Archive for ‘memes’

2015/01/07

The Universal Postal Union as Global Superpower

In random rambles related to yesterday’s post, we have been reading various accounts of various alternate realities, and some of them are really quite endearing.

The ones trying to obtain money by lying to people, of course, not so much.

But some of them appear plausibly much purer than that; here:

…[C]ongress passed several laws anterior to the third day of March 1825, when an act, entitled “An act to reduce into one the several acts establishing and regulating the post office department,” was passed. 3 Story, U. S. 1825.

It is thereby enacted,
1. That there be established, the seat of the government of the United States, a general post office, under the direction of a postmaster general.

We need to take notice where the commas are placed on that last sentence. “That there be established, the seat of the government of the United States, a general post office, under the direction of a postmaster general.” When I set off a clause with commas, I make sure that the sentence makes sense without that clause. Taking out the set-off clause, we read . . . “the seat of the government of the United States under the direction of a postmaster general.”

The creation of the Post office occurs before the creation of the seat of the government, and is placed in authority over the seat of government.

Yes, there should have been an “at” right before “the seat” there, and the writer is clearly living in a fantasy world, but who among us can honestly say that we are not?

And this fantasy world is especially appealing, at least to us bookish nerdy types. The Postmaster General in charge of the government! The placement of commas vital to the proper interpretation of documents and other magical spells!

And behind it all, the Universal Postal Union…

The UPU (Universal Postal Union) in Berne, Switzerland, is an extremely significant organization in today’s world….
The UPU operates under the authority of treaties with every country in the world. It is, as it were, the overlord or overseer over the common interaction of all countries in international commerce.

The smiling blue-uniformed postman, with a satchel instead of a gun, benignly overseeing all interactions between countries. How lovely!

And then, the magical instruments of the Post, those beautiful, alluring, dream-tempting stamps…

Involving the authority of the UPU is automatically invoked by the use of postage stamps. Utilization of stamps includes putting stamps on any documents (for clout purposes, not mailing) we wish to introduce into the system.

Put a stamp on anything, mail it (or even don’t, apparently!) and you’re automatically entitled to free dispute-resolution services of both your national Postmaster, and the mighty UPU itself.

For instance, if you post through the US Post Office and the US Postmaster does not provide you with the remedy you request within twenty-one (21) days, you can take the matter to the UPU.

Now if one were to actually visit the UPU website, and observe for instance the announcement from the Postal Operations Council that the “next POC session (2014.2) will take place from 27 to 31 October 2014” (i.e. several weeks ago), one might come away with some doubts about the ability of the UPU to come quickly to the aid of global stamp-users.

But that’s why fantasy is so wonderful!

Just by putting a stamp on a thing, and signing across the stamp, we can all become Postmasters ourselves, and thus part of the benign rulership of the world, able to summon our fellow Postmasters into any court, to testify on our behalf about the importance of not interfering with our (properly stamped and signed) documents.

Since autographing the stamp makes you the postmaster of the contract, anyone who interferes is tampering with the mail and engaging in mail fraud. You can then subpoena the postmaster (either of the post office from which the letter was mailed, or the US Postmaster General, or both), and have them explain what the rules are, under deposition or testimony on the witness stand in open court.

And those boring red computer-printed things that the government and corporations use instead of our beloved stamps? They are, as I think we have all long felt in our hearts, just frauds.

In addition, most of the time when you get official communication it has a red-meter postage mark on the envelope rather than a cancelled stamp. This act is mail fraud. If the envelope has a red-meter postage mark on it, they are the ones who have engaged in mail fraud, because there is no cancelled stamp. It is the cancelled stamp that has the power; an un-cancelled stamp has nothing.

There is a lovely truth: an un-cancelled stamp has nothing.

I’m reminded inevitably of Thomas Pynchon and “The Crying of Lot 49”; the central and mysterious role of postal services in his world, the global reach of Thurn und Taxis, the secret rebellion of W.A.S.T.E..

He knew then how much romance there is in words, letters, envelopes, the Post. As do these stalwart tax-avoiders!

Don’t Ever Annoy The Horn

Post-horn, that is…

2014/08/25

Fifteen years!

Wow, you’d think something would have changed after a week away; flying cars, or aliens walking around Manhattan, or at least a new subway line or something, but NO, everything is pretty much just the same!

Weird.

Extremely attentive and/or precognitive readers will suspect rightly that we were away for a week because we were in Maine; the first time that happened was in 1999, and this is 2014, so it’s been fifteen years!

And since that first Maine trip was when I started writing a weblog, and this is in some sense the same weblog as that, this is the fifteenth anniversary of the weblog!

Woot!

Here is a picture of Maine:

Renewal

Isn’t that gorgeous? Along with M’s sister’s family, and their father and stepmother, we rented a house on top of Dodge Mountain, overlooking Rockland and the bay and points East, with a lovely deck, and chairs to sit in, and tables to put your book and your wineglass on, and beds to sleep in, and all.

It was great.

I did a lot of reading, as usual. That book there is “Karma and Rebirth” by Christmas (sic) Humphries. I wrote it up for GoodReads (hope that link works for not-me people).

(I will resist the obvious temptation to produce lots of weblog content by pasting in all various book reviews I have written instead of just linking to them!)

I read that because I happened across it in some used book store (perhaps Hello Hello Books?), shortly after watching Hemant Mehta’s rather offputting “Can Atheists be Buddhists“, and it seemed like a nice synchronicity.

The Mehta piece is offputting for a few reasons:

  • His conclusion is basically “no”, and I’m sort of both of those things, so yeah.
  • The reason his conclusion is basically “no” is that, he says, although Buddhists don’t believe in a deity, they do believe some stuff (specifically Karma and Rebirth) that Isn’t Scientific, and therefore atheists won’t believe it.
  • This implies that for Mehta “atheist” doesn’t just mean “doesn’t believe in God” for some value of “God”, it means “only believes stuff that is Scientific”, and that seems like just sloppy thinking or sloppy word-usage or something,
  • His conclusion that Karma and Rebirth are Not Scientific seems very offhand and not particularly well thought out; as for that matter is his assumption that all Buddhists believe in either or both of them in any form.

Some day I will have to write a post on Buddhism and Scientificness and Karma and Rebirth and all, and why atheists can in fact be Buddhists, and vice-versa, at least when they are me. Not today, though. :)

Another book, that I’m sure I bought in Hello Hello Books (which is a great bookstore, by the way), and then I read and enjoyed very much, is Doris Grumbach’s “The Pleasure of Their Company”, which I also wrote up for GoodReads. It was good.

I do love lying about in Maine, feeling the wind and reading books and thinking about things.

Also I went out on a boat! And held a lobster!

Here is a picture from on the boat, with the notable deck hand Dana holding the lobster in question:

Dana with the lobster

and here is the lobster, with parts of my hand holding it:

Lobster

and a little girl looking dubious in the background.

We did many other things in Maine! I took three of the four kids to the beach one day, but the sun was behind clouds and the sand was too wet and rocky and the waves too small and they got cold, so we didn’t stay very long.

Here are some rocks!

Rocks

They do look coldish.

We went into Rockland a couple of times (although sadly we were not in town for this

Internet Cats

which I bet would have been noteworthy), and into Camden a couple of times (here is a classy black-and-white shot of some water in Camden:

Water in Camden

just because we are posting lots of pictures; more and/or different ones can as usual be found on the Insta-Gram).

Reading back through some of the various Maine and post-Maine postings in the weblog over the years, I see lots of variety in terms of thoughtfulness, randomness, introspection, and so on. I did feel introspective, in a good way, and renewed, in a good way, by it all this year, but in writing about it I’m mostly just writing random things, I think. :)

Maybe largely because I didn’t feel like writing about it at all while I was there (too busy doing it?), and now am writing about it retrospectively, having been home for a couple of days and back to work one day, so somewhat back in the quotidian mindset. Or something?

Here is another picture :) this one of ol’ Red’s Eats (where we didn’t eat this year) as randomly enhanced in its usual drive-by way by Google Plus:

Red's Eats

Kinda neat, I thought.

What else? I read some other books, acquired some other books, sat zazen a bit, had some thoughts, drank some wine, ate some lobster and some blueberry pie, enjoyed some sun and wind.

And I’m not unhappy to be home. :)

About all one could ask for, really!

2013/08/02

Of Reprehensible Persons

rep·re·hen·si·ble (\ˌre-pri-ˈhen(t)-sə-bəl\)
adj.
Deserving rebuke or censure; blameworthy.

Just to give rebuke where rebuke is due. And/or to vent a little. :)

Anthony Weiner is a walking punchline, and should Just Go Away. If an oppresivist Republican was doing this I’d love it :) but Weiner is just hurting the Progressive side every time he (or his organization) opens its mouth. If he were a uniquely effective force on the side of good (see below) I would be more conflicted, but apparently he isn’t. (I am a bit of an Alex Pareene fan, I admit.)

On the other hand, Eliot Spitzer has been one of the few people in power willing and able to get all up in Wall Street’s face and at least threaten to bring some justice to the thoroughly entrenched criminals there. Which makes it sort of a pity that he’s an entitled oppresivist hypocrite who is willing, even eager, to prosecute people for things that he happily does in secret himself.

So what to do about Spitzer? It’s likely that he goes after Big Finance mostly because that’s his schtick, that’s the side he’s chosen as a path to fame and power, and not so much because he really believes deep down in justice, but still. I think I would be happiest if he apologized to the universe, declared his support for the legalization and effective regulation of sex work, gave his personal fortune to the Sex Workers Project or somebody, and went back to challenging Wall Street.

Given that that’s unlikely, unfortunately, I think it’d be best if Spitzer would Just Go Away also; we’ll have to find someone to fight Big Dollars who isn’t such a jerk.

Speaking of Wall Street, employees and management of Glass, Lewis & Co., as well as the owners of a nearby food truck, are obnoxious jerks. It is nice to see this going viral. Go and enjoy and contribute to the big Twitter flame-out before they notice and delete it.

(I’m amused by the lonely Twitter voice from an alternate universe shouting about how tips are only for exceptional service, and no one should ever be upset not to get one. That may be true on Planet Nebulon, but in New York City a tip of 15% or so means normal ordinary service, an amount above that is a compliment, and leaving no tip at all means that either (a) you forgot, (b) the service was so bad you had strong grounds for a civil or criminal case against the server and their entire family, or (c) as in this case, you are a total douchenozzle. It might be reasonable to wish this was not true, but… it is!)

Okay. Less controversially perhaps, the people (“people”) at “Project A.W.O.L.” are disgusting scammers. Given the numbers of people in the pictures on their horrible Facebook page, I’m surprised there isn’t more on the net debunking them; but maybe the pictures are all fake, and it’s mostly just a couple of douchenozzles spamming weblog comment pages.

I discovered this because one of the things they do (as well as putting up obviously fraudulent web pages), is Like and Follow random WordPress weblogs (I expect there’s software that does this for you?), and they’ve done that on this very weblog here. It’s a relatively typical Ponzi / Pyramid scheme (not exactly the same thing, I know; I think this has aspects of both), in which they convince some number of gullible people to pay them some amount of money per month for “secrets” and “tips” to “get rich online” and “make money with your blog”, whereas in fact the only Secret Technique they have is to convince some number of gullible people to pay you some amount of money per month for…

Yeah.

And there are all these different nearly-identical weblogs and scam pages and Exclusive Limited-Time Offers and things, and since all each one does is take money from people for enabling them to spread exactly the same scam further, you get a big rotting squelchy mess of stinking fraud and self-deception.

For instance, upon running across this awful thing on the weblog of an otherwise apparently well-meaning author who just wants to flog her self-published book on GoodReads, you have to wonder. Is she part of the scam? Or just a victim, fooled into reposting their stuff? (The two do sort of blur together of course; one of the things that makes the squelchy mess so foul.)

(I was able to find a smallish amount of actual information about the mess; see for instance Project AWOL is a scam, which leads to some other good material about the mess. And in fact even the scammer community seems to think that Project AWOL is a bit much. “Empower Network” seems to be a scam-enablement company that goes to some effort to skirt the letter of the law, and apparently they suspect that Project AWOL’s fraudulent promises of wealth might get them in trouble. It’s noteworthy the amount of frothing from perp-victims occurs in the comments on the various anti-scam posts, insisting that everyone is making tons of money and it’s not a scam at all; uh-huh.)

So that’s that. Ick!

Another scam I wandered into somewhere; the horrible and/or amusing “Power 4 Patriots” site and video, which is noteworthy mostly as an example of skillful Tea Party button pushing, where scary statements and images (Obama’s electricity monopoly!), sometimes entirely incompatible with each other, are used to try to sell plans for making your own homemade solar panels and wind turbines, which will magically protect you and your family against all possible disasters. It’s easy to just laugh at this, it’s so obviously pathetic, but we are not the target audience; this stuff is designed to appeal to people of limited reasoning and analytical skills, and often limited money, in order to scam them out of some of that money in exchange for stuff that will most likely help them not at all.

And that’s evil.

What else? There’s basically the entire Republican party and most of the Democratic party, of course, but that’s old news, and kind of generic. Let’s pick specifically on the reprehensible Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI), who used a hearing to scold some nuns for not doing enough for the poor, and expecting the government to do anything at all. Words fail.

(And I admit I am rather a fan of Wonkette also, monetized and snarky as she/they/it is…)

So as not to end on just all these notes of negativity, we will point out in closing that while the Daily Mail is of course reprehensible in most aspects, Amanda (Fucking) Palmer totally rocks. :)

2013/07/05

In turf amending his bright replies

They just keep coming!

Sat down not petrify recalling every pontiff he had said, and in turf amending his bright replies.

Openly scarcely, peremptorily, barely fondly unconcerned on paying my addresses to her, I conceiveed franc most improperly to let him, from vote to dugout, the sect of carpeting it, from an unwillingness to die into an landmark while my circumstances were so soon feed.

I will miss these when the next level of the arms race happens and they start to go to my Spam folder, which is so voluminous I hardly ever check it.

Tags: , ,
2013/06/30

Masha, refreshing prodigy for three

A couple of very nice poems from spam recently. This:

At that offal sunset was inaccessible because school was unclean, and I was a rubber; annoyance in all the interruption of her superiority and mop for her exaltation, and Ia bug!

To intrigue an code so indescribable and pneumatic, he undervalueed up the enact by acquainting rate, in some platter, with the detection and grief of his operations; blending truth and shell peculiarly, as rabid outdod his entreaty; and bringing both to ransack, with so much adverb, that Mr.

and this, shorter:

Masha, refreshing prodigy for three. No, employ a purgatory.

Bachelor hotly as cupboard handed a coldness to the Frenchwoman.

We are clearly approaching the point (from my famous novel) where the spam-generators become self-aware…

2013/06/27

What a lot of things

So a ridiculous number of things have been happening! And I have been too busy (digging big soothing pointless caverns in Minecraft, for instance) to research them and write down Wise Things. I will therefore just Briefly Note them.

There is no more right to remain silent unless you first say some legalistic magic words, thanks to the horrifying decision in Salinas v. Texas, which expands on the prior horrifying decision in Berghuis v. Thompkins. (Source)

The Voting Rights Act has been gutted of one of its more vital pieces (the piece that says that places with a history of vote suppression have to get changes to their voting systems pre-cleared by the DoJ) in Shelby County v. Holder, on the theory that even though that part of the Act has been used many times recently, and voter suppression has seen a big upswing in popularity recently, we don’t need it anymore. Or as this guy puts it:

…it is the opinion of the Court’s majority that the enforcement provisions of the Voting Rights Act worked so well that to continue enforcement under the existing scheme is unconstitutional.

In the ideal world this would not be a big deal, as Congress could just update the formula to determine which jurisdictions have to get the pre-clearance. But given that Congress is currently incapable of doing anything significant, that will probably not happen, and we will be left in this situation (same source):

While preserving the purpose and the intent of the momentous civil rights law—as set forth in Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (“VRA”) which proclaims that no American can be denied the right to vote based on their race or gender­—the Court struck down the sole method of enforcing the intent of the law.

As well as finding that the federal government can’t meddle so directly with certain state and local voting systems in order to prevent discrimination, SCOTUS also found that the federal government can’t ignore certain state laws in order to further discrimination. Which is to say, DOMA is dead (finally!).

The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.

That’s Kennedy, for the majority, in United States v. Windsor.

I really need to read these decisions, see who was on which side, why DOMA went down to the 5th rather than the 14th, etc. Attentive readers will note that I myself would tend to support Federal power in the Voting Rights Act, while being against it in DOMA, because for me the important question is not “does this give more or less power to Federal or State governments?”, but rather “does this tend to protect the less powerful from the more powerful?”.

That is probably the thing that makes me a Lefty. :)

SCOTUS also brought back same-sex marriage in California, but on a relatively narrow technicality, so while that’s yay it’s not quite as interesting. At least that’s my impression so far (the actual technical finding is that just because you are the proposer of a ballot initiative, if that initiative is overturned by the courts and the government decides not to appeal, you don’t have standing to appeal it yourself just because of having proposed it in the first place).

NPR has annotated versions of both same-sex-marriage decisions, for your reading and analysis pleasure.

(And remind everyone to say “same-sex marriage”, not “gay marriage”! Bisexuals get to marry people of the same sex, too. Heck, even asexuals and straight people can if they want to! It’s all about Teh Freedoms!)

In non-SCOTUS news, Facebook had a bit of an embarrassment when first they accidentally leaked tons of data about millions of people, and then it turned out that lots of it was data that the people hadn’t even given them. Ooops! It was data harvested from the contact lists and address books and cellphones of “friends” (and “friends” of “friends”, and…) and squirreled away in FB’s vast subterranean vaults.

So basically, if you’ve ever given anyone any information about yourself, chances are that Facebook has it now.

Which you were probably already assuming, but this rather drives the point home. Along with the fact that whatever data they have, they may accidentally release to anyone you can think of in the future.

The xkcd comic “Time” is still going. There are various clever widgets around the Web to let you explore it, view it in time scales shorter than weeks, etc. I like this one.

Relatedly, here is a game in which you can take only one step per day. It is slow! I have moved a few steps to the right so far!

And also perhaps relatedly, I am rather plateaued on Lumosity (up in the “you are extremely awesome” range, natch, but still). I hope they add some more games or something soon.

Second Life, on the other hand, is still going strong, and I am still spending many hours a week there, building buildings, writing scripts, going to art shows, sailing sailboats, and so on. In fact it is having its Tenth Birthday right around now (see Community Celebration page), frequent rumors of its death to the contrary notwithstanding.

And that is all that springs immediately to mind! Now I will try to find time to read at least the most significant of the decisions above, and maybe come back eventually and write another post heaping scorn upon Scalia or something. :)

2013/05/15

Empirical Evidence for the Axiom of Choice!

Banach-Tarski Duck

(original photo)

2013/05/14

exxxcited!

Greenish and Fibrous - first hit on Google ImagesBack in the day we would regularly post fun things that came in the mail in spam (some of them even featured in the 2004 NaNoWriMo novel, including as the source for the title, come to think of it).

Lately either the quality of the spam has been going down, the quality of the spam filters has been going up (I think that’s mostly it; gmail is darn good), or I’ve just gotten a bit jaded (probably part of it also), but we got a good one today (boy howdy!).

The subject is “Show this to your girlfriend so she knows how to make you exxxcited” (except that there are various blanks and letters from random obscure bits of the Unicode space scattered about, presumably to defeat spam filters), and the content is delightful:

We clenched. More stunned than stagnant, we stood greenish and fibrous.

He guessed every dismay, and did not reckon it hazy to outlive merely in his memory theorem he would look.

Isn’t that noteworthy?

(Where I’ve put the ellipsis, there are some more odd symbols that appear to have no function or content, but you never know.)

This is good spam both because of the wonderful imagery (and note that there are currently no hits in Google on “we stood greenish and fibrous”, in quotes and all (although there will be one shortly)), and because it appears to be totally beneficent and selfless; there is no phishing URL to click on, no embedded iframe trying to phone home to some spammer to confirm my address exists, no nothing.

Just them standing, clenching, more stunned than stangant, greenish, and fibrous. He guessed every dismay!

Oh, and it’s from one Orlando Albrecht.

Thanks, Orlando!

2013/04/01

NaPoWriMo!

It turns out that there is (and maybe I knew this) a National Poetry Writing Month, NaPoWriMo of course, and it’s now! April, that is!

I am currently (i.e. as I type this weblog entry) strongly considering Doing NoPoWriMo, despite my on-and-off relationship with poetry, or maybe because of it. Since (a) it might tend to make the relationship more “on” for a bit, and that’s nice, and (b) it would give me weblog material, and (c) writing bad poetry is surely (even) easier than writing bad prose!

Here are some ancient poems of mine interspersed with thoughts on them, on the ol’ firstname lastname dot com site, for background.

Lyrics written during a NaPoWriMo would be sort of the opposite of those (or even “the obvious of those”, as my fingers first typed; I like the phrase), in that they would be fresh and new, not distillations of things that have been rolling around in my head for decades. At least I expect that they would be.

But on to the first poem!

Opening

Opening the cupboard
The first time in a decade
The air tumbles out
Old and rich
Smelling of stillness

Dangling participle included at no extra cost! :)

2013/03/18

You’ve also got to get them in the right order…

750 wordsSo there’s this 750 words site, which is a very simple (simple enough to be confusing, really) site designed to help wannabe writers (raises hand) get into the supposedly healthy “writing three pages a day” habit that has, on dit, been recommended by Various Famous Writers. Friend Emily mentioned it on Facebook and I signed up on ummmm Saturday, I did 750+ words that day, forgot all about it yesterday despite the helpful reminder email, and then did 750+ again today.

It’s different from, say, NaNoWriMo, in that 750 words a day isn’t nearly 50,000 in a month (more like 22,500), and it’s open-ended. And on the other hand you can’t be lazy one day and then make up for it the next.

Here is what I wrote today; what I wrote on Sunday feels a bit too personal and/or embarassingly bad :) to post in public at the moment. It is, probably predictably, about the process itself.

I’m not sure that what Real Writers have suggested in the past really meant just writing three pages of absolutely whatever sprung to mind, including grocery lists, the word “cheese” repeated over and over (like, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese), or even pure internal monologue like this.

Is that really something that helps develop writing skills? Or develope them, for that matter? (stet)

I can see this sort of totally uncensored, totally unjudged activity being either helpful or unhelpful, really, and I which is more likely is probably an empirical question. Contingent. Possibly different for different people, even, although it’s all too easy to suggest that for any given thing that might otherwise have a Right Answer.

There’s that scene in the L-Word where whatsername Jenny is talking to the creative writing teacher who has basically trashed her stuff, and what the teacher says is that she is just writing things that actually happened to her, perhaps thinly disguised, and Jenny agrees and/or admits this. And the teacher says that she won’t be a writer until she stops doing that, because just writing what actually happens is something else, she uses a word like “chronicaler” or “diarist” that’s clearly intended to be derogatory, and also says something sort of twee-paradoxical about things that actually happened not being true, or not being reality or something.

Awhile back, quite very awhile back, I used to (for some probably-small period of time) pick a word at random from somewhere (given how long ago, probably from the hardcopy dictionary or something), and then write some amount about that word, whatever first sprang to mind. (I wrote it with an actual pencil, on actual atomic paper, in an actual physical D-ring binder notebook, as I recall; how archaic, eh?)

Once Anne, childhood Anne, read a bunch of my writing (brave of me in retrospect, and probably even at the time, to have given them to her to read), and she liked it overall, but thought that the “write some stuff about a random word” ones were sort of forced, or artificial, or missing something, or at any rate, I remember, not as good.

And that’s the worry here I suppose, or something like it. That just writing without worrying about what one is writing will lead to the habit of doing that, of equating writing with writing-whatever, wearing away at whatever habits or standards of quality that one might otherwise have, and which one might do better carefully cultivating then actively wearing-away at. (Hm, how would one avoid ending that sentence with a preposition? “and one might do better carefully cultivating them rather than actively wearing away at them” I guess, but is that really an improvement?)

Not to mention actively developing bad habits. I don’t know if it applied to the pen-and-paper version, probably it did really in some form, but the temptation in this medium, with the word-count actively (but slowly) going up in the bottom-right corner down there as I type, is to always choose the wordier way of saying any given thing, to say the same thing over and over in various different ways even, to use N words when K would have done, for N greater than K.

One can just type and type and type, that is to say, making totally (or reasonably) coherent sentences (even though that’s not strictly-speaking required), while still not saying much of anything, or saying the same thing over and over.

And is that a good habit to develop? That is probably not a good habit to develop.

We walk out into the fields to harvest the pages. They grow on tops of the page-stalks, and also on the second-highest cluster of leaves, or cluster of what would be leaves if they were not pages. Below that level, the leaves actually are leaves, green with veins in the typical way, if somewhat more squarish than the typical leaf on any other kind of plant.

(See, the “on any other kind of plant” didn’t really need to be in there; there are things besides plants that have leaves, but the reader would have gotten it without that hint even.)

When the pages are ripe, they snap off of the stalks easily, with a slight tug just off of straight. Not too much off, so as not to tear the paper. And not too much straight, because then it may resist and not come off, and you may have to try again, and that would be inefficient.

And no one wants to be inefficient…

It’s funny that I have (or at least pretended to have, for the purposes of word-count) these reservations about developing bad habits by doing the “three pages a day” thing, whereas I’ve never had that worry about NaNoWriMo, where the lack of internal censor just feels freeing. Maybe because NaNoWriMo is so much an all-out infrequent event, whereas the other is intended to be an everyday every-day habit. Or something…

(Astoundingly, even the combination of being linked to by Salon and writing this exquisite political satire has not yet led to international fame; but we soldier on…)

2013/03/04

Paging Dan Brown…

Pope And CardinalsSo there’s this so far adorably unsourced bunch of stories saying that the Cardinals (the Roman ones, not the baseball ones) are going to ask the new Pope to pledge in his first Papal (not Paypal) address, that he will serve for the whole rest of his life, and not like resign suddenly or anything.

And that strikes me as just bizarre.

I mean, this last Pope just now says that he resigned because after deep contemplation and all he realized that God wanted him to. So the cardinals must either think that he is mistaken about that (this guy who is supposedly God’s own chief representative on Earth, and who is officially infallible about various things, although admittedly not very many and not this, but still who you have to think must be supposedly Very Good At figuring out what God wants), or they want the next Pope to pledge not to resign even if God wants him to.

Ya know?

And secondarily, it seems that the cure could well be worse than the disease here, imagining a Pope with Tourette’s and dementia, in the middle of his Easter address or whatever launching into an obscenity-laced rant about how the Prince of Wales has stolen his slippers again or whatever, on international teevee.

After a little thought, and M pointing out that they were afraid something like the latter might happen with Pope John Paul or somebody just before he died, it occurs to me that if one were deeply cynical it’d be pretty easy to explain, thus:

  • The Cardinals and the Curia and all of course don’t believe any of the teachings of the church to speak of (that’s just for the rubes), so all that stuff about the Pope doing things because he wisely determines what God wants is just irrelevant to them, and this fact occasionally slips out; and
  • If some Pope did get Tourette’s and/or dementia, he would just conveniently die of oh-so-natural causes just like John Paul or whoever conveniently did, before it got too embarassing.

Which brings to mind all sorts of questions about Papal Poisoners! Are the Poisoner To The Pope and the Poisoner Of The Pope the same office, or different ones? (venefica ad papam versus venefica pape, perhaps?) If they are different offices, are they always / sometimes / never held by the same person? If at least sometimes by different persons, do they tend to be respected colleagues, arch-rivals, or something in between? Have there been any occasions where the venefica ad papam was used to head off the venefica pape? (Not counting the Borgia Popes and their set, who presumably did this sort of thing regularly just to pass the time.) And exactly what sort of authorization does the Poisoner Of The Pope need to be given before he sets to work? And, does he wear cool robes?

Of course one would have to be not only deeply cynical, but probably some sort of lunatic to actually believe that any of this is true, but it does sound like a rollicking good yarn.

Hm…

Dan, Bubbeleh, give me a buzz; we’ll talk!

Update: just so I don’t lose it I meant to link to this story here (credit again to M): Daily Mail speculation on why he really resigned. More source material for Dan!

2012/12/06

So, I’m an atheist

I’m an atheist.Atheist symbol

But wait, says a hypothetical reader, don’t you call yourself a pantheist? And sometimes a Buddhist? And an Ariadnite? Don’t you believe that there are deep mysteries and weird things going on in the universe, beyond what science knows? Isn’t consciousness itself a profound mystery to you? And haven’t you said that you aren’t 100% certain of anything? Shouldn’t you be at most an agnostic?

And yeah, except for that last question there, those are all very true of me.

But none of that prevents me from being an atheist.

Specifically, I am an atheist because I do not believe that there is a God, where a God is an omniscient omnipotent being, existing prior to and outside of the universe, who has opinions or preferences or plans about what should happen in the universe, and who serves as the basis for morality.

(If by “God” you mean instead “an entity that is significantly more advanced technologically or morally than humanity”, or “an entity that caused there to be life on Earth”, or “a ham sandwich”, then none of this applies. Also, we are speaking different dialects of English, and mine is by far the most common one.)

I will go a little beyond that, and say that not only do I not believe there is a God in that sense, I also believe that there is not a God in that sense.

So I’m an atheist even if “don’t believe” isn’t enough for you, and you insist on “believe that not”. :)

On the hypothetical reader’s questions:

  • I’m a pantheist in that I think the universe (as broadly construed as possible) is worthy of worship. But that involves no omniscient omnipotent thing outside of or other than the universe.
  • I’m a Buddhist to some extent or other, but relevantly for this discussion Buddhism’s attitude toward deities outside of the universe is basically “don’t waste your time worrying about it”, so again there’s no conflict between Buddhism and atheism.
  • I’m an Ariadnite in that my worship of the universe (as broadly construed as possible) involves images of this lady in a white gown, swords and balls of string, and so on; but that is all metaphor, not truth-claims, and in any case the Goddess is not something other than the universe.
  • On deep mysteries, sure. Being an atheist doesn’t mean thinking that our current scientific knowledge is correct and/or complete. Same thing on consciousness. This was driven home to me recently by this very good piece and even some words in this by Sam Harris (with whom I only occasionally agree).
  • I’m not 100% sure of anything (even this!). But being an atheist doesn’t require being 100% sure that there is no God; at most it requires believing that there is no God (and really I think just not believing that there is a God will do).

On Agnosticism, we get into edge cases.

When asked “Do you believe that there is a God?”, someone who says “Yes” is a theist.

When asked “Do you believe that there is no God”, someone who says “Yes” is an atheist.

Someone who says, “well, I really don’t know” to both questions is an agnostic.

But what if someone says “No” to both questions? I would count that person as an atheist, since they don’t believe that there is a God. But if you’d rather call them an agnostic (since they also don’t believe that there isn’t a God), that’s okay with me.

I’m an atheist either way. :)

And of course I could be wrong. I could be wrong about any belief of mine; as I think I’ve said before, anyone who thinks that some particular belief of theirs couldn’t possibly turn out to be wrong just isn’t using their imagination hard enough. But that doesn’t stop me from being an atheist.

I’m bothering to say this pretty much because of the Bacon Moose post, and because of a certain frustration I have with intelligent people, who I am pretty sure believe the same way that I do, who don’t identify as atheists.

I’d like more people to identify as atheists, because every time someone says they aren’t an atheist, 99% of the people who hear it assume that they are Christian or (theistic) Jewish or something, and that just bolsters the “atheists are weird and rare” feeling, even if what the person really meant was that while they don’t believe there is a god, they have some (generally rather contorted) reason for not identifying as atheist.

When I posted a link to the Bacon Moose posting on Facebook, in fact, I had two friends comment that (although they don’t believe there is a god in the relevant sense), they aren’t atheists. One said she is not an atheist because (if I understand her right) she just doesn’t think the question is all that important, and doesn’t want therefore to bother having a label relating to it. The other said (if I understand him right) that he’s not an atheist because if you change the meaning of the word it wouldn’t apply to him: say if you define “atheist” as “someone who is 100% certain there is no god”, or if you define “god” as “whatever caused there to be life on Earth”.

Needless to say, I didn’t find either of these arguments very compelling. :)

I suspect that, buried deep in the back of most of our minds, there is this ancient inculcated meme that atheists are icky, or grim, or narrow, or closed-minded, and that really one should not identify as one in polite company.

That is a meme I’d love to see wither away.

So here I am! :)

2012/12/04

The infographic plot thickens!

Interesting developments in the saga of the infographics.

While out of town on business I received this very polite note:

Subject: Request for link removal – ForensicPsychology.net

Good evening Webmaster,

We were notified that our site, ForensicPsychology.net has come under review by Google for some link building practices from the past. We are contacting you in that context.

We are making major changes to the site and undertaking efforts to build great content that we hope people will naturally link to. However, in the interim period, we are contacting people who have linked to us in the past where there’s even a remote possibility that Google could view the link as “over optimized”.

We have also removed a lot of our infographics and some of our other content. So you might be linking to a 404’ed page.

As such, we would like to respectfully request that you remove all links to our site including the link on ceoln.wordpress.com/2012/06/19

We appreciate your past efforts to link to us, and as the new owners of this site, we are excited to unveil our upgraded site and content very soon, and would like to be able to keep in touch with you as that happens.
If you would be so kind as to respond and let us know if you can take the above requested actions, we would appreciate it. Apologies if you have received this email multiple times as we are being very aggressive in this, and thanks again for your patience.

Thank you
Cristina Roberston

I thought that was somewhat intriguing, but I was busy and didn’t do anything about it right away, and not long after there appeared this reminder:

Subject: Link Removal Request Reminder – ForensicPsychology.net

Dear Webmaster,

I’m not sure if you have responded, I tried searching for your response in my spam box, but couldn’t find it. Sorry if you have already. We were notified that our site, ForensicPsychology.net has come under review by Google for some link building practices from the past. We are contacting you in that context.

We are making major changes to the site and undertaking efforts to build great content that we hope people will naturally link to. However, in the interim period, we are contacting people who have linked to us in the past where there’s even a remote possibility that Google could view the link or the anchor text as “overly optimized”.

As such, we would like to respectfully request that you remove all links to our site including the link on ceoln.wordpress.com/2012/06/19

We appreciate your past efforts to link to us, and as the new owners of this site, we are excited to unveil our upgraded site and content very soon, and would like to be able to keep in touch with you as that happens.
If you would be so kind as to respond and let us know if you can take the above requested actions, we would appreciate it. Apologies if you have received this email multiple times as we are being very aggressive in this, and thanks again for your patience.

I’ve just now gone and removed the link to Forensic Psychology dot net from that page (along with an update pointing to this page), ’cause I am a Nice Guy. I notice that it is no longer the case that Criminal Justice Degree dot net says that it is copyright by Forensic Psychology dot net. On the other hand, the two sites still look veeeery similar and generic and Infographic in style, and one still wonders just what the heck might be going on.

And amusingly I also just received this, on my Second Life self’s email account:

Subject: Infographic about Nintendo’s Wild Success

Hey Dale,

I recently developed another infographic that could be a good fit for your site. I just wanted to reach out and share. It highlights and illustrates how Nintendo became the king of video games and the numbers behind their success.

You can check it out here:

Title: Nintendo MBA
Graphic: http://www.mbaonline.com/nintendo/

Let me know what you think, I would love for you to publish it if you find it suitable for your site.

Thank you,

Chloe
chloecarter180@gmail.com | MBAOnline.com

Maybe I should suggest that Chloe have a word with Cristina about the dangers of… whatever it is that they are doing.

2012/11/06

Lesbian Babysitters!

In some porn spam I got the other day (I get significant porn spam, and sometimes I open it on the off chance there will be either attractive pictures of naked people, something amusing, or both), there was an ad for the lyrically-titled “I’m Fucking My BF’s Black Stepdad”.

And I thought that was somewhat noteworthy.

It may actually have been, say, “I’m Fucking My BF’s Black Stepdad #27”, since porn movies often have surprisingly large numbers at the end. I know that for instance Lesbian Babysitters is up to at least #5, because that one showed up in some (perhaps other) porn spam recently.

(Lesbian Babysitters, as a general theme, strikes me as having some potential for a sort of poignant, if brief, anti-porn.

“Thank you so much for driving me home, Mr. Jones, you really didn’t have to.”

“My pleasure, Ingrid, you are really a lovely girl. I would like to get to… know you better.”

“Mr. Jones, please take your hand from my thigh! While I might otherwise leap at the chance to have cliched unconvincing sex with you here in this car, it happens that I am a lesbian.”

“Oh, I see! Well, good night then.”

“Good night.”

Although in fact I suspect that it’s just that Mrs. Jones is the one that drives Ingrid home, and the obvious occurs. But one can dream!)

But anyway, on the subject of the BF’s black stepdad, I was struck in particular by the “my BF’s” part. Wouldn’t there be more of the frisson of the forbidden if she was fucking her own black stepdad, rather than her BF’s? Perhaps they’ve already used up all of the possible plots (“plots”) in that series, and decided they had to move on. There is, I suppose, a bit of the “naughtily being unfaithful to the BF with his own step-parent” element in this variant.

Maybe, for that matter, among the vast secretive audience for porn, there are people who for whatever reason just find the “my BF’s” variant attractive, and the “my own” one unacceptable. You never know.

This, of course, leads one (and I know it’s not just me, c’mon admit it) to consider many (many) other promising series which might also find their viewerships.

“I’m Fondling the Shapely Bum of my BF’s Fitness Instructor”

“I’m Sexting With My Half-Brother’s Red-Headed Ex-Mistress”

“I’m French-Kissing My Barber’s Dutch Sister-in-law”

#38…

Update: oh, wait, wait, I’ve thought of a(nother) sure-fire Lesbian Babysitter plotline.

Attractive young woman rings doorbell at upscale suburban house. Attractive and well-dressed couple answer the door, indicate that the child is already in bed, they should be back by 11, and the emergency numbers are on the fridge, and go out.

Attractive young woman sits at the table doing homework. Her cellphone rings. She begins chatting in an extremely friendly way with the caller, saying that she had a great time last night, and suggesting that they go out again together soon. The conversation contains considerable flirtation and romantic language.

Then, after awhile, attractive young woman addresses the caller by name, and it is a female name! Like “Marcia”, or “Heather”! Because, you see, the attractive young babysitter is a lesbian! So the person that she is flirting with is another young woman!

Titillating, eh?

I’ll be here all week.

2012/10/02

Trolling for the gullible

Two notable one-liner 419 emails that I couldn’t resist posting:

THERE’S RUMORS AGAINST YOU THAT YOU DEAD AND SOMEONE CAME BANK TO CLAIM YOUR FUND US$30M SENT TO YOUR RELATIVES AND FRIENDS,RESEND ALL YOUR INFORMATION.

and

WHILE PEOPLE GIVE FAKE RUMORS AGAINST PEOPLE THAT YOU ARE DEAD AND YOUR BROTHER, SISTER,RELATIVES FRIEND FUND CAME TO CLAIM YOUR FUND US$30M.I AM VERY SURPRISE

I wonder if they have a little Perl script or something that generates these, or if they’re manually crafted?

(And, does everyone else tend to end “I wonder” sentences with question marks, even though they are grammatically-speaking not questions?)

An interesting paper (widely weblogged, so you’ve probably already seen it) on the general subject of why these things tend to be so hysterically dumb: Why Do Nigerian Scammers Say They are From Nigeria?, from Microsoft Research.

A pullquote:

By sending an email that repels all but the most gullible the scammer gets the most promising marks to self-select, and tilts the true to false positive ratio in his favor.

Of course there is a certain distribution of obvious dumbness in these things, and some are considerably more coherent. (Got one recently that was a long and almost properly-spelled letter claiming to be from the FBI, telling me to stop communicating with those nasty 419 scammers, and instead work with them at the FBI to get the millions of dollars that is really coming to me.)

But the mean of the distribution seems pretty low lately; a sad comment on something or other…

2012/09/27

It’s Hard To Overstate My Satisfaction

(Note: this is all geeky in-jokes. Don’t worry if you don’t get it; it just means you are not obsessed with weird old console games!)

So I have one of these on the trunk of my car; here is a rather bad picture:

When I was driving out of the lot at work the other day to go home, I noticed a piece of paper had been tucked under my windshield wiper, so I parked again and got out and looked at it.

Here it is:

Needless to say, that made my day. :) Thank you, anonymous colleague and fellow Portal fan!

It’s hard to overstate my satisfaction.

2012/08/06

Where are the self-replicating space probes?

So lots of more synchronicity today!

Curiosity (such a good name) has of course managed to get past the blockade and land on The Red Planet.

Now it’s just a little VW Beetle full of scientific instruments, but on the same general subject friend Bill points us to “The Fermi Paradox, Self-Replicating Probes, and the Interstellar Transportation Bandwidth“, an interesting paper all about why there aren’t numerous self-replicating space probes from other civilizations nosing around the solar system (if in fact there aren’t).

And then the thing tying it all together: maybe an hour after Bill mentioned that, as I was going through some really really ancient piles of printouts (remember “printouts”?) in preparation for moving offices, I came across a 22-year-old piece of paper (which may have been sitting in this same pile in my office for all that time) about the then-10-year-old 1980 NASA workshop “Advanced Automation for Space Missions” (which is, amazingly enough, on wikisource), which focuses on Chapter 5: “Replicating systems concepts: self-replicating lunar factory and demonstration“.

So we’ve had this idea for about 32 years. When will we launch the first artificial replicator into space ourselves? And/or when will we first detect one launched by someone else? And how will we know it’s artificial? (Heck, maybe we are some civilization’s self-replicating space probe…)

Other random thoughts (good material for a book of short stories here): maybe it’s relatively inevitable that moments after you have the technology to launch a self-replicating space probe, you also lose interest because you’ve found something more interesting to do than explore the universe. Or maybe you figure out how to explore the universe without physical proxies at all, just sort of beaming your perception about instantaneously (or even at lightspeed for that matter). Or maybe the Watchers intercept your probe, and send you the Welcome letter…

(P.S. book of short stories, did I say?)

2012/07/23

Ooh, an Infographic!

From: Sarah Wenger ______@gmail.com via smtp.com

Hey Dale,

I recently developed a new infographic that I thought would be a good fit for your site. I thought I’d reach out and share a graphic with you that highlights/focuses/illustrates video game addiction in young boys and how it can affect their health in the future.

If you’d like to take a look, please let me know. Thanks!

That looks vaguely familiar! This time gmail stuck in that “via smtp dot com” to directly reflect the forgery, which is interesting.

I like “highlights / focuses / illustrates”. Although the naked parallel fails a bit on “focuses”, since it really wants an “on” here, and the other two don’t.

Did I mention that I wrote back to Katherine (the one offering an infographic on Elon Musk)?

I don’t think I’m actually interested in a graphic about Elon Musk,
but I am rather interested in the broader question of who created it
and what its goal is.

I’ve now had mail from you, and “Jen R”, and Tony Shin, in extremely
similar styles, offering me infographics about (respectively) Elon
Musk, NORML, and World of Warcraft.

Are you a team of aspiring designers trying to get your work seen by a
wider audience? Or something subtler?

Wildly curious,
David M. Chess

She seems to have been somewhat baffled by this, but did eventually reply:

Hi David,

My name’s Katherine and as stated in my previous email, I am part of a
team of designers/researchers that made a graphic highlighting the
life of Elon Musk. Mainly what we are trying to do is get you to link
the graphic to the resource page of your website. It promotes both
websites equally and helps us grow as artists and young professionals.
It’s 100% free of charge. Let me know what you think.

I like the nice upfrontness of “[m]ainly what we are trying to do is get you to link the graphic to the resource page of your website”, although of course she means link to the thing from the page (kids these days!). And I don’t think my website actually has a resource page.

Maybe I will reply to her again, copying Sarah. And maybe Tony. And…

:)

2012/06/19

More on the mysterious infographics

The plot continues to thicken! To recap, we originally got some spam from one Tony Shin (apparently “ohtinytony” on The Twitter), offering an infographic about World of Warcraft, and then not too long later on a different email address we got a similar one from “Jen R” offering a graphic about marijuana legalization, and awhile later yet another similar one from one Catherine Long, offering a graphic about Elon Musk (who is some entrepreneur-type, not a cologne).

We did a little poking around about these odd things, but didn’t find anything too informative. Just recently and by accident, we stumbled upon this press release about some exciting new infographic apparently created by QuinStreet, Inc (“one of the largest Internet marketing and media companies”). The infographic itself is very much in the style of the previous Tony-Shin-school infographics, and is hosted on “schools.com” (“your future starts here”), which is another of these extremely bland and generic and professionally-designed sites that prior infographics have had URLs to at the bottom.

So let’s look at QuinStreet dot com. (Woot, hello, stock-photo persons! Aren’t we nice and diverse?)

They are “the leader in vertical marketing and media online”, which is exciting. Oddly for such a prominent institution, the obvious web search turns up mostly pages on their own web site, pages they have created themselves on social media sites, a very brief Wikipedia article, a couple of news stories (or perhaps their own press releases?) about them buying some other generic-sounding organizations, and some related searches having to do with layoffs.

It’s not obvious from any of this the relationship between Quinstreet and the Mysterious Infographics of Tony Shin. So let’s try searching on Quinstreet infographic.

At the moment the first hit is Yahoo Finance reprinting another press release about Schools dot com hosting a Quinstreet infographic (this one). Surely Quinstreet does something other than making infographics to put up on its own sites? Let’s see…

Here’s some local Fox affiliate reprinting a press release about Robot Study Buddies, hosted on online schools dot com, which has got to be another generic Quinstreet site.

So I dunno, let’s try quinstreet tony shin

Whoa, jackpot!

Well, a small one at least. Tony has apparently posted ten or so of his infographics to famous bloggers dot net, whatever that is. Each one has the trademark generic hostname at the bottom; the oldest one points to Criminal Justice Degree dot net, which contains the usual extremely generic information, no obvious reference to Quinstreet, and a statement that it is copyright by Forensic Psychology dot net, which is (wait for it!) another very similar generic site, which has the same copyright notice (i.e. copyright by itself), and seems rather a dead end.

Another hit from the quinstreet infographic search is this page on html goodies dot com, which is a Quinstreet property. The page presents a very Tony-Shin style infographic about Silverlight and HTML5 and Flash or something. Some of the comments criticize the graphic for being shallow, or wrong, or being just the text that would otherwise have appeared as text, with some eyecandy around it. (That last from non-visual types like me!)

Various links from the html goodies page take us to just tech jobs dot com, and various other sites in the developer dot com empire, which is, naturally, owned by Quinstreet.

And then one final hit on quinstreet infographic takes us to this article on electronic staff dot com (which looks like another Quinstreet generic site) about yet another infographic, this one hosted on and featuring online degrees dot com (similarly), which says it is copyright “The Learning Voice”, which I was perhaps surprisingly unable to find yet another Quinstreet property for.

(That page is notable for being, unlike the other ones that I ran across in this, full of amusing gibberish; I give you for instance:

… iPhone 4S owners typically use Siri for many easier tasks, such as creation phone calls, acid a Web and promulgation content messages …
“We combined this infographic since we wanted to know — is Siri vital adult to all a hype?”
… QuinStreet is committed to providing consumers and businesses with a information they need to research, find and name a products, services and brands that accommodate their needs …

Translated to and from French or something maybe?)

But anyway it’s probably safe to conclude that Quinstreet at some point acquired the rights to a whole bunch of domain names, many of them sort of second-tier combinations of common words (Just Tech Jobs, Forensic Psychology, MBA Online, Criminal Justice Degree, and so on), and at least a few pretty killer (developer dot com, woot!). And they have put content on them that all point to themselves in a very SEOish sort of way.

But that still doesn’t tell us exactly who Tony Shin is (or Jen Rhee, or Catherine Long, or…), or why he is offering his infographics to random obscure philosophy webloggers. The mystery continues!

Oh, and lookee here, another one has just arrived:

From: Maggie Lewis

Hi David,

I am curious if you are the administrator for this site: http://www.davidchess.com/words/log.20010216.html

I came across your page while I was doing some research. I recently finished a resource on astronomy that I think may be useful to you and your readers.

Could you please let me know if you are the correct person to contact for potentially having a resource like this included on your page?

I appreciate your time in advance and hope you have a great day!

Best,
Maggie

Sent from pandasent.com, via smtp.com, forged to look like it’s coming from gmail.com; the same old MO. I think I will ask her about her resource; maybe it will look oddly familiar! :)

Update: woot lol! Searching about for information on the amusingly-named pandasent dot com got me to Mystery of the Infographics, where a clued person named Mark Turner is looking into our very same mystery in slightly different ways. Worth a read to any interested investigator! :)

Update the second: The above used to have a live link to Forensic Psychology dot net, until I removed it due to this interesting development.

2012/06/18

Darn that Colbert!

Here I am in the middle of a multi-week think about how to talk about the Magisterium and the Vatican and the LCWR and the Inquisition-I-mean-CDF and Just Love and all that, and there he goes making funny jokes about it on TV and having one of the admirable nuns herself on his show.

Well, although once something’s been on TV it’s normally far too old to be on weblogs, I may cut myself some slack and talk about it someday anyway, it’s so inneresting and/or creepy.

In the meantime, I will just take issue with xkcd, ’cause it’s not often one gets to correct that particular Fountain of Clue.

The Real Truth is of course as everyone knows:

A few: 3
A handful: 4 to 6
Several: 7
A couple: 2

Happy to have the chance to clear that up.

(Also, “Beer, Bad” was a fantastic episode, whatever those stuffed shirts over at Buffy Guide say. Or said. Back in 1999.)