Content-Type: text/shitpost


Subject: The heavy metal umlaut
Path: you​!your-host​!ultron​!brain-in-a-vat​!berserker​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-09-27T02:30:17
Newsgroup: alt.binaries.pictures.heavy-metal-umlaut
Message-ID: <7bfb4d8881a0f9f9@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

It seems clear that the heavy metal umlaut was first discovered by Blue Öyster Cult, although some claim, implausibly, that its invention by Mötorhead was an independent one. Blue Öyster Cult's album of that same title was released in 1972; Mötorhead was not convened until 1975.

But as far as I know nobody has suggested that both groups were anticipated by, and perhaps even inspired by, Häagen-Dazs, which dates to 1961.


Subject: Sheesh
Path: you​!your-host​!ultron​!uunet​!asr33​!hardees​!triffid​!gormenghast​!extro​!goatrectum​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-09-25T20:25:50
Newsgroup: rec.food.cooking.sheesh
Message-ID: <6aa418ab017b437b@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

I just wrote a program that didn't do anything when I ran it.

It's because the main loop had:

 if len(base_word) < 6 or len(base_word) > 5:
     continue

That 5 should have been a 7.

Now it has me thinking about what programming language designs would enable the programming system to notice that error and issue a warning “Hey, you wrote a test, but it can never return false”.

Maybe instead of some sort of briliant static analysis, what we need instead is an eaasy dynamic analysis: “Hey, here's a list of tests in your program that always had the same result.”

Has someone outfitted Eclipse or some other IDE to annotate your program after each run with pastel shades showing which parts were actually exercised and which were never run? That seems like it could be useful.


Subject: More cooking improvisation
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!glados​!extro​!goatrectum​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-09-25T05:46:21
Newsgroup: sci.math.improvised-cooking
Message-ID: <8d92c464bd575824@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Yesterday I was going to do the grocery shopping and Katara said she wanted beef in cubes. So I bought a chunk of beef roast, cubed it, and fried it on the skillet. Katara often surprises me by rejecting what I think is lovely food, but so far she has never rejected straight fried meat with salt and pepper. Okay, whatever, at least it's easy.

We also had some yellow squashes in the refrigerator so I decided to cook those. I made Toph tell me whether to turn them into discs or spears (discs) and then I cooked them in oil in a cast-iron frying pan, with some salt. I thought I would probably add a little soy sauce or something to them a later on but while they were cooking I remembered that we had paneer in the freezer. Toph had asked for it a couple of weeks before but hadn't specified what she wanted done with it. I didn't want it to just sit there forever, and this seemed like as good a time as any to use it. So I cubed up the paneer and put it in with the squash, and then because it was paneer I put in some cumin and cardamom and turmeric powder.

I liked it, and the kids ate a lot of it, so I suppose that counts as a success.

This is a very typical example of how I cook. This style really suits me. I'm good at improvising and not good at planning. I buy things at the store that I think I might want to cook later, and then I forget about them. But then I look in the refrigerator for ingredients and hey, look, yellow squashes. Okay, we can have yellow squash, fine. Sometimes I feel like that guy in Memento, sending myself messages through time.

One drawback of this style of cooking: when you make something you like, you can't always make it a second time. How much turmeric did I put in? Uh, I'm not sure. A few shakes? I made an awesome turkey and potato stew in 1995 that I really wish I could duplicate. But I don't remember how I did it.

Another drawback: sometimes toward the end I realize what I should have done back at the beginning and then it's too late. For example, onions. If you want to put in onions you have to commit to them ahead of time because they take so long too cook. If I had known ahead of time that I was going to put cumin and paneer into the squash I would have cooked it in ghee instead of in vegetable oil. Oh well, maybe next time.

And sometimes I become indecisive at a crucial moment and ruin the food. But in the worst case, there is always peanut butter.


Subject: I learned a new word!
Path: you​!your-host​!ultron​!ihnp4​!hal9000​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-09-24T01:17:03
Newsgroup: rec.pets.fagocitization
Message-ID: <dae36d2c58e313a5@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

(Previously)

I wrote:

I hope to phagocytize this word into my own vocabulary, immediately and with peaceful aplomb.

I didn't do it immediately, but I did get it in there!


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: <d5d2fc3e99b70234@shitpost.plover.com>
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
Newsgroup: alt.binaries.pictures.vodka-life-hack
Message-ID: <162263e93714c04f@shitpost.plover.com>
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 Toph 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: <1cfbc5f1ca04baf3@shitpost.plover.com>
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
Newsgroup: sci.math.today-i-learned
Message-ID: <f17dbce35e277caf@shitpost.plover.com>
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: <313115dc6420774e@shitpost.plover.com>
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
Newsgroup: rec.food.scare-quotes
Message-ID: <de071edd6afff68c@shitpost.plover.com>
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
Newsgroup: rec.food.cooking.scare-quotes
Message-ID: <512e159453efed08@shitpost.plover.com>
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: <f7ca9ad41992b614@shitpost.plover.com>
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
Newsgroup: rec.pets.today-i-learned
Message-ID: <349037b96121fe6b@shitpost.plover.com>
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
Newsgroup: misc.today-i-learned
Message-ID: <60c9e7508adf6732@shitpost.plover.com>
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
Newsgroup: rec.food.cooking.spice
Message-ID: <90717dfc714eedfb@shitpost.plover.com>
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
Newsgroup: alt.binaries.new-york-pronunciation
Message-ID: <132d36707417aad3@shitpost.plover.com>
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: <d5c003d0189cf201@shitpost.plover.com>
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: <aa7cb3dcd581eb53@shitpost.plover.com>
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: <50f64a346115d4cb@shitpost.plover.com>
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
Newsgroup: alt.binaries.today-i-learned
Message-ID: <141c814aa63ceafa@shitpost.plover.com>
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
Newsgroup: misc.jobs.reddit-motto
Message-ID: <15639a780f70b362@shitpost.plover.com>
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: <6ef3b08dd2021377@shitpost.plover.com>
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
Newsgroup: talk.mjd.family-resemblance
Message-ID: <9a1dec381b57c67c@shitpost.plover.com>
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.