It’s a bad sign that I’m even wasting teh interwebs trying to explain Pinterest. Giving Pinterest any sort of attention is probably grounds for charges of felony internet stoopid. In any event, honey badger is prepared to enter his customary plea, particularly since I think I’ve finally figured out what the fuck the point of Pinterest is, with some unexpected help from a dear departed relative, one of simple mind and simple tastes but surprisingly profound insight into internet stupidity. Being a bit stupid, nay, much more than a bit stupid, certainly helped her be of service.

What interests me about Pinterest isn’t that it’s stupid. The internet is infested with stuff that is patently stupid and without the slightest bit of redeeming value or nuance: YouTube videos of monkeys riding around the living room on the backs of housecats, videos of allegedly “cute” and “precious” children being obnoxious, Craigslist “home for rental to own” scams (lucrative for the poster, of course, but stupid for the dumbfuck who clicks through, and stupid on Craigslist’s part for not finding a way to block the garbage), MySpace, goldbug lunacy, the Daily Caller, ad nauseam. What differentiates Pinterest from this mudane barrage is that it’s a particular form of teh stoopid that appeals to indisputably smart, confident, engaged women.

And maybe some fellas, too. Aww, bronies!

Amazingly, in my experience Pinterest membership has a strong positive correlation with membership in CrossFit. In a sense, CrossFit is an exercise regimen; in another sense, it’s a cult. Mind you, it isn’t a cult in the sense of the Vineyard or the Church of Scientology; you can leave if you want, and as far as I can tell the motivation strategies used during its workout sessions are exclusively positive ones. The thing is, one of the most exalted milestones of success is CrossFit is meeting Pukie. It probably isn’t unusual to hear, “What the fuck, man, you just puked! That’s fucking gnarly! Totally sick, man!” Keep in mind, however, that any statement like this needs to be interpreted as one would interpret the same statement made by an awestruck surfer dude to Laird Hamilton. For “puked,” substitute “beasted the Pipeline,” and you’ll get the idea. The fucking sickness of Hamiltonian Pipeline mastery is quite different, of course, from the fucking sickness of Jerry Sandusky, let alone the even more pathetic fucking sickness of Graham Spanier.

CrossFit doesn’t cultivate Victorian Aunt Mabel’s precious, pearl-clutching version of femininity. It produces strong, agile, sculpted, badass women. Women who would tell Aunt Mabel to either put her big girl panties on or fucking stuff it. And, apparently, women who like repinning pictures of hair much more voluminous than mine, the Olson twins, and holiday decorations, whatever the hell repinning is. I guess it’s like a bulletin board, except that things pinned to bulletin boards sometimes make sense.

The notion of CrossFit members, at least two of whom are ocean lifeguards, devoting a substantial portion of their online presence to pinning and repinning sundry shiznit on a virtual bulletin board is rather absurd. It’s a bit like hearing that in addition to being Cincinnati homicide detectives who discharge their professional duties with maturity, decorum, and even solemnity, Dave Feldhaus, Kurt Ballman and Jenny Luke have a standing play date to watch My Little Pony. It just doesn’t make any sense. On the other hand, if the Harris County Sheriff’s homicide squad is the one having the play date, it makes perfect sense. That’s one group of Texas lawmen who are blatant brony material. It’s pretty safe to say that they aren’t bashful about it, either.

That said, there are different levels of head-slapping pointlessness. At the lower end are categories such as “hairy” (i.e., hair of a thickness and coverage that I, too, might have if only I bit the bullet and got me a Traficant-grade piece of layered glory, and maybe some wider bottoms) and “Olson Love,” which appears to be the online equivalent of a collage of paparazzi jailbait shots cut out of In Style and Glamour. Speaking of jailbait, I haven’t seen it, but there is doubtless a Pinterest category called Bieber Fever. Its existence can be confidently predicted in the same fashion as the existence of particles like the Higgs Boson are predicted by theoretical physicists.

Look, ma! I’m Richard Feynman!

Moving up a bit, one finds, in addition to my being able to name Cincinnati homicide detecives from memory because I’ve watched too much cable TV, wholesale scraping of copyrighted artwork from elsewhere, which is derivative, not to mention unethical and unlawful, but at least isn’t mindboggling. I should specify that I mean to exclude the aforementioned jailbait pics from this category. These may be just as copyrighted as artistic photos, but as far as paparazzi douchebaggery being an art form is concerned, all I can say is, baby, baby, baby, no! As a photographer myself, I’d be a douchebag not to stipulate that properly framing a shot is an artistic skill, but a reasonable follow-up question is why the fuck the thing being framed in these photos is Justin Bieber. There are certainly more attractive Canadian women.

All right, I’ll concede that the paparazzi are mercenaries, like Pat Robertson, but ultimately not as harmful. They’re just amoral assholes trying to make a living in the big city, not a big cut above the associate pool at Skadden Arps, but a cut nonetheless.

Since we’ve established that portraits of Justin Bieber are not artistic and are strictly forbidden from entertaining that notion about the hackneyed little Canuck himself in this forum, let us return to the scraping of copyrighted artwork. A favorite form of scraper bait is travel photos. Let’s say that Lori, as we’ll call her, has always wanted to visit Fez and walk through its medina. So she finds a picture of the medina on the travel blog of a total stranger, Judy, and pins it to her board and her friends’ boards. Before long, this photo of Fez has been repinned all over hell, and Judy is unhappy. To make matters worse, she was hoping to sell that photo because she’s broke from traveling and is living in a shack down by the river, but the unauthorized reproduction of the photo has presumably lessened its market value.

These assholes are ripping off her shiznit. Judy must now make one of two choices: adopt the stiff upper lip and let it slide, or spend her time tracking down unauthorized copies of her work and sending Pinterest DMCA takedown notices. If Pinterest doesn’t act on her takedown notices, Judy faces another decision: countenance negligence, possibly even willful infringement of her copyright, by a major third-party content aggregator, or go to the trouble and expense of suing the bastards. Alternately, if she’s a real DIY type, she can go to the trouble, and the trouble, and the trouble, of being a pro se plaintiff.

That’s a less fictional scenario than it might be. There are a lot of Judys whose work has been scraped by Pinterest users, and a shitload of Loris who have done the scraping.

Much of the most popular material on Pinterest might be grouped into an archcategory called domesticity (although the synonym used to describe it by its followers probably isn’t even a word). Women still being the domestic sex and all that, despite the eternal snittery of the world’s feminists, this makes some sense. Really, it’s a matter of personal choice: the dudes are more interested in playing Angry Birds while their girlfriends bake cookies. Or maybe the dudes are more interested in being unemployable dirtbags while their girlfriends heat up Chef Boyardee in the microwave and look forward to another night of being smacked around, since Ed Hardy thugs are like, so good in bed. Whatever. It’s a free country. So of course it’s the chicks, not the dudes, who express an interest in pictures of Christmas ornaments and gingerbread cookies that will bring that holiday cheer to their households.

Let me rephrase that slightly: modern American women are prone to spend their free time gazing at explicit photographs of sweets. They use advanced computer equipment to look at pictures of food. When C.S. Lewis described a society in which the public would crowd the cinemas to drool at the sight of moving images of steaks, he meant that as an allegory for sex, an absurdist satire. He meant to critique pornography, not the very real electronic subcultures that he unwittingly predicted.

Or, to quote the Burundi Beef Council, Beef: If Only It Could Be for Dinner.

This is where my retarded great aunt finally makes her appearance, almost. Bear with me.

Even when used by sane, well-adjusted, decent women, Pinterest tends to be a lodestone for smothering domestic idiocy, the kind of rubbish that I’d use as incriminating evidence in a heartbeat if the women wallowing in it were bitches, although the two I have in mind get a pass because they’re nothing of the sort. Shit like that is a great way to get rid of men (or, if you’re Stoner Aunt, to chronically abuse them). Hobbies like that are tolerable enough, if baffling, when pursued by chill women, but when they’re pursued by the needy, the clingy or the manipulative—that is, by the kind of broads who don’t care enough to shut up when they’re boring everyone to tears—the menfolk in attendance start pining for the Victorian good old days when they might have been able to take leave of the sordid party, find a tranquil glen in the village green, and finally make use of their coat-pocket deringers. Of course, had they been real Victorians, they would have been encouraged to retire to the drawing room for an evening of cigars, stiff drinks, and other suitable man stuff, so it would have been a moot point to end it all, just as it would have been to express one’s love for Jesse’s girl.

God help us. Rick Springfield has now entered the fray. But it’ll get dumber than that before it gets any smarter. To wit, Aunt Fartsy, a very pretty young lady who had no trouble getting a first date but a devil of a time getting a second one. Her relatives were afraid that she’d end up pregnant—excuse me, in trouble—on account of her looks, but her IQ, of about 70, was all the birth control she needed.

Fartsy did a lot of her dating during the Second World War, when there was no shortage of non-idiotic beauties who were game for a date with one of the rapidly dwindling number of number of menfolk. Worse, she lived in New York. Sort of: Staten Island was within the city limits but not of them, but still, she lived a very manageable ferry ride and bus ride away from Manhattan. Her dating pool was within courting distance of what was probably America’s greatest concentration of good-time girls. Particularly given the wartime gender disparity, a fella on Staten Island had no trouble finding a most agreeable whore or slut.

You may be thinking, good heavens, what a horrible way to refer to the ladies of the greatest generation, but as Mark Twain said, heaven for climate, hell for company. It’s also worth remembering that Staten Island is across the bridge from Perth Amboy; good luck arguing that that kind of skank just arises sui generis from a bedrock of Catholic rectitude. But even if the Amboy girls actually heeded the nuns and never thought to hike up their skirts in the bullrushes by the refinery, the Big Apple had more than its share of young women who were well versed in the worldly ways of fuckery. New York has always been a magnet for smart, ambitious young women who chafed at the restrictions imposed upon them by the scolds back home. It was, and remains, a great place for the free spirit to open her mind and her legs. Maybe, to paraphrase Tom Lehrer, there was a charge for what she used to give for free in her hometown, but more likely than not she could carry on a conversation and knew how to please a man, as opposed to Aunt Fartsy, who—well, you’ll see soon enough, on both counts.

If a fella hired a whore, he might wonder afterwards whether she was worth her price. With Fartsy, he’d wonder whether she was worth the bill for the banana split. This was a woman who, during a ride on the Staten Island Ferry to see one of her brothers off to the war, blurted out that they were “riding on the SS Nigger Barber!” She was touched by the war in other ways, too. One of her boyfriends, she insisted, was canning pineapples for the Army in Hawaii. My grandfather, Lord Muscovy, was skeptical, but she showed him the proof: a postcard from Hawaii with a picture of a pineapple field on the front and, on the back, a note in which her boyfriend mentioned his assignment to the 242nd Cannon Company.

With so many first dates, Fartsy had ample time to fantasize about how wonderful married life would be. She had a high opinion of the institution of marriage, an institution that she vigorously defended to her boss at the candy factory in Brooklyn years later, after she finally tied the knot. When her boss criticized her for substandard work on the production line, she told him, “Don’t talk to me that way, you dirty Jew! I’m a married woman! I got married in a church with a veil on!”

This was certainly a higher opinion than she had had of the institution of scholarship. A graduate of the eighth grade at the age of 22, she had needed more than her share of remedial instruction. She had taken some of her instruction from Lord Richmond, who was quite possibly Staten Island’s premier autodidact at the time. In fact, she had taken it about as graciously as she later took counseling from her Jewish sweet shop foreman. Most people enjoyed an evening with a man as well-read, intelligent and patient as Lord Richmond. Not Fartsy. Her appraisal of the cosmos, which she candidly offered Lord Richmond in a foreshadowing of later generations’ teacher assessments, was, “As far as I’m concerned, you can take that astronomy book and shove it up your ass.”

There’s no accounting for the expectations of the Board of Regents. They expected Fartsy to learn astronomy when she couldn’t even understand artillery.

As I mentioned, Fartsy ultimately did get married—in a church, with a veil on—to a fellow who wasn’t possessed of much man stuff. The lucky man was Lord Gelding, the neutered Norwegian. It didn’t matter whether that was an antiaircraft gun in his pants or he was happy to see her, because the story is that they never consummated their marriage.

Look, I’m not the one who returned that coarse verdict. I’m just repeating what my mom repeated from her mother and grandmother. I was merely born into that vulgarity. I can’t help it. Besides, y’all are the ones reading this rot; don’t think I haven’t found the master list of search terms that brought y’all here.

Anyway, they never boinked each other, or so we’ve been told, because Lord Gelding was a eunuch who thought he was marrying into a nice family. (Ha!) It’s really quite debased that I was told this story in the first place, but TMI is not just a nuclear power plant that nearly irradiated greater Harrisburg. You see, Fartsy’s admiration for the institution of marriage was never marred by anything as unbecoming as a fixation on sex. Those who assume the missionary position to promote natural family planning could do to learn from her, as could the coarse hangers-on who make a nuisance of themselves to newlyweds at wedding receptions. (Just remember: Las Vegas Justice Court requires only two witnesses, and there’s a lot of cheap food and lodging nearby; consider using it for your next wedding.)

Oh, mercy, I’ve just plunged back into the gutter with all that dirty language about yucky-yucky nook-nook! As I said, Fartsy had a more refined view of marriage than that. It was a view that she was kind enough to share with my mom, her four-year-old playmate at the time. Mind you, Fartsy wasn’t four; she was eighteen, and she was a great playmate for my mom, so you probably have an idea of what was wrong with her. Anyway, Fartsy was kind enough to share her elevated view of marriage with my mom for her edification. Marriage, she averred, would be a time of glorious domesticity, of doilies and dresses and cooking and baking and oh, my! But sex, it seems, didn’t cross her simple mind. Fuck? No. To Fartsy, marriage was not so much a relationship defined by sexual congress with her husband, the theme that was beaten into our heads at Newman Club meetings like butter into a puff pastry dough, but a domestic occupation defined by the things she kept in her hope chest. Like so many good middle-class little girls of her generation, many of them young enough to be her daughters, Fartsy had a hope chest, where she stored the things she aspired to use when she got married, in a church, with a veil on, and she showed these things to my mother.

In case you presumed people back then to have been too thoughtful or literate or simply intelligent to encourage their children to become captivated with something so stupid, take a moment to contemplate what I’ve presented. My mother, the daughter of a dentist and an office manager who later had a nearly thirty-year career as a schoolteacher, spent her early childhood playing with her older retarded cousin, the future Lady Gelding, the one who eventually married a eunuch and joined a Pentecostal church in the Poconos, the church where, following her memorial service, the pastor offered to set me up with one of the single ladies of his congregation. If I liked it, then I should have put a ring on it, but unlike Lord Gelding, I didn’t like it; I’m not exactly sapiosexual, but I’m definintely not stuposexual, and agreeing to be set up with a socially awkward woman of blatantly limited intellect by a weird old preacher who claims that his son is “studying to be a missionary surgeon” is an example of stuposexuality, maybe even a worse example than marrying Crystal Harris.

Some of the more literate elements of the right wing would have their audiences believe that the forties and fifties were a time when parents constantly pestered their children to put their noses to the grindstone all night and keep working through their McGuffy’s Latin readers in the name of God, country and scholarship. This is a whopper for the kind of people who believe Thomas Sowell’s intonations about the moral righteousness of the Singaporean government. Yes, Virginia, there were intellectually dead people at the apex of Americanism; just because you read otherwise in National Review doesn’t mean it wasn’t so. It wasn’t just the retarded, either, although a hearty shmear of just plain stupid never hurt the cause. The early postwar era may have been a time of underappreciated intellectual foment in the American academy, but not a coconut palm’s chance on Bradley Avenue was Fartsy paying a lick of attention. As far as she was concerned, the critics could take their last stand against postmoderinsm and shove it up their ass, along with Lord Richmond’s telescope. Fartsy didn’t know much about a science book, and didn’t remember all the French she took; all she knew was that she loved the idea of getting married, in a church, with a veil on; and she knew that if she could find a man who loved her, too, what a wonderful world that would be. Unlike Sam Cooke, she didn’t know what she didn’t know, and she certainly didn’t admit to it. She trafficked not in Rumsfeldian known unknowns, but in unknown unknowns, and it was easier for her to be defiant in her ignorance than to cop to being kind of dense.

Even a close family friendship with Lord Richmond wasn’t enough to keep the intellectual necrosis at bay. One man could not hold the line against the hope chest. Lord Richmond led that clan of propertied Ulster Scots to the well of knowledge, but not all of them deigned to drink of it. Keep in mind that my people were not particularly vulgar or ignorant by Staten Island standards; they went to Manhattan on occasion, not just to the car shows in Bayonne. Not that their brand of refinement kept the women from gracing the matrilineal oral tradition with an anecdote, in the Russian sense, about a servant asking the lady of the house, “Yes ma’am, no ma’am, ma’am if you please, is it up the duck’s ass that I stuff the green peas?”

Again, I am but your humble messenger, so ma’am, if you please, don’t shoot. And also, ma’am, if you please, refrain from introducing anything into my rectum that is not of an agreeable shape and texture and properly lubricated.

Eww, that was gross, rather like the time I deep-sixed an edifying conversation about banana hammocks with mixed company on an Intervarsity service trip by forthrightly saying, “My banana doesn’t need a hammock.” I had crossed the invisible bright line between acceptably obscene banter and the unacceptable kind. Apparently, it is within the pale to inquire of one’s friends from youth group as to whether they would be interested in a pair of skimpy, obscenely named unmentionables, but beyond the pale to briefly (heehee!) explain that one’s own genitalia would feel uncomfortable in such an undergarment. Likewise, it would be rather uncouth for a teenager to think of marriage as somehow having sexual connotations. One’s hopes should be not of being pinned to the mattress by one’s lawfully wedded husband, but of other kinds of pinning: pushpins, and straight pins for sewing, and rolling pins and such. And perhaps some repinning. Because that’s what a hope chest is: a big old stupid box full of Pinterest.

Damned if Fartsy didn’t explain it. I certainly can’t think of a more compelling explanation.

If you’ll excuse me, I need to go scrape pictures of Lab puppies and stalk John Tesh for some more Intelligence for my Life. I reckon he has some useful tips on homemade winter suppositories on one of his boards, and if not, I should at least be able to get a better idea of exactly what pharmaceutical-grade amphetamines that brony chick magnet is ingesting big-band style.

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