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Actually folded and hung and drawered and et cetera my last load of laundry! Hmm whoa, that’s surprising.

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12 days ago
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We Rate Dogs and archnemesis Brent have reconciled thanks to a puppy

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“Charlie, dog of Brant.”

Charlie the puppy just helped teach us a vital lesson about crossing the ideological aisle in 2018.

It’s the start of another week of sociopolitical chaos and dysfunction, so we’d like to redirect your thoughts away from the ongoing threat of global catastrophe and toward the triumphant return of one of the greatest memes in internet history.

Grab your tissue boxes and prepare to renew your faith in the progress of the human spirit, because “Brent” now has a good dog of his own.

You might know Twitter user @dog_rates, actual name Matt Nelson, from his beloved dog-ranking system, in which dogs of all stripes get effusively virtually canoodled and praised, as they deserve. For example, here is a Very Good Dog reminding us that all human beings have worth and dignity and deserve to be treated equally under the law:

And you might especially remember his iconic rejoinder to a dog-rating hater known only as “Brant”: “they’re good dogs Brent.”

Pure-hearted and direct from the soul of the internet, this very good quip seems as though it has always been with us. In fact, it was dropped just two years ago, in the before-time of 2016, when we all could still believe in America as a place of idealism and democracy instead of a corrupt capitalist wasteland riddled with extreme, racist ideologies and adults who steal baseballs from children.

Nelson and his good-hearted dog tweets have continually done the daily work of injecting much-needed whimsy into our ongoing struggle against the darkness. But now he’s joined forces with an unlikely ally to remind us that there is still love and joy and the possibility for reconciliation in the world. Alongside him? His archnemesis Brent (real name Brant Walker).

Brant/Bront/Brent seems to have become quite chummy with Nelson in the intervening years. Perhaps they were inspired to forge a friendship despite their polarized ideological platforms, out of a shared wish to ensure that kindheartedness, empathy, and hope, rather than wastefulness, greed, and cruelty, continue to be the driving forces behind modern American society.

In private Twitter messages, Brint approached Nelson with a stunning update on his life, and a proposition: Would Nelson like to virtually meet, and rate, Brynt’s new dog?

Clearly, Nelson would.

Thus, the world met Charlie, and nearly two years after the indelible exchange occurred, it ended as we can only hope all such conflicts will: in peace, happiness, and plenty of In-N-Out fries for everyone.

Of course, the cynical among us might say that by the very dog-rating standards he advocated for in 2016, Brœnt’s dog isn’t more than a 6.5 or a 7.0 or so on the @dog_rates scale of dog rating. But that argument misses the point about what made this such a popular meme.

“They’re good dogs Brent” transcends cynicism. That’s what makes it so powerful.

The assertion “they’re good dogs Brent” was never about aesthetics, or even about dogs. It was really about expressing a tranquil, calm joy in the face of pessimism and buzz-harshing. It was a moment in which a Hater was met, and vanquished, by the sheer power of commitment to an idealistic principle. In this case, the principle is that all dogs are good dogs. The @dog_rates Twitter account had clearly placed that principle at the heart of its simple mission, and Brient’s cynicism simply couldn’t counteract the strength of its commitment to celebrating good dogs.

So when we celebrate Nelson’s simple own of Brünt, we’re also saying that we, too, believe that all dogs are good dogs; that there are fundamental truths about the inherent goodness and rightness of all dogs, and maybe even all of earth’s creatures — including humans — that transcend snarky internet criticism.

Ultimately, this compassionate and open-hearted read on the world extended to Brent himself: Brant got his own dog rated, and Charlie was deemed to be a Good Dog, worthy of a 14/10 on the dog_rates scale.

While the return of this meme might not seem like a hard-hitting retaliation against the perpetual attacks on our basic humanity which currently punctuate daily life in America, it’s actually a crucial restorative.

For one thing, its continued popularity gives us all common ground, as so much of the pet-loving internet does. For another, it’s a blunt reminder of our historical template for progress: Get to know the thing you hate — in this case, cute dogs — and you may learn to love it.

Even more crucially, if we extend kindness to the haters in our midst, while standing strong in our convictions about the worth and dignity of all earth’s creatures, soon, they, too, might learn to view the beings around them with love and generosity instead of distrust and skepticism. This teachable moment continues to illustrate that deep down, all of us just want to be loved for who we are, patted on the head, and told we’re good.

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27 days ago
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linguini17: haiku-robot: silver-tongues-blog: nightguardmod: tehjai: aliyamirat: naamahdarling:...











My 26 yr old sister still says things out loud like ‘ermagerd’ and ’___ ALL the things!’ Like…is that what’s gonna happen to me?am I going to be 30 still saying stupid shit like O shit waddup! Are all the youngins gonna be embarrassed by my use of outdated memes….how long until I myself am not Hip With It….how long until I am no longer a trendy memer…

my greatest fear honestly

Listen, I am 40.  I was around for the early internet of webrings and hamsterdance. Homestarrunner.  Those little cats in the boat singing to Immigrant Song.  Longcat.  Ceiling cat.  Radiskull.  Powerthirst.

So to me anything that is funny on the internet is, and always will be, cutting-edge and hilarious.  If it’s funny the first time, it’s funny the eleven thousandth time.  No exceptions.

I accumulate memes. Social media sites form actual strata in my soul, revealing my geological age in layers: Geocities, Myspace, Livejournal, Tumblr.  Memes encrust me, like jewels, just layer on layer of reaction gifs and shitposts, some of which I barely understand, but I refuse to let go of.  I cling to them, they are ever-relevant, undying.

You callow youths, who think in your innocence that that memes come and go, you are tepid fools who still smell of milk.

I am where memes go to die. I am where memes go to live eternal. Someday, if you are lucky, you will join me.  Bring your breadsticks meme, your Spiders Georg, your Bode, your big mood, your Supernatural gifs, your oh worm.  Come with me and rejoice in pointless in-jokes and long-forgotten references.  Embrace your encyclopedic knowledge of comedy sites ca 2006 and come share the knowledge with us. Come with me and lik the bred.  

You gotta.

“You callow youths, who think in your innocence that that memes come and go, you are tepid fools who still smell of milk.”

Put this on my headstone, underneath a picture of Ceiling Cat.

all your base are belong to us

It’s almost like nobody expects nearly 50 year old memes

listen, memes never die, they just start getting called quotes and references

listen memes never

die they just start getting called

quotes and references

^Haiku^bot^9. I detect haikus with 5-7-5 format. Sometimes I make mistakes.

Anarchy is the only thing Humans® will ever understand. | PayPal | Patreon

On a recent residential, I taught four dozen 11 year olds “Badger badger badger badger…” and they loved it, even pointing out various fungi on the walks and going “MUSHROOM MUSHROOM” 

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30 days ago
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Shinichi Suzuki: Ability Development from Age Zero


We must think deeply about the fact that Casals, at ninety-one years old, even now practices the cello two hours every day so as not to be stagnant at even his high level of ability.

Even if someone becomes a fine person who does great works, he is not so exalted that he does not need to study. Rather the opposite is true, because he finds more and more problems to study and he has the will to grow higher and higher. He is in a world so advanced that we cannot even imitate him, but we learn that people train themselves more and reach for truer beauty.

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65 days ago
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Four Ways of Thinking About a Line

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You don’t hear a lot of hot takes on straight lines. They’re lines; they’re straight; and that’s pretty much the full police report. If Hollywood ever options this into a screenplay, you’ll know it’s only because a truly A-list actor made it their passion project.

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That’s how I know philosopher W.V. Quine is a Jedi master: because in his adorably named Quiddities, he manages to make me feel confused and breathless about the concept of straightness.

Specifically, he highlights four physical ways to test a line’s straightness, each quite distinct:

1. Stretch a piece of string along the line. If it matches the tight string, then it’s straight. Thus, straightness is a matter of tautness.

“This test recalls indeed the origin of our word line, Latin linea,” explains Quine; “it is related to linen and lint.”

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2. Sight along the line, like an astronomer peering through a telescope. Your eye will detect deviations from straightness.

“We have here,” says Quine, “a notable quirk of nature: the light ray, which is our line of sight, matches the taut string…. Between yawns, try to recapture the fresh sense of naïve wonder that two such simple and disparate phenomena… should line up so nicely.”

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3. Fold a piece of stiff cardboard. This will be naturally straight, so you can hold it against your candidate line to test its straightness.

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4. Slide an edge along the line. For example, take a card’s edge, and slide it from one endpoint of the possible line to the other. If you can “preserve full contact” throughout the process, then you’ve got a straight line.

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Now, what do taut string, sniper scopes, stiff cardboard, and sliding edges have in common? In practical terms, nothing; in geometric and conceptual terms, everything. Each is a different doorway into the same underground chamber, a different perspective on the same surprisingly rich idea.

This brings us to my favorite part of blogging: the Indefensible Generalization Game. Ready? I’ll go first:

Mathematics is the art of perfect synonyms.

I know that’s not usually how we define math. We call it “the study of logical systems” or “the queen of the sciences” or “the class between social studies and lunch.” But chew on the idea of synonymy, and you’ll be surprised how nutritious you find it.

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The greatest insights in mathematics are equivalences. You can call them equations, or isomorphisms, or symmetries, or “Hey, there are octahedrons in my cubes, and cubes in my octahedrons!” The point is that math is about connections, and a connection is when you can describe the same thing two ways.

Just listen to the theorist Simon Kochen:

Mathematicians don’t talk a lot about analogy. Not because it isn’t there, but just the opposite. It permeates all mathematics.

Or Joseph Fourier:

Mathematics compares the most diverse phenomena and discovers the secret analogies that unite them.

Or Andre Weil:

Nothing is more fruitful—all mathematicians know it—than those obscure analogies, those disturbing reflections of one theory on another; those furtive caresses, those inexplicable discords; nothing also gives more pleasure to the researcher.

Okay, they’re talking more about “analogy” than “synonymy.” But my point, I guess, is that mathematical analogies establish two concepts as synonyms.

They’re ideas that rhyme.

Now, in case I’ve accidentally persuaded you to go buy Quine’s book, let me caveat. Quine is an analytic philosopher, which is to say that he makes a fetish of logic. I’m a big logic fan myself—it’s how I solve the Sherlock Holmes-style mysteries of where I’ve left my phone charger—but Quine takes logic to extremes that don’t always interest me.

Take this word-game on the meaning of “identity”:

Identity seems like a relation, but it does not relate things pairwise as a relation should; things are identical only to themselves. How then does identity differ from a mere property? Moreover, it applies to everything. How then does it differ from the mere property of existence…?

To me, logic is a cleansing agent, a clarifier. It weeds out certain pathogens in our thinking—inconsistencies, hypocrisies, circularities. Analytic philosophy like Quine’s, though, sometimes feels to me like an attempt to cleanse the cleansing agent itself. It’s like an autoimmune disorder of the intellect: logic’s antibodies attacking themselves.

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That’s why Quine’s discussion of lines jumped out at me: it’s concrete, physical. Its logic turns not inward, but outward, juxtaposing four tactile experiences and prodding us to inspect the commonality, the shared conceptual structure.

This, I think, is what math is all about: spotting the common features beneath reality. Taking languages that seem to have no words in common, and discovering—against all the odds—flawless synonyms.

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68 days ago
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