Philip Berne

Fixing the Deadliest Gadget

Fixing the Deadliest Gadget

I can’t believe I’m going to do this. I’m going to defend the right to own guns. You see, I’m a liberal. I’m more liberal than you are. I don’t care how liberal you think you are, I’m more liberal than you. But I also pride myself on my ability to change my mind with a reasonable argument, so there are a few positions on which I agree with conservatives. Teacher’s unions, for one thing, are pure evil. I know that from my experience working in public schools, where my job was made much harder by teachers who were resting on union protections and doing a horrible job. On gun ownership, as well, I’m confounded to say that I tend to agree more with the right-wing than the left.

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Stop Whining and Subscribe to HBO

Stop Whining and Subscribe to HBO

I love the show Game of Thrones on HBO. The show is fantastic. It’s one of the best shows to come along in a while. It’s exciting, sexy, complicated, and it has just a touch of fantasy thrown in, mainly to keep you guessing about the possibilities of what’s to come. In the first episodes of the first season, did you really expect to see dragons? But then that platinum blond Khaleesi woman steps out of the fire completely naked with a dragon on her shoulder and it was the probably the coolest thing I have ever seen on television. Wait, have you seen Game of Thrones? If you haven’t, you should subscribe to HBO right now so you can start watching.

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Grammar Police, Arrest This Man

Grammar Police, Arrest This Man

There is an alternate universe somewhere in which I am a lexicographer. I write dictionaries for a living. This is not the pipe dream of a grammar-obsessed former English teacher. Right out of grad school (Master’s in English), I turned down an opportunity to work for the Oxford English Dictionary. The job was for a specialist in Caribbean dialects of English. It sounded fantastic. The OED recruiters made clear this was not a stepping stone job for editors and writers. Being a lexicographer leads only to being a better, more experienced lexicographer. Instead, I took a job that involved writing and technology and pop culture, and my life was set on its course. But in an alternate world, I made a different choice and took the dictionary job, and now I sit in a dark apartment in Manhattan mumbling to myself about the horror of language on the Internet.

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Don’t Shoot Your Food

Don’t Shoot Your Food

Stop taking pictures of your food. You’re a lousy photographer, and I’m tired of looking at your photos. They are disgusting. While you may be excited about the delicious / unique / unfathomably fattening food you are about to consume, that does not mean you need to mark the occasion with an Instagram or Twitter post. Just don’t. Eat your 17 pound burger, or your pizza with a fried shrimp crust, or your bacon ice cream sundae, and keep it to yourself.

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The Movie Is Over When The Credits Roll

The Movie Is Over When The Credits Roll

Now, I’m mad. At first, it was funny. I definitely didn’t stay to the very end of the movie when I saw “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” in the theaters, but when I saw the movie at home, I saw the bonus scene at the end. The “stinger,” as it’s sometimes called. Roger Ebert called this the “Monk’s Reward,” because you need to have the patience of a monk to sit through the final credits for the payoff. But if you managed to make it through the scroll of names at the end of Ferris Bueller, Matthew Broderick appears on screen and tells the audience to go home. The movie’s over. Go home.

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Learning Photo Posting Social Skills

Learning Photo Posting Social Skills

People aren’t likely to tell you how bad your photos are, or how much your photo stream is boring them to tears. So I’m here to help. Not to help you, to help them, by teaching you which pictures you should not post. Following is a list of my absolute least favorite photos to see. Everything else is fair game. Beyond this list, feel free to shoot anything and everything that would make a good photo. But if it’s on my list, please stop. I’m begging you. I’ve had enough.

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Spoiler Alert!

Spoiler Alert!

At the end of the movie “The Grey,” everyone dies. Liam Neeson dies. That totally awesome moment in the trailer where he breaks some mini-bar bottles and tapes them to his fists, ready to do battle with the Alpha wolf? Two seconds later the credits roll, and the implication is clearly that he went down fighting. Oh, wait. SPOILER ALERT. Sorry, I should have said that at the very beginning.

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Diablo III is the Worst Game Ever Made

Diablo III is the Worst Game Ever Made

I have played Diablo III for dozens of hours. I have beaten the normal difficulty level with one of my “Heroes,” and I have made solid progress with a variety of characters representing each class. I came to the new sequel already a fan. I played through and beat Diablo II perhaps a dozen times, at nearly every difficulty level with every type of character. But now I’m done. I’m moving on. It finally hit me: Diablo III is the worst game I’ve ever played, for hours and hours and hours.

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My Favorite Music Service

My Favorite Music Service

I have tried them all. I have been using Pandora since the early days, and I pay for the premium Pandora service. I tried, for at least a month each and often more, all of the old guard of the streaming music services. Rhapsody. Napster. Slacker Radio. I owned a Zune HD, and subscribed to Zune, and when I bought my first Windows phone, I subscribed again to give it a second try. When Spotify got hot, I tried it for a while, sharing playlists and music. I have tried Rdio and Last.fm. I’ve spent time on Turntable. For a couple days, I even used Ping. But there is one online music service that is my favorite by far. I’ve been using it for almost a year, and it’s actually gotten better since I started. I listen at work on my desktop, on my smartphone while I’m exercising, and in my car on my stereo.

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Reunions in the Time of Facebook

Reunions in the Time of Facebook

One of my Facebook friends recently posted about her 20-year high school reunion. We went to the same high school, and she was a year ahead of me. I have perhaps a dozen other Facebook friends from my high school who were all in that same graduating class, but she was the only one who mentioned the reunion. This took me by surprise for a couple of reasons. First, I had forgotten that my own high school 20-year reunion will happen next year. For those readers who are now thinking about how old I am to be writing such a thing, trust me, you won’t feel so old when you get here.

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