is boring and was always fast-forwarded through in my house.

Showboat is the most underrated musical

But...it's not underrated. It's highly-rated? It's a regularly-rated musical, right? 


And also, Show Boat is one of those shows that has not held up well in the modern era. Like Carousel. Carousel has beautiful music, and a really freaking disturbing message. 

my office environment is pretty toxic to that sort of thing. So, if you type out an offer to pay substantial money for a "sample" from a person that they definitely won't give voluntarily it is a request with incentive to assault that person. I think that it is appropriate to treat it a such. And saying "I was only kidding" later on doesn't help. You did what you did. And the person who got caught is more than loathsome enough that there is no reason for anyone to have known or assumed ahead of time that he was kidding. And yet.....I can imagine even a loathsome person saying this out loud to a more limited group (like an audience in an auditorium) and no one treating it like an actual request to perform the assault and offer to pay for the results. Do you think this would have been treated differently if it had been said to a few hundred people in a room? Or just less likely to be found out.

I had to read this twice in order to figure out what you were talking about. And I think you were referring to this:

Loathed pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli has been arrested because of a Facebook posting he made relate to Hillary Clinton. The Facebook post told his followers that he would pay $5,000 to anyone who could procure a sample of Clinton's hair, presumably taken at one of her book readings. It was perceive as harassment and he was arrested. Hold on, let me google quickly for the post.

Okay. The text of the post was: "On HRC's book tour, try to grab a hair from her. Will pay $5,000 per hair obtained from Hillary Clinton."

He now claims it was satire. Police do not agree.

What do you think about this? Does it matter, as the previous poster suggested, that the offer was put on Facebook? Would it have been different if he said it to a group of 10 people at a private party? What if he said it to 1,000 people in a lecture hall?

What if he was not Martin Shkreli but another rich guy who was not as odious in the cultural conscience? What if he were a random dude and not a billionaire?

Please discuss. Tell me how to think about this.

next week and the day I have picked out is the ONLY one that is forecast as more likely than not to have some rain. I guess maybe this means there will be less competition in line? Or that I shouldn't pay attention to a forecast for Tuesday on the previous Thursday.

Hmm. I think that if you have traveled halfway across the country for a New York vacation, and if you really want to see Hamilton while you are there -- which is the situation that a lot of tourists will be in -- then you are not going to let rain stop you from your goal. You are just going to buy a $10 poncho and stand in the rain.

You are so right about how good it is, but I never thought of it being underrated. ("I've waited my whole life to be a senior"). Watch Margaret O'Brien's slippers during Under the Bamboo Tree. They change from pink to blue. Or vice versa, I can't remember.

WHAT. This is life-changing.

(Hold on, I am still here, but a friend and former Postie just stopped by my desk and we all need to gab for a minute)

Being in my 70s, I'm not much for social media (no blog, Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, etc.), but I was just checking myself on Google last night to see how my professional self was appearing online. I was dismayed to find a number of websites purporting to contain background and reputation files about me. One lists me correctly as a registered Democrat (true) but also incorrectly as single (a big surprise to my spouse, seated nearby), and at least one provides my unlisted landline phone number. I pursued a couple of these sites, and found that http://www.mylife.com wants me to register in order to see my juiciest details (hint: there aren't any!). Meanwhile, https://nuwber.com [sic] instructed me to submit an email address so they could send me info on how to delete my listing, so I used the email I reserve for unimportant purposes, and received a reply instructing me to click on an embedded URL in order to delete my listing. Uh, no way. Being a possibly over-cautious internet user, I NEVER click on embedded URLs from anyone I don't personally know and trust. Returning to your "Web Hostess" roots, how do you advise I proceed to eliminate these listings and others like them from the internet, or am I doomed to be listed in perpetuity (possibly with erroneous "info")?

Honestly, I have no idea. But if you are a private person and worried about these listings, might I offer the potentially useless comment that maybe it's better for there to be erroneous information affiliated with you? If you don't want people to be able to track you down, maybe it's better that some of the sites completely get it wrong. (I realize that this answer is not helpful at all. It is more of a philosophical answer about misdirection).

The difference is that, unlike an average person, he was already on probation for fraud. So he got hauled off to jail for violation probation.

I bet he also got hauled off, in part, for being Martin Shkreli. It's like Al Capone going down on tax fraud. You know he's done more odious things, but if this your opportunity to put him away, then...

Or maybe just past their shelf life. If I Loved You is one of my favorite songs; otherwise I find Carousel unwatchable. I don't get the Fantastix - Try to Remember was in the first 10 minutes; can anyone name another song or summarize the plot? And sitting through Man of La Mancha last year was painful. Aside from Impossible Dream, not one memorable song, and a rape scene was played for laughs. Maybe you just had to be there at the time. Speaking of time, Singin' in the Rain never gets old for me, though I admit fast forwarding through the long Cyd Cherisse number.

I can only name about three Fantastix songs, and I starred in my high school's production of it. (and yes. Singin' in the Rain is good forever).

Can I just say that I really like it when you type something like "hold on, someone just stopped by" in the chat. It makes it feel very real and personal. Even without visuals I feel like I'm there. Hi!

The special guest star was Tim Smith, who left the Post a few months ago to drive around the country and see America in a van. 3,000 miles later he was dropping in to tell us he'd discovered that he doesn't like driving all that much.

The Supreme Court holds that First Amendment freedom of speech doesn't cover everyone in every circumstance. In Rankin v. McPherson, 483 U.S. 378 (1987), "The Court ruled that, while direct threats on the President's life would not be protected speech, a comment — even an unpopular or seemingly extreme one — made on a matter of public interest and spoken by a government employee with no policymaking function and a job with little public interaction, would be protected." LINK: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rankin_v._McPherson

Yes, is what the law says.

I think Poe's law should actually work against him in this case. Because it is not possible to tell whether he is kidding, it is appropriate to treat it as serious, and in this case he is implicitly encouraging people to commit battery. In fact, he has effectively made a binding unilateral contract. If someone tried to claim the reward, he could not legally refuse someone who had met the terms of his offer, especially since the reward offer was public. (This would be true if he were any random dude.) Of course, the claimant would have to take him to court to have the contract enforced, and the costs are high for that, but the principle is clear: a public offer of a reward is a legally enforceable unilateral contract. Not a joke.

It is really hard to make jokes online to thousands of Facebook followers, some of whom you do not know. Even if Shkreli truly did intend it to be a joke, it's impossible to account for the fact that there might be dingbats who read it and then come to him saying, "I want my $5,000."

Which is partly why I asked whether it would feel the same if he'd said the same thing in person. It feels like the outcome would have been the same, but maybe not? 

A previous chatter said he is on probation, he is not. He was actually out on bail after his fraud conviction, awaiting sentencing. His bail was revoked. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Mea culpa, but I missed whatever article or post has led to this discussion of musicals. Is there a link? (I promise never to miss this sort of thing again.)

No link -- someone just mentioned seeing video of Lin Manuel singing on the Senate subways (Google it, you'll find it).

He was convicted a crime and awaiting sentencing, that is what makes it different.

I think all of you are answering the question based on what is legal, and how is the law applicable. Which totally makes sense. I was curious more, I think, about the public perception of this arrest. What does your gut tell you, not what does the law tell you? Does your gut tell you anything different because it is Shkreli or because of the medium in which this all happened? 

(This might be an impossible question to answer, or a stupid question to ask, and for that I apologize. But for all you good people sending in quotes from legal decisions, that...is not what I was interested in).

I bet even the most milquetoast users of Facebook, if they posted a $5,000 reward for a lock of anyone's hair -- let alone that of the person who won the popular vote for President last year -- would get hauled in by authorities ASAP once it was reported to them. Such a person probably can be charged with a whole passel of felonies for this.

Rent. Gah, Rent. One good song, and that's about it. But it was absolutely inescapable in the 90s among the artsy crowd. Semi-related: Does anyone else find it irritating to hear soundtracks for musicals they haven't seen? It's like I'm only getting part of the story, and it bugs. I had to ask a friend to stop randomly burbling bits of "Hamilton" at me, because the songs aren't particularly witty without context. And normally I enjoy her singing.

Terrible confession: aside from that "My Shot" song that everyone is always singing and is completely unavoidable, I couldn't tell you a single song from Hamilton, because I have the same problem as you: It's really hard for me to get invested in songs from musicals if I have not seen the musical and the whole story.

and I could name a bunch of them. And sing a lot it. Actually, I probably could sing more than I know the title to. But without referring to the net (so a lot of these will be first lines not titles), The Rape Song, Plant a Radish, Soon its Gonna Rain, Just Once, They Were You, and [that one where the boy gets tortured during the verses]. And the plot is: boy meets girl, boy and girl split up, boy and girl get back together. Slightly more thwarted it is Romeo and Juliet. Slightly less thwarted it is Oklahoma and most other musical comedies. Or maybe it is about the same amount of thwarted as other musical comedies. I think it is slightly more, but I could be wrong. The night I saw it, there were about a dozen of us in the audience. I had an abduction participant sitting in my lap at one point. Louisa had a particularly good voice.

I swear, I myself sang many of these songs on a stage at my high school in Normal, Illinois after rehearsing them for months and I could not tell you any of the lyrics now.

If I were Hillary Clinton, I'd demand that Shkreli pay me for a lock of my own hair, because calling his bluff in court would be so worth it!

Or shave my head, submit a bill for a million dollars, and promptly donate that money to a non-profit that provides low-cost drugs to low-income folks?

That the legal system IS just after all!

Praise be.


 Mea Culpa for the mid-chat distraction. Thanks for your patience while I caught up with a friend. See you next week? gstq

I do think that, realistically, Shkreli's known persona did influence the decision, as did the use of social media. During the trial, his lawyers had repeatedly tried to get him to stop using social media because they recognized it was only hurting him, but he chose not to listen. Can't say I sympathize in the least.

Yeah, he's an a$$, so however he chooses to make a comment like that, he should go to prison. Or at least pay a fee or something.

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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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