no swimswim witem ol meme pool

Two recent topics (list of high school cliques and defining the internet/watercooler news story) resulted in another phenomenon. Certain topics present the nearly irresistable urge to respond personally with an opinion or experience, even if that’s not the original intent of the discussion.

In these cases: The mention of teenager social cliques caused almost everyone to deliver their personal clique membership experience: claiming one, resisting them, etc. This accidentally proved my point about the power of that experience well into adulthood. The discussion of bloggable watercooler news stories got a lot of responses opining about the particular story that sparked my interest. In short, a watercooler was formed.

In both cases the general wasn’t nearly as attractive as the opportunity to share the personal and specific.

I think I hit the “talk about the weather” organ again. I wonder where that thing is? I’m sure as hell not “above” it; mention the weather and I’ll discuss it at length, and I’ll bet I’d do the same on the other topics if I hadn’t been the one with the less magnetic general questions.

So the next question is; what is the list of those topics? My first guess is that a lot of things about food, sex, and sleep would cause a similar response.

didja hear didja hear didja hear

There should be a word for news items which you know, the moment you see them, will be all over your LiveJournal and blogroll and feeds for the next 48-72 hours and will then become part of the permanent library of events referred to in these media.

Not “meme” but something that is more specifically limited to stories reported in mass media. Examples have varied in real-world importance from gigantic world-changing disasters or triumphs of good over evil down to pointless “oddly enough,” but there’s some characteristic quality that I can’t identify here that makes me say “well, I’ll be seeing this shit on my friends page for a while now” when I see it.

My guess at the moment is that certain stories flick a switch that makes us say “I must tell others about this and talk about it” that is independent of any judgment about the importance of the story or the likelihood that you’ll be the first to tell anyone about it. I bet if they ever localize this thing in the brain it’ll be in the same nerve bundle as whatever makes us talk about the weather.

The item that sparked this line of thought was of course today’s death of a minor celebrity, which is almost entirely at the trivial end of the scale, only escaping the “oddly enough” silliness because it involves one actual death of a human.


1. Type your first name into Google followed by “had better stop” . Then go to and post whatever you got as advice to the current question.

2. Open iTunes, put it on shuffle, and forward to the fifth song. Stalk the artist until arrested. If the artist is dead, stalk someone else, claiming that they are this person.

3. Reach for the nearest book you can find, open it to page 23, and tell others you have read it, although you have not.

4. Take the “Which fucking waste of time are you” quiz at! [UNDERCONSTRUCTION.GIF]

5. Click here to put the “HOMOSEXUAL FAGGOTS ARE LOVE” banner on your site!!!

6. Take a picture of yourself in the bathroom mirror with a flash camera and then get your Sparklies Fashion Weather Bratz Trollz SouthPark avatar and then get this free Flying Spaghetti Monster banner and then drag them all to the trashcan and delete them forever and just go back to bed.

6. ADD YOURSELF TO THE LIST!!!! of people who have made this joke.

Eine Kleine FOAFMusik

The “Mozart Effect”, which has been a cultural phenomenon since the 1990s, is horseshit. It followed the same path as every urban legend, but the original study was never replicated, nor was the study about babies. The meta-study looks interesting, as does the researcher.

STANFORD GRADUATE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS — Scientists have discredited claims that listening to classical music enhances intelligence, yet this so-called “Mozart Effect” has actually exploded in popularity over the years. So says Chip Heath, an associate professor of organizational behavior who has systematically tracked the evolution of this scientific legend. What’s more, Heath and his colleague, Swiss psychologist Adrian Bangerter, found that the Mozart Effect received the most newspaper mentions in those U.S. states with the weakest educational systems—giving tentative support to the previously untested notion that rumors and legends grow in response to public anxiety.

the whole thing was a wash