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April 1, 2004

Making shirt
Posted by Teresa at 09:45 AM *

For a while now I’ve been feeling unaccountably shy about the fact that, purely for the amusement value of the thing, I put together a CafePress site for nielsenhayden.com. I mean, we’re running all those ads now. It seemed a bit much.

(Okay, it wasn’t purely for the amusement value. Patrick wanted a t-shirt that said “Just because you’re on their side, doesn’t mean they’re on your side.” But the way you do that on CafePress is by setting up a store of your own; and they make that so easy that once you’ve uploaded your one design, it seems like the merest trifle to do another one that says “I deeply resent the way this administration makes me feel like a nutbar conspiracy theorist,” and next thing you know you’re putting encryptions on coffee mugs.)

However, it’s occurred to me that nearly everyone I’ve told about it has made useful and entertaining suggestions: it’s something to play with! That’s different. In particular, Lydy Nickerson has said, and rightly so, that I need to have a t-shirt or mug with a disemvowelled inscription. It’s coming up with the inscription that’s the problem.

Other Housekeeping: I’ve been getting a stunning amount of spam at my e-mail address, and so far we haven’t managed to come up with a set of filters that’ll keep all of it out of my in-box. Our successive filters stop most of it, but even the fraction that does get through is enough to swamp my mail queue some days. We’re working on this problem. In the meantime, if some urgent piece of mail from you has gone unheeded, please don’t hesitate to send it again. In a world in which I can get six and eight copies a day of the same piece of junk mail from some spammer, I’m not going to object to getting two copies of a letter from a friend.

You might want to go and have a look at Kathryn Cramer’s weblog. She’s on a roll. Kathryn’s been collecting and correlating information about the proliferation of private security forces—mercenaries—operating in Iraq. Most of these men are former military, many of them from elite fighting units—lot of British ex-SAS, so many South Africans that the South African government is cracking down on them, Chileans trained under Pinochet, all manner stuff. Go look. Things were strange enough in Iraq, but they’re getting stranger by the minute.

Comments on Making shirt:
#1 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 12:07 PM:

And before all the spam suggestions get started -- yes, Teresa is using SpamAssassin; it's the stuff getting past it that's overwhelming her.

#2 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 12:16 PM:

In particular, Lydy Nickerson has said, and rightly so, that I need to have a t-shirt or mug with a disemvowelled inscription. It’s coming up with the inscription that’s the problem.

"f y cn rd ths, thnk TNH."

#3 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 12:19 PM:

"M cmmnt gt dsmvwlld t Mkng Lght,
nd ll gt ws ths lsy T-shrt."

#4 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 12:23 PM:

"'m nt Wlsh, 'm jst rd."

Accompanied, perhaps, by a tasteful Making Light or Electrolite logo, in the manner of the final Burma Shave sign.

#5 ::: colleen @ del rey ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 12:27 PM:

I like Bill's...:-)

#6 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 12:31 PM:

"M cmmnt gt dsmvwlld t Mkng Lght,
nd ll gt ws ths lsy T-shrt."

I'd buy one.

#7 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 12:35 PM:

I thought I had just set up SpamAssassin incorrectly. My Panix mailbox is also deluged with spam. At this point I just use it as my sacrificial address, using it anywhere that I want or need to post something on the Web.

#8 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 12:35 PM:

I think whatever it is should start with "Y ppl..."

#9 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 12:41 PM:

Speaking of which:

Bnxs pstrs
Crsd
Nd hwld
T fndng thy'd bn
Dsmvwlld
Making Light

#10 ::: Jordin Kare ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 12:41 PM:

There's always

LL YR VWLS R BLNG T S


#11 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 12:52 PM:

Spamassassin is currently having trouble with the folks who are appending paragraphs of what look like code groups, entire academic papers, and the like, to their instances of spam. (The clever bastards who are appending 'already checked' headers you'll have to trust panix to address.)

I find that saving all the leakers, and running spamassassin's autolearn function on them once a week or so --

12:44 graydon % sa-learn --spam Mail/spam
Learned from 1 message(s) (1 message(s) examined).

Helps a great deal with this. I would expect that you can do this from the panix shell account if that's where spam assassin is running, but have no direct knowledge. The "one message" is because it's one folder; there were more than a single email's worth of spam in there.

#12 ::: Tiercel ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 01:03 PM:

I completely worship the "nutbar conspiracy theory" shirt, but - well - does anyone else find it almost impossible to actually make out the words?

#13 ::: Reimer Behrends ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 01:12 PM:

Graydon, if a file contains several messages, you should give the --mbox option to sa-learn so that it knows that the file is not just a single message. Otherwise, it won't properly weigh spam probabilities. (I'm assuming here that the file is in the conventional UNIX mbox format.) Also, don't forget to likewise train it with the --ham option on your non-spam messages so that it will know about things that make a message "good".

#14 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 01:16 PM:

Fck Ff Nd D, Rlph

The greatest thing ever not posted on Making Light. I'd also buy Bill's or Jordin's. The latter made me laugh out loud.

#15 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 01:19 PM:
I completely worship the "nutbar conspiracy theory" shirt, but - well - does anyone else find it almost impossible to actually make out the words?

I wouldn't say "almost impossible," but yeah, it's difficult.

I've got a minor issue with the "side/side" shirt, in that I keep expecting the different colors for the letters to mean something... or do they and it's too subtle for me? This is probably just my problem, I know too many people who design puzzles.

I think that whatever the disemvowelment shirt says on the front, the missing vowels should be on the back.

#16 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 01:23 PM:

That's a great idea, Dan!

#17 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 01:25 PM:

Jordin wrote:

LL YR VWLS R BLNG T S

I'd buy that in a heartbeat.

#18 ::: Stefanie Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 01:58 PM:

Am I wrong, or does the "on their side" mug say "Just THAT you're on their side doesn't mean that they're on your side"?

Just checking.

I think this is a brilliant idea, and I also weigh in on the side of Bill's and Jordin's disemvowelled suggestions.

#19 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 02:06 PM:

It says "The fact that..." I presume this is for reasons of space. You can see it if you look at the View Larger Image page.

#20 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 02:12 PM:

I like all the suggestions, but Jordin's is the one that had me nearly falling off my chair, once I'd worked out what it actually said.

Spam - my UK ISP, Demon, started using Brightmail earlier this year. There was a bit of a problem to begin with, in that they'd asked for a spam filter, and got a spam filter plus unannounced free net nanny (and yes, the inhabitants of demon.service had enormous fun testing which words were deemed offensive...). Once that was sorted out, it was fairly successful at removing a large percentage of spam without eating real email. It's creeping up again, but it's still doing a fairly good job, considering that I was getting ~400 spams a day just before the filter was put in in February, and I'm now getting half a dozen.

#21 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 02:13 PM:

I know it's not the most elegant solution, but you could separate out your personal e-mail address from your posted e-mail address. In other words, make a new personal e-mail address that you give to friends and family and business associates, and then keep the old address as mail the weblog, or to give out when someone you don't know requests an address.

You can then check e-mail from the old address once or twice a day to look for real messages, but you don't have the frustration of sorting through hundreds of pieces of spam every time you want to read your e-mail.

For what it's worth, I've had my current personal e-mail account since '99 and get perhaps one or two pieces a spam a month. And I don't have any spam filters.

#22 ::: Stephanie ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 02:26 PM:

I want Jordin's version.

The nutbar shirt would work better without the background -- just a big square o' text, with the "Making Light" part in a different color (obviously).

I've always wanted the entertainment industry shirt to be a notebook, although it was the one in the VP store that I had in mind.

#23 ::: Eric Soroos ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 02:33 PM:

Re Spam:

I'm using a combination of Spamassassin, amavis, and mail.app, and it's doing a reasonably good job on my 500 a day spam load. Amavis kills any viruses and microsoft executable attachments. Spamassassin kills anything blatant before it gets to my mailbox. Mail.app deals with most of the rest -- I get about 10 leakers a day.

Re Shirts:

I want one.

#24 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 02:55 PM:

F yr pst
Mks hr hl
Trs wll
dmvwl--
Mkng Lght

---L.

#25 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 02:55 PM:

F yr pst
Mks hr hl
Trs wll
dsmvwl--
Mkng Lght

---L.

#26 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 02:55 PM:

A net nanny on demon? Mercy.

re: disemvowelment--

Dmnd ltst dtrs!

#27 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 02:56 PM:

Obviously, the first post should be more than disemvoweled.

---L.

#28 ::: Jesse ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 03:02 PM:

I'd buy a "nutbar conspiracy theorist" t-shirt in a heartbeat if there was a design that wasn't so, well, garish. Too many colors and too many transitions make the shirt hard to read. (I like simpler color schemes for clothes, as anyone who has seen what I wear can vouch for.) Perhaps you might offer the current design and another simpler one?

#29 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 03:44 PM:

SpamAssassin is only marginally useful if you aren't using the Bayesian module, and that's only useful if you train it.

What you do.

1) Ensure that the version of SpamAssassin has the Bayesian Filters installed. Fastest way to check -- run "sa-learn -V" from the shell. If it returns a version, you're set. If it doesn't, you're not, ignore rest.

2) You then need to teach it what spam is, and, just as important, what spam *isn't*. Create two mbox style folders. (Eudora's normal mailbox format is just this.) Fill one with spam. Fill the other with good emails. then, it's time to teach.

"sa-learn --spam --mbox /path/to/mbox-of-spam"
"sa-learn --ham --mbox /path/to/mbox-of-ham."

You'll want a bunch of both. SpamAssassin won't activate the Bayesian filter until it has at least 200 unique examples of each. You can check with the command "sa-learn --dump magic" -- example from mine...

0.000 0 2 0 non-token data: bayes db version
0.000 0 92533 0 non-token data: nspam
0.000 0 3062 0 non-token data: nham

nspam is number of spam tokens, nham is number of ham (that is, good) token. When both are above 200, Bayesian starts working.

And it works well. Current spam count this year is 77793, I've seen about 20 of them. I had one time where enough ham had expired that Bayseian stopped, and the end result was I was swamped with spam, until I fed it some ham.

Once I was confident in the filter, I changed the scoring somewhat. If your setup is normal, you can create a directory named ".spamassassin" (the leading dot counts -- and the directory may already be there, try "ls -a" to find it.) and in that directory, you can create a file called "user_prefs." I use this scoring...

score BAYES_00 -20
score BAYES_01 -18
score BAYES_10 -10
score BAYES_20 -8
score BAYES_30 -5
score BAYES_60 2
score BAYES_70 4
score BAYES_80 6
score BAYES_90 15
score BAYES_99 20

Basically, anything with less that a 30% chance of being spam (BAYES_30 or better) gets negative points -- it's considered less likely to be spam, despite other proof. Anything with a BAYES_99 is almost certainly condemmed.


#30 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 03:47 PM:

SpamAssassin is only marginally useful if you aren't using the Bayesian module, and that's only useful if you train it.

What you do.

1) Ensure that the version of SpamAssassin has the Bayesian Filters installed. Fastest way to check -- run "sa-learn -V" from the shell. If it returns a version, you're set. If it doesn't, you're not, ignore rest.

2) You then need to teach it what spam is, and, just as important, what spam *isn't*. Create two mbox style folders. (Eudora's normal mailbox format is just this.) Fill one with spam. Fill the other with good emails. then, it's time to teach.

"sa-learn --spam --mbox /path/to/mbox-of-spam"
"sa-learn --ham --mbox /path/to/mbox-of-ham."

You'll want a bunch of both. SpamAssassin won't activate the Bayesian filter until it has at least 200 unique examples of each. You can check with the command "sa-learn --dump magic" -- example from mine...

0.000 0 2 0 non-token data: bayes db version
0.000 0 92533 0 non-token data: nspam
0.000 0 3062 0 non-token data: nham

nspam is number of spam tokens, nham is number of ham (that is, good) token. When both are above 200, Bayesian starts working.

And it works well. Current spam count this year is 77793, I've seen about 20 of them. I had one time where enough ham had expired that Bayseian stopped, and the end result was I was swamped with spam, until I fed it some ham.

Once I was confident in the filter, I changed the scoring somewhat. If your setup is normal, you can create a directory named ".spamassassin" (the leading dot counts -- and the directory may already be there, try "ls -a" to find it.) and in that directory, you can create a file called "user_prefs." I use this scoring...

score BAYES_00 -20
score BAYES_01 -18
score BAYES_10 -10
score BAYES_20 -8
score BAYES_30 -5
score BAYES_60 2
score BAYES_70 4
score BAYES_80 6
score BAYES_90 15
score BAYES_99 20

Basically, anything with less that a 30% chance of being spam (BAYES_30 or better) gets negative points -- it's considered less likely to be spam, despite other proof. Anything with a BAYES_99 is almost certainly condemmed.


#31 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 04:08 PM:

So where's my "Nutbar Conspiracy Theorist" mug and shirt? Really? I Want One.

I blogged it, and I agree with you.

Scorpio
Eccentricity

#32 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 04:15 PM:

OK, OK -- it has to be legible.

Big enough for the folks in the administration to be able to read (if they could read).

#33 ::: David M. Hungerford III ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 04:21 PM:

I average somewhere around 100 spam messages per day. Over the past six months, I've seen SpamAssassin's effectiveness on my mail drop from around 80% to maybe 50%. So last week, we moved off SpamAssassin and on to DSPAM. I fed it about 5000 old "good" messages and about 250 spam messages, and turned it loose. Just based on that, it started catching about two-thirds of my spam. Over the past ten days, I've forwarded back to it another couple hundred messages it's missed. As of yesterday, it's catching 85% of my spam, and there has not been one single false positive.

Dav2.718

#34 ::: Cleis ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 04:30 PM:

I'd really like:

"No, it's not fair. You're in the wrong universe for fair."

#35 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 04:43 PM:

I've got the perfect font for Jordin's shirt suggestion.

Ooooh...this brings back the old bug! Look out, I just might be inspired, here...

#36 ::: Pamela ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 04:45 PM:

Apparently, when you get tired of making books, you two have another career as purveyors of nifty merchandise.

I'm delighted the Romero comment is there! (although I wish it were on the really big coffee mug...)

Briefly, I wished that the nutbar shirts had dates on them, but then I realized my inner optimist was showing. I'm hoping those are only pertinent for a little while.

Pamela

#37 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 05:01 PM:

Anti-spam. This won't stop spammers who already have your address, but it will cut down significantly on new 'bots. Don't post an actual mailto: link. Write, in text, something like "tnh AT panix DOT com" or tnCUTTHECRAPh@panixCOTCRAPnet." Or, you can just photoshop up a .gif with you address 'spraypainted to a wall,' which bots can't read, and are harder to copy (must be done by hand) so less actual human spammers will bother.

Jst M Tw Cnts

#38 ::: Matt Runquist ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 05:15 PM:

Jordin's is awesome. It seriously took me like 8 minutes to figure out. I got hung up on BLNG because I thought the last two were AT US. I'd buy it in a hrtbt.

#39 ::: Jazz ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 05:35 PM:

Another vote for making certain SpamAssassin's bayesian filters are turned on, and if the problem persists, you may want to invest in the aforementioned Brightmail server-side spam filter service.

And I want Jordin's suggested t-shirt.

#40 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 05:47 PM:

RE: The Spam and the e-mail - I wrote you a couple of letters scattered here and there through the last month, but they were either links I thought you'd enjoy, updates on writing, and other such miscellany. Nothing really requiring a response, which is why I assumed I didn't get one. :)

Re: The Store - What you need to do is sell some hats, and label them "Tinfoil". Then people can wear them with the nutbar shirts. Or include instructions on how to turn Reynold's wrap into a nice little headpiece.

#41 ::: Jordin Kare ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 06:23 PM:

I should just note that my suggestion wasn't original with me; Nancy Lebovitz had it on a button some time ago, and Mary Kay and I bought one for Teresa. It made her fall down go boom.

#42 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 06:32 PM:

At first I was sure that you meant, "putting inscriptions on coffee mugs," but then I looked at the pictures of the mugs and was fairly sure you hadn't just suffered a rare moment of inattentive self-proof-reading.

#43 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 07:51 PM:

For a final line of spam defense: Popfile.

#44 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 08:18 PM:

Another vote for less intense color on the nutbar conspiracy shirt. Maybe a version on a plain background is in order?

#45 ::: Ailsa Ek ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 10:16 PM:

I love the nutbar conspiracy shirt, even in wild living color, and Jordin's suggestion made me grin so big I split my lower lip. I'd buy Bill's, too, if that one were available, but Jordin's appeals more to my geek side.

#46 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 10:36 PM:

RE: spam. the email that was installed on my OS X iBook is brilliant. I gave it a month to to learn what I thought was spam, and then let it go... And I think that Time-Warner's Roadrunner has it's own spam filter even though I don't know what that is. I get about 100-200 a month, and it all goes in to a 'junk' folder (which is good, because sometimes it makes a bad decision....before i empty it, I go through and review the subjects....) I don't get bothered much except by the folks who spell viagra oddly....

#47 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 10:38 PM:

Can I get the Mary Sue thread on a coffee mug please.

#48 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 10:52 PM:

Michelle et al- been using idea of separate private/public addresses for a while.

I've started calling it the walking banana system, tho', since what usually happens is that somehow the private one gets glommed - perhaps by pirate nanobot spider-searchers, maybe brute random spam tankrush - or the public one just gets submerged in free enterprise like bushland under Morning Glory (believe N America has equivalent called Kudzu). Had one private one for over a year with little trouble, then one little 'Nigerian' letter (no bigger than a man's hand), now arriving in torrents. Recently the blanded "document enclosed" viruses found it & am not sure how to make sure it doesn't start sending out new virii without killing account totally.

Like banana plants, you have to bud out & grow another node on the uphill side; sending your new private address to people or starting to publicize the other. Particularly painful after dataloss/rebuild (iffy backup) means your records aren't complete. Has led to problems with updating services, changed passwords or important notices sent to dead zones (not counting the pain from dying providers like today.com, causing whole new planetoid of troubles). Ah, brave new world, that has such people in it!

Re <desire>dsmvwlld shrts</desire> - getting better - can work nearly all of them out! Also learning good habits, eg, no eating or drinking while checking blogs (Jordin!).

Should "mks hr hl" above, be "mks hr hwl"?

<desire>Does anyone make a T-shirt style with a pocket? </desire>
I inherited a couple & don't know where they're from.
So much of the accessible, affordable, suitable for humid subtropical climate, clothes that fit me doesn't have pockets. You end up all strung around & lumpy or humpbacked & creased-up carrying your necessities in an awkward bag. Both tend to send you to the bodysearch section of any queue, &/or attract a curious string of security personnel or bagsnatchers trailing you round the shopping centre.

#49 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 11:30 PM:

Adding to the nutbar conspiracy topic: I'm getting errors when I try the Kathryn Cramer link.

#50 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 12:19 AM:

Okay, okay. Patrick tried to tell me the nutbar design was illegible. Revised design coming up ASAP.

#51 ::: Madeline ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 01:00 AM:

I really like a phrase Graydon used in a post on November 21, 2003 09:00 PM (I liked it so much I stashed it away with attribution): "articulate people with considerable tempers."

I could see myself in a "Articulate person with considerable temper" t-shirt... It'd be fair warning...

#52 ::: Madeline ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 01:13 AM:

As for spam, one of the things I love about having my own domain is that I can make as many e-mail addresses as I want. And I do. Almost every single place where I have to enter an e-mail address gets an address devoted solely to it, which forwards everything to the address I check.

Leads to fun sometimes. You want my e-mail address as a part of signing up for your frequent flyer program? Hm... typing away at the computer setting one up, while on the phone, "Right, the e-mail address is United at——"
"No, no, your e-mail address."
"Right. My e-mail address is United at..."

This way, I can track where precisely spammers caught my address. And if the spam from any one source gets to be too much, I can delete the address, et voila!

Alas, though, the address at the center of my web of aliases, the address all the rest forward to, from which I send personal mail... Some spammers have ahold of that one. Woe!

#53 ::: Cassandra Phillips-Sears ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 01:54 AM:

f y cn rd ths
y prbbly rd Mkng Lght,
nd yr ns s t cls t my mg.

#54 ::: Taper ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 02:39 AM:

I just now got a cafepress store in order to get a Great Huge Garamond W shirt. I put nielsenhayden in as my referrer, so if any of these sell, you could be receiving literally nickels in bonuses. I mostly link to the store here to check that you have no moral stance against giant Garamond Ws.

#55 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 03:15 AM:

About six months ago, I got fed up with all this spam stuff, and decided to try the oldest trick in the book, except with a small twist.

The trick: I post with an address that has "nospam" added to it.

The twist: It's an honest address. My .sig says so. (So's the de-"nospam"med version, too, in case anyone bothers.)

In six months, I've received a bit over a dozen spam messages to that address (not counting a few that a remarkably simplistic set of filters catches). That's it. Despite using it quite regularly on usenet.

It's one of the most startling things I've ever seen. It's like the sign you hang on your wall to keep the tigers away -- there's no way in the world it could possibly do any good, but have you seen any tigers lately?

(Of course, the address that I used to use (and which I can't really get rid of) is still getting the usual flood....)

#56 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 03:17 AM:

Bryan, that much coffee might be bad for you. What if you slipped and fell in? True, people might come if you yelled "Coffee, coffee!" but they would have to go back to their own cubicles to get cups, and the bailing might be slowish.

Re shirts, I'm not sure the minimalist approach will get the point across, but let's try anyway:

TRLLS, NTBRS, and FRPRS (optionally followed by SCK) are all possibilities. The slash-not circle has been so overused I hesitate to suggest it, especially after just reading Leslie Cabarga's new book on logo design, but even a cliche can get the point across.

SPM FLTR (or possibly CMNT SPM)

Purely hypothetical question: How many folks have set up cafepress stores because they wanted quantity one embellished item (perhaps of each type) and figured, what the heck, maybe I can get my costs back?

#57 ::: Alter S. Reiss ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 04:01 AM:

Grt Nw Sc-F Nvl!

Hy, jst rd n rtcl bt fthr nd sn tm tht wrt nvl clld "ttck f th Rckds . . .

Alternatively, a t-shirt that says, "So, about my manuscript. . ."

#58 ::: Giacomo Lacava ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 05:50 AM:

You definately need to use Bayesian filtering, through the SpamAssassin module or a mail client like Mozilla Thunderbird (http://www.mozilla.org/products/thunderbird/). After a bit of training, bayesian filtering rocks.

#59 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 06:31 AM:

May I suggest one of Patrick's classics?

I'm a patriot. I love my decadent, cosmopolitan, self-indulgent, racially-mixed, godless, intellectually dilletante, drug-abusing, promiscuous, queer-loving country. And its flag is the Stars and Stripes.

(Link is what I hope was his first post of it... loads of people adopted it as their tag line, as I learned from Google...)

Thanks.

Crazy(and loving the other t-shirt/mug/other items)Soph

PS email address needs de-spamming.

#60 ::: Mark Atwood ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 06:36 AM:

I've met a few of those "mercenaries", and a local friend of mine is just about to leave for Iraq for a one year stint as one of those "mercenaries" you are Specifically, he is going to be on the security team for a bomb and mine detection and disposal squad, watching the backs of the guys who are defusing the mines and "spoilsports" that the Baathests left behind, and the terror traps that the insurgents are emplacing.

They are some of the most honorable, capable, and honestly "gentle" people I have ever met. They are there to do a necessary and honorable job that is a weird combination of cop, soldier, and bodyguard.

#61 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 07:22 AM:

Cassandra --

Their nose is too close to your image? bu?

#62 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 08:57 AM:

I read it as "your nose is too close to my mug".

#63 ::: Cassie Krahe ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 09:34 AM:

Nose! That's what it is!
I like it. Now if only I had income....

#64 ::: Arlen ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 10:12 AM:

Jordin:

LL YR VWLS R BLNG T S

really should read

LL YR VWL R BLNG T S

(The original was singular, remember?)

All pedantry aside, on the spam issue I have to say that OSX's Mail.app has made my life a lot easier. I get something approaching 1K spam messages/day that get past SA on my server, but Mail simply tosses 98% of them away, so I don't have to deal with them.

#65 ::: Cassandra Phillips-Sears ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 11:29 AM:

Graydon - Jimcat's correct. It's "mug."

#66 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 11:32 AM:

Cassandra --

Thanks!

I was trying to come up with a word which would apply to the case where the statement was found on a shirt, and having no luck at all.

#67 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 11:35 AM:

Purely hypothetical question: How many folks have set up cafepress stores because they wanted quantity one embellished item (perhaps of each type) and figured, what the heck, maybe I can get my costs back?

I haven't, but I've been tempted to set up a store to get a nice hardcopy of some fanfic novels. I don't know how dubious a move that would be, even though I wouldn't give anyone the store name, which is why I haven't pursued the notion; also, I could spend infinite time cat-vacuuming HTML files into PDF, and don't dare go down that road just at the moment.

#68 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 12:19 PM:

Around 1971, Playboy's "After Dark" column recounted a sighting of one of those secretarial-school signs on the NY subway:

f u cn rd this, u cd hv a gd job w/mor pay

(I couldn't help notice they took no chances on "job" and "pay" being readable.) Below that, someone had written:

fk nxn

#69 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 12:20 PM:

I like the old "nutbar conspiracy theorist" design; is it too late to add a tote bag of it, to the store?

#70 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 12:24 PM:

Kip - I learned a version of shorthand in high school where long vowel sounds are left in, silent consonants are dropped, and no capitalization is used. It's also supposed to be written in cursive, so your hand leaves the page less often.

It's because it's written in cursive that I was never very good at it. I write cursive painfully slowly (unless I'm signing my own name), and if I rush it, I get a blur of meaningless scribbles that all resemble the letter 'l' or 'z' most.

#71 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 12:32 PM:

I agree with the everybody about the "nutbar" shirt -- I want one,
only a legible one please.

I also have a contrast problem with the yellow letters on the "your
side" shirt. Maybe this isn't a problem with the actual product, but
on the page, the yellow vanishes. I'd prefer those letters at least as
dark as the red ones.

As for spam, I use the SpamAssassin setup on Panix with no learning
and only minor scoring tweaks. In the past few days it's dropped off
from 99% efficiency to 95%. This is a big jump in the number of bad
messages that get through, and I am not happy about it, but it's
nowhere near as bad as 50% yet.

(My current email address has been on web pages and Usenet for five
years now, and old -- still-valid -- addresses have been posted since
1988. They're also in innumerable documents and archives all over the
place. I have decided to do my very best to keep them valid forever.
No throwaway addresses. So far, I'm surviving.)

#72 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 01:03 PM:

Re: the (IMO great) idea to put the vowels on the back, this project,which my friend alerted me to is sort of tangentially similar. Urban landscapes with all text removed. The edited image is shown side-by-side with the removed text (which is sized and placed as it existed in the original image).

Sorry - hard to describe. If you're interested, it's easier to click the link above and see what I'm talking about. It reminds me of disemvowelment.

#73 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 01:32 PM:

Ooooh! I want Crazy Soph's idea. I want a shirt that says that!

MKK

#74 ::: Epecho ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 02:00 PM:

I've trying to think of a disemvowelled slogan in the form of a "Hggldy pggldy" verse, but have not been able to come up with any good double dactyls for the second line.

#75 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 02:08 PM:

I bet I'm the only one who's been completely unable to decode the cryptomug. I feel really stupid now.

#76 ::: J Greely ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 02:11 PM:

Riffing on the nutbar shirt (which my color-deficient vision parses very poorly), a baseball cap with the following slogan printed in metallic silver:

Bush stole the election and all I got was this tinfoil hat.

-j

#77 ::: Carlos ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 02:49 PM:

SLKNC = DTH

with appropriate arcane symbols surrounding.

C.

#78 ::: Bill Peschel ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 03:06 PM:

Another vote for Popfile here. Once it's learned what spam is, I get about 1 or 2 a week, depending on what new tactic the spammers have come up with.

It's also simple to use (once i figured it out, the documentation sucks), and I can add magnets (e.g., whitelist) email addresses to make sure no matter what they send, I get. And when I close the e-mail program, it automatically flushes the spam away. I'm getting about a 100 e-mails a day now, and almost all of them don't get through.

#79 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 03:13 PM:
I've trying to think of a disemvowelled slogan in the form of a "Hggldy pggldy" verse, but have not been able to come up with any good double dactyls for the second line.

The scansion is problematic, but it's the best I can do on short notice:


Higgledy piggledy,
Making Light's policy:
Impolite posters know
Fear in their bowels.


When not amused,
Teresa takes measures.
Impolite posters lose
Control of their vowels

#80 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 05:13 PM:

Nope, Xopher, I can't read it either.

#81 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 05:32 PM:

It's not only not ROT-13, it's not ROT-anything. I tried them all. I also tried reverse alphabet, and it's not that either.

It could be just a draw-a-letter-from-a-bag random substitution (put one of each letter in a bag, and the first one is the sub for A, etc). In that case, I definitely don't have the patience to solve it.

I even looked for quotes and phrases matching the letter numbers. I must be looking in the wrong places.

And I know I'm going to feel really stupid when I find out what it is. But then, I feel pretty stupid now, just in anticipation.

#82 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 05:38 PM:

It's a random substitution as far as I can tell, but it's not too difficult to crack if you're good at that sort of thing. Would you like a hint?

#83 ::: Tiger Spot ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 06:59 PM:

I want a hint! I tried to decode that sucker and had no luck at all, and I'm usually pretty good at substitution ciphers.

If it's not actually a simple substitution cipher then that would explain why I can't figure it out, but it sure *looks* like one.

#84 ::: J Greely ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 07:01 PM:

Xopher, if you figure that it's in English, you should be able to guess the meaning of "at", "aif", and "aifv". With those letters resolved, Google should give you a short list of quotes.

-j

#85 ::: Tiger Spot ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 07:13 PM:

if you figure that it's in English, you should be able to guess the meaning of "at", "aif", and "aifv". With those letters resolved, Google should give you a short list of quotes.

... But if "aif" and "aifv" are what I think they are, then (1) "at" can only be one word, which gives me too many other words that end in o, and (2) I don't have any words that can be useful to Google.

#86 ::: Joy ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 07:14 PM:

Frequency analysis doesn't help for all the letters, but it sure helps with the two most common. :)

#87 ::: J Greely ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 07:24 PM:

Hmm, it seems there are more sensible combinations of "aif" and "aifv" than I thought. I knocked together a quick Perl script that found 480 such pairs in /usr/dict/words, so I guess it wasn't much of a hint after all.

I doubt your guesses were cod/coda or ear/earl, but there are a bunch that could make sense in a quote. I suppose my own guess was shaped by knowing with whom I was dealing.

-j

#88 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 07:51 PM:
... But if "aif" and "aifv" are what I think they are, then (1) "at" can only be one word, which gives me too many other words that end in o, and (2) I don't have any words that can be useful to Google.

They aren't what you think they are, but that was my first thought too.

#89 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 08:33 PM:

I've been trying the 30 day demo of SpamSieve, having had little better luck with SpamAssassin then I'd had with the built in filter that "Mail" uses. So far it seems to be doing the job *and* learning fairly fast: if I tell it something is spam I don't see it make that mistake again, and if something ends up in the Spam drawer that's actually good mail it seems to learn when I tell it that it's really good mail. You might want to download the demo version and test it for a couple of days: the setup *does* take about ten minutes, but the steps are carefully laid out and it's clear what you'd have to do to get rid of it if you decide it's not for you. I think I'm going to send the $25.00 in when the demo gives out.

#90 ::: James J. Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 08:43 PM:

How's 'bout:

FRPRS ND NTBRS ND TRLLS, O Y!

With or without the last word space, depending on the audience...

#91 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 09:07 PM:
FRPRS ND NTBRS ND TRLLS, O Y!

Shouldn't that be "H M?"

#92 ::: DM SHERWOOD ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2004, 05:37 AM:

How about REALITY IS NOTHING MORE THAN A RIGHT WING CONSPIRACY!!
I see it as a T-Shirt myself

#93 ::: Virge ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2004, 07:30 AM:

Frequency analysis and a crossword puzzle solver (see dictionaries) made the decoding reasonably straightforward.

#94 ::: Virge ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2004, 08:36 AM:

Vowelivore vowelivore
Making Light's only law
says we must never bore
with what we write.

Let all your thoughts outpour
but should you make us snore
then you can kiss all your
vowels goodnight.

It's not quite a double dactyl. I couldn't think of a double-dactylic word for the second stanza without breaking the (self-imposed) rhyme.

#95 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2004, 08:43 AM:

A friend came back from a visit to Kuala Lumpar (for a FOAF's wedding), and one of his photos included a girl wearing a t-shirt bearing in bold, black-on-white text the legend "EFFECT AND AFFECT" (or possibly vice-versa, I don't have the pic in front of me). Neither of us have any idea what this is about.

#96 ::: Neil Gaiman ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2004, 09:09 AM:

Disemvowelling: y knw t mks sns

#97 ::: Mark Wise ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2004, 09:10 AM:

This thread really should have been called ...


... Just Making Shirt Up

#98 ::: Anne ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2004, 09:23 AM:

Making Light, Making Light
Keeps us up through the night.
Teresa's way to write
S bst f ll.

If you should take a fright
At the religious right,
Remember that we're bright:
We'll beat them all.


(I don't know if that last line follows the rules, but I'm fond of refrains so I left it in.)

#99 ::: Cat D ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2004, 09:30 AM:

What about:

"Never blame on a Right-Wing Conspiracy what can adiquately be explained by a spam filter." ?

Fortunately, I don't get much spam. But I give up! Could someone please de-encrypt the mug for me?

#100 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2004, 01:28 PM:

Creator lumina
Nielsen Hayden, T.
Reads nutbar commentors'
Babbles and howls;

Ever the blogmistress
Egalitarian,
She airs all opinions
(Bt nt ll thr vwls).

#101 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2004, 06:07 PM:

Creatrix lumina?

#102 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2004, 10:42 PM:

(creator of light, feminine, in Latin)

And this one comes closest to the classic DD form; but the name just doesn't scan, sorry. But a lovely effort, DM!

Classic double dactyl form: it's all dactyls (two unstressed syllables followed a stressed; as in sonnets, the last dactyl in a quatrain can be a spondee, two stressed syllables, but that's mild cheating), two per line -- first line is nonsense (Higgledy piggledy is the canonical if you can't come up with your own), second a name. Rest of the first quatrain is up to you. Second quatrain, the second line is a single six-syllable word. Rhyme scheme ABAB CDCD.

The benefits of a higher education....

#103 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2004, 10:43 PM:

Possibly a shirt that merely says
Arrant Pedantry Spoken Here
would fit....

#104 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2004, 11:24 PM:

Epacris: Creatrix lumina?

I stand corrected. Actually, considering I get most of my Latin from Terry Pratchett, I'm surprised how close I was.

Tom: ...but the name just doesn't scan, sorry.

It does if you cheat and make "Nielsen" three syllables. :)

Doggerel, doggerel
Dan Layman-Kennedy
Learned double-dactlery
On Making Light;

Says "It's not iambic
Pentameterica -
Better it's funny than
Scanning just right."

#105 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2004, 01:17 AM:

"Nielsen's" not three syllables?

#106 ::: Virge ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2004, 01:31 AM:

"Rhyme scheme ABAB CDCD."

Tom, this scheme doesn't match any of the DDs I've seen. I thought the only rhyme constraint was the masculine rhyme between 4th and 8th lines. Have you any examples?

#107 ::: Virge ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2004, 05:40 AM:

CafePress! CafePress!
TNH Light-Maker's
Tangible Artifacts
Go on display;

Reified Sentiments
Paraphernalia
Show off your geekiness;
Get yours today.

#108 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2004, 09:33 AM:

All right, which mug are we talking about that has several people puzzled, talking about substitutions, etc? The only one I find in this thread is a modified bumper sticker.

And Carlos's suggestion has a sting to it....

My recollection of DD's matches Virge's, including lines 4 and 8 \customarily/ being masculine rhymes (rather than spondees). For a quick two points, which wizard used double dactyls and for what purpose? (Oldest citation; I'm sure there are some weak new ones in the flood of fantasy.)

#109 ::: Reimer Behrends ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2004, 09:50 AM:

Dan, Epacris – would it be terribly rude of me to point out that the genitive singular of lumen is luminis, not lumina?

#110 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2004, 10:22 AM:

Dan, Reimer: my Latin (as noted before) is from a mish-mash of studying biology, working in medicine & the law, and an interest in etymology. I may have already been pinched by a double-dactyl & not known it :) [Knew there was something off with 'lumina', but not what. Thanks]

Actually, if we look at "maker" rather than "creator" there's quite a choice, tho' I doubt few would appreciate the subtle latinate distinctions - aka Arrant Pedantry. (You can see where English grabbed whole handfuls of Latin out to mould into its own purposes.)
maker
architectus -i m. [an architect , master-builder, inventor, maker].
artifex -ficis As adj.: act. , [skilled, clever]; pass., [skillfully made]. As subst., [worker, craftsman, maker, creator, expert].
fabricator -oris m. [maker , artificer].
fictor -oris m. [an image-maker , a molder]; in gen., [maker, contriver]
machinator -oris m. [a maker of machines , engineer; a deviser, contriver]
opifex -ficis c. [a maker , framer; a workman, artisan]
poeta -ae m. [a maker]; esp. [a poet]
From the Latin dictionary section of Notre Dame university site

I leave it to y'all to debate which may best apply to our esteemed hostess.

BTW lovers of language gadgets may enjoy salivating over these toys, linked from the 'yourdictionary' site (note line break to remove):

http://www.yourdictionary.com/cgi-bin/ shopper.cgi?search=action&category=WZCM&keywords=all&template=Templates/wizcom-template.htm

#111 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2004, 11:20 AM:

Virge, you're right, I was late and it was tired. Rhyme is definitely as you point out (ABCD EFGD). I yield.

#113 ::: Mitch Wagner, coming to you from an Internet kiosk in Dallas-Fort Worth airport with a ridiculous ch ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2004, 04:07 PM:

I use and swear by POPfile, one of the oldest and best Bayesian e-mail filters. It doesn't just separate spam from non-spam, it separates any class of e-mail from any other class. Some people use it to separate mailing lists from other mail, others use it to separate business mail from personal mail.

I'm using it to separate normal mail, spam and pitches from PR people (which are very like spam - they shotgun out identical messages to thousands of reporters at a time to try to convince the journnalists to write articles about their clients, regardless of whether the journalists cover that kind of thing - for instanc, I get e-mail about seminconductors, storage and remote learning sofftware, none of which I actually write about.)

The overall accuracy of POPfile is a whisker less than 99 percent. Interestingly, I have a colleague with no news judgment who keeps forwarding me PR pitches that HE receives, according to some apparently random algorithm of his own - POPfile is pretty good at sorting those messages into the PR folder while his regular messages go to my normal folder, as they should.

#114 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2004, 01:10 AM:

I sit here in Toronto, and read the thread aloud to Patrick, and am delighted. He professes himself stunned, in an admiring sort of way.

The revised (= "legible") nutbar t-shirt is up on the CafePress site. Various others are in progress.

Noted in passing: this convention has had a spectacularly good program. Glory goes to Kelly Moore, with help from Alex von Thorn. I told them they would undoubtedly get the canonical convention programmers' compliment from Priscilla et al.

I've heard a piece of very gratifying news I'm not supposed to announce yet. I'll announce it as soon as it's proper. Promise.

#115 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2004, 03:19 AM:

Teresa: That's very mean you know.

And I sent several of Ad Astra's panel ideas to Priscilla already. I thought the what addition to Tolkien do you want to write sounded fascinating. How did it turn out?

MKK

#116 ::: Jordin Kare ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2004, 11:22 AM:

Woke up early and couldn't get back to sleep. Hence:

Legally beaglely
T. Nielsen Hayden, when
Judging a post full of
Impolite howls

Renders her verdict with
impartiality
Sentencing sentences:
"Off with their vowels!"


TNH, TNH
What does she do with the
Vowels she extracts?
They are sorted in pails

And then, safely frozen in
cryopreservative,
Shipped Air Express
to the needy in Wales

And just for the halibut:

An editrix working for Tor
Thought Electrolite trolls were a bore
Selective deleting
Made their ire self-defeating
Nw thr vwls rnt thr nymr

#117 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2004, 11:35 AM:

Pardon if this has already been mentioned, but the highly colorful slogan shirts, while pretty, are night impossible to read. If they could be made more legible I'd definitely buy one. I just don't like the situatoin where you have to stand there while somebody squints at your shirt or mug trying to puzzle out the words.

#118 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2004, 11:51 AM:

mythago, do a control-refresh. They're much improved now.

Of course, if you still think they're illegible...well, my guess would be you didn't see them before.

#119 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2004, 01:18 PM:

Jordin: no, no, no; not The Irish Rhyme!
I once set an entire 3-week wildflower safari Saga in Limerick Form, putting in all the incidents and everyone's name, and have never since been able to write in any other poetic format.
(Dnt clm tht vn th nw lmrcks r ny gd.)

#120 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2004, 01:53 PM:

Improved? Oh dear.

On looking again, though, I think it's just the light yellow letters that cause the trouble.

#121 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2004, 02:00 PM:

Oh, I see the problem. Look at the "blue nutbar" and "orange nutbar" t-shirts for the improved designs.

#122 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2004, 02:01 PM:

Oh, thanks, Mr. Kare. Now my morning's gone all higgeldy-piggeldy.

#123 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2004, 03:50 PM:

Damn--CafePress doesn't do DVDs--otherwise I'd be signed up big time.

#124 ::: Virge ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2004, 06:44 PM:

*applauds Jordin*
*empathizes with Epacris*

#125 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2004, 08:08 PM:

Thank you for making legible nutbar shirts. I have ordered some.

:)

Scorpio
Eccentricity

#126 ::: Richard Parker ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2004, 02:15 AM:

John Farrel:

Damn--CafePress doesn't do DVDs--otherwise I'd be signed up big time.

John,

If you want to set sell your own DVD's with a "cafepress-like" e-store, I recommend you look at CustomFlix. If you provide them with a videotape or DVD-R master and some artwork, they will handle all of the little details, even (optionally) hosting a trailer. They do have a setup fee, but it is very reasonable.

#127 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2004, 10:56 AM:

Thanks, Richard. I remember Custom Flix. And indeed their fees are reasonable. I was just indulging in some good-natured whining. Don't mind me.

#128 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2004, 11:11 AM:

Speaking of shirts...I can't resist passing this on (believe it or not my mother sent it to me!)

http://yque.com/booboutjanja.html

#129 ::: TomB has to agree ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2004, 12:15 PM:

Just because you're on their side of the bed, doesn't mean they're on your side.

#130 ::: Josh ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2004, 07:42 PM:

So is anyone going to take pity on us slow kids and tell us what the mug says?

#131 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2004, 01:53 AM:

Apparently not.

#132 ::: Josh ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2004, 02:55 AM:

Well Dan, you at least figured it out... wanna give me that hint you were gonna give Xopher?

#133 ::: Richard Parker ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2004, 07:56 AM:

Josh,

As mentioned earlier in this thread, the structure of the cipher suggests that is a simple monoalphabetic substitution cipher and that the underlying text is in English. When performing the cryptanalysis of a substitution cipher by hand, the easiest tools usually are frequency analysis of the letters in the ciphertext and cribbing (guessing at portions of plaintext and checking if any inconsistencies appear).

It is readily apparent that the message on the 'inscrutable mug' is a quotation and that the last two words are a name. The statistical properties of names don't match that of the English language, so I temporarily ignored the last two words from the ciphertext. I started with the following ciphertext:

at zotxmtdcph zfoukst cifwt aif efot mw, emc at rgddfc zfoukst cifwt aifv at efot.

In this ciphertext the most common letter is T. In English the most common letter is E, so it is likely that T represents E. With that assumption, the first word AT is a two letter word that ends in E. As mentioned by J Greely, the appearance of AT, AIF and AIFV are an interesting selection to attack by cribbing. Since we have already determined that T is E, we know that AIF and AIFV don't contain an E. A little experimentation plus the knowledge that our benevolent hosts are editors, led me to guess that AT/AIF/AIFV is WE/WHO/WHOM. This results in the following ciphertext and plaintext:

c: at zotxmtdcph zfoukst cifwt aif efot mw, emc at rgddfc zfoukst cifwt aifv at efot.
p: we __e__e____ _o____e _ho_e who _o_e __, ___ we ____o_ _o____e _ho_e whom we _o_e.

Next, for the ciphertext CIFWT with plaintext _HO_E, I guessed the complete word as THOSE, resulting in:

c: at zotxmtdcph zfoukst cifwt aif efot mw, emc at rgddfc zfoukst cifwt aifv at efot.
p: we __e__e_t__ _o____e those who _o_e _s, __t we ____ot _o____e those whom we _o_e.

The rest falls into place quickly, which I'll leave as an exercise for the reader.

#134 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2004, 09:14 AM:

I'm terrible at doing this sort of thing. Technology, however, supports me in my cryptological deficiency. I figured it out by taking Mr. Parker's hint, puzzling over the "those whom we..." phrase to figure out the last word and googling the phrase in quotes.

Tres profond...

#135 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2004, 10:36 AM:
Well Dan, you at least figured it out... wanna give me that hint you were gonna give Xopher?

It'd be redundant now, but I will note that if you don't know English letter-frequencies that well, another way to approach a substitution cipher is to pick a highly-constrained word, pick a possible decipherment of it, and see what happens to the rest of the cipher. If it's no good, pick another possibility, etc.

Highly-constrained words are ones with unusual letter patterns (two double letters in succession, for example), or very short ones. Here we're best off starting with a short one, for example the first word. There are only so many two-letter words in English, and some are unlikely to appear in this spot ("us," for example). Trying a few will show that most fail pretty quickly, in that there's no sensible way to fill out the rest of the cipher given the letter patterns produced.

#136 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2004, 11:49 AM:

Perhaps it's of interest to note that the second word is more fzctd translated as "fzctd" than as "zotxmtdcph."

It's probably not of great interest, however, as "zotxmtdcph" is by far the more inscrutable-looking version.

#137 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2004, 12:58 PM:

What admirable cryptographic analysis!

Me, I'd have started by observing that the quote has no one-letter words and no apostrophes, and that it has some kind of parallel internal structure. From that I'd have guessed that its language is on the formal side: an aphorism, perhaps. Those have characteristic patterns, and there are a number of ways I could go after them. But before I tried those, I'd observe that the quotation is attributed to someone whose name is divided into two clusters of two and thirteen letters. At which point I'd know it.

I'm wired for language patterns. For instance, it's not uncommon for me to forget a word, but remember how many letters it has and where its vowels are. This hampers my grasp of the ways other people break single-letter substitution ciphers.

#138 ::: Josh ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2004, 02:00 PM:

Thanks for the instructions; I'd actually done the frequency analysis and substituted "e" for "t", but I (wrongly) guessed that given its frequency "f" stood for "t". Once I made that mistake, I wasn't likely to figure the rest out.

But before I tried those, I'd observe that the quotation is attributed to someone whose name is divided into two clusters of two and thirteen letters. At which point I'd know it.

I was trying to figure out the name, but other than Jo Walton I wasn't coming up with anyone I could think of who had a two-letter first name.

#139 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2004, 02:09 PM:

I'm going to go finish this on the Excel alphabetic-substitution decrypter spreadsheet I put together at home.

Don't tell Homeland security I have one. They'll confiscate my computer, and also Teresa's brain, which can do ROT-13 on the fly.

#140 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2004, 02:33 PM:

Josh, go look in today's Particles.

#141 ::: Josh ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2004, 02:39 PM:

Josh, go look in today's Particles.

Oh, I figured it out earlier (although even with all the hints I still managed to mis-decrypt _o_e at first). I was just making too many incorrect assumptions when I first started. Oh well.

#142 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2004, 02:53 PM:

Speak now if you don't want me to post the anwer.

#143 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2004, 03:16 PM:

Josh - I managed to mis-decrypt _o_e at first, too.... wonder if we came up with the same wrong answer?

#144 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2004, 03:18 PM:

RIDGE WARNS TYPESETTERS: "ETAOIN SHRDLU" GRAVE THREAT TO NATIONAL SECURITY

Quick Brown Foxes, Lazy Dogs to be Photographed, Pawprinted

#145 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2004, 11:33 PM:

EFF TO RIDGE: "ETAOIN SHRDLU CMFGYP WBVKXJ QZ!"


And the answer is:

"We frequently forgive those who bore us, but we cannot forgive those whom we bore."

--La Rochefoucauld

If you're going to have that on a mug at work, just as well to have it encrypted.

#146 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2004, 11:34 AM:

Okay, here's my first whack at the form:

Cogito, blogito
Nielsen Hayden dot-com:
Thoughtful comments and a
Dose of good cheer.

If you feel low and
Dis-inspirational
Peruse its pages to
Buy crypto-gear.

Now I really must go work on my resume....

#147 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2004, 03:27 AM:

John M: Will owners of quartz sphinxes be under intensified surveillance, especially those for which jackdaws show affection?

And what will they do about those dozens of wine jugs?

#148 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2004, 11:35 AM:

Liquor jugs. Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.

And I once created a whole multi-adventure plot arc in my GURPS campaign, just so an NPC could say "Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow!" at the end and have it mean something real. (I also came up with an even more convoluted scenario that made "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously" have meaning, but that's another story.)

#149 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2004, 02:03 PM:

Stephanie, the Martyrdom of St. Apollonia has the wrong aspect ratio for the CafePress journal. Is there some other martyrdom you'd like?

Scorpio, this is superstitious of me, but I don't want to put the "Nutbar Conspiracy Theorist" design onto something that lasts as long as a coffee mug.

Skwid, that is the perfect font for Jordin's suggestion, but ... did we really use typefaces that were that ugly?

Pamela, I'm not sure I can get the Romero design onto a coffee mug. I'll give it a try one of these days.

Piscus: Tinfoil! Great idea!

Bryan, I can't get the Mary Sue thread onto a coffee mug, but I'm working on another idea in the same line.

Taper, the Garamond W is beautiful in its own right, but is there a further joke I'm not catching? There must be. There aren't enough type junkies out there to buy as many t-shirts as you must be selling, given the stack of pennies that's been accumulating in my referrals account. Congratulations, whatever it is.

Mike Ford, I suspect there are a great many people who've set up a CafePress store for just that reason. I've seen public stores where the uppermost items were in support of some public cause, and the lower (=earlier) ones were stuff like calendars that used family photos as their art. We already know that CafePress will make back its money, no matter what; they say so. Configuring your individual order as a store means you'll include all the pertinent information, and your item will conform to their specs.

Kate, I'm struck by your question. As far as I know, the only difference between fanfic bound into a book for personal use only, and illegal publication thereof, is whether you give out the link. That's a new wrinkle.

cgeye, it's never too late to add anything. CafePress keeps a stash of all the designs you've uploaded. You just pick out a new item and tell it which design to apply -- assuming that design is the right size and shape for that item.

In this case, it is. You'll find the tote bag at the end of the page.

Jill, that's a great link.

J. Greeley, I just wish CafePress had silver metallic printing. For that matter, I wish they had black t-shirts. I keep wondering whether they have it in for New Yorkers.

Dan Blum, mind if I slightly alter the seventh line of your quasi-double-dactyl? "Trollers and jerks" would iron out the bump.

Virge, I've grabbed that and run with it.

Reimer, it's hard to imagine circumstances in which it wouldn't be appropriate to fine-tune Latin tags here. ...Those are very cute toys.

Oh, that's right, I forgot to make the announcement here: A book I edited is up for the Hugo, Robert Charles Wilson's Blind Lake. That's three out of four of his novels with us that have made the Hugo ballot. I'm no end of pleased.

Scorpio, I apologize for altering the nutbar designs after you ordered, but perhaps they haven't processed yours yet. There's now a broad shallow band on the back that says "RESENT, RESENT, RESENT. NUTBAR, NUTBAR, NUTBAR."

Tum-te-tum, off to do a silly thing...

#150 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2004, 03:06 PM:

Kate, I'm struck by your question. As far as I know, the only difference between fanfic bound into a book for personal use only, and illegal publication thereof, is whether you give out the link. That's a new wrinkle.

I was worried that CafePress making money on it would affect things, but considering the question again, I'm not sure that's the way to look at it--if I printed it out at home, someone's making money on the ink and paper I bought. But in printing it, I wouldn't be looking to make a profit or distribute copies.

Arrgh! No, must . . . not . . . cat-vacuum!

#151 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2004, 03:28 PM:

The etymology of "cat-vacuum" is bugging me. Is that the Unix cat(1), or is it some Kliban reference I'm missing, or what?

#152 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2004, 03:48 PM:

Jeremy --

It's a literal cat, felis domesticus.

The term is used on rec.arts.sf.composition and possibly elsewhere to denote those activities in which one engages rather than actually sit down and write -- I suppose I could sit down and figure out an ending for chapter twelve, but wait! I haven't vacuumed the cat!

I believe that the particular phrase gained currency because the activity chosen was useless, arduous, and presumptively time consuming, especially with having to go and get bandaged after.

#153 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2004, 04:45 PM:

Ah, thanks, Graydon. That makes sense.

What made it more confusing was seeing the phrase used as a transitive verb in the context of transferring data from one format to another: "I could spend infinite time cat-vacuuming HTML files into PDF".

#154 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2004, 04:45 PM:

Vacuum? When did it turn into vacuuming the cat? I've heard it as "waxing the cat" for decades.

And speaking of waxing the cat, I wish to announce that I have done a very silly thing. Look here, at the bottom of the page. You won't be able to read it from the on-site picture, so here's the text:

http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/004974.html
F yr pst/Mks hr hwl/Trs wll/dmvwl/—Mkng Lght (LNHammer) This thread really should have been called “Just Making Shirt Up” (Mark Wise) Arrant Pedantry Spoken Here. (Tom Whitmore) M CMMNT GT DSMVWLLD T MKNG LGHT, ND LL GT WS THS LSY CFF MG (Bill Higgins) No, it’s not fair. You’re in the wrong universe for fair. (Cleis, quoting John Scalzi) LL YR VWLS R BLNG T S (Jordin Kare) So, about my manuscript... (Alter S. Reiss) ‘M NT WLS, ‘M JST RD (Bill Higgins) FCK FF ND D, RLPH (Xopher) I’m a patriot. I love my decadent, cosmopolitan, self-indulgent, racially-mixed, godless, intellectually dilettante, drug-abusing, promiscuous, queer-loving country. And its flag is the Stars and Stripes. (Crazysoph, quoting PNH) GRT NW SC-F NVL! ... HY, JST RD N RTCL BT FTHR ND SN TM THT WRT NVL CLLD “TTCK F TH RCKDS” (Alter S. Reiss) Perhaps it’s of interest to note that the second word is more fzctd translated as “fzctd” than as “zotxmtdcph.” (Bob Webber) FK NXN (Kip W) “Articulate people with considerable tempers.” (Madeleine, quoting Graydon) SLKNC = DTH (Carlos) Bnxs pstrs/Crsd nd hwld/T fndng thy'd bn/Dsmvwlld/Making Light (Bill Higgins) LL Y PPL... (Kip W) Bush stole the election and all I got was this tinfoil hat. (J Greely) FRPRS ND NTBRS ND TRLLS, H Y! (James J. Murray) Would it be terribly rude of me to point out that the genitive singular of lumen is luminis, not lumina? (Reimer Behrends) Disemvowelling: y knw t mks sns. (Neil Gaiman) Just because you’re on their side of the bed, doesn’t mean they’re on your side. (TomB) F Y CN RD THS Y PRBBL RD MKNG LGHT, ND YR NS S T CLS T M MG. (Cassandra Phillips-Sears) Never blame on a Right-Wing Conspiracy what can be adequately explained by a spam filter. (Cat D) RIDGE WARNS TYPESETTERS: “ETAOIN SHRDLU” GRAVE THREAT TO NATIONAL SECURITY ... Quick Brown Foxes, Lazy Dogs to be Photographed, Pawprinted (John M. Ford) Will owners of quartz sphinxes be under intensified surveillance, especially those for which jackdaws show affection? And what will they do about those dozens of wine jugs? (Epacris) Liquor jugs. Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs. (Xopher) TRLLS, NTBRS, & FRPRS SCK (John M. Ford) ...Making Light's only law/says we must never bore/with what we write./Let all your thoughts outpour/but should you make us snore/then you can kiss all your/vowels goodnight. (Virge) Note: My readers are the best thing about this weblog. If you’re not reading the comments, you’re missing half the fun. (TNH)
I haven't properly HTML'd the text here to make the italics, boldface, etc., come out looking right; and if anyone suggests that I should, I will stare at them in disbelief.

#155 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2004, 05:01 PM:

I can picture your stare. That is just wonderful. I may buy one even though I have approximately 10 times the number of coffeecups I could ever possibly use.

#156 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2004, 05:19 PM:

Cognitive dissonance for me in realizing that I've been quoted on a coffee mug (and imagine getting everyone quoted to sign it, a Sysiphean task!).

#157 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2004, 05:26 PM:

Hey, we should all bring our mugs to Worldcon...in fact I can hardly leave mine home, since it's attached to my head. For certain values of 'mug'.

I think it would only be Herculean, not Sisyphean, unless you use watercolor marker and wash it every day. Come to think of it, what could you use to sign a mug that wouldn't come off in the dishwasher? Hmm, have to work on that.

#158 ::: Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2004, 05:41 PM:

It has occurred to me that the best way of distributing mind-control drugs would be to put them in chewy granola or trail mix boxes, because then you could dismiss anyone who found out about them as a being just another nutbar conspiracy theorist.

#159 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2004, 05:53 PM:

Ray: Payday candy bars. Snickers. It's being done right now.

In other news, aluminum foil won't block the rays; you need actual tin at a minimum, but silver is best, because it also keeps away werewolves.

#160 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2004, 07:14 PM:

Cat-vacuuming! So that's what I've been doing on this blog all this time, instead of all those other "important" things. I had thought it was just near-Olympic level procrastination.

BTW, "waxing" a cat? Is this wax as in polish or wax as in depilation (ouch) or some other meaning of wax (assuming that it's not related to making cat larger, as in recent news)?

Mug-signing: I've a memory of seeing a kit to write/draw on ceramics & fire them to fix it, but not sure if you had to use unglazed biscuit ware which needed a final firing & possibly a covering glaze too, or if you could put marks on a glaze and them fire them 'into' it, or put a clear one over it. Any crafty types aware of this?
For now, I'd stick to 'material goods' :) & laundry markers.

#161 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2004, 07:29 PM:

Epacris --

Canonical cat vacuuming isn't procrastination -- avoiding work -- as such, it's applying wild bursts of energy to something that will not advance your stated objectives, as a means of avoiding same. (re-filing all your cook books by the Pantone colour of the authors' irises, frex, when you were going to look up a quiche recipe.)

#162 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2004, 08:31 PM:

Oddly, I don't recall ever hearing it as cat-waxing. Though it makes just as much sense as vacuuming, and is probably the same on both sides of the pond as well.

#163 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2004, 09:24 PM:

Notice from Teresa: DO NOT ORDER THE COMMENT-THREAD MUG until further notice. It has a typo, which she's fixing.

#165 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2004, 10:10 PM:

small, pathetic voice: "help."

I have tried to look up the term "frex," and have been frustrated in my quest for knowledge. Even Wikipedia has no real entry (only lots of frustrating references).

I feel linguistically powerless, and I hate that.

Would somebody please take pity on me and explain?

Humbly,

Jill

#166 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2004, 10:15 PM:

Frex = For Example.

#167 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2004, 10:34 PM:

And if anybody's interested, the text on that last mug reads:

Uxfpbmxpz jvy bznzv dzjpb jlx, xfp uxpzujqwzpb spxflwq uxpqw xv qwkb mxvqkvzvq j vzh vjqkxv, mxvmzknzy kv gkszpqd, jvy yzykmjqzy qx qwz rpxrxbkqkxv qwjq jgg czv jpz mpzjqzy ztfjg. Vxh hz jpz zvljlzy kv j lpzjq mknkg hjp, qzbqkvl hwzqwzp qwkb vjqkxv xp jvd vjqkxv bx mxvmzknzy jvy bx yzykmjqzy mjv gxvl zvyfpz. Hz jpz czq wzpz xv j lpzjq sjqqgz ukzgy xu qwjq hjp. Hz wjnz mxcz qx yzykmjqz j rxpqkxv xu qwjq ukzgy, jb j ukvjg pzbqkvlrgjmz uxp qwxbz hwx wzpz ljnz qwzkp gknzb qwjq qwjq qwkb vjqkxv cklwq gknz. Kq kb jgqxlzqwzp ukqqkvl jvy rpxrzp qwjq hz bwxfgy yx qwkb. Sfq, kv j gjplzp bzvbz, hz mjv vxq yzykmjqz p hz mjv vxq mxvbzmpjqz p hz mjv vxq wjggxh p qwkb lpxfvy. Qwz spjnz czv, gknkvl jvy yzjy, hwx bqpfllgzy wzpz, wjnz mxvbzmpjqzy kq, ujp jsxnz xfp rxxp rxhzp qx jyy xp yzqpjmq. Qwz hxpgy hkgg gkqqgz vxqz, vxp gxvl pzczcszp, hwjq hz bjd wzpz, sfq kq mjv vznzp uxplzq hwjq qwzd yky wzpz. Kq kb uxp fb qwz gknkvl, pjqwzp, qx sz yzykmjqzy wzpz qx qwz fvukvkbwzy hxpi hwkmw qwzd hwx uxflwq wzpz wjnz qwfb ujp bx vxsgd jynjvmzy. Kq kb pjqwzp uxp fb qx sz wzpz, yzykmjqzy qx qwz lpzjq qjbi pzcjkvkvl szuxpz fb p qwjq upxc qwzbz wxvxpzy yzjy hz qjiz kvmpzjbzy yznxqkxv qx qwjq mjfbz uxp hwkmw qwzd ljnz qwzkp gjbq ufgg czjbfpz xu yznxqkxv p qwjq hz wzpz wklwgd pzbxgnz qwjq qwzbz yzjy bwjgg vxq wjnz ykzy kv njkv p qwjq qwkb vjqkxv, fvyzp lxy, bwjgg wjnz j vzh skpqw xu upzzyxc p jvy qwjq qwkb lxnzpvczvq xu qwz rzxrgz, sd qwz rzxrgz, uxp qwz rzxrgz, bwjgg vxq rzpkbw upxc qwz zjpqw.
Piece of cake.

#168 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2004, 11:12 PM:

frex is sometimes forex, which is confusing, 'cos that's foreign exchange in business jargon.

Not quite as bad as working out whether SF is meant to be Science/Speculative Fiction, San Francisco or Special Forces.

My favourite is SLR = Single Lens Reflex (camera); Self Loading Rifle (armaments); Special Leave Refused (frequent when requesting leave to appeal to High Court (= US Supreme Court))

I take it 'waxing the cat' [a special subset of active procrastination] might be working out a story involving as many ambiguous standard abbreviations as possible in which they'd all make sense - perhaps while working in a few pangrams, or at least references to quick foxes, quartz sphinxes, liquor jugs, lazy dogs sleeping furiously, etc.

#169 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2004, 11:33 PM:

Lzqqdbsfpl?
That was the absolute first thing that came into my mind, all I had to do was confirm it. Wonder why?

#170 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2004, 11:59 PM:

Oh, Teresa...as Laurie Anderson put it "I got your letter/I couldn't read it/It was a cryptogram...Did I drink some poison/That I don't remember now?"

Decrypting things like that should be something I'm good at. Unfortunately the ADD makes it impossible; it requires sustained concentration, of which I have none.

Epacris, Foreign Exchange is also sometimes FX, which are also Special Effects. USB is a cable, but mishearing it as USD (in an FX environment) can cause confusion; "USD Cable" is redundant, because the "Cable" rate is the USD/GBP rate (or the GBP/USD rate, I can't remember which). Then of course you might be using the USB cable to connect a device which you're using for FX in a movie, which could be about arbitrage, and...OK, I'm going to stop now. Have a cool drink. Have the doctor look into each of my pupils.

And I like SCA as an example of ambiguous acronyms...though the Society for Creative Anachronism and Sexual Compulsives Anonymous DO overlap, it's not by as much as you might think...

#171 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2004, 12:21 AM:

I forgot the most pernicious acronymic ambiguity of all. Well, more laughable than pernicious maybe. Windows XP.

Ask Teresa (or refer to the fact that I'm Irish-American and a big fan of beautiful calligraphy) why I think that's the most arrogant name for an OS I've ever heard.

#172 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2004, 05:08 AM:

Epacris, Patrick did exactly the same thing.

#173 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2004, 05:56 AM:

XoPher: Lordy, I never spotted that one! Have some friends going to just love it <hehehe>

#174 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2004, 07:44 AM:

Thank you all!

E.g., Frex...

#175 ::: Richard Parker ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2004, 07:52 AM:

Epacris,

I too took one look at TNH's latest ciphertext and immediately thought of jspjwjc gkvmxgv'b lzqqdbsfpl jyypzbb, no frequency analysis or other cryptographic techniques required! That is pretty unusual for me, I usually attack these in a methodical "process oriented" manner, not by intuition.

#176 ::: Virge ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2004, 09:08 AM:

Unless I'm missing something, some single letter words have leaked into the text of Inscrutable Mug 3 where there should have been punctuation. See emboldened letters:

Uxfpbmxpz jvy bznzv dzjpb jlx, xfp uxpzujqwzpb spxflwq uxpqw xv qwkb mxvqkvzvq j vzh vjqkxv, mxvmzknzy kv gkszpqd, jvy yzykmjqzy qx qwz rpxrxbkqkxv qwjq jgg czv jpz mpzjqzy ztfjg. Vxh hz jpz zvljlzy kv j lpzjq mknkg hjp, qzbqkvl hwzqwzp qwkb vjqkxv xp jvd vjqkxv bx mxvmzknzy jvy bx yzykmjqzy mjv gxvl zvyfpz. Hz jpz czq wzpz xv j lpzjq sjqqgz ukzgy xu qwjq hjp. Hz wjnz mxcz qx yzykmjqz j rxpqkxv xu qwjq ukzgy, jb j ukvjg pzbqkvlrgjmz uxp qwxbz hwx wzpz ljnz qwzkp gknzb qwjq qwjq qwkb vjqkxv cklwq gknz. Kq kb jgqxlzqwzp ukqqkvl jvy rpxrzp qwjq hz bwxfgy yx qwkb. Sfq, kv j gjplzp bzvbz, hz mjv vxq yzykmjqz p hz mjv vxq mxvbzmpjqz p hz mjv vxq wjggxh p qwkb lpxfvy. Qwz spjnz czv, gknkvl jvy yzjy, hwx bqpfllgzy wzpz, wjnz mxvbzmpjqzy kq, ujp jsxnz xfp rxxp rxhzp qx jyy xp yzqpjmq. Qwz hxpgy hkgg gkqqgz vxqz, vxp gxvl pzczcszp, hwjq hz bjd wzpz, sfq kq mjv vznzp uxplzq hwjq qwzd yky wzpz. Kq kb uxp fb qwz gknkvl, pjqwzp, qx sz yzykmjqzy wzpz qx qwz fvukvkbwzy hxpi hwkmw qwzd hwx uxflwq wzpz wjnz qwfb ujp bx vxsgd jynjvmzy. Kq kb pjqwzp uxp fb qx sz wzpz, yzykmjqzy qx qwz lpzjq qjbi pzcjkvkvl szuxpz fb p qwjq upxc qwzbz wxvxpzy yzjy hz qjiz kvmpzjbzy yznxqkxv qx qwjq mjfbz uxp hwkmw qwzd ljnz qwzkp gjbq ufgg czjbfpz xu yznxqkxv p qwjq hz wzpz wklwgd pzbxgnz qwjq qwzbz yzjy bwjgg vxq wjnz ykzy kv njkv p qwjq qwkb vjqkxv, fvyzp lxy, bwjgg wjnz j vzh skpqw xu upzzyxc p jvy qwjq qwkb lxnzpvczvq xu qwz rzxrgz, sd qwz rzxrgz, uxp qwz rzxrgz, bwjgg vxq rzpkbw upxc qwz zjpqw.

#177 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2004, 09:19 AM:

Xopher: Then of course you might be using the USB cable to connect a device which you're using for FX in a movie...

...which will be broadcast on the FX network?

#178 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2004, 09:25 AM:

ems. artifact. good catch.

#179 ::: Richard Parker ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2004, 09:41 AM:

On a related note, most transcriptions, including the transcriptions of the two drafts in the LoC collection, use 'pzbqkvl rgjmz' instead of 'pzbqkvlrgjmz.'

#180 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2004, 12:53 PM:

Epacris, of course you know the presense of those letters in my name is not a coincidence...

When they were working on I-think Windows 98, they called it "Chicago" as a code name; I wonder if this one was called "Cairo"?

#181 ::: Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2004, 01:54 PM:

I seem to recall that "Cairo" was the code name for the original Windows NT.

#182 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2004, 02:57 PM:

Then they finally got there...

#183 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2004, 03:51 PM:

Why, Epacris? Because it's the length that it is. Because its words are long and its sentences are longer. Because it uses very sparse, plain punctuation, and no contractions.

I don't think Patrick's ever broken an encryption in his life. He guessed it purely on the basis of its length and the characteristics of the text.

Did you get a slight buzz when the answer popped into your head?

#184 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2004, 12:43 AM:

Chicago was windows 95.

Cairo was, depending on who you talk to either the original code-name for a version of Windows NT, or a set of technologies that eventually got broken up and put into multiple Microsoft products, sort of a concept car for operating systems. Or it might have been simply vaporware all along.

The CIA.

#185 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2004, 02:43 AM:

In re "cat-vacuuming": You, Teresa, introduced the term "waxing the cat" to rasfc back in '99, and Mary Gentle in this post noted that she'd independently invented the similar term "hoovering the cat". The group adopted that one, in an Americanized form, and has been using it since.

#186 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2004, 03:29 AM:

THANK YOU!!

Now I'm worried that if I'm the first one to buy the cgeye nutbar tote bag, The Man will know what I'm thinking about.

Then again, I'm taking this bag out and about, so isn't that the point?

Political courage is so much easier when one can stay afraid and unseen.

#187 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2004, 03:30 AM:

THANK YOU!!

Now I'm worried that if I'm the first one to buy the cgeye nutbar tote bag, The Man will know what I'm thinking about.

Then again, I'm taking this bag out and about, so isn't that the point?

Political courage is so much easier when one can stay afraid and unseen.

#188 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2004, 05:10 AM:

Teresa (for when head is better) - your reasons are probably partly (mostly?) it, but as an unAmerican, I've never particularly studied this passage, so I'm not that familiar with its length or form, just the popular quotes.

It could have come from almost anywhere in time & perhaps in (earth-bound) space allowing for well-known translations.

#189 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2004, 12:41 PM:

Xopher: The same thought has occurred to me a time or two. (I've mentioned before -- but can't remember whether it was in TNH's or PNH's blog -- that I once did a term paper on the XP page from the Book of Kells. 'Twas my first college term paper. And I got an A, which I celebrated by going to a local hamburger joint and playing Bob Seger's "Rambling Gambling Man" on the jukebox.)

#190 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2004, 01:04 PM:

Mitch, I was making a pun. Cairo, Chi-Rho, XP, get it? Accurate MicroSoft history, while interesting, wasn't really the point.

#191 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2004, 02:29 PM:

Xopher - I was responding, not to you, but rather to Ray Radlein, who said that he thought that Chicago was the code-name of Windows NT.

And the joke about XP went right over my head until you explained it - I don't know the Greek alphabet - I barely know the English alphabet past LMNOP.

#192 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2004, 04:23 PM:

Teresa, you have "qwjq qwjq qwkb" in the third sentence; oddly enough, when I copied and pasted it in preperation for decryption, the repeated words got broken across a line boundary, making me think that somehow I had done it!

Then, out of curiosity, I did a little poking around with a search engine, looking for the last 10 words of the sentence. Some versions have "qwjq qwjq" (2330 pages), and some have "qwjq qwkb" (175 pages). I only found one site with the "qwjq qwjq qwkb" version. But the string "qwjq qwjq qwkb" by itself allegedly appears about 23,700 times on the web.

#193 ::: Alison Scott ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2004, 07:42 AM:

Those of you who've ordered CafePress items from P&T's store (or anyone else's) -- how have you found the quality? We're considering setting up a Plokta store on CafePress.

#194 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2004, 02:05 PM:

"xu qwz rzxrgz, sd qwz rzxrgz, uxp qwz rzxrgz" was the key crib for me, at least once I determined that it wasn't rot13.

#195 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 01:36 AM:

Re: Cat-Vacuuming.

I feel compelled to mention that we once had a cat who *Liked* to be vacuumed (You use the hose with a brush attachment for the main fur. Then take the brush off and vacuum up the tail... which looks really funny vanishing up the hose).

*Much* more fun than doing the actual carpet.

Re: Other stuff:

One of the shared acronyms I've always liked was WWF - only the middle word changes. ("Wildlife" is the other.)

"So when you said a gorilla... you meant a *Real* gorilla." (Garth Ennis)

#196 ::: Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 05:18 AM:

Xopher - I was responding, not to you, but rather to Ray Radlein, who said that he thought that Chicago was the code-name of Windows NT.

Actually, what I said was, "I seem to recall that 'Cairo' was the code name for the original Windows NT."

In other words, pretty much the same thing you said in your correction.

#197 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 03:23 PM:

Aristotle: Cat Nature abhors a Cat Vacuum

Kepler: Cat Planets move in Elliptical Orbits through the Cat Vacuum

Dirac: a Cat Vacuum is filled with Virtual Cats

Einstein: Gravity curves a Cat Vacuum

Robert Forward: there is enormous Zero-point Cat Energy in a Cat Vacuum

Hawking: The Cat Vacuum near a Black Hole is filled with Cats Hawking Radiation

PhyRev: the Cat Vacuum is filled with entangled pairs of kittens

G.W.Bush: there are Weapons of Mass Catastrophe in the Cat Vacuum

#198 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 07:24 PM:

... Guerilla Wrestling ...
Is that like Fight Club?
:)

#199 ::: Virge ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 08:37 PM:

"Hawking: The Cat Vacuum near a Black Hole is filled with Cats Hawking Radiation"

Jonathan,
I've had some experience with cleaning up after a unhealthy cat. I found the image of "Cats Hawking Radiation" a little too vivid for my liking.

(I enjoyed your comment anyway.)

#200 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 10:54 PM:

"Call Haz-Mat!! The cat just hawked up a ball of radiation."

Lucky it didn't choke on the cosmic string...

#201 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2004, 11:43 PM:

Those interested in puns, pangrams, punctuation & suchlike pursuits, have you seen/heard either
Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, by Lynne Truss ( http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/biblio?inkey=0-1592400876-0 )
OR
Eunoia by Christian Bök (Coach House Books) www.chbooks.com/tech/catalogue.cgi?t=eunoia

[There is a note: "Are the online books free? Not exactly. You are asked to ‘tip the author’ – that is, give them a small royalty for reading their work online. Authors deserve to be paid for their work. And while you’re at it, order one of their print publications too."]

Some other related sections which might be of interest:
www.chbooks.com/online/nicholodeon/ booksupp.html
and Nickel Linoleum (images: Christian Bök; animation: damian lopes)
www.chbooks.com/online/nicholodeon/lino.html
{AFAIK, I have no relationship to either of these people or their publishers, nor any booksellers.}

#202 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2004, 07:36 PM:
Dan Blum, mind if I slightly alter the seventh line of your quasi-double-dactyl? "Trollers and jerks" would iron out the bump.

Sorry, I've been away. Please change it as you see fit.

(I've never been professionally edited before. It tingles a bit.)

#203 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2004, 01:47 AM:

Dan: (I've never been professionally edited before. It tingles a bit.)

I hope it's a nice sort of tingle, not an unpleasant one.

I sometimes get a tingly prickly feeling around my scalp at about eyebrow level when feeling one type of pleasurable excitement, eg, grasping a new idea. Deeper [positive] emotion seems to give strange feelings in the chest/heart area. Have no idea if the tingle is a common sensation, but from language clues, one suspects the latter is.

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