Content-Type: text/shitpost

Subject: Today I learned…
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!twirlip​!batcomputer​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2020-02-14T21:39:10
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost
  • Midichlorians predated The Phantom Menace. There is a bacterium of that name. It is the closest known living relative of the free-living bacterium that joined symbiotically with the ancestor of the eukaryotic cell and became the mitochondrion.

Subject: Distance to the sun
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!hardees​!m5​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2020-02-14T16:22:27
Newsgroup: alt.mjd.sun
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Yesterday during a discussion of the necessarily relative nature of “potential energy”, the topic veered into what it would be like if we measured people's height from the center of the sun instead from to the surface of the earth.

Me: You'd be like 92 million miles tall.

Katara: Everyone would be the same!

Me: Yeah, but we'd all be taller at night than during the day.

Subject: Pizazz
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!computer​!hal9000​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2020-02-13T22:29:08
Newsgroup: misc.pizazz
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

The Big Dictionary has no citation for “pizazz” from before 1937. The earliest one is:

Pizazz, to quote the Harvard Lampoon and Harpers Bazaar, is an indefinable dynamic quality. (New York Times, 26 Feb 1937)

This strongly suggests that an antedating could be obtained by going through contemporary issues of Harvard Lampoon and Harpers Bazaar.

The spelling of pizazz has always been variable, but I was surprised to learn that during the 1960s it was sometimes spelled “bezazz”.


Subject: Today I learned…
Path: you​!your-host​!ultron​!uunet​!batcomputer​!plovergw​!plovervax​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2020-02-11T22:50:59
Newsgroup: news.groups.20200211
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost
  • There's a Deaf Smith County in Texas.

  • It's named after Deaf Smith. What did I expect?

  • Deaf Smith was born Erastus Smith. His nickname was because he had a hearing impairment.

  • The smell of burnt matches is caused by sulfur dioxide.

  • The Big Dictionary's earliest citation for the phrase “R&D” is from Pohl and Kornbluth's novel The Space Merchants.

Subject: Potamus
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!skordokott​!berserker​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2020-02-11T20:56:13
Newsgroup: talk.mjd.potamus
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

A while back I complained that the sufficx ‘-potamus’ wasn't widely-enough used. Today I saw this Reddit comment:

The only people I see with this quote on their car or on a t-shirt is the stay at home dependapotamus that complains about everything…

Subject: News
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!wikipedia​!twirlip​!batcomputer​!plovergw​!plovervax​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2020-02-11T20:41:27
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

All the news that's Rupert Grint.

Subject: My dream of George H. Bush
Path: you​!your-host​!ultron​!gormenghast​!qwerty​!fpuzhpx​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2020-02-10T17:31:19
Newsgroup: talk.mjd.dream
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

I dreamed that it was well-known that George H. W. Bush habitually cheated when putting together jigsaw puzzles, to persuade people that he was better at doing them than he really was.

In the dream I imagined that he would take a piece out of the puzzle and put it on the table. Then, when someone came by who might observe, he would pick up the piece he had removed, look at it for a moment, and put it instantly in the right spot.

But when I suggested this to someone else, they said that what he actually did was even more devious and underhanded. I was not able to find out what it was.

I also dreamt I was visiting Shanghai and left my money on the bus.

Subject: Today I learned…
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!wikipedia​!uunet​!batcomputer​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2020-02-08T16:05:55
Newsgroup: misc.test.20200208
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost
  • Rollie Fingers was offered the chance to play for the Cincinnati Reds, but refused because they would have required him to shave his mustache. .

  • Michael Douglas is the son of Kirk Douglas

Subject: A monoid in the category of endofunctors
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!twirlip​!am​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2020-02-05T19:33:35
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

The more I think about this, the more it seems to me that a monad is not at all a monoid in the category of endofunctors, but actually a monoidal subcategory.

That's the problem.

Subject: Help me out here
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!skordokott​!berserker​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2020-02-04T17:02:39
Newsgroup: talk.mjd.caucuses
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

According to Twitter, I may have won the Iowa caucuses. What do I do now?

Subject: Category theory
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!brain-in-a-vat​!am​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2020-02-02T19:59:31
Newsgroup: talk.bizarre.category-theory
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Where the morphisms are made up
and the objects don't matter!

Subject: Tanzania
Path: you​!your-host​!ultron​!uunet​!batcomputer​!plovergw​!plovervax​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2020-01-29T13:21:50
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Today I got worried that I have been mispronouncing “Tanzania”.

But I haven't been.

Subject: Blog posts that probably won't make it
Path: you​!your-host​!warthog​!gormenghast​!extro​!forbin​!berserker​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2020-01-28T16:20:57
Newsgroup: talk.mjd.graveyard
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

I think I once estimated that around one-third of the blog posts I start writing never see publication, for one reason or another.

(Some do surprise me by flowering years later.)

I commit them to the repo anyway. Recently committed:

  1. The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank did a study about racially-restrictive clauses in real estate deeds between 1920 and 1933, and this turned up in the newspaper. The paper tried to suggest that the neighborhoods with the greatest incidence of these rules were still the ones most segregated 100 years later. I spent a lot of time extracting and analyzing data, and eventually ran out of steam because I felt that the original claim was too vague to refute, and the available data wasn't good enough to draw any useful conclusions anyway.

  2. I was thinking about the (not-exactly-a-joke) claim that

    A monad is just a monoid in the category of endofunctors

    and I realized hey, if I try to explain the minimal amount necessary to understand what that means, and not try to drag in all of category theory, I could probably do it clearly and briefly.

    Then I tried and didn't succeed.

  3. This third article is really hard to summarize and all I am going to say about it is that it identifies a commonality between a not-available-in-stores gizmo for improving eyesight, a Jughead comic I read as a child, and the presidential campaign of Michael Bloomberg. I would love to finish this because it might be stupid but gosh, at least you weren't going to read it anywhere else.

  4. My work on designing the most dissonant possible musical scale has stalled in peripheral technical issues.

  5. The saga of Fenchurch the Octopus and Philadelphia Traffic Court, mostly as told by my wife.

  6. Yet another article about what goes wrong when I try to write Haskell programs. Except I think I may have figured this one out at last!

  7. Let !!G(n)!! be the (standard) Gray code for the number !!n!!. This is a permutation of the integers !!0\ldots 2^{n}-1!!. What's the period of this permutation? (Spoiler: extremely short!)

  8. A long article about the seaports on the Great Lakes and how the one on Saginaw Bay is mysteriously missing. Except that it's not, it's called Saginaw.

That's just this month. Also Shreevatsa R. sent me a very significant update to the Kurt Gödel loophole in the U.S. Constitution series, and I really want to write some articles about Milton Street, Willie Singletary, Vanessa Lowery Brown, Movita Johnson-Harrell, and the rest of the Philadelphia local-government-to-prison pipeline, but those aren't incomplete because I haven't started them.

Subject: As they say…
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!glados​!extro​!central-scrutinizer​!fpuzhpx​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2020-01-27T16:19:35
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Changing “day” to “duck” in various sayings and clichés works pretty well. I asked my co-workers for examples and they helpfully came up with

  • Every dog has his duck
  • It's always the same thing, duck after duck
  • All in a duck's work
  • Shall I compare thee to a summer’s duck?
  • Hit payduck
  • As happy as the duck is long
  • The shortest duck of the year
  • Like sands through the hourglass, so are the Ducks of our Lives
  • Another duck, another dollar
  • Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow / Creeps in this petty pace from duck to duck
  • Watch therefore, for ye know neither the duck nor the hour

Various combinations such as duck bed, duck camp, duck room, duck ticket, duck trader, duck trip, duck uniform, and duck-wear.

Some phrases are just confusing:

  • Give us this duck our daily bread

  • I just want to bang on the drum all duck

(Which unfortunately suggests that what was meant was “bang on the duck all day”)

  • An apple a duck keeps the doctor awuck

And finally:

  • Toduck is a good duck to die

although “today is a good day to duck” is pretty good.

(By the way, ‘duck’ (the verb) is derived from ‘duck’ (the bird) because the bird is always ducking its head into the water to feed. So “today is a good day to duck” can be interpreted either way.)

The Big Dictionary has many useful quotations:

The state was seen as an educator leading ‘villagers’ out of the ignorant dark of backward thinking into the shining duck of development.

What's the point? All this backbreaking, brain-aching work that people do duck in duck out — why?

We will all arise from the darkness of death unto the brilliant duck of eternal life.

One rotary kiln… has produced an average of 75 to 90 tons of… pyrites cinder per duck.

Jupiter's year contains 10,000 of his own ducks.

I was (as nearly as I could calculate it) some three ducks distant…

In a Wonderland they lie / Dreaming as the ducks go by…

Subject: Mandrill
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!mechanical-turk​!skynet​!m5​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2020-01-27T15:52:32
Newsgroup: rec.pets.mandrill
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Screenshot of the Mandrill “Report Email Abuse” page, including
my name, address, user ID, and a detailed ‘Reason For Report’.  The
‘Reason fFor Report’ explains that the message included to
instructions for unsubscribing other than by filing an abuse report.
The form has just been submitted, and displays a pink and red box that
says “Invalid requiest - Error 430”.

Handling unsubscribe requests is not rocket science.

Screencap of the copyright notice from the bottom of the page,
enlarged 900%.  It says “Mantrill® is a registered trademark of The
Rocket Science Group.

Subject: As they say…
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!skordokott​!mechanical-turk​!goatrectum​!plovergw​!plover​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2020-01-21T16:39:22
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Sufficient unto the duck is the evil thereof.

Subject: Today I learned…
Path: you​!your-host​!ultron​!brain-in-a-vat​!am​!plovergw​!plovervax​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2020-01-18T19:05:43
Newsgroup: alt.binaries.20200118
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost
  • That clever saying about how the third time is enemy action is attributed to Auric Goldfinger.

Subject: Wormholes
Path: you​!your-host​!ultron​!uunet​!asr33​!skynet​!m5​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2020-01-14T20:16:05
Newsgroup: talk.mjd.Wormhole
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Lately I've been having fun pronouncing words as if they were German, even when they aren't. So far, my favorite is “wormhole”.

Subject: Job interview advice
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!skordokott​!berserker​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2020-01-13T17:17:04
Newsgroup: alt.mjd.job-interview
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

A long time ago I was at a job interview, and the interviewer said she was concerned that the work wasn't hard enough for me, that I might become bored, find myself hating the job, and stop doing any work while continuing to come in.

I said no, before that happened I would certainly quit. Or else show up one day with a shotgun and murder everyone in the office.

There was a long pause.

“I probably shouldn't have said that.”

I got the job.

Subject: Today I learned…
Path: you​!your-host​!warthog​!gormenghast​!hal9000​!plovergw​!plovervax​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2020-01-08T18:57:28
Newsgroup: talk.mjd.20200108
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost
  • “Potion” is not related to “potent” (from Latin potēns, “powerful”, akin to “potentate” ). It is from pōtāre, to drink. It is, however, from the same root as “poison”.

Subject: Today I learned…
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!qwerty​!fpuzhpx​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2020-01-07T18:48:26
Newsgroup: alt.binaries.20200107
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost
  • In classical Greek, the name of the letter ε was simply “εἶ”. The name “epsilon” (ἒψιλόν) didn't arise until the middle ages.

Subject: Schisms
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!qwerty​!fpuzhpx​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2020-01-06T18:03:09
Newsgroup: sci.math.schism
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

According to this 2004 New York Times article, United Methodists Move to Defrock Lesbian:

few Methodists expect church to reach point of schism…

and yet here we are.

Subject: Today I learned…
Path: you​!your-host​!ultron​!uunet​!asr33​!hardees​!triffid​!gormenghast​!extro​!central-scrutinizer​!fpuzhpx​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2020-01-02T16:41:36
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost
  • Czech has a letter Ť, which is written lowercase as ť.

Subject: Customer service
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!gormenghast​!extro​!goatrectum​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2020-01-02T16:08:45
Newsgroup: misc.misc.customer-service
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

The Bosch web site said I should call if I wasn't sure whether their blade would fit in my tool. So I called. After about ten minutes on hold, I got the rep and asked my question: "Will your T-shank blades work in my Black and Decker handheld jigsaw?"

"I need the part or model number of the blade."

"I am interested in model T130DG."

"That is a T-shank blade. Does your saw take T-shank blades?"

"Yes, that is exactly what I am asking."

"Our blade will work in your saw, if your saw is compatible with T-shank blades."

Thanks, Bosch. I will decide to buy your blade, if your blade is something that I decide to buy.

Subject: Today I learned…
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!computer​!hal9000​!plovergw​!plovervax​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-12-30T16:15:04
Newsgroup: misc.20191230
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost
  • Roy Harper, mentioned in the Led Zeppelin song [Hats Off to (Roy) Harper](WPREF/Hats Off to (Roy) Harper), was not one of the old black blues guys they ripped off. He is a white Englishman, only three years older than Jimmy Page, and is still alive.