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Leonard's Advice/Food Column:

Dear Leonard,

I really like shredded coconut, but I feel strange eating it. It's as though it's fish-flake food for humans and there are powerful aliens sitting on their perches in another dimension watching me eat it. Can you help?

Observed in Omaha

Dear Observed:

The aliens will lose interest if you stop eating the shredded coconut in big handfuls directly from the bag, and include it as an ingredient in food where they can't see it. Try my

Chocolate Pudding a la Way Too Much Shredded Coconut

Prepare the pudding as per the instructions on the box, but use less milk than it calls for. Instead of remaining milk, substitute coconut. Chill and serve. Serves n.

It's Payback Time!: TEoM was linked to by a lot of weblogs. Here are some of the ones I liked, with links to the cool stuff I found via them that made me like them.

: Let's talk about Mr. T. Better yet, let's just link to one of the many Paint Shop Pro-created skits starring Mr. T. In this episode, Mr. T discusses the ins and outs of weather forecasting. "We let computers hack at this stuff," says Mr. T, and you believe him. Britney's Guide to Semiconductor Physics just wishes it had these production values!

: From The Volokh Conspiracy I found out that Salman Rushdie is probably the best-known author to have dabbled in Star Trek fan fiction.

: Here's a great article on the implementation of VisiCalc (the first spreadsheet), article written by Bob Frankston, one of the original authors of VisiCalc. This article reveals all: as inevitably happens, they shipped the prototype.

The other primary author of Visicalc, Dan Bricklin, has on his website a wealth of VisiCalc reference material, including a less technical history with photos, all with a really cool navigation system that makes it feel like the future. Dan has his own weblog, and he and Bob collaborate with some other folks on the popular SATN.org weblog, where they talk about telecommunications, copyright, and other curmudgeonly topics.

[Note: this entry inaugurates "Heroes of the Elder Age", the new series of Crummy trading cards and weblog entries (trading cards not available). HotEA honors the authors of cool old pieces of software and does a sort of "where are they now" showcasing of their current web sites. There was a previous entry in this series, on Jeff Lee, one of the authors of Q*Bert, but the series hadn't been titled yet, so it doesn't count as inaugural.]

: Everyone is linking to A Review of Contemporary Science Fiction (and for good reason), but I found another good, longer-term overview called A History of the History of the Future (my overview of modern science fiction, soon due out in paperback, will be called "A Retroactive History of the History of the Future: A Retrospective"). Includes the obvious-in-hindsight observation:

This may be due to the collapse of Communism in the real world: hive minds can now be considered more objectively, rather than as crude political symbols.

It's true; I always thought of hive minds as swarming embodiments of "Much like in your Earth Soviet Russia" didacticism, but that was all in the old stuff: starting with the Borg, that didn't really make sense.

: Unused angle on a story about New Hampshire's Old Man of the Mountain (R.I.P.): what if the other state quarter symbols start disappearing under mysterious circumstances? How will humankind react to the news that we're living in a bizarre, geological-scale Agatha Christie novel? Keep a close eye on the Delaware river, the Charter Oak, the Maryland statehouse, the Statue of Liberty, the Wright Brothers' plane in the Air and Space museum, the Pell Bridge, Camel's Hump Mountain, Federal Hill, the entire Louisiana Purchase and city of Chicago, Pemaquid Point Light (be vigilant, Mike), and the Gateway Arch. Coming soon: my overactive imagination has to worry about still more things, including the possibility that the sun itself might vanish.

Department Of Corrections Department: I got a bunch of emails saying that zork.net and tastytronic net have photo albums run by Gallery, not Apache:Gallery . So I reviewed a completely different program with almost exactly the same name! Gallery is written in PHP, which brings up the old chestnut: "Against which programming language is Leonard more prejudiced: PHP or Perl?" It's a tough call, but I think I'll have to go with Perl. So, Gallery: it's written in PHP, but at least it's not written in Perl! Actual, trying-not-to-be-biased review of Gallery coming eventually.


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