Content-Type: text/shitpost


Subject: This is why you shouldn't read the comments
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!wikipedia​!twirlip​!am​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-10-11T17:50:23
Newsgroup: misc.this-is-why-you-dont-read-the-comments
Message-ID: <6f2e0d34f1cf33f5@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

I noticed that my recent post about dividing cake had appeared on lobste.rs, a Reddit-like site that I usually find considerably less obnoxious than Reddit itself. Sometimes the folks there say interesting things, so I went to see, and this time I got what I deserved:

The whole premise of the question is wrong, the “problem” of cutting the square cake into 9 pieces each with equal cake and frosting (which is on the sides and top) has a trivial solution.

Grandma could cut her cake diagonally, making four equal triangles. Then each triangle is cut into three subtriangles […]

Gosh, I feel so stupid for missing this completely trivial solution.

Almost as stupid as if I had forgotten that 4 × 3 ≠ 9.


Subject: Franken-
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!twirlip​!glados​!extro​!goatrectum​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-10-07T19:50:34
Newsgroup: misc.jobs.franken-
Message-ID: <467cff72afc9547e@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

The OED's citations for the “franken-” prefix all relate to genetic engineering, mainly involving “frankenfood”, with a couple variations such as “frankenscience”, “frankenplants”, “frankenfruits”.

I mentioned recently that I had seen “frankenblog”, to describe an ill-advised mashuip of Tumblr and Wordpress. Today I learned of “franken-FM”, which, if I haven't misunderstood, is a radio station with a license to transmit low-power television signals on VHF channel 6, which actually transmits a null video signal, because the audio portion of the signal can be picked up on an FM receiver tuned to 87.7 MHz.

Searching for other combinations of “franken-” is hard because the results are full of chaff about Al Franken. But I made a not-very-inspired guess about “frankenburger” and found a great many news articles about test-tube meat from 2013, and a second guess turned up this article about a “frankenshower”.


Subject: Self-defense booby traps
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!uunet​!batcomputer​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-10-04T20:35:00
Newsgroup: alt.binaries.pictures.self-defense-booby-traps
Message-ID: <b5af2275b5e4b15f@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

The famous case here is Katko v. Briney. The Brineys owned an old vacant farmhouse which was repeatedly vandalized. They set up a booby trap which, if tripped, would fire a shotgun at the trespasser's legs. Katko, trespassing, tripped the shotgun and had to be hospitalized, and sued the Brineys. The Iowa Supreme Court found that the Brineys were civilly liable for Katko's injuries, plus punitive damages. I don't know if the Brineys were charged with battery or reckless endangerment or anything like that. (Katko pled guilty to a petty larceny charge.)

I have forgotten the details, but I remember another case involving prison inmate X who made a credible threat that he was going to kill inmate Y at a certain time in a certain place. Y then pre-emptively killed X. (Knowing this kind of case, there was probably also a side issue that when Y reported the the threat to the prison authorities, they blew him off.) My recollection is that the court told Y he could not claim self-defense for a pre-emptive attack, regadless of how credible the threat was. (X had made similar threats to other inmates in the past, and had acted on them.)

But the situation I describe is different from both of these. In my hypothetical situation, X is actually trying to kill you, not at some future time, but at the moment you actually employ deadly force to stop them.


Subject: Self-defense booby-traps
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!computer​!hal9000​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-10-04T18:37:46
Newsgroup: alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.self-defense-booby-traps
Message-ID: <619545e1ced36f35@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Suppose you suspect that person X is going to attempt to kill you when you next meet with them. So you prepare a gun, which, if used, will backfire and kill the person using it. Then you leave it in the place you expect to meet X. During your meeting, X seizes the gun and attempts to kill you with it. It backfires and kills X instead.

Have you committed murder?

And if so, are you entitled to claim self-defense?


Subject: Pullulating does not mean what I thought
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!wikipedia​!twirlip​!am​!plovergw​!plover​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-10-04T17:33:31
Newsgroup: misc.misc.pullulate
Message-ID: <e8a82ce6c98b772c@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

I thought it meant to swarm around in a crowd, like chickens in a farmyard. (From pullulus, a chick, akin to English “pullet”.) But it doesn't. It means to teem or swarm abundantly, from pullulāre, to sprout or send forth new growth.

(Which is also akin to pullulus and “pullet”.)

I would like a word something like “mill” in the sense of

We look down upon the throng milling around the Chapel of the Sepulcher

but with a connotation of a crowd of chickens, or perhaps a swam of insects, instead of the systematic circular motion of a turning millstone.


Subject: SQL
Path: you​!your-host​!ultron​!ihnp4​!hal9000​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-10-03T17:43:03
Newsgroup: alt.binaries.sql
Message-ID: <271453e2641bd09c@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Surely someone has invented a language for querying relational databases that is less of a shitpile than SQL.


Subject: Stuff I learned today 20191003
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!wikipedia​!twirlip​!am​!plovergw​!plover​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-10-03T15:38:40
Newsgroup: rec.pets.stuff-i-learned-today
Message-ID: <0ea3f77815b16e3e@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost
  1. St. Petersburg was not founded until 1703. I had assumed it was ancient, like Moscow, but it's newer than Philadelphia.

  2. I mentioned the following story I had once read:

    A lawyer for the plaintiff in a libel case was explaining that the defendant had libeled his clients by making their names the answers in a crossword puzzle. So for example one of the clues was "bibulous bishop", and the answer had space for four letters; there were only three bishops in England with four-letter names, and the only one that could be made to work with the crossing clues was his client's name.
    But the defendant was claiming that it wasn't he that had committed libel; if anyone had, it was the people who wrote the name into the answer grid.

    On looking into this futher, I found that it appears to have been written by A.P. Herbert and published in Misleading Cases in the Common Law.

  3. I looked to see if the Internet Archive had a scan of Misleading Cases, but it does not. It did, however, have a scan of Herbert's book Sundials Old and New: or, Fun with the Sun. I glanced through this and soon happened across this bit:

    In 1942 I was sick for a week or two, and, convalescing, I sat up in bed and renamed the stars. I still maintain that this is a good notion.

  4. Following up on this, I found that Herbert had previously published a very short book on that topic, titled A Better Sky. This article has a summary.

    I had not heard of A.P. Herbert before, but he sounds wonderful, someone I should know.

  5. [Wikipedia has a page on List of all lists which do not contain themselves. (Since 2004 it has been an automatic redirect to Russell's Paradox. But check out the edit history.)


Subject: Mayor Kickass
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!uunet​!batcomputer​!plovergw​!plovervax​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-10-01T15:32:13
Newsgroup: alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.mayor-kickass
Message-ID: <1651f0953f01a83b@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Unexpected sentences from the weekend:

As one of his first acts in office, [Clint] Eastwood tossed out the planning board that had vetoed an ice cream prohibition repeal.

Source: “30 Years Ago, Clint Eastwood Was Elected Mayor of Carmel, California”


Subject: Not as funny
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!gormenghast​!extro​!forbin​!berserker​!plovergw​!plovervax​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-09-27T17:55:33
Newsgroup: sci.math.not-as-funny
Message-ID: <f6965d298229fab4@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

“You're not as funny as you think you are.”

“I disagree, I think I'm exactly as funny as I think I am.”


Subject: Mystery recruiters
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!twirlip​!am​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-09-27T15:13:39
Newsgroup: alt.mjd.mystery-recruiters
Message-ID: <6872113df0c81e85@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Today I got email inviting me to "an invite-only recruiting event" where I would be able to speed-date fifteen to twenty local tech companies, for five minutes each. It wanted me to RSVP, but it didn't specify a location, so obviously I couldn't commit to attend.

At first I attributed to the run-of-the-mill incompetence that affects everything having to do with tech recruiting. But then I got to wondering about it. Sometimes those 419 scams are just the front end of a kidnapping scheme. Maybe something similar is going on here: invite a number of professionals to a “recruiting event” at an undisclosed location, and when you hook a big enough fish, reel them in.

Probably not, for many reasons, but sometimes it can be really hard to distinguish incompetence from malice.


Subject: Life hack
Path: you​!your-host​!warthog​!goatrectum​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-09-26T16:55:52
Newsgroup: rec.food.cooking.life-hack
Message-ID: <15b4f2b8ab2faf51@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

AirBnB wants me to write reviews of the places I've stayed. For whatever reason, I find this painful. Writing is hard work for me. The breezy online-review tone does not come naturally to me.

But a happy inspiration: I can skim the previous reviews to find one that says the appropriate amount of cheerful nothing, and copy it verbatim.

Problem solved!


Subject: Fishy
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!twirlip​!wescac​!berserker​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-09-26T16:42:18
Newsgroup: alt.sex.fishy
Message-ID: <41f399fea43a9287@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

I had assumed that the term “fishy”, meaning suspicious or unlikely ((for example, “ I always heard he was fishy about money matters.”)


Subject: Sentences I wrote that I like
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!twirlip​!wescac​!berserker​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-09-26T16:42:18
Newsgroup: alt.sex.quotes
Message-ID: <41f399fea43a9287@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Git has multiple, distributed repositories. To abandon that feature would be to go back to the dark ages of galley slaves, smallpox, and SVN.

If you find yourself chasing an endless series of definitions, that's because you're trying to learn mathematics from a mathematical encyclopedia. Well, it's worth a try; it worked for Ramanujan.

This version is !!O(n^2)!!, but who cares.


Subject: Git Merge website fail
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!twirlip​!wescac​!berserker​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-09-26T16:42:18
Newsgroup: alt.sex.git-merge-website-fail
Message-ID: <41f399fea43a9287@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Thex Git folks are sending me invitations to their annual conference which is in Brussels next February.

The 2018 conference year it was in Barcelona and I considered going. Because it seemed possibly useful, and also who doesn't want to go to Barcelona? Or rather, I wanted to consider going. But the invitations went out before the program was announced, so I had no way to know if, once I got to Barcelona, I would actually learn anything of interest.

Okay, no problem, I could look at the 2017 program to get an idea of what is typical. Except no, I couldnt find it, and looking again now, I still can't find it. Here's what I found:

Git Merge is the pre-eminent Git-focused conference: a full-day offering technical content and user case studies, plus a day of workshops for Git users of all levels.

Great, and the technical content consists of what exactly? It doesn't say. There are links on that page that purport to go to “General Sessions” and “Pre-conference Workshop” but they go nowhere. There's a list of 14 speakers, some of whom I know are generally interesting, but there is no hint about what topics they might be speaking on.

There is also a “2017 recap video”. No thanks.

Now they have invited me to 2019 and I am in the same position. Brussels is no doubt lovely but I am not going to haul my ass across the north Atlantic in February, in the hope that when I get there the conference will be worth attending, and I am not going to request that my employer foot the bill unless I can plausibly imagine that they will get something out of it. Okay, maybe they have information online about what happened at the mysterious Barcelona conference I skipped?

This time they're doing better! Last year's schedule is actually on the web site!. I could attend a


Subject: Conference room scheduling
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!twirlip​!wescac​!berserker​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-09-26T16:42:18
Newsgroup: alt.sex.conference-room-bidding
Message-ID: <41f399fea43a9287@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Say there are N conference talks and M attendees. How can we have a system where attendees bid on which talks they want to attend, with 1. Larger rooms allocated for talks with more demand 2. Attendees more likely to get into talks for which they bid more 3. Talks most likely to be attended by the highest bidders

One idea that might become part of the whole thing: if you bid x points on some talk and don't get in, the x points are automatically reallocated to your other bids proportionally.


Subject: Infinity is too a number
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!twirlip​!wescac​!berserker​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-09-26T16:42:18
Newsgroup: alt.sex.infinity-is-not-a-number
Message-ID: <41f399fea43a9287@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

I used to know a guy who, whenever someone said “an infinite number of…” would reply primly with “infinity is not a number”. Which, if you are speaking mathematically, as this guy was, is complete bullshit.

As I mentioned elsewhere, “infinity” in mathematics refers to several different ideas. For example, transfinite cardinal numbers. Oops, I said “numbers”. Transfinite numbers are not numbers. Um. I mean, “transfinites are not numbers”. Just because you can add them and multiply them and raise them to powers and they mix together with finite numbers and they are a generalization of finite numbers and the addition and multiplication and exponentiation are consistent with the way thouse work for finite numbers does not mean that transfinites are also numbers! No no no!

Think of this analogy. Suppose there was some entity that was halfway between two and three. And suppose we could add with that entity and multiply with it and compare it with numbers and so on. And suppose there was a notation for it, I don't know, something like “!!\frac52!!” or something. You wouldn't consider that strange entity to be a number, would you? I mean, how could you possibly have !!\frac52!! children or !!\frac 52 !! automobiles? Ridiculous.


Subject: Books I thought were funny
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!twirlip​!wescac​!berserker​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-09-26T16:42:18
Newsgroup: alt.sex.funny-books
Message-ID: <41f399fea43a9287@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Zuleika Dobson The Cyberiad Great Expectations


Subject: We want your feedback on a recent Wells Fargo visit
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!twirlip​!wescac​!berserker​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-09-26T16:42:18
Newsgroup: alt.sex.corporate-feedback
Message-ID: <41f399fea43a9287@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

So I was invited to fill out a form asking about my customer service experience, and since it wasn't good, I went to fill in the form. There are several thing about the design of these surveys that always perplex me.

  • They always ask something like “how likely would you be to recommend Wells Fargo to a friend?”

    “Hey, Joe, how ya doing?”

    “Hi, Chris! I'm pretty well, I'm reading this neat book called All the Birds in the Sky, you should check it out. How about you?”

    “That is good to hear Joe! Lately I am really enjoying banking with Wells Fargo! Give them a try next time you need a national provider of licensed financial services! I assure you this endorsement is from a real human being who is not in any way a remote-controlled cyborg covered in living human tissue!”

    The only thing worse than this question is that they sometimes ask a followup: “Why did you say you would not be likely to recommend Wells Fargo?” Well, Joe, it is because I am not a remote-controlled cyborg, etc.

    Who even designs these surveys? If they are not some sort of artifical lifeform, possibly one wearing a human skin, then perhaps they are someone who went to university and spent four years studying the properties of human interactions without ever actually having one.

  • Usually, the survey requires that one answer all the questions. If they ask an irrelevant question, you have no option to skip it. Attempting to leave it blank just presents the form again, with an angry red message. How dare you leave one of our questions blank! You are required to tick every box, whether or not you intend a speech act by doing so.

    You'd think that they might at least include a not applicable response. Nope. Better a random result than no result at all!

  • Then similarly there is no way to skip a question that is so packed with artifical lifeform gobbledygook that you cannot understand what it means.

I am in a bad mood today. This morning I spent ten minutes along in the kitchen monologuing about what a great idea it had been for us to invade Afghanistan, because every country knows that when your country is feeling a little down it can get an easy win and a little quick cash from stopping in at Afghanistan. Hey, it worked for the Russians!


Subject: Machine Translation in Gibson's “Idoru”
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!twirlip​!wescac​!berserker​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-09-26T16:42:18
Newsgroup: alt.sex.chinga-tu-madre
Message-ID: <41f399fea43a9287@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

William Gibson, Idoru, chapter 16:

Chia began the story of Maryalice and the rest of it, while Zona Rosa sat and peeled and sharpened her stick, frowning.

“Fuck your mother,” Zona Rosa said, when Chia had finished her story. The translation rendered her tone as either amazement or disgust, Chia couldn't tell.

“What?” Chia's confusion was absolute.

The characters have never met in person; they are interacting in a virtual space. Zona Rosa lives in Mexico, and is speaking (or writing) Spanish. She has actually said “chinga tu madre”, which in this context is an idiomatic expression of amazement and disgust. The machine translator that has been automatically rendering all her dialogue into English has mistakenly opted for a literal translation.

Wikipedia reminds me that:

The seven-note musical flourish known as a “Shave and a Haircut (two bits)”, commonly played on car horns, is associated in Mexico with the seven-syllable phrase ¡Chinga tu madre, cabrón! … Playing the jingle on a car horn can result in a hefty fine …

In William Gibson's Idoru, Two of the characters meet only online, in a virtual space. At one point they are conversing. The first character says something innocuous, and the second remarks “Fuck your mother.” She is Mexican, has been speaking in Spanish the whole time, and everything we have read has been an automatic machine translation.


Subject: Oculus
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!goatrectum​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-09-25T17:48:54
Newsgroup: news.groups.oculus
Message-ID: <3f1ec9e49869ed19@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

An oculus can also be a hollow stone.
According to Church-Lore Gleanings:

In some cases buried hearts have been accidentally discovered little or no trace being left to identify them with any certainty. At Waverley Abbey Surrey in 1731 there were found in a stone oculus two leaden dishes soldered together containing a human heart well preserved in pickle…

(Thomas Firminger Thiselton Dyer, 1892. p. 133))


Subject: Time travel
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!wikipedia​!twirlip​!am​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-09-25T14:23:36
Newsgroup: rec.food.time-travel
Message-ID: <721a44f2134e585e@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

On the trolley a couple of days ago Toph and I were discussing the problem of what happens if you travel back in time and murder your parents before you are born. I rather thoughtlessly said she should try it and see, then decided to withdraw the suggestion.

“Maybe we can find a less bloody way to figure this out,” I said, and suggested the following variation:

On Monday, make a peanut butter sandwich and put it on a plate in the refrigerator.

On Wednesday, open the fridge.

If the sandwich is there, eat it, and then get in your time machine, return to Tuesday and eat the sandwich on Tuesday. But if there is nothing but a plate with crumbs, go do something else.

Much simpler, fewer complications.


Subject: Obvious claims
Path: you​!your-host​!warthog​!central-scrutinizer​!fpuzhpx​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-09-25T14:12:22
Newsgroup: talk.mjd.obvious-claims
Message-ID: <b006350f3b8213df@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Katara is taking geometry this year, and is having the usual problem of someone studying axiomatic proofs for the first time: the theorems are all obvious, but to understand what is a proof you have to detatch your spatial intuition from the statements.

This is something mathematicians have to learn to do. “Why is this not obvious” is a legitimate mathematical question, one that mathematicians often ask.

Yesterday Katara mentioned the theorem that a line, and a point not on that line, determine a plane and asked why this is something that has to be proved.

Well, I said, you have this postulate that any three non-colinear points determine a plane. So you have a point and a line, and you pick two points on the line, and with the third point, that determines a plane. Now you pick two different points on the line, and with the third point, that also determines a plane. But it's the same plane! It doesn't matter which two points you pick, you always get the same plane. That's interesting, and it's a special property of the particular siutation. There's this rather complicated relationship between all the parts.

Another way to approach this kind of thing, hard to do at this stage but easier later on, is to learn that many things that seem obvious to the senses turn out to be false in more complex situations that our senses are not accustomed to. Katara was excited yesterday to learn about skew lines. This is a great example of something that does not exist in lower dimensions. I said “suppose you were a two-dimensional person, and someone told you that there could be two lines that are not parallel, but they don't intersect. You'd be puzzled, right? But to a three-dimensional person, it's clear.”

She agreed.

“Okay, and you know that any two planes intersect in a straight line, right?”

Obviously.

“In four dimensions, that's false. You can have two planes that intersect in a single point.”


Subject: Zulip asks…
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!wikipedia​!hardees​!m5​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-09-20T17:14:41
Newsgroup: rec.food.cooking.zulip-asks
Message-ID: <a4e142556002453e@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

A screenshot of the Zulip chat
system.  The user has opened a window for reviewing private messages
to theirself, and Zulip announces “You have not sent any private
messages to yourself yet!  Why not start a conversation with
yourself?”

Because talking to yourself is a sign of impending mental collapse.


Subject: Shrunken heads
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!uunet​!asr33​!gormenghast​!hal9000​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-09-06T14:45:55
Newsgroup: alt.mjd.shrunken-heads
Message-ID: <04df360f0fc0ef36@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Today I got to thinking about how amusing it would be to have a shrunken head (presumably fake) of the current president of the United States. Then I thought, why not a whole set, say back through Reagan?

Shrunken heads of Ford and Carter seemed less amusing, so I was willing to stop at Reagan, until I thought about owning a shrunken head of Richard Nixon, which would be too good to omit. But then a Lyndon Johnson shrunken head would be good to have also, I could look at it and think about the Vietnam War and ballot stuffing. And Kennedy, famously young and handsome, would make an excellent shrunken head.

So I decided that the best thing would be to have a complete set of the shrunken heads of all the presidents, starting with Washington, and the question that always comes up in such situations is: what do you do about Grover Cleveland? In this case the answer seemed clear: you include him twice.

Then I didn't get any work done for a quarter of an hour because I was laughing.

That conference attendee who wrote on their evaluation “thinks he's funnier than he is” really had my personality figured out.


Subject: MAD Magazine Super Special, Summer 1620
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!skordokott​!berserker​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-09-05T21:16:45
Newsgroup: sci.math.mad-magazine
Message-ID: <b14950598a5aba45@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Today on the way to the trolley I thought of how if MAD Magazine had been published in the 17th Century it would have had a parody (illustrated by Angelo Torres) of Don Quixote or maybe Hamlet.

Other than that I suppose it would have been pretty much the same. The Fold-In might have been a woodcut.

Also, the Dave Berg feature would have been something like “The Lighter Side of… Sumptuary Laws”.


Subject: East Coast?
Path: you​!your-host​!ultron​!uunet​!asr33​!hardees​!triffid​!gormenghast​!qwerty​!fpuzhpx​!plovergw​!plover​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-09-05T19:15:25
Newsgroup: news.groups.east-coast
Message-ID: <e1a194621839135b@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Philadelphia is universally considered to be an East Coast city.

However, it is not on the coast. It is not even near the coast.

Pennsylvania's sole water border is a short stretch of the shoreline of Lake Erie, 400 miles from here. It does not touch the Atlantic Ocean. To get to the coast, you have to travel from one side of New Jersey to the other, a distance of at least sixty miles.


Subject: Dream
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!central-scrutinizer​!fpuzhpx​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-09-02T21:07:23
Newsgroup: sci.math.dream
Message-ID: <40419e0f8ac50fb3@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

I dreamt I was in a restaurant. On the menu, there was a little note attached to the second-from-last item, explaining that what would be served was only a picture of the actual dish. (The listed price was $24, roughly in line with the other dishes.)

In the dream I was completely perplexed. Who would order such a thing? But when I woke up it was easy to think of an answer. Suppose that it's traditional to welcome an honored guest by serving a certain rare and expensive dish, let's say baked Alaska. This demonstrates to the guest that you take them seriously, and also demonstrates to them (and to your associates) that you're wealthy and powerful enough to command the traditional dish.

Now suppose that baked Alaska is out of season or otherwise unavailable. No problem. You symbolically serve them the traditiona l dish, and if it costs just as much, or more, then so much the better, because the dessert itself was never the point.


Subject: Today I learned…
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!twirlip​!am​!plovergw​!plovervax​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-09-01T19:56:24
Newsgroup: rec.food.today-i-learned
Message-ID: <de33ea3ece185aa2@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

The content of G. Spencer-Brown's Laws of Form (1969) was almost entirely anticipated, almost exactly the same, by Charles Sanders Peirce's existential graphs in the 1880s.

Is there anything that C.S. Peirce didn't invent before everyone else?


Subject: Category theory thought for the day
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!wikipedia​!uunet​!batcomputer​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-09-01T19:50:54
Newsgroup: misc.monic-epic
Message-ID: <26c9a0b45828ee54@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Non-monic arrows are those that destroy information that was present in the domain.

Non-epic arrows are those that introduce worthless non-information into the codomain.


Subject: Today I learned…
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!computer​!hal9000​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-08-30T15:22:30
Newsgroup: misc.misc.today-i-learned
Message-ID: <923a01078e88622f@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

For around 18 months in 1673–4, the city of New York was recaptured by the Dutch and named New Orange.

This got me thinking about a world in which New Amsterdam remained under Dutch control up to the present. (Perhaps it would include only some subset of Manhattan?) I need to think about this more.


Subject: Why 3 isn't bigger
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!mechanical-turk​!goatrectum​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-08-28T19:28:05
Newsgroup: rec.pets.why-3-isnt-bigger
Message-ID: <ff2120621db03a1f@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Craig Burley has answered the question of why 3 isn't bigger: because it lacks fortitude!


Subject: More Math Stackexchange shitposting
Path: you​!your-host​!warthog​!goatrectum​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-08-28T18:43:25
Newsgroup: misc.misc.math-se-shitposting
Message-ID: <4bf8d6321f30ca14@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost


Subject: Today I learned…
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!mechanical-turk​!berserker​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-08-28T05:42:33
Newsgroup: talk.mjd.today-i-learned
Message-ID: <982d4d3cfa8375b8@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Olivia Newton-John is the granddaughter of Max Born, winner of the 1954 Nobel Prize for Physics.


Subject: Triangle inequality
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!wikipedia​!twirlip​!am​!plovergw​!plover​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-08-22T17:00:56
Newsgroup: sci.math.triangle-inequality
Message-ID: <73f5e47da2297a5e@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

I've assumed for a long time that fares on rapit transit systems like the subway ot the BART should obey the triangle inequality: going from A to C directly shouldn't cost more than going from A to B, leaving the system, and then coming back in to go from B to C.

But now I wonder why I ever thought this. A short, direct route is a valuable thing, and a passenger might be willing to pay a premium for it.

Or to make the difference even clearer, suppose, that the route from A to C via B uses an old, grungy, low-speed service, and the direct route is fast and clean. You might be willing to pay more for the direct route.


Subject: Volume discount
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!uunet​!batcomputer​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-08-22T16:35:59
Newsgroup: rec.food.volume-discount
Message-ID: <afaf3ae3441add07@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Gitlab is having a one-day mini-conference in Brooklyn.

To send one person costs $499.

To send two people costs $998.

To send three people costs $1497.

To send 4 people costs $996.

You can send six people for the same cost as sending three, five for less than that.

Someone is not thinking about what they are doing.

Stuff like this really bugs me. It's not hard to get right. And it should be familiar to everyone how to get it right, because it's the way federal income tax works.


Subject: It's never too late…
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!computer​!glados​!extro​!forbin​!berserker​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-08-17T14:46:57
Newsgroup: alt.sex.its-never-too-late
Message-ID: <a1867b67d849c747@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

… to be late!


Subject: Franken-
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!wikipedia​!hardees​!triffid​!gormenghast​!qwerty​!fpuzhpx​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-08-15T12:17:19
Newsgroup: rec.food.cooking.franken
Message-ID: <4ca2030b79823609@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Today I spotted someone using the word “frankenblog” to mean an unfortunate mashup of the Tumblr and Wordpress software.

It's awesome that the prefix “Franken-” has become a productive morpheme.


Subject: Conference talk audience questions
Path: you​!your-host​!ultron​!uunet​!asr33​!kremvax​!grey-area​!fpuzhpx​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-08-11T15:49:20
Newsgroup: alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.conference-talk-audience-questions
Message-ID: <d48b8b9726c63390@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

One of my all-time favorite questions from the audience during a conference talk: I was discussing Y2K problems in date formats, I think in email message headers, and this attendee asked if my proposed practice, of using a 4-digit year, wasn't subject to Y10K problems instead.

There are two answers to that. One is that, in the context of a message header, there is nothing to stop you from going on to 5-digit years when the times comes. The problems intrude only if in the year 10000 you stupidly decide to roll over, odometer-style, to 0000.

But the larger answer is that it does not make sense to plan network protocols on an 8,000-year timescale. 8,000 years ago, we had invented fire and agriculture, but not writing. Metallurgy and metal tools were still works in progress.

Trying to predict the information technology needs of the year 10,000 is at least as silly as asking someone from the neolithic era whether message headers should use a 2- or 4-digit date format, and less likely to produce a useful answer.


Subject: Dad Joke
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!uunet​!asr33​!gormenghast​!hal9000​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-08-08T21:08:25
Newsgroup: comp.protocols.tcp-ip.dad-joke
Message-ID: <f6b4c7bb5f451989@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Katara and I were on the sofa, and I mused aloud “It's funny how there's no adjective like “three-itude” that expresses how much threeness you have, or how much you are like the number three. You can't say ‘I wish I had as much threeitude as that other person.’”

Unsuspecting, she walked right into my trap:

“There isn't anything like that for any number, is there?”

“Forti-tude.”


Subject: Eleanor Rigby
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!computer​!ihnp4​!hal9000​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-08-06T21:41:59
Newsgroup: rec.food.cooking.eleanor-rigby
Message-ID: <d99ff18715172150@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

If your band's cover of “Eleanor Rigby” is more than three minutes, you're doing something wrong.


Subject: Parker
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!uunet​!batcomputer​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-08-05T19:54:33
Newsgroup: rec.pets.parker
Message-ID: <e92406f36b4df451@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Tags: itsTrue

The surname “Parker” was originally an occupational name. It dates back to the valet parking services instituted in 1534 at Hampton Court by Henry VIII.


Subject: Boolean operator as relations
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!mechanical-turk​!skynet​!m5​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-08-01T14:15:19
Newsgroup: misc.boolean-operator-as-relations
Message-ID: <f6c4859933a2ebad@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Construed as relations, the logical ∧ operator is transitive, but the logical ∨ is not.


Subject: Today I learned
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!twirlip​!wescac​!grey-area​!fpuzhpx​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-08-01T13:39:24
Newsgroup: rec.food.cooking.today-i-learned
Message-ID: <b6cd2eb00753e3fc@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Hittites did not live in Mesopotamia. They lived in Anatolia, what is now Turkey.


Subject: Who is credited with inventing a letter of the alphabet?
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!brain-in-a-vat​!am​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-07-23T19:48:12
Newsgroup: alt.sex.letter-inventors
Message-ID: <1e2ce2aa4b0ae44c@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Who else is credited with inventing one or more letters of the alphabet? Russian ‘ё” was apparently proposed by Ekaterina Romanova-Dashkova. I think I remember a story about Peter the Great inventing a different letter. (Looked it up, it is “Я”, and we still have the notes he made while he was deciding what it should look like.) And of course Sejong the Great is credited with the invention of the entire Korean alphabet and scholarly consensus is that he not only planned and oversaw the project but also made technical contributions.

Are there any others? Anything like that in the Latin alphabet? Do we know who first distinguished between “u” and “v” or “i” and “j”? The Scandinavian letter “Å” occurred in the 20th century but Wikipedia doesn't attribute it to any particular person.

Oh, I know, Sequoyah invented the entire Cherokee writing system. OK, let's restrict the question to people who contributed a few letters to existing scripts. (Sorry, Sejong!)


Subject: Yekaterina Vorontsova-Dashkova
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!ihnp4​!hal9000​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-07-23T19:26:25
Newsgroup: alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.yekaterina-vorontsova-dashkova
Message-ID: <da45e2bb00ed5302@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Today I learned about Princess Yekaterina Vorontsova-Dashkova, the Russian Imperial Academy of Arts and Sciences and the proposer of the Russian letter ‘ё”.


Subject: The correct spelling of Scedrov
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!computer​!ihnp4​!grey-area​!fpuzhpx​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-07-23T19:05:19
Newsgroup: alt.sex.scedrov
Message-ID: <7e8d3e990fe9db19@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

What's the right way to spell the name of Andre Scedrov? I suppose at some time in the past it was spelled “Andrej Ščedrov” but I've never seen anything actually written by Scedrov that spelled it that way. For example, here's his professional web page and here's a recent preprint paper of his which contains 21 instances of his name all spelled the same way.

A little more searching does find much older materials with the expected spelling. For example, his book on Forcing and Classifying Topoi from 1984, the dark ages of mathematical typesetting, before Donald Knuth came to lead us into the land of milk and honey. The book is typewritten, with accents and math symbols written in by hand.

When I was at Penn, Scedrov’s name was invariably pronounced “shedrov”. I was puzzled by this at the time because “Andre” looked French and then “Sced-” looked like it is going to be Italian, and maybe I thought that “Andre” was just Italian “Andrea” with the ‘a’ left off to prevent annoying confusions, but then I got to the “-ov” and went down for the count. It wasn't until many years later that I understood what was had hit me.

(That “Šč” is the Latin-script version of Cyrillic “Щ” that you meet in names like Khrushchev (Хрущёв).)

I don't know what I would do in a similar situation. Stubbornly insist on the original pronunciation of my name or change the spelling so that other people wouldn't stumble over it? My great-grandfather chose on my behalf around a hundred years ago when he dropped the ‘z’ from “Dominusz”.


Subject: Worst names for girls
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!wikipedia​!twirlip​!batcomputer​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-07-19T12:41:34
Newsgroup: rec.food.worst-names-for-girls
Message-ID: <63a9b070f68a4bcc@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Back when Katara was still in utero, I got tired of people asking me what we planned to name her, so I started saying “Bethesda!” And then, as the look of dismay spread over their face, I would add helpfully “After the hospital where her uncle died.”

But there are plenty of other medical-themed names that would be much worse. Scrofula, for example. Melanoma (and her little sister, Carcinoma). Fluoxetina.

Okay, but those are just jokes. What about names that people actually use? “Dolores” comes to mind, but that's just my own taste. The people who choose it are well aware that it is Spanish for “sorrows” and they choose it because of that, not in spite of it. “Alexia” means a cerebral disorder causing a loss of the ability to read.

(Perhaps I should mention that Katara is not actually named Katara and is only called that on this blog.)


Subject: The Finding in the Temple
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!twirlip​!wescac​!skynet​!m5​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-07-19T12:41:32
Newsgroup: alt.binaries.pictures.loss-of-jesus
Message-ID: <319c0b48f2f5d934@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

The episode is described in Luke 2:41–52. Jesus at the age of twelve accompanies Mary, Joseph and a large group of their relatives and friends to Jerusalem on pilgrimage, “according to the custom” – that is, Passover. On the day of their return, Jesus "lingered" in the Temple, but Mary and Joseph thought that he was among their group. Mary and Joseph headed back home and after a day of travel realised Jesus was missing, so they returned to Jerusalem. Meanwhile Young Jesus was forced to contend with two inept burglars, leading them into the booby traps he had placed about the temple.


Subject: Worst Letter
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!hardees​!triffid​!grey-area​!fpuzhpx​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-07-15T21:20:34
Newsgroup: alt.binaries.worst-letter
Message-ID: <49e301b2f554396f@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

The worst letter of the English alphabet is clearly “V”. (In second place, unfortunately, is my own initial, “D”.)


Subject: Daw?
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!berserker​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-07-15T17:42:15
Newsgroup: talk.bizarre.daw
Message-ID: <fecf6b2e9b0d40fe@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

“Hob” used to be a common nickname for “Robert”, but unlike “Rob” and “Bob” it is no longer common. But it lives on in patronymics like “Hobson” and “Hobbs”. Similarly “Watt”, “Watts”, and “Watson” attest to the widespread use of “Wat” as a nickname for “Walter”.

I want to infer from the surnames “Daw”, “Daws”, “Dawes”, “Dawson”, etc., that “Daw” used to be a common name in northern or western europe. But I've never heard of any such person and Wikipedia doesn't list anyone relevant.


Subject: Cautionary advice
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!uunet​!batcomputer​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-07-15T17:21:19
Newsgroup: rec.food.cooking.cautionary-advice
Message-ID: <1b048bbd46f5d9fc@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

From Wikipedia's summary of the plot of Don't Change Your Husband (1919, starred Gloria Swanson):

Leila Porter has grown tired of her husband James Denby Porter the glue king, as she is romantic but he is prosaic. Moreover, he is careless of his personal appearance, gets cigar ash in the carpet, and eats green onions before he tries to kiss her.


Subject: Worst programming language
Path: you​!your-host​!warthog​!goatrectum​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-07-15T02:51:30
Newsgroup: alt.binaries.worst-programming-language
Message-ID: <2803b830790d3391@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

All of them.

Yes, I have heard of your favorite, and I am including it.


Subject: Worst Bible story
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!berserker​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-07-15T02:46:46
Newsgroup: talk.mjd.worst-bible-story
Message-ID: <7c316ab67c8e75e0@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Hard to say, there are so many to choose from. My first thought is for Judges 19, the story of the Levite's concubine.

(Content warning: extreme violence, rape, mass murder.)

But Genesis 34, the story of Dinah, is definitely in the running.

(Content warning: extreme violence, rape, mass murder.)


Subject: Worst Nobel Peace Prize recipient
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!twirlip​!glados​!extro​!forbin​!berserker​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-07-15T02:35:17
Newsgroup: misc.jobs.worst-nobel-peace-prize-recipient
Message-ID: <b96a3f7965490db0@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Not so easy, this one. Obama? Arafat? F.W. de Klerk?

Without actually looking at the list, I'd guess it was Kissinger. But there is certainly room for argument. And I suspect that if I did look at the list I would have some chance of finding someone worse.


Subject: Worst bean
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!hardees​!brain-in-a-vat​!am​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-07-15T02:31:20
Newsgroup: sci.math.worst-bean
Message-ID: <5bf35f07da6c711c@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Bookbinder's was on my mind today because, going up the stairs, I asked myself “what is the worst bean?” And then instantly the answer appeared: the lima.

Thinking on it now, I have to admit, I do like the big beige kind. But on the stairs I was thinking about the smaller green starchy kind, and I stand by my choice.


Subject: Worst restaurant in Philadelphia
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!twirlip​!am​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-07-15T02:28:11
Newsgroup: comp.lang.haskell.worst-restaurant-in-philadelphia
Message-ID: <ccf8d052e14ded7d@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

One day I wondered: what is the worst restaurant in Philadelphia? Not all such questions admit a definitive answer, and you might scoff and say it is a matter of opinion. But sometimes there is one pre-eminent candidate that recives overwhelming support. As in this case. A quick web search revealed the inarguable answer: Bookbinder's. “Oh, of course it is,” I said.

I could go on at length, but the 1999 review by Craig LaBan, the food critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, sums it up nicely: “a tourist trap with lackluster food and outrageous prices”. I won't quote from the rest. It's not funny, just sad.

The restaurant closed in March 2009, denied bankruptcy protection. What Philadelphia's currently worst restaurant is, I could not say.


Subject: Quack
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!uunet​!asr33​!hardees​!m5​!plovergw​!plovervax​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-07-13T17:00:23
Newsgroup: alt.sex.quack
Message-ID: <33fa8c4fd53e6eea@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Suppose you are sitting in a room and there is a flock of ducks outside. You hear the ducks quacking and you can count the rate of quacking !!r_q!! in quacks per minute.

Maybe you also know how much a typical duck will quack. Let's called that !!v_q!!, measured in quacks per duck.

Then you can find the quotient $$\frac{r_q}{v_q}$$ which is in ducks per minute.

More things should be measured in ducks per minute.


Subject: Today I learned…
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!computer​!grey-area​!fpuzhpx​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-07-11T15:36:16
Newsgroup: rec.food.cooking.today-i-learned
Message-ID: <2d95a4e38497c1ea@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Almanzo Wilder had a third sister. His oldest sibling, Laura, was born in 1844. At the time of the events of Farmer Boy, Almanzo was nine and Laura was 22. She is not mentioned in the book, perhaps to prevent young readerrs from confusing her with Laura Ingalls.


Subject: Oh! it's a lovely war!
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!uunet​!asr33​!hardees​!m5​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-07-11T14:51:36
Newsgroup: sci.math.oh-its-a-lovely-war
Message-ID: <6424a43d24dc484c@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

This masterpiece of sarcasm was written in 1917 by J.P. Long and Maurice Scott.

1918 audio recording by “Courtland and Jeffries”. I have not been able to find much information about Jeffries or Courtland. Courtland may have been one of the many pseudonyms of Mr. Herbert Pike. About Jeffries I can learn nothing.

Up to your waist in water,
Up to your eyes in slush,
Using the kind of language
That makes the sergeants blush;
Who wouldn't join the army,
That's what we all enquire,
Don't we pity the poor civilians
Sitting beside the fire?

Chorus
Oh! Oh! Oh! It's a lovely war,
Who wouldn't be a soldier, eh?
Oh, it's a shame to take the pay.

As soon as reveille has gone
We feel just as heavy as lead,
But we never get up till the sergeant
Brings our breakfast up to bed.
What do you want with eggs and ham
When you've got plum and apple jam?
Form fours! Right turn!
How shall we spend the money we earn?

When does a soldier grumble?
When does a soldier make a fuss?
No one is more contented
In all the world than us.
Oh, it's a cushy life, boys,
Really, we love it so;
Once a fellow was sent on leave
And simply refused to go.

Come to the cook-house door, boys,
Sniff at the lovely stew,
Who is it says the colonel
Gets better grub than you?
Any complaints this morning?
Do we complain? Not we.
What's the matter with lumps of onion
Floating around the tea?


Subject: But who could have seen that coming?
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!mechanical-turk​!goatrectum​!plovergw​!plover​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-07-10T19:08:45
Newsgroup: sci.math.who-could-have-seen-that-coming
Message-ID: <01374742785f04a7@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

In 1669, the Jewels went on public display for the first time in the Jewel House at the Tower of London. The Deputy Keeper of the Jewel House took the regalia out of a cupboard and showed it to visitors for a small fee. This informal arrangement was ended two years later when

(Wikipedia, Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.)


Subject: Browne on Nature
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!hardees​!triffid​!colossus​!kremvax​!grey-area​!fpuzhpx​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-07-09T17:39:57
Newsgroup: news.groups.browne-on-nature
Message-ID: <d4f674f000d94b4b@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Thus there are two bookes from whence I collect my Divinity; besides that written one of God, another of his servant Nature, that universall and publik Manuscript, that lies expans'd unto the eyes of all; those that never saw him in the one, have discovered him in the other.

— Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici, 1643


Subject: Philadelphia SSA efficiency
Path: you​!your-host​!ultron​!xyzzy​!the-matrix​!mechanical-turk​!skynet​!m5​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-07-08T18:32:28
Newsgroup: misc.misc.ssa
Message-ID: <d1e8b72541e7bf50@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

This week I had a government bureaucracy experience that stunned me. On Wednesday 3 July, I went into the Social Security Administration offices at 1500 JFK Boulevard to get the spelling of Toph's name corrected and to replace her social security card. (This must be done in person, as it requires that our identity documents be examined directly.)

When I got there I was given number 281 and when I sat down they were calling customer #245. The clerk dealt with me politely and told me that I would receive the new card in five to seven business days. I was there around an hour, so the mean processing time per customer was under 97 seconds. I consider this all quite satisfactory.

But, Gentle Readers, the new card arrived today, 8 July.

They must have dealt with it in not five to seven days but in one business day, and put it in the mail no later than July 5. Then the Philadelphia postal service delivered it the following business day, which is today.

Stunned, I tell you. Five stars A+++++ would visit again.

(None of this is sarcasm. I've generally found that government offices in Philadelphia are much better-run than their New York counterparts. Next-day mail delivery is quite typical for the Philadelphia postal service.)


Subject: Largest flag dealer
Path: you​!your-host​!ultron​!uunet​!batcomputer​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-07-04T20:43:05
Newsgroup: talk.bizarre.scope-joke
Message-ID: <31c0737ec69a5b42@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

A man stands
in a museum gallery.  On the walls are many framed political posters and
U.S. flags.  The caption reads “Jeff Bridgman, the largest American
flag dealer in the country, stands among his rare collection of 13
star flags on display.”

I dunno, he doesn't look all that large to me.

(Original source: Hidden City Philadelphia)


Subject: Five simple ingredients
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!computer​!ihnp4​!hal9000​!plovergw​!plovervax​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-07-01T01:38:39
Newsgroup: sci.math.cream-cheese
Message-ID: <7090325d9feb3959@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

The box from a half-pound of
Philadelphia brand cream cheese, which boasts “5 SIMPLE INGREDIENTS”.

I found this this slogan lot more impressive before I found out that one of the “five simple ingredients” is carob bean gum.

Carob bean gum, just like just like my Grandma used to use!


Subject: Philadelphia hotel, 1910
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!wikipedia​!uunet​!asr33​!hardees​!triffid​!gormenghast​!extro​!forbin​!berserker​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-06-30T03:19:22
Newsgroup: misc.misc.hotel
Message-ID: <798fe6e5509845ba@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

This is from the Philadelphia Atlas, of G. W. Bromley, published 1910. The location is currently occupied by the Cira Centre, just north 30th Street Pennsylvania Station (opened 1933).

A portion of a map, with buildings
marked in yellow and pink.  Several large yellow buildings, surrounded
and cut through with rail lines, are labeled CATTLE PENS.  Pink
buildings on the left and right are SLAUGHTER HOUSE and ABBATOIR.  In
between is a smaller pink building labeled HOTEL.  Just north of the
hotel are the HOG PENS.

Wow, that hotel. Location, location, location.

[ Addendum 2019-07-01: Chas. Owens found a picture of the hotel! ]


Subject: Today I learned…
Path: you​!your-host​!warthog​!gormenghast​!hal9000​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-06-26T11:12:30
Newsgroup: talk.mjd.today-i-learned
Message-ID: <306181a7a2401f58@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Noted mathematician Solomon Lefschetz had no hands. He had lost them in an accident at the age of 23.


Subject: Lyme disease
Path: you​!your-host​!ultron​!uunet​!batcomputer​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-06-25T22:38:09
Newsgroup: rec.food.cooking.lyme-disease
Message-ID: <3dad3e26a10111e1@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

There's no point in reading an article titled “Lyme disease cases are exploding”, I know I'll just be disappointed.


Subject: Inside an Amazon AWS data center
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!twirlip​!batcomputer​!plovergw​!plovervax​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-06-25T15:31:55
Newsgroup: misc.misc.aws
Message-ID: <0a91a35e4c05605c@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

A still from the movie _The Matrix_
showing endless ranked columns of translucent pods, each containing an
inert human body.


Subject: Four people in a train
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!wikipedia​!uunet​!asr33​!skynet​!m5​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-06-21T15:02:26
Newsgroup: alt.sex.train-joke
Message-ID: <2442e426fa956dc9@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

This is one of my favorite jokes.

Four people are riding in a train carriage in Czechosolvakia in 1974: an old Czech woman, a young Czech woman, a Russian soldier, and a Czech worker.

The train goes into a dark tunnel. There is the sound of a loud kiss, and then a louder smack. When the train emerges from the tunnel, the soldier is nursing the side of his face, and the Czech has a big grin.

The old woman thinks “That girl is well brought-up! The soldier tried to steal a kiss, and she gave him what he deserved.”

The young woman thinks “What a funny soldier! He tried to kiss the old lady instead of me.”

The soldier thinks ruefully “What a clever Czech guy! He stole the kiss, but I was the one to get slapped.”

The Czech thinks “What a day! I got to smack a Russian soldier in the face, and all I had to do was kiss the back of my hand.”

I like it because the way all the pieces fit together is so perfect and ingenious. Everyone thinks something different that is consistent with the different information they have. It's like a tiny farce in a box.

I also like it because it looks at first like it's going to be about sexual assault, but then the sexual assault evaporates at the last moment. (Yes, it's about regular assault instead.)


Subject: The Disco Ball
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!glados​!extro​!goatrectum​!plovergw​!plovervax​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-06-07T15:10:01
Newsgroup: alt.sex.disco-ball
Message-ID: <b9c2902f363d016b@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Wikipedia informs me that the disco ball was invented in the 1920s. This is surprising. Certainly the technology to manufacture it was available much earlier. I think a disco ball would not be out of place at Versailles.


Subject: P.L. Kapitsa on lightning rods
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!hardees​!triffid​!gormenghast​!qwerty​!fpuzhpx​!plovergw​!plover​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-06-07T14:47:58
Newsgroup: rec.food.cooking.kapitsa
Message-ID: <643d6b82b9e08a69@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

…each English citizen who provided his lightning conductor with a spike and not with a blunt end was considered as politically suspect.


Subject: Good advice from Georgius Agricola
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!uunet​!asr33​!hardees​!m5​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-05-24T11:47:41
Newsgroup: rec.pets.good-advice-from-johann-agricola
Message-ID: <028dd66623fbe8da@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

The miner should not start mining operations in a district which is oppressed by a tyrant.

De re metallica, 1556


Subject: Asking the wrong question
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!berserker​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-05-21T18:37:55
Newsgroup: rec.pets.wrong-question
Message-ID: <f193a41db8dce872@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

The New York Python conference PyGotham is trying an experiment: they're letting the community vote on the (suitably anonymized) talk proposals. Interesting idea!

But I think they're asking the wrong question:

Screenshot from
the PyGotham voting site that asks “Should this talk be presented at
PyGotham?” with answers “Definitely yes!”, “I'm impartial.”,
“Definitely not.”

I think it should say instead:

If this talk were presented at PyGotham, would you attend?

⭘ Yes
⭘ Maybe
⭘ No

If I were running a conference, I would care deeply about what people wanted to see, and very little about what they imagined that other people might want to see.


Subject: Ominus
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!twirlip​!batcomputer​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-05-20T15:48:21
Newsgroup: talk.mjd.ominus
Message-ID: <2feec4976e526ed8@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Standard !!\TeX!! has a control sequence, \ominus, which produces the symbol !!\ominus!!. (It is analogous to \oplus !!\oplus!!.)

For a while, at a time when I was writing more !!\TeX!! than I do now, I would sign my documents as !!\text{Mark D$\ominus$}!!.


Subject: Pangrams not in English
Path: you​!your-host​!warthog​!goatrectum​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-05-20T15:45:39
Newsgroup: talk.mjd.pangrams
Message-ID: <3898348558617437@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Alicja Raszkowsa nerdsniped me into inquiring into pangrams in languages other than English. The Polish Wikipedia page has an extensive list. I was interested to learn that in Polish, a pangram must contain each of ‘z’, ‘ż’, and ‘ź’. Note that this is not completely obvious. A Spanish pangram must contain both ‘n’ and ‘ñ’, but need not contain both ‘o’ and ‘ó’, as those are the same letter. Possibly fun exercise: write a computer program which, given a sequence of pangrams in an unknown script, emits the list of letters in that script. For Spanish it should emit both ‘n’ and ‘ñ’, but only one of ‘o’ and ‘ó’.

So far my favorite find has been this Reddit discussion of the perfect Finnish pangram

Törkylempijävongahdus

which contains each Finnish letter exactly once. It appears to mean the act of a filth-lover pleading with someone to sleep with them.

The best part of the discussion was when one Finnish user complained that they did not know what “vongahdus” was supposed to mean. Another user explained:

Vongahdus as in something a vonkaaja would do.

This was accepted without any request for further clarification. Instead the first user's reply was:

I just love our language, everything is as confusing as possible.


Subject: What the fractional fuck
Path: you​!your-host​!ultron​!ihnp4​!hal9000​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-05-18T12:39:13
Newsgroup: rec.food.cooking.fractional-fuck
Message-ID: <b49e28bbe20f208b@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Just as the phrase “what the entire fuck” implies the existence of fractional fucks…

Full Tumblr post


Subject: High school math department
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!mechanical-turk​!goatrectum​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-05-18T12:33:38
Newsgroup: alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.analysis
Message-ID: <b489c636c7057890@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

The professor said to me that analysis was a deep enough and rich enough subject that I would not be wasting my time to take it again, and that I would not be bored. I thought about this a little bit, and I thought about this a little bit, and then I agreed that he was probably right.

I have something to add to this. All through high school I fought with my high school math department to be excused from high school math. For example, I said it was stupid to be taking high school trigonometry while also studying differential equations at Columbia. My tenth-grade trigonometry teacher said that just because I was studying differential equations at Columbia, did not mean I did not also have something to learn from tenth-grade trigonometry.

Looking back on it now, with the wisdom that comes with age, I can see that I was right and he was wrong. I had nothing to learn from tenth-grade trigonometry.

My ninth-grade math teacher asked why I was always “trying to do an end-run around life”. I suppose that to this ninth-grade math teacher, your ninth-grade math class is one of life's highlights, one of those fleeting moments of youth that one must stop to savor lest it slip away all too quickly.

But I think this story proves that I wasn't just trying to rush ahead for the sake of rushing ahead. When I was offered the chance to do two semesters of real analysis a second time, instead of rushing ahead to the next thing, I didn't try to skip it. I didn't even argue.

Those high school people were wrong. So, so wrong.

May they all burn in hell.


Subject: If you know calculus, is it worth taking real analysis?
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!hardees​!m5​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-05-18T12:16:43
Newsgroup: alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.analysis
Message-ID: <09a1132a9b0bbc30@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

[ This is another resurrection of a deleted Math Stack Exchange post. There's nothing really wrong with it, except that I feel like it's not of general interest. ]

Which parts of real-analysis are worth studying if you have already taken several calculus courses? I know that real-analysis is more 'rigurous', but still I wonder whether it is worth to again go over a lot of subjects that I already know from through calculus.

When I first entered university, shortly before classes began, I met with an professor whose task was to advise me on which classes to take in my first semester. After hearing me describe my background, which included passing the college-credit calculus exam at age fifteen, he suggested that I take real analysis.

“But I took that already,” I protested. “I had a two-semester course in real analysis at Columbia University last year. We used the little blue Rudin book. I got A’s.”

The professor said to me that analysis was a deep enough and rich enough subject that I would not be wasting my time to take it again, and that I would not be bored. I thought about this a little bit, and then I agreed that he was probably right. So I took the analysis course again. We used the same textbook, but I was not bored, and it was not a waste of time. It was an extremely good use of time; I have never regretted it.

So that's my answer about which topics of real analysis should be studied if you have already done calculus: all of them. You will not be bored, and it will not be a waste of time, because the answer is the same even if you have already taken real analysis.


Subject: Welp
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!wikipedia​!hardees​!m5​!plovergw​!plover​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-05-17T12:28:47
Newsgroup: rec.food.welp
Message-ID: <072f948478443f15@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

[ The following is ill-informed speculation. ]

I think that in some dialects of American English, “well” is sometimes pronounced with a final glottal stop, /wɛlʔ/. People wanted to represent this pronunciation in writing, but they couldn't, because English doesn't have a way to write a glottal stop, so instead they started to write it instead as “welp”. Once that spelling had been written and read enough times, people actually started to pronounce it /wɛlp̚/ or /wɛlp/.

Bonus question: if any of this is correct, why is it spelled “welp” and not “welk”?


Subject: Shibboleth
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!uunet​!asr33​!gormenghast​!extro​!forbin​!berserker​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-04-24T15:06:35
Newsgroup: misc.shibboleth
Message-ID: <8433f03a86108d4a@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

From now on whenever anyone says “shibboleth” I'm going to correct their pronunciation. “That’s actually pronounced ‘sibboleth’.”

Hilarious! I wish I'd thought of this years ago.


Subject: Hugo Award anecdote
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!skordokott​!mechanical-turk​!goatrectum​!plovergw​!plovervax​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-04-21T21:35:49
Newsgroup: rec.food.hugo-award-anecdote
Message-ID: <12ceafe7d1f5453b@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

A former classmate of mine is a writer. I asked him how it was going.

“Well,” he said, “One of my short stories was nominated for a Hugo.”

“Awesome! Are you going to win?”

“No.” He shrugged, and explained: “Ted Chiang wrote a story this year.”


Subject: Yacht
Path: you​!your-host​!warthog​!goatrectum​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-04-14T03:24:11
Newsgroup: alt.mjd.yacht
Message-ID: <8ebbaca4b406b50b@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

"Sunk Cost Fallacy" would be a good name for a yacht.


Subject: Artificial stupidity
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!goatrectum​!plovergw​!plover​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-04-14T02:59:13
Newsgroup: talk.mjd.attractions
Message-ID: <ac9c85413665e0a6@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Google Maps has a new button that says “attractions”. I clicked it to see what attractions were near me. It just does a canned search for “attractions”.

Screenshot of
Google maps information about the Liberty Place observation deck

But there must be some sort of metadata, because the canned search has found the Liberty Place observation deck, very nice.

Screenshot of
Google maps information about the Franklin Institute

Also it found the Franklin Institute, home of the Benjamin Franklin national memorial.

Screenshot of
Google maps information about The Main Attraction Unisex Hair Salon in
West Philadelphia

And of course it also found this barber shop that happens to have “Attraction” in its name.


Subject: Little Philadelphia
Path: you​!your-host​!warthog​!goatrectum​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-04-14T02:50:40
Newsgroup: sci.math.little-philadelphia
Message-ID: <f6c0393ac13e6e13@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Sometimes Philadelphia can seem really small. Last night I went to a Secret Cinema show. Secret Cinema is this guy named Jay Schwartz who owns a large collection of obscure films and some film projectors, and who puts on a film show every so often. Secret Cinema is where I saw Billy Jack.

Last night's show was a bunch of short comedy films from the 1930s. (Most of which I thought were awful.) Afterward I went to the Secret Cinema web site to find out more about what I had seen, and I noticed this item at the very bottom of the page:

The bottom
of the page says “WebMasters: Rodney Linderman & Jay Schwartz”

The name Rodney Linderman rang a bell, but it took a minute before I could put my finger on it. Rodney Linderman is better known as Rodney Anonymous and is the front man for the Dead Milkmen.


Subject: Chariots in chess, again
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!twirlip​!glados​!extro​!forbin​!berserker​!plovergw​!plovervax​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-04-14T02:39:28
Newsgroup: misc.misc.chariots
Message-ID: <8a3b3bfe91c14d4d@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Even if the chariots were an anachronism in chess at the time it was invented, maybe it's not so strange. Indian legend is still full of chariots. For example, Krishna served as the charioteer for Arjuna in Mahabharata. In the Ramayana, Lord Indra himself sends his charioteer, Matali, to assist Rama. Maybe they put the chariots in because they were cool, the way we have videogames about fighting with giant swords even though nobody around here has done that for a long time.

Then when the game came to Europe, where chariots were unknown even in legend, so they decided to change them. To the always perplexing castles or towers. Because apparently the European mind had an easier time accepting a tower scooting around the board than a horse-drawn cart with an archer in it.

Europeans can be pretty weird.


Subject: Chaudhuri again
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!brain-in-a-vat​!am​!plovergw​!plovervax​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-04-14T02:29:49
Newsgroup: misc.chaudhuri
Message-ID: <63c9c872c6d04d90@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

It occurs to me that the “chaudhur” in “Chaudhuri” is also the same as in the name of chaturanga, which is the original name for the game of chess. It refers to the four components of the army. (In the original game, there were infantry, cavalry, elephants, and chariots.) I think that in Persian the name is still the same, shatranj.


Subject: Exclusive?
Path: you​!your-host​!warthog​!gormenghast​!extro​!goatrectum​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-04-14T02:14:40
Newsgroup: talk.mjd.exclusive
Message-ID: <1cc93986840e47b0@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Today I went to check in for a flight to Los Angeles. They must have overbooked, because one of the things they showed me was this:

They are
offering me a discount on a future flight if I agree to switch off of
the overbooked flight.  The offer is labeled “Exclusive flight change offer”.

Now my question is, what exactly is the meaning of “exclusive” here?


Subject: Form Autofill
Path: you​!your-host​!ultron​!uunet​!asr33​!skynet​!m5​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-04-10T14:48:47
Newsgroup: sci.math.form-autofill
Message-ID: <b4e73c61479d0709@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

My web browser has this feature where it remembers what you put in a form and then when it sees you are filling out a field with the same name it suggests filling it in with the items you have used before.

There are a lot of fields around named search, and for the last few months, every time I meet one, I get this:

A
screengrab of Firefox. autosuggesting that I might want to search for
“eat a baby”

I don't remember what that is about, and it startles me every time.


Subject: Software consultancy
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!uunet​!asr33​!hardees​!m5​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-04-08T14:22:46
Newsgroup: rec.food.software-consultancy
Message-ID: <c968f1bc645f2395@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

“Hair of the dog” would be a good name for a small software consultancy. It alludes ruefully to the programmer’s belief that any problem caused by software can be fixed by adding more software.


Subject: Grover Cleveland's secret mouth tumor
Path: you​!your-host​!ultron​!uunet​!batcomputer​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-04-08T04:15:52
Newsgroup: news.groups.cleveland
Message-ID: <2fac1a74a2575adc@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

In other weird Grover Cleveland news, President Cleveland absconded from his duties for four days in 1893 to have a secret surgical operation on board the presidential yacht to remove a cancerous tumor from the roof of his mouth. The secret wasn't revealed for many years.

The tumor currently resides in the collection of the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia.

A small glass jar with a
sintered glass stopper is
four-fifths full  of a cloudy, colorless liquid.  In the bottom of the
jar is a white mass, partly feathery and partly corrugated. The jar
has the label “1170”.

“CEPI Curiosities: “It is a Bad Looking Tenant” – Grover Cleveland’s Secret Tumor” at the blog of the Center for Education of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. 20 February 2017.


Subject: In other Grover Cleveland news…
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!twirlip​!central-scrutinizer​!fpuzhpx​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-04-08T04:05:50
Newsgroup: talk.mjd.cleveland
Message-ID: <a45ae9bf7b079e72@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Cleveland’s election was accompanied by one of the nastiest scandals in U.S. presidental history. It is undisputed (even by Cleveland) that he was paying child support to a woman named Maria Halpin.

Cleveland’s story was that although the child, by then ten years old, might have been his, Halpin had also been sleeping with several of his buddies. When she became pregnant, claimed Cleveland, he took responsibility because he was the only bachelor.

Halpin’s story was that Cleveland had raped her her after a dinner date, that the child was certainly Cleveland’s, that when the baby was born Cleveland had arranged to have it kidnapped and placed in an orphans’ home, and Halpin involuntarily committed to a mental asylum.

“President Cleveland’s Problem Child”, Smithsonian Magazine, 26 September 2013.


Subject: Other stuff I learned while reading about James Blaine
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!ihnp4​!grey-area​!fpuzhpx​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-04-08T03:49:05
Newsgroup: misc.cleveland
Message-ID: <af31ce6b92f33a01@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

I had been told that James Buchanan was the only bachelor president, but that is not true. Grover Cleveland was a bachelor when he was first elected, and served as president for fifteen months before marrying this knockout:

Frances Folsom
Cleveland, age 21.  This is a grayscale photograph of a light-skinned
woman with dark hair cut short, with a poof over the forehead.  She
has light-colored eyes and a strong chin with a slight dimple.  She is
wearing a blouse with an embroidered tulle overlayer, a black velvet
collar, and a jeweled five-petaled brooch at her throat in the shape
of a flower. Frances Folsom Cleveland


Subject: Number theory
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!skordokott​!berserker​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-04-08T03:43:39
Newsgroup: alt.binaries.number-theory
Message-ID: <0310a5d2019cfe76@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

The world's most eminent expert on the properties of smooth prime numbers.


Subject: Secretary of State
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!berserker​!plovergw​!plovervax​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-04-07T20:17:08
Newsgroup: comp.protocols.tcp-ip.secretary-of-state
Message-ID: <4ab6e36f1c5cbf92@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Up until the middle of the 19th century, it was quite common for the President of the United States to have previously served as Secretary of State. U.S. Presidents who served were:

  • Thomas Jefferson (under Washington)
  • James Madison (under Jefferson)
  • James Monroe (under Madison)
  • John Quincy Adams (under Monroe)
  • Martin Van Buren (under Jackson)
  • James Buchanan (under Polk)

That's six of the first 15 Presidents (and four of the first six!) serving in six of the first 11 presidencies.

Buchanan's service as Secretary of State under Polk ended in 1849; he was President from 1857 until 1861. Since then, no U.S. President has been Secretary of State either before or after his or her term of office. James Blaine tried really hard (even harder than Hillary!) but couldn't pull it off.


Subject: Agram
Path: you​!your-host​!warthog​!colossus​!kremvax​!grey-area​!fpuzhpx​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-04-01T20:51:57
Newsgroup: talk.mjd.agram
Message-ID: <7438c9247da61a51@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

The kids and I have been looking for new three-player card games. We recently tried Agram, which would be a completely unremarkable trick-taking game except for one tiny twist that turns it upside-down.

Each player is dealt six cards from a 35-card deck. (3 through 10 in each suit, plus the A♡♢♣️ but not the A♠️.) The player to the dealer's left leads the first trick, and the other players must follow suit if possible. The highest card of the led suit wins the trick and leads the next.

The object of the game is to take the sixth trick. The first five don't count.

I have no idea what even constitutes a good hand. (Obviously, a slam is good, but you won't usually get a slam.) How much scope is there for skill? I honestly don't know. Does it really matter that there are only eight spades instead of nine? I don't know.


Subject: Harris’ tertiary colors again
Path: you​!your-host​!warthog​!gormenghast​!qwerty​!fpuzhpx​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-04-01T18:16:09
Newsgroup: alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.tertiary-colors
Message-ID: <b68b0afd6328a4ac@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

A while back I said:

Harris names the tertiaries “olave” (orange-green), “slate” (green-purple), and “bronn” (purple-orange). I think “olave” and “bronn” are just alternate spellings of “olive” and “brown” but it is after midnight and I do not want to go downstairs to get out the Big Dictionary.

The Big Dictionary gives no hint as to what is going on here. It gives many different historical spellings of “brown” (“brun”, “broune”, etc.) but “bronn” is not among them. All of the alternate spellings seem to have fallen out of use by the beginning of the 18th century.

Similarly there have been many spellings of “olive” over the centuries, but “olave” is not one. Early citations are sparse. The OED has one from 1734 and then no others until 1853. (Recall that Harris's “olave” was from around 1769.) Oddly, the word seems to have been used to describe a skin complexion as early as 1602.


Subject: Chaudhuri
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!berserker​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-04-01T18:07:59
Newsgroup: talk.mjd.chaudhuri
Message-ID: <fb337bc7c4c4aa68@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Lately I've been working with a guy named Chaudhuri. Wikipedia says it's Sanskrit for “holder of four”, where “four” refers to some amount of land.

I guess that Sanskrit “chadhur” is cognate with Latin “quattuor”. I wish I knew more Sanskrit. It's like looking at European languages in a magic mirror.


Subject: Countries named after individual people
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!uunet​!asr33​!skynet​!m5​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-04-01T17:30:41
Newsgroup: talk.bizarre.country-names
Message-ID: <56d493d297d9240a@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Michael Lugo directed me to Wikipedia's list of countries named after people. Contrary to my suggestion that there were only two or three such, Wikipedia lists twenty-five, including some really obvious ones that should have come to mind immediately, such as the Philippines (Philip II of Spain), Saudi Arabia (founded by King Saud bin Abdulaziz), and China (Emperor Qin (秦始皇)). Also, lots of countries named for saints.

(Caucasian) Georgia, however, is probably not.


Subject: Countries named after metals
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!wikipedia​!twirlip​!batcomputer​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-04-01T17:15:42
Newsgroup: talk.mjd.country-names
Message-ID: <473fe40bbeaa364f@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Argentina, of course, is named for silver. This is the only one I can think of. The name of Cyprus means “copper”. (Cuprum in Latin, and the u in Latin is a y in Greek.) But Cyprus is not named for copper! It is the other way round: copper was so-named by the Greeks, because they imported it from Cyprus.

I thought this was pretty remarkable, but with the discovery of new metals in the 20th century, it has become less so. Polonium (Poland), Francium (France), Germanium (Germany), Gallium (France again), and Nihonium (Japan) are all metals named for countries. Rutheneum might be also, depending on how you take it.


Subject: Countries named after individual people
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!skordokott​!berserker​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-04-01T14:15:04
Newsgroup: rec.food.cooking.country-names
Message-ID: <2a1109d43b8eb620@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

I read once that there are only two countries named after individual persons: Bolivia (after Simón Bolívar) and Colombia (after Christopher Columbus).

But I think it isn't stretching the point too far to say that El Salvador is also.


Subject: Badger Army Ammunition Plant
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!glados​!the-matrix​!mechanical-turk​!skynet​!m5​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-03-31T05:00:27
Newsgroup: comp.protocols.tcp-ip.badger-army
Message-ID: <557f46f1dc4f9f96@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

To my regret, the Badger Army Ammunition Plant has nothing to do with an army of badgers.


Subject: The imperative mood
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!twirlip​!wescac​!grey-area​!fpuzhpx​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-03-31T02:23:20
Newsgroup: alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.imperative-mood
Message-ID: <6298974fc7dd78a7@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

A sign on a wall-mounted
bottle opener with a picture of a rainbow and the words “OPEN BOTTLES HERE”

OR SUFFER THE UNSPEAKABLE CONSEQUENCES


Subject: The imperative mood
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!twirlip​!batcomputer​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-03-31T02:23:05
Newsgroup: sci.math.imperative-mood
Message-ID: <a769e2c63fcd6f76@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

A red plastic handle on a
coffee brewing station with the words “LIFT FOR HOT WATER”

OR SUFFER THE UNSPEAKABLE CONSEQUENCES


Subject: The imperative mood
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!wikipedia​!twirlip​!glados​!extro​!forbin​!berserker​!plovergw​!plovervax​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-03-31T02:23:04
Newsgroup: talk.mjd.imperative-mood
Message-ID: <212fa365d83eda89@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

A sign in a restaurant that
says “Create Your Own Salad”

OR SUFFER THE UNSPEAKABLE CONSEQUENCES


Subject: The imperative mood
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!thermostellar-bomb-20​!twirlip​!batcomputer​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-03-31T02:23:03
Newsgroup: rec.food.cooking.imperative-mood
Message-ID: <e1f9f897bf0d494d@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

A blue directional sign that
says “USE BRIDGE TO GET DOWN TO THE WATERFRONT”

OR SUFFER THE UNSPEAKABLE CONSEQUENCES


Subject: Mighty VOH THOV, I invoke thee!
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!computer​!ihnp4​!hal9000​!plovergw​!plovervax​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-03-31T02:04:10
Newsgroup: talk.bizarre.VOH
Message-ID: <1141f55902e4e223@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Terrifying. Can anyone protect us from the wrath of VOH THOV?


Subject: Fool me once…
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!wikipedia​!hardees​!brain-in-a-vat​!am​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-03-31T01:57:33
Newsgroup: alt.binaries.overnight
Message-ID: <9a5050b40e22dd17@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Usually when I order something online I pay the least possible amount for the slowest possible shipping. Because I like money better than I like getting the stuff right away.

But recently there was an exception. I was ordering a late present for Toph's birthday (March 7), and I wanted it to arrive on time, so for the first time I paid extra for overnight shipping.

Around 8PM on the evening of the 7th, I received an email from Amazon:

Your package is still on the way, but it's running late. Now expected March 8 - 10 — most packages arrive in a day.

Those assholes. “Most packages arrive in a day. Not yours though. Sucker!”


Subject: What comes next in this sequence?
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!ihnp4​!hal9000​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-03-31T00:36:39
Newsgroup: misc.abcd
Message-ID: <fc6a984ff1facaa5@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost
  • Anal
  • Banal
  • Canal
  • ????

I mean, obviously “danal”, but what does it mean?


Subject: Small world
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!wikipedia​!uunet​!asr33​!hardees​!m5​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-02-27T21:01:02
Newsgroup: talk.bizarre.jeb-stuart
Message-ID: <f7c7e556f59e8676@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Today I learned that the screenplay of Die Hard was written by Jeb Stuart, also noted for his distinguished generalship at the Battle of Chancellorville.


Subject: Out-of-context quote
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!hardees​!m5​!plovergw​!ploverhub​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-02-25T13:21:50
Newsgroup: alt.binaries.oocq
Message-ID: <132ada77b3fbdeb4@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

If we do that, then 1% of all emojis are beans!


Subject: Potamus
Path: you​!your-host​!ultron​!uunet​!batcomputer​!plovergw​!plover​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-02-06T15:02:33
Newsgroup: alt.binaries.pictures.potamus
Message-ID: <e251850266514105@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

There is no word in the Big Dictionary that ends in “-potamus” other than “hippopotamus”. What a missed opportunity.


Subject: A close call
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!wikipedia​!uunet​!asr33​!glados​!extro​!goatrectum​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-02-06T15:00:22
Newsgroup: alt.mjd.lucky
Message-ID: <7b990a8b4243eb6a@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Two letters in the Greek alphabet are omicron (Ο, ο) and omega (Ω, ω). The names of these letters mean respectively “small ‘o’” and “large ‘o’”. The “micron” is from Greek “μικρός”, “small”, same as in “microscope”. The “mega” is from Greek “μέγας”, “great”, same as in “megaphone”.

The Greek word for “large”, properly opposite to “μικρός”, is “μακρός” (“makros”) as in “macroeconomics” or “macro lens”. Had things gone a little differently, the omega could have been called the “omacron”.

This would have significantly impeded the progress of Western civilization.


Subject: The rediscovery of Bukka White
Path: you​!your-host​!warthog​!goatrectum​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-02-05T16:39:59
Newsgroup: alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.postcards
Message-ID: <5ed7f9bdbbaaecfa@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

[John] Fahey decided to track down blues legend Bukka White by sending a postcard to Aberdeen, Mississippi; White had sung that Aberdeen was his hometown, and Mississippi John Hurt had been rediscovered using a similar method.

(Wikipedia)


Subject: Caching
Path: you​!your-host​!ultron​!uunet​!batcomputer​!plovergw​!plovervax​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-01-28T17:10:28
Newsgroup: comp.protocols.tcp-ip.caching
Message-ID: <122a1cd8d8a874dd@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

A programmer had a problem.
She said "I'll just solve it with caching."
Then she had two A programmer.


Subject: Noun phrases in English
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!wikipedia​!hardees​!m5​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-01-27T21:14:38
Newsgroup: sci.math.noun-phrases
Message-ID: <2a0024433d9632cc@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

I've wanted for years to write an article about the wonderful way that noun phrases work in English. For example, rock band, high school band, brass band, or (different band this time) rubber band, hat band, driving band. And I know I've mentioned before that you can't understand “nose job” by analogy with “hand job”. Someday, but not today though.

I did run into a nice example last week. “Body-painting protects against bloodsucking insects” says:

[Scientists] then covered the three models with a layer of insect glue.

You can't understand “insect glue” by analogy with “fish glue”.


Subject: Mork from Ork
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!berserker​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-01-27T19:58:30
Newsgroup: talk.mjd.mork
Message-ID: <06e278a57684de86@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

I would like to see a reboot of Mork and Mindy, with Kristen Schaal as the alien.

I'm not sure who would be good as Mindy. My first thought was Jason Bateman, who I think is clearly too old. Rik Signes suggested William Jackson Harper.


Subject: Hiccups
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!epicac​!goatrectum​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2019-01-01T14:14:06
Newsgroup: alt.binaries.hiccups
Message-ID: <2df9147d12e26fdc@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

Say you hiccup. Then you hiccup again. Is that a new hiccup, or is it the same hiccup, come back to be hiccuped again?