Oct. 2, 1999, has gone down in Michael Simmons autobiographical lore as Black Saturday, for it was the day that I took the inaugural on-ramp to the Information Superhighway. A friend came over and set up Baby's First Laptop, taught me a few basics and off I went and have been, for better and worse, ever since. Here and now is neither place nor time to discuss my opinions about the internet; suffice to say that when I learned the Orwellian function of "cookies" was to track people's movements, I was one unhappy paranoiac. By Googling (of course), I researched the invention of said cookie and found its Dr. Frankenstein was a cat named Lou Montulli. According to ehow.com, Lou invented one of the first internet browsers and using a concept called a "magic cookie ... decided it could be used in communicating between an individual computer and a secured site, specifically an online shopping cart." I don't know anything about Lou's motives, but I know that the idea of someone being able to identify me without my permission is creepy. (I feel the same way about caller ID.) Anyhoo, I thought of Lou when I read Matthew Vincent's new book, [you] Ruined It For Everyone: 101 People Who Screwed Things Up for the Rest of Us(Soft Skull Press). It's fascinating and a lot of fun along the line of the Jokes for the Johnny series (ya know, books you read while you're evacuating your intestines). Vincent vivisects MTV (for inventing reality TV), Jack Welch (for security-tag false alarms), overprotective parents (for ruining children) and Monica Lewinsky (for sucking). Of note to Weeklyreaders, Los Angeles came in at No. 94 for promoting valet parking. Note to Lou Montulli: Nothin' personal, baby, you must've missed 1984 in 7th grade English.
Thu., Nov. 11, 7 p.m., 2010