Fun_People Updates 2/8/98
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Sun, 8 Feb 98 12:27:51 -0800
Subject: Fun_People Updates 2/8/98
Bloat Creep Marches On (run for cover!)
Well, the OS bloat that can make a 200 megaHertz processor crawl doing
tasks that used to be snappy on a pdp-11 being shared by 8 people has made
it to the text of e-mail. I now get three-page messages that look like core
dumps. On closer inspection they look like very sloppy web page (HTML)
source. They're full of useful things like thousands of non-breaking space
codes (often followed by a <BR>) with a few actual words imbedded. They're
virtually impossible to read without an HTML browser. Perhaps somebody
wants you to think that a web browser is a necessary part of your email
reader, if not your operating system... My solution? I now have a little
utility that writes back to the posters asking for them to resend their
message in plain ascii. When the ascii versions arrive they're usually two
or three lines long. It's a small victory, but gives me encouragement to
hold my finger in the dike for another day or two...
Here are some responses/comments relating to recent Fun_People postings...
From: "Jonathan Trudel [thp]" <email@example.com>
I got Haiku, babe.
One of my own:
Mike and then Sonny
You had better remember,
These happen in threes.
And some others:
Irene Trudel/Peter Keepnews wrote:
Haiku composed by Peter Keepnews in memory of Sonny Bono, 1935-1998
Sonny goes skiing.
God, looking down upon him,
Says "I got you, babe."
* * *
Goes skiing and hits a tree.
And the beat goes on.
* * *
Rest in peace, Sonny.
We will always remember
That you couldn't sing.
my life was filled with pain,then
Sonny: shoosh, shoosh, THWACK!
Re: Sense and Sensuality
OK, hope this is the last word on this one:
In this large and diverse family tree, who could forget little ...Sensemilla?
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Harley Ferguson)
Re: Ancient Engineering
>While reading "As the Romans Did", an excellent sourcebook in Roman social
>history, I ran across the following footnote on the chapter relating to city
>life. The quote is attributed to "The Roads That Led to Rome", by Victor
>M. Von Hagen. I think it offers a nice commentary on Roman achievements, as
>well as Gallican hubris.
> When in 1850 the French General St. Arnaud marched his legions
> through the Kanga pass in the Atlas mountains he reasonably believed
> that he was the first man who had ever traversed so impassable a
> defile. Then he found carved on a rock an inscription stating:
> "The Legio III Augusta built this road in A.D. 145."
I am a technician, not a(n) historian, but in the second century, did the
Romans actually use A.D.?
[Perhaps this is a commentary on posthumous Roman hubris... -psl]
From: Richard Gillmann <email@example.com>
Re: Ancient Engineering
What makes this even more remarkable is that the A.D. / B.C. system of
calendar notation was invented by Dionysius Exiguus in the 6th century A.D.
From: Daniel Steinberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Re: Quantum Teleportation
>But perhaps the more prosaic reality is that
>any attempt to describe non-classical events with language based on
>classical laws and perceptions cannot succeed.
The prosaic reality is that i don't understand a word of this and maybe
they should try a language based on English.
From: David Aronstein <email@example.com>
Re: Surreal Comma: What Do You Get When You Cross...
So the million dollar question is, do you know what
book's dedication holds that gem????
[No, I don't, but I'd love to. The dedication in question was:
Dedicated to my parents, Ayn Rand and God
If you know of such a book, please let me know... Thanks. -psl]
From: Brothrpaul <Brothrpaul@aol.com>
Re: Conspiracy theory (humor)
Excellent points on the Kennedy/Bono similarities and conspiracy theory.
Thought you might enjoy seeing my somewhat similar takes on the same issue.
Gravity, Terrain Configuration Prime
Suspects In Michael Kennedy Skiing Death
(Samizdat OnLine News Service-----------) Authorities investigating Michael
Kennedy's death in a New Year's Eve skiing accident on Aspen Mountain have
narrowed the focus of their inquiry to the role played by gravity and the
vertical drop of the mountain's terrain, according to sources close to the
Stupidity and the behavioral and judgment disturbances often associated
with testosterone toxicity have been ruled out in the death, according to the
same sources. "There is absolutely no evidence that the belief - which,
admittedly, is quite common among the very rich - that the physical laws of
the universe don't apply to them played any role whatsoever in this tragic
incident," said an Aspen Ski Patrol official who refused to be identified.
"What we appear to have here is a confluence of two circumstances which,
individually, would present no significant safety risk," the official
continued. "Gravity by itself does not cause accidents - and, in fact, is
thought by many to be mostly beneficial in its effects, largely due to the
theory that it operates to keep people from floating into outer space from the
surface of the earth."
"Coupled with the fact that the terrain on that part of Aspen Mountain
begins at higher elevation and proceeds to lower elevation in rather sudden -
one is even tempted to use the word precipitous -fashion, the force of gravity
can prove to be a deadly one," the official stated.
"The way it works is this," he went on, using a scale model of the mountain
and three-inch tall skiers to demonstrate his theory of how the accident might
have happened. "Skiers use the lift to get to the top of the mountain, then
employ the combination of gravity and the vertical drop of the mountain -
coupled with narrow, waxed devices attached to their lower extremities - to
get to the bottom of the mountain as quickly as possible so that they can get
a good place in line for the next trip back up on the lift."
"An intervening variable in this case appears to have been the unexpected
presence of a large, immoveable vegetable - described by those on the scene as
a Ntree' - in the path of those who were racing down the mountain tossing a
snow-packed water bottle back and forth between them."
"Mr. Kennedy appears to have been the victim of the combined effects of
gravity - whose force is inversely proportional to the square of the distance
from an object and directly proportional to the size of the object - and the
mountain's vertical drop."
"Because he was right on the earth, rather than a few hundred miles above
it, the effect of gravity on him was quite significant. Coupled with the
vertical drop, gravity caused Mr. Kennedy to accelerate rapidly. At some
point during this rapid acceleration, the victim came to a sudden stop when he
impacted the aforementioned tree."
The official also indicated that "failing to pay attention", "not watching
where he was going", and "trying to play football while hurtling headlong down
a mountain on skis" have also been ruled out as causes in the fatal accident.
"None of those appears to have been involved in this tragedy," he said.
"It seems to me to be a clear-cut case of a vertical drop and gravity
combining to create unexpectedly rapid acceleration culminating in a fatal
collision with a fixed object."
Previously reported plans for the deceased to become the Chief Executive
Officer of a new non-profit enterprise named the "Citizen's Skiing
Corporation", intended to provide ski equipment, air fare, and lift tickets to
indigent skiers, have been put on hold following Wednesday's accident.
In a related development, sources in the office of Senator Edward M.
Kennedy announced that hearings would be scheduled during the next session of
Congress to look into whether new Federal gravity and vertical drop health and
safety regulations are needed in the wake of the New Year's Eve mishap on
January 2, 1998
Eerie Parallels Between Lives, Deaths of
Michael Kennedy, Sonny Bono Examined
(Samizdat OnLine News Service------) Less than a week following the tragic
death of Michael Kennedy in Aspen, Colorado; and less than a day after
Congressman Sonny Bono's death in an eerily similar incident on the ski slopes
of Lake Tahoe, strange parallels are being drawn between the lives and deaths
of those two seemingly different men.
As a service to our readers - and to honor rather than exploit the lives
and deaths of the two men - the Samizdat OnLine News Service presents:
Kennedy and Bono
Two of the most tragic and dramatic deaths in American skiing
history, the deaths of Michael Kennedy and Congressman Sonny
Bono involve the most astonishing parallels:
SONNY BONO was elected to Congress in 1994. In
1994, MICHAEL KENNEDY was 36 years old, which is
exactly half as old as BONO was when he died (if you
The sum of the numbers in 1994 (1 + 9 + 9 + 4 = 23) is the
exact number of years separating MICHAEL KENNEDY's
age (39) and SONNY BONO'S (62).
SONNY BONO and MICHAEL KENNEDY were both
skiing on the INTERMEDIATE SLOPE when they died,
even though bunny and expert slopes were available.
SONNY BONO and MICHAEL KENNEDY both died
after hitting TREES, despite the fact that both had the financial
resources to take a helicopter up above the tree line and
avoid the long lines at the ski lift.
SONNY BONO sang "I've Got You, Babe" with his wife,
CHER in his show business career. MICHAEL KENNEDY,
as CEO of the Citizen's Energy Corporation, said "I've Got
Fuel, Babe" which he was willing to SHARE.
The names SALVATORE (Sonny's real name) BONO
and MICHAEL KENNEDY each have 13 letters. (Well,
actually, MICHAEL KENNEDY has 14 letters, but this one works if you
count the space between SONNY'S first and last
name and not the one between MICHAEL'S.)
SONNY BONO and MICHAEL KENNEDY were both
divorced, and neither of their ex-wives was present when they
ASPEN, where MICHAEL KENNEDY died; and TAHOE,
where SONNY BONO lost his life, each have 5 letters.
Both men were killed on days ending in the letter "Y".
Both MICHAEL KENNEDY and SONNY BONO were
born on the East Coast of the United States. (Well, actually, Bono
was born in Detroit, but that's close to the St. Lawrence Seaway,
which provides shipping access to the East Coast.)
Both MICHAEL KENNEDY and SONNY BONO rode
SKI LIFTS moments before their deaths.
Both SONNY BONO and MICHAEL KENNEDY were public
figures, whose names were frequently mentioned in many of the
Both men had their FAMILIES with them at the ski resort when they
The trees which killed SONNY BONO and MICHAEL KENNEDY
are still standing in spite of their role in their deaths, testifying to
the political power of such groups as the Sierra Club, the Wilderness
Society, and the Friends of the Earth.
MIKE - a common nickname for Kennedy's first name, Michael - has 4
letters: the exact same number as the number of letters in Sonny's
last name: BONO.
Naturally, there will be scoffers and skeptics - aren't there always? - who
will find what we must regard as petty, niggling fault with these amazing
parallels between Michael Kennedy and Sonny Bono in life and in death. To
them, we say: be skeptical if you choose, and scoff if you must, but recognize
that it is easy to consider any one of these remarkable similarities to be
But all of them? We think not!
From: ErikThor <ErikThor@aol.com>
Re: Quips & Quotes
One of my favorite quotes comes from Neils Bohr, "For all frivolous truths,
the opposite is untrue; for all great truths, the opposite is also true."
I've always wondered if this statement is a great or frivolous truth.
First of the Deluge.......
From: "Barbara Ballard" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Q: Why does Clinton call his unit "The Titanic"?
A: 1500 people went down on it.
[There are a dozen versions of this one, including some variation in the
number of people who are claimed to have gone down on the Titanic (all seem to
agree on Clinton's numbers--due to better record keeping, I guess) -psl]
From: phillips@euler.Berkeley.EDU (Ronald Ernest Phillips)
Re: The Painter and the Ophthalmologist
I showed this little joke to a pal of mine and he says he recognizes the
story from his hometown of Odessa, in the Ukraine. Seems there was an eye
doctor by the name Filatov that pioneered Cornea transplants in the early
'50's. He apparently was doing quite well for himself (by Soviet standards)
having his own private practice and lots of people wanting to have the
proceedure done. He was given a crystal figure in the shape of an eye at a
ceremony when he uttered the punch line ...
From: Ken Perlman <KenPerlman@aol.com>
Re: Titanic Conspiracy
I've just returned from Australia, where the film "Titanic" is, as it were,
making quite a splash. Passing one movie house in the town of Tamworth, New
South Wales (site of an annual "country-music festival" in which thousands
of "Aussies" parade about the streets wearing cowboy hats and boots) I
couldn't help but notice that in the poster advertising this film as the
current feature, the shape of the iceberg bore a remarkable resemblance to
that of the famed Sydney opera house. Is this meant as a subliminal message
telling us that we are "sunk" if we persist in attending the next
performance of "The Ring Cycle," anti-Sydney propaganda, or the result of
pure chance? Does the iceberg on the American version of the poster resemble
Carnegie Hall or Linclon Center?
From: Karl Juhnke <email@example.com>
Re: Oreos and Rank
This story comes straight from Douglas Adams, told by his hero Arthur
Dent. It's a great story, and well worth publishing, but credit should go
to the original author.
From: Fred Schwartz <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Re: Fantasy Headlines
How about "Milk board replaces Donna Shalayla with Monica Lewinsky in
latest commercial. "
From: Ford Prefect <email@example.com>
Re: Oreos and Rank
On Tue, 3 Feb 1998, Peter Langston wrote:
Personally, I think Douglas Adams told this story with a little more flair
as a story being told by Arthur Dent to his girlfriend Fenchurch in the
fourth book of his "Hitchhiker's Guide" triligy.
Excerpt from chapter 20 of "So Long and Thanks for all the Fish" by
"I was about twenty minutes early. I'd got the time of the train
wrong. I suppose it is at least equally possible," he added after
a moment's reflection, "that British Rail had got the time of the train
wrong. Hadn't occurred to me before."
"Get on with it." Fenchurch laughed.
"So I bought a newspaper, to do the crossword, and went to the
buffet to get a cup of coffee."
"You do the crossword?"
"The Guardian usually."
"Ithink it tries to be too cute. I prefer The Times. Did you
"The crossword in The Guardian."
"I haven't had a chance to look at it yet," said Arthur. "I'm
still trying to buy the coffee."
"All right then. Buy the coffee."
"I'm buying it. I am also," said Arthur, "buying some biscuits."
"I like them. Laden with all these new possessions, I go and sit
at a table. And don't ask me what the table was like because this was
some time ago and I can't remember. It was probably round."
"So let me give you the layout. Me sitting at the table. On my
left, the newspaper. On my right, the cup of coffee. In the middle of
the table, the packet of biscuits."
"I see it perfectly."
"What you don't see," said Arthur, "because I haven't mentioned
him yet, is the guy sitting at the table already. He is sitting there
"What's he like?"
"Perfectly ordinary. Briefcase. Business suit. He didn't look,"
said Arthur, "as if he was about to do anything weird."
"Ah. Iknow the type. What did he do?"
"He did this. He leaned across the table, picked up the packet of
biscuits, tore it open, took one out, and..."
"He ate it."
Fenchurch looked at him in astonishment. "What on earth did you
"Well, in the circumstances I did what any red-blooded Englishman
would do. I was compelled," said Arthur, "to ignore it."
"Well, it's not the sort of thing your're trained for, is it? I
searched my soul, and discovered that there was nothing anywhere in my
upbringing, experience, or even primal instincts to tell me how to react
to someone who has quite simply, calmly, sitting right there in front of
me, stolen one of my biscuits."
"Well, you could..." Fenchurch thrught about it. "I must say I'm
not sure what I would have done either. So what happened?"
"I stared furiously at the crossword," said Arthur, "couldn't do a
single clue, took a sip of coffee, it was too hot to drink, so there was
nothing for it. I braced myself. I took a biscuit, thrying very hard not
to notice," he added, "that the packet was already mysteriously open...."
"But you're fighting back, taking a tough line."
"After my fashion, yes. I ate the biscuit. I ate it very
deliberately and visibly, so that he would have no doubt as to what it was
I was doing. When I eat a biscuit," said Arthur, "it stays eaten."
"So what did he do?"
"Took another one. Honestly," insisted Arthur, "this is exactly
what happened. He took another biscuit, he ate it. Clear as daylight.
Certain as we are sitting on the ground."
Fenchurch stirred uncomfortably.
"And the problem was," said Arthur, "that having not said anything
the first time, it was somehow even more difficult to broach the subject
the second time around. What do you say? 'Excuse me...I couldn't help
noticing, er...' Dosen't work. No, I ignored it with, if anything, even
more vigor that previously."
"Stared at the crossword again, still couldn't budge a bit of it,
so showing some of the spirit that Henry V did on St. Crispin's Day..."
"I went into the breach again. I took," said Arthur, "another
biscuit. And for an instant our eyes met."
"Yes, well, no, not quite like that. But they met. Just for an
instant. And we both looked away. But I am here to tell you," said
Arthur, "that there was a little electricity in the air. There was a
little tension building up over the table. At about this time."
"I can imagine."
"We went through the whole packet like this. Him, me, him, me..."
"The whole packet?"
"Well, it was only eight biscuits, but it seemed like a lifetime
of biscuits we were getting through at this point. Gladiators could
hardly have had a tougher time."
"Gladiators," said Fenchurch, "would have had to do it in the sun.
More physically grueling."
"There is that. So. When the empty packet was lying dead between
up the man at last got up, having done his worst, and left. I heaved a
sigh of relief, of course."
"As it happened, my train was announced a moment or two later, so
I finished my coffee, stood up, picked up the newspaper, and underneath
"Were my biscuits."
"What?" said Fenchurch. "What?"
"No!" She gasped and tossed herself back on the grass laughing.
She sat up again.
"You complete nitwit," she hooted, "you almost completely and
utterly foolish person."
From: Paul & Joan Blumstein <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Re: Oreos and Rank
This is the third version of virtually the same story that I have heard.
The published one is in one of Doug Adam's Hitchiker series books. Has the
same thing happened to many, or have people been reasing it somewhere and
imagining it happened to them; or a blatant ripoff?
Re: Bill in Brussels
A TALE OF FIVE MEMOS
Madeleine Begun Kane
Five missing memos have been discovered in the glove
compartment of car that barely survived one hurricane, three
tornados, and four volcanic eruptions. These memos, unearthed in
a Redmond, Washington used car lot, should figure prominently in
Senatorial and Justice Department investigations of Macrostiff
To: PR Chief
From: Gil Bates
As you know, some guy named Reno and a hatchetman in the
Senate are out to destroy Macrostiff's good name, reputation, and
bottom line. I'll expect a PR strategy on my desk by 9 a.m.
To: PR Chief
From: Gil Bates
Great plan! Playing up Macrostiff's failure to make
inroad's in AOL's marketshare is a fine idea. I shall instruct
Idora Penny to cooperate fully with the press and disclose all of
Macrostiff's online service missteps ... if she can think of any.
Failing that, I leave it to you creative types to manufacture two
To: Idora Penny
From: Gil Bates
Congratulations on your fine job with the Gall Street
Journal. I particularly enjoyed the way you played up our
failure to bill subscribers for months. That was priceless, as
was conceding that we'll always be smaller than AOL. However,
you did go a bit over-board in your tale about software bugs.
Who would ever believe it?
P.S. Find out who's responsible for that billing screw-up
and fire him.
P.P.S. Find out who's responsible for those bugs and fire
P.P.P.S. Buy AOL.
To: Senator Hatchetman
From: Gil Bates
I am shocked and appalled that you would accuse Macrostiff
Corporation of antitrust violations. Macrostiff competes fairly,
does not violate the law, and would never even consider using its
marketplace strength to gain an unfair advantage in the internet
industry. As for your assertions that we have set out to destroy
Nitscoop Corp. using unlawful means, I don't believe I have ever
heard of that firm.
Moreover, the very idea that Macrostiff has the market power
to fight so-called "browser wars" in an illegal manner is belied
by a recent article in the Gall Street Journal. Indeed, that
story makes it clear that Macrostiff, far from being a major
player in the internet industry, is utterly incompetent. Indeed,
Macrostiff lacks even the ability to bill its pathetically minute
share of subscribers.
To: Editor-In-Chief, Gall Street Journal
From: Gil Bates
I am shocked and appalled by the Gall Street Journal's
libelous assertions of Macrostiff Corporation's alleged missteps
in its internet business. By falsely claiming that Macrostiff
sells buggy products and is too incompetent to invoice its
customers, you have besmirched Macrostiff's reputation, causing
it irreparable harm.
I shall see you in court ... unless I decide to buy you.
Copyright 1997, Madeleine Begun Kane
© 1998 Peter Langston