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Annual meeting

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Michel de Montaigne:
Aristotle, who will still have a hand in everything, makes a ‘quaere’ upon the saying of Solon, that none can be said to be happy until he is dead: “whether, then, he who has lived and died according to his heart’s desire, if he have left an ill repute behind him, and that his posterity be miserable, can be said to be happy?” Whilst we have life and motion, we convey ourselves by fancy and preoccupation, whither and to what we please; but once out of being, we have no more any manner of communication with that which is, and it had therefore been better said by Solon that man is never happy, because never so, till he is no more.

You always lighten the mood, Mickey.

Today's meeting concerns site stickiness.

Anaïs Nin: What on earth is that?

It means, having stumbled in, how likely are people to stick around?

Anaïs Nin: So how likely are they?

Not very. Something is frightening them off.

Can we have the first slide please, Ada?

Thank you.
We don't know how many of those 'Guests' are spiders, spies sent by hostile foreign powers, or bizarre artefacts of the web. The head of our brainiac division has applied a formula, far too complicated to go into here, which suggests a figure of 99%.

Ada Lovelace: Give or take.

Give or take. This means we have our work cut out for us.

Apsley Cherry-Garrard: Of what importance is it that even genuine guests are converted into users? Is validation required?

Richard Feynman: My parking is validated whenever I login.

Constantine the Great: I thought you played bongo.

We'll come back to that if there's time.

Anaïs Nin: That new Watch on >YouTube banner in embedded videos can't help. Nor the plethora of links SOME OF US like to throw into posts. Tab overload!

Ada, do you have the research on links leading people away, or tab fatigue?

Ada Lovelace: We've observed nil effect.

That's a relief.

Ada Lovelace: That's the good news.

What's the bad news?

Ada Lovelace: Why does everybody always assume there's bad news? Where's the logic?

So there's no bad news?

Ada Lovelace. No, there's bad news, as the next slide shows.

Tell me what we're looking at here, Ada.

Ada Lovelace: NACF is the square peg trying to fit into the round hole. Sorry, we didn't have time to insert text.

That metaphor isn't really working for me.

Constantine the Great: Maybe it would help if it was animated like it's supposed to be.

Maybe. Look, is there any way we can turn this around, short of becoming round?

Ada Lovelace: I'm afraid not.

Very well. Richard, would you like to close the meeting?

Ladies and gentlemen, I've gathered you together in the war room to discuss something we can't talk about. Before we go any further, is that crystal clear?

Salvador Dalí: We've taken a straw poll at the lemonade stand, which has a ready supply of straws. It was unanimous. More sugar is always better until it's not.

I see. Is that a lobster in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

Salvador Dalí: That's Jordan Peterson. Say hello, Jordan.

Salvador Dalí, pretending to be lobster, speaking in a bubbly voice and not doing a very good ventriloquist act: Hello Jordan.

G.K. Chesterton, looking at watch: Can we please get on with it? I have an appointment with my watch maker.

I'll humour you, Salvador. What were the results of the poll?

Lobster: Chesty Chesterton is getting shirty. I shall snap him with my big snapper!

Settle down. The thing we can't talk about is a known uknown. Or perhaps it's the other way around.

Yogi Berra: What goes around comes around.

What matters is that as club members you all continue to conduct yourselves with dignity and grace.

Lobster: Dignity and grace! Don't eat me please, I've heard stories.

Furthermore, I would ask you to

Ring ring!

G.K., could you get that? You're closest to the phone.

G.K. Chesterton: Hello, can I help – ouch!

What happened? Are you hurt?

G.K. Chesterton: Someone has exchanged the receiver.

I'll get maintenance on it. Where were we.

Madame de Staël: Actually there was a poll, and we the membership would like a banana stand, too.

Is this unanimous? I'm not sure there's money in the budget for it this fiscal year. Is our comptroller here?

Clementine Churchill: Present and accounted for.

What say ye?

Clementine Churchill: There's always money for a banana stand.

In that case it would be churlish to refuse.

G.K. Chesterton: Can we add a shoeshine?

I'm not sure that's fiscally sound. We'd need a volunteer to run it.

Lobster: I'll do it! I'll nip off the old man's toes and use them as garnish for my salad!

[Chair looks at watch]

Salvador Dalí, pretending to be watch: I'm melting!

Very well. I think we've covered all the bases.

Yogi Berra: It ain't over till it's over.

You can say that again.

Herman Melville: This is an intervention. There is concern about your fixation with a certain East Sussex bike company specialising in titanium.

Just because I've put "Don't buy an Enigma" on my calling card* doesn't mean I'm fixated.

Herman Melville: We think you should let it go now.

Can we talk about this later? I'm in the middle of a Downton Abbey athon. I've got a lot of catching up to do. Did you know Matthew Crawley died in a car crash? Terrible shock.

Herman Melville: Yes, it was in the news some time ago.

Poor Lady Mary. Not that she's the most sympathetic of characters, but nobody deserves to be robbed of happiness so cruelly. It seems like only yesterday Matthew was proposing.

Herman Melville: I see you've taken screenshots.

Speaking of Carson, did you know he's even more of a snob than Mary?

Herman Melville: You could cut the irony with a knife.

Yes, but which one? I'm still coming to grips with the spoon situation.

I reckon the really good silver is actually titanium, what do you think?

Herman Melville: I think that would make a good segue back to the topic at hand.

Sure thing. But first, Anna and Bates. Tell me this scene didn't have you rooting for a conjugal.

Herman Melville: The sea is my mistress. I hate to tell you this, but something very bad happens to Anna.

Don't be a spoiler

As of this writing I haven't gotten far past Anna's rape. Please tell me Mr Green gets both, and then some.[close]Sybil's death was bad enough. Let's concentrate on the good times.

No, that just makes me sad, knowing what lies ahead.

I'm not sure how that shot from After Life got in here. It's not helping.

Better. That reminds me, I've got a long way to go with Archer – if Netflix pulls it anytime soon I'm in trouble. But back to the landed gentry

and their support staff.

Now that's the sort of entertainment we're here for. O'Brien of course later booked passage to India and was recruited by the Thuggee.

Herman Melville: About this intervention...

Is it just you then? The whole gang was there for Christopher's.

Herman Melville: It's a beautiful day. They're out for a ride. I've got this covered.

If Matthew had kept his bike instead of buying that sports car he might still be alive.

Then again, judging by how happily distracted he was by visions of his perfect new family,

he might have very unphotogenically ended up under the wheels of that truck and been as dead as my respect for Enigma. Who knows.

Herman Melville: About that–-

Keeping my story out there is a public service. There aren't many reviews from long time customers, it's mostly "Look at the bling bikes!" and rather pointless anecdotes of how helpful they are when they're trying to make a sale. I'll likely save some people from grief, and that makes me genuinely happy.

Now, would you like to catch some outtakes?

Herman Melville: This isn't my idea of 'Masterpiece Classic', or whatever they're calling it, but very well. [Sits down on the couch and picks up a pair of ball bearings from the end table] What are these?

A little gift I've magicked up for you. Titanium. And yes, I agree with you and David,

but I'm going to keep watching anyway. Comfy, Mr Classics?

Herman Melville [rolling ball bearings in hand]: These are strangely soothing.

* Only tradesmen have business cards

Today we consider a site motto. (Needless to say this is to be distinguished from our mission statement.) I believe we have a quorum, if Al will stop hovering by the doorway. In or out, Al?

Al Swearengen: Fucking in.

Mary Whitehouse: Is that sort of language necessary?

Al Swearengen: "Quid infants sumus?"

Calamity Jane: Translated, that means go fuck yourself, we're not babies.

Mary Whitehouse: Well I never.

[Too many rejoinders to count]

Moving right along—

Uvedale Price: Obscurum per obscurius.

Pardon me?

Uvedale Price: It just seems apropos in all kinds of ways.

We'll add it to the list.

Clava Scriba: Technically there's no list yet. That's the first contribution.

Al Swearengen: What about mine?

Any other suggestions? Please?

Harpo Marx: A question. Does it have to be Latin?

It has to make people think, or google.

Al Swearengen: Oderint dum metuant.

Calamity Jane: Carpe vinum.

Al Swearengen: Do you put your pinky up when you're drinking that?

Mary Whitehouse: Who is this beastly man?

Al Swearengen: Nescis quomodo me taedet male stupri

(That one never gets old)[close]
The universal translator really made a hash of that, didn't it. Let's take a break.

[Room empties. The last to leave is Lawrence Oates, who turns the light off. Dust settles.

Two more members wander in.]

Archy: quis leget haec

Mehitabel: Credo quia absurdum.


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