Content-Type: text/shitpost

Subject: Good work, Mr. Dominus!
Path: you​!your-host​!ultron​!ihnp4​!grey-area​!fpuzhpx​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-09-19T16:48:31
Newsgroup: alt.mjd.good-design
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Today I went to push some Git branch to a private Git repository, and I received the following reply:

# You are trying to push 0 commits that have 'wip' in their messages!
The naughty commits are:
#   6a9a5e0c970
#   24eddb9721b
#   ba286d92d29
#   da6a115165a
#   d06caa5d8c4
#   ee4a2baf8c6
#   9be7089ec1a
#   4868c296c65

Oh, crap, it must be some experimental hook I put into the remote repo. Unfinished from the looks of it. (Because of “0 commits”. A bug that obvious and unavoidable must mean that the work was half-baked.)

So I thought grumpily that I would to have to get into the remote machine and disable the hook…

And then I saw that the message ended with:

    #   (Use git-push --no-verify to evade this check.)

Oh, thanks! Useful!

And because of that, I realized that it was actually a local hook, .git/hooks/pre-push in fact. So I just opened the editor and fixed the bug. And then I used --no-verify, which was the right thing in that circumstance.

I forget stuff a lot, and putting in this sort of hint really helps me when I fall foul of my own incomplete work, months after I have forgotten it. It's like a gift from my past self, and getting them also motivates me to try to send more such gifts to my future selves.

Subject: Useful life hack
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!berserker​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-09-17T19:00:12
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

A few weeks ago I had a clogged inkjet cartridge and the instructions online suggested soaking it in a diluted solution rubbing alcohol. But I couldn't find the rubbing alcohol because Ms. 10 had taken it for a project.

But for some reason my wife keeps a bottle of cheap vodka in the liquor cabinet. I don't drink vodka, and she doesn't drink at all, so it had just been sitting there uselessly. And hey, that's what vodka is, it's nothing but 40% ethanol solution. So I warmed some up in the microwave and soaked the cartridge in it, which cleaned it right up.

That reminds me I used to have a friend whose relatives in Tennessee would send him their homemade moonshine. He used it to clean the heads on his tape recorder.

Subject: New t-shirt
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!skordokott​!mechanical-turk​!goatrectum​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-09-17T16:56:28
Newsgroup: misc.root-cause
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Subject: Today I learned…
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!wikipedia​!twirlip​!batcomputer​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-09-14T20:25:41
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

How is it that mushrooms can appear so suddenly overnight or immediately after a rainstorm? It turns out that the fungus organism builds the mushroom structure ahead of time. All the cells are there, properly assembled, but very small, in a form called a primordium. When enough water is available, the fungus pumps it into the cells, inflating them like water balloons, and the mushroom pops up.

It's been very damp in Philadelphia of late.

The trunk of a tree, arising from
a missing patch in the sidewalk, with several columns of bracket
fungus protruding from its various sides. Close-up ground-level picture of
a cluster small, light brown mushrooms that have sprung up in the
mulch in a planter.

Subject: Speech-to-text oddity of the day
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!twirlip​!am​!plovergw​!plover​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-09-14T18:18:42
Newsgroup: talk.bizarre.speech-to-text
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

While driving, I often remember things I wanted to write up for the blog, and I ask my phone to take a note, which it converts into email. Later I see the email and remember what I wanted to write up.

Sometimes speech-to-text produces interesting results. This time I asked it to remind me to write up the article about the prime mnemonic system that didn't work. But the email it sent said:

Don't forget to write up the article about the prime and demonic system that didn't work

Subject: We have scare quotes
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!computer​!glados​!extro​!forbin​!brain-in-a-vat​!am​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-09-12T15:34:11
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Tony Finch suggests that we could use ⸢square quotes⸣ as scare quotes. I will adopt this suggestion forthwith.

Subject: We need scare quotes
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!goatrectum​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-09-12T14:42:06
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

I wish that true quotation marks could be distinguished typographically from scare quotes.

Subject: Bonus trivium
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!twirlip​!batcomputer​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-09-12T14:21:52
Newsgroup: alt.binaries.bonus-trivium
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

In the two previous shitposts I referred to outside sources. In both cases quotations included corrections where the original authors had written “in” where they meant to have “it” or “is”.

Subject: Today I learned…
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!skordokott​!mechanical-turk​!goatrectum​!plovergw​!plovervax​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-09-12T14:18:37
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

As of 2017, after a 100-year delay, there is an upper-case version of ß.

  • ß was introduced around 1900, and an upper-case version was planned at that time, but the glyph wasn't designed in time to be widely adopted. It was left behind, and for more than a century the only correct upper-case version of ß was SS.

  • As of 2017, the official German orthography permits an upper-case ß, which ias been introduced into Unicode as ẞ. Many fonts and computer input mechanisms now support it. For example, when composing this article I found that in the default compose-key bindings on my Linux system, just as «compose s s» generates the lower-case ß, «compose S S» generates the upper-case ẞ.

  • Uppercasing ß as SS is still officially permitted.

More details: Ralf Herrmann, “The Capital Sharp S is now part of the official German orthography”.

Subject: Today I learned…
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!computer​!hal9000​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-09-12T13:38:45
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

It is well known among mushroom farmers that many mushrooms extraordinarily grow within several tens of meters around the spot where lightning strikes.

Shunsuke Tsukamoto et al., “Development of an Automatic Electrical Stimulator for Mushroom Sawdust Bottle”. Proceedings of 2005 IEEE Pulsed Power Conference.

Subject: He who controls the pumpkin spice controls the galaxy!
Path: you​!your-host​!warthog​!gormenghast​!hal9000​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-09-10T20:56:02
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Subject: Places in New York City commonly mispronounced by visitors
Path: you​!your-host​!ultron​!uunet​!asr33​!glados​!the-matrix​!mechanical-turk​!skynet​!m5​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-09-10T20:13:26
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

I gave Nat Torkington this advice about twenty years ago, and I think it's still good.

  • Houston Street. “Houston” is pronounced /ˈhaʊstɨn/, which is different from the pronunciation of Houston, Texas (/ˈhjuːstɨn/).

  • Avenue of the Americas. This is always pronounced “Sixth Avenue”.

  • Greenwich Village. “Greenwich” is pronounced /ðə/.

Subject: Hoagies and Pierogies
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!computer​!grey-area​!fpuzhpx​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-09-08T17:47:38
Newsgroup: misc.hoagies
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

There's no restaurant in Philadelphia called “Hoagies and Pierogies”. I see a great need!

(There does seem to be one in West Columbia, SC. Where's our civic pride? Are we to be outdone by West Columbia, SC?)

Subject: William Gibson
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!gormenghast​!hal9000​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-09-05T15:12:14
Newsgroup: talk.mjd.william-gibson
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Walt Mankowski wrote to me about some audiobook narrators he remembered, and this reminded me of the time I was excited to discover that there was an audio version of Neuromancer read by Gibson himself. I eagerly started listening, and gave up before the end of the first chapter. I didn't think he read well. And, thinking on it now, why should he? He is not an actor, but a writer. Not the same thing at all.

And also, I didn't like Gibson's voice. I had a reaction similar to that of the guys in this story:

“I was doing a signing once in San Francisco,” [Gibson] says. “These two big motorcycles roared up outside the bookstore, and two guys walked in with black leather and tattoos and plastic bags, out of which they produced their copies of Neuromancer. And they sort of saw me there …” Gibson mimes incredulous disappointment. “And one of them sort of sighed and said, ‘Well … you can sign it anyway.’”

Subject: Vaporware seniority
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!wikipedia​!twirlip​!wescac​!skynet​!m5​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-09-04T06:24:26
Newsgroup: alt.mjd.vaporware
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

I take it back, Project Xanadu is way older than the GNU Hurd.

At some point I will try to remember to blog about my brief experience working with Ted Nelson. It was interesting.

Subject: Today I learned…
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!glados​!extro​!goatrectum​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-09-04T06:22:26
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

GNU Hurd, the only vaporware project even later than Perl 6, is apparently still a thing.

Subject: A motto for Reddit
Path: you​!your-host​!warthog​!goatrectum​!plovergw​!plovervax​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-09-04T06:12:51
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

“Hey, at least we're better than 4chan!”

Subject: Fuckin' Reddit, man
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!computer​!hal9000​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-09-04T06:04:38
Newsgroup: talk.mjd.fuckin-reddit
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Yesterday's article about Haskell rabbit holes hit the front page of Hacker News (in fact, it hit #1 for approximately one minute, before it was rightly displaced by a much more important article) and from there it also hit Reddit, of which it is a subreddit with a different stylesheet. You know how people say “don't read the comments”? Reddit is all comments; chew on that for a minute.

Anyway several comments said something along these lines:

wanted to comment that polynomials are better represented backwards, which fixes that (and many other problems) …

apparently without noticing that I did represent them backwards, with the constant term first. So, on the one hand, Reddit Person, obviously I agree with you, and on the other hand, you're a fucking blockhead.

But there was a bright side too. My article was also posted on r/programmingcirclejerk (which is a fair description of it, if I can be considered a sort of degenerate circle) with the title

Haskaller too smart to get anything done

and I have no witty (or merely profane) comeback to that, because the shoe fits. My whole article was some sunbeams-from-cucumbers bullshit, that's for sure.

A different Reddit comment suggested that this was the wrong data structure and I should have used an integer-indexed Map. I had sadly come to this conclusion myself, earlier in the evening, when I realized that the structure I had made it very difficult to handle polynomials over more than one variable. With the Map I would just change the index type to a tuple. Oh well, lesson learned.

Subject: Family resemblance
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!computer​!hal9000​!plovergw​!plovervax​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-09-03T15:20:49
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

I'm reading Adam Bede by George Eliot, and this paragraph took my breath away:

Family likeness has often a deep sadness in it. Nature, that great tragic dramatist, knits us together by bone and muscle, and divides us by the subtler web of our brains; blends yearning and repulsion; and ties us by our heart-strings to the beings that jar us at every movement. We hear a voice with the very cadence of our own uttering the thoughts we despise; we see eyes — ah, so like our mother's! — averted from us in cold alienation; and our last darling child startles us with the air and gestures of the sister we parted from in bitterness long years ago. The father to whom we owe our best heritage — the mechanical instinct, the keen sensibility to harmony, the unconscious skill of the modelling hand — galls us and puts us to shame by his daily errors; the long-lost mother, whose face we begin to see in the glass as our own wrinkles come, once fretted our young souls with her anxious humours and irrational persistence.

Subject: In the grim darkness…
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!kremvax​!grey-area​!fpuzhpx​!plovergw​!plover​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-08-31T16:57:52
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

 A screen capture of a tweet.  The text says,
WAR.  Below is a picture of a strange creature with crazed, staring
eyes, firing a large and unfamiliar weapon.  On closer examination,
this is seen to be the mascot of the San Antonio Spurs basketball
team, who is a giant bunny rabbit, operating a device for shooting
promotional T-shirts into the stands.

Subject: More good audiobook narrators
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!computer​!grey-area​!fpuzhpx​!plovergw​!plovervax​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-08-31T16:18:29
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

I complained recently about a miscast audiobook narrator. I mentioned I had preferred listening to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, read by Sir Christopher Lee. But this is a pretty high bar. I am not so hard to please.

On the same trip, I also enjoyed listening to Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden (1911), read by Kara Shallenberg. I hadn't read this myself in about forty years, and although I had liked it, I also remembered it being somewhat overwrought. I was apprehensive about listening too it because I was afraid I might find it embarrassing. But it was fine, and M. Shallenberg was a large part of why. Her reading was straightforward and unaffected. Many of the characters speak in Yorkshire dialect — this is a plot point — and here Ms. Shallenberg, who sounds like an American, had another opportunity to mess things up terribly, but didn't. I would be delighted to hear M. Shallenberg read Ancillary Justice. Thumbs up!

I also listened to a big chunk of The Scarlet Pimpernel, read by Karen Savage. Ms. Savage has a pleasant voice and a British accent. She is able to give the different characters different English and French accents, which sounded authentic to me. When she speaks French, it sounds to me like French, and not like someone who does not speak French trying to speak French. Maybe a British or French person would detect defects, but I didn't. Also thumbs up.

(Odd coincidence: I said that I thought the narrator of Ancillary Justice, Celeste Ciulla, would be a better fit for What Katy Did or Eight Cousins. Karen Savage has recorded both of these.)

Subject: My big garlic mistake
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!twirlip​!batcomputer​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-08-29T19:10:25
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Shortly after Katara was born, Lorrie's mother came from Seoul to visit us and help take care of the baby. She was also going to cook a large amount of Korean food and put it in the freezer for us to eat so we wouldn't have to cook as much. I was dispatched to H-mart store for ingredients, of course including garlic.

Nobody specified exactly how much garlic I should get, and knowing that my mother-in-law would be cooking a lot of Korean food, I bought five heads.

I will never forget the look of disdain that she gave to my five pitiful heads of garlic. “Never mind,” she said, in the tone of voice you would use for a small child who proudly informs you that they have cleaned up their own finger-painting. “I'll do it.”

First, and most obviously: five heads was not nearly enough.

But even more important, if you are a Korean mother-in-law and you are going to make a lot of food at once, you don't buy garlic by the head. You don't have time to peel a lot of garlic. Instead you buy a plastic jar that contains two kilograms of whole peeled cloves.

Oh well, lesson learned.

Subject: Ill-conceived household appliances
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!twirlip​!glados​!extro​!forbin​!berserker​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-08-29T18:13:02
Newsgroup: rec.pets.chest-freezer
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

I saw this in the local supermarket. Daewoo has really misjudged the market. What good is a chest freezer? Who the hell needs their chest frozen?

A Daewoo Electronics box labeled CHEST

Now if was a head freezer, or even just a brain freezer, I might consider buying one.

Subject: Trip notes
Path: you​!your-host​!warthog​!central-scrutinizer​!fpuzhpx​!plovergw​!plovervax​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-08-29T13:23:14
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

A few weeks ago my wife and kids were off at a conference so I took a road trip to Indianapolis and back via Kentucky and West Virginia. I hope to write up a report later on. Meantime I periodically had Google take down my passing thoughts, which I reproduce for you here with minimal explanation:

Don't forget to write an article about all the senses and the octopus sensorium

There is quite a lot to say.

There's a town in Pennsylvania named 84

I found this out because I saw directions to it on a highway sign. Had I known about this ahead of time, I might have scheduled a visit. Or maybe even a different road trip than the one I did take, something more like this:

Map showing the route through Eighty Four, PA, Hundred, WV,
Eighty Eight, KY, Twentysix, KY, and Six, WV

In related number news, I was astounded to find myself offered the chance to drive on Interstate 99. When I first saw the sign I couldn't quite believe it and wondered momentarily if I had wandered into an alternate universe. I was so surprised that I pulled the car over to take a picture of this marvel:

signs by the side of a road, offering directions to U.S. Routes 220
and 30, and to Interstate 99.

(Explanation for foreigners: in the U.S. Interstate Highway system, odd-numbered roads always run north and south, with the low numbers such as Interstate 5 farthest west, and numbers increasing as you go east. The eastmost such highway is the mighty Interstate 95, one of the oldest and busiest highways in the U.S.. It runs roughly up the entire east coast of the country for 3000 kilometers, from Miami in the south through or near most of the major northeastern cities including Washington, Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, New York, Providence, and Boston. As a lifelong inhabitant of the northeast, I was quite familiar with it. And of course there is no I-99 because that would be farther east than I-95, and therefore in or under the Atlantic Ocean.)

(And yet there it was, sitting obstinately in central Pennsylvania for no clear reason.)

Anyway there is an I-99. Two in fact. Who knew?

Write an article about inventions that should have happened sooner and include the paraglider and silage

The silage is the really amazing one. Everyone agrees that it was invented in the 19th century, but there seems to be no reason why the Sumerians shouldn't have been making it.

Ridership post

I have no idea what this was.

Oh, I bet I know now. I think it was Google transcribing my command to “write a shitpost…” and then cutting me off before I could say what it should be about.

Maybe the next one will have a clue?

Post maybe, Mickey

Nope, I have no idea.

Park ranger in Yogi Bear cartoons the same as the agent in The Matrix

No point explaining this one, I just have to show you.

For years I wanted to do a mockup of a “Perl Charms” breakfast cereal box, with colored marbits shaped like $, @, %, and *, and a picture on the box of Larry Wall dressed like a cartoon leprechaun. Alas, I'll probably never do it.

Write about Harrison Bergeron as new dad

Ugh, yes. When my kids were babies I thought glumly about George Bergeron all the time.

Don't forget to write a blog post about destructive interference and what happens when all the light cancels out using that video that shows that it all comes out of the apparatus backwards

This is about question 4 in this ancient post about electromagnetism. Some time back someone pointed me to a youtube video that explains the answer and it's pretty excellent.

One place to visit is the Corning Glass Factory and museum in Corning New York

Maybe next time. I have a list of places to visit and this is on it.

There is a restaurant in West Virginia called Tudor's Biscuit World


In West Virginia there is a Nitro Museum what is that

It turns out that it is the town museum of Nitro, West Virginia, so-named because it was the center for nitrocellulose manufacture during World War I. (Nitrocellulose replaced black powder in firearm ammunition around the turn of the century.)

Subject: Bud Blake's revenge
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!uunet​!asr33​!skynet​!m5​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-08-28T18:02:27
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

It would be really funny if someone were to hack Google Maps so that, one time in a million, the voice directions would say “in about half an inch, turn onto a tiny blue road.”