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Going dark

January 20, 2012
By Wes Burns , Times-Republican

Civil disobedience is a fairly central trait to being an American. Whether it means shooting fireworks off on the Fourth of July despite a countywide burn ban or simply leaving the water on while you brush your teeth, striking a blow to "The Man" is just part of being an American.

Yes, I consider wasting water an act of political protest.

So it came as little surprise when some of our most American websites shut down, or "went dark," on Wednesday to protest PIPA Middelton. And SOAP. I think ... I?might have that wrong.

This is what happens when you take Wikipedia off the grid, nobody knows anything.

So, without our beloved Wikipedia to explain everything about everything that has to do with cartoons from the 80s I needed someone to explain to me what this protest was all about. Unfortunately I?was forced to use ... less than reputable online sources.

According to the good (?) people at Encyclopedia Online: PIPA is another name for the Surinam Toad, image unavailable.

Why would Craigslist go dark over some toad from a country that's most famous for separating the Guyanese from their French counterparts?

After a brief dyslexia check it turns out the enemy of Wikipedia, Craigslist, and probably some overzealous dude's Angelfire page, is in fact SOPA, not soap. Good. I?like soap and I'd hate to see it besmirched so publicly.

Encyclopedia Online once again was there to help me out, explaining that SOPA is actually a word from a book titled "A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition sopa de gindules Creole."

Now, I don't know whatever moon man language that is written in but I believe, based on the picture of the book cover, that it is a book about other books ... maybe food; I DO recognize the word creole from eating at Popeyes.

Alright, maybe life without Wikipedia wouldn't be that bad. And life without Reddit might actually be an improvement. Obviously I can still get all the facts or fact-like phrases I?need from other websites.

But the real shame here is that the web protests drew attention away from the real story of the day: Mark Wahlberg would have stopped the 9/11 attacks.

Apparently the ex-Funky Bunch member turned actor was originally to be seated on one of the flights that hit the Twin Towers, but he rescheduled a week before.

So, in what I?can only assume was an ill conceived attempt to bolster the opening weekend box office of his new movie, Mr. Wahlberg decided to claim that HAD he been on that flight that "it wouldn't have went down like it did."

You see what happens Wikipedia? You go offline for one day and people start saying things in public that your editors would have had removed from articles due to "lack of credibility and/or stupidity."

This whole "digital advocacy" thing might be truly American, but if it means I miss calling out Marky Mark for being astoundingly crass then count me out. From now on I'm sticking with Encarta. On CD.


Copy Editor Wes Burns is a Friday columnist. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don't necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. Contact Wes Burns at 641-753-6611 or



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