You loaded it, you might as well read it

March 9, 2001

March already. Feels like it was February only last week, but of course it’s been more than a week by now. I was up in Maine this weekend, and we had planned to drive back to New Jersey on Tuesday. This plan was developed long before every news organization on the east coast started talking about the horrible, horrible storm that was coming, sure to bury New England and the Mid-Atlantic states under several feet of snow. This storm, as you may have guessed, was due to strike on Tuesday, March 6.

(As an aside, how come you can say “several feet of snow” or “inches of snow”, but “feet of snow” sounds funny? Or is it just me?)

Being brave and having important things to do, my family decided to head back despite the dire predictions. We went west first, then south, in the hopes of avoiding the snowstorm. It may have worked, I haven’t really looked into it. What I know is that the roads were passable, even though at times there was less than one lane clear of snow on Interstate 91 south.

My point, then, is that… uh…. Okay, I don’t appear to have a point. I guess I’m just telling this to pad out the entry. But every now and then we should thank Eisenhower for the Interstate Highway System. I’m too young to remember what things were like before its construction, but I look at some of the older highways around here—one of which has endless strings of shops and dealerships on either side and in the median—and shudder to imagine trying to travel long distances without anything more sophisticated.

(The “Interstate” in the name refers to the system, not the individual highways, which is why you can find them in Hawaii. In case you were wondering.) #


Despite having played video games for years and putting down a good chunk of change for games and systems over the years, I’m not really a “gamer” and I’m somewhat out of the gaming-community loop. That’s why my introduction to the “All your base” fad was through Exploitation Now rather than something closer to the source.

If you haven’t seen the flash animation, do so. It’s a bit juvenile in places, but… Well, either you’ll get it or you won’t.

Where, then, did this come from? The Ottawa Citizen has a look at the phenomenon, but the short-short version is that a bunch of gamers found an old video game from the days when translation was low-priority. Very low. Somehow, the bad translations in Zero Wing caught people’s imagination.

Captain: What happen?
Mechanic: Someone set up us the bomb

This naturally led to an informal campaign to create doctored photos. From there, it spread seemingly without limit. Among the many, many people who have mentioned it are Doc Searls (who more recently points out an attempt to pre-empt any faux-hip marketing based on the phenomenon) and Steve Jackson. Salon cites it twice in their Inbox column, which mentions that the catch phrases have become popular in the United States Army(!).

As you may imagine, there is some irritation among those who feel that their in-joke has been coopted. All your base, they say, is dead. As /usr/bin/girl says, once Time magazine is writing articles, it isn’t an in-joke anymore.

(The Ottawa Citizen article comes via Avalon, which is cited by the Citizen’s article on web comics which I encountered via Avalon. Got all that?) #