Dear Microsoft: A Geek rant

Dear Microsoft:

Find a way to bring your operating systems up-to-date in one run of Windows Update. It makes no sense that one can install Windows in 20 minutes, migrate gigabytes worth of user data in about the same amount of time, and then need to spend 3-4 hours running 15-20 passes of Windows Update in order to get the job done properly. It’s embarrassing. To that end, I’ve got some tips for you to help you out in this matter:

  • Service packs should be the first thing to show up, not the last. Make them mandatory if you have to. I do not even want the option of installing a tiny security patch from last year that was integrated… or even made obsolete, by the Service Pack that came out a month later.
  • If I’m getting a new application through Windows Update (e.g. anything related to Office, Silverlight, Internet Explorer, Power Shell, .NET Framework, Security Essentials, etc), I should receive the newest version of the application; none of this “security update for the thing you just installed” garbage.
  • I should never see updates for “Program version n” and the offer to install “Program version n+1″ in the same window. Ever.

Every Linux distribution had this figured out years ago. Even Mac OS X can be fully up-to-date in two runs (one run for the latest Combo Update, one for anything left over). If I install OS X 10.7.1 (can’t imagine why I would but I have done odder things), I can jump straight to the currently-recommended release of 10.7.3 without needing to change flights in 10.7.2-land.

I’d like to threaten to take my business elsewhere, but I’ve already done that. Most of your “customers,” however, whom I support both professionally and pro Deo, will probably never quit using your operating system as long as they own a desktop or laptop computer… or have a job. Here’s why you should care anyway, and it has nothing to do with your users. I can download (granted, illegally) a copy of any edition of Windows I want with the updates already built-in. They come out every week. Most hilariously, if it’s Vista or Windows 7, the updates were probably integrated into a factory image of Windows using your own highly respectable Windows AIK.

This makes Microsoft Windows is the only product I know where the pirated, so-called “counterfeit” copies floating around on the Internet are in fact superior to what you are prepared to offer for a fee.People who you would label hackers and criminals use your own tools to make their own job easier, and as an afterthought, share it over BitTorrent… illicitly, because that is the only option there is to “sharing” Windows. In the Open Source community, this is business as usual.

Once again, you are being upstaged by both your traditional competition (Apple) and the “alternative” (e.g. free) competition that you try hard to not take seriously. Take some pride in the product! You did it with Internet Explorer 9 (biggest tech shock of the new decade, so far). I think you meant to do it with Office 2010. Think you can squeeze out one more?

That is all.

–Strafe

</rant>

 

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Neither rain, nor sleet, nor deleted files shall stop the Cynic from recovering his Freshman English project

THE CYNIC

2002

 

“Dna htiw ym nwo seye I was eht yelims gnignah morf eht sdnilb, dna I dias: Tahw sah deneppah ot ouy? Nda eht yelims dias “I evah neeb dehcnyl”

For Mr. Bloom:

evah a ecin yad.

 

  1. The Waking of the Brain Dead

 

April is the cruelest month, testing

My alarm can wake the dead, beeping

The Cynic is awaking, stirring

To begin his daily reign.

The comforter keeps me warm, covering

I am now in the kitchen, feeding

A little Captain Crunch with milk

The good ‘ol days I still do miss

And as I shower I reminisce,

And I went out of the sun, and into the Safeway’s 10

And to the brain-washing muzak we listened for an hour:

Galileo! Galileo! Galileo Figario! Magnifico-o-o-o!

The manager, he kicked us out,

And I was frightened. He said, Kid,

Kid, no loitering! And out we went.

In the strip mall, there teens feel free.

But enough of the past, for I’m out of hot water.

 

Where are the graduates, what knowledge grows

Out of this rubbish? Son of a gun, 20

I don’t know, or cannot guess, for I know only

A massive collection of bricks, where the sun bakes.

And the classroom gives no shelter, the learner no relief,

And the vending machine gives no change.

But there is a secret among these red bricks.

(Come and I will tell you about these red bricks)

And I’ll tell you something, but make sure

There are no teachers hiding behind you

Or no teachers coming to meet you;

I will show you what lies beneath this dust. 30

Annuit coeptis

Novus ordo seclordum,

E pluberus unum,

All others pay cash

“I suspected first a year ago;

“They called me a crazy dude”

— Yet when we* came back, late, from lunch off campus,

My stomach full, and hair gelled, I could not

Speak, but my suspicions were confirmed

As I saw staff members disappear 40

Into the underground via the drainpipe.

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto.

 

Miss Cleo, famous scam artist

Has nothing to do with the story, nevertheless

Is one of the ugliest women on TV,

With a rigged pack of cards. Here, said she,

Is your card, the deranged Air Force Pilot,

(Those are wings on his uniform. Look!)

Here is Bloomadonna, Wizard of the Words, 50

The Vangoah of Vocabulary.

Here is the man with six numbers, and there is the tin,

And here is the one-minded student, and this card,

Which is blank, is something I spilled whiteout on,

Which I can no longer see. I do not find

The Hanged Smiley. Fear death by administrator.

Thank you. The bill will arrive shortly,

Please feel free to- I changed the channel:

There is such garbage on the tube these days.

 

Unreal classroom, 60

Under the rotting roof of a Phoenix school,

A crowd flowed in through the door, so many,

I had not thought AP had received so many.

Bells, short and infrequent, were signaled,

And each man stood post at his desk.

He paced up the rows and to his desk,

To where the attendance sheet was kept

With a dead sound, the EOP bell rang at the stroke of nine.

Then I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying: “Trevor!”

“You were with me when you wrote the suicide note, 70

“has it received a grade? Or did Bloom veto it?

“Oh keep that thought far hence, and away from Bloom,

“Lest he bring up stomping again!

“You! English techeur! – You likem my Freunch?

 

II. An Installment of Reading

 

The chair I sat in, like a quadriplegic,

Staring at the front, where the radio

Powered by its long-lasting dry cells, 80

From which a deep voice peeped out

(He was an old man who…)

Seemed to double the passing of time

Emitting sound from the table as

We followed along in our books

From our desks in sheer frustration,

In waves came the colorful language

Uncensored, came the strange synthetic phrases,

Unusual this story – we were troubled, confused

And drowned with the images; the descriptions 90

As the old man cast out his lines, his life

And talked to himself and the seagulls,

Floating in his skiff on the sea,

Stirring the waters on the placid surface.

Huge sea-fish snagged the line,

Pulled hard and sturdy, unrivaled size and strength,

And he ate raw dolphin, and was towed.

Above the sail was displayed

And the man accepted the bizarre scene

The fish of Santiago, the fishing king 100

So rudely dragged; yet there the seagull

Sat and listened to the undiscouraged voice

And then she flew, but still the voice continued,

“Fish… fish” spoke his lips.

And on we sat through time

I looked upon the posters, staring forms

Looked back at book lines, and read between them.

Footsteps drew my stare

I saw his shoes, his tie, his hair

And the finger hit the button 110

And the tape grew savagely still.

 

“We stop here for the day. Yes, stop. How is it?

“Speak to me. Why does no student speak? Speak.

“I doubt some of you are thinking? What thinking? Think!”

 

I think the monotonous voice mesmerized me.

I think I have lost all thought, and been chilled to the bones.

 

“You want me to just tell you?”

That would be nice.

“You want me to tell? Well, I’m not going to do that!”

Suit yourself. 120

“Do

“You think nothing? Do you hear nothing? Do you remember

“Nothing?”

I remember

The wings on his uniform.

“Are you accelerated or not? Is there nothing in your head?”

But

O O O O that Code Hero Rag-

It’s so eminent

So irrelevant 130

“What shall we read now? What shall we read?

“I shall leave you, and walk down the hall

“So, then. This is what we will read to-morrow?

“This we shall do?”

The bell rings at ten

And lunch at twelve, nearly dismissed at fourteen.

And I shall spin a record

And ponder the location of the hidden door.

 

As I stood in line, I said –

I didn’t mince the words, I said to my friends, 140

AND WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE, SIR?

Now Bucky’s coming by, act smart.

He’ll want back the money he gave you

To buy yourself some fries. He did, I was there

And you salted them heavily

He said, I swear, I don’t know how you eat them.

And no more can’t I, and consider poor Bucky.

He’ll be in the Army in four years, and needs cash,

And if you won’t give it to him, you’re in deep, I said.

And I’ll know who to thank, Ax said, and gave me a strong stare. 150

AND WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE, SIR?

If you don’t pay soon the interest comes, I said,

Others make you pay if you can’t.

But if Bucky takes off, it won’t be with empty wallet.

You ought to be ashamed, I said, like a perturbed mother.

(And then came the kicker)

I can’t help it, he said, pulling a long face.

I borrowed more, I needed more blank discs.

(He has five already. I nearly died from concealing my laughter) 160

The sharks said it would be all right, but they’ve never gotten off my back.

You blithering idiot, I said.

Well, if Bucky won’t leave you alone, T.S. (tough situation)

What did you borrow for if you didn’t want trouble?

AND WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE, SIR?

Well, I’m taking off home, and vegging some more,

And I rolled my eyes at the beauty of the whole situation.

AND WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE, SIR?

AND WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE, SIR?

Later Ax. Later Saber. Later James. Later. 170

See ya. Later. Later.

Later,friends, later, comrades, later, later.

 

III. Open Flame & Baked Beans

 

The sky is broken, the last shreds of daylight

The news speaks of the West Bank. The sun

Goes down. I feel the light betray me. The light is departed.

Linkin Park plays softly, and I think.

The baked beans provide nourishment, vitamins,

Minerals, nutrients, awesome dinner

And I think of beneath the school. The light is departed.

And my friends, who loiter daily near its entrance; 180

This issue I must address.

By the waters of my pool I sat down and thought…

Linkin Park, play softly your emotional song,

Linkin Park, play softly, for I think hard and long.

But from my back a blast I hear

To rattle my bones, and I chuckled from ear to ear.

I think I killed some vegetation

And I considered the school’s plants

Under which a dull canal

Is it used on winter evenings as a gashouse? 190

Its purpose is unknown, and I’m a wreck.

And as my father bellowed,

I looked at the damp ground

And turned away and went inside,

Embarked to my room, dust to dust

But from my back time to time I hear

The sound of bean residuals, and I sing.

Sweeny to Green Day, punk-ish theme:

Do you have the time

To listen to me whine 200

About nothing and everything all at one?

Sha la la la la la, a Brown Eyed Girl…

 

Twit twit twit

Is someone making fun of me?

So rudely forc’d.

Imbeciles.

 

Unreal Classroom

Under the glaring bulbs

Mr. Bloom, the Eloquent merchant

Unshaven, with a bag full of contraband 210

Ph.D. English, documents in hand,

Asked me in serious tone

To luncheon in the place where there is no darkness

Followed by a weekend at Metro Center.

 

At the right hour, I sat suspicious

Looked up from my desk, where the professor awaits

Had he known my subterranean intentions?

I Trevoreous, recently moved, and stuck between two women,

Who greatly obstruct my view, can see

That this hour, begins the Cynic’s strife 220

Time, will bring this problem into view,

And as our conspirators exchange, it lights

The stove, over which militants hang

Where curiosity and sarcasm are spread

The cynic’s theories are seeing their last days,

As the two parties ascend (the Otis escalator)

Pass Funkoland, Macy’s, Cinnabon, and Orange Julius

I Trevoreous, young prophet with smirk on face,

Perceived this scene, and quivered to think-

I gained knowledge of the Cynic’s decease 230

At the underground he shall arrive,

Accompanied by an agent, with a bold stare,

On whom the cynic’s assurance sits

Where he shall be taken, captured

And must endure the deathly fear

The time is upon us, as I guessed

Looking for a confidant,

Will confess to his dear teacher

He fears what’s in the underground-

Some brother lies beneath his feet. 240

Captured, betrayed, and assaulted at once;

And the cynic’s hands – futile defense;

Until he falls, with no response,

It’s whom he tells, makes all the difference.

(And I Trevoreous have foresuffered it all

been in the confines of the room;

I who saw Strafe below the ground

And saw him among the lowest dead.)

Let other cynics know the room,

For the number is a man number – the number is 101.

 

Strafe turns and enters through the glass, 250

Hardly aware of plans against me;

My brain was on the unanswered question ahead:

“Are you actually still reading this?”

And I thought of my imbedded skill:

I stomp people, no one exempted,

I pass people on the right or left,

With no signal given.

“And what of my musical connections?”

Be it Creed, or Queen, or Victorian Opera.

O Cd, Cd, I wish I could hear 260

I wish I could find my teacher,

For if it weren’t for him, I’d be doing-

Um, something else.

Now, for those hopelessly confused: you take me too seriously

Oh Mall Muzak take hold

You can skip this part if you wish.

 

How many times

Is it gonna take?

‘Till someone around you hears what you say?

You’ve tried being cool, you feel like a lie 270

You’ve played by their rules, now it’s their turn to try!

So back off your rules, back off your jive,

‘Cause I’m sick of not living

To stay alive

Leave me alone, I’m not asking a lot I just don’t wanna be controlled

It’s all I want… it’s all I want,

IT’S ALL I WANT, IT’S ALL I WANT!

Yi yi

Yiyiyah!

 

Repeat 280-292

 

“Golf carts by the trees.

Hide the entrance the Underground city

He sent me. By intuition I navigated

And found the doorway to my fate.”

 

“We’ve expected you, us administrators.

We wait under your feet. We run this cavern.

You don’t exist. But we could give you a ‘new start’

You have no commitment. Turn in your other cynics!” 300

 

“You’re all janitors!

I can connect

Nothing to a conspiracy!

You in greasy jumpsuits and dirty fingernails?

Use the underground to drink coffee?

Nothing.”

ha ha

Trevor takes things too seriously.

 

Laughing laughing laughing laughing

O man I am rather disappointed 310

O man I am

 

laughing

 

IV. Death by Administrator

 

Strafe the Cynic, not quite yet dead,

Forgot the rumors of conspiracy, beneath his feet

And the lack of his loss.

A Starbucks was under his feet!

He ordered a latte. As he added more sugar

He passed through the stages of his public education

Entering his teens.

Freshman or Senior

O you who remember the Tarot Prophecy 320

Consider Strafe, and what he said about TV psychics.

 

V. What the Saber Said

 

After the caffeine rush subsided

After the frothy mixture was downed

After the long walk home

The Cynic attempted to sleep

Tossing and turning and mattress reverberation

And thoughts of a red Moon over a white Valley

With the rocket at the center

His consciousness will become unconsciousness 330

With a little patience

 

Here there are no ravers but only punks

Punks and no ravers rule the streets

The streets which lead to this white valley

Which is the White Valley of rock and no techno

If there were ravers you could talk or think

Amongst punks one cannot talk or think

Trance is dead and the world is dark

If only there were ravers amongst these punks

Dead eyes glare back at this Red Mountain 340

Here one can neither rest or rave or chat

Even silence would be better than this

For thoughts run dry without the aid of trance

There is not even solitude in this valley

But pirced angry faces swear and snarl

From the doors of broken classrooms

And there are no ravers

 

And no punks?

If there were punks

And also ravers 350

And techno

A war?

And synths among the rock?

If there were the sound of techno

No more guitars

And white guys screaming

But the sound of keyboards over beats

Where the cynical friends can rave with their glow sticks

Beep blip dada blip bleep ta ta tatata

But there is no techno 360

 

Who is the dude who walks always beside you?

When I look, there are only Strafe and Ax

But when I turn again he appears

There is always another walking beside you

Wearing a gray hooded coat

I do not know whether he is a raver or punk

— But he is always there beside you

 

The Saber spoke, and his voice filled the air

Murmur of unorthodox intelligence:

Who are these you take orders from? 370

Over seven hours, each in respective quarter

They do not exist

They are illusions made by this Red Mountain

Yet they cost a lot of tax dollars

Strange, yes?

McCourtney Garcia Brooks

Eidenbock Bloom

Unreal

 

The Cynic, Strafe, let the puppy walk by – this time

In the glaring sunlight, he waited, once more 380

As students and teachers passed on both sides

Talking, all on cell phones

And he ducked his head and crawled back underground

He ignored the sound of the cooling towers

He ignored the bells above, signaling the hours

And descended further into the void, enclosed by earthy walls

In this decayed hole under the Red Mountain

Ax sat playing solitaire, and quietly singing

Amongst the graves, and far from classrooms

Surrounded by switches and cameras and things 390

It had no windows, and only one door

Dead ends can harm no one

And Ax sat alone in the control room

Destination Unknown! Ruby ruby ruby ruby so-ho!

Strafe opened the door, and a damp gust

Bringing Saber

 

Saber was last sunken, the last to leave

He waited for the tardy bell to ring, while the other ravers

Entered much sooner, the nimrods

The Cynic crouched, Ax sat in silence 400

Then spoke the Saber,

HA!

 

HAPPY: Why am I laughing, said Saber

My friends, your blindness wounds my heart

We, the last ravers, nearly surrendered

All the time you wanted answers from teachers

But now you know they never existed

Another week and you would have found sarcasm in an obituary

Or in memories, being rewritten by the Party

Or as falsehoods, being slandered by solicitors 410

In this empty room.

HA!

HARDCORE: This word is the key, said Ax

Turn away once and turn away forever

Should loyalty waiver and you’re in your own prison

Thinking like a raver – where lies your trust?

Inside your own mind, and only there!

This makes a hardcore person

HA!

HARMONY: The Cynic responded 420

Put simply, strength in numbers

More when all the numbers are in step

Independent, but when need be, submitting and obedient

To cynical hands

 

I sat back at my desk

Thinking, with the past behind me

Shall I declare my independence to the system in its native language?

I don’t need to walk around in circles walk around in circles walk around in

Raverthinkers unbellyfeel the system

Cynicism plusgood for modernman – here’s to ownself! 430

Teachers unpersons, thoughtcrime is nocrime

This voice shatters the calm of the day, like an alarm

Bless the ravers – we rise again.

Happy. Hardcore. Harmony.

Cynics. Cynics. Cynics.

These Go To Eleven

In the dial-up days when I was just a noob, I ran across a piece of internet banality, listing several individual lines from the Star Wars trilogy, wherein a single word was replaced with the word “pants,” frequently yielding vastly superior results (you listening, Lucas? Next time you change it, add an optional “pants” dub).

Today, at work, while contemplating a playlist for Nigel Tufnel Day (there’s a good chance that link won’t work by the time you get to it), it occurred to me that the same can be done with song titles and lyrics. Here’s what I came up with:

The Clash — Pantsdown

London Pantsing

Excerpt from the lyrics:

But lately one or two has fully paid their due
Working with their pants down
Hut! Git-a-long-git-a-long

2) AC/DC — Back in Pants

…something devoutly to be wished for anyone who’s seen Angus Young lately.

3) Megadeth — Rust in Pants

I was strongly tempted to go with “Pants Sell… But Who’s Buying?”

4) Guns and Roses — Rocket Pants

… a side-effect that kicks in a few hours after satisfying your appetite for destruction.

5) Iron Maiden — The Number of the Pants

6) Led Zeppelin — The Pants Remain the Same

Now really I’m sure I could do a dozen just from this band alone. Custard Pants, When the Pants Break, Babe I’m Gonna Pants You, Pants For One, Achilles’ Last Pants… etc

7) The Beatles — Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Pants

One of the Best Beatles song to blast at eleven.

8 ) Dream Theater — The Pants of Eternity

9) Black Sabbath — Iron Pants

10) The Rolling Stones — Get Off of My Pants

11) Rush — A Farewell to Pants

Check out to the cover to their next album and it becomes apparent they took it literally.

What did you blast at eleven yesterday? What state were your pants in at the time? Let me know in the comments.

Yogurt and Grammar: A “Review”

Preamble: I just wrote a very difficult and reluctant letter, so I’m making up for it by listening to some Transatlantic and writing this in the same unsaved Libre Office document.

Blog Proper:

Without doing any prior research, I’m going to blindly, yet confidently tell you that you are but a search engine query away from a virtually unlimited supply of unintentionally humorous (mis)use of quotation marks. I myself am no stranger to pointing them out whenever I see them, and I’m sure all around me see the “humor” in it. Usually I run into such examples on hand-written signs inside (or outside) privately-owned establishments. Some such examples include:

  • “Tips” appreciated
  • Restrooms are for “customers” only
  • We are proud of our “troops!!”

Superfluous quotation marks are particularly amusing because, unlike other common English typos, such as confusing a homonym, or skipping an apostrophe, use of quotes outside of a direct quotation implies an ironic context. Unintended irony effectively means making a liar out of oneself. And we love to see The Man expose himself as a fraud. I think that’s precisely why, lately, I’ve become jaded with nitpicking signs like those above. Those aren’t the signs of The Man. They’re the signs of high schoolers who need cash, temporary clerks not paid enough to care more, and immigrants who are perfectly literate in a language that denotes dialogue <<like this>>. Also, lately, whenever I make fun of a small business, I get the feeling that the joke’s on me on some level, owing to the fact that these proprietors actually own their own businesses, while I spend 40 hours a week ear-cuffed to a desk.

But today, it happened not on a cut-out of poster board or a quarto of cardboard, but on a glossy, professionally crafted, permanent fixture in a trendy frozen yogurt shop. It made me smile:

Contains Gluten

I’d love to tell you where I saw this, but some companies are sticklers for linking directly to their sites without express prior permission. So I’ll link to a Yelp.com review instead. Truthfully, the situation could be worse. It could have said:

Contains "Gluten"

Or if they really wanted to confuse someone:

Birthday Cake "Batter"

For a second I wondered if there was possibly some subtle humor in this. It all has to do with the product they’re selling: it’s imitation ice cream. It’s one of the few essentially counterfeit foodstuffs that people will seek out for its own sake. They are all but expected to go out of their way to make it look like an ice cream parlor, but just a liiiittle off, so that the patron simultaneously thinks “ice cream,” but then sees the fruit toppings and remembers “but it’s healthy.” So perhaps they are taking a lighthearted jab at their own necessary level of artificiality? Doubtful, seeing as how they got it right here:

Plain Tart

On an interesting side note, there’s no warning at all here:

Peanut Butter

I am reasonably certain that peanut butter frozen yogurt contains peanuts. Meaning no disrespect to those who have been diagnosed with a gluten insensitivity, but I’m kind surprised given this context.

Grammatical humor aside, since I was moved enough by this establishment to squeeze out a pseudo-review of it, it’s only fair to offer an honest reaction to their product.

Let’s just say I “enjoyed it.”

Badlibs

Perhaps I a simply expecting too much when I start picking apart promotional jingles for small businesses. But seriously, who recorded this thing?:

“Sardella’s pizza and wings,
Only Sardella’s has my favorite things,
Sardella’s!”

Really? I like your pizza, Sardella’s (can I call you Della?), but you’re going to claim to have a monopoly on my “favorites?” Either you think you have an incredibly narrow customer base, or else you’ve got a side room or something I’ve managed to overlook somehow for the last decade.

It has been brought to my attention by a clearer-thinking individual that in may have also been an unimaginative lyricist.

Now, this jingle is too short to parody but too awesome to pass by. So I’ll do the next best thing: take it literally.

*          *          *

I loitered just a moment in the menu-viewing area—that clearly marked section in which the staff understands the patron is contemplating his purchase, and therefore knows not to ask what you’ll be ordering. It’s brilliant for when there’s no line… like right now. After making a self-paced, no-pressure decision, I approached the friendly, black-dressed staff member, and placed my order. As she read-back my order, her words were well enunciated, and pace moderate, but she made no eye contact.

Pocketing my receipt, I read the promotional poster near the register:

Free energy drink with the
purchase of any bass-heavy progressive rock
album of your choice.

“Huh,” I thought to myself, “I didn’t know Della’s had gotten into the exclusive record business… oh well, works for Starbucks.” I grabbed the first disc that caught my eye, The Best of Bands Featuring Tony Levin. “Ring this up too,” I said.

“Oh, please sample it first. You can swipe it at our listening station first, at your table.”

As I sat at my table, I immediately noticed the cushioned bench and slightly reclined back rest. It seemed as if this table were designed with the comfort of the occupant in mind, rather than to quickly drive one out.

Examined the scanning and playback device on the table, which resembled a jukebox, I spied a small a small label stuck to the bottom corner: “Now supporting streaming through your smartphone, tablet or eReader. Not compatible with Apple devices.” Snickering, I pulled out my Droid and put on my headphones.

Somewhere between “Discipline” and “Acid Rain” my food arrived, along with a complementary pamphlet explaining the company’s decision to move their computer systems to Linux, with a breakdown f how they were passing that savings on to the customer. “You can change the channel, if you’d like,” the server mentioned. Tapping a button on the playback device, I switched from the space exploration documentary that had been playing to a special on various breeds of dogs.

The bell over the door rang announcing the arrival of a new patron. I couldn’t help but notice that the high-pitched electronic “ding’” I had grown accustomed to had been replaced with a warmer, fuller bell. My friend [name omitted] had arrived.

“Sup?!” he called in the general direction of the staff area. There were friendly nods but no verbal responses. He sat opposite me.

“Sup.”

“Sup.”

“Hey… where’s the crushed red?”

“Baked into the cheese. Where else would it be?”

*          *          *

And now the madlib, er, “badlib.” What would you find at a store, restaurant, or some establishment peddling all your favorite things, no matter how improbable? Feel free to comment.

Like This Post

With the pleasantly-surprising exception of one Google hit, all of my traffic to this weblog comes by way of Facebook. Can’t complain… what with my disdain for non-sarcastic self-promotion and infrequent updates.

Additionally, I have used Facebook more than once to publish ideas that were too short, profane or random to blog about. Ever being a believer in balance, I believe it is high time to now use Word Press as a staging ground to talk about Facebook. Specifically: the like button, using it, and when not to. Let me open with a few examples:

I only made one of these up

I’m not quite sure what’s going on here. I’m a little frightened at the idea that we’re dealing with a form of social ineptitude that surpasses my own. I am slightly more comfortable with the possibility that people are associating the word “Like” with general feelings of positivity and good will, and thus clicking (or in the case of mobile devices… um… thumbing? Tapping?). Obviously, the Like button has its deficiencies. Now before you jump to the obvious…

I think the popularity of the idea of a “Dislike” button highlights the tendency of people to think in polar opposites. I myself am not a fan of a Dislike button… I believe the lack of it, combined with the presence of the Like button, promotes in some primitive way the Judeo-Christian ideal of being slow to anger and quick to listen. Doesn’t do much about “slow to speak,” but that would be expecting a little much from a website with an integrated chat feature.

There’s another obvious solution: if you’re moved enough to respond, and want the other party to know/think they’ll be impressed… write something.

Facebook: Now with comments!

Sure, maybe for those rumored Facebook power-users. But that’s not what drove people to computers in the first place. I think it ultimately comes down to a CLI vs. GUI thing (what?). Allow me to explain:

Early computer terminals had no graphics. They had a command-line interface: a blinking prompt that would sit there until you told it to do something. Not unlike many husbands. But, the catch was, in order to do something, one needed to learn an unintuitive, needlessly complex and tough-as-hell-to-remember series of commands and responses. Not unlike dealing with many wives (remember: a believer in balance).

An actual Linux command. It's not as dirty as it sounds.

The advantage of a CLI is that the user is unbounded: pretty much anything you want the machine (or network of machines) to do, you can… provided you know the command ahead of time. But that’s uninviting. That’s where graphics come in. Not quite as unbounded as the command-line, but it provides a working analogue to tools and situations with which people are familiar, and context. Don’t know what I mean? Click on something. I’ll wait.

You were just given a list of options. You may have even understood what some of them were. And nobody needed to teach you that. The Internet used to be like a CLI… full of precursors to forums and message boards, telnet games, and primitive text-based websites[link] that just offered some info and links to other equally-simple sites. Modern sites are a graphical answer to those same needs.

Facebook needs to realize this. Their target demographic is not about to master the most complex shell language ever… namely modern English… to do something so simple as respond to and identify with the observations, announcements and queries of friends, relatives, colleagues and phishers. They need to be guided. And I think I figured it out. May I modestly propose the following:

Goodnight folks. Remember to “exonerate” this blog on your respective walls.

And the Ass Spoke: The Quasi-theological Musings of Strafe

The notion of biblical in-errancy is a croc of sh*t (or, a turd-gator, if you will). Opponents of scriptural infallibility will speak the inherent logical problems of claiming a work to be true based on the assertion of the work itself that it is true (e.g. the bible is true because it claims to be; classic “begging the question.”) I hate that people do this, because like any good mud-slinging campaign, it distracts from the real issue… namely, that the bible makes no such claim.

In my past, people have immediately jumped to 2 Timothy 3:16 (what’s with these 3-16’s?), where Paul declares that “all Scripture is God-breathed.” But check everything else Paul wrote. When he says “Scripture,” it is clear that he is referring to what Christians call the Old Testament… which at the time included a few books that Protestants do not acknowledge. Read a few verses before and after the phrase, and it looks to me like Paul is reminding Timothy not to throw out the Old Testament, because it guides one to wisdom and has valuable lessons to teach. One could debate the true significance of the word/phrase “God-breathed,” but in context it seems trumped by the overall, more straightforward meaning of the entire sentence. No self-referential assurance of the infallibility of then-contemporary works (e.g. Paul’s own letters). If you think it does say that, you are drawing that conclusion from an extra-biblical source.

Regarding Paul in general… there is no implication in his works that he knew he was writing Scripture when he sent all those letters. So, it is possible he may have used a style of language, made certain references, etc when writing to friends that he would not have used in a sermon, or something meant to be authoritative. One may conclude that the Spirit imparted unto him infallibility in his writings… but the bible doesn’t say that. It also makes the spot where he says “And I say (I, not the Lord)” rather awkward.

A man who no longer attends my church once mentioned in a class he was teaching that we “know” the Mormons are wrong because they “add” to the book (referring to the book of Mormon), disregarding the warning at the end of Revelation. I hope that opinion is not wide-spread among us evangelicals, given that the warning clearly applies only to the writings of Revelation itself.

(*TANGENT* I’ve always liked the theory that John used the heavy symbolism in Revelation as a means of effectively encoding the letter, that is, making it unreadable to those who would persecute the faith. At the time, it was common practice to abridge, expand, sign, tag, correct, etc relevant writings, since they all had to be copied by hand anyway. I wonder if John’s dire warning may have just been a signal not to alter anything/be mindful to present the work in its entirety, or else the “code” would be even more indecipherable. Just an idea… no scholarly backing *END TANGENT*)

A particular disadvantage us monolinguals have when reading the bible is that we are not reading anything straight from the authors. Everything has been translated. More than once. And here’s what the translators have to say for themselves: “Like all translations of the Bible, made as they are by imperfect man, this one undoubtedly falls short of its goals.” That’s from the preface of my NIV. Check the footnotes in the scriptures themselves. Job 29 has a whole clause that cannot be translated beyond a certain degree of uncertainty. I pick on Job because one of the most reassuring quotes I’ve ever come across, “Though he slay me, yet I will hope in Him” (13:15) can also be translated “He will surely slay me; I have no hope.” That’s a bit of a downer. But if you understand how Ancient Hebrew works, you’ll know you can’t blame the translators. If you don’t, here’s a crude example, made from that last sentence:

DNTSRDNJFTB
SKRWWRBHTNCNWH
TNCJWNLLWJ
SRTLSNRTHTMLB

Even when you add spaces it doesn’t help much:

DNTSRDN J F TB
SKRW WRBH TNCN WH
TNC J WN LLW J
SRTLSNRT HT MLB

Ultimately, one’s attitude towards the bible, and the lessons one takes away from it, are largely contingent on the personal experiences one brings to it. The bible itself gives examples of this… read the part in Acts with the Eunich; he seems to be most impressed by the Savior’s lack of descendants. In order for us to get any meaning from it, on some level we need to match it up with things that lie outside of it. That’s not a problem if you believe in a God willing to reveal himself in multiple mediums (the whole Holy Spirit thing kind of implies this). If, however, you are one of those “sole authoritative word of God” types, we encounter problems… not the least of which being the fact that the bible makes no claims of infallibility.