Archive for category The Wonders of Technology

Toned Down

What the actual junk, Facebook.  You have a problem.  You have a lot of problems.

Something that’s been making the rounds: “Share this if you’d stay up all night just to stop someone you love from committing suicide!”

There are so many things wrong with that statement I don’t know where to start.  My original plan was to throw sarcasm at it.

Forget the interim plan.  Plan A was good enough.

Truly you are a paragon of unwavering selflessness to sacrifice six whole hours of sleep to prevent someone from ending their life!  If everyone on earth exhibited the same unsurpassed love you show, WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IN THE EVENT YOU WERE ACTUALLY CALLED TO DO SOMETHING TOUGH.

‘Just’ to stop them from ending it all?  ‘Just’ is used when you say you’d drive 80 miles ‘just’ to buy doughnuts, because they’re so good and who cares if I get fat.  ‘Just’ is used when the object of your assessment is trivial and ultimately meaningless.

I don’t claim a history of demonstrating or great ability to demonstrate true sacrificial love, but I hope to the uttermost that I would stand up and do something to change the situation, regardless of whether I thought I loved that hypothetical person or not.  And I don’t even remember the last time I genuinely sacrificed to prove my love for anyone.  I’ve done things I don’t like for folks I care deeply about, but I don’t know if I’ve ever truly forfeited my own interests to serve someone else in a major way.

Love is far more than a vapid pledge to give up an eminently replaceable commodity to prevent an irreversible tragedy.  Love is sacrifice. Love is placing another’s good completely and interminably above your own.  Love is long hours caring for someone who can’t care for herself, because you promised you would in sickness and in health. Love is knowing when to let go despite every fiber of your being wanting to hold on.  Love is getting two hours of sleep each night because you’re working two jobs and are trying to give your kids a decent life.

Written by a hypocrite.  But blast it all, if the hypocrites can’t speak, the world will forever be a very quiet place.

Whatever the heck kind of disease that site is spreading, it’s hardly a shadow of the real thing.  Facebook, you wouldn’t recognize love if it backed over your head with a truck.  You’re dabbling in things you don’t understand, and I’m fairly convinced you never will.


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As of this moment book two has eclipsed book one in word count by ~350 words or so.  210,000 total.

For comparison, this is about 550 pages longer than anything I was ever told to write.

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There Are No Data, Only Zuul

NOAA is doing this thing where they revamp their webpages.

The old page had everything that page has.  It also included current temp, wind speed and direction, humidity, cloud cover, and precip information for here and a bunch of random towns and cities nearby, and it was all right smack in the middle of the page.

I’m not mad, I just miss it.  If those numbers are still accessible somewhere, I’d like to know where.

Also–and this is an unrelated issue–the word data has reached the point where nearly everyone uses it as a singular.

Mind you, I’ll freely admit society is rather liberal with its usage of words, but in this case it just makes sense to let it shift.  The data says/This collection of facts/numbers/information says–the exceptions being those who are still trying too hard.  I think my stance stems partially from people’s near-universal treatment of data as a singular up until, I don’t know, about two years ago.  Suddenly it seems like everyone is back on the data train, even though the word datum is completely foreign to everyone except a few geographers who are hoping for a day in the spotlight.

If you actually use the word datum, knock yourself out, I won’t protest.



An Entirely Factual Recounting

Over the past few years I’ve been asked to house and animal-sit for a few families from church.  After one of them left me a note properly explaining the extent of my duties, I took it upon myself to properly explain what happened for the duration of my stay.

This is the result.  Names (both real and made-up) of actual people have been changed to “Doug Jefferson” and “Steve” to protect privacy or something.  I guess if your name is Doug Jefferson this change is probably messing with your privacy.  I’m sorry.


Howdy, hope the trip went well; everything important should be on the countertop next to the large and entirely factual documentation of the events of the last week.

Important notes:

On Wednesday I was arrested at a county fair, but because of my dedication I was able to post bail and successfully made it out here to feed all six horses. (Two have since flown off and one took to calling me ‘That dirty criminal’ whilst I fed him, so I sold him to a Canadian zebra farm under the pretense that he had been reupholstered.)

I still insist the arrest was illegitimate. For the last five years I’ve been bringing my own strawberry-vanilla pie with blueberry-cream topping and a homemade graham-cracker crust to the County Winter Fair bake-off. Because my pie is that good, I’ve won every year, and because of that, last year I was told to either submit a new pie or to not bother showing up. Being the excellent listener that I am, I made two pies for this year’s contest. Sure enough, when I arrived at the table to submit my pies, I was placed in handcuffs and taken down to the station, where they charged me with two counts of baking and entering. I made the mistake of trying to contest the charges just after midnight and saw the addition of one count of resisting a rest.

On Thursday there was a small incident with the cats that was quickly sorted out, though it required turning every computer within a four mile radius off and then on again. At some point at least one of them may have violated Tunisian airspace, but the details are as fuzzy as the cats themselves and I can neither confirm nor deny the culpability of anyone, really. Certainly not myself. Both cats have seemingly adjusted to the change in time zones, though neither will ever regain the ability to swim properly.

Friday also went well. After playing a few uncharacteristically sedate games of extreme checkers with myself (best two out of three) I was visited by two people who have not once been convicted of treason or deliberate arson. One goes by an alias–Joug Defferson, and the other holds the title of High Commander of International and Domestic Capitalist Operations but in the interest of protecting the innocent possibly guilty we’ll give him one of those goofy protective names and just call him “Steve.”

Anyway, █ ██████ █████ ██ roughly .28 █ ████ ██████ ████ ███ █████████ ██████ ███ ███ ██ █ ████ fifteen minutes or so, but ████ ███ █████ ███ ████ █████ ███ █ █████. ████ ███ could work, ████ █████ ███ █ █████ ██ █ ████ █████ ████ ██ ███ ██ ███ █████probably best left to Ms. Frizzle and the rest of the cast of the Magic School ██.

After we put out the fire we realized the situation was probably not quite as bad as it could have been; most of the walls were still in place and the basement had been left largely untouched thanks to the six-inch layer of soot. During the time spent removing the more concentrated radioactive masses, I was also able to interview a passing motorist who had witnessed the entire incident. He said: “But don’t quote me on that.” Fortunately he did allow me to quote him on his decision to not allow me to quote his earlier statement, so all was not lost. As an aside, it’s unlikely (continued on next page) you’ll ever have to worry about insects again, at least not anything that looks like the ones you’re used to seeing around here.

Being well-versed in the art of making the most out of the probably awful, we set to work repairing the damage (after contacting the Canadian embassy). Since the horses out back hadn’t really made any sort of effort to stop the situation from developing in the first place, they were enlisted to help fix it, and were assigned the titles of Task Horse Alpha, Task Horse Bartholomew (I have completely forgotten the phonetic code for the letter Bravo) and Task Horse Three. Task Horses Alpha and Bartholomew performed acceptably, but Three proved to be completely unhelpful, and was relegated to Standing Around Looking Completely Unhelpful Patrol.

Using Steve “Steve’s” engineering ability, Joug’s gator-wrestling-augmented strength, and my powers of seduction sedition standing around looking busy, we were able to repair the house. Joug and “Steve” did most of the repairs; I took the heavy responsibility of giving mildly threatening glares to passing truckers in order to procure lumber and other construction-type goods. This approach failed, but fortunately we were able to raise money through the sale of homemade pies. (Life Tip: Threatening glares are best used sparingly, away from vehicles traveling at interstate speeds.) The house has been restored to Nearly Mint condition; a careful inspection may uncover some flaws, such as heavy water in the plumbing (we were forced to use deuterium instead of hydrogen–you never know when you might need it), the aforementioned changes to insects and arachnids (Don’t talk to the spiders, even if they sound friendly or offer you competitive interest rates), and an intermittent magnetic anomaly in the basement that causes compasses to point left.

I had intended to recount Saturday’s highlights in poetic form (Iambic Pentameter), but I am forbidden from doing so for the next twenty years or until the dissolution of the British Parliament, whichever comes first. I do have the period from 17:15-18:27 in limerick form, however.

Three men on a cruise sang a song,
With a chorus fifteen minutes long.
To the passengers’ glee,
They were thrown in the sea;
Now they sing with the fish near Hong ███.

I explained the risks to the three of them when they told me of their intent to use tubas, a washboard, and a jug band on a cruise ship, but they would hear none of it.

If anyone superficially resembling one or more of your children visits your house during the next three weeks, it is completely possible said being is actually one of your offspring. It is also possible that the batteries on the impostors have not yet worn down completely. If you are uncertain, test said visitor using either a series of relevant questions (In what state were you programmed? How many feelings have you registered today?) If these questions prove insufficient, applying a spray of water to the ear canal will cause the bionic charlatans to enter circuit protection mode.

Sunday was warm, with a high approaching 275°K. Most of the parasitic gopher horde had moved on, following the bears west after I chased them off. If you do happen to see any gopher stragglers, the most helpful tips I can think of are –

#1: Never let them see you panic, and
#2: It is not possible to fire too many shots.

Also, any bags you find in the garage marked “coffee” or “non-reactive materials” should probably be burned away from animals and people, if possible.

I do not want to talk about Monday.

Tuesday can only be described as a “Hearty mixture of each of the preceding days.” If either NASA or the Latvian government shows up outside your house, deny my existence and under no circumstances permit them to go near the barn.
DO NOT burn the bags marked “non-reactive materials.” Also:

#3: Wear heavy boots, and don’t be afraid to use them.

Task Horse Three was able to make up for earlier shortcomings at this point, and any indentations (excluding the craters) in your lawn can be attributed to Three’s outstanding performance against the gopher scourge.

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Top 10 Post-Apocalyptic Breakup Songs













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O, Tragedy of Syntax Error

This is a bunch of robot poetry.  No more, no less.  See below for a link, so you can have a robot make some for you too.
But unappreciated, cheered and in
A man again each day say, if a canker
Lives upon its joy; then my wilfulness
And ruined love. Your hour yet created. And put

Them still in a frown they sing: it full well
Knows what eyes best painter’s art bright you. Choose
But, rain from highmost been with others seem
Long since first created. Rise and rid and

Make me, with thy summer unappreciated
Lost on a dial-hand, as the painted counterfeit:
The thing they have extreme, not renewest,
So; from my love’s best, and hopes, making

A wretch’s. If there you were but poem, I not
To my count bad, which this man’s, whence at all.


No matter then — a
Fever! Therefore desire
Original eyes.

O! Bus, even by their reports
True by the impression fill

Might: left behind. See
My winter, the prey of a
Wretch’s told, or mine, too.


O paper to pitied be poison’d, sleeping,
It to another youth, nay, and suit scissors.


Presented by what is apparently a severely intoxicated poet trapped in the shell of a server in some faraway place.

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Soliciting Help from Outside.

Last weekend a car had its window destroyed in front of the apartment building where I live.  This isn’t the first time it has happened, and we’ve had a number of eggings (my car and my brother’s old car) as well.

To my knowledge, nobody has been caught.  So in the interest of resolving the matter before these cretins bash in my windows, I am envisioning a sign of noticeable size placed in front of the building facing the street.

To the police and whoever is responsible for the vehicle damage:
The amount of recent vandalism deeply concerns me.
If you are unwilling or unable to solve the problem I will bring an end to it myself.

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Maybe It’s the Weather?

According to this article (which will be embedded when I’m not using a phone) a few people at MIT have developed the Hardest Tongue Twister Ever.

“Pad kid poured curd pulled cod.”  (You could probably find a similar article by searching that-just a thought)

Except so far I’m not seeing the difficulty.  It’s not difficult at all, and I don’t get it.

So I tried talking like Kennedy, because they’re in Massachusetts.  It’s no harder, although it sounds as weird as ever.

My guess is that either the article is a misprint, they used the wrong group of guinea pigs, or (most likely) that this is just one giant prank/experiment to see how long it takes for the internet to disseminate total gibberish.

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One-eyed, One-horned Eater of Flying Purple People
The Necessity of Clarity in Nomenclature
How to Profit from Uncle Sam’s Dissipation and Survive on Marginal Writing Ability

So I’ve been back to Popular Politics and Such Science again, in part because there are still occasional science-like updates despite their best efforts.

Article one: Government Should Fund Unpopular Science

Article two: Imposing Restrictions on What Gets Funding Is Bad

The fiscally conservative part of me thinks the idea of cementing the continuation of funding for studies of duck genitals for the sake of whatever it is that studies like that will do for the common good (or for the sake of science, and as we all know part of America has a massive science-related inferiority complex entirely due to us #&$% creationists trying to make children hate all science and entirely not because of one or more systemic problems with America’s education system)–securing funding for that sort of thing seems, to put it quite mildly, frivolous.   Both the government and the American scientific machine have much more important problems to deal with; in the case of the government, funding studies of duck parts might be exacerbating (if only slightly) an increasingly problematic budget issue.

The rest of me has decided that funding that kind of silt is awesome, because I can make money from it.

How, you ask?  Simple.  By writing a grant proposal that somehow manages to stand above research on anatid anatomy.  I don’t foresee much difficulty.

So I will propose an expedition to Bora Bora to answer a pressing scientific question:  Are there suitable ways to distinguish between the varieties of one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eaters? 
As you may well know, in the song from decades ago the eponymous creature happens to eat purple people.  For most of us, this would not present any major trouble.  I am not purple, and I do not know any purple people.

(Why undertake the study in Bora Bora, you ask, though the answer should be quite obvious?
Because it’s for science, and science says exotic things seem to hang out in the tropics.  Also, coincidentally, Bora Bora is what happens when love gets landscaping priviliges.)

However…  The title of the aforementioned song suggests the existence of as many as five different creatures, all essentially indistinguishable by common name.   (I’m unaware of any scientific names for any of them-this would be rectified by the end of the study.   Everyone knows that scientific names for animals are nothing more than a couple of keyboard accidents with –us added to the end.  Unless you’re a toad, or a gorilla, or a bison, or never mind shut up.)

The creature could be:

1.  Purple, having one eye and one horn, known to fly and eat people.
2. One-eyed and one-horned, known to fly and eat purple people.
3. One-eyed and one-horned, known to eat flying purple people.
4. One-eyed, known to eat one-horned, flying purple people.
5. Completely unidentified, possibly amorphous, and known to eat one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people.

Clearly, the last four are unlikely to pose a danger to the general public.  Following the suggestion of Popular Science, however, this fact alone does not render further studies undeserving of public funds.

In fact, such a study could prove useful to society anyway.

A creature known to eat violet, airborne, cyclopean humans with keratin production disorders would have a great deal of trouble locating food.  Any child born in a developed nation with all of these genetic mutations would be sold to the circus; a counterpart in a developing country would likely be removed from the village and burned under a full moon.
The chances that one of these creatures (the specific subspecies of flying purple people eater) would be in the right location at the right time to feed on said child are ludicrously small.   A possible explanation for the creatures’ survival (that doesn’t involve ridiculous odds or the need to feed once every three-and-a-half millenia) would be an innate ability to smell genetic mutations over great distances.  This ability, if harnessed, could be used medically, to provide early cancer warnings or screen for late-onset genetic disorders.

On a separate note, imagine you’re a purple person with two horns.  If one of them is removed and you hop onto a Qantas jet and head to Sydney, are you then vulnerable to attack?
Maybe you’re simply a purple person, and your feet leave the ground.  Is this enough to provoke an eater of flying purple people?  ICBMs operate similarly, leaving under their own power and following a ballistic path back to earth, and I doubt anyone would argue against calling it flight.

Mind you, if that proposal falls through, I have more.

Is it possible to go back in time by standing at the north pole and spinning clockwise?  Would the south pole behave similarly, spun in an unnatural counterclockwise circle?

Maybe you’re still awake at this point.  You’ve no doubt concluded that these are all valid questions meriting public monetary support.
Maybe you’re busy scheming to write grant proposals of your own.   By all means, do so!  Share the idea with your friends!  Write until your hands wear thin from rubbing against so much tree matter or poking all of those keys.

I only expect a place on your expedition if you get funded.

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Throwing off them chains.

Went on vacation.  Got pictures of lightning, at night, in Florida.  Broke my phone.

Not the worst thing ever; it’s somewhat frustrating to not know if anyone (including work) is leaving messages.  Also the phone had a picture of a $3.79 can of “U.S. Senate Bean Soup” on it.

It’s a real product, and according to the internet a well-known one.  I learned this upon googling “U.S. Senate Bean Soup”, much to my confusion.  My initial impression was that with a name like that and a price of $3.79 it was some sort of joke, or possibly several jokes rolled into one.

Shoot, maybe it still is.

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