The meme

A cannon watches the water on Bay St. in Beaufort.

A cannon watches the water on Bay St. in Beaufort.

  This antebellum house on Bay Street in Beaufort, SC was built to last. Closer view of the Bay St. house. Concrete exterior. Copper roof. Marble steps.A patron drinks coffee in the vault of the branch bank-turned-Starbucks in Hilton Head

It’s pronounced “meem.” Rhymes with cream. Had to look it up.

A meme, it seems, refers these days to any concept that’s enjoying wide distribution, usually online. Hence, the term “popular internet meme.” Unfortunately for memes, unvetted as the vast majority of information available online is, they lack credibility. They’re more a matter of “rumor (or group hysteria) has it” than “reliable sources confirm.” Irrational exuberance is assumed, as is credulousness. Sites like Snopes.com provide some balance.

Another recent arrival is “FAIL,” often written just like that – all caps – indicating acronomial usage. The best translation I’ve found is “First Action In Learning,” which sounds sort of noble, but I suspect is only sarcasm. The YouTube videos – “Parking fail,” “Stripper fail,” “Frisk fail” and so on – are Candid Camera moments. Nobody involved appears to be learning anything, only being embarrassed.

The Rocket Boom Institute for Internet Studies, as part of a series they call “Know Your Meme,” offers an investigation of the “FAIL” meme.

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Mr. Craig and I visited Beaufort today. We ate lunch at a place called Plum’s, then toured a bookstore and an antique shop. Further down Bay Street, we stood in mild awe of a three-story antebellum house that’s constructed entirely of concrete, all except the copper roof and marble steps. 19th century architectural magic. Gone with the wind. Alas.

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The Starbucks nearest my accommodations here on Hilton Head used to be a branch bank. Its most remarkable feature is the former vault, now decorated and furnished as one of several seating areas.

When I arrived yesterday morning, the large table inside the vault was surrounded by distinguised looking men and women. Please hold that image in mind for a moment – distinguised looking men and women seated at a large table inside a tastefully decorated vault – and imagine it used as the basis for a print ad run by any professional theater in any entertainment industry trade magazine. Headline: “Your board of directors.” Subhead: “Throw away the key.” Boo-yah!