Journalist Steals Our Heritage

Today’s Washington Post has a story about the New Zealish guy who’s doing a complete ASCII art remake of Star Wars. Unfortunately, the author makes the astonishing claim:

Anyone who’s ever come near a computer knows how to create little text “emoticons,” such as a sideways smiley face :-) or a winking face ;-), but Jansen has taken this idea to extravagant, or possibly insane, extremes. He’s tapped out whole “Star Wars” tableaux — hyper-driven spaceships, storming Storm Troopers, the famous bar scene — with nothing but dots, dashes, parentheses, asterisks and what-have-you.

Simon Jansen, the artist, is not taking emoticons to a whole new level. ASCII art is not an extension of AOL-inspired colonic stupidity. By making that claim, the author is denying we old-time geeks of our culture and heritage and represents a great deal of insensitivity duly worth of italics and sometimes bold!

After all, ASCII art has been around for much longer than AOL. Am I the only one who remembers Color 64 BBSes, with their medium res ASCII animations, and St. Louis’s own Dave Hartmann?

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Snopes Gets Props

Techdirt links to a story wherein gets props for debunking the ‘Bambi Hunt’ story. Bravo, Snopes!

I have been a fan of Snopes for almost five years (since I worked at my first “sit down in front of a computer” job). I use them as a resource to debunk e-mail forwards that I get and just to keep abreast of the latest foolishness on the Internet.

Bravo, David and Barbara Mikkelson! You’re better than the World Book, werd.

Look for the IPO coming soon to a new-and-improved Internet bubble near you!

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Layoff Warning Signs

MSN has a list of signs you’re going to be laid off. While somewhat descriptive, it’s obvious that a writer, and a “business” writer, composed this list.

You want to know if you’re going to be laid off? Let your Paranoia Shidoshi, who has been laid off before (schnuck those schuckers), guide you.

You’re facing impending layoff if:

  • The vice president in charge of your section suddenly knows your name, or employee number.
  • Colleagues no longer ask to borrow your office supplies; instead, they want to know where you hide yours.
  • You are reading this at work. So, how much time do you have?
  • You know the names of your children and you certain they’re all yours.
  • You have not yet received any notice from your subdivision’s Homeowner’s Association about the length of your lawn or the state of your home.
  • A technical writer (or QA Engineer) named Brian J. sits in the cubicle next to you and says, “I am excited about this company’s prospects!”

What to do?

As previously enumerated, you can:

  • Get into a job that cannot be done anywhere else. That includes construction, repair, and other location-utility trades.
  • Start your own business.

Or you can start sending your resumes out now.

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Enabling Illegal Behavior for the Greater Good–Well, No

The first time I read Steve Chapman’s piece in today’s Chicago Tribune, entitled “Eliminating death penalties for drug use” (registration required), I misunderstood its contents.

The title, of course, does not refer to state-imposed death penalties. Instead, he’s talking about some of the unintended consequences friends of the White Lady suffer. Heroin addicts swap needles and give each other a bunch of neat blood-borne diseases. They overdose, too, in increasing numbers. These aren’t death penalties, they’re just the unexpected results that can occur when you use the human body in ways not explicitly covered in the documentation.

When I first read it, I thought Chapman was talking about whacky enabling behaviors, like hypodermic giveaways, but I should have known better. He’s simply talking about making it legal to buy as many hypodermic needles as you want and making the antidote to overdose, a non-addictive and non-enjoyable drug, into an over-the-counter medication. These subsidary things are only illegal because heroin is, and because in the national War on Drugs, some collateral damage is acceptable.

So Chapman’s comments are really applicable. Read them more carefully at your first glance than I did.

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A Hatchet is a Valuable Tool in Any Workshop

The Professor links to a piece by John Scalzi. Scalzi’s critical of workshops for writers, which are more often than not touchy-feely confabs for consumers in the ever-profitable writer-wannabe market. I understand the feeling.

On the way to my Writing Intensive English (appropriately enough, acronymed as WINE) degree, I enjoyed many workshop-centric classes and extra-curricular activities. As you can imagine, my style was much like that of Gene Wolfe, the protagonist of the Scalzi posting. Blunt and acerbic, I pointed out flaws in the other writers’ work.

Hey, if they cannot take it from a peer, I didn’t expect they could take it in the cold, cruel world of publishing. Besides, if I broke their hearts and drove them into a Business Administration degree, I was thinning the herd and eliminating potential competition early.

Funny, I haven’t had much more publishing success than they did anyway. But at least I had fun.

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Journalist Overstates Importance of Variant Spelling

In a story on entitled Hip Hop Artists Rewrite Dictionary, Jennifer D’Angelo fawns over variant spellings used by hip-hop and rap artists, such as Nelly (“Hot in Herre”), Mya (“My Love Is Like … Wo”). and Christina Iwannabareall (“Dirrty”). She goes so far as to assert:

Every generation invents its own slang (think of the ever-changing synonyms for “cool.”) But this crop of artists is changing the spellings of already established English words.

I beg to differ. Ms. D’Angelo is forgetting:

Song Title:


“Tip Toe Thru’ The Tulips With Me”

Tiny Tim

Gimme Dat Ding


Tuff Enuff

Fabulous Thunderbirds

C’Mon And Get My Love”

D-Mob featuring Cathy Dennis

“Nothing Compares 2 U

Sinead O’Connor

Source: The Billboard Book of One Hit Wonders
Song Title:


“Do Ya Think I’m Sexy”

Rod Stewart

“I Gotcha

Joe Tex


Billy Preston

“Pop Muzik


Use Ta Be My Girl”

The O’Jays

Source: The Billboard Book of Gold & Platinum Records
Song Title:


Betcha By Golly Wow”

The Stylistics

C’mon Everybody”

Eddie Cochran

“Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing”

Stevie Wonder

Every 1’s a Winner”

Hot Chocolate

Lawdy Miss Clawdy”

Lloyd Price


Herbie Hancock

U Got The Look”


Source: The Heart of Rock and Soul

And I didn’t even dig into my copy of Billboard Top 1000 Singles – 1955-2000, okay?

So D’Angelo has discovered a trend in song titling that has extended back 50 years at least. Perhaps she should have gotten a government grant of some sort to unearth it.

The difference, of course, between then and now is that some people, including some educators, are trying to legitimize these alternate spellings in written communication. In the name of self-expression, of course. However, half of written communication is expressing what you want to express. The other half is conveying that meaning so that the reader can understand.

Hence, variations in song titles are okay, because the actual communication is aural; that is, the recipient gets the benefit of a beat you can dance to and inflection. However, in written communication, standard spelling, syntax, and semantics alone convey all meaning, so if you’re busy “expressing your individuality” by writing gibberish and higherglyphics, you’re losing readers. Sorry to dent your self-esteem.

So what’re my points?

  1. Variant spelling in song titles and lyrics isn’t a new phenomenon.
  2. It’s okay for song titles and lyrics, but not for “the dictionary.”
  3. I have a lot of cool books about music.

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Phrase Those Questions Carefully

The illuminated state of Illinois has clarified, according to a story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, that:

“No” always means no, even when someone says it during the middle of consensual sex, according to a new state law.

The law clarifies the issue of consent by spelling out that people can change their mind even while having sex. If someone says “no,” the other person must stop or it becomes rape.

So during those coital communications, take care in choosing your words for communication with your partner. Such inappropriate questions as “Did you hear the doorbell?”, “Is that your husband’s car pulling into the driveway?”, or simply “Do you like that, baby?” might lead to you committing rape.

Remember to phrase the questions as true/false (“True or false: You like that, baby.”), short answer (“What did you hear just then that sounded like ‘ding-dong’?”), or multiple choice (“The crunch of wheels on gravel was caused by, a) your husband returning home, b) your husband’s assistant, Johnny ‘Cheeks’ Moreso, arriving to pick you up for your shopping trip, c) my frightened-but-strangely-excited imagination, or d) both a and b?”).

Note: Some might say I am misinterpreting the written communication this article poses. An article written by a journalist I assume to be calm and rational, an article covering a law composed by reflective and deliberate legislators, an article I read while sober and reasonable. If I can misinterpret this written communication in the best of circumstances, how absurd is it then to criminalize a potential misinterpretation of a spoken communication composed and delivered while in the throes of hormones, passion, and/or quite frankly oftentimes a bunch of booze?

Also, does the application of the term “bad boy” or “bad girl” assign criminality?

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Ex Post Facto Are Just Words from a Dead Language

In Waukesha, Wisconsin, they’re throwing the new book at a guy who surreptitiously videotaped girlfriends nude. Well, not nude, since that’s art. They were naked. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports:

Avello was charged with two felonies in February for possessing the tapes without the women’s consent and producing them while each was “nude in a circumstance in which she had a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

A possible legal problem arises since the videotapes were made in the late 1990s, and the law that they’re rolling up and spanking Avello with was enacted in 2001. Obviously, this would be an unconstitutional application, ex post facto, of laws. But this is a CINS (Crime Involving Nakedness or Sex) situation, so it’s important to chillingsworth this guy, lock him up for a decade or two, deprive him of rights to vote and own guns, and put his name in an extra bad database registry.

One of the State’s men says:

Assistant District Attorney Ted S. Szczupakiewicz disagrees.

“I don’t believe that time and place is relevant at all under the law as it existed in November, when the tapes were located and, according to the state’s position, found to be in Mr. Avello’s possession,” he told Binn.

There you have it. Ex Post Facto overruled by an ADA. Thanks for coming up with the idea, founding fathers, but it’s so eighteenth century.

Just in case you bump into a judge who disagrees, Mr., uh, Ted, you can always charge Avello with not having a business license.

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Iraqi Population Brought Into 21st Century

The Professor links to an article about the drive of Iraqis to learn English. It’s a neat piece, but here’s the most telling quote:

”We have not seen anything from the United States of what they promised,” he said. ”I want to help them help me.”

This particular Iraqi wants the United States to provide him with fresh water, electricity, phone service, and who knows what else. He wants the United States government to help him personally.

Sounds like these people are well on their way to the American form of government already. For whom can he vote to receive the best goodies?

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Support Trade Paperback Publishers

Pejmanesque links to a Washington Post review of Ann Coulter’s Treason and Tammy Bruce’s THE DEATH OF RIGHT AND WRONG: Exposing the Left’s Assault on Our Culture and Values.

Anne Applebaum, the reviewer, says:

Yet about halfway through Treason, an extended rant on these subjects, I felt a strong urge to get up, throw the book across the room, and join up with whatever Leninist-Trotskyite-Marxist political parties still exist in America.

As I often suggest, Anne, get those books with which you are wont to disagree, particularly the more screedulous, in trade paperbacks so they’re suitable for throwing and stomping. My copy of Stupid White Men has been flung and crushed to the very brink of losing pages. If you’re reviewing galleys or advanced review copies, they should be safe for the throw.

Bonus question: Ann Coulter has escalated her criminal allegations against liberals from Slander to Treason in just one book. Wouldn’t it have been wiser to have different, intermediate level crimes between the two books. Perhaps Arson or Grand Theft Auto or Photographing Missouri Animal Research Facilities. Instead, by going directly to the most capital of crimes, how can Coulter escalate the rhetoric further? Will her next book be called Genocide or Crimes Against Humanity, or has she titled herself into a corner?

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Bullets and Beer

I have not yet plugged it here, but Bob Ames is running a great site on Robert B. Parker and his Spenser novels at Bullets and Beer.

As I grew up a potential writer, Robert B. Parker offered a shining example on a hill. I described the experience on Bullets and Beer with my essay “Meeting Robert B. Parker.”

As a result, I have collected the works of Robert B. Parker. Bob’s got a list of my covers, but I’ve got a better listing of my collection.

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Sorry. I never saw it, but I remember the nature of Microsoft’s failed user-friendly construct, Bob. My darling Heather said that I was the second person to mention Bob to her recently(her formerly blue-haired boss was first). This Seattle Weekly story, which I saw on /., is the third source which confirms the fool thing actually existed.

Honestly, honey, Microsoft, back around Windows 95, had this little animated character that showed you everything you wanted to know about your home computer. Think of Clippy running whenever you turned the computer on.

Heck’s pecs, I had the Little Computer People Discovery Kit on my Commodore 64. Bradley, my little computer person, looked like Bob. In 1987.

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Raises A Constitutional Right

In Illinois, anyway, where the Supreme Court has recently abjudicated its members and other statewide judges into a raise when the governor said the state couldn’t afford the cost of living adjustments this year.

Forget the constitutional crisis that occurs when the state comptroller doesn’t dish out the money. Let’s think about the wisdom of allowing a bunch of judges to sue non-judges. Where the hell do you find an impartial trial for that?

Oh, and lest we overlook it, these sagacious twits have decreed themselves a raise to $162,530 a year because they were barely scraping by at $158,103 a year.

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One More Reason To Boycott French Wine

Mapchic tells a diabolical story about the hijinks that occur in the wine industry, particularly how those dastardly French winemakers operate.

Who needs French wine? Not me! Might I recommend, if you absolutely need a wine that sounds foreign (shiraz not withstanding), try the Concha y Toro Frontera Merlot. It’s dry. It’s red. It’s got alcohol.

The only thing better than a $4.99 merlot is a lot of $4.99 merlot, and the two often go hand-in-hand!

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Corollaries to the Axiom

In the June 2003 issue of Esquire, Ilene Rosenzweig writes “10 Things You Don’t Know About Women” which offers the following sage advice:

10. Women judge men by the way they drive. If you aren’t at least ten miles per hour over the speed limit, we think you’re a wimp with no ambition. Heavy foot on the brake? Too neurotic and can’t dance. We also analyze your sexual potential at mealtime. Drive fast. Eat slow.

I’ve been looking for a new philosophy, so I decided this one was it: Drive fast. Eat slow. Especially when trying to impress a babe.

I conducted some surreptitious research on this new axiom while trying to impress a beautiful woman last weekend and can offer the following corollaries:

  • Do not use the red four-cylinder “sports” car owned by the babe when proving you’re not a wimp and that you have ambition.
  • When assertively and decisively changing lanes, remember to leave a distance approximately equivalent to the 6:15 Freight Express, that is, about four train cars and a locomotive, between you and the vehicle in front of you. Particularly if you’re driving the red “sports” car.
  • Don’t utter, at about 85 dB, invectives to the other drivers.

You can call these the Brian J. Corollaries, if you wish, and you may use them at will in geometric proofs as necessary. Follow the corollaries as the axiom, and you will lead a more fulfilling life.

Oh, and one more hint, but this one doesn’t earn corollary status: order the couscous. You cannot eat couscous quickly without using a spoon.

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You’ve Forgotten A Key Point, My Dear

My beautiful wife links to a story about an Oracle manager, an Indian, who used his undue managerial influence to receive monicas from a developer, also an Indian. So of course she sued Oracle.

My beautiful wife says:

And the kicker.

The lawsuit said that Oracle knew or should have known of the different cultural and legal context in which Anand was used to working in India, where managers can often exert unfettered power over their female subordinates.

Um, no. What could Oracle have done, anyway? If it, as an entity, was unaware of said manager’s particular behavior, what could it have done?

You poor, uncynical creature. This is a perfect case of DIYD/DIYD (an acronym pronounced “died-died”). Because the Oracle did not treat the non-Caucasian differently than it would treat an American, it’s getting sued. Of course, had it treated him differently, he would have sued them.

Lawsuits all around! It’s a paradise!

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