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July 30, 2007

Mike Ford: Occasional Works (Pt. Nine)
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 11:41 AM * 10 comments

Xiiiiiiii-linx fpga
As the stack rolls down and changes state
At the end of run, it’s Nought or One
And the invert comes behind the gate
Xiiiiiiii-linx fpga
Every night the Booley boys and me
Shove a bunch of code
Up someone’s node
And we don’t need no CPLD
Our honey will ping us at home
And we’ll take her out to the PROM
Exclusive AND
Defines our operand
We’re truthly tabled
You’re solid state, Xilinx fpga
Xilinx fpga, QA!

— Oscar Hammerstein IIbis

You really thought they weren’t going to start using all that surveillance on their political opponents?

Continue reading Mike Ford: Occasional Works (Part Nine)



Open Thread ‘65
Today’s imposition on everybody’s patience:

Well we had heroes then, and were too young for girls
But a helmet let you breathe the night on alien worlds
We were set to raise ship, and our blasters were hot
While Tom Corbett fought a Mercurian plot
Tom Corbett’s in heaven and I’m in limbo now

The book said that You Will Go To The Moon
I hope the bus is coming soon, ‘cause it’s my Earth’s long afternoon
We spent our youth dreaming of a ticket to ride
And found that the pork was all done on that side
Tom Corbett’s in heaven and I’m in limbo now

Hard times, hard future times
Living in orbit on nickels and dimes
Can’t close my eyes on the Moon and the stars
For a soap-bubble promise of a mission to Mars

Old dreams, they don’t die easy
Most folks don’t care, I say, was you there
The builders pack up and get their contracts elsewhere
Our jets are half spaceships, but what are they for
To shoot down the Russians from the last pretend war
Tom Corbett’s in heaven and I’m in limbo now

Budgets get cut, and orbits decay
Looks so much better on film anyway
While people believe it was all for some rocks
Spirit is limping, Opportunity knocks

Well I can see me now, I’m striking out for Venus
I wander the Belt in an evergreen Now
Footprints in Moondust and gold on my brow
And there’s Cadet Corbett, he gives me a wave
And a new day is dawning and the planet is saved
Tom Corbett’s in heaven and I’m in limbo now

***
According to imdb, the movie is not only about a manmade black hole trying to eat St. Louis, but there is a DUHN Duhn dunnnn ELECTRICITY-GOBBLING MONSTER THINGY INSIDE IT!!!!

Boy, it never rains but it pours, eh? So, like, not only is everybody having relativistic irritable bowel syndrome, but they can’t even watch it on CNN, ‘cause, like the monster has eaten all their electricity!

Next week on the Skiffy Channel: Inverse Matrix, in which some evil crazy mathematicians in a land where they wear funny hats create a really big matrix on a gigantic array of parallel Mac Minis, and then — wait for it — they invert it, using a highly mobile, standard-transmission, white-sidewall solution concept (identified in the film as a “Nash Rambler”), which causes, well, time to run backward and Twinkies to get fresher and, inevitably, film of an atomic explosion to be run in reverse. Stars a bunch of Eastern Europeans and Tony Shalhoub in a five-minute cameo as The Brilliant Mathematician Who Is Crazy as a Hyperboloidal Pizza and Unlucky in Love but Real Smart Anyway.

Order the DVD now.

***
I notice that the auteur responsible for Mansquito also has his name on the upcoming SkifTube black hole movie — the one where the singularity has a monster in it, because physics is dull.

Come to think of it, the eponymous arachnids in The Giant Spider Invasion came out of a black hole too, that just happened to be lying around in a field somewhere near the Dells. It was not, however, by the same guy, but by Bill Rebane, the Ed Wood of Wisconsin.

Of course, the history of really dense matter, and really dense movies about it, deserves a paper at some point, covering the various cryptozoa found within, the Underground Railway Model of the Universe (Change at Andromeda Galaxy Under), and, in the You Can’t Make This Stuff Up chapter, the curious line in the first Trek film about the Voyager probe having tripped and fallen through “what they used to call a black hole.” What they call it in the 23rd Century,* and why Captain “Son of the Guy Captain Kirk Let the Doomsday Snowcone Eat” Decker uses this irrelevant locution** remains unexplained.

*Possibly “frozen stars,” since presumably the Russians are Our Friends Now. Or some Vulcan word that sounds intensely scientific but the Vulcans know means “ugly sucker.”
**Given the urgency of the situation — the Earth is about to get blowed up and all — this is rather like telling the paramedics that your skin is falling off because of what they used to call phlogiston.

***
A “black star” was a term used for a neutron star (or, if you like, “what they used to call it”). James Blish used, and explained, the word in his adaptation of that episode. At the time Original Trek was on, black holes weren’t in the public consciousness at all. We leave aside the fact that a starship that strikes an event horizon will be sending a subspace message to Admiral Fox and Commodore Bear to please not throw it in that briar patch.

It is unkind to think so, but I think the writers of that scene were sound asleep. The line, as noted, makes no sense; you don’t use obsolete words unless you have some specific reason (like, there’s a 20th-Century person who needs it explained — but that person is supposed to be on the screen, not out in a hypothetical audience).

Open thread 66

Excerpted from The D VNC VWL MVMNT:

“According to these disheveled documents found on one of the dismembered victims of the dyspareunic Hoving Massacre —”
“Would that be the renownedly famously richly smart art snob Calder Criblecoblis?”
“The renownedly same. Anyway, the paper — authentically written in his own bilious bile — says that a vitally urgent clue may be found in the MN LS.”
“Gruelly thin indeed. Minnesota is a territorially large state.”
“Undeniably true. But I believe we should begin at the internationally shoptaculous Mall of the Americas. Perhaps among the gessopathologic Kinkade shop.”
“The Mall of the Americas, or, as they call it in the immigrational vernacular, El Mallo de las Borrascas? Well, it seems a horizonally challenged long shot, but your research has been infallibly spot-on to this point.”

How much Bush & Co. don’t care about terrorism

Perhaps the Strategic Malls Defense Initiative [STRATMALL] is from the National Office of Movie-Plot Threats [NOMOPLOT], the movie in this case being Dawn of the Dead [purely coincidentally, DoD].

Though there is some evidence that the North American Strategic Cranial Appendage Reserve [NASCAR] remains untouched, possibly becuase of acronymic confusion.

Quatrains on American history

William Harrison — Tippecanoe!
Went out without his coat;
He took an oath, an ague too —
And that was all she wrote.

In Central Park, the boats do sail,
And happy folks stroll by;
Who now recalls this urban vale
Was proto-CGI?

One day Ike was President,
His SecDef also ran GM.
They dreamed of highroads of cement —
I wonder what became of them?

Here is the lady from Amherst, MA
Who’d no time to stop, and was stopped for anon;
In her time she was all but alone (so they say)
But the third in the carriage is bearing her on.

Aw, come on, were you expecting me to do anything else?

***
The dining-hall story is real, but it’s in Colorado, not Cambridge.

Tomorrow is St. Valentine’s Day,
And Alphonse has a score:
Let in the guys, that after play
Never departed more.

(I know, the Wiseguy Shakespeare has been long idle.)

These are the men who are crossing the plains
Laying iron rails through the Western unknown;
These are the people passed by by the trains,
This is a buffalo, this is a bone.

666

Seven heads and ten horns

And The String Section That Shall Not Be Named.

Annals of Truly Bad Ideas

The Society to Make Sure Nobody Ever Gets on Another Fucking Bus Ever Again?
There’s a group in the Cities — the Rich Suburban Turds for What They Pretend is Tax Reform — who would throw lots of money at that organization, at least as much as they pay our beloved For Sale Cheap governor to cut library funding and sign imbecilic videogame bills.

The capo of this gang announced, two days into the transit strike a couple of years ago, that since the city hadn’t stopped cold (because people had taken days off and arranged carpools in anticipation) public transit was utterly unnecessary. This achieved the impossible: labor and management joined forces to call him an butthole. (Is that nicer than, you know, the other word? Because I’m sure not trying to be nice.)

And poetry on transit (and in other public places) is quite widespread; we’ve had it here, and I’ve seen it in other cities, including the London Underground (where I believe it was sponsored by London Transport, though I may misremember — LT has a long history of giving people cool things to look at, including their posters).

***
… the boring, preachy, rhyming epitaphs they had posted all over the Catacombs

Le petit rhume
C’est dure et fort;
La toux, le goutter,
Alors, le mort.
Birmanie-Raser

***
New from Reclamation Tech: DieboldBGone, an inconspicuous IR device that causes electronic voting machines to lock irretrievably, while displaying the message I LIE LIKE A [insert noun here] and dumping all data on recent … accesses to the hand-held and backup relays for future reference. Not sold in stores. You know why. You know where.
***
According to Flack Tower: The Journal of Marketing to Marks, sales of Gucci’s “Essence Duvet” didn’t really take off until models draped in Tom Ford* duvet covers were combined with the slogan “The Comforter is Come.”**

*No relation.
**No double-entendre. Much.

***
The Army Museum in Honolulu has a great photograph from the Korean War, enlarged to poster size, showing a Hawaiian GI dipping into a can of Official Army Issue poi. It’s rather a large can — must hold at least a quart.

There’s a very good, though not recent, book on military food (Chow, by Paul Dickson), but maybe it’s time for a … . more philosophical one. Like, oh, If I Dine in a Combat Zone. Or The Book of Five Courses.

Well, not from me. Not now, anyway.

***
Just to further confuse the issue, Greg Benford’s Artifact unf n jrrafl vqqyr oynpx ubyr pbagnvarq vafvqr na napvrag negvsnpg (juvpu bhe bja naprfgbef unir, fbzrubj be bgure, znantrq gb genc vg va). Ng gur pbapyhfvba, Ubyrggr unf rfpncrq naq vf jnaqrevat nebhaq vafvqr, rgp. nybat jvgu bgure hasbeghangr riragf (gur ureb unf gnxra n onq uvg bs enqvngvba nsgre gur Qnexyrg ngr gur ivyynva).

Oooh, a jrrafl! They eat the leaves at the top of decision trees, you know.

Your homework done for free!

Well, I already did the “young Hobbit in possession of a magic Ring” opening on the Pastiche the Professor!(tm) thread some time in the past, but let’s see.

… from tenty-five to tenty-seven he was in training for a hero; he read all such works as heroes must read to supply their memories with those quotations which in the vicissitudes of their eventful lives may so serviceably be hurled at homicidal goblins once the hard cheese and biscuits have run out.

He learned from Edward Sapir that,
“The gift of speech and a well-ordered language are characteristic of every known group of beings, though the Elves come at it slaunchwise and through sinus passages unknown to anatomists,”

From the well-traveled and urbane Jan Morris,
Humped and speckled, lush or rocky, hefty or insubstantial, littering the landscape from the Alan Lee promontories to the Brian Froud woodlands, from the inconstant avenues of Minas Tirith to the Unspecified West, the peoples of Middle-Earth are noble, sturdy, and given to long eras of brooding that culminate in woozy eruptions of mass violence,”

From Ayn Rand that there is some sheep-bleep that even a naive young Hobbit cannot digest,

And from Sir James George Frazer,
“I begin by setting forth the frew facts and legends which have come down to us on the subject of Middle-Earth. I hope you are seated comfortably, and have a large supply of food and strong drink.”

So far his improvement was sufficient — and in many other points he came on exceedingly well; for though he had no hope of writing epics, she brought herself to read them; and though there seemed no chance of him throwing a whole party into hysterical glaive-voulging in a Dwarven waste-disposal site, he could listen to his uncle’s fantastical buncombe with very little fatigue.

Whoops, almost forgot:

And from John Kenneth Galbraith,
“Few subjects of earnest inquiry have been more unproductive than study of what the hell Sauron was on about.”

***
Having spent a fair bit of my life living either in a college town or on the fringe of a major campus, I can recall the bulletin boards on which, lined up neatly, one could see advertisements for:

— Term papers the students were incapable of writing

— Credit cards the students were incapable of meeting the interest upon (never mind the principal), which could be used to pay for the term papers

— Offers of five bucks an hour to be tortured by grad students in psych labs, so you could continue to have pizza delivered while waiting for your term papers to arrive and kiting checks to the credit card companies.

I think the breakdown of the system is due to a psych-grad gap. This could be closed by having MBA candidates fill the gap, either through classical management techniques (yelling at people until they cook the books satisfactorily, then firing them) or setting up subchapter-S corporations to outsource the torture of undergrads.

If anyone would like a paper on this subject, suitable either for B-school or psychology grad studies, with other applications through the miracle of globalized replace, please have two financial references available. (Warshington Mutal and Bonk of the West Online not acceptable.)

***
Careful, Larry. “Shorting Coke” is a phrase easily misunderstood by overworked government monitoring personnel.
***
But…but…when I was in Russia in 1990, there was only Pepsi to drink.

Pepsi had a deal to swap their product for Stolichnaya.* I stayed in (what was then) Leningrad, where one really doesn’t want to drink the tap water. And as part of a small collection of Interesting Bottles from All Over, I still have a Cyrillic Pepsi.

*I imagine some Soviet entrepreneur getting that close to convincing the Pop Lords of Atlanta to trade their goods for kvass.

A postcard to the folks

Of course, the Brits eat bread rolls, presumably so that no one confuses them with egg rolls.

More likely so they’re not confused with filled rolls, of which the Sausage Roll is the most infamous (and, in the case of Thomas Otway, deadly).

The Oldest Inn in England is the Dismembered Roman in West Wales, though the sign shows a dead cat and the word “Clwyrfyrbl.” You can’t find it. If you do, it’ll be closed, and if you see someone go in, people will make oo-ee-oo noises, speak in hushed tones of the Fair-to-Middlin’ Folk, and offer to buy you a pint at the nearby Ye Olde Hindoo Shuffle.

You Hate To See That Kind Of Thing At This Level Of Play

The error’s on the website, so presumably it can be corrected…?

“When I sodding get to it. My hole’s rather backed up at the moment, if you’ll excuse the vernacular.”
— 5079 Smith W

Woke up, it was a Hormel morning

Dear Friend:

I am Ivan Vladimirovitch Brodny, Fourth Assistant Governor of the World Bank with responsibility for Liquidations.

You may are hear of our disposing sale of assets of the Union of Unaligned and Mutually Suspicious Elements (UNAMUSE, former UNITED STATES OF AMERICA) after its liquidation by Chinacore Enterpirses and Cola Works SA.

As Fourth Assistant Governor iam not allowed to handle Gold Reserves, Notional MOnuments, and other big things on the other hand there is not much oversite down here giving me direct access to many easily liquidatable objects that could, with your kind assistance find buyers world wide, bringing you large profits at essentially no risk. Examples are the Washington Post (a data service or “blogg,” not the famed phallic Monument), the Bridge of Brooklyn, Mr Donald Trump, the Smithsonian Institutions Dillinger Exhibit, and other items to numinous to mention. I am sure that you are one of the Many who received mail order catalogues during the re-alignment and yard sale of Holy Russia. But I do not gloat, gloating being reserved to Second Assistant Governors and above.

As you are surely aware your governments are, as Mr Tony Blair said on his way to the Tower of Volkswagen, “out-Balkaning the Balkans,” so now is the time to Act Decisively. I await your reply and relevant currency transfer information with breath abatement.

Open thread 67

The TEAC … device (turntable? A/D converter? Universal Translator Mk 0.5?) has a splendidly retro look, at least in the photograph. Which is as it should be; vinyl is sometimes a skittish substance, and it’s better that your records* assume they’re being played, not asking to tell their stories one last time prior to retirement. At least, unlike lacquer, you can’t dissolve them to refinish furniture.**

You will, of course, not own the next generation of transfer device. It may be physically in your possession, and you will without question have paid for it, but you will have no legal or moral rights over it, whatever It is.***

*Nobody ever calls a CD a “record,” probably because the distinction was important when they were new.

**Yes, really. An unknown, but substantial, number of 78s went this way. They don’t mend with sticky tape and glue, after all.

***In all probability, a subdermal implant that sends a twelve-volt charge to your sinoatrial node if you violate DRM.

***
what’s the timeline before they rise up in anger at being stored on the bottom shelves for 25 years

If that’s where they are, then you’re safe. CDs would have rebelled long ago if there weren’t coffee mugs keeping them in their place.

Micro Warehouse used to sell a rubber 3.5” floppy intended for use as a coaster. This must be on the short list of Worst Home Computer Ideas Ever. (I mean, I eventually want to get a carton of handled 400ml beakers to use as mugs, but I wouldn’t use them for that in a laboratory.)

***
Another thingummy-wozzis about old discs:

A number of museum collections (particularly the Smithsonian’s) contain antique discs that are now too fragile to play with a needle, even a modern needle (and recall that in the days of the morning-glory horn, it was just a rather large piece of steel). The curators would, of course, like to be able to transfer the data to a better medium.

Some time back, the engineers at one of the large electronics firms — I think it was Sony — had the idea of building a laser turntable (or cylinder, because, well, you know) that would bounce off the tracks without actual contact. I suspect, knowing many engineers, that they partly did this because the company was willing to fund the project and mostly because it was a deeply cool idea.

And they built the thing. I gather it cost about forty grand, which is probably less than Sony headquarters pays in six months for hashi.

Unfortunately, the old recordings were often not stored under perfect conditions, and most of them have accumulated a lot of dust. The laser is, not too surprisingly, less tolerant of dust than a needle. So to get a decent playback, the recordings would have had to be liquid-cleaned … which would do at least as much damage as needle playback.

But, as an engineering project, it was a fine thing.

Full disclosure: I wrote (but never published) a story years before this happened in which such a device existed, though I was using it for a more mundanely stefnal purpose — pulling sound off of materials that slowly hardened, like paint or ice. That’s part of the reason I was so interested in the Sony gadget.

***
In the film, Khan wasn’t driving a Chrysler Cordoba, he had a Plymouth Reliant.

In the series, he had what looked like a submarine with aftermarket parts, probably from the J. C. Whitney catalog.

“I am a world-conquering dictator … yesss. And I have decided to take my loyal followers on a little … trip. No, I have not conquered the world in the last six months, but I think you will find my credit is excellent. Really? May I say that you don’t sound Asian either, Mr. ‘Manchu,’ is it?

“No, I have a submarine already. It’s a long story. We’re still finding ping-pong balls. You lost one? Does it have your name on it? What? Does the name ‘Norman Dean’ mean anything to you?

“Yes, I started a war. World-conquering, you know, tends to call for that at some point. No, it wasn’t that war. I’m not a complete moron. Not that one either. Look, Fu-man, I ruled a quarter of the Earth during the late 1990s. What were you doing then? Really? Which quarter? Hey, we were practically neighbors! Did I ever declare war on you? Yeah? Who won? Those were good times, ¿no?

“Look, you give me fifteen percent off the lie-in freezers and I’ll throw in my Doomsday Weapon. Oh, of course not, killing everybody is, you know, muy tonto. But it looks really cool — Mark Pauline, right — and it has all the OSHA labels, and the timer that counts down to one second and then makes a fart noise. No, I missed Burning Man. Yeah, it would have been fun. Look, have we got a deal? Good. When I conquer my own planet, I’ll e-mail you about the party. Indeed.

***
We shouldn’t forget the Guy Gardner Subdivision of Global Geopolitics, in which there are two divergent futures, each of which splits further down the line. In one, we blow ourselves up. In one-prime, we blow ourselves up but it was an Imaginary Story, the giveaway being the appearance of Wile E. Coyote in a panel showing the Justice League. In the other, millennia from now, people look back on this as the Sheetrock ‘n’ Expanded Foam Age that came between the Golden and Vaguely Intelligent Nanomaterials Ages. In the other-sub-two, millennia from now people look back at us, say “Ios lotaron”* and change the subject.

I mean, it would be comforting to believe that Certain Guys on the Stage of International My Will is Bigger than Your Will were the way they are simply because their brains had been fried by cheap low-bidder power batteries, getting knocked on the head by yellow things, and time in the Phantom Zone (where some of them still seem most at home), in the way that it is comforting to know that if a very large planetoid came barrelling at Earth, there really wouldn’t be much we could do, so we might as well party down.

*Oan for “Tastes like chicken.”

***
“The Rivals: Chris Everett vs. Martina Navratilova: Their Epic Duels and Extraordinary Friendship”

No doubt Chrissie has had her name misspelled countless times, but if you’re a humongous bookstore with branches everywhere wouldn’t you try to get the title right in a communication to your customers?

It’s shelved right next to the other Rivals, the one by Richard Bunbury Sheridan Whiteside. One aisle over from Cooking Emeril Legreeseeand Micky Dolenz Crichton’s Holy Bleep, Giant Japanese Nanotech Women with E-Mail Accounts are Trying to Kill Me While Pretending My Planet is Hot, Not That I Write Sci-Fi or Anything Like That. (I’m reviewing that one for Amazootic using my “Boris K. Brewster” pseud, you know, the one whose bio gives his credentials as “one of Andrew Sullivan’s ex-readers.”

Yeah, it was a long night.

***
So Spillane was dead and that was it. Only it wasn’t quite it, because there would be all those words, tumbling out and falling down flights of stairs until someone kicked them and kicked them again and they finally admitted that they hadn’t known the guy but “Kiss Me Deadly” was supposed to have influenced that Tarantino kid so there you were. Words spat from Windows machines with screens like blued steel, machines that somewhere down in their guts wanted to be beat-up Smith-Coronas with parts that knew what they were for and didn’t answer to anything soft, ware or otherwise. Sometimes, in the paragraphs that dropped and scattered like so many pianos meeting so much pavement, a subject wouldn’t match up with an object, or a hunk of sentiment would turn around and spit in the eye of the antecedent goddamn clause without noticing, and the guy or the dame at the keyboard wouldn’t know that was an homage, though they’d probably get that word into the obit somewhere. And they’d all talk about the kids’ books. Because they could say something about that. Not because they’d read the kids’ books, but because it had the wrong feel that everybody who ever wanted to be Bogart being a P. I. wanted to point out to some flatfoot reader. It would be like A. A. Milne writing My Bear is Stuffed, where you felt every bang of Pooh’s head against the stairs and Roo turned out to be a Commie spy with a sick letch for Piglet. It beat having to read the books.

Tonstant Weader fwowed wead allllll over the woom, and it felt good.

***
There’s certainly an element of frontier justice with Hammer — he makes occasional comments, not always coherently, about wimpy juries that let the bad guys go because they had [fill in liberal stereotype excuse]. There are other things in addition, though, particularly the idea that the PI does his job well, which includes the wrongdoers being punished, and this is not, in the hardboiled story, always left up to the official authority. And the hardboiled started up a couple of decades before Spillane created Hammer. What was different was the elaborate detail of Hammer’s violence — a goon isn’t dropped by one scientific punch, he gets kicked around the room for a couple of pages — and its quantity. At the end of One Lonely Night, Hammer tommy-guns a roadhouse full of Commies, (partly because they’ve been torturing Velda, but mostly because they’re, well, Commies). Spillane told the story that, in the original draft, there were something like sixty dead Reds. The editor objected that this was too violent. So he made it thirty (not, I hasten to add, by not killing the other thirty), and that was okay.

And I’m not sure about the distinction between “mystery” and “PI yarn.” “Detective story” is a general term used by people who write mystery/crime tales, and there’s usually some sort of detection going on, some question to answer — Lee & Dannay talked about the Whodunit, the Howdunit, and the Whydunit as variations on what might be the same murder story. Philip Marlowe and the Continental Op have crimes to solve,* though it may not be fair to judge the form by its good examples.

Holmes doesn’t execute punishment, but he does (in “The Blue Carbuncle,” which is after all a Christmas story) let the perpetrator escape after the stolen goods have been recovered. And — quibble warning — in the stories, Lestrade (and Gregson, and a few others) are not bumblers or idiots, as so memorably played by Dennis Hoey in the Rathbone & Bruce films; they’re not the geniuses Holmes is, but he acknowledges that they are competent and honest lawmen, who are sometimes out of their depth against an unusually complex problem or clever criminal — hence Holmes’s status as “consulting detective,” which — quibble the second — a distressing number of people think is a first approximation of “private detective,” despite the paragraph in which the term is introduced. Heck, it took decades to redeem Watson’s intellect from Nigel Bruce’s portrayal.

*And sometimes Marlowe works out what’s happened after the majority of the supporting characters have done each other in, leaving very little for the cops to do except send out for more formaldehyde.

***
There isn’t an “official” name for such maps, though “situation map” is often used, the “situation” generally meaning “this is what things look like right now.” The aircraft control rooms the RAF used in the Battle of Britain were Operations Rooms, one for each Fighter Group (the “War Room” was the one in Whitehall that Churchill occupied).*

And they don’t usually use miniature figures, as picturesque as that is; blocks with ID markings are a lot more practical — and easier to make, as anyone who’s painted miniatures will tell you. Of course, if you are an Evil Overlord rather than a military outfit whose miniatures factories are being targeted by the Luftwaffe, you may have different priorities.

*If you want one book about the mechanics of the Battle, read Len Deighton’s Fighter.

***
Another observation on Large Maps of Vast Enterprises with Little Models On Them: In “Diamonds are Forever,”* in which Blofeld has taken the place of a reclusive gazillionaire, at the conclusion, Our Heroes, along with the real rich guy, are looking at his model-covered map, trying to locate the bad guys’ Secret World-Obliterating Orbital Satellite Headquarters [SWOOSH]. The rich guy points out that he does not, in fact, own an offshore oil rig in Baja California. (He does this with some distaste, as if he would not stoop to extracting wealth from such an infra dig location.)

In other words, Blofeld had a model of the SWOOSH placed on the map for the heroes to find, for reasons that are not immediately obvious. Was he constantly forgetting where it was? Did his cat like to play with it? Was it part of that obsessive-compulsive disorder that afflicts so many major villains?

*Remembered now for Shirley Bassey’s performance of the theme song, “This Ain’t Goldfinger, Jack.”

***
From the Darn Useful Giant World-Conqueror’s Poster description (link above):

“as for ambition however it is not, we would like to taste at least even just atmosphere, (38 year old office workers)” [original quotes]

I believe there’s a Hazmat directive regarding that particular atmosphere.

You just paste in the room and the office, quite putting the world on the crotch […]

“Lord Vader, please. The stormtroopers are nervous enough as it is.”

[…] the atmosphere like it does what of, drifts.

Lookit the trails, man.

Comments on Mike Ford: Occasional Works (Pt. Nine):
#1 ::: Stuart ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 01:16 PM:

Exclusive OR or Exclusive NOR. Exclusive AND and Exclusive NAND are oxymorons. I do love the incursion of electronic hardware into poetry. I used to give interpretive readings of Atmel AVR assembly code at some of our engineering meetings.

#2 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 01:17 PM:

Man, I am giggling so hard I hurt. Sniffling, too, at places, but still.

Thank you for collecting these, Jim.

#3 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 01:29 PM:

Exclusive AND and Exclusive NAND are oxymorons.

is OK. we can fix it in the firmware and upload a new bitstream.

He did say it was a xilinx FPGA, after all.

Now, if it had been a fuse-burning atmel chip, then that would be a different story.


#4 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 02:50 PM:

or a more mundanely stefnal purpose — pulling sound off of materials that slowly hardened, like paint or ice.

Because, of course, no on in this age of shortened attention spans has the patience to listen to paint dry in realtime. They want the stop motion version.

#5 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 03:32 PM:

Thank you, Jim.

#6 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 05:27 PM:

Next week on the Skiffy Channel: Inverse Matrix, in which some evil crazy mathematicians in a land where they wear funny hats create a really big matrix on a gigantic array of parallel Mac Minis, and then — wait for it — they invert it, using a highly mobile, standard-transmission, white-sidewall solution concept

I don't remember to ask Mike if the movie explained who provides production support for those thingabobs.

"For help with connectivity problems, press #1."
(Presses #1)
"For MAC computers, press #1. For Windows XP, press #2."
(Presses #2)
"Exterminate! Ex-ter-mi-nate!"

#7 ::: Dave Hemming ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 06:47 PM:

I am irresistibly reminded of the Mighty Mighty LPD song.

Mighty, mighty lpd

mighty mighty lpd,
carries the print jobs to liberty,
overcoming the evil printcap,
with a jaunty daemon bitch-slap

talking with brethren all over the world,
to whom our print jobs could well be hurled,
provided postscript code doesnt gag 'em,
forcing the use of lprm

piping files to kingdom come
and just maybe actually printing some
we know our output is laying somwheres
and we hope it ain't in lpd-errs

mighty, mighty lpd
doing it's job so faithfully
sad that it's such a loner
damn! the printer's out of toner

(attribution - Tony Lyon, talk.bizarre)

talk.bizarre was the Making Light of the nineties.

#8 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 04:31 AM:

It's... an ode to a Xilinx FPGA. Wow. I bet we could get a few rousing choruses of it going at the wee hours in the digital electronics lab at MIT. Any idea to what tune it is supposed to be sung?

#9 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 04:34 AM:

Aha! As soon as I took another look at it, it dawned on me that the tune is "Oklahoma". Of course. (The "Xiiiiiiiiiii-linx" was the clue.) Never mind. Ignore sleep-deprived me.

#10 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 03:50 AM:

I read the one that starts "Spillane was dead" three times, just for the sheer joy of the words.

That's what I really miss, not his great writing, but the little things like that he just threw off like sparks.

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