Fact Checking The Onion

Doh! In this week’s issue, The Onion misquotes Alex Rogan, the main character of The Last Starfighter. The Onion’s take is this:

Continued Bush: “Or, as Alex says to [his girlfriend] Maggie, ‘Don’t you see this is it? This is our big chance. It’s like, whatever this is, when it comes, you’ve got to grab on with both hands and hold tight.'”

But he really says: “It’s like what Otis says….” Earlier in the movie, Otis, wizened and wisened resident within the trailer park, did give him that very advice.

Oh, sure, maybe the writer can claim that the joke is that it was Bush, the “pretender president,” who made another one of his characteristic blunders. But I think the writer was playing slops with the cult culture of geeks and banked number four off of the eight ball, a bumper, and the thirteen ball without dropping it in the side pocket.

You Onion guys used to have geek cred when you were in Madison, but since you’ve gone to New York, you’ve gotten taken in by the glamour of the east coast and you ain’t down with us here in the heartland no more.

(The doctors say I can overcome my dementia trivia with a prescription, but I declined.)

Apathetic Apotheosis

Richard Roeper’s got a point in today’s Chicago Sun-Times. Laci Peterson is the latest member of the pantheon of people who were anonymous while alive, but became national celebrities after murder, eligible for emotional deconstruction upon which to project something of our own lives and losses so that we can all together regrieve.

Shouldn’t we just get the heck over it? It just depends upon what the meaning of closure is.

When You Outlaw Paper Bonds, Only Outlaws Will Have Paper Bonds

The Washington Post reports that the Department of the Treasury will no longer sell paper United States Savings bonds. Instead, all bonds will be maintained through electronic accounts. Wow, this is so much a bad idea that I can briefly foam at the keyboard in the scant minutes I have to refuel the Doc-U-Matic “Mr. Digestion” Portable Energy System (MDPES).

It’s undemocratic. People without computers or accounts can no longer just walk into a bank and buy a bond. The official explanation is that a large portion, as a percentage, of investment dollars that pour like a broken dam into the nation’s coffers are done electronically. And by very large funds and corporations, no doubt. It’s a bad symbolic move to suddenly make the common stock in America preferred, with only big investors or little investors with computer accounts eligible to participate.

But I Read The Manual

Honey, I know you recently found a pair of your nice slacks hanging in the closet in a state you characterized as “inside-out.” However, I want to assure you that this must be by design, for I read the manual that came with these slacks, and I laundered them precisely according to the concise directions provided by my technical communication counterpart at his or her own sweatshop of indenture.

The user’s guide, or perhaps administrator’s guide (as I was not so much using as maintaining the slacks), directed me to:

  • Turn garment inside out
  • Machine wash cold with like colors only non-chlorine bleach when needed
  • Tumble dry low
  • Remove promptly
  • Warm iron on reverse when needed

My fellow technical writer, the composer of this particular guide, undoubtedly broke down the complete process of laundering this garment and rendered this process in a step-by-step fashion easily consumable by the greatest laundry novice, of which I assure you I am not, for I have learned from the many mistakes I have made, such as washing the new St. Louis Cardinals tee shirt in the light load. No, the greatest laundry novice has yet to learn that lesson.

As a professional courtesy, I cannot even doubt that this documentation specialist would leave out important maintenance steps in this process. When developers compile documentation, they often operate with assumptions not readily apparent to the end user. For example, saying “Search for the record” is shorthand for:

  1. Type a search term or terms into the Search for edit box. You can use the * wildcard in this search to indicate an incomplete string or the ? wildcard to indicate a single character that can represent any character in that position in the string.
  2. From the Record Type drop-down list, select the type of record for which you want to search.
  3. From the By Date radio buttons, click either From this date….

Well, you get the idea.

With this respect for my counterpart in mind, I must point out that although the instructions indicate that the slacks administrator should turn the garment inside out, at no point do the instructions direct the administrator to once again toggle the setting of the interior/exterior aspect position. As I indicated, were it a developer who wrote this procedure, I might entertain the notion that the step was merely assumed. However, I defer to the technical writing authority.

Of course, the fact that the instructions do not say turn garment inside in represents a marvelous innovation in slacks technology. I concentrated, using the ancient technique of Docus Ficta (Find The Feature In The Omission or Defect) which learned when I studied the Dark Forbidden Arts of Technical Writing in the verdant jungles of Cambodia (right down the road from those whacky guys at Angkor Wat who kept hitting their softballs over our fence and interrupting the meditations of we technical writing initiates to throw the softballs back). Of course!

By alternating the exposure of both the interior and exterior surfaces of the garment, the user will experience more even wear upon the fabric, increasing up to 100% the life of the garment. No wonder this garment maker is the leader in the industry. Undoubtedly, it has filed a patent protecting this intellectual property. If not, certainly an entrepreneural dumpster-diving spirit like me will poach it.

I am sorry to have to bring this squabble up publicly, dear, when all four of our readers can see it. However, you must now agree that the “inside out” nature of the slacks within the closet was not a mistake, but the direct result of intelligent information design. Even though I might shame you by this display, I promise I shall make it up to you by doing something special, such as ironing your slacks. I will, once I figure out which setting of the iron is reverse; the switch doesn’t have a little R.

Plug for a Magazine

P.S., if you like the fantasy genre, I can’t recommend a magazine more highly than I do Realms of Fantasy. It’s got nonfiction about the genre, about threads in folklore, and about other subjects slightly fantasy-lovers might find interesting. It’s also got some speculative fantasy fiction in each issue. Don’t just browse the Web site, buy the magazine. It’s available at the Borders on Olive, fellow Creve Couer geeks, and you could always subscribe.

From our Department of Irony

I received two unsolicited e-mail messages this afternoon, on my home account no less, from some punk outfit calling itself DarkSoft Group wants me to give them twenty bucks for an anti-spam remedy! Here’s the message, courtesy of some other guy who thinks as highly of them as I do.

The ad claims you can download the product from the #1 download site on the Internet. Let’s be frank: I don’t know how to discover any psuedo-scientific rankings, but I’ve always been a doubting Thompson, and I doubt that whoever www.sil00001.com is, they get a lot of casual traffic from people who type sil00001 into the Address bar to find software.

Let me see, give my credit card number to one or more punks collectively known by a name more suited to some 733t h4x0rz than a software company, and probably then provide them with the names and passwords to all my e-mail accounts? What’s not to like about that deal?

I just don’t have the twenty bucks.

Tester’s Creed

At work, I do a little testing, and I just wanted to let you schnucking developers know where we testers stand:

Here is the ultimatum of our camp: what can be smashed, must be smashed; whatever survives a blow has value, whatever flies to smithereens is rubbish; in any case, smash right and left, it will and can do no harm.
(Dmitry I. Pisarev)

That Russian nihilist guy most certainly described ad hoc testing!

Crazy 94-Year Old Runs Riot in Norway

I don’t know what havoc the police thought this 94-year-old jogger was seeking, but they got right to the bottom of it. Turns out she had not garrotted the night orderly with a jump rope, flailed the nursing supervisor with an un-Velcroed one pound ankle weight, and choked the nursing home warden by feeding him his enterprise’s own Ensure in her Buy-It-Now for freedom and the start of a new crime spree.

Nope, she was just jogging.

But you can never be too careful.

To alleviate any confusion, and to put our municipal authorities at ease, I shall remain in the recliner. Thank you, that is all.

Point-Counterpoint: Neo Good or Neo Bad?

Okay, Matrix fans. Is Neo good, or does Neo sux?

Personal verdict: You can take the Neo out of the Matrix, but you cannot take the Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan/Johnny Utah/Eddie Kasalivich out of the Neo. The producers knew GIGO, but also knew AIGOK (Anything In, Garbage Out of Keanu), so they spent the extra money they would have paid to a scriptwriter on leather futures. And made a killing.

My Gear

My beautiful wife has elucidated on her exercise equipment collection. Because I am a materialist, too, I want to acknowledge that I have acquired a number of things to keep myself in shape:

  • 20 ounce schooner. With beer, it’s 32oz. The key is not so much the weight, but the repetitions of lifting that are the key to fitness.
  • A 14 ounce all-in-one remote control. A good stretching workout device, particularly when the batteries diminish and you need to find the precise angle to switch from Bill O’Reilly to an independent film.
  • A variable resistance, multi-muscular recliner. Work the right arm going up and the calves going down. If you’ve been repeating the exercise with the schooner, you’re repeating this exercise quite a bit, too.

Between naps, I think I am in the best shape of my life.

I Am An Elitist, Too

Steven Den Beste has elaborately posted about the meaning of his blogroll. You know, the list of links running down one side of the Web log page, much like that weird, currently-styled-with-checkboxes thing you see to the left. Den Beste describes his philosophy of his blog roll: he links to things he likes, his friends, and some start-up blogs he likes. That is to say, he puts thought into his list of recommended sites and does not just tat-for-tit exchange links to play link farm for people who reciprocate. He reads, vets, and really recommends the sites he lists. In short, he’s an elitist.

Hey, I know the feeling. It reminds me of a time when I was young, back in 1994, when I tried to start a little literary magazine (a little literary magazine is redundant, I know). Yes, the St. Louis Artesian. I’d started magazines in high school (Pen and Palette and in college (The Scream), so when I got out and wanted a handy dream, I seized upon it. So I gave it a go. No advertising? No problem. Labor of love, you see. No content? Uh oh.

I couldn’t get quality content. I said early I would never publish my own short stories or poetry since I wasn’t doing it as a vanity thing, and remember Brian J = quality (and scientists are now working on a new theory to prove that Brian J. >= quality). So I hit the coffeeshouses looking for the slam poets, contacted local universities for creative writing students, posted on the fledgling Internet, and sent press releases to every peer literary magazine, local paper, and media outlet I could imagine. And when the manuscripts started trickling in, they were bad.

I didn’t expect a thick magazine to start, but I had to stretch to find poetry or short fiction I would publish. I found myself writing feature articles and publishing my assistant editor’s sheet music to fill enough pages to call myself a magazine. I mean, I found some real quality material that I was thrilled to publish, but it wasn’t much. (Speaking of which, I googled my old magazine name to see if they had its home page cached, oh-but no, but check it out: one of the poets published in it has the Artesian on his C.V.).

An art editor, who had visions of the Artesian as a photocopied underground Goth zine, brouight in some submissions in his vision, but it wasn’t where I wanted to go, so he went. It was my dime, (or $400 every two months, almost fifty percent of what the real world paid my English-degreed self), my effort, and my name on the masthead, so I was not going to put in mulch just to fill in the flower garden and hope something came up. After a year and a half, I gave it up.

So I understand where Den Beste’s coming from, although I imagine copious numbers of blogger courtiers don’t.

Rest assured, when you click a link over there to the left, I do go to the sites listed as frequently as I say, and I shape my ideas with them. They are Brian-approved, and not just a underground-economy equivalent of a “Ad Space Swap Booked As Revenue” scam.

Sometimes No Means Yes, Boys

In Wisconsin, the Joint Finance Committe has passed a budget amendment designed to thwart the state’s no call list, which has been in effect for all of five months now. The new budget amendment, small companies with fewer than 25 employees can call you even if you’re on the No Call List. Of course, the amendment comes out of committee with a straight party-line vote, with “small government” Republicans all voting for it.

Let the loophole lassoin’ begin!

(As heard on Weber and Dolan this morning).

Cold as a Razor Blade, Tight as a Tourniquet, Dry as a Funeral Drum

After a climber gets pinned under a boulder for five days, he cuts his own arm off with a pocket knife, puts on a tourniquet, rappels to the floor of a canyon, and walks up to his rescuers.

Most of us men would like to think we could do the same thing, but I am not so good with setting anchors and rappelling. Of course, this sort of thing keeps me off of mountains in the first place.