What Terms Mean


Things have been getting a little lax around here, so it’s time to update the terms of service. Please review all these terms and/or conditions and indicate your preference to the waiter.

  1. This document shall be known for the purposes of this document as “this document”. If this document should be referred to for the purposes of some other document then this document may be known as “that document”, in which case all conditions and terms will continue to apply with the appropriate change of referent, except where they are obviously making things up in order to win sympathy. No, neither this document nor that document have to attend the funeral of their grandmother right during the scheduled exam, and their grandmother is a bit tired of all these funerals anyway.
  2. “You” in this document will mean you, the person to whom this document is addressed or who this document is addressing. You will continue to be you until you finally finish that course on the philosophical problems of identity. At that point you will be forced to admit that identity is an even harder thing to pin down than free will, but it does often make for a convenient fiction and even more compelling memoir. Your memoir will be retracted by the publishers following the discovery of apparently plagiarized portions regarding your time spent exploring the Indian Ocean for King Filipe II of Portugal, 1598 – 1621.
  3. Other persons to be addressed in this document will be known as “Mike”. “Mike” serves as a perfectly clear, unambiguous name and there do seem to be a lot of people by that name around, so it is likely their name already. In the event that “Mike” will not do or the section was copied without correction from the old terms of service, the name “Mark” will be used instead, excepting in those cases within which “Matt” is needed to differentiate between Mike and any Kings of Portugal, past or fictional.
  4. This document shall apply except in such cases in which this document shall not apply. In the event that portions of this document do not apply, those portions of this document which are not the portions of this document which do not apply shall apply. In the event that no portion of this document shall apply then you, or a designated other person who shall be designated “you” for the purposes of applying this document in cases of its non-applicability and the futility of the notion of identity under a thoughtful investigation, shall be entitled to apply for a full refund on return of the applicable portions of this document with the enclosed coupon, omitted for clarity. You might think this would go without saying, but you know how bad you imagine the meetings where we worked all this out were? They were eight percent worse.
  5. The only thing more exhausting than a fanboy explaining what is and is not canon is two fanboys explaining their complete agreement about what is and is not canon. In communications with us you agree not to do that, on pain of being mocked by our social-media teams.
  6. In using this service or services you agree that there is some service or services you intend to use. This document agrees that you could certainly do worse than to do so. In the event of your doing worse your recourse shall be limited to sulking about us, unless you are able to create one of those Internet social-media dogpiles where everybody is briefly angry at us and we can’t just wait it out for the next Internet social-media dogpile and what are the price of anti-AIDS drugs like these days anyway, dear service use agreement-maker?
  7. From time to time we will gather information and share it with the marketing department. They may go on to share or sell it with or to their partners, corporate or romantic, or with such government agencies as might seem interested. For example: in 1875 the Harvard Observatory earned $2,400 by selling astronomically-based time signals over the telegraph. Don’t you think Mike would like to know something like that? Mark does. If you wish to opt out of this information-gathering and distribution scheme we imagine you’re also always one passing comment away from explaining DuckDuckGo to everybody and you can just sit down, thank you. We stipulate to having heard you already.
  8. Agreement to these terms will be marked by Mark, you, Mike, Matt, Other Mark, and Other You where applicable stepping away from the table and making a clear, distinct “whew” audible to other persons who need not be there. If you are not at or cannot be near a table, drape a merry cloth not less than 280 years old across your lap and declare that to be your portable table. Then continue on as before.

That’s about everything. Thanks, everyone, for getting this cleared up. Please direct any questions to the Head of the Internet, at the usual address.

Statistics Saturday: The Most Rage-Inducing Things You Can Say To A Fan Of Something


  1. “I never heard of that. Is it any good?”
    Why it is rage-inducing:
    Obviously you have heard of it or you wouldn’t be talking to a fan of it, so you’re a fibber and if there’s one thing we can’t take on the Internet it’s deadpan humor, but fibbers are also trouble.
  2. “I loved the movie they made based on that!”
    Why it is rage-inducing:
    Nobody’s made a lovable movie based on anything since 1989’s The Dream Team was made based on the idea that Stephen Furst and James Remar should spend some time in a movie together.
  3. “Oh yeah. I loved whenever that guy turned up on Science Theater Mystery 2000.”
    Why it is rage-inducing:
    Get the title right at least. It’s Science Theater Mystery 4000.
  4. “You know one-seventh of all the people to serve two full terms as Vice-President of the United States were Richard Nixon?”
    Why it is rage-inducing:
    There isn’t any context in which this isn’t a weird thing to say. Even gatherings of fans of the Vice-Presidency swapping trivia about the Vice-Presidency is the wrong place for it. Just avoid bringing it up.
  5. “Does it have a web site?”
    Why it is rage-inducing:
    What is this, 1997, when Star Trek first appeared on the Internet? There are whole web sites devoted to nothing but things that don’t have web sites. You sound like you’re trying to make a badly programmed robot’s head explode.
  6. “I know it, I just don’t like it.”
    Why it is rage-inducing:
    Yet you are presumably allowed to vote, and possess rutabagas, and give your own opinion about how gigantic a kangaroo you would have to be to be satisfied with your gigantic kangaroo nature, and throw around trivia about the Vice-Presidency.
  7. “I remember that thing. It looked pretty good but I just never got into it for some reason.”
    Why it is rage-inducing:
    Well, obviously. Anyway, there’s really nothing you can do to sufficiently apologize for saying something like that. It’s probably best if after this you end the friendship, possibly by moving to a new city, in a different country, on another continent.

The Show Didn’t Predict The Existence of Minnesota, That Would Be Silly


If you remember anything about the late 80s/early 90s sitcom Coach it’s probably because you’re too good at remembering things and should maybe take a course in Useful Forgetting from your county college. Never mind. But if you do remember any of that it’s likely that what you remember is most of the show was set at Minnesota State University, which didn’t exist, because setting college shows at imaginary colleges lets the production staff have a giggle when they meet someone claiming they went there as an undergraduate, something they can’t get if they just meet someone who insists he went to Rutgers, like, I want to say, Scott Baio’s character on Who’s The Boss because I only partly completed my Useful Forgetting course.

Anyway, thing is, nowadays there is a Minnesota State University, formed when a couple universities in Minnesota changed their names and teamed up to fight evil. And now that’s got me wondering if fanboys of Coach get all smug about how their show predicted how there’d just have to be a Minnesota State and the universe didn’t make sense without it, the way certain Star Trek fanboys insist there wouldn’t be cell phones if it weren’t for communicators. And if they do, does anyone call them on it, or do their friends figure they should get to enjoy whatever reflected Coach-based glory they can get?

All this is a ridiculous thing to wonder and I apologize for taking so much of your time with it.

Science Fiction versus Fantasy Explained


When A Hard Science Fiction Fan Calls Something What He Means Is
Hard Science Fiction “I liked it. It had spaceships and robots and lasers and stuff.”
Soft Science Fiction “I didn’t like it, but it had spaceships and robots and lasers and stuff.”
Hard Fantasy “I liked it, but it didn’t have spaceships and robots and lasers and stuff.”
Soft Fantasy “I didn’t like it, and it didn’t have spaceships and robots and lasers and stuff.”