I'm working on a political analysis of Back to the Future based on the thesis that a lot of people's political thinking from the 80s through today is based on 50s nostalgia, to be titled "Ronald Reagan? The Actor!?".
This page mirrors my Facebook status updates.
I'm working on a political analysis of Back to the Future based on the thesis that a lot of people's political thinking from the 80s through today is based on 50s nostalgia, to be titled "Ronald Reagan? The Actor!?".
All the cool kids (by which I mean Patti Moss Vernam) have been listing off seven books they liked, so let's take a break from dumb jokes to talk books, if only so I can fondly reminisce about a medium I've mostly abandoned in preference to dank memes and roguelikes.
1. Uncle Tom's Cabin. Nowadays people only know this book from jokes about reviews of minstrel shows loosely inspired by stage shows based on pamphlets about the book. "Uncle Tom" has become an insult. But the book is a wonderful combination of adventure, melodrama, and unabashed political advocacy that I haven't seen anywhere else. It was a best-seller in its time, and it's easy to see why. That Charles Dickens's much less interesting books got rehabilitated from cheap popular fare to Literature™ whereas Uncle Tom's reputation has only gotten worse is one of the great injustices.
2. The Turn of the Screw. This concise ghost story keeps you on your toes and has the most shocking ending I've ever seen in a work of fiction.
3. The Power Broker. It's absolutely massive and yet it's a real page-turner. It can teach you a lot about the history of the early 20th century, especially the history of New York, but the biggest impression it made on me was its message that powerful people tend to become powerful by shaving off all their extraneous ideals and moral inhibitions in favor of the pursuit of power for its own sake.
4. The Origin of Species. Sure it's not exactly an up-to-date presentation of evolutionary biology, but it's brief and charmingly written (I hold that Darwin was the ultimate Victorian gentleman and I will fight you on this) and it makes its case well. It still feels relevant because most of the objections of modern-day young-earth creationists are described and answered in detail. Maybe that says more about creationism than the quality of this book, but there you have it.
5. The Wayside School books. This series of kids' chapter books from three decades is a rich vein of absurd humor with dozens of characters. I've gone back to these books many times and every time I've found a new joke I'd missed. The first one's the weakest, but there's a fourth one coming out in March 2020 and I'm totally pumped.
6. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Mark Twain's most underrated novel offers a combination of humor, fantasy fiction, and adventures that range from thrilling to terrifying, plus some familiar social commentary. Sure T. H. White's Once and Future King has its strong points (and got the Disney adaptation), but Connecticut Yankee is more interesting than all four of those put together.
7. Driving Your Own Karma: Swami Beyondananda's Tour Guide to Enlightenment. This guy does a parody of contemporary mysticism that is no less effective for being written 30 years ago, and he has an almost supernatural talent for puns. Like, you read a bit and notice a lot of puns, and then you look closer and there's even *more* puns. It's puns all the way down.
I now arbitrarily decree that Randy Layne must do the same thing.
★☆☆☆☆ Ridiculously pay-to-win. Overcomplicated, confusing mechanics. The Trump storyline jumped the shark years ago.
(My overall review of Earth.)
I'm going to Cape May today, so I'm gonna spend the afternoon pouring trash on the beach and then I'll switch the "before" and "after" pictures for TrashTag.
"Women only *think* they want us to be ourselves, because they don't know how wretched we actually are." —Richard Watterson
Hey guys, quick question. If you accidentally stowed away on a nuclear submarine and you woke up to find that all the crew was being transformed into horrible monsters by exposure to an ancient evil lurking deep in an ocean trench, and a bit of a scuffle with what was left of the first mate led to an ICBM accidentally being armed and aimed for Tokyo, and a foul whispering of long-dead voices started up in your ears whenever you tried to read the ship manuals, what would you do? Asking for a friend. Please respond quickly.
EDIT: My friend would also like to know if there are any easily removable parts of a Typhoon-class's interior that are made out of high-purity silver. It's for a book.
The older I get, the more I appreciate video games not as a fantasy of power, but as a fantasy of clearly stated goals, direct solutions to problems, and unambiguously being the good guy.
Yesterday, I got called a "fag" unironically for the first time. It was from a 17-year-old boy on Omegle… who I had just turned down. I don't think that word means what he thinks it means.
Why bother with conversion therapy and ex-gay camps? Just say "no homo" and you're good.
If all this so-called "science" is "real", then why did I get an ache in my *right* arm today after I got a tuberculin injection in my *left* arm? Checkmate, Western medicine.
The most private thing I'm willing to admit: I think that one-ply toilet paper is fine.
I'm proud to introduce my entry into the rapidly emerging bathroom-security market, Genderfyr, which will produce a robot arm that automatically genotypes you upon entry into a bathroom and then reuses the needle to stab you in the face if you have the wrong chromosomes. We are currently seeking additional capital to cover attorneys' fees for a class-action lawsuit brought against us by people with Swyer syndrome.
I'm hard at work on my new Penguins of Madagascar fan fiction, "Kowalski Anal-yzes Private's Privates".
Firefox is just Netscape Navigator's fursona.
What will KODI do?
To clarify: yes, my middle initial is "B". Yes, it stands for "Bruh".
You can often see old political cartoons in history textbooks. Therefore, the history textbooks of the future will have political SpongeBob memes. Our grandchildren will be so excited when they hear that we were alive in those heady days.
I aspire to someday be the reason for a bizarre warning label on a commercial product. Like, on a pair of cargo shorts, "For external use only."
I only "like" things on Facebook, instead of using the other reaction buttons, because I am a man, and expressing anything more nuanced than the most basic emotions would threaten my fragile machismo.
I bought some Hot Pockets, but they were all frozen. What a rip-off.
I shouldn't be a psychotherapist, because I wouldn't be able to stop myself from saying things like:
- Oh, grow up.
- Who cares?
- Have you tried getting a spine?
- Get over yourself.
- What a story, Mark.
- Spit it out already.
- Actually, take your time. I'm paid by the hour.
- Why bother? You'll give up inside of three weeks, just like you did the last fifteen times.
- If I could tell why people are depressed, I'd be accepting my Nobel Prize now, not listening to you whinge.
- That's where you're wrong, kiddo. [Finger guns.]
DID YOU KNOW? Belle Delphine's bath water is one of Richard Spencer's Horcruxes.
I thought I was wearing a magical cursed ring, but it turns out that the real curse was in me all along.
Francis Grose's 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue defines "gap stopper" as "a whoremaster". To paraphrase Ice-T, whoremastery is nontrivial.
My most exotic political opinion is my support for children's suffrage. A common objection I've heard is that children will always vote the same as their parents. This makes sense, because, as we all know, children always do what their parents tell them to do, and never lie about it.
Monkey Island 2 (1991) discusses zombies:
Voodoo Lady: If they have any animated tissue, they can re-animate his whole body.
Guybrush: But I blew his body into a zillion gooey pieces!
Voodoo Lady: Not his body, Guybrush. You destroyed his spirit form. His body was safely buried far away.
Guybrush: But by now it must be…
Voodoo Lady: Rotten? Partially decomposed? Yes. And I don't think that's going to make him any more pleasant to deal with.
My self-summary: Albino and ready to hunt rhino. You bring the crossbows and fake IDs. I'll bring the snacks.
What I'm doing with my life: I'm a consultant. I help mid-level managers increase their expectations of their employees, so the employees don't exceed expectations and can be denied a raise. In my spare time, I work on neural networks to optimize speedrunning routes for Bubsy 3D.
The first thing people usually notice about me: My facial tattoos proclaiming my initiation into two different Linux user groups that turned out to be cults, and also Ponzi schemes.
The six things I could never live without: Riven: The Sequel to Myst (disc 1); Riven: The Sequel to Myst (disc 2); Riven: The Sequel to Myst (disc 3); Riven: The Sequel to Myst (disc 4); Riven: The Sequel to Myst (disc 5); a good nonstick frying pan.
On a typical Friday night I am: Sitting quietly at home working on a cross-stitch of bunnies. Or at least, that's what I tell my parole officer.
You should message me if: You're type-O, eligible for a US federal security clearance of Secret or Top Secret, and physically incapable of experiencing fear.
"…I'd about as soon be alive as dead. It does not seem quite so monotonous, you know." —Anko (The Sea Fairies, by L. Frank Baum, 1911)
There's an ad for a grocery store that says "Bread and you should be a thing again", as if I ever *haven't* been a total slut for bread.
Follow-up to http://arfer.net/microblog#p153: As it happens, I was at a restaurant today whose bathrooms were labeled "yes" and "please". At least they were single-occupancy.
Everybody tells me to read the Mueller report, but I'm still waiting for the Wishbone adaptation.
Radicalism should not be an end unto itself. As the old saying goes, "you don't need a rectal thermometer to know who the assholes are".
People have described Paris Hilton as "famous for being famous", but I think she deserves recognition for killing Achilles.
I have seen men's attraction to women's breasts explained in terms of breasts looking like butts, but I've also seen attraction to butts explains in terms of butts looking like breasts. This is a fine example of the throw-everything-against-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks school of psychology.
DID YOU KNOW? The artist known as "Banksy" is actually John McAfee.
Mixed metaphors are funny. There's a passage in the Spanish play Blood Wedding where a character is trying to mean "some great sex" and says "una cama relumbrante" (translated literally by Lillian Groag as "a dazzling bed"), which sounds like something a very tacky rich person would sleep on.
The famous Cloud-to-Butt extension not only helps to ease the pain of hyperbolic computer marketing. It will also introduce you to such wonders as:
- The serenity of being on butt nine
- Powerful new spells for your D&D wizard's spellbook, such as Stinking Butt and the dreaded Buttkill
- The hero of Final Fantasy VII, Butt Strife, who is named for a particularly painful bout of diarrhea
The secret to success is to appear thoughtful and attentive when you're spacing out and falling asleep.
Hey sports fans, we're back! Stay tuned for more masturbation jokes at a new and worsened ill-defined schedule. In the meantime, here's a highly advanced Facebook substitute: http://www.qwantz.com/index.php?comic=2906
After 305 daily posts, I have to admit that I'm running out of jokes. I'd rather end on a high note than torment you all with increasingly lame filler, so I'm going off the air for now. Smell ya later, chumps.
Newton's third law states that for each yeet, there is an equal and opposite yoink.
Don't call yourself a rock fan if you don't know who this is. http://arfer.net/microblog/img/rock2.png
Don't call yourself a rock fan if you don't know who this is. http://arfer.net/microblog/img/rock1.png
They say you are what you eat, but I don't remember eating a scientific genius. Then again, the whole of last night is a blur. If any obituaries of Nobel laureates come out today, forget I said anything.
SNEAKY NEW YEAR'S WEIGHT-LOSS HACK: consume less food energy than you expend.
What if I'm just a pallete swap?
The Switch is enticing, sure, but when will it get ports of the most popular PlayStation games, like Red Dead Redemption 2, or Spider-Man, or Big Chungus?
"So, the act of sex itself is a very beautiful thing. Um, not literally; it's really gross. But the concept is there." —Casually Explained (2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgrUyIoBHCA)
On Christmas Eve, I ran a tabletop RPG with a focus on wordplay, taking inspiration from Infocom's Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It. The joke I'm proudest of took place in a world of talking polygons. When the players transformed a judge, the Honorable Octagon, into fudge, one of the bailiffs said "Well, that's irregular" and the other said "Watch your language!"
I thought that the trope "Poor Communication Kills" was a sign of lazy writing, but consider how bad people are at saying what they mean in real life.
I'm so edgy that I can cut duct tape with my elbow.
Why do you all celebrate Jesus's birthday? You have the wrong guy. Isn't it obvious? Judas is God!
The beauty of forgetting to take your psychiatric medication is that it becomes a complete explanation for anything that went wrong that day. Did I accidentally start World War III? Whoops, looks like I forgot my meds.
Ambrose Bierce defines "advice" as "the smallest current coin", which explains why consultants have such enviable profit margins.
Pascal's wager works even better for Santa Claus than for God.
Why don't Americans use SI units, you ask? Because of pirates.
It offends me when the old-school raw emotional potency of an ASCII smiley that I've typed is automatically replaced with the corporate phoniness of an icon or emoji.
Today on Seen in East Harlem: this, uh, artwork.
(A careful reading of the Facebook Community Standards suggests this is allowed, but Facebook sure hasn't been making headlines for making *good* censorship decisions lately, so who knows what will come to pass?)
"One thing most Christians sort of agree on, kinda, is that people are born sinful. There are probably some Christians who will say 'not babies!' but babies are the most sinful of all people because they keep you awake at night." —Matthew Pierce
Check out the coolest new flavors at Kodi's Creamery:
- Boring Vanilla
- Excruciatingly Sour Apple
- Leftover Halloween Candy
- Macaroni and Cheese
- Meat Lover's
- Vague Longing for That Which Is Gone (it's melon-choly!)
"Try to avoid expressions like 'Unfortunately, Smith and Jones neglected to examine [precisely what you are examining].' It might have been unfortunate for them or for the field, but it is fortunate for you, and everyone knows it." —Jonathan Baron
Calling parentheses "round brackets" is like calling commas "smudged periods".
Why live, laugh, and love when you could die, despair, and despise?
I've promoted some finicky distinctions in sex research, like "sexual preferences" versus "sexual orientation" and "sex drive" versus "sexual desire", and even I was taken aback when Klass (2018) argued in the New York Times that "when younger children are touching their genitals they're doing it because it feels good, just as other sensual experiences feel good, like stripping down and running through the sprinkler, but parents interpret it as overtly sexual". Show me a person who masturbates for some reason other than "because it feels good" and I'll show you a heretical Tantric monk who, in his quest to annihilate the self, has annihilated self-awareness.
Klass, P. (2018, December 10). Why is children's masturbation such a secret? The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/10/well/family/why-is-childrens-masturbation-such-a-secret.html
The new design for New York Public Library cards is absolutely sick. Remember, kids, reading is fun! And also you can borrow video games from the library, I guess.
Last night, I dreamed that I gave a speech about how the Kirby series is the video-game equivalent of candy. In hindsight, I didn't even mention that the main character is basically a walking piece of bubblegum.
I complained back in July about atheists who celebrate the nonexistence of God. It turns out that sour-grapes thinking about big-picture issues comes in many forms:
- Death is inevitable, so death must be good.
- Nobody's perfect, so character flaws must be good. (Lookin' at you, "Fame and Misfortune".)
- Many disabilities can't be cured, so disability must be good.
- No society has eliminated poverty, so poverty must be good.
One has to admit the appeal of just giving up.
Norton (2003) provides an example of a Newtonian system where a point mass can start moving at any time and in any direction it likes with no cause whatsoever. I can only reply "Thanks, I hate it."
Norton, J. D. (2003). Causation as folk science. Philosophers' Imprint, 3(4), 1–22. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.3521354.0003.004
Trinitarianism had its start in the observation that nobody had ever seen Jesus and God the Father in the same place at the same time.
I'm totally on board with the idea that you shouldn't murder people for their political opinions. It's just that when neo-Nazis say this, I doubt their sincerity.
Lord of the Rings jokes, get your Lord of the Rings jokes!
- The biggest plot twist in the series is when the guy whose name is a slight variation on the chief bad guy's name also turns out to be a bad guy.
- The second-biggest plot twist is when the godmode author-insert character who dies offscreen turns out to be alive.
- It is said that near the end of the First Age, Morgoth sent orders to his many dark servants through a high-speed Pony Express-like system called the Shadowfax.
- Gandalf's admiration of the humble virtue of Frodo is a clear allegory, I mean application, of Tolkien's admiration of the humble virtue of simple British countrymen. Proving the timelessness of this classic series, we can see the same effect in how neoliberal American "thought leaders" admire the humble virtue of conservative rural white people. Say I, if you're an intellectual and your idea of the paragon of virtue is somebody who doesn't really care about ideas, maybe you're not very good at intellectualism.
- Also, it would've been out of character for Gandalf to just send an eagle to dump the Ring in Mount Doom instead of making Frodo do it. When else is Gandalf ever useful?
I guess those were mostly Gandalf jokes. Tune in next week as I complain about J. K. Rowling's most hamfisted uses of Dumbledore.
There's nothing so damaging to a cause as an idiot who aggressively promotes it.
I'll do a lot for the sake of a joke. If I ever cause an international incident or something with a poorly timed joke, then by God, I hope that at least it's funny.
If there's anything pleasant about reviewing scientific papers, it's that authors have to actually support their claims when you ask them to.
When I'm visiting my parents' house, I sleep, work, and post dank memes in the guest room. The guest room is down the hall from the kitchen, and clearly visible from the kitchen. I've lost count of how many times my parents have said things about me in the kitchen that they think I can't hear, although they know I'm in the guest room with the door open. When I walk over, mid-conversation, or just yell my contribution, they're not just surprised. They express *disbelief* that I can hear them from the guest room, despite how I just demonstrated it, and for the umpteenth time. Maybe people can't actually learn things. Maybe we're born with a limited set of ideas that we gradually gain access to, and that's it.
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, and I thought as a child, but I insisted otherwise. And when I became a man, I continued unabated.
I Googled something about Manhattan and Google mentioned in its infobox "Did you know: New York County [i.e., Manhattan] is the highest-income New York location by per capita income." Yes, Google, I think that's pretty flippin' obvious.
You know what's rich? When people beg and plead for their favorite medium to be recognized as artistically legitimate and then sneer at the futility of attempts to get the same recognition for some other medium. Roger Ebert championed the artistic importance of popular movies and then wrote an essay entitled "Video games can never be art". Bill Watterson wrung his hands for ten years over how Universal Press Syndicate suppressed his sublime artistic ambitions and their expression in newspaper comics, and then wrote "comic books are still incredibly stupid". I submit the staggeringly obvious observation that it's possible to make both bad art and good art in any medium. Yes, even fortune cookies.
Know your phases of matter:
- hypostatic union
It feels strange to realize that I can't honestly sing "My Generation", because The Who's generation is my parents'.
When I Google a scientific question outside my field and I don't understand the answer. http://arfer.net/microblog/img/soos.png
Hey, kids! It's time for another exciting round of Fun with R! Can you guess the mode of the following vector? `c(NA, NA, NA)`
I once read a kids' book about insects that described many weird and wonderful insect traits, like mimicry, and then concluded "Insects are far more ingenious than humans." That's hardly fair. Insects had a 400-million-year head start on human invention. I bet I could do some pretty impressive things in 400 million years of trial and error.
Apparently, you can buy lemon-flavored plantain chips, which is at least a more appealing and better named fruit-flavored-as-another-fruit than the Grāpple®.
"Joomla!" is written with an exclamation point because there's nothing more exciting than model-view-controller web frameworks and content management systems.
I met a cashier who kept her cellphone tucked into her headscarf. Handy.
The most famous and difficult problem in geospatial data analysis is, of course, whether to write coordinate pairs longitude-first or latitude-first.
DID YOU KNOW? You only use 10% of your brain. The other 90% of its mass is actually an extraterrestrial parasite descended from Metroids. Every time it licks your brainstem, you forget your wallet.
Lagrange's theorem states that for any K-pop group G, the revenue of any subgroup H is given by |H| = K|G|.
Is everyone looking forward to an old-fashioned white Thanksgiving?
In Los Angeles, jaywalking is a faux pas. In New York, it's a sacrament.
When you think about it, the word "relationship", unqualified, is a humorously euphemistic term for a romance. "The two of us are in a… shall we say… relationship."
To call Daesh the "Islamic State" is not to imply that it's actually a state, any more than a guinea pig is actually a pig.
I'm like Dorian Gray. I don't grow old; the APIs I program against do.
Excuse me, sir, can you spare a moment to talk about apples?
u ever just experience the material world to flex on Platonic forms
"…and the colonel was certainly not going to waste his time and energy making love to beautiful women unless there was something in it for him." —Joseph Heller (1961), Catch-22
There's a sign in my office that says "Only Department issued encrypted USB storage devices can be used". Today I noticed that somebody had used a pen to write a hyphen between "Department" and "issued". I'm always glad to see somebody fighting the good fight.
Remember, if you can vote but don't, anything bad that happens over the next two years will be your fault.
Homeless shelters often require attendees to practice the shelter's religion. The reason, of course, is that space is at a premium in places like New York City, so if you have nowhere else to live, you may have to live in Christ. And with over two billion adherents, it may be getting crowded in there.
If you publish in sex research, you get some mighty weird spam. Today I got some email asking me to "Share your innovative ideas related to artificial insemination".
DID YOU KNOW? The earth used to be a globe, but it has been flattened over decades by sasquatches stampeding on ground that has been weakened by heavy use of chemtrails.
Typically, we don't accept use of a single type of animal as both pets and food. Why are rabbits an exception? I guess they breed so fast that in order to keep up, we need to maximize our consumption of them, both literally and figuratively.
One of my pet peeves is shallow parody, especially parody that evinces only a superficial knowledge of the thing being parodied. Garfield has been a particular target of parodies that replace its predictable inoffensive jokes with some kind of weird existential nightmare; both SMBC and xkcd have used that gag. The gag would be better if Garfield itself hadn't beaten them to it around Halloween 1989. The following are colorized versions of real Garfield strips, which Jim Davis said he got the idea for by asking people what they were most frightened of. Imagine what it was like to read them one strip a day.
Me playing Mega Man X for the first time: "Chill Penguin isn't so hard. No, wait, that's *my* health bar."
DID YOU KNOW? Have you ever noticed that some products that appear to be ice cream are labeled as a "frozen dairy dessert" instead? This peculiar euphemism is due to requirements about what can legally be called "ice cream". According to CFR Title 21, "Ice cream is a food produced by freezing, while stirring, a pasteurized mix consisting of one or more… optional dairy ingredients". By contrast, a typical frozen dairy dessert is produced by freezing the entire cow first and then excavating the product with an ice pick.
"The chasm that separated '60s radicals from those who immediately preceded them is nicely illustrated by radical feminist Barbara Mehrhof's account of a disputatious encounter between first- and second-wave feminists. Mehrhof was part of a women's liberation group that organized a feminist action as part of the leftist Counter-Inaugural demonstration in January 1969. The purpose of their protest was to declare that suffragism, which they claimed had vitiated the earlier wave of feminism, was dead and that a new movement for genuine liberation was underway. In a display of remarkable chutzpah, they decided to contact the famous suffragist and founder of the National Women's Party, Alice Paul, to see if she would join them in 'giving back the vote.' As one might expect of someone who had endured jail for the suffrage cause, Paul was not interested in repudiating suffrage as 'a sop for women.' Indeed, when Shulamith Firestone asked her to join them on stage in burning their voter registration cards, Paul reportedly 'hit the ceiling.'"
—Page 10 of Echols, A. (1989). Daring to be bad: Radical feminism in America, 1967-1975. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0-8166-1786-9.
Prospective titles for my autobiography:
- Neither Large nor in Charge
- Sorta Sighted, Rarely Cited
- Weird by Nature
- The Many Hills I Died On
- The Joy of Quitting
What's the point of frozen food that can't be microwaved? If I want to be lazy, I want to be *lazy*.
It's not very nice to cite an entire book. If I want to follow the citation, and the cited book doesn't have an index, am I supposed to skim all 400 pages hunting for the passage the citer was thinking of? I spent an afternoon on that once, actually, for Birutė Galdikas's Reflections of Eden. Spoiler alert: it's a pain.
I could be perfect, if I wished to be, but I've generously given myself character flaws to make me more relatable in the inevitable award-winning biographies that will be written about me.
Sports, being games that divide people into arbitrary groups so they can fight over nothing (and corporate sponsors can profit immensely no matter who wins), are good practice for war.
No, GNU Readline, when I start typing a command and then decide to use reverse-i-search instead, it isn't useful to offer the half-typed command I just abandoned as a search result. Thanks, though.
If my previous post about unconditional love sounded cold, remember that statisticians can't tell the difference between "unconditional" and "marginal".
Some research has challenged your beliefs. What to do? One popular, but epistemically pathological, way to respond is to assert that your beliefs happen to be true for exactly the part of the population that wasn't sampled. James H. Jones, in his biography of Alfred Kinsey, provides a succient example, which he attributes to Anne Baxter in reaction to the female volume of the Kinsey reports: "So some 6,000 women lined up and confessed. I place my faith in the 80-odd million who weren't contacted."
They say that cannabis is safer than alcohol or tobacco, which is probably true, but it's also true that breaking your leg is safer than getting a heart attack.
I don't have a car, but if I did, my first bumper sticker would be "Ask me about my many excellent political opinions".
Stigler's law of eponymy tells us that nothing is named after the right person. Besides, people are starting to realize that immortalizing famous people can backfire when it turns out that an immortalized person did something terrible. So, we might as well just give up and name things after Pokémon: "the Raticate zeta function", "Mewtwo's method", "Lickitung-continuous functions".
Last night, I dreamed I had a pet humpback whale, and now I feel deprived.
To value experience over possessions is to turn down what is basically ephemeral in favor of what is literally ephemeral. You can do better than either, folks.
Catching all exceptions, like unconditional love, sounds appealing, but it depends on the assumption that no unexpected bad things will ever happen.
The point of transhumanism isn't to let people act out sexual fantasies that are otherwise physically impossible. That sort of thing, I understand, is considered a side benefit.
Economists still can't explain how one side of one city block can support three bodegas, all of which sell exactly the same things.
Being alive is like being dead, except noisier.
So-called English classes seem to focus less on the English language than on historical literature that happens to be written in English. Imagine if a math class focused on the literary merits of historical tables of numbers.
The problem with not believing in an afterlife is never getting to say "Told you so".
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They say that a frequentist is someone whose life goal is to be wrong no more than 5% of the time. Sometimes I think that's unrealistically ambitious.
DID YOU KNOW? So-called bit rot is actually the result of gridbugs feeding on unsanitized code. Prevent it by microwaving all your disks regularly.
Don't use the word "normal" as if it were synonymous with "morally acceptable" or something. Having a rare cancer is abnormal (by definition), but not blameworthy. Waking me up at 2 AM with a loud party is morally way out of line, but sadly normal.
Low vision means never being sure whether the sticky brown thing you cleaned up was a dead bug or a blob of barbecue sauce.
WORTH IT S73 • E4 — $0 Cremation Vs. $2,000 Cremation
Subnautica is the video-game adaptation of the American Museum of Natural History's creepy darkened diorama of a sperm whale fighting a squid that I never knew I wanted.
Some of the things I have actually Googled over the past week:
- why are bees funny
- microsoft excel arcade cabinet
- super jews
- x-naut tissue
- gamer joker costanza
- why does the oed quote itself
- meaning of hustle in sports
- "Soap dodging oxygen thieves."
- he did the thing he said he wasn't gonna do
- pumpkin spice condoms
- "genuine leatherette"
- why don't you use me for your next event
- Buridan's sass
- bernoulli processes that are not iid
- queen horsietime
- please be a giant dick so we can ban you
- rakshasa smoking jacket
- bojack horseman sneezing
After not one but two different feature films have been titled in parody of a certain James Bond movie, I'm looking forward to The Spy Who Friendzoned Me.
People always act shocked when a famous or powerful person turns out to have done something monstrous. But how do you think people become famous or powerful to begin with? What sort of personality traits are selected for in those extremely competitive processes? I'll give you a hint: those traits do *not* include moral compunctions.
(This post was in my queue well before Brett Kavanaugh's nomination. Actually, it feels like it's been timely for every day of news in the past five years. I don't know if Kavanaugh did it, but I sure won't be surprised if it turns out he did.)
Franchises that don't need gritty reboots:
- The Smurfs
- Full House
- Peppa Pig
- Super Mario
- Hello Kitty
- Fiddler on the Roof
- Goodnight Moon
- IKEA assembly instructions
- The Flintstones (already got one; see Hanna-Barbera Beyond)
Many of the classic findings of experimental psychology can be summarized as "people are stupid". Some newer ways of thinking about psychology, which have become more popular over the last 30-odd years, can be summarized as "if you lower your standards, people don't seem as stupid".
Why call it the "stable roommates problem" when you could call it the "stable gay marriages problem"?
It's Celebrate Bisexuality Day, Bi Visibility Day, and Bisexual Awareness Week (but not Bisexual Health Awareness Month, which is March). But I'd just like to interject for a moment. What you're referring to as "bisexuality" is in fact pansexuality, or as I've recently taken to calling it, bisexuality+. Bisexuality is not a sexual orientation unto itself, but rather another free component of a fully functioning attraction system made useful by the GNU corelibs, lemon-bar utilities, and vital sexual preferences comprising a full sexual orientation as defined by POSIX. Many millennials run a modified version of the pansexual system every day, without realizing it. Through a peculiar turn of events, the version of pansexuality which is widely used today is often called "bisexuality", and many of its users are not aware that it is basically pansexuality, developed by a secret sex cult of Tumblrinas and humanities professors.
I've forgotten why one of the characters in DuckTales is an animated statue of a horse with Scrooge McDuck's head, but I think I enjoy it more that way.
"…if there's ever a problem, a skeleton will tell a fish lady about it. Thaaaaaat's politics!"
DID YOU KNOW? Markov chains for text generation were first investigated by the celebrated Arab mathematician Scheherazade.
If you can't bring yourself to vote for a lesser evil, well, that's understandable. It's just that voting for the lesser evil is what voters have had to do in every single election in every republic ever for the entirety of human history. And if you choose not to vote out of principle, well, that's an option too; it's just that by so doing, you relinquish the only political power you have.
Real programmers type with the Power Glove. It's so bad!
The dumbest issue in medical ethics is whether a patient should be informed of something disturbing about their own health. Of course they should. There's no right to ignorance, even ignorance of knowledge that's disturbing or frightening. Life is not Lovecraft, where sane men can be driven mad by the revelation. And "patients are entitled to knowledge about their own condition" is the most basic principle in medical ethics I can think of after "do no harm" itself.
A peek into our dumb future: imagine having a continuously updated quote of your employer's stock price permanently fixed in your visual field, so you can keep an eye on it (ho ho ho!) even while you're lying in bed with your eyes closed.
Can you believe it when people accuse others of something horrific, and then, when they're asked how they could say such a thing, the only justification they can come up with is evidence that the accusation is true? The nerve!
Cashiers have evolved long claws to defend against thieves. In many species, the claws are brightly colored to warn predators. Scientists theorize that the defensive and deterrent value of these claws must be very high, given their considerable interference with the cashier's primary behavior of handling money.
It was cruel of my high-school teachers, when they did a production of Karl Schröer's Paradise Play, to make the one Briton among them play the one role that keeps using the word "sod". (The translator, Cecil Harwood, was also British, but I guess that didn't stop him.)
We are a species obsessed with appearances. It seems obvious that appearance doesn't matter, but perplexedly, the standard response to social ills like women starving themselves in order to fit into small dresses is to insist that everybody is beautiful. That's like trying to reassure a person who's terrified of small animals by saying "All animals are big". (From my point of view, the Jedi are strong and big!)
He who hesitates is less likely to get lost than he who charges ahead without checking his map.
If words like "policeman" and "businessman" are inflected for gender, as "policewoman" and "businesswoman", why don't we say "freshwoman" or "shawoman" or "huwoman"? (Allegheny College, for one, avoids the issue by insistently referring to freshmen as "first-year students".)
Americans think that retail employees are rude if they dare to act anything less than bubbly and chipper while doing their unpleasant, underpaid, dehumanizing, dead-end jobs.
I wonder how often *I'm* the funny-looking person on the subway who somebody else is trying not to stare at.
There are so many RPGs that claim to be "realistic", but not one of them has you simulate a three-body problem to determine how all pairwise gravitational influences between two falling characters and the earth affect falling damage. (Of course, the Hybrid RPG comes closest. Look @ RULE # 132, & # 135.)
Making an enemy of anybody who isn't actively working on an issue you care about is a good way to make lots of enemies.
When something isn't accessible and there aren't any able-bodied people to help you, so you just have to deal with it. https://i.imgur.com/sLeDxgF.jpg
Today I visited the Museum of Sex. The guys who run it don't seem sure whether they want it to be a scholarly museum of art and science or a tawdry tourist trap. On the one hand, they have a great little exhibit on animal sexual behavior, including an example of reproductive homosexuality I hadn't heard of before, in male bedbugs; the only reproductive homosexuality that Empirical Sexual Attitudes currently mentions is in flour beetles. On the other hand, there's a bouncy castle made out of giant breasts and the gift shop is half dildos. Also, the age restriction on visitors (18 and up) preempts any value that might be offered in terms of sex education for kids (but they didn't card me, so either the age gate is a bluff or—heaven forbid—I've aged to the point that I can no longer pass for 16).
The Internet was created with a special kind of music named after its inventor: Al Gore rhythms.
The other day, I saw a menu with one column labeled "Tacos" and another labeled "Not Tacos".
Half the enjoyment of a drink with ice cubes is hearing the tinkling of the cubes against the glass, and the little popping sounds as they melt.
"Tradition" is just the plural of "mistake".
I've discovered that the worst place to get preached at is in a subway car packed shoulder-to-shoulder on a sweaty August afternoon. How much worse can Hell be, anyway?
Statistics is the science of managing uncertainty, such as the uncertainty of how to analyze your data in a way that answers your scientific question but that reviewers won't reject just because it's unfamiliar to them.
Live slow, die old, and leave a cryogenically preserved corpse.
Made-up statistics sound 83.44% more believable when they're really precise.
According to all known laws of aviation, there is no way an elephant should be able to fly.
Doctr is the premiere medical app for the Snapchat generation. Book a highly-rated Doctr today to look at your selfie, Google your symptoms, and tell you you have cancer. And check out our sister service Lawyr, providing the vetted and cross-checked insights of /r/legaladvice commenters from countries without extradition treaties with the US.
Birches don't know 'bout my chainsaw.
My latest project is a VeggieTales fan fiction where Larry the Cucumber gets all the Infinity Stones and challenges God for the throne of Heaven but then remembers he has no fingers to snap, and QWERTY cites 1 Peter 5:5–6.
"In the arena of logic, I fight unarmed." —Red Mage
Unix neckbeards coined the term "hacker" to mean people who were clever with computers, or by extension, clever with anything. They were displeased when the term got applied specifically to illegitimately gaining access to other people's computers. I guess the Unix neckbeards were listened to, for once, because now any old tip or hint may be advertised as a "sneaky hack" or "genius hack" or "life hack". (LIFE HACK: eat food to relieve hunger.) Be careful what you wish for, Unix neckbeards.
I'm surprised that a brand of condom called "Trojan" has been so successful. Surely the Trojan horse is one of the last things a condom seller wants people to associate with their product, right after sieves and antlions.
Ellipses seem to be idiosyncratically overused… I've seen people use ellipses in place of practically all other punctuation… I don't know what this accomplishes… except giving the impression that the writer is mumbling…
A peek into our dumb future: imagine wild populations of birds that are genetically engineered to sing advertising jingles, and also to mow down competitors' birds with organic machine guns.
Bars sure don't encourage designated drivers when they charge $3 for soda.
Yesterday, on my first day back in New York, I was serenaded by a jackhammer right under the window for an hour. It's good to be home.
This is why Doritos have evolved a distinct warning coloration. http://www.poorlydrawnlines.com/comic/the-flave/
I wish that people/individuals/writers would stop/refrain from using/employing slashes/strokes/solidi and just choose/select/decide on a single word/term/phrase/possibility/option instead.
There are three types of feature films:
3. Sequels to adaptations
Hollywoodologists have postulated the existence of a fourth type: adaptations of sequels. However, all putative specimens so far observed have on closer inspection turned out to be sequels to adaptations. Rumor has it that Disney engineers were able to synthesize a type-4, codenamed "The Black Cauldron", but they came to regret dabbling in dark powers, and all records of the experiment have been destroyed.
It's always heartening to browse /r/teenagers and see how good the new generation's taste in memes is.
Sometimes a reviewer of one of my journal articles tells me to consult an expert in statistics. But I *am* an expert in statistics. Do I have a fool for a client?
A peek into our dumb future: imagine a memetic virus that makes you subconsciously mine Bitcoin, communicating with the controller through rhythmic head-scratching detected by satellite.
If your high-fantasy setting must have elves, then at least make them the cute toy-making or cookie-baking kind instead of snobs enamored with their own beauty who everybody else inexplicably admires.
Long before The Simpsons, Matt Groening was tellin' it like it is. http://arfer.net/microblog/img/love-maneuver.png
Occasionally, somebody misspells my name in reply to email I sent. This is an impressive degree of failure. The correct spelling was right in front of them and they still blew it.
Memes have ruined me. Every time someone says "gazpacho", I hear "despacito".
Poor choices for whimsically labeling the men's and women's bathrooms in your restaurant:
- "Nidorino", "Nidorina"
- "Sissies", "Tomboys"
- "Androids", "Gynoids"
- "Drones", "Queens"
- "Boars", "Sows"
- "ZZ", "ZW"
- "Big", "Small"
- "Decent Folk", "Women"
- "Cis", "Trans"
- "All Genders", "No Genders"
- "Bourgeoisie", "Proletariat"
- "Neckbeards", "Hipsters"
- "Zoes", "Zeldas"
- "Pooping", "Peeing"
- "Employees Only", "Emergency Exit"
Raising children is exhausting but socially vital work. Listening to parents sentimentally lecture on the minutiae of their children's lives is the price we pay for this service.
Peak discourse is making a bingo board for your opponents' arguments. Is it not a treasured principle of logic that any argument used too many times gets worn out and is no longer valid?
Discord gets a job offer from a small magnet school but expects the sort of perks he got at Microsoft R&D. http://arfer.net/microblog/img/discord-ed.png
Yesterday, a stranger said to me "Excuse me, I have cancer. Are you interested?" So I said "'Fraid not" and hoped I had misheard her.
Do people who use the word "politician" as an insult to describe politicians also get angry when their lawyer turns out to be a lawyer?
Remember when pop-up blockers actually worked, because pop-ups were new pages?
Here's a handy guide to the most pointless jargon in science. When you're writing journal articles, make sure to use these terms as often as possible to show how sciencey you are.
- "novel": new
- "individuals": people
- "participants": subjects
- "investigators": researchers
- "highly nontrivial": difficult
- "paradigm": method
- "hypothesize": expect
- "robust": large
- "theoretical framework": theory
Like war and car accidents, alcohol has been a major cause of death and disability around the world for generations, so we've all politely agreed that it's fine.
Do people truly enjoy anime? Or is it that, like Clevinger in Catch-22, they wish to experience time moving as slowly as possible?
The other night I had a dream where I yelled at my dad about sample sizes.
Fun game: in a store, try to find bar soap that uses the word "soap" on the package.
There's a special circle of hell for Web sign-up forms that impose password requirements, like having at least one digit and at least one punctuation character. There's another, deeper one for forms that display the password requirements only after you've chosen a password. The deepest circle is reserved for forms that display only one requirement at a time, after you've violated it, rather than all the requirements at once.
I've never taken Communion, but I'm told that the host is tender and mild.
Long ago, the four clans lived together in harmony. Then everything changed when ShadowClan attacked.
If you wrap a pastry around your head, are you wearing a baklava balaclava?
At the Improv Space in Westwood, I've seen at least three shows that involved the performers in some state of undress. At this point the place is seeming less like an improvisational-comedy theater and more like a strip club specializing in doughy white men. Geez, if that's what I wanted to see, I'd just look in the mirror.
It's finally up!
If you don't have access to this journal, you can read the paper on my website:
Some people like to say that animals are so much kinder and wiser than humans because they don't have genocide, drug dealers, etc. But the chief reason they don't do the same horrible things we do is because they can't. If bottlenose dolphins could build cruise missiles, they'd be sinking oil tankers for sport, making those cheerful little chittering noises all the while.
When you'll do whatever it takes to make a backronym: "In this paper, we build a new software agent, HEALER (Hierarchical Ensembling based Agent which pLans for Effective Reduction in HIV Spread)".
"Webapp" is pronounced "we bap".
Atheists should be careful not to lapse into sour grapes. God doesn't exist, but it doesn't follow that his nonexistence is preferable. Look at how terrible the world is and tell me it wouldn't be improved by a benevolent superbeing who could fix everything with a snap of its numinous fingers (insert obligatory Thanos joke here). Yes, theists have to explain why God *doesn't* do this, but that's their problem (and why theodicy is a primary topic in theology).
"reality is a tim and eric sketch." —Somebody on Reddit
The best analogy I've seen in a while is Israel Zangwill's description of an oracle experiencing a trance as "foaming at the mouth like an open champagne bottle".
The more politically powerful someone is, the more things he's responsible for, and so the more he has to read to do his job well. Hence, when he reigns, he pores.
One problem with cloud computing is that when everyone depends on one system, like Amazon Web Services, then everyone has a single point of failure. Hence, when the cloud rains, it pours.
You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. So, it's good you didn't take them.
Funny story: it turns out that one of the world's greatest competitive eaters, Matt Stonie, is about the same age, height, and weight as me. I'll have to add that to my file of backup career plans, right after "Web developer" and before "freelance My Little Pony pornography author".
The criterion of embarrassment implies that the Gospel is most likely to be distorted in places where it recounts the cool things that Jesus did. What if Jesus only turned water into a sugary Manischewitz?
A book called Radical Honesty promotes honesty to the point of saying the first thing that comes to mind no matter what. I think that's really stretching the definition of "honesty". A thought might pass through my head like "I want to eat that entire cake", but saying so wouldn't be honest. I'd be begging for mercy after four slices. When's the last time a guy under 5' 8" won an eating contest?
Protip: are people upset at the terrible things you do? Double down on it for a while to lower their standards, then revert to your usual behavior and bask in admiration at your self-improvement.
I know what *my* next RPG character's gonna be. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berserk_llama_syndrome
"Dream Interpretation, Simplified" by Piet Hein
concave or -vex,
so whatever you dream
will be something with sex.
I always loved Disney's 1964 film version of Mary Poppins, but the original book has its charms, too:
Jane, with her head tied up in Mary Poppins's bandanna handkerchief, was in bed with earache.
"What does it feel like?" Michael wanted to know.
"Like guns going off inside my head," said Jane.
"Oh," said Michael. And he almost wished he could have earache, too. It sounded so exciting.
I'm not interested in Smash Bros. till they finally add Joe Biden.
People talk about the "beauty industry", but isn't that supposed to be an oxymoron?
12 rules for life (#6 will shock you!)
1. Sit down and shut up.
2. Be the change you want to see happen.
3. Experience is no substitute for knowledge.
4. Correctness beats convention.
5. Morality is rarely sufficient, but always necessary.
6. Never count in unary past 3.
7. Never get involved in a land war in Asia.
8. Partial redundancy is worse than both no redundancy and full redundancy.
8. If a data-entry constraint isn't enforced automatically, it's not going to be enforced.
9. In the classic Nintendo 64 video game The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, if you play the Song of Time backwards, you'll get the Inverted Song of Time, which slows down the game clock. This is most useful for dungeons, but it's a good idea to play it at the start of every three-day cycle.
A. Hexadecimal is better than octal, except for Unix permission bits.
B. Incompetence is more dangerous than malice.
bacon pancakes bacon bacon bacon bacon pancakes bacon bacon pancakes pancakes pancakes bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon pancakes bacon bacon pancakes pancakes bacon pancakes bacon pancakes pancakes bacon bacon bacon pancakes bacon bacon pancakes pancakes pancakes bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon pancakes bacon pancakes bacon pancakes bacon bacon bacon pancakes pancakes pancakes bacon bacon pancakes pancakes bacon pancakes pancakes bacon bacon bacon pancakes bacon bacon pancakes pancakes bacon bacon bacon bacon pancakes bacon pancakes bacon bacon pancakes bacon bacon pancakes bacon pancakes pancakes pancakes bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon pancakes pancakes bacon pancakes bacon bacon pancakes bacon pancakes pancakes bacon pancakes bacon bacon pancakes bacon pancakes pancakes bacon bacon bacon bacon pancakes bacon pancakes pancakes pancakes bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon pancakes bacon bacon bacon bacon pancakes bacon bacon pancakes pancakes pancakes bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon pancakes pancakes pancakes bacon pancakes bacon bacon bacon pancakes pancakes pancakes bacon pancakes pancakes pancakes bacon pancakes pancakes bacon pancakes bacon bacon pancakes bacon pancakes pancakes bacon bacon pancakes pancakes pancakes bacon pancakes pancakes bacon pancakes pancakes bacon pancakes bacon pancakes bacon bacon bacon bacon pancakes bacon bacon pancakes pancakes pancakes bacon bacon bacon bacon
When Apple said "Here's to… the misfits", they were talking about connectors.
My book Empirical Sexual Attitudes (featuring a cover design by my good friend Jason Barker) now has a sexy new updated print edition with 20% fewer obvious typos: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1523814535 (but Amazon might send you the previous edition if they have a copy on hand because that's how they roll). As always, you can read it online for free at: http://arfer.net/w/esa
It's not fair to say a person is "struggling" if they're clearly not even trying.
DID YOU KNOW? ZFC was disproved in 2006 when paleontologists found definitive fossil evidence that the universal set once walked the earth.
Current mood: attempting to remain calm in the face of the pony drought.
On all levels except physical, I am Richard Stallman.
It may be true that "no pain, no gain", but sometimes I think that what people are hoping is true is the converse.
Chemicals: they're what's for dinner.
The Brave Little Toaster is an exercise in seeing how much death and anguish you can get away with in a kids' movie if the characters are talking appliances instead of humans.
I went LA's gay-pride parade yesterday and I saw a kid with a T-shirt bearing a rainbow-striped silhouette of a T. rex. So *that's* why the dinosaurs went extinct.
Protip: if you apply for a job and your cover letter consists entirely of Star Fox 64 quotes, they're legally required to hire you.
Imagine if Elric of Melniboné was as well known as Superman, and the generally recognized stereotype of an albino person was a sickly sorcerer-king in thrall to a cursed sword.
DID YOU KNOW? The most common size of banana is .45 caliber.
This is my 100th post, which calls for a celebration. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7G4RYtP5RQQ
For some kinds of TLS errors, Firefox displays the message "The owner of [domain name] has configured their website improperly." Ya think? Firefox, honey, how many websites do you know that *are* configured properly? Without quirks mode, you'd have practically nothing to display.
Do your pissants smell bad? Try some de-odor-ant.
Westwood is littered with rental electric scooters owned by a company called Bird. They sound like a great option for disabled people who can't legally drive, right? Except Bird requires you to have a driver's license. Well, it was a nice thought.
The beatings will continue until morale improves. http://arfer.net/microblog/img/facebook-is-changing.png
You should've seen the one that got away. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C3%B6rmungandr#Thor%27s_fishing_trip
Wikipedia tells us that "calque" is a loanword (from French), but "loanword" is a calque (from the German "Lehnwort").
Why is it taken for granted that men want to be masculine and women want to be feminine? What are you afraid of, the gender-role police? The term "gender policing" is metaphorical. Well, usually. Tehran police only announced at the end of 2017 that they would reduce penalties for women showing their hair in public.
From the not-a-joke-but-still-funny department: I've recently finished contracting with the Cryonics Institute to have my body cryopreserved when I die. Please remember to check me for freezer burn before resurrecting me.
Not all geeks are obese, hairy neckbeards. Some of us are shrimpy, pasty-faced twerps.
I must not fear (instead, I'll just be afraid, like a normal person). Fear is the mind-killer (or at least, beer is the mind-killer). Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration (in case you thought the previous sentence wasn't hyperbolic enough; also, why am I calling it "little" if I'm convinced it's so dangerous?). I will face my fear (because now, three sentences later, I've realized that I can't just will myself not to experience fear, after all). I will permit it to pass over me and through me (a topologically daunting proposition if there ever was one). And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path (I have to wait till it's gone because I'm scared to look; so much for facing it). Where the fear has gone there will be nothing (like a bullet going through a wall and leaving a cylindrical hole). Only I will remain (because I'm nothing, apparently).
Overall my impression is that Frank Herbert took the adage "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself" a bit too literally. Those accursed Bene Gesserit witches!
It is preferred and strongly recommended, and it would be greatly appreciated, to say who is doing the preferring, recommending, or appreciating rather than using the passive voice in this way.
No software has ever actually been "awesome", "beautiful", or "elegant", and no programmer has ever been a "wizard", "ninja", "architect", or "artist". If your asynchronous containerized TypeScript middleware internationalization microframework or whatever it is is so great, then just show me what's great about it, instead of weeping over its magnificence like a nineteenth-century American socialite writing a travel diary about Renaissance art.
Will Cerbone of Fordham University Press kindly sent me a copy of The Last Professors: The Corporate University and the Fate of the Humanities, by Frank Donoghue, so here's an informal review.
Donoghue's subject is the decay of the American university system as we know it, particularly its faculty, particularly in the humanities. Whereas a lot of the discussion on this subject focuses on the disappearance of tenure, Donoghue emphasizes deeper systemic changes in how schools are administered, and in the role that faculty play in them. What made the biggest impression on me was the early part of the book in which Donoghue talks about the corporatization of the university. Not only are nonprofit schools being displaced by for-profit ones; schools of all types are increasingly being run like corporations, with for-profits leading the charge. Faculty, who were once masters of the educational programs of schools, are increasingly being treated as interchangeable delivery agents of a curriculum that belongs to the school administration. Donoghue mentions the popularity of online classes and flexible per-student learning plans but stops short of suggesting the obvious next step, in which faculty are entirely replaced with Skinnerian "teaching machines".
Another eye-opening part of the book is the discussion of the role that well-known rankings of schools play in the administration of schools. I knew that the US News & World Report rankings existed, but I had no idea that anybody but the most naive yuppie parents took them seriously. I'd never have imagined that the president of Virginia Commonwealth University would be given a $25,000 bonus for each year the school stayed in tier 2 of the US News rankings.
Overall, the book is well written (as you'd hope, given that Donoghue is a professor of English), and I'd recommend it to anybody interested in what's happening to the American university system. Perhaps its most notable flaw is that it was written in 2008 and has been republished this year without a major content update, just a new introduction. When a book is about assessing the immediate past and trying to predict the future, timeliness counts. I also thought it was odd that Donoghue gives attention to science and the humanities but not the arts, which seem even likelier to fall to the corporate chopping block. Finally, I noticed that Donoghue criticizes at length the usual arguments for why the humanities are valuable (e.g., that they make people more informed citizens who can participate more competently in democracy) without advancing one of his own. Presumably Donoghue would at least agree with his fellow humanists that his job is worth doing.
Last Sunday, I was on campus and I passed a guy riding an electric scooter while playing "Fuck tha Police". Your move, UCPD.
A penny saved is approximately three-two hundredths of a penny earned annually.
The Archimedean property of the reals is that given nonzero real $a$ and $b$, there exists an integer $N$ with $Na > b$. It's often paraphrased as: "given enough time, one can empty a large bathtub with a small spoon". I'll take their word for it. I've used a slotted spoon in place of a sieve for cooking pasta, and that was laborious enough.
Don't be surprised that in tabletop RPGs, brainy magic-users tend to be more powerful than muscular swordsmen. Who do you think writes these games, quarterbacks?
No-fault divorce is one of the law's most important concessions to human fallibility: no matter how ostentatiously you announce to the world that you're sure of something, you may end up changing your mind.
I don't see the point of automatic vacation replies. People seem perfectly capable of ignoring my email when they're not on vacation.
My least favorite stock character is the ostensibly very wise and powerful mentor who spends most of his time providing various contrived reasons that he can't be more than nominally helpful to the main characters. The Doylist reason that he's unhelpful is transparent: if the mentor were as effective as he's supposed to be, he'd make the main characters superfluous.
Los Angeles is so gay that I've heard even people in heterosexual relationships play the pronoun game and refer to their boyfriend or girlfriend as "my partner". But it remains the case that whenever I hear the word "partner", I think of cowboys and square dances.
I'd like to downgrade to Web 1.0, at least until all the longstanding issues with this "human nature" module are fixed.
New York City was robbed of two opportunities to be a seat of political power, first as the US capital and then as a state capital. I'm just mad because we missed out on a constitutional amendment making access to good bagels a fundamental citizen's right.
Folks, the other day I was at a deli and I asked "You don't have lox, do you?" The guy didn't even recognize the word "lox". I lost a lot of respect for Los Angeles that day.
I've never liked mayonnaise. I think I resent anything that's whiter than me.
It's presumptuous to introduce yourself with a title, as in "Hi, I'm Mr. Smith." Just gimme the name, buddy, and I'll decide what I'm gonna call you. You don't see me telling the guy at Starbucks that my name is "Dr. Arfer".
Some eggcorns I've seen in the wild (by which of course I mean Reddit):
- "bullet hail" for "bullet hell"
- "slap shtick" for "slapstick"
- "another addition of" for "another edition of"
You may balk when I say that people are stupid and can't be trusted to make their own decisions, but I have particular expertise here. I'm a person, and I've made lots of decisions, most of them wrong.
But don't take it from me; take it from a guy who's being chased by a carnivorous hamburger. http://nedroid.com/2007/11/1335
Some musicians "release" albums, like birds. Others "drop" albums, like turds.
The most frustrating moment of my career was when I finished graduate school but they refused to give me a degree, explaining that the PhD had been in me all along, and the real treasure was the friends I'd made along the way. First of all, grad students don't have any friends.
Is it rude to pick your nose in sight of a security camera? Asking for a friend.
"This document varies from difficult to understand to completely and utterly opaque. The wandering prose riddled with jargon is hard to fathom in several places." —perlre, on itself
What I can't explain is that I know two different Mega Man-themed bands, the Protomen and the Megas, but neither of them are named the Rockmen.
The Capgras delusion is the irrational conviction that a familiar person or thing has been replaced with an impostor. I had it one morning when I was about 12 about my cat Twilight. I even demanded from him what he'd done with the real Twilight, half-expecting to get an answer in English. This isn't a joke, but in hindsight, it's pretty funny.
Teetotalism and low vision are a bad combination. I'd make a great designated driver if it weren't for the latter.
"History is more or less bunk." —Henry Ford
"Ford is more or less history." —Foreign car manufacturers
Literary turns of phrase often used for describing skin color include "alabaster", "peaches and cream", "olive", "coffee", and "chocolate". Some less frequently used terms are "mayonnaise", "whole wheat", "rocky road", and "lime".
Only a few physicians use homeopathic methods, but the more they're outnumbered, the more powerful they become.
- Small brain: Splitting infinitives
- Big brain: Correcting split infinitives
- Huge brain: Denouncing the "correction" of split infinitives as dogmatic
- Gigantic brain: Denouncing prescriptive linguistics as a tool of kyriarchy
- Colossal brain: Communicating solely in atonal flugelhorn solos
- Small brain: Making an image macro
- Big brain: Transcribing the image macro for disabled readers and search engines
- Huge brain: Providing only the text
Offensive jokes can be funny, but just because a joke is offensive doesn't mean it's funny.
Or at least, that's what your mom said last night after I had sex with her.
Alan Baddeley's original model of working memory postulated a mental process that takes all the information from the other parts of working memory and somehow makes decisions to control those parts. Since this process is ostensibly the most important part of the whole operation, but what it actually does and whether we really need it remain mysterious, it's called the "executive".
"Players think it'll be fun, but it's not actually fun." —Gerard Gully, on one-shotting bosses in D&D
"We do not have data on our graduates from the data science program…" Whoops.
"I love mankind. It's people I can't stand!" —Linus van Pelt
"Give me liberty, or give me death!"
"Is Pepsi okay?"
I'm perturbed when I hear people say things like "I don't 'believe' the earth is round. I know it." Belief is a necessary part of factual knowledge. Knowing the earth is round is not like knowing how to ride a bike, unless you mean to say that you steer your airplane in a way accounting for the earth's curvature but you've never actually thought about the shape of the earth.
In 1995, George Costanza said "It's not a lie if you believe it." Today we see the expression of an even more powerful idea: if you don't really believe anything, you can't believe that what you're saying is false, so you're technically never lying.
The thing about p-zombies is, it doesn't take one to know one.
Being disruptive, once the cardinal sin of mischievous children, is now the cardinal virtue of Silicon Valley.
Poor choices for your phone's notification sound effect:
- A microwave beeping
- An air-raid siren
- A small dog yipping
- Sonic the Hedgehog dropping rings
- Tina Belcher groaning
- Alex Jones groaning
- The distorted clip of John Romero's voice from the last level of Doom 2
- "It's secret, but fun!"
- "It's morphin' time!"
- "Nude Tayne."
Is the property of being a natural kind itself a natural kind?
They called me mad. I prefer the term "vexed".
Richard Stallman once replied to my email about a typo in the documentation of Emacs, and Peter Shor once answered a question I asked on the English Stack Exchange. What I'm saying is that, like many Angelenos, I frequently rub elbows with big-time celebrities. Did I mention that a few blocks from my house was the world premiere of no less than The Emoji Movie?
A specter is haunting social science—the specter of reproducibility.
I'm always a bit taken aback when people begin all their email with "Thank you for your email". Particularly, the people who write that are often people who spend a large part of their workday answering stupid questions by email (such as my own) and therefore, I suspect, are the least grateful to receive yet another message.
The Social Network is a great movie, if only for mentioning Emacs.
The cool kids make sure their Facebook status updates are exactly 85 characters long.
I lied. *This* is my favorite comic strip. http://geekz.co.uk/lovesraymond/archive/linux-doomsday
From an essay by Stephen Fry on Wodehouse:
When Hugh Laurie and I had the extreme honour and terrifying responsibility of being asked to play Bertie Wooster and Jeeves in a series of television adaptations, we were aware of one huge problem. Wodehouse's three great achievements are plot, character and language, and the greatest of these, by far, is language. If we were reasonably competent, then all of us concerned in the television version could go some way towards conveying a fair sense of the narrative of the stories and revealing, too, a good deal of the nature of their characters. The language, however, lives and breathes in its written, printed form. Let me use an example, taken at random. I flip open a book of stories and happen on Bertie and Jeeves discussing a young man called Cyril Bassington-Bassington.
"I've never heard of him. Have you ever heard of him, Jeeves?"
"I am familiar with the name Bassington-Bassington, sir. There are three branches of the Bassington-Bassington family—the Shropshire Bassington-Bassingtons, the Hampshire Bassington-Bassingtons, and the Kent Bassington-Bassingtons."
"England seems pretty well stocked up with Bassington-Bassingtons."
"Tolerably so, sir."
"No chance of a sudden shortage, I mean, what?"
The problem with reading the Bible is that the Western world has several major holidays that spoil all the biggest plot twists.
A fun April Fool's prank: give your friend an egg and tell them it's a chocolate egg. What could be funnier than Salmonella?
Many scientists regard "data" as a plural count noun instead of a mass noun, and so they say "these data are" instead of "this data is". But do they ask "How many data do you have?" and expect a reply like "seventeen data"? Do they call data analysis "datum analysis", or else say that somebody who's walking two dogs is "dogs-walking"? Even for plurale tantum, we say "scissor blade", not "scissors blade".
You'll be glad to hear that I've taken steps to shine the light of my brilliant thought leadership outside the walled garden of Facebook. http://arfer.net/microblog
DID YOU KNOW? Outside the US, many words containing the letters "or" are spelled with "our" instead. Here are some examples: "colour", "armour", "tournado", "ourange", "hourrour".
"I'm Jewish in the same way the Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant." —A. J. Jacobs
No other movie about destroying evil robots will ever be as satisfying as the scene in Office Space where they smash up a printer.
Levity is the whole of wit.
Reddit told me to delete Facebook, so here goes.'); DROP TABLE Posts; --
Just kidding; Facebook doesn't use a SQL database. Relational databases aren't w e b s c a l e. http://www.mongodb-is-web-scale.com
Questionable chemistry aside, this is my favorite comic strip: http://www.poorlydrawnlines.com/comic/bury-ourselves
It can be hard to get my alertness level between "comatose" and "hyperventilating".
Protip: overlay every nation's flag onto your profile picture simultaneously to always be ahead of the crowd for the next natural disaster / terrorist attack / alien invasion. #IStandWithSomebody
"I have seen at least one case where a manuscript that used psychometric modeling was rejected by a major journal because, according to the editor, it was too difficult for the journal's audience since it contained some basic matrix algebra (i.e., addition and multiplication). That a scientific journal should reject a paper for being difficult is almost surrealistic…" —Denny Borsboom (2006)
Thomas Dolby should've worn his safety goggles.
I'm starting to worry. How can I tell if my boyfriend is gay?
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Sex therapist David Schnarch suggests that couples make eye contact during sex to increase intimacy. This practice can be intimidating. Another therapist, Bernie Zilbergeld, quipped "I tried that once and there was somebody looking right back at me!"
What if the Ghostbusters had a portal gun and used it to cross a stream with itself?
INTERVIEWER: I mean questions about the job.
Blessed are the adjuncts, for they shall inherit what's left of higher education after the last tenured guy dies. And with blessings like these, who needs curses?
Some people think that old memes never come back, but beware: Chuck Norris never dies. He waits.
Love means never having to say you're sorry. Total depravity means never having to say you won't do it again.
Protip: by never talking to other people about tough topics, such as politics, religion, morality, and sexuality, you can ensure that your stupidest opinions are never challenged.
(On the other hand, if you do want to talk about these things, look no further than Facebook comments for the highest standards of intellectual discourse.)
Current mood: waiting impatiently for DuckTales to return from hiatus.
They can't disprove your theory if it's unfalsifiable. http://arfer.net/microblog/img/roll-safe.jpg
Sign my petition for all new smartphones to include a linear actuator that pokes you in the eye if you try to take a vertical video.
Sonnet 128: Ay gurl, what them fingers do?
Sonnet 129: I immediately regret this decision!
Academic peer review is just institutionalized bullying.
If we ever want to definitively settle the question of whether God exists, we have to get to the heart of the matter. We have to determine whether Daniel Dennett or John Calvin has the longer beard.
Tonight, let David Attenborough be your guide to the urban jungle of Los Angeles, where food trucks compete fiercely for the most desirable spots and urinate on the street to mark their territory. Isn't nature fascinating?
Complex numbers sometimes appear in optics, but how can mirrors be real if our "i"s aren't real?
80 years ago, F. Scott Fitzgerald said "An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke." Modern writers prefer U+1F602 (FACE WITH TEARS OF JOY).