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Wikimedia Commons

Internet Advice from Ann Landers in the Mid-1990s

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

In the mid-1990s, advice columnist Ann Landers sensed the rising tide of the Internet. She wasn't exactly an early adopter, and Landers made her wariness of the web known by highlighting a long series of letters from readers who shared their online horror stories. Starting around 1994, her column began to feature more and more tales of marriages destroyed by pornography or chat rooms, people lost to full-out Internet addiction, and legitimately frightening accounts of violence and abuse perpetrated by online "friends" when in-person meetings were arranged.

Even in the early days of the modern Internet, a sizable amount of "netizens" voiced their disapproval of what they perceived as unfair and selective depictions of the World Wide Web. Landers, to her credit, didn't really care what they thought. What follows are eight tidbits of wisdom about the net from one of America's favorite advice columnists.

1. To Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, who wrote to Ann Landers to defend the Internet and the people who use it:

"You are a superb senator...As an advice columnist, however, you aren't so hot. The Internet is tailor-made for con men, the lonely and the bored. The word from here is 'beware.'"

2. To a woman who lied about being a man in a chat room and accidentally struck up a romantic relationship with another woman:

"Many people find it easy to reinvent themselves as attractive, rich and young over the Internet. At least you have the decency to be ashamed of yourself for the deception."

3. To "Larry in Monterrey, California" who wrote "in defense of the computer buff who had a thing going with a girl who, unbeknownst to him, turned out to be 12 years old.":

"You’ve made a good case in defense of the computer junkie who was on-line with the 12-year-old-girl. It’s good to remember that strangers always put on their best face when they are trying to make a good impression. Beware."

4. To "Surfers in Basking Ridge, N.J.," who simply asked Ann to reprint an AP article about how people who meet people on the Internet are prone to compulsive behavior:

Ann excerpts 6 paragraphs from that AP article and adds, "Dear readers, if you or someone close to you is an Internet junkie, please consider seeing a physician about prescribing chemical help."

5. To "D.I.S. in Minneapolis," whose husband was addicted to pornography, "gets up at 4 or 5 in the morning to log on," and has joined a support group for help:

"Your husband needs more help than he is getting. Ask your group leader to recommend a competent psychologist."

6. To an L.A. Times reporter who asked Ann if she used the Internet:

"I have no particular interest at all. I do not have a computer. I'm not interested in that sort of thing at all."

7. To a group of "netizens" who convinced Landers to try the Internet to see if she likes it:

"It's a nice toy, as far as I'm concerned."

8. On the benefits of the Internet:

"It's wonderful for the lonely. There are a great many lonely people out there, and it makes them feel that they're a part of the living world. They can talk to somebody. Somebody will talk to them. And I think it's wonderful."

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Animals
Sploot 101: 12 Animal Slang Words Every Pet Parent Should Know
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For centuries, dogs were dogs and cats were cats. They did things like bark and drink water and lay down—actions that pet parents didn’t need a translator to understand.

Then the internet arrived. Scroll through the countless Facebook groups and Twitter accounts dedicated to sharing cute animal pictures and you’ll quickly see that dogs don’t have snouts, they have snoots, and cats come in a colorful assortment of shapes and sizes ranging from smol to floof.

Pet meme language has been around long enough to start leaking into everyday conversation. If you're a pet owner (or lover) who doesn’t want to be out of the loop, here are the terms you need to know.

1. SPLOOT

You know your pet is fully relaxed when they’re doing a sploot. Like a split but for the whole body, a sploot occurs when a dog or cat stretches so their bellies are flat on the ground and their back legs are pointing behind them. The amusing pose may be a way for them to take advantage of the cool ground on a hot day, or just to feel a satisfying stretch in their hip flexors. Corgis are famous for the sploot, but any quadruped can do it if they’re flexible enough.

2. DERP

Person holding Marnie the dog.
Emma McIntyre, Getty Images for ASPCA

Unlike most items on this list, the word derp isn’t limited to cats and dogs. It can also be a stand-in for such expressions of stupidity as “duh” or “dur.” In recent years the term has become associated with clumsy, clueless, or silly-looking cats and dogs. A pet with a tongue perpetually hanging out of its mouth, like Marnie or Lil Bub, is textbook derpy.

3. BLEP

Cat laying on desk chair.
PoppetCloset, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If you’ve ever caught a cat or dog poking the tip of its tongue past its front teeth, you’ve seen a blep in action. Unlike a derpy tongue, a blep is subtle and often gone as quickly as it appears. Animal experts aren’t entirely sure why pets blep, but in cats it may have something to do with the Flehmen response, in which they use their tongues to “smell” the air.

4. MLEM

Mlems and bleps, though very closely related, aren’t exactly the same. While blep is a passive state of being, mlem is active. It’s what happens when a pet flicks its tongue in and out of its mouth, whether to slurp up water, taste food, or just lick the air in a derpy fashion. Dogs and cats do it, of course, but reptiles have also been known to mlem.

5. FLOOF

Very fluffy cat.
J. Sibiga Photography, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Some pets barely have any fur, and others have coats so voluminous that hair appears to make up most of their bodyweight. Dogs and cats in the latter group are known as floofs. Floofy animals will famously leave a wake of fur wherever they sit and can squeeze through tight spaces despite their enormous mass. Samoyeds, Pomeranians, and Persian cats are all prime examples of floofs.

6. BORK

Dog outside barking.
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According to some corners of the internet, dogs don’t bark, they bork. Listen carefully next time you’re around a vocal doggo and you won’t be able to unhear it.

7. DOGGO

Shiba inu smiling up at the camera.
iStock

Speaking of doggos: This word isn’t hard to decode. Every dog—regardless of size, floofiness, or derpiness—can be a doggo. If you’re willing to get creative, the word can even be applied to non-dog animals like fennec foxes (special doggos) or seals (water doggos). The usage of doggo saw a spike in 2016 thanks to the internet and by the end of 2017 it was listed as one of Merriam-Webster’s “Words We’re Watching.”

8. SMOL

Tiny kitten in grass.
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Some pets are so adorably, unbearably tiny that using proper English to describe them just doesn’t cut it. Not every small pet is smol: To earn the label, a cat or dog (or kitten or puppy) must excel in both the tiny and cute departments. A pet that’s truly smol is likely to induce excited squees from everyone around it.

9. PUPPER

Hands holding a puppy.
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Like doggo, pupper is self-explanatory: It can be used in place of the word puppy, but if you want to use it to describe a fully-grown doggo who’s particularly smol and cute, you can probably get away with it.

10. BOOF

We’ve already established that doggos go bork, but that’s not the only sound they make. A low, deep bark—perhaps from a dog that can’t decide if it wants to expend its energy on a full bark—is best described as a boof. Consider a boof a warning bark before the real thing.

11. SNOOT

Dog noses poking out beneath blanket.
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Snoot was already a dictionary-official synonym for nose by the time dog meme culture took the internet by storm. But while snoot is rarely used to describe human faces today, it’s quickly becoming the preferred term for pet snouts. There’s even a wholesome viral challenge dedicated to dogs poking their snoots through their owners' hands.

12. BOOP

Have you ever seen a dog snoot so cute you just had to reach out and tap it? And when you did, was your action accompanied by an involuntary “boop” sound? This urge is so universal that boop is now its own verb. Humans aren’t the only ones who can boop: Search the word on YouTube and treat yourself to hours of dogs, cats, and other animals exchanging the love tap.

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Live Smarter
Need to Meet Amazon's Free Shipping Minimum? This Site Will Tell You What to Buy
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It's all too easy to find whatever you need on Amazon, but sometimes, those low prices come with a slight inconvenience: shipping. While Amazon will give you free shipping on orders of $25 or more, that doesn't help if you're only buying, say, $23 worth of laundry detergent. If you can't figure out what you can buy to hit that coveted shipping minimum, check out CheapFiller.com, a website that finds the cheapest items you can buy to hit that $25 mark.

As we spotted on Lifehacker, CheapFiller.com is designed to help you get above the free-shipping threshold without going far above it. So instead of buying $23 worth of laundry detergent and $15 worth of toilet paper, you can spend $23 on laundry detergent and $3 on glue sticks.

A screenshot of CheapFiller.com with listings of products for $4.29
Screenshot, CheapFiller.com

You can search through the listings on the site manually, but if you have a specific price you need to hit, you can search for items that sell for exactly that price. For instance, if you have exactly $4.29 left to reach the shipping minimum, CheapFiller.com will bring up a list of items that sell for that price, including nail clippers, a sketch book, a screen protector for iPads, soccer-themed baking cups, or a leaf hammock for your Betta fish.

You may not exactly need any of these items, but you may discover that it's a wiser financial choice to spend a few dollars on new nail clippers or household glass cleaner than to pay for shipping.

[h/t Lifehacker]

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