Content-Type: text/shitpost

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
Message-ID: <>
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
Message-ID: <>
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
Message-ID: <>
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
Message-ID: <>
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
Message-ID: <>
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: <>
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: <>
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
Message-ID: <>
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: <>
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: <>
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
Message-ID: <>
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: <>
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: <>
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
Message-ID: <>
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
Message-ID: <>
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: <>
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?

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: <>
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: <>
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: <>
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: <>
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: <>
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!