I didn't want to debug the problem, nor did i feel like restarting my browser, even though that is relatively painless. Eventually, Firefox crashed, as it tends to do, but at a lower rate than any other browser I've used/abused, and today I picked up a new build which has fixed the problem.
My conclusion is that the large majority of internet advertising, especially on more amateurish sites, is distracting, appears unprofessional, and is largely irrelevant. When you read a magazine or newspaper, the ads you see are usually somewhat interesting, especially and targeted magazines, and they don't distract you from the content. There's a certain uniformity to the advertising that makes it feel like it's part of the publication, but it is easy to ignore, though usually the ads are interesting enough that you don't. On the other hand, on http://www.nytimes.com/ , I count seven different types/formats of ads, just on one page! Can you imagine the front page of the paper version of the NY Times looking as plastered with random ads as their web page?
The contextual text ads from Google, Yahoo, and others are an aesthetic junkyard. They are unattractive, usually poorly written, and more and more they are losing the barriers that separate them from non-ad content.
For things like this, i usually blame the -20 IQ effect from computers. Sit someone in front of a computer, and their writing and thinking skills drop 20 points. Hopefully the next generation won't have this affliction.
Everything on the web looks so much nicer with my set of ad filters ON.
In other news...stay tuned for more excitement from me, next week!