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Wasting time and space

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MATH FAIL: Just one of the Arkansas gems on failblog.
  • MATH FAIL: Just one of the Arkansas gems on failblog.

A racist letter made its way onto the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Voices page on Jan. 2. The letter, titled “Some changes to come,” packed just about every black stereotype you can think of into two paragraphs. The letter lamented the election of Barack Obama and claimed that the White House would soon be called the “Hip-Hop House, with all the backing of Hollywood's hip-hop moguls.”

Meredith Oakley, the editor of the Voices page, said the letter in question was no more or less offensive than the usual fare.

“We publish most of the letters that we receive regardless of whether I agree with what the person says or not,” Oakley said. “It is my opinion that nothing is served by covering up unpopular thought or even hateful thought. We publish hateful letters all the time, we always have.”

Oakley said the words “nigger” and “queer” had appeared on the page before and probably would again.

“Sometimes they may offend me and many times they do, but they don't pay me to guard my own feelings or those of the public,” Oakley said.

The Times' editorial policy? We decide on a case by case basis. Letters written only to lob racial or other slurs get pitched. That kind of letter, however, is usually unsigned (reflecting the character of the sender); the Times doesn't run unsigned letters in any case.

? When readers open up the D-G in the morning over toast and coffee they expect to see news about the Natural State. So it confused some readers Monday morning to find three columns on the final page of the “Arkansas” section filled with “Missouri Briefs.”

Although it was enlightening to read about a Neosho man who shot two police officers and home-powering wind turbines in Kansas City, it was curious.

Frank Fellone, deputy editor of the Democrat-Gazette, said the section was the product of “an extremely slow news period coming to an end, thank God.” Indeed.

 

From wasting space to wasting time, a couple of colleagues and I here at the Times thought it would be a good idea to make our own year-end list, of sorts. Wasting time is one of our hobbies, so we decided to compile a brief list of our favorite time-wasting websites that we've come across in the past year. You may already know about these, but if you don't, kick back with a lap-top and let the time roll on by.

Hulu — Yeah, we know, it's been around for awhile, but it's still pretty amazing. At www.hulu.com you can stream many of your favorite TV shows online. It's a great way to catch up on episodes of “30 Rock,” “The Office,” or go back and watch golden oldies like “Arrested Development.” There are movies, too. Highlight: “Miami Vice” reruns. You can watch the entire series on Hulu.

Fail Blog — Imagine the worst goofs you've ever seen, distilled into a small digital photos and posted on the web for everyone to see. The site, failblog.org, has become a phenomenon. The New York Times even named the word “fail” one of the buzzwords of 2008. Highlight: No matter how bad you ever screw up, you may never approach the colossal screw ups on Failblog.

Clark and Michael — They were big in 2007, but the reruns are just as good. Greenwood, Arkansas, native Clark Duke (“Sex Drive”) teams up with Michael Cera (“Arrested Development,” “Superbad”) for the aptly named www.clarkandmichael.com. The duo posted 10 webisodes ranging anywhere from 7 to 11 minutes long, featuring bizarre situations in which they ineptly try to establish themselves as Hollywood writers. Highlight: the opening credits, any number of inane, but memorable, lines.

The entire Gawker Media Network — No matter if your poison is politics, celebrity gossip, or do-it-yourself culture, you can find it at one of the Gawker sites. Wonkette.com is a hilariously irreverent political/Washington, D.C., gossip blog — a must-read for inside baseball politics fans. If celebrity gossip is more your thing, there's Defamer.com. And if you ever wondered how to build an invisible bookshelf, Lifehacker.com can tell you how.

Fantasticcontraption.com — Here's an absolutely addictive flash game which has killed more of our hours than we can count in the last few months. The object is to move the pink ball from one rectangle to another, using a small toolkit of virtual rods and spinning wheels. While that might sound simple, an advanced physics engine that exerts forces like gravity and momentum on everything on the screen and a series of progressively-harder playing fields makes this the ultimate online game for those who love to tinker and problem solve. Best of all, it's free.

Fark — The greatest thing to happen to procrastinators since the invention of the afternoon nap, Fark.com is one-stop shopping for the information junkie in your life. A kind of ultimate blog, the site is literally updated dozens of times per hour by legions of devotees, with links to news and cool stuff from all over the world.

 

Gerard@arktimes.com

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