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Staff Recommender: Rich Bellis Is Your New Favorite Spambot Poet

The best things on the Internet this week, curated by Fast Company employees.

Staff Recommender: Rich Bellis Is Your New Favorite Spambot Poet
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON: Musical guest Bette Midler performs on September 12, 1973 [Photo: Fred Sabine, NBC, NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images]
Rich BellisPhoto: Celine Grouard for Fast Company

Name: Rich Bellis
Role at Fast Company: Associate editor. I assign and edit stories by regular contributors for FastCompany.com’s Leadership section and review submissions that are sent to us unsolicited.
Twitter: @mr_bellis
Titillating fact: One of my duties in an earlier publishing job was to moderate comments in a heavily spammed CMS. I combed through hundreds each week so I could approve the one or two that were written by actual humans. In the process I noticed the spambots were “writing” some pretty evocative things, so I started to copy and paste my favorite snippets into a Google doc. Eventually I made some cheeky little poems by piecing them together.

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Things he’s loving:

1. “The Mixed-Up Brothers of Bogotá” by Susan Dominus in The New York Times Magazine

A second titillating fact about me is I’m a fraternal triplet, so I have this love-hate relationship with stuff about multiples. But this piece from last month is incredible. It’s about two pairs of identical twins separated at birth and raised instead as pairs of fraternal twins, who were then reunited in their 20s. As one of them remarks, the story follows the logic of a telenovela, but it’s the best thing I can remember reading about what it means to be a sibling.

2. The TSA on Instagram

The TSA’s Instagram account is a visual cornucopia of all the bizarre crap people try to bring onto airplanes, which includes but is definitely not limited to:

Bless the gentle hearts heading up social over at the TSA, because every photo is captioned with a mild-mannered reminder that sharp implements and livestock aren’t allowed in carry-on luggage and that travelers should check local weapons laws. Sadly, the account is also an alarming, if unintentional, ongoing exhibit of the insanity of American gun culture.

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3. Bette Midler covering the Rolling Stones’s “Beast of Burden” on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson on November 10, 1983.

Watch this if you need a refresher on the sublime feats our species is capable of. Bette slays the number, dry-humps two different surfaces, and swings the mic stand over her head before sending it crashing into the scenery. It’s manifestly the greatest musical performance in television history, and Bette ends it by chirping, “And she writes books, too!” (In case you’re wondering, the book in question is still in print and my birthday is in April.)

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