Friday, April 29, 2011

Meta Lyons!

Meta uncle Bob and meta cousin Georgia! Too bad blogger really stinks at uploading photos, it was a lot higher quality when it was sent to me...

But anyways, here is how I would characterize this brainteaser:

a picture of Bob taking a picture of Bob;

or even

a photo of a reflection in a reflector of a photo.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Meta Cute

Awwwww. a cat within the arms of a cat within the arms of a cat! Thank you to Alex, for finally understanding what meta means (kind of).

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cannibalism is genius

But cannibalism is only genius when it comes to meta.

Thanks to Marina, here is a flickr pool of anthropomorphized foods (and animals) eating themselves:

Here's your cannibal creation eating itself today; a cone licking a cone:

Framing within a Frame about Framing

Subject: A green frame within a wooden frame, talking about framing an issue.

Analysis: This is triple meta, and it proves that the physical and mental meta (both something literally and concretely being within something else; and the more conceptual version of that too).


Subject: This little racoon fellow: a picture of a picture.

The faces of coal campaign - a somewhat sickening attempt to glorify and justify the dangerous coal mining industry, IMHO - lists this little guy as one of its "supporters." Really. Go to the "our supporters tab of Faces of Coal, ACCCE's advocacy website.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

UPDATED: A tattoo of Tattoo!

This is a tattoo of Tattoo, Mr. Roarke's midget assistant from the show Fantasy Island. Played by Herve Villechaize.

No, I had never heard of Tattoo either. It's probably a generational thing.

I've included a video of the real Tattoo, for reference. See below..


The fellow whose arm this is commented below, sharing his story about the tattoo with the world. Thanks Joey!
Joey said...

"That's my arm you got up there =). The story behind this is my dad asked me why I get tattoos. I told him because I love art. I asked him if he would ever get one. Being the smart ass he is he said "I would get a tattoo of Tattoo from Fantasy Island". I thought that was brilliant and since I have tattoos for my mother, grandmother's and past ex's, I thought it would be nice to get something for the man that raised me. Here's to you Pop"

Monday, April 25, 2011


Coworker I sit near sighs loudly out loud.

Then, on gchat:

: that was so meta
i heard you sigh outloud
as you typed sigh into gchat

A sigh within a sigh? Sort of. Ok this one might be a stretch.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Youtube Youtube Channel

The channel:

Q: Is this meta? a youtube channel about youtube?

A: You betcha.

Watch it:

Expose on product placement funded entirely by product placement.. sigh.

The now showing Morgan Spurlock 'Greatest Movie Ever Sold' is entirely funded by product placement, and as the NYT says,
"The layers of meta can get pretty thick."

Morgan Spurlock, made famous in part by his past film Super Size Me, raises the following key points and questions:

-the curtain is one of the values of product placement; why would you want to pull back the curtain on it, ruining marketing?

-approached 600 brands, ended up with 20 partners

-where do we draw the line, both in films and society?

-do we want to live in a world where everything is brought to you by a sponsor? That's where we're heading.

Longer NYT excerpt below:

The business model of product placement — in which studios and television networks defray their costs by highlighting products on-screen in exchange for money or their free use — is a fact of life in Hollywood. And it’s nothing new: Jules Verne sold naming rights to the shipping companies in “Around the World in 80 Days,” and at the birth of films, Thomas Edison put ads for his own products in his creations.

But Mr. Spurlock said advertising had become so ubiquitous in films and life in general that people often failed to notice it. (“Iron Man 2,” he notes in the film, promoted 64 different products in 125 minutes.) “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” becomes a high-concept caper in which talking heads like Noam Chomsky and Ralph Nader, who examine how the culture has been Nascar-ized, are interspersed with Mr. Spurlock’s efforts to finance the movie.

The layers of meta can get pretty thick. But mixed in with the serious comments by serious people — in addition to Mr. Chomsky and Mr. Nader, movie bigwigs like J. J. Abrams, Brett Ratner and Quentin Tarantino weigh in — there is real movie tension and hilarity in watching corporate folks trying to get their arms around the idea of placing their carefully nurtured brands in Mr. Spurlock’s hands.

Watch Spurlock on the Colbert Report:

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Top 25 Blogs About Blogging

Many of you have asked me why, if I want to be truly meta, do I not just blog about blogging? My answer was unsubstantive but valid: that it's already been done. A lot. As proof of that point, below is a list of what objective criteria have established as the top 25 blogs about blogging. So many to pick from!

The following is a repost from DailyBlogTips. Quality reading.

The “Top 25 Blogs About Blogging” list ranks blogs according to their Google Pagerank, Alexa rank, number of Bloglines subscribers and Technorati authority.

Each of the four factors range from 0 to 10, where 10 is the best score. The maximum total score for each blog, therefore, is 40. There will be monthly updates. Below the table you will find the details about the algorithm (check also the Top 25 SEO Blogs).

#1 Problogger 6 10 10 10 36
#2 Copyblogger 6 9 10 10 35
#3 John Chow 6 10 6 10 32
#4 Quick Online Tips 6 8 10 6 30
#5 Daily Blog Tips 5 8 7 9 29
#6 Lorelle on WordPress 6 8 6 9 29
#7 Dosh Dosh 4 9 5 9 27
#8 Performancing 7 8 1 10 26
#9 Weblog Tools Collection 6 9 5 6 26
#10 Blog Herald 6 7 4 9 26
#11 Blogging Pro 6 7 4 8 25
#12 Successful-Blog 6 6 4 8 24
#13 JohnTP 6 8 3 7 24
#14 Engtech 6 6 2 7 21
#15 Bloggers Blog 6 3 6 5 20
#16 Andy Beard 5 7 2 6 20
#17 ChrisG 5 6 4 4 19
#18 Converstations 5 3 5 6 19
#19 The Wrong Advices 5 4 1 5 15
#20 Business Blog Wire 6 2 2 4 14
#21 Alister Cameron 5 4 1 4 14
#22 Blog About Your Blog 4 5 1 4 14
#23 Blogtrepreneur 5 3 1 4 13
#24 I Help You Blog 4 3 2 2 12
#25 Build A Better Blog 6 1 3 1 11

Here's an overview of the ranking systems and criteria used to find these top blogs:

Blogs considered: the list considers only blogs that have a high percentage of blogging-related content. Topics might range from blogging tips to monetization, from news to building communities or business blogs.

Google Pagerank (0 to 10): the actual Pagerank was used on the algorithm.

Alexa Rank (0 to 10): Ranges were determined based on the Alexa Rank (i.e., 150k and up, 150k-100k, 100k-75k, 75k-50k) and each range was assigned a number (1 to 10).

Bloglines Subscribers (0 to 10): Subscriber ranges were determined (i.e., 1-50, 50-100, 100-150, 150-200) and each range was assigned a number (1 to 10).

Technorati Authority (0 to 10): Ranges were determined based on Technorati’s Authority rank(i.e., 1-100, 100-200, 200-400,400-600) and each range was assigned a number (1 to 10).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

a nyt story about nyt

Take it or leave it

Profit Down At Times Co., But Web Plan Shows Upside

The New York Times Company reported a sharp drop in net income in the first quarter as the print advertising market remained stubbornly depressed for newspapers.

The company said net income fell 57.6 percent, to $5.4 million, compared with $12.8 million in the quarter a year ago.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Don't drink the kool aid

(This image is meta because mr kool aid, or whatever his name is, is drinking kool aid.) A pitcher of juice holding a pitcher of juice!

This one's for Trevor.

Googling a Problem about Google

Guest blog by Lady A. (a real name, I swear) and Ariel B. sorta.

Consider this: Google chrome crashes. You have a question about Google Mail, Google Calendar, etc. The immediate online resources is Google! Google, by virtue of being everyone’s go-to for the answers to all questions must necessarily be meta.

Indeed, google is so meta, that it uses meta tags, HTML or XHTML elements used to provide structured metadata about a Web page (google referred me to Wikipedia for this one).

Metadata is data about data, and is also known as metalanguage. This is trippy. Basically, google can be at once self-referential and hetero-referential. In fact, when you google something, you are not searching the web, but are searching googles index of the web.

Therefore, googling, regardless of what you’re googling, can put you in some sort of mise en abyme, and subsequently drive you to further googling, which is just another word for procrastination, which may be the antidote to metaness....

Editor's note: I don't understand why google is hetero-referential, but ok. Who am I to censor?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Worst tattoo contest

When I tell my coworker about this blog's theme, he comments:

This reminds of the story about the "worst tattoo contest" that must be an urban legend. One person gets a bicycle, someone else gets Spiderman boots, but the clear winner is the Magritte-style "This is not a face" down the cheek.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Pain is meta

If you think about it.

It's your body telling itself... about itself.


Thank you "anonymous contributor" for this guest post.

(To all who follow Susan's twitter @suzliz: I was the one who left that voicemail. If you've got a problem with that, the door's in the back.)

And this one comes from a friend of a friend:

A "HIATUS" is when the cigarette is being passed around a circle of people; it comes to you, and instead of hitting and passing, you "Hit It And Tell A (think of it phonetically - "Uh") Story". (The story could be about anything. The point is that you're telling it, and the cigarette is wasting away between your fingers. You're doing a HIATUS, taking a HIATUS, whatever.)

The meta here is when a cigarette is traveling around; the cigarette comes to you, and you take the time to explain what a HIATUS is... thus doing a HIATUS right then and there.
Editor's note: I'm pretty sure this is the PG version of this post, but I'll leave that to your speculation.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Food for thought

Uncle Blyon (is this Bob, or Bill? My guess is Bill...but too many options!) wonders aloud:

"Is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, meta?

The question occurred to me after I saw a "Chile Relleno Burrito" on the menu."

Good question, uncle. Winston Churchill originally said this referring to Russia, but I think it can be applied to mysterious taco bell esque foods, too.

Meta Solitaire and Robinson Crusoe

On Jonathan Franzen's "Farther Away" in this week's New Yorker, accessible here or by liking it on facebook.

He writes about his time on a remote (and, apparently, quite boring) Chilean island:
"In a very direct way, according to Watt, the English novel had risen from the ashes of boredom. And boredom was what I was suffering from.

The more you pursue distractions, the less effective any particular distraction is,
and so I’d had to up various dosages, until, before I knew it, I was checking my e-mail every ten minutes, and my plugs of tobacco were getting ever larger, and my two drinks a night had worsened to four, and I’d achieved such deep mastery of computer solitaire that my goal was no longer to win a game but to win two or more games in a row—a kind of meta-solitaire whose fascination consisted not in playing the cards but in surfing the streaks of wins and losses.

My longest winning streak so far was eight."
I like his eerily accurate characterization of remote/isolationist boredom as a slippery slope - that the instant you start trying to entertain yourself in order to distract, the less effective each tactic is.

Aside from that, though, this is a different type of meta than we've encountered on the blog before, I think. Meta-solitaire isn't the same kind of meta as we have posted on before ('thing of a thing,' a 'thing within a thing') per se. Its more that he derives meta satisfaction not from winning, but from patterns of winning. It's also emotional meta, not physical meta.

You will have to read a more full excerpt of this week's New Yorker to understand why he argues that the English novel has risen from boredom, and those housewives will all that free time on their hands to read, but alas.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


A dollar sign hat, and a dollar sign hat hat. No description necessary:Thanks Nadya!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Twitter again

I do too agree that this be some meta action...

@ I just asked my coworker to send an email to ask if there would be wifi @ a debate so I could tweet that I would be live tweeting

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Twitter is so inherently meta that this blog post doesn't really need making.

But I thought I would share such a prime, beautiful example of what we are talking about that its natural beauty cannot be overlooked.

It's just so... layered! Like an onion.

RT @suzliz RT tweet about a tweet RT @ office within an office on blog on blog. Meta Tiny. and

Monday, April 11, 2011

Waterfalls are NOT Meta

I did not have a very meta weekend. Becca and I journeyed to Southern Virginia to hike waterfalls, go in historic hot springs (located in Hot Springs, VA - I guess that's something), etc.

The weekend was a reminder to me that, not surprisingly, not all things in life are meta.

For example, here are some things that are definitely NOT meta:

*expensive drinks
*scenic drives
*warm sulfur springs (debatable)

They are what they are, which is what we perceive them as.

There is also a whole school of philosophy on that (direct realism).

I don't know how anyone majors in philosophy.

In fact, there was only one meta incident all weekend, when we drove through Front Royal, a somewhat depressing "bedroom community" - also known as a dormitory town - where basically everyone commutes to somewhere else to work and they just sleep there at night.

These 'outer suburbs' are by definition "suburbs of suburbs," thereby encompassing probably the most depressing form of meta known to mankind.

Ugh. This is the end of civilization.

On a lighter note, I did manage to snap some some meta photographs, pictures of taking a picture.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The meta-cokebottle

Here's the weekend blog, folks - I'll be gone for two days.

Story below brought to you by Richard Lyon, father and meta-nerd....


My first exposure to meta, besides meta-physics, which I took to mean religion, and therefore not nearly as interesting as physics, was the meta key on keyboards at the MIT AI Artificial Intelligence lab in the late 1970s.

They had invented this moby text editor called "emacs" (according to its radical inventor rms, NOT named for the nearby Boston ice-cream shop, Emack & Bolio's, which was named for a couple of homeless guys, even if the text justifier "bolio" was so named).

Emacs used what we call "control" or "modifier" keys to control its actions; but "ctrl" was not enough--no, they also had super, meta, and hyper, not to mention front, shift, and top on their space-cadet keyboards.

Typical long-form commands were like "meta-x query replace"; here the text "query replace" is meta text, talking to the editor, not putting it into your document.

I say this like it's in the past, but half the nerds where I work (GOOGLE!) still use emacs, and they have to hit the "ESC" key since we don't have meta keys on our keyboards any more. The other half use something even worse, called "vi", but let's don't go down that meta-path.

Back in the day, proponents of both were proud of the fact that they could edit documents quickly, never needing to move their hand from the keyboard; no mouse needed, though later it was allowed.

(Sidenote: some certainly did think a mouse would be needed, and thus invented the optical mouse...)

Some of the thousand or so complex commands in emacs were jokingly referred to as control-meta-cokebottle; this made it into the "jargon file", a collection of oddities that captured the hacker meta-culture of the day. See which seems to imply that the Stanford AI Lab had meta on their keyboards before the MIT AI Lab did.

But I digress...

My boss at the time, Lynn Conway, generally advised me to "go meta" on good ideas (to find good ideas about good ideas and such). My first attempt at that is embodied in a little paper I did, in which I tried to simplify her "simplified design rules for VLSI layout" into a pair of even simpler meta rules about how to find the rules (see it at; there was also a color version in 1981 in Lambda magazine, a magazine named after these lambda-based design rules, speaking of going meta).

Lynn would focus on things like meta-architecture (, meta-level control, and such, including "the design of design methodologies." Great stuff.

So, in conclusion, go meta.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Modern capitalism = hella meta

Today's capitalism is an interesting beast. As this video points out, "it's not just what you are buying - it's what you are buying into." It's something bigger than a cup of coffee --- it's coffee ethics, free trade, fair trade, whatever whatever.

Thanks Lady A. for this video and this fine metaphysical note:

"In the very act of buying coffee, you're not just a consumer, but you're also buying your redemption from consumerism."

When Taking out the Trash is both Meta and Creepy

My first, best, favorite, and only Seattle friend Sean reached out to me yesterday with this fine gem. I actually recall this meta-incident happening about 3 months ago, when he posted his account of it on facebook.

I've enlarged it for your viewing pleasure (you can see it better if you click on it though):

Basically, it's really sketchy to see a ton of huge bags being moved out of your neighbor's apartment (unless they are actually moving and have a moving truck). It's probably even creepier to find out that it's just bags full of bags, because what was your neighbor doing with hundreds of plastic bags anyways? Apparently, not reusing them.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Staff team meetings are so meta

Today, my tour de force colleague Jorge put a "conversation about a conversation" on the agenda for our weekly team meeting. We needed to preliminarily discuss what needed discussing at next week's team meeting, to prepare for it.

I'm not even joking, this happened.

Meta is for real, people.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Interrogations of Meta

It has come to my attention that some readers do not understand what meta is, or they wish I would specify a rule or criterion in deciding what is meta or what is not.

I am too lazy to do this, and I would refer these people back to my 2nd blog post where Rachel lays out what meta means in philosophy speak.

And I would add that the whole point of meta is that sometimes, you just KNOW. It doesn't require explanation. It's that gut feel, "oh hey, how meta!" What, you haven't had that?

But I will say this. There are two main lines of questioning when it comes to meta.

First we have the comparatives:
"Out of X, Y, and Z, which is the most meta?"

Then we have the absolutes:
"Is there such a thing as a meta X
Can a meta version of a Y exist
Is Z meta? I can't decide."

I'm still grappling with which sort to pursue, so for now it will be a mix of both.

Is Colin Firth Meta?

Dear all,

It has come to my attention that a meta-play is coming to DC.

Venus in Fur, the play by David Ives and directed by David Muse, will open in DC on May 25th and run through early July. I've been indirectly offered free tickets to be used at an upcoming Studio production and will hopefully report back soon either on this one or another one.

Not only that, but it is coming to DC's beautiful Studio Theater on 14th Street, an amazing and borderline-meta venue, if I do say so myself. I mean come on - it calls itself the Studio Theater? Why not call itself the Theater Studio, or the Theatre Theater, or the Studio Studio, or some such?

On the inspiration for Venus and Fur though, startingly, the theater's description of it does not once make use of the term 'meta' in its blurb:
In Venus in Fur, David Ives’s completely reimagines Sacher-Masoch’s novella, shifting the action to a contemporary rehearsal room, and turning the characters into an actress and a playwright/director. Sacher-Masoch’s own words come to life in the play-within-a-play, a theatrical adaptation of the 1870 story. Though Ives makes the story entirely his own, the spirit of the original story remains intact.
Bam. If you think about it, meta plays are really just a 3D form of metafiction: if you believe that a play is a 3D form of any fiction, that is.

Though this point could be up for debate, and probably is in some hippie circles, this is what I was basically taught in high school English, otherwise known as my senior year AP Colin Firth class.

Our professor, a hoary South African lady (elderly; not whore-y), had us read practically any and every play, novella, or other work of fiction that had since been turned into a Colin Firth film - a selection can be found here.

We then proceeded to lie on our backpacks on the floor of our classroom, watching the movie versions of each book/play, day after day, week after week, 45 minute class period after 45 minute class period. It was a glorious time.

But back to the point, which was not Colin firth.

Plays are an inherent breeding ground for the adaptation of other things into meta-ness, because they require adaptation into a necessarily limited physical and emotional space: the stage. Most plays can consist of at most up to three sets, but usually two with a change made at intermission. This means that action space must be condensed into thought space, with thoughts layered upon actions as words spoken aloud become the actions they represent.

In a book or movie, anything can be provided as a set or forced into view; in a play, there are concrete limits that must be first provided and then creatively overcome through provocation of the audience's imagination.

Within this dramatic layering lies some of the greatest potential for meta-isms we have seen yet, and I look forward to further discussion of plays, as well as other arts, that we will come across soon.

Rachel is probably cringing right now.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Blunder

You may be thinking that no good blog starts off with a guest post about why such a blog should not exist (indirectly at least - see below).

I one hundred percent agree, which is why I've decided to follow it up with a running brainstorm list about things that are meta in my own life, as a constant reminder that we can bring Aristotle down to earth, yo. Or not really that.

It's just that I wanted my own niche blog topic to blog about, much like those who blog about tiny things, or hipster athletes, or cool graphs, or 'Turning 30 Finally,' for instance. Note, I do NOT approve of niche blogs such as Asians sleeping in the library. As you see, I've been on the hunt for awhile now for a good personal fit niche blog topic.

See? That paragraph exhibited some successful blogging about blogs - how meta.

Anyways, back to the point, why is meta relevant and NOT a blunder blog, you may ask?

So here we have it.
  • My job: I consume energy to use a computer to write about energy consumption [possibly this could just be hypocritical, but is hypocritical mutually exclusive with meta? TBA.]
  • Right now: I'm sitting here, just trying to think of meta things about my life.
  • My Myers-Briggs books on career paths: my personality type tends to read lots of books about career paths by personality type, it says, which is definitely true judging by bookshelf
  • Washington DC: the most meta place in the world? (TBD.) Federal policy is SO meta. We're a country made up of states, and federal policy is there to help out the states, but it just isn't quite really about the states even though it sorta is. Really, it's either about federal policy arching over the states, or about the grasstops efforts needed to make state policy happen. Did that make any sense to you at all?
  • My friends: Becca's love of metafiction, whatever the eff that is (TBD.)
It'll continue to grow.

Dear world, what IS meta?

Hi. My name is Susan and I decided to start a blog about things that are meta, in between the other things that I do (work; drink; sleep; eat; zumba). It has been pointed out to me already that if I were truly being meta, I would start a blog about blogs. But alas, that has already been done.

For context, please note that my use of the word meta tends to drive my ex college roomie a bit crazy, as she is a bona fide philosphy major who actually knows what meta means. She didn't like it then [when we tried to create a 'metaism of the day' #MOD hashtag on twitter], and she probably doesn't like it now [that I am creating a blog two years later].

To that end, and to get this blog started off on the right (or less wrong) foot, I have commissioned an introduction to the word 'meta' by philosophy expert, sports journalist, and meta expert herself, Rachel Orland. Her guest entry is as follows, and please note that any and all reader contributions on viewing life through the 'meta lens' will be warmly accepted - from stories and words to photographs and videos. After reading Rachel's analysis below, I think you will agree with me that the concept of 'meta' is so complex that it merits a blog at very least, if not an entire book. Oh wait, those have been written. -->

What IS Meta?
By Rachel Orland

Throughout the history of philosophy, the term "meta" has had various meanings. In Greek, the prefix "meta" has several connotations, which makes the matter more confusing. For instance, in the original Greek, "meta" can mean "after," "adjacent," or "self." Though somewhat related, these simple English words are not complete synonyms. Today, "meta" is most commonly used to mean that one thing is about something else. For instance, in philosophical discourse, "meta-ethics" can be taken to mean "ethics about ethics."

The term "meta" lends itself to everyday usage because of the systematic nature of the word itself. For example, "metalogic" is essentially logic about logic. Outside of the realm of philosophy, many people use the term "meta," too. For instance, a "metaphor" is a figure of speech that conceptualizes one thing in terms of another.

According to Wikipedia, there are 513 different ways to use the term "meta" in the ancient Greek. I would argue that there are just as many usages for the term "meta" in commonplace English. On a more personal note, several of my friends have taken to using the term "meta" as a word in itself, and not as a prefix. The adjective "meta" as in, "That's so meta!" is easy to understand, but harder to define. As a philosophy major, my friends have often asked me for a precise definition of "meta."

While I can explain the ancient Greek origins of the term as a prefix in the philosophical world, I have never been able to quite grasp the everyday usage of "meta." As I stated, I understand what someone is referring to when he or she says, "That's so meta!" But when asked for a layman's terms definition of its everyday usage, I cannot formulate a totally competent and comprehensive answer. I believe that part of the confusion exists in the fact that my friends use "meta" to mean so many different things. For instance, a sign for a sign store has been described to me as "meta" or, more recently, an email about an email.

The term "meta" has a special place in my heart as a philosophy major. But I will not utilize the term "meta" as an adjective in everyday life. My friends know that I get angry when they use the term "meta" in everyday conversation. Hence, I believe that the term "meta" should remain as a purely philosophical term. Let the meta-ethicists, the meta-logicians, and the meta-physicists be!

Ok Ms. Orland. Well, we can agree to disagree.

That's so meta.

It's happened. I've started a blog about meta. Stay tuned. An introduction by an expert will occur soon.