Use statistical terminology precisely. Don't be a jive turkey; be a John Tukey.
These pages mirror my Facebook status updates.
Use statistical terminology precisely. Don't be a jive turkey; be a John Tukey.
I hate when people use phrases like "sexual experimentation" and "exploring one's sexuality" and "sexual beings". For God's sake, you're not talking about an epic quest to learn an ancient secret that's the one chance to save your beloved homeland. You're talking about boning.
If people from Cuba are Cubans, and people from Puerto Rico are Puerto Ricans, it follows that people from St. Kitts are Kittens.
I want to open a restaurant themed around non-kosher variations on Jewish cuisine. It would serve cheese- and meat-stuffed rugelach, matzo-ball soup with bacon bits, and brisket surf-'n'-turf. If it's a buffet restaurant, I could call it the Golden Calf.
Source-monitoring errors are no joke. Some part of me still thinks that entire human ribs can grow back, although immediately after he says this, the Medic admits "They don't grow back."
In 1604, James I of England described smoking as "A custome lothsome to the eye, hatefull to the Nose, harmefull to the braine, dangerous to the Lungs, and in the blacke stinking fume thereof, neerest resembling the horrible Stigian smoke of the pit that is bottomelesse".
I have an extra-large package of Oreos labeled "party size". It turns out that the party is in my stomach.
The team has announced a major refactoring of the human genetic code. Expect a large reduction in junk DNA. We should be back to feature parity with 1.0 (hiccups, stretch marks, racism, being able to breathe air, etc.) by 2030 at the latest.
"I thought I was doing something bad for a good reason, but it turns out I was just doing somethin' bad, you know?" —Zøg I of Dreamland
Yesterday, I passed a few kids riding bikes, and one called out to me "Happy Wednesday!". But it was Monday, those gaslighting fiends.
One night in 2018, on my way to my Dungeons & Dragons group, I walked past a couple of people with a megaphone in front of a Victoria's Secret shouting about how I needed to accept Jesus. Little did they know I was off to do something far more sinful than buying a lacy brassiere.
Americans are seeing continued assaults on their ability to speak freely on other people's websites. This troubling trend started long ago, when fighting words, libel, slander, child pornography, and shouting "fire!" in a crowded movie theater were banned. Now they're banning Nazi propaganda and other forms of white supremacy. Soon they'll probably want to ban misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, general advocacy of violence and war, pseudomedical advice, lying for political gain, and being a douche to other people for no reason. This is a slippery slope to people being prevented from actively making the world a worse place by propagating dangerous lunacy.
Whatever happened to mutely tolerating evil and pretending that speech has no consequences? After all, if you just let the marketplace of ideas decide these things, the really bad ideas won't last a day, which is why there are still white supremacists 75 years after Hitler died. The Man telling you that you can't advocate for your neighbor's house to be burned down is just like other noxious heavy-handed market intervention, like the government keeping you from buying or selling slaves.
"Most of the 'unicorn' startups that I know of don't have a proper testing/staging environment that lets them test risky config changes. I can understand why—it's often hard to set up a good QA environment that mirrors prod well enough that config changes can get tested, and like driving without a seatbelt, nothing bad happens the vast majority of the time. If I had to make my own seatbelt before driving my car, I might not drive with a seatbelt either. Then again, if driving without a seatbelt were as scary as making config changes, I might consider it." —Dan Luu (2015)
OMG GOT 2 SL@V3 AWAY TKING OUT DA TRA$H ... SMH 🚻🔤🕳🏚🚔⚖📀▫️❣🌑📆👇🎻1️⃣📷 #swag
"I placed my hands before my face for very shame. But I looked through my fingers." —Mark Twain (1869), upon viewing the can-can
You can get a lot of mileage out of taking SMBC out of context. http://arfer.net/microblog/img/smbc-avian.png
Karl Marx was an admirer of Charles Darwin, and sent Darwin a copy of Das Kaptial. Darwin wrote back a short letter that, to the modern eye, appears polite but doesn't give a strong impression that he actually read the book. I guess Darwin couldn't well have said "What an unreadable tome", having himself written a 400,000-word doorstopper about barnacles.
I'm not an elitist. Some of my best friends are pathetic losers.
Me when Data saves the day: "Oh dear, oh dear. Gorgeous."
Me when Wesley saves the day: "You pahtak donkey."
If you consider anybody who's not with you to be against you, then most of your opponents are cats.
It's 2020 and Amazon's interface is still hopelessly cluttered. Even with big fonts, it's hard to tell where I should be looking at any given time. http://arfer.net/microblog/img/amazon-page.png
[ASMR] lofi dial-up modem sounds to relax/study to
The roster for Poker Night at the Inventory 3 is finally out:
"The Constitution does not prohibit legislatures from enacting stupid laws." —Thurgood Marshall, as quoted by John Paul Stevens (2008)
I knew a guy who used the Curb Your Enthusiasm theme as his ringtone. He said that he was a fan of the show, but he didn't seem aware of the memetic usage of the theme tune. I wonder if his phone has ever rung at a particularly hilarious moment.
This website does not have Super Cow Powers.
You've heard of spelling bees. Now get ready for capitalization bees. Is it "french fries" or "French fries"? Is "my Uncle Jack" truly unacceptable, or does it have to be "my uncle Jack" (let alone the matter of the horse)? Which celebrities spell their last names with an internal capital? I'm starting to hyperventilate just imagining it.
The seven deadly sins:
1. Putting an empty container back in the fridge
2. Pie charts
3. Yelling at the TV while watching sports
5. Excessive Monty Python references
6. Thinking about your own butt on the Sabbath
You know it's time to take a break from the Internet when there's an iFunny watermark burned into your visual field.
A lot of software these days is advertised as being "for humans". I'm glad people are breaking away from the longstanding practice of pandering to orcs in software design.
There are many questions about the nature of God that philosophers have wrestled with for thousands of years.
On three separate occasions, someone has implied that they thought I was a conservative. I think it's pretty obvious that I'm a bleeding-heart leftist. What more do I have to do? End every sentence with "eat the rich, black lives matter, immortality is a human right"?
Other people's 5-year-olds on Twitter: "Why do people willingly participate in the theft of their own surplus labor to feed the avarice of the rich when they could seize the means of production for themselves?"
Me at 5 years old (13 Feb 1995): "When you think something, it can never come out of your brain."
The best-known biography of Paul Erdős is titled The Man Who Loved Only Numbers, but that's an unfairly reductive way to describe him. I'm sure that he loved a lot of combinatorial games and function spaces, too.
Charles Romaella on installing Windows: "My plans have ground to a halt, as apparently the software actually has some kind of bizarre dependency on a serial license code of some kind? I'm not one of those hardcore techies who understands these kind of things, I just want to have a simple easy life using my Linux and not get into any nerd stuff."
DID YOU KNOW? Godzilla's ability to spew deadly radioactive energy was inspired by my dad's morning breath.
A quick guide to modern insults:
It's pretty goofy that inequalities are called "inequalities". It's not even accurate. Given the inequality $a ≤ b$, it might still be that $a = b$. And it's not as if all the triangle inequality tells you, when it's strict, is that $|x + y|$ isn't exactly equal to $|x| + |y|$. That wouldn't be very informative.
Activists for so-called topfree equality allege that it's sexist to make toplessness legal for men and illegal for women. That's a fair point, but they're asking for the wrong change. Society would be a better place if a nice day in the park were not punctuated by men jogging with their nips out.
Popular new diets:
And now for the long-awaited sequel to http://arfer.net/microblog/2019#p345 , in which I turn my attention to a more much important art form: vidya gaems.
1. Pathways into Darkness (1993). A first-person shooter that was groundbreaking, but never imitated; Doom was released a few months later. Like its fellow early-bird survival-horror games Alone in the Dark (1992) and Resident Evil (1996), Pathways mixes puzzle-solving with shooting that must be managed carefully due to limited ammo and the player-character's slow movement speed. It has an interesting story that is told mainly through magically assisted conversations with the corpses of previous explorers, who also provide most of your equipment—the game takes place in 1992, but you spend the first segment shooting monsters with an old Walther PPK because you're scavaging from long-deceased Nazis for ammo.
2. Master of Orion (1993). 4X games tend towards complexity, but I find managing a huge number of interlocking mechanics more stressful than fun. Master of Orion is an empire-building game in space with just enough complexity to be interesting, like a ship builder, partly random technological availablity, and ten different races, without getting overwhelming. Thie game was my favorite way to pass the time on six-hour flights between LA and New York.
3. Super Smash Bros. Melee (2001). Yeah, supposedly this is the game that the sequels merely approached the greatness of, but for me, it's just the one that was out when I was a teenager, so it's what I played the most. The winning fighting-game-for-people-who-don't-like-fighting-games formula from the first game was kept and extended, and a huge amount of characters and modes were added to establish a series that is now known for its ambition.
4. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (2006). I played Link's Awakening and Ocarina of Time first, and for that reason they made a bigger impression on me, but Twilight Princess seems better in virtually every way. Few experiences match the surprise of suddenly finding yourself walking on the ceiling and slowly understanding why. Wind Waker is more stylish and ambitious, but Twilight Princess made swinging a sword fun in a way no previous Zelda had.
5. Undertale (2015). I loved this game, and yet I felt it was somewhat overhyped in the months after its release. In hindsight, maybe the best thing about it is that it's well-rounded. The gameplay is really good; the story is really good; the music is fantastic; and the sprite work is decent. There's something to be said about the unity of creative vision that can be achieved when most of a game is made by one guy.
6. Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead (ongoing). This game started out as a zombie-survival roguelike and became a ludicrously detailed simulator of a whole bunch of things. You can design your own vehicles and buildings, turn yourself into a mutant or cyborg piece by piece, and wear three backpacks at once. The game's development is so rapid that I can start a new game each year and find tons of features that weren't there last time.
7. Liberal Crime Squad (ongoing). What do you get if the author of Dwarf Fortress makes a hybrid roguelike and tycoon game on the theme of conducting domestic terrorism in the name of 2003-era American neoliberalism? You get a game where you can brainwash people with folk music but that also simulates American federal politics at the level of individual members of the House. Come for the terrifying uber-conservative Nightmare Mode in which the police are replaced with death squads that conduct summary executions for crimes such as "flag murder" (burning an American flag), and printing a newspaper may arouse the wrath of the Fahrenheit 451-style "firemen". Stay for the cheesy pick-up lines.
Okay, Randy, your turn. I think you can do this one.
Missing warning labels for the human body:
I got zero sales from my booth at Anime Expo 2019. I just wish somebody had told me earlier that "catgirl" doesn't mean the same thing as "cat lady".
The abbreviation "UTC" has its letters in the wrong order for both the full name in English ("Coordinated Universal Time") and the full name in French ("temps universel coordonné"). Thus is exemplified the principle that a good compromise is one that leaves nobody satisfied.
A "cyberbully" is a half-man, half-machine being that grabs your Second Life avatar by the collar and demands your lunch money in Bitcoin.
Private: "Calculus is useful, I guess, but how can concepts like division by an infinitely small number be formally justified?"
Skipper: "Kowalski, analysis."
Plural words that are often mistakenly used as if they were singular:
A rundown of 2020's hottest new programming languages:
In hindsight, it's clear that digital piracy was overhyped. It was supposed to kill the music industry, the film industry, and the video-game industry, and yet despite the best efforts of lots of talented, well-meaning people, all three remain standing.
DID YOU KNOW? Bugs Bunny does all his own stunts.
If I ran a university, I'd give it a Latin motto that meant "If more of you whippersnappers took classics, you'd understand this motto."
In fantasy games, it never appeals to me to play a race that's almost but not quite human, such as elves (fancy humans), dwarves (grouchy humans), or halflings (hungry humans). I feel like, if I'm not gonna play a human, I might as well go full furry and play a cyan dog-person with an acidic stinger or something.
A song you don't like can be even more painful to hear when it's by a band you really like. In the cafeteria in college, I remember recognizing that they were playing a particular Beach Boys compilation album, Sounds of Summer. I was desperate to finish lunch and get out of there before they got to "Sloop John B".
With the help of cutting-edge psychological science, I've unlocked the ability to use 100% of my brain. Here's how I allocate my vast cerebral resources on a typical day:
A lot of movies have the hero accidentally stumble into a harem or a girls' day at the pool or some other place with a large concentration of underdressed young women. I want a movie where the hero has to run through a mildewed YMCA men's locker room where a bunch of nude octogenarians are yelling at each other while blow-drying their pubic hair.
The ability to reset passwords by email is the Internet's gift to criminals. No matter how good your passwords are, somebody who gets access to your email also gets access to every other account you have with every other Internet service. To increase security, many services have added two-factor authentication where one factor is your email and the other factor is your password, which can be reset with your email.
I don't know who started the trend of writing out every digit of large round integers, like "12,000,000,000,000" for 12 trillion—maybe it was Randall Munroe, in xkcd #558—but I don't like it. My ability to distinguish billions from trillions shouldn't depend on how accurately I count thousands separators. That's just asking for trouble.
DID YOU KNOW? Infinity is very big, even bigger than 400.
At a party a few years ago, I spoke to somebody who had recently gotten a graduate degree in acupuncture. I said that doing good research on acupuncture seems difficult, but sham acupuncture makes things a lot clearer by providing a way to untangle placebo effects from treatment effects. She replied that there's no such thing as sham acupuncture. I resisted the temptation to ask what she spent all that time in school doing if acupuncture is no different from randomly sticking needles into people.
The day I lost my innocence was the day I learned that Seinfeld was filmed in Los Angeles.
It is said that you should do one thing every day that scares you. For example, the first thing I do every day is get out of bed.
A few days ago, I had exactly 1,336 points of reputation on Stack Overflow, but then I got 10 more instead of just 1. Hello darkness, my old friend…
Overheard in New York:
In fantasy fiction, one can gain power over another creature by learning its "true name": an ancient, original name the creature has tried to purge from written records, because whoever knows it may be able to use it to do great harm. Indeed, fantasy protagonists should consider that misgendering someone on purpose is a low blow.
They say there are two kinds of mathematicians: analysts and algebraists. I'm not much of a mathematician, but I'm definitely more of an analyst than an algebraist. One of the things that distinguishes these mindsets is the analyst's dependence on visual metaphor to reason about the objects of study. We see the missing limit points in the rational numbers as holes in a line, and we see vectors in a Banach space as specks in an ocean. By contrast, it is said that when a great algebraist was asked how he visualized a group, he replied "I see a big letter G."
What I think: nobody appreciates my work.
What is actually the case: my work isn't widely acknowledged as being the best of its kind in history and the key to solving all of humanity's problems, which is the minimum required to satisfy my colossal vanity.
One of several canceled Space Jam sequels was to star Tony Hawk. Warner Bros. got as far as shooting the first scene, but Hawk never showed up on set, just some other random guy who claimed to be him.
Today I'm launching a brand-new pornography site. Check out all these exciting features:
The undocumented function
Mexico and the US are basically the same country. Both
There should be a band named Ship of Theseus that replaces its oldest member every month.
Sometimes, I accidentally mix up "neat" and "nice" and say "nece" (homophonic with "niece"), but maybe I should use "nece" deliberately as part of my noble quest to become more insufferable.
Making software updates mandatory to protect people from forgetting to update is like making cellphones automatically call the address-book entry named "Mom" periodically to protect people from forgetting to talk to their parents.
In future ages, when I am the preeminent legendary figure of the third millennium, people will naturally want to refer to me by a suitably heroic epithet. But what epithet will they use? Sure, something like "Kodi the Great" has a nice ring to it, but I deserve better. Here's some candidate epithets for future generations to consider:
"The children were not allowed to help, but they loved looking on, and almost felt that, if they looked on earnestly enough, they must, in some strange mysterious way, be actually helping. You know the feeling, I daresay." —E. Nesbit (The Magic City, 1910)
Using Roman numerals for numbers larger than 3 is just showing off.
A mere glance at history shows that the politics of previous centuries involved just as much corruption and mudslinging as the politics of today, or maybe even more. Then again, it is said that James A. Garfield could write Latin with one hand while writing the same sentence in Greek with the other hand, so perhaps something has been lost.
It's surprising how programmer-hostile a lot of programs are, considering who wrote them.
Spinning down the drain,
The falcon cannot hear the falconer,
Probably because its ears are full of water.
The sink falls apart
(Including the center of the sink).
Somehow, this leads to anarchy.
But then again, it's mere anarchy.
Nothing too catastrophic,
Like the descent of a society into lawless disorder or something.
But not so mere that there isn't a whole ocean of blood out there!
Which drowns a ceremony of innocence.
However that works. Talk about mixed metaphors.
This all ties into the Dunning-Kruger effect.
This seems like a good time for Jesus to show up again.
As if on cue,
Some kind of sphingian Antichrist appears.
I hate it when that happens.
I can't decide if that sounds more like a blues musician, an exercise routine, or a kind of roast.
The buzzards are understandably indignant
That something uglier than them
Has insolently come into existence.
Anyway, we set off too many IEDs in the Middle East
And now this thing is gonna Godzilla the Holy Land.
Great work as always, humanity.
Actually, this poem was written in 1919,
So it probably wasn't about that.
Good thing nothing else terrible happened
In the decades following the Great War.
In 2015, you saw the black-and-blue dress or the white-and-gold dress. In 2018, you heard "Laurel" or "Yanny". Now get ready to smell puke or Parmesan cheese.
There's a canonically transgender Disney Princess. You see, Disney owns Marvel. Marvel published two different comic-book adaptions (one in 1975, one in 2009) of L. Frank Baum's The Marvelous Land of Oz. In this book, the first of many sequels to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the main character is a boy named Tip. But Tip turns out to have been magically transformed as a baby to hide his identity. His original identity, which he resumes when the transformation is undone at the end of The Marvelous Land, is that of the rightful heir to the throne of Oz: Princess Ozma.
MYTH: People use "BCE" and "CE" instead of "BC" and "AD" to annoy Christians.
FACT: People use "BCE" and "CE" instead of "BC" and "AD" to preempt pedants who will catch them when they forget to put "AD" before the year.
Scholars have recently discovered the lost original ending of Hamlet. Here are the final two lines.
Fortinbras: And what dost thou call this tragic spectacle?
Horatio: The Aristocrats!
Our concern for the intentions of the Framers of the Constitution seems misplaced. If James Madison told you to jump off a cliff (being necessary to the security of a free state), would you?
"If you keep making that smug look, your face will get stuck like that." —Bill Maher's mom, probably
What's the difference between a geek and a nerd? Well, consider the name Wronski, in its various spellings. If it makes you think of linear algebra, you're a geek. If it makes you think of Anna Karenina, you're a nerd. If it makes you think of an incredibly obscure Harry Potter character, then I don't know what you are, but it's terminal.
I was excited when I heard that BuzzFeed had published a listicle of the top 10 albino statisticians born on a Sunday who dislike peas, but less so when I learned that it had me as an "honorable mention".
Here are some notable prompts and error messages from video games. (N.B. All of these are real.)
"My worse-is-better is better than your worse-is-better because I'm better at being worser!" —Larry Wall (2007)
We all have our own idea about who the best Democratic candidate for president is, but if there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that there isn't enough candidates. To that end, I'm happy to announce that I'm throwing my hat in the ring. Here's my platform:
Video-game testers used to be paid, but thanks to "early access", you can now pay a company for the privilege of testing their half-finished games.
I can believe that Bill Burr's slow-witted, petulant, yet spineless personality is just part of his shtick. He's obviously a talented comedian. It's just that I'm not sure how many of his fans are in on the joke, the same way that Archie Bunker had a lot of fans who didn't quite get the point. If the Internet has taught me anything, it's that extensive roleplaying as an idiot, or a jerk, or a racist, tends to attract the genuine article. In the words of the great sage Michael Jackson, "be careful of what you do, 'cause the lie becomes the truth."
"The smallest thing can make somebody sexually unappealing. A misplaced mole or a particular hair pattern can do it. There's no reason for this but it's just as well." —Jenny Holzer (1989)
This is so sad. Alexa, play the one about the smart guy who got lost after he blew up Troy.
Proof that Julius is the most powerful Belmont of them all: he can stand exactly one pixel above the ground. http://arfer.net/microblog/img/julius.png
I'm 30 and I still feel like I'm lying when I tell a website that I'm over 18.