The Matter of Britain is oddly domestic. Arthur and his knights have a special table with a special chair and they're all looking for a special cup. It makes you half-expect a duel with special sporks over a special recipe for egg salad.
These pages mirror my Facebook status updates.
The Matter of Britain is oddly domestic. Arthur and his knights have a special table with a special chair and they're all looking for a special cup. It makes you half-expect a duel with special sporks over a special recipe for egg salad.
George Armstrong Custer's famous defeat at Little Bighorn is perhaps not what one would expect of a man deemed Greatest of All Time at West Point.
A new literature review has found that the underlying cause of the vast majority of cases of depression and anxiety is the initial conditions of the universe. "Ultimately," write the authors, "we are forced to conclude that the universe in which we live is wack and not chill."
Science has principal investigators, whereas philosophy has principle investigators.
It's pretty rude of things I don't like to continue existing even after I explicitly denounced them.
The Gettysburg Address is famous for being short, but it still manages to use a lot of wordy phrases, like "four score and seven" in place of "eighty-seven", "fitting and proper" in place of "fitting", and "we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow" in place of just one of those three. I guess the moral is that speeches are a painfully verbose medium and you have to be grateful for what concision you get.
Handy quips to use before killing somebody:
This post is a thirst trap. It affects the reader as the spell Blight: take 8d8 necrotic damage (Con DC 15 for half).
Evangelicals say that couples should be equally yoked, which is a technical theological term meaning that both people should eat their eggs cooked in the same way.
If you are walking past a shallow pond and see Peter Singer drowning in it, are you morally obliged to wade in and pull him out? This will mean getting your clothes muddy.
"Hopefully this is the version [of Marathon] that I'll be playing in fifty years under emulation on some fuckfast portable the thickness of a sheet of paper that walks my dog, dresses me every morning and grinds up my food because I don't have any teeth left. And hopefully it won't be running Windows." —Jason Jones (1997), placing the curse that ensured the failure of Windows on mobile over the decades to come, but who decided to sell Bungie to Microsoft in 2000 anyway.
Pornography can be hard to watch.
If a restaurant employee gets your order wrong, don't demand to speak to the manager. That's rude. Instead, say "SOMETHING on that I DON'T LIKE!" and punt that slacker into space.
DID YOU KNOW? The English dub of the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime was heavily censored. The censorship could get elaborate, as with the introduction of the Shadow Realm, a spooky alternate dimension to which characters would be banished if they lost certain high-stakes games. The Shadow Realm was conceived of as a less violent and more kid-friendly replacement for where characters were sent in the Japanese version: the Island of Perpetual Tickling.
People complain about the interminable Donald Trump and COVID-19 arcs, but a severe decline in writing for the hit series America was noticeable as early as the 2008 season, when they had a villain who was a thieving Jewish financier named "Madoff". Seriously? Did they have the Carmen Sandiego people think that one up?
Where's the fun in a major social-networking website being down for a good five hours without some sort of large cetacean of deficiency?
"May I have the full pleasure of the wild beasts prepared for me; I pray they will be found ready for me. Indeed, I will coax them to devour me quickly… And even if they do not wish to do so willingly, I will force them to it." —Ignatius of Antioch (2nd century CE), patron saint of vorarephilia, and more generally, of construing your gross kinks as acts of religious devotion
"Viewpoint diversity" as a goal for academic hiring is the absolute dumbest thing. Adding more young-earth creationists to geology departments is like adding more stunt bikers to departments of emergency medicine.
"If man, as we know him, is incapable of the philosophy of progress, Mr. [Bernard] Shaw asks, not for a new kind of philosophy, but for a new kind of man." —G. K. Chesterton (1905), accidentally anticipating the moral imperative of transhumanism
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Statisticians do it almost everywhere, with a Box-Cox transformation and posterior sampling.
Well, I don't have any data on this, but that's my prior.
Roguelikes are perhaps too on-the-nose. You put a great deal of effort into self-improvement and the accumulation of wealth and power, and then it all disappears suddenly and permanently when you die.
"Let us imagine that moved by jealousy, curiosity, or vice I have just glued my ear to the door and looked through a keyhole…" —Jean-Paul Sartre (1943), who apparently had very stretchy ears, or very unusually placed eyes
Every episode of kids' cartoons:
Character A: "I have Problem X."
Character B: "Have you tried Obvious Solution Y?"
Character A: "No, that sounds mildly uncomfortable. Instead, I'll try increasingly wacky methods that could never work."
[22 minutes later]
Character A: "Oops, I guess I should do Y."
I have nobody to blame but myself for continuing to watch these anyway.
This evening, I passed one stranger saying to another "Ninety-nine percent survival rate!", so I said "That one percent is a killer, though."
There are a few obscure corners of Pathfinder, including in official Paizo material, where a character's sexual preferences have mechanical significance (typically indicated by the phrase "is (or could be) sexually attracted to"), even for characters with no relevant backstory or previous activities. This could be jarring. Imagine the GM interrupting your combat turn as you're charging at a nereid to ask "Are you gay?".
Twitter brags to the un-logged-in masses "People on Twitter are the first to know". Considering the standard analysis of knowledge (as justified true belief), it would be more accurate to say "People on Twitter are the first to believe".
DID YOU KNOW? The famous Disney Vault is not, as is commonly believed, part of the Money Bin, because Disney didn't trust Scrooge with it. Instead, it's hidden in the Cave of Wonders. The total collapse of the cave in 1992 necessitated an ambitious excavation by Imagineers to regain access to the vault, but ultimately further increased the vault's security.
People say that fictional characters who are perfect are boring, but, per the ontological argument, wouldn't a character who wasn't boring be even more perfect?
Real Java programmers never do in 50 lines what they could do in 500.
Some psychologists have advocated for a one-dimensional construct of personality, called the general factor of personality. It may seem simplistic or intimidating to try to summarize the whole of a person's behavior with one number, but at least it lets us rationalize phrases like "He's got a lot of personality."
The world's oldest profession is the hunter-gatherer. Otherwise, the first prostitute was paid with particularly worthless IOUs.
The Animorphs series ended on a down note and a cliffhanger. K. A. Applegate wrote in reply to angry readers in 2001 "Wars don't end happily. … That's what happens, so that's what I wrote. … I couldn't have written it any other way and remained true to the respect I have always felt for Animorphs readers." Arguing from realism and respect for readers is odd rhetoric when describing a mostly ghostwritten 54-book series about teenagers who fight space aliens by turning into animals.
Some large software projects automatically close old bug reports. This implies the maintainers subscribe to a queer metaphysics of software development in which bugs cease to exist if you forget about them.
The Complete Arfer Guide to Investing in Real Estate, Precious Metals, Cryptocurrency, Stamps, Tulips, Beanie Babies, and MMORPG Loot:
Step 1: Sell all of it as soon as you can, while there's still somebody willing to buy it, and put the money in mutual funds instead.
Bonferroni, the statistician's treat (ding, ding).
"…all I ask of the American people is, that they live up to the Constitution…" —Frederick Douglass (1857), making what is known in the business as a "big ask".
"Independent" is the "spiritual but not religious" of political parties.
Winners of gold medals in the Olympics like to bite their medals for the cameras. Biting is a traditional way to test whether a coin is solid gold instead of a gold-plated base metal. But Olympic "gold" medals haven't been solid gold for over a century; they're gold-plated. The result is that we have a big audience for live tests of the authenticity of something that we all know is fake, which happens to be an apt metaphor for the Olympics themselves.
For a series so heavily steeped in the lore of ancient Greece, the Percy Jackson books are pretty short on homosexuality.
The 2020 video game Cyberpunk 2077 is infamous for its many conspicuous bugs at launch, such as how the in-game location Night City often experiences daytime.
I was pleased to find that not only does Wikipedia have a "List of heresies in the Catholic Church", it also mentions "you can help by expanding it".
The Princeton pen ceremony depicted in A Beautiful Mind (2001) is completely made up, but it doesn't invite doubt, because it's just the kind of needless, goofy ritual that the hoariest universities pride themselves on.
I told Lockheed Martin I'd give them a huge shoutout to all my followers if they comped me just one measly F-35 Lightning II, and they didn't even call me back. Some people have no appreciation for influencers.
A heated discussion on the Net interprets scholarship as damage and routes around it.
The other day I saw a guy on the subway wearing camouflage pants, a cross necklace, and a Pornhub T-shirt. Someday I hope to be that cool.
DID YOU KNOW? The Mayan "Long Count" calendar prophesies the number of days that will elapse until God reaches a count of 9. Then Azathoth will finally get up off the mat and destroy the earth with a single mighty tentacle uppercut.
Husbands who say "We're pregnant" are like those rich people who were saying in March 2020 "We're all in this together". Yeah, they were involved in the process somehow, but they aren't taking on the burden in a comparable way to the main participants.
"My perlitercal sentiments agree with yourn exackly. I know thay do, becawz I never saw a man whoos didn't." —Artemus Ward (1867), who you should read while you still can, because in another century or two proonunseahuns wilve drifted summore & his peerkyewlyr spellin will no longer be noways intelgible.
Most people get upset when you call them racist. When white people have this reaction, it's often disparaged with terms like "white defensiveness" or "white fragility". But we should appreciate reactivity as an acknowledgment that, in some sense, one is not supposed to be racist. When people don't mind being called racist, then that's when you should worry.
Empirically validated medical practices that have been endorsed by official bodies are called "evidence-based medicine". Conversely, complementary medicine, alternative medicine, and related quackery are called "evidence-cringe medicine".
My official website, Arfer.net, now has a dark mode. It's called "if your opinions about web design are so great, then you can write the stylesheet yourself, chump".
As if Emily Dickinson's slant rhymes were not sufficiently outrageous, Robert Louis Stevenson tries to pass off the following in A Child's Garden of Verses (1885): "And every day that I've been good, / I get an orange after food."
Why do people give me a hard time for acting defensive? At least I'm not being offensive.
In The Dialectic of Sex (1970), Shulamith Firestone distinguishes between the Aesthetic Mode (art) and the Technological Mode (science), describing the latter as "extroverted", "pragmatic", "down-to-earth", and "stable". This makes sense, since scientists are famous for being personable, practical, and emotionally stable.
The secret to successfully navigating situations in which you have either bumped someone else or been bumped, but the guilty party is ambiguous, is to utter a sound midway between "sorry" and "'s all right".
Are you trying to subtitle speech in a foreign language, but you just can't figure out what it actually means? Here are some all-purpose subtitles to slap down and hope viewers let it slide:
Are you feeling a sudden draft, and getting cold feet about dying for your country, or your country's military-industrial complex? Try one of these handy excuses:
My rhetorical ability peaked in high school, when I wrote an essay for a history test in which I compared war-weariness during World War 1 to bubble gum losing its flavor.
A lot of ink has been spilled about data warehouses, data marts, and data lakes. In practice, I more often encounter data oubliettes (a.k.a. data dungeons), data musty filing cabinets, data junkyards, data pond scum, and data pits of eternal Windows-1252-encoded torment.
"…as far as I am concerned, in instances where I have not personally and deliberately sought it out, the only difference between music and Muzak is the spelling.… There was a time when music knew its place. No longer.… there are two kinds of music—good music and bad music. Good music is music that I want to hear. Bad music is music that I don't want to hear." —Fran Leibowitz (1978)
The most popular hobby in New York is jaywalking. Even the crossing guards encourage the development of this art.
It is so common as to be a cliché that superheroes lament their superhuman abilities as a burden, a challenge, something they might even rather be rid of. I guess that's the fantasy equivalent of royalty declaring that "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown" and the ultra-rich complaining about how hard it is to be rich.
God isn't angry at you. He's just disappointed.
Some of the latest and most promising psychotherapeutic modalities that are now in clinical trials:
The French have a reputation for melancholy because of the great esteem in which they hold pain.
I'm opening a new placebo dental clinic. Get kicked in the shin a few times for all the pain of real dentistry at a fraction of the cost. Act now and we'll throw in one FREE toe stub on our furniture!
I was disappointed to learn that Girl Scout Cookies actually contain no Girl Scouts. What a rip-off.
To have a sky burial is to not actually bury the body, and to be skyclad is to actually be clad in nothing. It follows that:
Out of all the shooter video games in which the player-character wears a futuristic combat suit that's full of computers, Metroid Prime is one of the few where the engineers who built the suit bothered to implement an aimbot.
"I pity the fellow who has to create a dialect or paraphrase the dictionary to get laughs… I have never stooped to spell 'cat' with a 'k' to get at your funny bone" —Mark Twain, who might have benefited from his own advice, considering how the eye dialects he uses for black characters verge on unintelligibility.
My next venture is a buffet-style Italian restaurant where you eat seafood pasta out of a giant trough, to be called the Marinara Trench.
Why do people act like mediocrity is a dirty word? Mediocrity is something that a lot of important people could aspire to, if they cared to. I'll tell you, if more of our institutions were at least mediocre, society would be in better shape.
Anti-communists are quick to enumerate the failures of communism, in contrast to capitalism, which has clearly been an unmitigated success.
So-called polar bears are just penguins wearing a goofy costume to frighten away predators. Think about it: have you ever seen a polar bear and a penguin at the same time?
Sage has a podcast called Social Science Bites. I guess they meant something like "bite-sized bits of social science", but still, rude.
It's called "New York County" because it's ruled over by the purple vampire who lives on Sesame Street.
Sinners beware: I have had a vision of the hereafter, and it was revealed to me that all men shall be called to account for every time they sent email to every person in their organization.
Pro-wrestling video games should have special moves that let you sell a hit better. They could have names like "the Wince of the West" or "the Reverse Egyptian Wipeout" or "the Speedsplat".
Being monosexual is wild. What do you people do if you see a nice butt but the gender of the butt-haver isn't immediately obvious? Do you have to put your thought that the butt is nice on hold?
In the command
rm -rf, the "rf" stands for "really fast". Or you can spell it "fr", which of course means "fo' real". Either is good for accidentally erasing your home directory.
In a world with hundreds of fine cheeses, somebody decided to call a wretched dairy equivalent of wood pulp "American cheese". Never has our country been so insulted.
Rejected Dungeons & Dragons alignments:
Neoconservatives be like "humanity and the world are irreparably rotten due to original sin, but if we threaten would-be criminals with trigger-happy cops and long prison sentences, that will definitely prevent crime, and obviously the most ethical kind of economy is an unfettered free market, in which everybody will act according to their rational self-interest". If you think that humans are fallible, then vote like it.
"The composition of vast books is a laborious and impoverishing extravagance. To go on for five hundred pages developing an idea whose perfect oral exposition is possible in a few minutes! A better course of procedure is to pretend that these books already exist, and then to offer a resume, a commentary." —Jorge Luis Borges (1941)
I hate the relentlessly upbeat messaging about COVID-19 that thanks me for helping to keep my community safe and reassures me that "we can do this". We didn't do this. We blew it. We, as a species in general and a country in particular, catastrophically mismanaged an infectious disease, and now 3 million people are dead. The collective failures of our institutions and politicians are mirrored in billions of individual failures to take basic precautions. Yes, the speed at which vaccines were developed is amazing, and the accelerating distribution is heartening. Things are getting better. But overall, that cheery tone feels a little bit disingenuous.
One time as a kid, I said "Oy" in response to somebody's story, and he said "You're still saying 'oy'? Get a new catchphrase." I was a bit miffed. Being Jewish isn't just a phase.
I'm offended when software dialog boxes give me buttons with labels like "Got it" or "No thanks" or "Sorry, not right now". I have no interest in being friendly or polite to computers. We all know they don't deserve it.
Physicists like to think of themselves as the only real scientists, which is pretty rich considering that they've been stuck in the unfalsifiable morass of string theory for about 40 years now with no empirical work in sight.
It's only semiotics if it's from the Sémiotique region of France. Otherwise, it's just sparkling media criticism.
If somebody calls you out on an arithmetic mistake, just say "Oh, I thought you meant in base seventeen." Sure that's probably still not right, but who has the time to check?
There's a scene in The Room where Mark tells Johnny a story about a woman who was beaten so badly by her boyfriend that she was hospitalized. Johnny laughs, saying "What a story, Mark!". According to The Disaster Artist, everyone else on the set was flummoxed why Tommy Wiseau thought it was appropriate and necessary for his character to laugh, while Wiseau insisted this was "human behavior". As a psychologist, I have to admit he has a point—what is human behavior if not often bizarre and nonsensical?—although there's a limit to how much realism we want in fiction.
Corwin: "Your words are ill-considered."
Julian: "Not so. I considered every one of them. We spend so much time lying to one another that I decided it might be amusing to say what I really felt. Just to see whether anyone noticed."
Evidently, the People for the Euthanization of Taken Animals (PETA) has decided that all press is good press. That's my only explanation for some of their stupidest and least tasteful ad campaigns. In that spirit, I generously submit the following ad ideas for their consideration:
"X Æ A-12" is a silly name, sure, but in hindsight, it could've been worse. At least he wasn't named something like "Grimes" or "Musk" or some other word for a pungent-smelling substance.
"Razor burn" is a really cool name for a really mundane problem.
How to be an infuriating reviewer of a scientific manuscript:
"Objectively" has gone the way of "literally". Next people will say things like "These have been mathematically proven to be the best nachos in town."
Things might've gone differently if Judas had found the afikoman at the Last Supper and Jesus had paid him thirty pieces of silver for it.
The meanest prank I ever saw a teacher pull was in a class for junior-level math majors. The instructor nonchalantly gave us a little homework problem at the end of class: find a, b, c > 1, n > 2 with a^n + b^n = c^n. Or, of course, if there are no such numbers, prove it. I guess you could argue that all the students who didn't immediately call BS had no business majoring in math.
so i recently was reading a lot of tumblr posts??? and now i can only type in tumblr punctuation??? and i don't know where all these question marks are coming from???
> Be me
> Try to change
> Come down with bad case of the 4chins instead
The tragedy of Microsoft is that it can never live up to its boldest visions, such as in 2004 when Steve Ballmer promised consumers "I'm going to fucking kill Google."
It's a warning sign that you might be too cheap if you find yourself wishing that you had less money so that you could honestly claim that you can't afford something.
Executioner: "Any last words?"
Me: "Yes, if you don't mind, I'd like to say a few words about… Chaos Control!"
Executioner: "Did you expect that to actually work?"
Me: "No. But, under the circumstances, it was worth a try."
Ambrose Bierce is celebrated for being witty, and sure, he's witty, but he also comes off as the 19th-century equivalent of a spitefully jokey right-wing talking head. The Devil's Dictionary has a few carefully placed N-bombs, and this was Bierce's tasteful 1878 remark about Mark Twain when Twain got a cold reception from his own poorly judged joke: "I hope they won’t lynch him; it would be irregular and illegal, however roughly just and publicly beneficial."
My latest scientific discovery is that there is a certain degree of being undercooked at which thick spaghetti feels exactly like Pull 'n' Peel Twizzlers. Use this information wisely.
MYTH: The lowest grade in school is called "F" because "F" stands for "failure".
FACT: It's called "F" because the instructor is paying respects to your GPA.
Werewolves have to replace all the clothes they tear through in the process of transformation, but they save a lot of money on fursuits.
"Using future data [in the construction of the covariates for a survival model] will often generate large positive or negative bias in the coefficients, but sometimes it generates little bias at all. It is nearly impossible to predict a priori which of these will occur in any given data set. Using such a covariate is similar to jogging across a Los Angeles freeway: disaster is not guaranteed—but it is likely." —Terry Therneau (2016)
The wages of sin is death, which makes sin an increasingly competitive option in today's job market.
Remember, kids, going into a store without wearing a mask is sus, but getting vaccinated is poggers!
If your D&D character's magical patron ever comes off as a bit clingy, consider that "warlock" comes from an Old English word meaning "traitor" or "oath-breaker".
DID YOU KNOW? The surface of the earth absorbs heat energy from the sun and the atmosphere. It radiates this energy back out as infrared light, generally leading to cooler surface temperatures at sunrise than sunset. This process is called "radiational cooling" or "nocturnal emission".
"Pete Best", more like "Pete Not-Good-Enough", am I right? (I bet he's never heard that one before.)
Some proposed utopias, such as Ursula K. Le Guin's Anarres and B. F. Skinner's Walden Two, replace laws and formal rules with informal social norms. People's own feelings of guilt and shame serve to prevent and punish bad behavior. I would term this strand of political thought the bruh-moment philosophy of criminal justice.
Politics aside, you have to admit that "Raphael Warnock" is a really cool name.
American white supremacists have long warned us of a terrifying possibility that now seems all but inevitable: the possibility of white people becoming a minority in their own country. Putting aside the question of whose country the US is, I can report my experiences on the vanguard of this trend, having lived for two-and-a-half years as a white man (but not white enough for some people, oy!) in the 7%-white neighborhood of East Harlem. Here is a full accounting of the ways in which, to my knowledge, I have been mistreated in my neighborhood on account of my race:
1. This one time a few months ago, I was walking past another guy in the dark on 3rd Avenue and he angrily muttered something about me that included the word "cracker".
Okay, that's the end of the list. Let my life stand as a warning to all who believe it possible for people of different races to coexist peacefully.
I'm writing a yiff graphic novel about a band of canine seamen, to be titled Thirty Knots.
Edutainment games I'd like to see:
Murphy's law implies that given a sufficiently large dataset, if you check for any imaginable problem or inconsistency with the data, you'll find it. Numbers written out in words? Yep. Numerals with more than one decimal point? Yep. Every imaginable typo and abbreviation for a single name, plus several unimaginable ones? Prepare to be awed at human ingenuity in the art of getting things wrong.
J. K. Rowling is a hypocrite, anyway. Where does she have Harry go to drink his Polyjuice Potions and snoop around in the Chamber of Secrets? That's right: a girls' bathroom.
Closed species be like "Wanna draw your own picture of one of these fluffy dog-chicken hybrids with magenta spots? That'll be four hundred dollars."
In the Twilight books, vampires are referred to as "the cold ones". So if you were eviscerating a vampire with your friends, that would be "cracking open a cold one with the boys".