January 11th, 2008

krazy koati

Faces, Numbers I recognize

Although over 28 people each day use the Internet, how many know what it is, how it is made up, and how it is redressed between scenes in order to look like something different? And of those, how many would be available to move a couch next Wednesday? Those who have any experience in responsible Internet use know better than to admit they haven't got anything going on, even if they just want to know why someone would want to move a couch on a Wednesday, an impossible day for such a thing to move.

The Internet is a high-capacity means of transmitting outrage from one person to another. Its backbone is the ongoing imminent peril of running out of IP addresses. IP is an acronym standing for IP, but -- this is important -- a different IP than what is written. It is nevertheless the same IP as is typed, except again when used in the third declension or the dative case. One can use the celebrated mnemonic ``ip, ip, ooray'', but should probably not recite it out loud.

IP addresses are designed to be unique ways of identifying the source and the recipient of any particular block of outrage. Originally this was done by identifying the person actually using the computer, but this proved impractical when dozens of people tried using the the same minor Star Trek character names as a joke. The next step was to try identifying the computers being used by the people, but too many computers look the same and outrage packets would easily be lost or misaddressed. Finally a system of identifying computer users by their cats evolved, and has been highly successful, and it is hoped that someday ways will be found to extend the Internet to people with allergies.

Outrage is communicated in a particular code made of 1's, which represent logical fallacies, and 0's, which represent jokes told slyly enough that the immediate response is someone clumsily explaining the joke, often with a comment like ``you may have thought you were joking, but'' as introduction. This produces a sense of outrage in the person whose joke has just been fumbled over, raising the amount of outrage transmitted through the Internet while simultaneously hastening the speed at which IP addresses run out, and allowing for more efficient transmission of both the 1's and the 0's. Thus simply by existing the Internet forces itself into a powerful exponential-growth curve, which is why it does so very well for itself.

In the meantime the organization of these codes is done by a routine known as TCP, which was named by people who heard the lyrics to Aretha Franklin's classic ``Respect'' just a little wrong. They also pronounce ``Rutgers'' as if it were spelled ``Rukters'' and at this point it's probably not worth arguing. After a while these arguments stop generating quality outrage and degenerate into unpleasantness.

Organization of tasks on the Internet is done by basically self-selected groups that gather together to discuss some issue at enough length that everyone gets tired of it and grows very irritable whenever the issue is brought up (see above, regarding the positive-growth outrage cycle). These discussions take the form of Requests for Comment, or RFCs, and in them can be found nearly everything of how the Internet is structured. The modern Internet culture can be seen in embryo from the titles of the first few RFC's:

Request For Comment 1: Procedure for Requesting Comments.

Request For Comment 2: Procedure for Serious Comments This Time.

Request For Comment 3: Procedure for Serious Comments That Don't Involve Calling People Names.

Request For Comment 4: Yes, You Can Call People The Names They Actually Have, Stop Being Such A Pedantic Clod, You Blundering Idiot.

Request For Comment 6: There Is No Request For Comment 6.

RFC 6 established that the Internet would start out being composed nearly two parts out of five of Monty Python references. It was almost two parts out of three, but the debate about that -- which began in 1969 -- was resolved as long ago as Wednesday. And from these simple building blocks of bickering and discontent a mighty technology was born.

Trivia: On 11 January 1891 Edmond Modeste Lescarbault, whose 1859 observation of an apparent transit began the serious search for the hypothetical intra-Merucial planet of Vulcan, reported to the Secretary of the Académie des Sciences a ``star of comparable brightness to Regulus, which I had never seen until today. It is beneath Theta in the Lion. I observed it only with the naked eye, on 10 and 11 January, in the early morning hours; and despite the weakening of my eyesight, I believe I saw it well, and was not the victim of an illusion.'' Société Astronomique de France founder Camille Flammarion noted that Lescarbault's object had been previously observed and was generally known as Saturn. Lescarbault died in 1894. Source: In Search of Planet Vulcan, Richard Baum, William Sheehan.

Currently Reading: Highway of Eternity, Clifford Simak.