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: I miss Sumana, but I'll be seeing her soon.

I scanned and put up some pictures on the backup site, including a picture of Seth near the Golden Gate Bridge, the same, made into a greeting card, the famous picture of me and Seth with Danny O'Brien, and the picture of Sumana doing the solemn graduation dance.

I got wedding presents for Adam and Kim, and presents for others as well.

As you know, Seth, I have a four-foot demonstration slide rule which I will give to you or sell to you for less than $450. What you don't know is that my foot was also once run over by a car, although the car was just starting to move so there was not much momentum behind it. My mother had just dropped me off at band practice and started driving off before I was done getting my instrument out of the bed of the pickup, and so her rear tire ran over my right foot. Probably not as dramatic as the scene whereby your foot was run over.

Spam: dBASE: better than ever23. Yes, and deader than ever, I'll warrant.

Perhaps you thought that where spam was concerned there was no barrel, or that if there was a barrel it somehow had no bottom, or that if there was a bottom it had been treated to be scrape-resistant. I think this spam proves otherwise.

Man or Butterfly? First In A Series: I dreamed that I ate some food which contained a powerful sedative. I began to drop off, my mind wandering, losing control of my muscles...

I woke up.

: Sumana has graduated, for real this time! A repeat performance of the dinosaur/elephant parade is scheduled.

: A tardy note, also apropos Sumana (apropos this CES entry, actually). Stereotype humor is humor in which the punchline is basically the assertion of a stereotype ("People in group x have property y") in a novel way. For instance, the 'Those Cowardly French' stereotype:

Q: How do you say "I surrender!" in French?
A: You don't need to say anything in particular, you just speak French.

Metastereotype humor is type of stereotype humor in which the stereotype being asserted is "People in group x hold stereotype y." The metastereotype humor I was thinking of in Sumana's act was a very funny bit in which Sumana's parents tell her that she needs to get a prestigious job because Indian-Americans stereotypically have such jobs (doctor, engineer, etc). Sumana counters by enumerating the various menial jobs that it is also stereotypical for Indian-Americans to have (7-11 clerk, taxi driver, etc.). Sumana's parents say "Oh, those are all Pakistanis." It's sterotype humor, but the stereotype being referenced ("Indians look down on Pakistanis") is that certain people have certain stereotypes.

I think that Sumana bit is the only time I've heard metastereotype humor done well (there's a difference between metastereotype humor and regular stereotype humor done flagrantly so as to mock the genre, of which there are many good examples). I may have seen it done well a couple times in old Saturday Night Live skits, but that's just a general feeling of 'they must have done that' than anything concrete.

Oh, there was a MAD article in the '70s called "You Can't Win With A Bigot" which was pretty funny, in addition to shining light on the last gasps of bigotry against groups for whom bigotry, as opposed to mere stereotyping, no longer works (eg. Italians). I'm not sure it counts, though, since the operative stereotype was "Bigots are bigoted", which is true by definition and therefore not much of a stereotype. It might just be flagrant stereotype humor with a tut-tut framing device.

Have you seen good metastereotype humor? Send in your examples.

: Sumana is here! She brought my new camera (thanks to Kevin for getting it from work and bringing it to her), which is large (for a digital camera) but sturdily built and padded, which gives me hope that my habit of dropping cameras on the floor will not ruin this camera as fast as it ruined my previous cameras.

She and I went down to Arvin last night to see the fireworks show at the high school. Nice! The parking lot was full of people sitting on and near their cars watching the show for free, and we joined them. Some of those present put on their own, smaller, fireworks shows in the street during lulls in the actual show.

: Spam: Rebuild your credit with gold. Yeah, gold's not valuable in and of itself, only as a means of rebuilding your credit.

: A chap named Benjamin Molitor ported robotfindskitten to the Game Boy Advance. You ported robotfindskitten to the Game Boy Advance! Way to go, Benjamin Molitor! Press Start.

: Spam: Are you still working for money? Oh, the shame! I had no idea it was so passé!

: Off to Jake Berendized Calabasas for Adam's wedding. More later.

: Calabasas had its revenge on me, in the form of a weird heatstroke/stomach flu thing which is only now starting to abate. "You only feel hungry now."


They say in Harlan County, there are no neutrals there
You'll either be a union man or a thug for J.H. Blair

Either J.H. Blair is a union man (unlikely), he is a thug for himself (bizarre, counterintuitive), or he never enters Harlan County (bizarre but possible). Or the song should be rewritten like so:

They say in Harlan County, there are no neutrals there
You'll either be a union man, a thug for J.H. Blair, or J.H. Blair himself

: Untaken Domain Names: First In A Series: sourforge.net

: Untaken Domain Names: Second In A Series: datarage.net

: It's probably the book of Andy Rooney essays I read recently, but I got to thinking: what if, like the copyright industry, I could simply have banned any application of technology that inconvenienced me? For instance, it would be illegal to use a database to store a mailing list for use in junk mailings. This would effectively prevent anyone's address from being stored in a database, ever, but who cares, if it stops junk mail? Not only should it be mandatory for spam to be labelled for easy filtering, the spammers should have to do the filtering on their side so I never get the spam. Also, it should be illegal to make telemarketing calls except on a special line to my house that the telemarketers have to chip in for. I can just not plug a phone into that line. But I might want to use that new line; I might even occasionally want to receive calls on it! So telemarketers should have to, when they call and you answer, put you into a voicemail system: "This is a telemarketing call. To be placed on the no call list, press 1. To listen to a recorded sales message, press 2. To be connected to a live telemarketer, please hold. Our call is important to you."

Forget taping bricks to postage-paid postcards; this is the real stuff!

: When I went on vacation I left a bag here containing two small limes. Now the limes are overripe and yellow, and resemble tiny lemons. I fear that I've glimpsed some horrifying truth about lemons (or possibly limes).

: Feeding my "Muppet biology" obsession comes word that the South African-produced edition of Sesame Street is introducing an HIV-positive Muppet. I think this is a good idea, to the extent that "we need a character with x property" is ever a good idea, but I couldn't figure out how a Muppet could catch a human disease. Then I realized: she got it from her puppeteer.

: From the latest EFFector email: Privacy Groups Demand Protection of Users' Privacy

: I got a meta-postcard from Rachel. On the front of the postcard are many pictures of postcards of London attractions. Rachel is quite keen on my coming to visit her. Among her pitches: "You should get a job here so I could come see you all the time!" I'm not sure I want to get a job in England. Maybe I should just go see Rachel over Thanksgiving.

I also got a great birthday card made by Susanna. It has a drawing of a dinosaur and one of a fish being confused by a fishing lure. "Happy being 23!", she says.

: Raw materials for joke: consider the fruits of hybridization between the literary efforts of Joseph Conrad and those of Paul Conrad. "The horror! The horror! Of George W. Orwell's justice, that is!"

: It wasn't a fish being confused by a fishing lure. It was a whale being confused by a bunch of bananas.

: My stomach feels better, and diagnoses range from heatstroke to extremely selective food poisoning. I predict that a big scare in 10 years or so, spurred by alarmist pieces in Time and Readers Digest, will be "microterrorism": plausibly deniable acts of sabotage which merely annoy individuals or small groups of people. My ailment was ahead of its time; in the future I suspect it will be labelled microbioterrorism (an ambiguous set of modifiers; since it will be futurenow, perhaps it will be given an especially stupid newterm like 'narrowbodterror', where the whole thing is ambiguous).

: Sumana called me to tell me she's been offered a job. Huzzah!

: It seems like a long time ago, but it was only seven elements ago (Palladium, oddly enough) when Zack showed me the Periodic Table of Science Fiction. An ongoing project of Michael Swanwick to write a tiny science fiction story about each element on the periodic table, in ascending order of atomic weight. Sometimes it's a story, anyway. Vanadium is just a rant:

There is so little to be said in vanadium's favor! It is a soft and ductile white metal. So what? Its boiling point is 3,450 Centigrade. Who cares? It has no desirable properties and, worse, no ambition to achieve any. There it is, and there it will stay. I've wasted more than enough time on it already. I wash my hands of it forever!

The concept is cooler than the average story in the series, but could you do any better?

This Is Not Spam As Its Fabulous Offers Are Tempered By Bizarre Restrictions Just, Like Real Business Opportunities:

Could you use a Free Grant of $10,000 to $156,000
but, not exceeding $5,000,000?

: V-mail Kriswise! Totally blazzo!

: I feel burnt out. I haven't been able to write a line of non-work-related code for a few weeks, not even the minimal changes needed to reinstate Tonight's Episode or get rid of the entries in my referer logs from that evil company that wants you to pay to salt other people's referer logs with your URL.

For a while it was a chore to update NYCB, and I had to push myself to do at least one entry every day, but I think I broke that today.

: Well, my computer died. Hopefully there is just some problem with the hard drive, which is partitioned in a very strange way that I don't remember doing. My mother is clamoring for a new(er) computer so I'm probably going to buy a new one, use it to fix this one, then install Windows on it and give it to her.

: An economics joke:

Q: What do you have when everyone is bored with regulating prices?
A: Blasé-faire.

: Spam: Incredible Tahitian Perls...Starting at $1.00!

: Did you know it's possible to measure the temperature of a web page? Thermodynamicists have succeeded in locating the hottest spot on ibm.com!

: I would have more interest in the movie The Bourne Identity if it were about a mathematician named Bourne who discovered an interesting identity property.

: I thought of a morbid story idea for an Onion-alike satiricon: Ironic Death Rate Plummets:

Much of the drop was due to new health and safety regulations. Fewer industrial workers than ever before were crushed in the gears of the machinery destined to replace them, and not a single chemical company CEO met a gruesome demise in a vat of his company's toxic product.

: The Nethack bibliography (found via Zack) is cool, but it only covers the database; it doesn't have citations for all the quotes in the source code. Perhaps I'm exaggerating the number of quotes in the source code, but I remember there being a nontrivial number, mostly used to justify weird features involving vampires or whatever.

: The obvious followup to this (so obvious it took me a whole day to realize it): Future-slang spam and Newspeak spam. *** DOUBLEPLUSLOW PRICES! ***

: Last night I went to see They Might Be Giants, and had a great time. First we ('we' being a wide variety of people who know Zack) went to a Japanese restaurant (the same restaurant a different 'we' once went to with Pete Peterson II). Zack had an okonomiyaki, which I thought was the thing you got in Nethack instead of a pancake when playing a samurai, but this is not correct. I bring up the okonomiyaki because it had little shavings on top which waved around due to the okonomiyaki's body heat, making the whole thing look like a living slime mold.

Then on to the concert, which was good. A local singer-songwriter named Noe Venable opened. She claimed to be a big TMBG fan. She was well-received and played five songs, three of which were really good.

An unexplained break of about twenty minutes (is that normal?) and then TMBG came on. John Flansburgh was the excited rock-geek jumping around and yelling, and John Linnell was the dispassionate keyboard player scowling out the lyrics. They played many songs from a new album called No!, which I had, strangely, not heard of before. (But why is that surprising? My news sources include nothing that would mention new TMBG album releases. I didn't hear about Mink Car until I saw it in a store.)

My feet are sore from standing. Two other complaints:

: Kevin found a Googlewhack without knowing what one was: qhyyneqf cerpyhqvat

: Funny phrase: ".NET antics." As in "I've had just about enough of you Microsoft kids and your .NET antics!"

: From Sumana, a Salon teaser even more alarmist than But is he bowing to a false god?: But is he a false god?

: Is it just me, or is it obvious to everyone that iPods are turning into PDAs that play music?

: Rachel says she's jealous of me because I went to see TMBG. I am hip!

: More Yoda spam: Free Money For You its

: Yesterday I saw a headline along the lines of "19 million pounds of meat recalled after 19 fall ill". Of course they fell ill! They each ate a million pounds of meat!

: Horrifying Visions of the Future: A Retrospective: In the future, people will put on plays written by our contemporaries, and they will change them in various ways to make them more relevant. For instance, Angels In America will take place on a Mars colony called "America" and instead of AIDS the characters will have the space plague. You can take this prediction to the bank because, unlike many things that annoy me about humanity, this feature of humanity will remain even if people enhance themselves not to be stupid.

People of the future will also put on, as plays, screenplays like Fight Club and the scripts of television shows like Law And Order, and will make the same sort of changes to them. By then we will all be dead and buried, and those who undergo cryogenic freezing will never be unthawed for fear of the vengeance they would wreak should they find out about this.

: It's well known that the powers of magic are enhanced by calling it "magick". Magic is based on the principle that words and rituals have power, and so a more complicated word for the principle gives you access to more power. If you can handle it, you can use mhagick or maghick. The most complex variety I know of that's even marginally safe to use is pmhaugshickque. You can put apostrophes in it if you're brave, but that turns it into scary Lovecraftian p'mh'augshi'ck'que, which Man Was Not Meant To Know.

: Zack claims that you do get okonomiyaki instead of pancakes when you're a Nethack samurai. But how do you explain this? And also that the source code never mentions okonomiyaki? But then how do you explain how both Zack and I thought this was the case, even though I'd never heard of okonomiyaki before? The answer is clear: we have been abducted by sinister extraterrestrials from beyond Dimension X and forced to play Future Versions Of Nethack!

[nb. from objnam.c, version 3.4.0; it's possible that okonomiyaki were present in an earlier version and removed, but to my knowledge this would be the first time a non-exploitable feature was ever removed from Nethack:]

STATIC_OVL struct Jitem Japanese_items[] = {
        { SHORT_SWORD, "wakizashi" },
        { BROADSWORD, "ninja-to" },
        { FLAIL, "nunchaku" },
        { GLAIVE, "naginata" },
        { LOCK_PICK, "osaku" },
        { WOODEN_HARP, "koto" },
        { KNIFE, "shito" },
        { PLATE_MAIL, "tanko" },
        { HELMET, "kabuto" },
        { LEATHER_GLOVES, "yugake" },
        { FOOD_RATION, "gunyoki" },
        { POT_BOOZE, "sake" },
        {0, "" }

: More multicultural Nethack: notes on keeping kosher in Nethack.

: Hey, Kris, remember the joke event horizon?

: Various computer parts are supposed to be wending their way towards me, as Peter Schickele says. The dot.com <-pathetic attempt at irony- bust seems to have killed off the cheapo Linux OEM ecosystem; PriceWatch used to have a whole section for inexpensive computers with Linux preinstalled, but now nothing. Feeling very strange, I tried lame Google searches like "linux" and "linux box", looking for text ads, but nothing there either. So I'll be building my next computer. This is actually sort of nice because it lets me reuse old parts that I don't care about (video card, sound card, network card) from my two old computers, and use the money thus saved to buy ridiculous amounts of RAM and hard drive space, which I do care about.

: Today in the kitchen at work (someone had brought in a box) I saw the real-life equivalent of the Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs from Calvin and Hobbes: Cap'n Crunch Choco Donut cereal. It looks like chocolate Froot Loops with little nonpareils on the Froot Loops. And get this: it is marketed under the 'Oops!' sub-brand of the Cap'n Crunch brand, the line which previously consisted only of the randomly-produced 'Oops! All Berries!' cereal (which is the set difference of Cap'n Crunch Crunchberries and Cap'n Crunch and which resembles gastronomic Rokenbok).

Now, the conceit of the 'Oops!' sub-brand is that through some horrible oversight of logistics Quaker produced too much of some cereal component, and is making the best of a bad situation by boxing it separately as a new cereal. But Choco Donuts are not an existing Cap'n Crunch cereal component! They're not even topographically equivalent to any existing Cap'n Crunch cereal component! This cereal piece is not a mistake; it has 'intended result of long series of deliberations and actions' written all over it! Putting this ceral under the "Oops!" sub-brand is nothing more than marketing Tourette's.

As if to drive the point home that not even by the fiction of the Cap'n Crunch backstory is this an "Oops!", on the back of the box you see the Cap'n himself, taking you through a tour of his costly new production facility for making Choco Donut cereal pieces. If this cereal really was the result of an oversight, wouldn't the oversight have been discovered long before all this infrastructure was built around it? Does "Oops!" mean "Oops! The Cap'n Accidentally Invested Millions In The Design And Production Of A New Manufacturing Process For Shaped Cereal!"?

Actually, judging from the awful design of the production line, maybe it's "Oops! Blasting Large Numbers Of Nonpareils Into The Air In Hopes That Some Of Them Will Stick To Something Is Very Messy And Wasteful!", or possibly "Oops! We Were Too Stupid To Realize That It Might Be More Efficient To Create Little Cereal Donut Simalcra At Their Actual Size Instead Of Creating One Huge Cereal Donut Simalcrum And Breaking It Up Into Smaller Simalcra With Some Sort Of Magic Beam!"

I complain, but at least I vaguely understand what's going on; the "Oops!" line is turning into a line of extra-junky cereal which would be called "Select" or "Extra" or "Premium" if it were a line of stuff made for the benefit of adults. I don't understand what's going on here. Are people pathologically afraid of germs? Are our (and by "our" I mean "your") children turning into food isolationists? I don't know.

: When Physical Objects Are Warezed, Only Warez D00ds Will Have Physical Objects: Or something. The latest in the DSR saga is "Franklin Planner " crack.

: MoreSensationalistExaminer.com: Bad-guy backlog should be Bad-guy weblog. Now's your chance to one-up the Chronicle!

: Mail from Kris in which he presents a theory for the origin of cereals so wacky, that if it's true then a similar theory must apply for the origin of wacky theories.

: Microbusiness in action: feelies.org sells the little pieces of the game world that at traditionally accompany IF games, and can be instructed to sell them for your game.

I've decided that "Micro-x" is the next meta-trend, as the Internet and related technologies make it easier to offload more logistics onto other people and thereby dabble in more things. "Meta-trend" is also the next meta-trend (there can be multiple simultaneous meta-trends because, well, it's meta).

: I'm a happy rabbit, because my spacecraft components have come in. For some reason I have been thinking of the hard drives and RAM I ordered as spacecraft components; possibly because I had the same feeling towards them as you have towards spacecraft components during a game of FreeCiv; you order them and are excited and they can't come in fast enough (counterpoint).

But I got to thinking that my new hard drives and RAM are probably better (in terms of raw power) than anything currently used in actual working spacecraft due to the long lag time involved in spacecraft design. So I decided that I should lead-shield my hard drives and RAM to protect them from radiation, incorporate them into a Gallileo-type spacecraft with a camera and radio transmitter, send it off into space, and reap the rewards (eg. pictures, and being the coolest person in the entire world).

This pleasant fantasy lasted only a moment before I realized that 1) it would take me years just to learn everything I'd need to know to build and launch a spacecraft, that 2) though I can afford amazingly huge hard drives and chunks of RAM, the sum cost of the parts neccessary to create a spacecraft is well beyond my budget, that 3) sending out a Gallileo-type spacecraft would probably violate some stupid law or UN resolution or other, and that 4) I bought the hard drives and RAM as part of a project to bring my computer back to life, and not as part of a nascent space program. So I abandoned the project before I led the taxpayer (viz., myself) down a garden path.

: Also, if I did launch a spacecraft, with my luck it wouldn't make it through the green.

: Scary future-speak spam:

To be from future mes please rep to this with the word

I can'the promise thehathe if you follow theodayse

: Adam speaks:

Now I donno about text editors as herbal supplements, but can emacs do all the things mentioned here? I think not!

: I'm back "on line", as the kids say. Thanks to my new hard drive (the fancy new RAM won't fit in my old motherboard, so no new RAM yet) and (finally) an installation CD that's less corrupt than a Calcutta phone line installer, I have computer again. And such unoccupied swaths of hard drive space! I'm a pioneer! I'm Pioneer 10!

: Alert John Ashcroft! Subversion has gone into "alpha mode", as they call it.* And there's a logo contest, though they aren't running any of the banana logos that I liked (allegedly those were some kind of "joke").

*May not actually be what they call it.

: Search Results Unclear on the Concept: "nethack" "wand of wishing" download

: Search Requests After My Own Heart: formmail.pl revenge

: An IMDBwhack.

: You know that KDE screensaver called "virtual machine" which manipulates letters and symbols on the screen in strange looping patterns? It's called kvm (download) and it's a depiction of a virtual machine in which randomly generated automata cavort and reproduce. The tarball contains a description of the virtual machine. My curiosity is satisfied now.

: The battle rages on, with Want a better rate than Mr. Jones?

We shall outspend Mr. Jones on the beaches; we shall consume more conspicuously on the landing grounds, we shall borrow at more favorable rates in the fields and in the streets, we shall deduct the interest in the hills; we shall never surrender!

: Jason Robbins of Tonight's Episode fame gave a presentation at the O'Reilly conference on Source Access and Commercial Software (and "commercial" is used appropriately there, I think). It had a humorous component which used hypothetical source code from ancient Sumeria to point out that mere source code access is insufficient to reap the benefits of collaboration. He's going to put up a revised copy on tigris.org, but here is a preview.

The guy on the panel from Microsoft's Shared Source initiative, against which (the initiative, not the guy) much of Jason's satire was directed, is also named Jason. Battle of the Jasons!

: I'm fairly sure it was unintentional, but the Beetle Bailey strip mentioned herein made me realize just what a badass Sarge is. This is a guy who talks to his dog, who has a separate bed in his quarters for his dog, who dresses his dog in a little Army uniform, and not a peep about it out of his men. Not even behind his back. They don't dare, because he's such a badass.

: Enjoy the Python Cookbook , including the Borg design pattern.

: Hm...

"Cephalopods have no gas-filled sac, so they have no way to make that type of noise," he said.


"They made these strange noises like a dolphin or a seal as they were dying."

: There's the Angband comic, previously mentioned here, and there's also a Nethack comic (well, one based on Nethack, anyhow). It's not as funny as the Angband comic, and it hasn't been updated for a couple months, but unlike the Angband comic it is actually text-based, and it has some funny moments:

Waltraute wields a long sword! The long sword slips from her hands!
@: Damn you fried food! First you ruin my girlish figure, then you make me helpless!

: I wrote a labor-saving device I'd been meaning to write for a while, which breaks my long streak of not writing code except for work. Hopefully my burnout is subsiding, and soon I'll be interested in working on my game again.

: DSC:

: Leonardonics backlog clearing-out: X Sense... tingling!, Seth David Schoen, The original x, x brand y. Four more on the way.

: In other long-neglected Crummy feature news: Tonight's Episode will return tomorrow morning, with Jason's 14-part series The Jury Did It.

: Time for some Murphy-style "laws" which for some reason writing them makes me think it's the mid-90s and there's nothing better on the Web than lists of Murphy-style "laws".

: Lame Onion editorial of the future: 10 paragraphs from someone wondering why a nice guy like Smithers (from The Simpsons) isn't married.

: A double whammy for Jason, with The Jury Did It premiering here on crummy.com, and his Sumeria presentation now available from dig.tigris.org.

: Interesting, obvious-in-retrospect vocabulary tidbit from Kevin: the singular of "qualia" is "quale".


<kmaples> I remember I was working at tower before nevermind came out
<kmaples> we (the buyers) got these pre-release packets for the album
<kmaples> in there was the assurance 'note - nirvana is extremely accessible'

: Leonard micromarketing (someone else use the micro-x construction or my trend prediction will fall apart! Mickey Kaus, call your office!): a member of the UCLA LUG, who probably came in after I graduated since I've never heard of him, made O'Reilly book covers for the members of the LUG. Nobody will find this interesting except me, but whose weblog is this? That's right, it's mine. Mine, I tell you!

Of slightly more general interest, Dan Helfman drew some cartoons.

It's also interesting to see what happened to the half-painted mural.

: Generic food product name: Prepare 'n' Eat

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