Blackouts and Black Buttes: Offline and Off the Grid

As you may have noticed, certain popular Inter Net webbing sites are participating in a "blackout" today. The purpose of this blackout is to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act, or "SOPA." For example, if you go to Craigslist to buy a crappy used bike or get ripped off while trying to rent an apartment, you'll find this:

Or if you go to Wikipedia to gaze upon the raw essence of male sexuality that is Nonplussed Bib Shorts Model Guy:

You'll find this:

Though if you go to Kim Jong-Il Looking at Things, you'll still find this:

Unless you're actually in North Korea, in which case your "computer" is just a state-run newspaper taped to a cardboard box.

Needless to say, operators of webbing sites do not like SOPA, because while it is ostensibly designed to protect copyright holders, it could also hinder free speech as well as the sort of user-generated content that makes the Internet so simultaneously wonderful and awful. Imagine, for example, a world without videos of people "bombing hills" on their fixies to stupid songs for which they did not receive the proper clearances, or even a world without crappy bike blogs that make fun of the aforementioned videos. It would be a living heck. You'd hate it. In fact, you'd hate it so much you'd move to another world instead, like Narnia, or Hogwarts, or the idealized version of Brooklyn in which the Huxtables lived.

I too do not like the idea of SOPA, but despite tremendous pressure on me to join the blackout (well, one guy emailed me) I will not be doing so. This is for two reasons: 1) It would be disingenuous of me, because even though I'm against SOPA in principle the truth is I really don't know nearly as much about it as I should; and B) When Wikipedia participates in a blackout, millions of people take notice, but when this blog takes part in a blackout the 19 people who read it and already know way more about SOPA than I do just see me for the douchebag I am. Given this, it seems to me that it makes way more sense to leave the blog switch on the "on" position so that people can alternately leave intelligent SOPA-related comments from which we can all learn, and/or gratuitously post the word "scranus."

Of course, one argument in favor of SOPA is that the entertainment industry backs it. The Motion Picture Association of America says that piracy costs the business of show billions of dollars a year. This is a great tragedy, because without that money studios and producers couldn't give Will Smith $20 million to star in "Men In Black III," a movie that has already cost something like $215 million (about half of what Congress spends on all of public broadcasting) and isn't even finished yet. Yes, life without incessant sequels and insipid comic book movies that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to produce is just too nightmarish to contemplate. Plus, we should also remember that piracy supposedly costs the entertainment industry jobs, since apparently there's no way to budget for a film that allows the star to have a $9,000 a month trailer as well a $25,000 a month apartment around the corner from that trailer without also firing a few PAs that earn annually what Will Smith spends on lunch. Therefore Congress really should help these people with some bespoke legislation that ensures us the constant stream of shitty entertainment we all deserve. (Maybe they can plaster Big Bird with product placement while they're at it.)

Anyway, I doubt SOPA and PIPI and Pipi Longstocking and all the rest of them will get very far in the long run, since I've just had word that the Best Made Company has joined the blackout. However, they won't actually be blacking out their site. Instead, they're offering customers this $375 hand-stitched artisanal blindfold:

Just slip it over your face and--voilĂ !--instant blackout. It's also handy for generally living in a state of ostrich-like denial. For example, if you ever find yourself in an unattractive, non-minimalist environment where you're surrounded by ugly people (such as a hospital or a Walmart), you can just slip it on and imagine yourself in a rustic luxury "cabin" in the "wilderness" eating pancakes drenched with designer maple syrup and looking at framed maps of places that haven't existed for a hundred years.

Moving on, yesterday I mentioned Gene Hackman's bicycle "accident" (it's cute when they call getting rammed by a car an "accident"), which prompted a reader to leave the following comment:

Bogusboy said...

Is it, perhaps, just barely possible that Gene Hackman is not an accomplished cyclist and was, in fact, riding like a geriatric Fred?

JANUARY 17, 2012 9:02 PM

It certainly is eminently possible. However, another reader has forwarded me actual video evidence that Mr. Hackman in fact has crazy mad tight sick bike-handling skillzzz:

Though if that's what Hackman was doing when the pickup truck hit him I suppose we could say that he bears some responsibility for the incident.

Speaking of cabins (as I was a bit earlier) I also received an email from yet another reader informing me that cabin porn is the new bike porn and directing me to the following site, which was indeed full of some of the filthiest cabin porn I've ever seen:

That's the kind of porn that sends fans of the "Americana backwoods revival" straight to the outhouse for some hot and frenzied "whittling" sessions. Seriously, that's full frontal cabin porn--you can see the whole derned woodpile for Lob's sake:

(Exposed woodpiles are the "beaver shot" of cabin porn.)

I think I even see a solar panel, which is of course the cabin porn equivalent of a "tramp stamp," and I won't even address the fact that this cabin is in a place called "Black Butte." There's even bike-on-cabin porn on, though frankly it leaves a lot to be desired:

Unless of course you're into bikes with step-through frames and missing front wheels "getting it on" with storage sheds. After all, who am I to judge?

Lastly, from cabin porn to portage porn, from a reader in Austin comes this action shot of a rider portaging a couple of big rods and a nonplussed pussy:

If the rider is also en route to a cabin then I may have hit the jackpot.

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