Daily Archives: October 14, 2007

Dr Watson: Linux Tux, JE Sux, Harvard Sux, Microsoft Sux, Vista Sux

I’m writing this short report from the comfortable confines of the Yale Elizabethan Club in New Haven, CT. Holmes and I await the arrival of Blogger Dave.

Holmes has just had to step away to help open the vault that stores the Club’s most-treasured manuscripts, as the director encountered problems trying to open the door to the vault. [1]. Indeed, Sherlock and Dave first met many years ago when they both attended an afternoon lecture in Dabney Lounge in which R.P. Feynman gave a hilarious talk about his days cracking safes in Los Alamos during WWII.

However, Sherlock had begun bringing me up to speed before he was asked to pitch in, so here is what I have learned so far.

Holmes and PM, Prof. Moriarty, stayed away from the New World until about 1630, when the Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts. Holmes, forseeing the day when Legal Seafood would set up shop, took an interest in the new Colony. PM also looked ahead, and that now only would the colonists rise in revolt against their King within two centuries, but that within four centuries they rebel against working in a Microsoft Office, by demanding that they be allowed to work in an “Open” Office, and at no charge to boot.

Since Holmes was just looking forward to a nice bowl of chowder, while PM saw a long-term strategic threat, the PM was more aggressive, and so established Harvard College.

Holmes watched things develop for close to a century, but, when he felt a sense of looming menace, he established his own college, and named it Yale, locating it in the seaside town of New Haven, Connecticut, as the citizens promised to provide a “safe haven” for refugees from Boston and New York. Homes knew that many New Yorkers would, in decades to come, become so enraged by the antics of a man they would call only “The Boss” that they would emigrate north to a town where they could hear Red Sox games on the radio.

Holmes then decided to use Yale as a base of operations for bringing Truth and Light to the Western Hemisphere, and made his mission clear to PM by taking as Yale’s motto, Lux et Veritas. Knowing that Harvard students knew little Latin, Holmes conducted a search much like of the Red-Heades League, in this instance looking for young lads with language skills

Holmes taught Hebrew, Latin, and several other languages to a young lad named Jonathan Edwards, with such skill that young Jon was admitted to Yale at the tender age of 13, a few months before his Bar Mitzvah (that JE was Jewish was kept secret, though encoded in his name: J-onathan E-d-W-ards, and the site of his ceremony, as well as all the gifts he received from his family, were buried deep in the ground and then covered by a large structure known as the Skull And Bones Society, a building which has no windows, and hence no blue screens of death.)

Jonathan Edwards went on to become one of the best known ministers of his generation. He was also cast out by a congregation, and ended his years as the President of Princeton University, a school Holmes established to give the future residents of New Jersey the false hope that they had a purpose in life other than to provide a buffer zone between New York and Philadelphia that would be used to host toxic chemical plants and third-rate football teams.

Holmes then established a cadre of loyal followers in Jonathan Edwards College [2]., siting it directly near to Jonathan Edwards’s buried Bar Mitzvah gifts. It was Holmes who set in place the arbitrary admissions process that would, after three centuries of arbitrary application, cause the assignment of entering students with Watson Scholarships to Jonathan Edwards College. It was also Holmes who arranged that the College should have the largest endowment of any of Yale’s undergraduate colleges, and would arrange to have as Deans faculty members who were both skilled in the scientific arts, and also knew all the best places to lavish money in New York City on JE’s admirable students.

Holmes then mentioned that, when he chose young Jonathan Edwards to begin his instruction, he had insisted on someone with an interest in “bugs,” as he knew that Tom Edison’s invention of the phonograph would, in creating one record after another, eventually result in the creation of a vast conspiracy that would be led by a mysterious group called “RIAA.” So Holmes had chosen young Jonathan from another “red-headed” form of group, in this case “young men who will go to Yale and become buggers.”

It was the young lad’s writing of an essay about “flying spiders,” at the tender age of 11, that caused Sherlock to seek him out. After all, it took almost eleven years to produce Vista. And a spider is one of the nastiest of bugs, as Jonathan would go on to write in one of the most famous sermons of the 18th century: SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY GOD, which, recasting Dave as you know who, and “you” as Microsoft, says in part (emphasis added):

Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell; and if Dave should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf, and your healthy constitution, and your own care and prudence, and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell, than a spider’s web would have to stop a falling rock.

The Dave that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours

Holmes also warned Prof. Moriarty to not disturb his young colleagues by changing the “L” in “Lux” to “S as in Sherlock”, so that the words “JE Sux” would serve as the College Motto, as a warning to evildoers. This is noted on the College’s official web site as “Sux et Veritas.”

Holmes said Dave has written several posts on the theme of Sux-ness, much as does Steve O’Grady write on the theme of “Sox-ness,” especially when Sox players also Sux, but that is a tale for another day.

Thus, at any place — but especially Cambridge, MA — and at any time — but especially annually at the time of “The Game” — good men can always announce themselves just by saying, “JE Sux,” and in so doing reduce the power of any nearby evildoers.

Dave knows of this, and indeed has had the open-source community adopt “Vista Sux” as its motto. Dave has even told everyone they can say “Vista Sux” to anyone the meet who works for Microsoft, and thus announce that they are open-source folks, knowing that everyone says “Vista Sux,” so their identity will remain a secret.

Holmes also mentioned that Dave had arranged for the Linux mascot to be named Tux, a neologism created solely to increase the number of words that rhyme with “sux.” A similar approach was used by RMS, who created “gnu” as it provides a useful rhyme with “screw.”

But hark, I see Holmes is entering the room, followed by — yes, though I can’t believe it — Blogger Dave himself.

Dave has just given me a list of some of his posts d about Suxiness, a trait even more desirable than sexiness, though he has written about that, too:

I will report further when Holmes has informed me of the identity of one of the greatest men ever to bear the name Watson. (Dave just hinted that his code name is “Smart Watson #5.”)

I just can’t wait to learn his identity, and will share it with you as soon as I learn it.

Oops, I need to attend to Holmes. He just bit into a scone and his tooth was damaged by a stone that had been secreted inside and was causing the problem.

PS: Holmes did recover, though only after a visit to a dentist and the payment of his hefty fee. [3]

Once his spirits recovered, Sherlock created a memorable phrase both to mark the occasion and to serve as a warning.

Before revealing it to me he asked if I would venture to write such a phrase myself. I suggested he could base his text on King Lear:

How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is

To have a stoney scone! Away, away!

Holmes replied that, while he was a great fan of the Bard, having written most of the plays himself, he preferred to go back to the great Aesop:

Leave No Scone Unturned.

Notes:

1. Dave later reported this was due to the Club’s recent installation of Vista, as buried inside Vista was special code that would run amok whenever Vista was run at a site that was part of the “yale.edu” domain, though it was later learned that, due to a bug, Vista went amok every time the host computer was booted up, though it hasn’t as yet been observed run amok while users are running a soundly-constructed program called amarok.

2. See also Wikipedia’s Jonathan Edwards College, but I much prefer JE’s own site, as Eli’s wrote it.

3. This is based on a true incident. While at Jen’s graduation, we attended a reception at the E.Club, where Jen is a member. My wife took a bite of a pastry that had something hard within, and so had to visit the dentist and fork out some of our small supply of boodle.

Dr Watson: “Noble Scoble” To Win Nobel Prize

I spend some time each Sunday catching up with the gnews of the week by reading the “Times.” (Oops, sorry about that. Old habits die hard.)

I actually read two Times’s, the “Times, London Times,” and the “Times, New York Times,” both to follow the work of James Governor and to keep abreast of the latest developments of Dave Shields, who works on the other side of the pond. [1]

I leave Time magazine to Sherlock, as one needs a third, sleight hand to turn the pages of that rag without having the mind start reeling backwards.

As you may have guessed, Sherlock spends many of his weekdays managing world affairs in his role as the secret publisher of the Times’s, and issues a weekly progress report in the Sunday editions of the Times’s.

He has directed me to pay particular attention to the column of Mr. Frank Rich — “Rich, Frank Rich” — as Sherlock writes these posts anonymously using the name Rich.

From time to time I read of amazing events in the paper, and I was certain today was such an occasion, as I noted with great surprise that Mr. Albert Gore was a co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize!

So I said to Holmes, “Good grief! I am flummoxed! Please explain?” [2]

Sherlock then responded, “Patience, my dear Watson. Can you guess why Mr. Gore might have received this award?”

I said, “No. Dave Shields once told me that, while listening to a news report many years ago on the radio, he learned that a Mr. Kissinger had won the Nobel Peace Prize. Not knowing anyone with that name active in public affairs who was worthy of that award, he left his office to talk to people who might have some insight. Had he got the name wrong? Was it Kisser, or Kissoff, or Pick-Up-and-Dropoff? [3] Was it another Kissinger? Huey, Duey, Looey?

To his amazement he learned after several minutes that the award had gone to Mr. Henry Kissinger, then a minor functionary in the administration of Richard Nixon, the same Nixon who defined the lower-water mark for the American Presidency thirty years ago, not knowing his record would soon be eclipsed by the current administration in its search to see “how low can you go?” [4]

Holmes then said he was well aware of this, and had so arranged for the co-recipient to decline that award, knowing that Mr. Kissinger would not refuse this lagniappe of admiration that had been sent his by the Nobel Committee, as surely as A.J. Liebling sent a lemon drop to Earl Long to win his heart. He then suggested I make a guess.

I said, “I have it! You arranged this award to gore President Bush’s ox!”

“Good guess, my dear Watson,” said Holmes. “But you forgot to ask who arranged the award.”

“Aha,” I said. “You mean this is the work of the PM? Professor Moriarty?”

“Well done, Watson,” said Holmes. “You see, Ballmer and Gates knew they would be late in producing what they hoped would be the most bug-infested piece of software ever written. So in order to give them more time, they arranged for George Bush to win the Presidency in 2000. Having hired all the best minds to work on Vista, they knew Bush would so have to use the worst minds, and — having the worst one of all — he had had more than met their expectations.”

“But they felt bad for former Vice-President Gore, and so brought him on the board as a silent partner. I think they also arranged for him to serve of the board of another computer company, though I forget the name.” [5]

“They then gave him an important mission. If he would use his fame –and be willing to “gore”-ge by eating at many of the world’s best restaurants at their expense — then they would send him on an extended, global tour, in order to demonstrate the power of PowerPoint. They then said that Prof. Moriarty had promised that Mr. Gore would receive a Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his work.

Holmes went to explain that he and Prof. Moriarty had decided to share the naming of the winner of the Nobel Prize. Moriarty had out-twitted Holmes by arranging for Nobel to not create a Nobel Prize for Mathematics. [6]

They had then agreed to avoid escalation by creating the Peace Prize. Here are some of the winners so far chosen, and Holmes has suggested the following list as an example of a special Puzzler just for this blog, leaving it to you, the reader, to decide who named each winner:

  • Theodore Roosevelt:. The current Microsoft PR campaign takes its motto from TR, “Speak loudly and carry a big stick.”
  • Elihu Root: The most powerful Unix user has the username “root.”
  • Helman Branting: Steve Ballmer was baying and rarnting about patents.
  • Carlos Saavedra Lamas: The Linux mascot is Tux, a penguin, not a llama.
  • Lord Boyd Orr: C operators include, “and,” “exor,” and “or.”
  • Linus Carl Pauling: Linus Torvalds is named after Linus Pauling.
  • Desmond Mpilo Tutu: Ubuntu.
  • International Campaign to Ban Landmines: A group led by Bruce Schneier.
  • Albert Arnold (Al) Gore, Jr.: Go figure.

Holmes also volunteered that, in response to Prof. Moriarty’s founding of the Free Software Foundation and the naming of RMS as its first CEO, he had arranged for “U Nu” to become Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Holmes then went on to say that while Microsoft had hired Mr. Gore in order demonstrate PowerPoint, they had recently enlisted one of their former employees, a fearsome blogger named Robert Scoble –who goes by the nom-de-guerre “Scobleizer — to embark on a secret mission to completely overwhelm the blogosphere so that no one would take notice of Dave’s blog.

Holmes said he had seen this coming. He also had noticed that Dave, who has just starting using twitter, recently slipped up by becoming the 6,336th “follower” of Scoble at Twittter, and that Scoble must have sensed a threat, as he became the sixth “follower” of Dave in response.

Holmes continued by saying, “At the appropriate time, I am going to arrange for the Nobel Committee to create a new Prize — Blog Flogger — and have them name Mr. Scoble as its first recipient. I am confident that he will be so taken by being called “Noble Nobel Winner Scoble” that he will stop following Dave, so Dave can labor to complete his mission as obscurely as possible, as this was the ruse used by Maturin as he sailed with Aubrey, disguising his true profession of spy by pretending to be a physician.”

Sherlock concluded by saying, “We will soon depart to for New Haven, CT, where we will meet with Dave. He and I will tell you about a man who has achieved world-wide fame without knowing he is a Watson. I’m also going to tell Dave the happy news that he himself will receive a Nobel Prize, in Literature.”

“It’s a lead-pipe cinch, dear Watson,” said Holmes. I suggested to Dave that he create a new form of literature, suggesting that he take as theme Man’s Best Friend, the Nobel Dog. And, as a man’s best friend after his dog is often his brother-in-law, I have suggested to Dave that great good fortune may come his way if he writes a series of posts about Man and Dog, and Man and Dog and Brother-in-Law; all linked together by a new kind of Red-Headed League, in that the Man, a Man called Peter, is a member of the League of Men Who Name Their Dogs After Their Brothers-in-Law.

He has already written the first of a series of posts that, as yet unknown to him, will result in his receiving the Nobel Prize, and The Man Called Peter — and his dog and his brother-in-law — will each receive Pulitzer Prizes. See Finding The Way To A Man’s Heart and Hacking Craig’s List And The New York Times.

He then reported he heard the clip-clop of the carriage that would take us to our berth on H.M.S. Surprise. Holmes said he had booked our passage on a new ship called the Titanic, but feared that Prof. Moriarty had learned of his plan, and so had secretly made arrangements to travel with “Lucky Jack” Aubrey.

Notes:

1. “Times, New York Times” and “Times, London Times,” but not the “Times, Warner Times,” that is put out by the idiots who were suckered into buying AOL, the company that bought the carcass of Netscape.)

2. Watson and Dave Shields are both fans of the comic strip Peanuts and the crime novels of Rex Stout. Both also listen to Leonard Lopate and his occasional “Please explain” segment.

3. Watson and Dave also listen to CarTalk each Saturday and attempt to solve the puzzler, which is of course always based on a suggestion sent in by Sherlock, without his assistance. Holmes submits simple puzzles, called Puzzlers, both for our sake and also so Tom (Holmes named golfer Tom in this Tom’s honor) and Ray can use their limited knowledge of the English language to explain it to the audience.

4. See Chubby Checked: Limbo Rock Lyrics.

5. I think it’s Apple, or Google, but don’t really care, nor should you.

6. Legend has it, at least in a story passed down from generation to generation of mathematicians, that Nobel did this in in act of retribution since his wife had been seduced by a mathematician. I think it was Lobachevsy, though I prefer to think it was “Couch-y.”

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