Monday, November 29, 2010

Going Ape

Some website that calls itself The New York Times has been getting considerable attention for a long but engrossing story about a web entrepreneur who is making waves--and money--by cheating and threatening his customers. In a perverse inversion of the traditional business model, it seems the more people he rips off, and the more they complain, the more new customers he attracts. (It has to do with the way Google's ranking system rewards mentions, even when most of the mentions are unmentionable.) It's quite the startling read.

About midway through the epic piece, we get a sampling of online comments left by some of the merchant-hooligan's aggrieved customers:
“Robbery!” wrote one reviewer. Another wonders if primates are running the place. Another quotes a DecorMyEyes e-mail to a disgruntled customer which included this pungent adieu: “do you think I would think twice about urinating all over your frame and then returning it? Common.”
My quibble here is both picayune and pedantic (and wouldn't that make a good name for a folk-singing duo?) but I'm hard-up for grist for this complaint mill, so here goes: Primate is a biological order that includes (among many other creatures): woolly lemurs, marmosets, chimpanzees*, squirrel monkeys**, gibbons, and, yes, humans--even the ones that run shady internet operations.

*"I hate every ape I see, from Chimpan-A to Chimpan-Z" -- a favorite lyric from the Simpsons episode featuring a Broadway musical adaption of Planet of the Apes.

**Monkeys are not chimps. And yet, my website,, features an image of a chimp. Why? Because I'm a hypocrite when it comes to the taxonomical exactitude of primate species.