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November 16, 2007

Balloon tech crew
Posted by Patrick at 08:12 AM * 118 comments

[Cory Doctorow casting out the serpents]

Teresa’s not actually depicted in today’s XKCD, but you can probably guess why we laughed very hard over one particular detail.

(It’s the final strip in an epic five-parter. Start here.)

Comments on Balloon tech crew:
#1 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 08:40 AM:

Riot Prrl. Prriceless.

#2 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 08:41 AM:

Cory and high altitude balloons. It's sort of like where one person calls someone "Stinky" and then it just sort of instantly communicates to everyone on the planet and the name just sticks.

#4 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 08:55 AM:

Teresa... I think we will all be very disappointed if you show up at the next worldcon dressed in any other garb. C'mon... You know you've always wanted to wear a floor-length red cape.

"Take that, you thread-misusing miscreants!"

#5 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 08:57 AM:

#4: Actually, that's Cory Doctorow. It's a running gag in the strip.

#6 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 08:59 AM:

Were any other ML readers at Thomas Williams Park?

#7 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 09:05 AM:

Jon Meltzer @ 5... Sure, but doesn't Teresa do the equivalent crimefighting in these parts? While Zorro (spiritual ancestor of Cory) used to carve the alphabet's last consonant on people's vestments, she uses her fine lame to pluck its vowels out.

Now where is that evil alcalde?

#8 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 09:10 AM:

There will always be a dread pirate Roberts!

#9 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 09:11 AM:

Serge, Teresa actually does the crime fighting at BoingBoing, too. So it's doubly funny.

I wonder how many red capes Cory has been sent?

#10 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 09:15 AM:

Teresa can be identified by the way she carries a Thompson SMG.

(If you use the The Chicago Manual of Style of course you should use a Chicago typewriter.)

Didn't G. K. Chesterton say something about wearing a cloak?

#11 ::: marty ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 09:29 AM:

xkcd is full of win.

I remember reading about half when I found out about the mouseover text... and had to reread from the beginning taking care to put my mouse over the image and read what came up (in some cases it changes the whole joke!)

#12 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 09:55 AM:

I think this one may be my favorite of XKCD's mouseovers.

#13 ::: Nomie ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 10:07 AM:

I love that the comic has inspired Cory Doctorow to wear a cape and goggles in public. (Er, on at least one occasion from which I've seen pictures.)

#14 ::: rebekah ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 10:31 AM:

#6 Meltzer

Was at the park - quite the scene. Friends whose home abuts the park were bemused. A velociraptor almost ate my husband.

http://rivqah.livejournal.com/6864.html

#15 ::: Nic ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 10:34 AM:

Nomie @ 13:

It also inspired someone I know to go to a Halloween party this year dressed as caped-crusader Cory. :-D

While I'm here (curse you, distracting internets!), this seems as good a place as any to mention that I think I've found an Arabic word meaning 'to disemvowel'. Or close, anyway. While flipping through my dictionary the other day, looking for something else, I came across sakkana. In a grammatical context, it means 'to make vowel-less' (that is, 'to pronounce [a consonant] without a following vowel'). Arabic has a verb for everything.

Amusingly, the usual meaning of the word, in a non-grammatical context, is 'to calm' or 'to soothe'...

#17 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 10:55 AM:

15: my Arabic is shaky to non-existent, but wouldn't that make TNH a musakkani?

#18 ::: Mark Wise ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 11:16 AM:

Marty @11

Mouseovers? There are mouseovers?!?

Aargh. So much for my free time next week.

#19 ::: A.J. ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 11:21 AM:

Marty @ 11 and Summer Storm @ 16:

Regarding "win"...I wonder how long it will take for this sort of bulletin board speak to spill over into corporate boardrooms.

20 Years from Now: "Steve, I'm sorry, but your business plan is full of fail."

#20 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 11:24 AM:

While I'm here (curse you, distracting internets!), this seems as good a place as any to mention that I think I've found an Arabic word meaning 'to disemvowel'. Or close, anyway. While flipping through my dictionary the other day, looking for something else, I came across sakkana. In a grammatical context, it means 'to make vowel-less' (that is, 'to pronounce [a consonant] without a following vowel'). Arabic has a verb for everything.

I was gonna go into this big thing about triconsonontal roots and Semitic morphology, but then I realized that if you have an Arabic dictionary you probably already know all that. :) If anyone else is interested, let me know and I'll do the spiel.

#21 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 11:34 AM:

Carrie S @20:
Did you really just ask if anyone on Making Light is interested in linguistic information? Morphology?

WHAT?

#22 ::: Kelley Shimmin ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 11:35 AM:

Is this "full of win" a misquote or some new phenomenon about which I have not yet heard? See, the parts of the tubes I frequent are full of people and things which are "made of win," and have been so for quite some time.

#23 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 11:45 AM:

A.J. @ #19: If it takes twenty years, someone was spending way too much time on coffee breaks.

Kelley @ #22: Just think of it as a slight difference in dialect.

#24 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 11:47 AM:

I'd like to second 21. Linguistic information is full of win. Or, in the alternative formulation, made of awesome.

19: I too look forward to the day when, for example, I receive JP Morgan equity research documents with headlines like "GENERAL ELECTRIC (GE): Rising Pension Obligations And Debts Threaten GE's Long-Term Profits. Recommendation: O NOES! (price target $370)".

#25 ::: A.J. ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 11:50 AM:

Kelley @ 22:

"full of win" gets about 70,000 google hits, so it's definitely in use. "Made of win" gets about twice that. Which I guess means that more people think win is a solid than think it's a liquid.

#26 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 11:52 AM:

I've heard "made of awesome and/or win" as well as "full of win" - I don't believe I have heard "full of fail." "Epic fail" seems to be the currently favored slightly stronger replacement for "failure", though.

"That was an epic fail."

"Do you always fail so epically?"

(I work in the video game industry, and therefore believe this particular phrasing originated there. I am willing to believe I'm wrong, though.)

#27 ::: A.J. ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 12:01 PM:

26: Urbandictionary.com also thinks it's a gamer term. I'd guess that it came up first on IRC, but if you know more, I'm interested in knowing.

#28 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 12:08 PM:

"Hah! Your epic fail pales, like wet mail in a pail, compared to mine, which is the Grail of such tales."

#30 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 12:48 PM:

When I read that strip last night and got to the line about "comment threads," I thought, That's not Cory. That's Teresa! But it was bedtime and you hadn't started this topic yet, so I didn't comment then.

(Teresa, did you dress as Cory for trick-or-treat? Or did he dress as you?)

#31 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 12:49 PM:

#28 Serge:

...because ours didn't scale....

#33 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 12:56 PM:

Kelley, #22: I see both of those phrasings regularly on LiveJournal. (The Metaquotes community, including its comments, is a fabulous source for keeping up with current idiom!)

He spent FIVE WHOLE COMICS setting up one shaggy-dog joke?!! Only XKCD...

#34 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 12:59 PM:

Lois #30:

The only thing that strip needed was a speech bubble from the defeated MPAA-ninja filled with only consonants, which could be re-emvoweled to some pithy comment.

#35 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 01:01 PM:

Lee #33:

The Donald Knuth as Yoda bit was also pretty good.

#36 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 01:03 PM:

Jon Meltzer #6: I was there! I was there! I said "Wheeeeee!" for hours and hours!

It inspired this comic drawn by a friend of mine, based on things her friends say. I'm the one with the big quote bubble. Don't you recognize my face?

#37 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 01:03 PM:

Teresa @ #32: Mai piktoreeyal submishuns on ICHC are nebber approved. *sigh*

Ai gibs Cheez and Tofu 5 burgers ennyway.

#38 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 01:24 PM:

#21: Right. Sorry. What the heck was I thinking?

So Semitic languages (Arabic, Hebrew, Ancient Egyptian) do this thing for their roots, whereby a root isn't really a word of its own; it's a sequence of three consonants. To make a word, you take the root and add vowels (and sometimes other affixes) to it in various defined patterns.

I'm going to totally make up an example here because I don't know any real-world patterns. Say there's a root, TNH, which has a meaning of "administrate", and patterns C1aC2uC3 and uC1iC2C2iC3, which mean "agent" and "adjective" respectively. Then "tanuh" would be "administrator" and "utinnih" would be "administrational". Or if you had a root NFR meaning "beauty", "uniffir" would be "beautiful". And so on.

In real Semitic languages things are naturally more complex--things that don't mean what you'd expect them to mean, and so on--but that's the gist of it. And with such a system it's not surprising that there's a verb that means "to take the vowels out", because that's what you do whenever you need to work out the root of a word.

#39 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 01:28 PM:

"Jihad" and "mujahid" (one who engages in jihad) come to mind. Also "azan", the summons to prayer, which is called out by a "muezzin".

#40 ::: Tome ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 01:34 PM:

Does no one else see it? Or do you all just know everybody gets it? Serge @7 is the only reference I can find.

The commenters I's have been removed!

#41 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 01:35 PM:

And of course "Islam" and "muslim" are similarly conjoined.

#42 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 01:37 PM:

I found myself thinking more of "The Cruel Tutelage Of Pai Mei" from "Kill Bill", but that's an echo of any number of martials arts movies anyway. Although Pai Mei does live on a mountain rather than in a swamp.

#43 ::: Alberto ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 02:20 PM:

Ethan @36:

Damn you, Ethan! There's gone my productivity for the day. And my coworkers are looking at me funnier than usual.

Interrupting starfish, indeed.

#44 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 02:30 PM:

Wonderfulness!

Not unrelated: the first line of this comic made me decide to post the link even before I saw this thread. (Would've been in the Open Thread, but this is clearly the right place.)

#45 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 02:43 PM:

Carrie 38: I mentioned that property in the Strike Plate thread...in the process of discussing the word 'interfix'.

And that property of Ancient (Middle) Egyptian is what gives us things like the ankh heiroglyph becoming a symbol of life, and the scarab beetle becoming a symbol for evolution, because that ankh symbol is a drawing of a sandal strap, but it also stands for 'n-kh', and the word for 'life' has those same consonants; the scarab beetle can stand for the beetle itself, or for the consonants 'k-f-r', which are the consonants in the verb 'evolve'.

#46 ::: Individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 02:52 PM:

You guys have to see Catherynne Valente's essay on awesome.

Carrie, I love your erudite comment about triconsonant Semitic roots. Can I give a real example from Hebrew, because this collection pleases me: s-p-r is a root meaning words to do with counting or telling. Sefer is a book, mispar is a number. There are related verb forms meaning to take a census, to balance the books and so on, and the words for writer and author are connected too. But histaper, which grammatically is the reflexive form ("to tell eachother stories", I suppose) means to get one's hair cut.

I think words to do with the English cypher come from this root, via the French word which is currently spelled chiffre and which originally came from Arabic sifr. But this being Making Light I hope someone more expert will correct me if I'm wrong.

#47 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 03:00 PM:

Serge at #4 writes:

Teresa... I think we will all be very disappointed if you show up at the next worldcon dressed in any other garb. C'mon... You know you've always wanted to wear a floor-length red cape.

TNH is a unique Internet character with her own distinctive costume, so you shouldn't expect her to be seen (nor to be drawn) wearing Cory's costume.

#48 ::: Michael Martin ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 03:10 PM:

@46: That essay on awesome is, indeed, well-equipped with awesome in its own right. And wasn't cyphering an old word for doing arithmetic with figures and numerals instead of an abacus? (Not an expert - I have no idea where I ran across that fact or how reliable the unknown source was.)

@19: It might be parallel development, but "owned" already shows up with great regularity in computer security seminars. With sober late-40s-to-mid-50s suited guys solemnly intoning it, too.

The use of "owned" in software development methodology is definitely parallel development, but the usual technical definition sounds like it applies to the gamerspeak version as well: "Object A owns object B if A destroys B in every possible run of the program."

#49 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 03:17 PM:

Re: Epic Fail -

I'm sure it's related to pen-and-paper role playing games, or even computer versions that still involve simulated dice rolls.

All actions have a difficulty class (DC). You roll a certain number of certain-sided dice - number of dice and sides depend on game system, character stats, and type of action.
Total number showing on the dice that is less than the DC means you fail. A total equal to or higher than the DC means you succeed. (Although in some systems you have to have a certain number of successes to actually do what you want instead of just something approximating it.)
Any dice showing the maximum for that die means you are full of win - depending on what action you're performing and what system you're using, it could be a critical hit or a chance to reroll for more successes.
Rolling a 1 is a critical fail - for example, not only do you fail to hit your enemy, you trip over a rock and stab yourself in the face with your own blade. Epicness of the failure is usually determined by the number of ones rolled and by the GM, DM, or other word for storyteller/"guy who rolls for NPCs". If you're rolling, say, 10 D6's, and they all come up ones..... you may want to pull out a blank character sheet and start over.

#50 ::: Tim May ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 03:43 PM:

Nic @ #15

... I came across sakkana. In a grammatical context, it means 'to make vowel-less (that is, 'to pronounce [a consonant] without a following vowel')

Fascinating. I guess that's the same root as sukuun, the circular diacritic which indicates the lack of a following vowel, in fully-vowelled written Arabic.

Carrie S @ #38

I'm going to totally make up an example here because I don't know any real-world patterns.

There's a list of derivatives of k-t-b* in the introduction to a book** I have on the Arabic alphabet. kataba to write; kattaba to make someone write; takaataba to write to each other, correspond; istaktaba to dictate; kitaab book; maktab office; maktaba library, bookstore; kaatib clerk; miktaab typewriter; mukaataba correspondence; mukaatib correspondent, reporter; muktatib subscriber; kutubii bookseller; kutayyib booklet; maktuub written (or letter); katiiba military detatchment (apparently from the practice of drawing up armies on paper before putting them into the field).

* This seems to be a fairly standard root to use in examples - I suspect it's unusually productive & regular.

** The Arabic Alphabet: How to Read & Write it by Nicholas Awde & Putros Samano, 1986.

#51 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 03:49 PM:

Tim May @ 50: My Alphabets: Let Me Show You Them. (LOLcats in my brain!)

#52 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 04:02 PM:

Alberto #43: Wow, I'm glad you like it.

#53 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 04:02 PM:

shadowsong #49 - you're probably right - if it didn't start in rpg communities, it started in gaming communities playing games directly derived from pnp rpgs. (I assume "epic" is the intensifier of choice because everyone plays World of Warcraft, in which "Epic" denotes a highly desirable item.)

Tangentially, does anyone else find themselves using "shiny" in more or less the Serenity sense? (as a multipurpose positive response or description)

#54 ::: Jen B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 04:31 PM:

Jeremy at #53

My friends and I had been using "shiny" in that sense for a few years before Firefly. It was actually a bit disorienting to hear it on television as I couldn't recall hearing anyone outside of my age group use it before (early 20s then). Even though I love the show I've actually been using it less. I would use the word, my brain would switch over to thinking about Firefly, and I would get distracted from whatever I'd previously been thinking about.

#55 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 04:35 PM:

Bill Higgins @ 47... True. We've also seen photos of Teresa as a fairy godmother. At least I think that's what we were supposed to conclude from the wide-brimmed fedora.

#56 ::: midori ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 05:12 PM:

Jeremy Preacher, 53,
I can attest to the phrase "oo! shinything!" in casual usage around 1998-2000, amongst BtVS fans in the biological sciences, on the east coast.

#57 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 05:52 PM:

The Buffybot said "Oo! Shiny!" at one point, and was distracted when somebody (I forget who) wanted it to be.

#58 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 06:03 PM:

Serge, #55, You may be thinking of The Disemvoweller, that little-known comic-book crime-fighter.

(Further pictures may follow)

(Should I just start running now?)

#59 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 06:07 PM:

Re #58: Awesome!

#60 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 06:08 PM:

Re "epic fail", see also.

Nobody has yet mentioned "You win the Internet" which is one of my favorite forms. (Or variant "You just won the Internet")

"Shiny" was definitely around well before Firefly, and I think Buffy was picking up on usage rather than creating it but it's hard to be sure.

#61 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 06:20 PM:

Dv Bll @58 - Shn!

#62 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 06:44 PM:

Clifton Royston @ 60: I prefer this one.

#64 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 07:28 PM:

Huh. Where can *I* get a Jeep that color?

#65 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 07:34 PM:

Part of why I love internet language is the immediate interactiveness of it-- I don't know anyone who remixes and alters real-world speech as much as the bulk Internet. "You win the Internet" becomes "You have won an Internet, please collect your prize" or variations on intertubes and blagoweb and all sorts of things like that. I know it's partly an artifact of the internet being a lot bigger and more diverse than my outsidescreen life, and that I can pick my favorite parts of the bulk Internet, but it's still wonderful to see the language evolve and how people make it do so on purpose.

#66 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 07:45 PM:

Tim@50, Arabic looks to be hell on dyslexics. Does it less confusable in non-transliterated form, or once you understand the underlying rules?

#67 ::: SueinNM ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 10:08 PM:

Dave Bell @ 58... "The Disemvoweller"? That nom-de-guerre is too much of a mouthful. We need something more snappy. Something like the "Bloodletter"?

#68 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 10:11 PM:

Darn. Didn't realize I had used my wife's ID here too.

#69 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 10:41 PM:

Summer @64: I'm pretty sure that's a Landrover in desert pink, as used by the SAS in a previous war. That might help you in your search.

#70 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 11:00 PM:

Your link doesn't work, unfortunately. (But thanks anyway.)

#71 ::: cap ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 11:02 PM:

Nix @ 66 (Does it less confusable in non-transliterated form, or once you understand the underlying rules?)

No.

This is from the kid who's taking Arabic 001, though. Half the time it still devolves into lines and loops for me.

#72 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 11:28 PM:

I, my family and friends have been using "Shiny!" as a response to something catching your eye and distracting you since the 70's but we picked it up from a bird character in a book and sometimes we still go "Caw Caw" as well.

#75 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2007, 01:06 AM:

Shadowsong @49 & Jeremy Preacher @53:

Re: Epic fail

I suspect it's from D20 (Dungeons & Dragons v3.0, released in 2000) where character levels top out at 20th level in the normal scheme of things. Following the Law of Escalation, the Epic Level Handbook came out which allowed characters to advance beyond Level 20.

#76 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2007, 09:00 AM:

SueinNM@67

Hmmm. Supermoderator is even longer than Disemvowellor. We could always shorten it to SuperMod...

Faster than a speeding spambot. More powerful than a driveby troll. Able to stop raging flamewars with a single disemvowel. It's SuperMod!

#77 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2007, 09:14 AM:

Michael I @ 76... It's SuperMod!

...who eventually inspired a group of youths to join her Fight. They became known as the SuperModSquad.

(By the way, SueInNM was really me. That's what happens when I use my wife's computer. I get a sex change.)

#78 ::: Nic ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2007, 10:04 AM:

Ajay @ 17

15: my Arabic is shaky to non-existent, but wouldn't that make TNH a musakkani?

:-) I think I'd go for the active participle (with feminine suffix), musakkina.

Carrie @ 38

What I always liked most about the way Arabic works (besides this building-block structure in the first place) was how the meanings sort of... drift, sometimes in oddly tangential but logical ways. I forget which root it is now that starts out in the form I as 'to be happy', and ends up in about form X as 'to take a concubine'...

Tim @ 50

Yep, sukuun is the same root.

Nix @ 66

(Does it less confusable in non-transliterated form, or once you understand the underlying rules?)

Nope. Well, with long experience, sort of. :-) Because, as Carrie mentions above, the consonants are the foundations of Arabic - the alphabet is all consonants (plus a couple of consonants - w and y - that get co-opted into diphthongs or long vowels if the preceding letter is vowelled). The basic vowels, the 'short' vowels, are represented by little marks above and below the letters. Most of the time in the written Arabic, no-one bothers with these short vowel marks, unless something is *really* ambiguous.

So, to build on Tim's example, if you saw ktb in a written Arabic sentence, it might be kataba (he wrote), kutiba (it was written), or kutub (books). The only way you know which of those it is comes from context - for example, if it's the first word in the sentence it's going to be a verb - or if a helpful editor has put the mark for 'u' over the 'k'.

#79 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2007, 11:51 AM:

I have seen claims that the "full of {win/lose}" terminology (with extensions/embroderies like "full of tasty and nutritious win") originated from the 4chan message board.

#80 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2007, 01:07 PM:

Oh, noes, cd @79. 4chan is like the anti-Making Light. Bringing them into contact can only mean the end of the Internets. Has anyone got a sonic screwdriver?

#81 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2007, 01:11 PM:

I've been trying to get the mouseovers to work, but I can't seem to get anything, even on the one Patrick said is his favorite. I'm using Netscape right now - would it work better in Firefox? I thought it would just be "position your mouse over the character" but I've been moving it around and not seeing anything extra. Any ideas?

#82 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2007, 01:35 PM:

Magenta -- I'm on Firefox and it does work. Try the following. (Not sure how much you know, so apologies in advance if this is too simple.)

1. go to the linked page.
2. let your mouse rest within the boundaries of the cartoon. Don't click anything.
3. if that still doesn't work, you can see the joke by right-clicking "properties", again from within the boundaries of the cartoon strip.

Gur pbeerpg anzr sbe jung crbcyr ner pnyyvat zbhfrbiref urer vf npghnyyl gur "nyg" nggevohgr va ugzy. (Didn't want to spoil the punchline).

#83 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2007, 02:46 PM:

The Disemvoweller.

Pink Land Rovers.

I wishj I could remember what I was on last night.

But here's a (rather larger) revised picture of The Disemvoweller.

The hard part of do this CGI stuff is finding clothing models which don't look like a wardrobe accident waiting to happen. And, while all I've seen are the TV adverts, the new Beowolf movies seems to be solidly in uncanny valley territory. That problem is one reason why I go for slightly unreal characters.

But the Orangina advert isn't my fault.

#84 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2007, 03:20 PM:

I was the first to post a comment documenting the Special Air Service's pink Land Rovers, but it was carried away in the netquake last night.

Tamiya makes a 1/35 scale model. Photos here. It's even molded in pink polystyrene.

I was more familiar with the era when the SAS drove Willys Jeeps and Chevrolet 30 cwt trucks in North Africa. Built a Jeep conversion when I was a lad; I think I scrounged the .50 caliber gun from another kit, but built the Lewis guns from scratch, and carved a bunch of 5-gallon jerrycans out of balsa. I was very proud of this model.

#85 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2007, 04:17 PM:

The LRDG used Lewis guns: there were a lot brought out of storage in WW2, and the Bren guns were needed for infantry.

The SAS jeeps used a Vickers; not the Maxim type, but a gas-operated model variously known as the "K" and the Vickers G.O. It was originally an aircaft machinegun, supplanted by the .303 version of the Browning, and used a pan magazine like the Lewis gun. The LRDG used it to replace their Lweis guns.

It was apparently a development of the Vickers Berthier, which the Indian Army adopted instead of the Bren. Like the Bren, it had a curved magazine. There are some clear pictures here that show the main visual similarities and differences.

That CGI Pinkie is a 88-inch wheelbase Land Rover, and the Army mostly uses the long wheelbase models. The Tamiya kit is the 109-inch Series 2 Land Rover. By the time of the Kuwait War they'd been retired, and the SAS used the then current 110 model.

It is beginning to look as though the Land Rover Defender is starting to fade from the military procurement world. It's possible that civilian-standard vehicles will still be used by the military, but they'll not be front-line equipment.

#86 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2007, 04:32 PM:

If we're going to indulge in military vehicle fantasies, I want a Buffalo.

#87 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2007, 06:40 PM:

T.W @ 72:

I, my family and friends have been using "Shiny!" as a response to something catching your eye and distracting you since the 70's but we picked it up from a bird character in a book and sometimes we still go "Caw Caw" as well.
I think you're thinking of Jeremy the crow, in Robert C. O'Brien's Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (1971), basis of the 1982 movie The Secret of NIMH.

But Jeremy's word was "sparkly".

Still, I wouldn't be at all surprised if it mutated into "shiny" through the same Great Game of Telephone that generates so many urban legends from short stories, comic strips, and comedy schticks.

#88 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2007, 07:20 PM:

(Pyre, #87) Or indeed, Shakespeare, with sayings like "gilding the lily" or "all that glitters isn't gold". Sort of a linguistic equivalent of river stones tumbled into roundness by constant current.

Mark & Marty, I had the same experience with "Wha', mouseovers? Mouseovers? Mouseovers! … Damn, back to the beginning …"

#89 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2007, 10:06 PM:

Shadowsong, #49: At that point, you probably want this shirt.

Clifton, #60: I normally see that noun in plural in that phrase, even when the usage is clearly singular: "You win the Internets" or "Here's your shiny Internets." The last word is sometimes also spelled Intarwebz.

NelC, #69: Desert pink? You sure it's not Desert Peach? ;-)

T.W., #72: Would that be Jeremy the crow from Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH? "Ooh, a SPARKLY!"

#90 ::: coffeedryad ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2007, 10:47 PM:

I'm pretty sure I picked up "shiny" in about 1999 from Kiki the ferret in Sluggy Freelance, but I have no idea if that was any kind of original source.

#91 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 01:12 AM:

Serge @ 67

"The Disemvoweller"? That nom-de-guerre is too much of a mouthful.

How about "Th Dsmvwllr"? That's shorter. Or for variety, how about "e ieoee"?

#92 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 02:49 AM:

I always have to do the Properties->[drag box larger] thing because most of the XKCD mouseover jokes are too friggin' long for the Firefox tooltip they show up in.

And I think in this case the correct name is not ALT but TITLE. According to HTML standards, TITLE is supposed to render as a mouseover tooltip, while ALT is only supposed to render if the image does not. If I remember correctly, that's why flamewars broke out around the "Popup ALT Attributes" Firefox extension.

See also.

#93 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 02:58 AM:

Lee @89: You know, I had no idea Donna Barr was an established comicbook artist. I've only ever seen the work she did for GURPS and Traveller; very good though it was, I always assumed she was just a fan artist. Well, well, I shall have to see if I can get ahold of some of this Desert Peach.

#94 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 05:42 AM:

Nicole @92 -- And I think in this case the correct name is not ALT but TITLE. According to HTML standards, TITLE is supposed to render as a mouseover tooltip, while ALT is only supposed to render if the image does not.

Oops, pardon. I'm completely self-taught where html is concerned, have used tags on an as-needed basis for my blog, and haven't necessarily kept up with developments, so thanks for the clarification.

Ironically, it was the imprecise or potentially misleading use of a term that prompted me to make my original comment (82). 'Mouseover' is in general use for any function in which "something else happens" when the mouse rolls over a certain page location. With ALT and TITLE, the text info usually only appears after the mouse has rested a bit. If you're used to the term mouseover in the JavaScript sense of onmouseOver, you might expect the effect to happen instantaneously. And then get frustrated because you weren't seeing what everyone else was.

#95 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 07:56 AM:

Bruce @ 91 how about "e ieoee

Isn't that the wail that's said to be heard around the post of someone who is about to be disemvowelled?

#96 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 08:40 AM:

I think a nice short name is "Vshn".

Now I am become moderator, disemvoweler of blogs.

#98 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 03:42 PM:

Pyre @ #87: Hey, that was my post too! I think either I failed to post mine or it got lost in the blog-quake. (I remembered Jeremy as saying "Shiny", but as you say, game of telephone.)

#99 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:16 PM:

It's not my creation, but if I were looking for a short name for such a character, I'd use "Gruff," on account of the trolls.

Visual ref: Me in my Stetson.

#100 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:24 PM:

Heard a mighty rumblin' way under the ground,
Musta been Brady, a-bound for Hell Town.
"Mama, Mama, now what is that?"
"Brady's walkin' in Hell in his Stetson hat."

#101 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:30 PM:

Teresa@99: Me in my Stetson.

That's a pretty good grouping you've got going there.

#102 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:43 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 91... How about "Th Dsmvwllr"? That's shorter. Or for variety, how about "e ieoee"?

Wouldn't that make Teresa into the Disenvoweller's Evil-Universe counterpart, the Consonant Consumer?

#103 ::: Nenya ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 09:57 PM:

Argh, dammit. I have been studiously trying to forget that I know about the mouseovers, because it will mean reading them all over again (not so terrible a fate, except I ought to be doing other More Productive Things).

My favourite version of "to win the Internet" is "to wih an Internet", which variant took off after GWB said "I hear there's rumors on the Internets" in one of his speeches, and was roundly mocked for seeming to claim that there are more than one. The handy thing about "Internets", of course, is that any given person can win one Internet and still leave plenty for other persons whose actions are made of win and/or awesome to also win their own Internet (or leave space for themselves to win another Internet in the future). Thus you get awards like, "That was brilliant! Have an Internet," or "One Internet, slightly scuffed, all yours".

On Fred Clark's Slacktivist (and perhaps elsewhere) someone is said to have "won the thread" if they say something so amusing that no one else thinks they will be able to top it. (For example, I believe cjmr of Slacktivist won the thread in response to the question "What will be Jerry Fallwell's greatest surprise in the afterlife?" by saying "St. Peter is Catholic.")

#104 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 10:20 PM:

Clifton Royston @ 98: Now I've gotten to doubting and wondering. Google finds "sparkly" in quotes from the movie... but is it possible that in the original book Jeremy said "shiny" instead? Anyone have a copy handy?

#105 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 11:46 PM:

Greg: Thanks. I figure I did okay for a first-timer.

#106 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 12:01 AM:

Very close to just on two years ago, there was a thread called du Toit, du, on "Pussification" and suchlike. I've always liked the picture of Teresa there.

#107 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:19 AM:

NelC, #93: You might also check out Stinz, though I'll warn you that the later storylines in that become very surreal indeed and are hard (for me, at least) to follow. But the early ones are every bit as inspired, and interesting, as Peach.

#108 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:20 AM:

Teresa @ 105... I figure I did okay for a first-timer.

Does this mean that Ma Teresa, unlike other godmothers, carries not a violin case but a vowel case although it too has a weapon in it? I thought that pens were mightier, especially where bonafied editors are concerned.

#109 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:38 AM:

I have a bit of a blind spot on faces, especially when I'm doing the CGI stuff. People go to a lot of effort to set up the CGI model to have the same facial shape as some famous person, and I still struggle to recognise them.

So I'll just say that I wasn't trying for a resemblance to any real person, and besides, nobody ever recognises a masked hero when they're not wearing the mask.

On the other hand, the default face on some of these CGI figures is so often used unmodified that I have got to the point of being able to recognise that.

On the other hand, I'm the guy who can't recognise Paris Hilton. You can, I trust, imagine the shocked reaction of the surrounding cartoon characters.

Anyway, the character is wearing a mask, which means that nobody will recognise the face. Ever.

Well, that's my excuse.

Anyway, knowing what some people do with the software, I'm not sure I want to duplicate a real person. It almost feels stalkerish. But a bit of fiddling with the face controls can make a huge difference to the look of an image.

Here's one I did earlier.

#110 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:47 AM:

Dave Bell @ 109.. nobody ever recognises a masked hero when they're not wearing the mask.

Let's not forget that masks make a crimefighter's pupils disappear, which means there's no identifying eyecolors. Me, if I went into costumed crimefighting, I'd go for goggles and for an overall look not unlike that of Mike Mignola's Lobster Johnson.

#111 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 04:59 AM:

Which provokes a thought of a teacher turned crimefighter, who revels in the chance to don his mask and escape the classroom.

(I'll get my coat...)

#112 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 07:28 AM:

Dave Bell @ 111... Cue in the Indiana Jones musical theme.

#113 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 07:37 AM:

Wouldn't that make Teresa into the Disenvoweller's Evil-Universe counterpart, the Consonant Consumer?

I'm pretty sure I've gone down this route before, but anyway, here's an exerpt from the script for that issue/episode:

     THE DISEMVOWELLER stands on the street corner, tommygun pointing at the sky, stetson low over the eyes.

DISEMVOWELLER : You! With the spiky bag and nifty headwear! Stop!

CLOSE UP on THE CONSONANT CONSUMER
No dialogue

Even closer up of the CONSONANT CONSUMER's bag, which has various consonontal straight bits poking out,
and a 'W' hanging by one end out of a hole.
No dialogue.

CLOSE UP on THE CONSONANT CONSUMER, who is grinning while pushing back her stetson
CONSONANT CONSUMER : Don't come any closer, if you want to stay comprehensible

THE DISEMVOWELLER strides across the street from the left, towards where THE CONSONANT CONSUMER stands
on the far right of the frame.
DISEMVOWELLER : Your so called moderation is too extreme
CONSONANT CONSUMER : Let me show you what the Evil Universe calls "Civil Discourse"

Same as last frame, but both have opened fire
DISEMVOWELLER : i i o e ea i o i i ieio!
CONSONANT CONSUMER : Bttr hrs thn y hv trd t clg p my cmmnt thrds!

Overlapping fields of energy spill out over both
DISMEVOWELLER : ! ' ! ... ...
CONSONANT CONSUMER : . 21 ' !

Aerial view of Manhattan shows the delettered area spreading. Flying into view at the bottom of the
frame is CENSORED PROFANITY MAN.
CENSORED PROFANITY MAN : #$@%!

(Presumably Kanji Girl and The Mandarin turn up to sort this out).

#114 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 08:24 AM:

Being serious for a moment, here's a composite of different faces for one of the CGI figures I use.

Most of them are hard to tell apart. There seems to be a common sunken-cheek look, which is maybe something to do with Hollywood standards. If anything, most of the woprk has gone into their noses. The standout is intended to be Vietnamese.

(Geekery follows)

The figures are defined by a set of vertices in 3 dimensions, with polygons defined by the set of vertices. The changes to the shape are called "morphs", and the data is a set of differences. A "morph dial" scales the actual difference applied, with a 0 being no morph and 1 being the full difference value.

Morphs at full strength can look exaggerated, and some morphs can do odd things when combined.

(End Geekery)

Back to frivolity.

#115 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 09:07 AM:

Neill Willcox... I too have been wondering what would happen if these two Adversaries came into contact. Would it be as you described, or would the two become One Whole Being of godlike powers?

#116 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 09:48 AM:

Whatever would happen, it certainly made a mess of my HTML and formatting. Sadly I only write unimaginative retreads of lowest common denominator superhero battles; anyone with enough imagination to go the Transcendental Moderator route would have had the bullets poking holes in the speech bubbles.

#117 ::: mds ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 04:38 PM:

Pyre @ 104, et al.,

but is it possible that in the original book Jeremy said "shiny" instead?

Yes. Having been asked by Mrs. Frisby why he was trying to pick up the string to begin with, Jeremy said, "Because it was shiny."

Heck and tarnation. I had just about sufficiently scrubbed The Secret of NIMH from my easily-accessed memory to enjoy Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH again. Thanks heaps, all you wicked people.

#118 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 07:38 PM:

mds @ 117: Thanks for setting that straight, especially at such personal cost.

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