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April 04, 2006


So Slarti: was there anything funny about the first one, other than its endless use of incomprehensible terms and its sixties retro look?

(To be clear: those two things were quite funny. But having not understood a word of it, I didn't know whether that waas the whole point, or whether there was a special encoded geek point in addition.)

Yankees on track to score 2400 runs this season.

It was completely and utterly meaningless techno-jargon, hilzoy.

So yes, that was the point. The audio-only clip is from the 1960s or 1950s; I have no idea. And it's crap of a different kind.

Ah, a thread containing Joe Bob, formerly of Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In, which was (IIRC) a regular feature article in the Dallas Times Herald sunday paper.

Long, ranting, redneckish reviews of bad movies, with a summary at the end of how many beheadings, disembowelments, dismemberments, breasts, etc the movie in question contained. Great stuff.

The "Missle Guidance System" bit had me laughing so hard tears were streaming down my face. Fabulous entertainment for the easily amused. Thanks Slarti.

"THE most senior British agent to have been exposed as having worked at the heart of Sinn Fein was found murdered at his home last night.
Denis Donaldson had been shot in the head, execution-style, inside the primitive cottage in Glenties, Co Donegal, where he had been living since he was dramatically outed as a spy in December.

The IRA said in a statement that it was not responsible, but suspicion will fall on an organisation of which Mr Donaldson was a former member."


The "Missle Guidance System" bit had me laughing so hard tears were streaming down my face. Fabulous entertainment for the easily amused. Thanks Slarti.

So the scary part for me was...

1) I completely understood what the guy was saying


2) I'd just got back from teaching my students their very first proofs, so I was fuming at the woeful lack of clarity.

How very, very sad.

I can't be the only one who finds it just too cute that Slarti is the one to post these links.

I liked the video best. He's standing in front of an MCC - a motor control center. It's essentially meters, controls and circuit breakers for plant equiment - large motors, for the most part. Then there was the SMALL motor being run from the whole thing. That was definitely an inside joke. It was totally cool.


I avoid audio and video links. Sorry.

I remember Mr Briggs. I don't remember which paper, and in his time I read both daily, but seems more likely to have been the Times Herald.

But in an open thread, with the slightest of openings, I will mention the "The Tale of Two Sisters", Korean 2003, with subs and WS, that I saw on IFC the other night may indeed be the best horror movie I have ever seen. And I have seen "Audition" and "I Spit on Your Grave" and "Basket Case" and thousands more.

IMDB Link ...but avoid the spoilers

Even though it completely lacked
"beheadings, disembowelments, dismemberments, breasts." I got plenty of those in "Kung Fu Hustle Sunday night, except breasts.

That makes four great Korean movies I have seen in the last year.

I started laughing so hard about 30 seconds into the first link. But I understand how it might not hit others the same way

I thought this was pretty great.

Anyone not yet seen Chris Bliss?

An endless source of amusement and delight for my children and me.

Wow. If only I had known that three ball juggling could get so cool...


That was pretty great. The first comment in the thread referred to Mexico as the "rouge' nation. Mispelling "rogue".

Which is easy to do, but I think of France as the rouge nation.

Also: Some want to electrify the border and some want to have inmates pick the fruits (you know, there has to be some sort of Rohrbachian nutcase code there), and I'm thinking some Republican (I said some; not all of you) is going to come up with the idea of electrifying the fruits.

No immigration and a sort of productive death penalty.

"..mispelling "rogue".'

Also mispelling "misspelling". Doh!

My best friend in sixth grade misspelled "misspell" in the misspelling bee.

He came and sat down next to me (I was out early) and wept uncontrollably.

I can't be the only one who finds it just too cute that Slarti is the one to post these links.

Sadly, it represents just the kind of humor that's popular amongst the people I work with. I think the first time I heard the Missile Guidance audio clip I was practically paralyzed with laughter.

So I'm a dweeb, in at least one sense.

That is some pretty outstanding juggling. I have to admit, though, as far as juggling humor is concerned, few do better than my brother juggling objects on demand. Ping-pong ball, a golf ball, and a canteloupe...harder than you'd think. Sharp objects he left for those with less regard for life and limb.

Of course, that was when I was in high school. Things were funnier back then.

Sic transit Gloria Monty.

No deeper point, but I just couldn't let a pun that bad pass us by.

Fans of juggling humor should not pass up an opportunity to see The Flying Karamazov Brothers if they are in your neighborhood.

for programmers, there's always the Daily WTF, where you can laugh at the boneheaded solutions other programmers come up with.

Jason Garfield can't touch Chris Bliss for rhythm, but he's got a lot more balls.

Slarti -- lest my first comment have left the wrong impression, I was also -- well, not crying with laughter, but laughing hard enough to alarm the cats -- at both of them.

What's scary is that both of those bear a suspicious resemblance to actual corporate briefing materials.

for programmers, there's always the Daily WTF,

Damn. There's some serious WTF, most of which I don't understand. I'd like to think I've come up with some hall-of-famers, but probably not. I have, however, caused the system processor of a sensor system to hang on at least two separate occasions. Luckily we were in flight test mode and not fielded (at the time). First time that happened was on code that I'd tested extensively, only using a different compiler and processor. Oops: one compiler zeroed out all allocated variables, while the other initialized them to random values or didn't initialize them at all. Second time was when I reverted to Fortran thinking and passed in a float recast to double instead of a pointer to a double. This compiled, but when called caused the process to hang. Since "the process" was that which controlled everything, they didn't get a whole lot of useful testing done that day.

Which in itself are valuable lessons: coding mistakes that just make you curse when they hang your process on the local machines (if at all) take on a whole new flavor when they show up in software that controls actual hardware.

Oops: one compiler zeroed out all allocated variables, while the other initialized them to random values or didn't initialize them at all.

I used to make the same mistake an eon ago, before I was barred from coming anywhere near actual code. Is there really not a standard rule about this by now?

Is there really not a standard rule about this by now?

i think i read that the C/C++ standards leave that behavior 'unspecified', so a compiler can do whatever it feels like. the real rule is, of course, Initialize Your Variables.

the latest C# compiler treats usage of uninitialized vars as an error. that's handy.

Well, let's just say that on this program, I, an algorithmist, am permitted to write code that is placed in the software library after only cursory inspection. I think I've convinced them that I am a simply awful C++ programmer, and that they really ought to eyeball my code more closely.

I'd prefer that one of them rewrite it all from scratch, but I'm afraid that if that happened I would no longer be able to understand and modify it.

Oh, and here's a nifty thing that one compiler permitted and implemented properly while another compiler did what it should have done (the result: it worked on the first, and failed on the second):

void function bonehead()
int v1[3];

/* A lot of stuff snipped */

v1=bigPic->v2; /* v2 is a global-ish 3-vector of int that's a member of a structure pointed to by bigPic */

/* lot more stuff snipped */


So, one compiler interpreted this as copy-a-whole-array, whilst the other interpreted this as (IIRC) copy-the-data-pointed-to-by-v2, which is the first element.

It's been so long since this happened, honestly, that I can't remember what the exact result was, nor do I know C++ well enough to recall what this statement ought to have done. It was intended to copy the whole array, but the way it was coded didn't guarantee that. The only reason it worked was because the compiler somehow interpreted it consistently with the programmer's intent.

And no, I didn't write that particular bit. One of the software folks did that.

I hate to turn this into a programming thread, since the original funny links were a lot more entertaining - but...

The code above will simply make v1 point to the same place as v2 - it will neither copy all of the elements to the space allocated by v1, nor will it copy only the first element.

(Depending on what happens later, it would be easy to mistakenly believe that all of the elements of v2 had been copied to v1, but that would be incorrect.)

Yes, there is no point to this conversation and I preemptively apologize for contributing. ;)

Now I'm going to have to extract both versions of the code from the software library, and compile them. Twice each. Just to check.

Barely-accessible bits of memory say that the result was either that only one element was accessible when referring to v1, or the compiler rejected it completely. Which one makes sense probably depends on how different the actual code is from the from-memory snippet above.


a fine word. you could spell it 'algorhythmist', if you wanted to make yourself sound like a character from a China Mieville novel.

I'm not a Mieville phanatique, idea.

Apropos of the Joe Bob Briggs mentions above, I was watching the cult horror movie Basket Case this past weekend, and in an entertaining commentary, the director and producer mention how John Bloom, in his earliest columns under the Joe Bob moniker, saw their movie in a buyer's market at Cannes. He became its biggest champion in the US, and helped to get restored all the gore that the distributor had removed, helping the movie finally find its audience.

In other, absolutely shamelessly self-promoting news, I recently started playing bass for a band, The Hickories, that's based here in Arlington, VA and has some momentum going, with lots of good local press. (Example: Ye Olde Washington Post; scroll down to review.) We just played the National Cherry Blossom Festival this past weekend, and in the next month we have shows coming in DC, Arlington and Fairfax, plus Silver Spring and Baltimore in Maryland, and in New York City. If anyone wants info on the band or the dates, let me know and I'll gladly post it here or email you.

"Fans of juggling humor should not pass up an opportunity to see The Flying Karamazov Brothers if they are in your neighborhood."

I remember Howard and the gang back circa 1976, long before Sam was there. One time a bunch of us cruelly chipped in to throw a 20-pound mackerel up for The Challenge. And a Worldcon program book.

Their juggling the chainsaws did tend to impress people who hadn't seen it before.

Chain fu. No dismemberment. Occasional breasts. Dunno if Joe-Bob ever checked it out.

I remember Howard and the gang back circa 1976, long before Sam was there. One time a bunch of us cruelly chipped in to throw a 20-pound mackerel up for The Challenge.

I didn't know they'd been around that long. I saw them a couple of years ago. The Challenge, for the benefit of others, is when they invite audience members to bring up whatever they have with them for the FKB to juggle. One woman put a plate of spaghetti on the stage.

A sample of their humor: Two of them come on stage dressed in togas and are announced as Hammurabi, who is sniffling a bit, and Hippocrates. They are introduced to each other, Hippocrates reaches to shake hands, but the MC stops him.

MC: "I wouldn't do that."
Hippocrates: "Why not?
Hammurabi: "You might get Hammurabi's Code."

That alone was worth the price of admission.

Phil -- let me know when you play Baltimore.

Gladly! We're playing there on Wednesday, May 31 at the Mojo Room on Belair. Here's a link to the band site as well.

It's not juggling exactly, but pretty amazing nonetheless:

Yikes! That WAS the juggling. Lol.
Correct link:

"That alone was worth the price of admission."

If that's worth the price of admission, what would pay for a night of jokes like that? Too bad we're all too young to have seen Spike Jones' Musical Depreciation Review.

Feingold supports gay marriage.

This is actually the best part of the press release:

Feingold noted that removing the prohibition against gay marriage would not impose any obligation on religious groups. He indicated that no religious faith should ever be forced to conduct or recognize any marriage, but that civil laws on marriage should reflect the principle of equal rights under the law.

I've always wondered if people understand that not only will "activist judges" not require their church to hold gay weddings, but that they are very, very likely to hold that any attempt to require a church to recognize gay marriage violates the first amendment.,13199,1179434,00.html#>This reaction was inevitable.

The Bush Administration announced last week that the nation is no longer losing wetlands--as long as you consider golf course water hazards to be wetlands.

Norton may think a water hazard is better than no wetlands but for fish, wildlife and sportsmen, but it may be even worse. That type of public policy provides an excuse for more permits to drain more natural and productive wetlands to be replaced by non-productive water hazards. Those might be good for real estate values along the 18th fairway, but for fish and wildlife that rely on wetlands ecosystems to survive, it's terrible.

Cowen thread candidate? Too hard to even begin a discussion on it without giving far too much credit to this administration - desire for a fig leaf does not a credible policy make.


Interesting that this is from Field&Stream, not a magazine much read by us blue-state elitist types.

Hey, language question for a dispute (no link in order not to bias the answers) - if I call an article "mendacious", what does that mean?


Lying. Not merely wrong, but intentionally so. Don't use it unless you are looking for a fight.

Lying. Not merely wrong, but intentionally so.

It doesn't actually have to be lying, it can simply be very, very deceptive. The intent is key, though, probably even more than with "lying".

[By way of illustration, it was my favored word to describe the Bush Administration's propaganda blitz re Iraq...]

Ok. See here, and comments.

I think you have the better of the argument. I also liked that Zakaria essay.

rilkefan: you're right. Mendacious doesn't just mean untrue. You don't use it when someone is mistaken or confused. It means dishonest.

Bernard on the FKB: "I didn't know they'd been around that long."

Sure, see here, and particularly here.

Though I was wrong when I implied that I'd seen them in '76; I was misremembering at that moment, and thinking that they'd been brought to the Worldcon to do the half-point show at the Masquerade in '76; I now remember that it was a later year, and I was misremembering; they did the 1977 Westercon, which I wasn't at, but heard about from jillions of folks, and I'd heard about them from my friend Tom Whitmore, who knew them, and lots of friends in Bay Area fandom who'd seen them by '76; they also were brought out to a Balticon in the late Seventies by fans who'd seen them at the Westercon. Then when I moved to Seattle, we saw Rev. Chumleigh and them do lots of shows together, in '78; they were highly popular in our crowd, and we were on the fringes of each other's circles (sf fandom always has overlaps with all sorts of interesting people), with several mutual friends (for instance, the Magic Castle folk included Tom Whitmore and Deb Notkin and Lizzie Lynn and
Quinn Yarbro and so on, who were also all sf people).
I moved to Seattle at the beginning of 1978.

Anyway, the FKB weren't Famous yet, insofar as they later got to be with appearances in Jewel Of The Nile, and Seinfeld, their own Broadway shows, Showtime specials an endless variety of tv appearances and so on and on, but they were utterly known to core sf fandom and my crowd. Oh, and Chumleigh was a regular street performer at the Pike Place Market and most street fairs in Seattle in those days (and to me, Seattle had a very small-town feel in the Seventies, coming from NYC as I did). Ditto Artis the Spoonman.

Anyway, so, hung out after shows briefly to chat with Howard and Tim and Paul, and later Sam, though only very passingly, Back Then. But as their main page, which I just linked to, mentions, they started in '73.

Never seen them in recent years with "Alexei," though.

"Mendacious doesn't just mean untrue. You don't use it when someone is mistaken or confused. It means dishonest."

Also, anyone who quotes "the dictionary," without citation, as if there were One Dictionary, and it was The Authority, is being an idiot. A prescriptivist is going to be far different from a descriptivist, and dictionaries differ wildly in quality. Some are infamous in publishing or other circles for being awful, while others simply have known biases towards certain styles of descriptivism or prescriptivism, and so on.

Also, I cited the Zakaria piece approvingly myself.

Piggybacking on Gary's comment, the Flying Karamazov Brothers were cited as inspiration for the descriptions of juggling in Robert Silverberg's Lord Valentine's Castle, which was published around 1980.

Sure, and Bob was (still is) part of the Bay Area (Oakland, to be precise) crowd, at that Westercon, etc.

Hmmm... the Bay Area?

Anyone remember the comedy troupe Duck's Breath Mystery Theater (and their #1 smash hit: "Stepped on a Rusty Nail (Had to Get a Tenanus Shot" followed closely by "Hey Girl, I Wanna Grope Your Bath Mat.")?

Late 1970's. Doubtless before many of you were born.

What say you, Old Timers?

I didn't know I was joining a cult. Just enjoyed the show.

And yeah, I love jokes like that, though I'm not sure what "like that" means.

Glad to have my sanity on this point confirmed. Quiddity is so reasonable I thought I better take a survey.

"Anyone remember the comedy troupe Duck's Breath Mystery Theater"

Sure. They also did gigs at sf cons. :-)

Is this where I explain the minor links Phil Procter and Peter Bergman have to sf fandom, too? :-)

"I didn't know I was joining a cult."

The Karamazov's? Nothing cultish about them that I know of, unless you just mean in the vague sense of "cult success," but they're no more so cultish than, say, Penn & Teller, and far less than, say, The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Entertainers have people who regularly enjoy their stuff, certainly, and we commonly call them, within a considerable variety of range of enthusiasm, "fans" of their work. Beyond that, I'm not sure if you're trying to say anything else in that remark, Bernard.

Ducks Breath were mostly a Chicago/Midwest thing, as I recall, by the way.


Yep. That is why I linked F&S instead of Sierra. It's also why I described the reaction as 'inevitable'.

Well, dog my cats.

It's nearly mid-April and poetry month
Hasn't been mentioned... not even onth.

hilzoy? rilkefan?

Remember a little while back, Hilzoy, when we discussed Bush's assertion that when he grew up there was no fear in America like today? Words to that effect, anyway.

Someone clearly pointed out to him that he was overlooking something, and he's modified his rhetoric:

You know, growing up in Midland, Texas, we all felt pretty secure as a kid, mainly because we thought oceans could protect us. Now in my case, we were really far away from oceans, too, but nevertheless, it's -- when you think about it, though, if you're a baby boomer, like me, you think about what it was like growing up, we knew there was a nuclear threat. Of course we had put forth an interesting sounding strategy called "mutually assured destruction," which provided an umbrella for security and safety.

But nevertheless, we never really felt anybody would invade us, did we? We never felt there would be another attack like Pearl Harbor on our lands. And yet September the 11th changed all that.

Just thought I'd update on this, having noticed it.

This, on the military's handling of corpses, and the reactions of some families, is pretty heart-breaking, by the way.

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