Olin Shivers Thesis Statement

The Opinion File

At CMU, there are these things called ``electronic bulletin boards'' or bboards. People can post notices on the computer to them. When I login to the computer, I can see all the new posts to the bboards that I follow. There is one bboard, called the Opinion Bboard, wherein all normal rules of bboard etiquette are suspended. That's the point of the bboard: it's where you may go to vent your spleen. And if anyone objects to the things that you post there, too bad. They didn't have to read it. Reading Opinion is a fine way to waste time, and posting to it an even better way to waste still more time. Usually I refrain from posting on it, since the issues of abortion, politics, religion, and economic policy bore me to tears, and besides, posting my serious beliefs about serious issues to an audience of complete strangers is not exactly my style. However, every now and then I spot an opportunity to serve the Forces of Chaos, and I carpe the noctem. This file contains a record of my interactions with the Opinion Bboard, along with any other posts that have caught my eye.

Some explanations: The posts are presented with a ``header line'' at the top of each post, e.g.:

19-Mar-85 05:20 Olin Shivers@CMU-CS-H Racism, the South and Twain It gives the date of the post, the name and home computer of the person who made the post, and the subject of the post. Private electronic mail has a multi-line header giving similar information, e.g.: From: kazar#@andrew.cmu.edu (Mike Kazar) Date: Thu, 28 May 87 17:12:43 edt To: shivers@h.cs.cmu.edu Subject: posting The convention for quoting someone else's post in your post is to indent their text by four columns, including their header line, so everyone will know who you're quoting. Asterisks are sometimes used as balanced pairs to indicate an *italicised* word. I still persist in using pretentious British spellings on some of my words.

Prof. Jon Webb has a habit of publicly suggesting -- via bboard -- that people seek psychiatric help after they've made a post indicating extreme mental imbalance. Which is frequently.

Michael Witbrock is an outspoken gay rights activist. And gay, too.

Both of these people are very liberal.

The participants of the Opinion Bboard are split into two groups: the members of the CMU Computer Science Department community, and the researchers of the SEI. The SEI is the Software Engineering Institute, an organisation affiliated with CMU in the same way SRI is affiliated with Stanford. Their charter is to spread the benefits of software engineering to the four corners of the Dept. of Defense. The need for new levels of sophisticated software in Star Wars was instrumental in the creation of the SEI. The SEI is therefore a bit rightward leaning. Alice Sun and Dr. Richard D'Ippolito work there. Alice is some kind of strange. D'Ippolito, due to an early gaffe, has been nicknamed Dick Dip, or DDD. CS people slightly resent the presence of the SEI people on our bboard.

At one point, Alice posted a description of her four main suitors, and requested advice on the selection thereof. I once described Alice in a letter as follows:

Alice, in particular, is really fascinating. Particularly to someone who's been on the borderline of AI and cognitive psychology, like me. It's clear, even through her probablistic English, that she is mostly successful in mapping the actual semantic structures in her head into sequences of English text. But what those semantic structures are is a complete bafflement to me. I've never encountered a person whose cognitive processes seemed to defy comprehension like that. Too weird. I'm sure, for instance, that if I could do a *Human Problem Solving* type explication of her anti-pornography posts from last summer, it would be worth a thesis to my advisor. And I know it's not a cultural or linguistic phenomenon: I've known my share of strange Chinese folks. It's not a Chinese thing; it's an Alice thing.
I do not always save people's posts directed at me, since the relevant portions are frequently quoted inside my responses.

There was once much discussion of whether or not a passage in Huckleberry Finn wherein a steamship boiler accident is related is racist or not. It was coincident with Lawrence Butcher's post giving scenarios of various social encounters in the Computer Science Dept, discussing why women might find them sexist.

The alert reader may note that I have a tendency to file the serial numbers off passages of text from works by other authors, and incorporate said passages into my own stuff. F. King's fine sociological treatise, Southern Ladies and Gentlemen, leaps to mind. These occurrences are uniformly unattributed. I'm not proud; if I write better than others, it is because I stand on the toes of giants.

Finally, it is in the nature of the Opinion Bboard's definition that from time to time its contents can get pretty rough and fairly gamy. You see references to world-famous (as in, National Academy, Turing Award) professors masturbating onto their CRT screens, and their students licking it off. The extremists of the liberal and conservative camps can descend to hair-curling invective. In the summer of 1986, Dr. Sun publicly objected to pornographic bboard posts on Opinion, in particular, the fiction posted by Jim Muller. Mr. Muller responded with a pornographic post custom-written for Dr. Sun, featuring Dr. Sun. And her German shepherd. And her food processor. What is particularly interesting is that in the flurry of posts that ensued, public sentiment was overwhelmingly in favor of Muller's right to post. This was perhaps biased by the sheer inability of anyone in the Computer Science department to comprehend even the slightest bit of Alice's 500 line studies in logical obfuscation and marginal English.

My posts aren't quite that gamy, but don't say I didn't warn you. It's the nature of the medium. To set context, the following quotes are a scattered selection taken from postings made by people other than myself during 1987.

``I think I would be much happier if the underlying structure of the universe were significantly different.''
``I believe that within our lifetimes it will be common to see people not just hopping but hovering and flying down the street to the store.''
``Some where in its machinations, the library computer, or some other administration machine, has got the idea that I am the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. Me. Really! What is worse is that these bastards, with whom I am confused, owe the library $750.00.''
``For about the past year (give or take a factor of two) I've been having a fair amount of fantasies about doing it with women who are very facially ugly, but have large, firm tits.''
``I was booted from the girl scouts for `not being the right kind of girl for scouting.'''
``Sometimes I want to kill everyone that doesn't think like me +/- some percentage of error.''
``So tell me, how is using a sheep condom different than fucking one? Nope, sorry you can't screw a sheep, but if you kill it, and remove everything but the large intestine, that's ok. Riiight.''
``The most gross food I ever ate was raw human flesh.''
``I don't have an ice cube's chance in hell of finding lifelong happiness unless I can find a man as ugly as myself.''
``Most people who don't use drugs are assholes''
``I'd like my chance to pound you into a greasy pile of shit more closely resembling your personality''
``I think $1 million is a lot for the life of a child!''
``I think reading/posting on opinion is excellent foreplay, it kind of randomizes things: you can end up with a Muller story and get really turned on and end up screwing on top of the refrigerator, or you can read a Dippolitto or Sun post and feel like you're getting raped in a turkish prison by someone whose friendliest sex-toy is a cattle prod coated with vaseline.''
``I decided some time ago that when I finally go over the edge I am going to start by killing as many insurance people as possible before the state police can put enough bullets in me to stop me.''
``Given that justices of the Supreme Court receive lifetime appointments, I am completely against Bork's appointment. It seems like a big mistake to me to have someone so ugly making such important decisions.''
``Having tried it both ways, I've found that it's a lot easier to bring it off on a big Steinway.''
``Often when I hear someone flaming about English usage peeves, I get the definite feeling that this someone is massaging his balls and stroking his big, hard penis all the while thinking: `Hah, hah, that stupid asshole could be as big as me if he'd just use the fucking English language correctly.'''
Posts follow:
19-Mar-85 05:20 Olin Shivers@CMU-CS-H Buckaroo Banthai Of course Buckaroo is bi. New Age men are supposed to be unhindered by the petty restrictions and neuroses that bedevil our generation. The guy is a neurosurgeon, physicist, rock-n-roller, and martial artist. Doesn't he strike you as the sort that keeps his options open? If he's straight, how come there aren't *any* women in the Hong Kong Cavaliers? Who knows what happens on that bus when the lights go out? On the other hand, how can anyone suggest that the Lectroids are one way or the other when we don't even know how they reproduce? What if that queen lectroid is the only female in the race, sort of like a queen bee? Suppose Lectroids make little Lectroids by fissioning like bacteria? Then homo- or heterosexual doesn't mean anything (although narcissism does, I guess). The opinions expressed herein are those of the Office of Naval Research, and not necessarily those of the author. This flame was supported by DARPA grant 979853562951413.
Date: 13 Dec 84 18:10:46 EST From: Lee.Brownston@CMU-CS-A Subject: Re: Buckaroo Banthai To: Olin.Shivers@CMU-CS-H I'm glad you pointed out that the sexuality of Penny's tormentors was unknown. I couldn't find a convenient way to work it into any of my replies. Your posts are hilarious. Keep 'em coming. -- Lee
19-Mar-85 05:20 Olin Shivers@CMU-CS-H Racism, the South and Twain If you think Twain was a racist, I suggest you read *Pudd'nhead Wilson*, which is a *really* blatant anti-racism book. In any event, I think it's pretty clear that Twain didn't just write *about* a racist society, he wrote *against* a racist society. On the other hand, I sure didn't get the bitter commentary on religious hypocrisy, racism, class, etc. in *Huckleberry Finn* when I read it as a child. There is this bogus, sacharine image of *Huckleberry Finn* that floats around in some adults' heads: a friendly, innocuous drift down the river; an American *Swiss Family Robinson*. Just the thing for a kid. They forget the really painful parts. The section involving the two feuding families that shoot each other up is pretty wrenching, for instance. I remember reading all this frightening, upsetting stuff when I was a child, and when I'd tell some Grownup I was reading *Huckleberry Finn*, their eyes would glaze, their brain would trap out, and they'd say "Oh, that wonderful book. Isn't that nice." Phoo. Grownups are stupid. *Huckleberry Finn* is a great work, but it wasn't until high school that I understood the vicious satire in it. By the way, I get tired of people putting down the South for racism. I grew up in the South; my family has been living in the South for generations -- as least as far back as the War Between the States. ("War Between the States" is the way I was taught to say it, when I learned my history in fifth grade from *Lee's Lieutenants*.) My family identifies with the South pretty strongly. My great-grandfather would not tolerate Northerners in his house; when he was too old to have any say in the matter, he'd retire to his room upstairs, and stay there until the barbarian had left. My mother once put me out of the car for making a negative remark about the War; I got to walk home. So, a pretty Southern upbringing. Nevertheless, I grew up with people that are non-racist. It never seemed odd to me that Southerners would be non-racist until I went up North where (1) people tended to assume, upon discovering I was from Georgia, that I owned a white sheet and one of those funny pointed hats, and (2) people tended to be about as racist as I'd encountered down South. "About as racist" means not-very-much. The people I hang out with -- like the CMU CS community, for instance -- don't tend to racism. Every now and then -- up North, down South -- I run into somebody who complains about renting apartments to "you know, Blacks," or talks about doing "nigger-work for my dad this summer." But *very rarely*. I guess the point I'd like to make is that my Southern friends, the ones I grew up with, use "nigger" and act racist about as much as the people in this department do. Never. OK. Having flamed, I'll qualify my claims. First, when you grow up in the South, you have to get used to racist grandparents. It can be disorienting to realise that someone you might love and respect holds opinions or says things that make your skin crawl. Sigh. Even nice people can be racist, which is an odd statement. Second, Georgia's the biggest state east of the Mississipi; it has only one large city, Atlanta. So there's a lot of boonies. Conditions outside Atlanta, where I grew up, are considerably more medieval. It was in Carrollton, Georgia, a fairly small southern town, that I was introduced to the phrase "nigger work," a synonym for "grunt work." I'm not saying there is no racism in the South. I just got the impression that Edward Smith was claiming Southerners are basically, routinely racist. I wanted to present another point in the space. The War Between the States is a tragic period of American history, to be sure. But from the remarks Northerners sometimes make, it is clear to me that they labor under some severe misapprehensions regarding the causes and underlying forces behind the war. I assume this is an artifact of the Northern school system. The War Between the States is an example of a cycle that has repeated itself throughout the history of western civilisation. Here's the cycle: In the south, you have learning, culture, a lifestyle of grace. Principles such as honor, courage, duty, and state's rights are considered important. In short, you have civilisation. In the north, you have teeming masses of barbarians, undeducated, violent, hardy, and brutal. What happens? Inevitably, the northern barbarians come sweeping through the south, destroying civilisation as they go. You can see this happen to one focal point of western civilisation after another. The Huns and Visigoths did it to Rome. The Spartans did it to Athens. And the 'yankees did it to Richmond. To understand the War Between the States, you need a little historical perspective, thass all. -Olin
19-Mar-85 10:04 Edward Smith@CMU-CS-SPICE Southern "Civilization" All Olin's flame about the the South is Old Hat to me and it's all total nonsense. Or let me qualify that: it is what this generation chooses to make of the memories of the previous generations. I mean, come on now: In the South, you have learning, culture, a lifestyle of grace. Principles such as honor, courage, duty, and state's rights are considered important. In short, you have civilization. What nonsense. And all Yankees are barbarians and their war "against" the South was barbaric. Also nonsense. The foolish idea that a life of ease and grace, based on a massive system of legal apartheid and outright slavery, was *legitimate* in the eyes of the world (and should be legally extended to the newer states being let into the US at the time), the ridiculous notions that Southerners were "honorable" (excepting when it came to demeaning a quarter of their population), "courageous" (excepting in matters of morality), "dutiful" (especially when it came to fighting for a lily white version of history) and STATE'S RIGHTS (?? what's THAT doing there? no one in their right mind talks about that anymore, except Southern politicians taking advantage of the popular romantic image of the Confederacy as a nation on it's own, and it certainly doesn't have any place in a general definition of "civilization"), the revolting idea (I'm quoting here, mind you) that you could not expect civilized behavior out of a people "only three hundred years out of the jungle", that they "were better off under white masters", that "they were never treated cruelly", all of these ideas fail to change the inherent illegitimacy of the Southern Way of Life, they fail to define "civilization", and they fail to convince any intelligent person that the beliefs and practices of Southern whites are laudable, moral and just. I have heard other people claim Atlanta is some kind of Oasis in the midst of a few "boonies", but need I point out that those boonies extend across two time zones to the west with a width of about 600 miles. I hardly see the existence of one city with various claims to cultural or civilized behavior as evidence that an entire society is honorable.
19-Mar-85 10:56 Steve Lammert@CMU-CS-A Olin and Ed... Gee, Ed. I read Olin's final two paragraphs as a pretty nice piece of satire. The rest of his post doesn't seem to reflect the sort of attitude that you're so upset about. Sadly, the sort of stratified society that existed (exists?) in the South was/is not confined to that area of the country. My father's brother is a brilliant surgeon, educated at Allegheny College and the Western Reserve Medical School; he was chief of Obstetrics at the Cleveland Clinic for fifteen years. He lives, not in Cleveland, but in Shaker Heights, and "nigger" is the only term he knows for "those" people. Sadly, his son, who is my age and is now a resident at the Clinic, holds exactly the same opinions on this subject. I'm not sure why race hatred seems so much more evident in Cleveland than in Pittsburgh. Fortunately, Bob Frederking and Gregg Podnar, two good friends of mine from that city (well, Euclid actually), did not pick up this trait at all; perhaps they can throw their two cents' worth in on how such a situation develops in a Northern city. I grew up in Mount Lebanon, a lily-white suburb of Pittsburgh; I only remember one black fellow in my high school, and we elected him President of the student government.
Date: 20 Mar 1985 08:11:04-EST From: Olin.Shivers@CMU-CS-H To: marko.petkovsek@a Subject: Greek geography Cc: kjl@g, shivers@h Well, ok. Guilty. But if you don't buy that Attica is south of the Peloponnesus, consider the following: - The Aryan decimation of the Indus Valley civilisation in 2400 BC. - The Roman decimation of Carthage in the Punic Wars. - The way the Mongols moved in on the Han empire in 1200 AD. I should know better than to use non-obscure examples when I warp history. -Olin
20-Mar-85 Olin.Shivers@CMU-CS-H State's rights I read with interest Mr. Smith's rabid attack on the values of the True South. I have a few points to make in rebuttal. STATE'S RIGHTS (?? what's THAT doing there? no one in their right mind talks about that anymore, except Southern politicians taking advantage of the popular romantic image of the Confederacy as a nation on it's own, and it certainly doesn't have any place in a general definition of "civilization") My stars. Didn't you study any history in college? What happened to the classic liberal arts curriculum, that equipped a person with an education instead of vocational training? The concept of state's rights is critical to any real understanding of western civilisation. Consider the Peloponnesian War, to choose an example from my previous post. One of the first sparks that led to the tragic, 27 year war was the Corcyran debate. Corcyra was a state (well, city-state) that desired autonomy from the oppressive control of Corinth. It wanted to take its place in the Peloponnesian League as an equal among states. When Corinth denied this laudable goal, Corcyra appealed to the freedom-loving peoples of Athens for aid. The ensuing military conflict contributed to the start of the war. State's rights. To take an example from a little later in the war, consider the Mytilenean rebellion. What were all these angry Lesbians so upset about? They rightly felt that the Delian League was a rigid empire binding its member states into domination by a superior power. Since membership in the Delian League was a "privilege" one was not allowed to refuse, they were pushed -- in extremity -- to secede by force. I think the parallels to the South are clear. So much for state's rights in antiquity. What about today? If you think state's rights has been forgotten, then you have never heard a Southerner refer to the Civil War as "The First War Between the States." A friend of mine, as a boy, was given a large sum of Confederate money by his grandfather. "Granddaddy, is this worth anything?" he inquired, holding the handful of worthless paper. "Just wait, son. Just wait." Now Mr. Smith is certainly entitled to his opinions -- even though they're wrong -- but their relevance is perhaps questionable. I don't really consider Mr. Smith's home state, Texas, part of the South. "The South" and "The North" are political, not geographical, designations. They are used to answer the question, "What side did this state fight on during The War?" Hence Florida is considered more an exburb of New York than a part of the South, even though it certainly lies in a southerly region of the country. Similarly, Texas is not part of the South, although it lies in the south. Besides, Texas is not exactly the sort of state that the South would be eager to crush to its bosom. You know what FDR said about Texas: a Texan is a man who'll never give a nickel change when he can give you five pennies instead. Of course, that was back in the days when a nickel was worth something, but I think the principle remains valid. And as for Mr. Smith himself, well, he's the sort of person who gives racism a bad name. Mr. Smith is the sort of amoral, conscienceless person who can vote a democrat into office, and explain with a blithe shrug of the shoulders and a bland "I was only following orders." I don't want to descend to the personal, but he's the kind of guy who sucks blueberries through a straw, if you know what I mean. Let's get the theses clear. The tenor of Mr. Smith's remarks seem to be that racism is bad. What, is he looking for an argument? I'm not claiming that racism is non-evil, I'm claiming that the South is God's Chosen Land. ...the ridiculous notions that Southerners were "honorable", "courageous" (excepting in matters of morality), "dutiful", all of these ideas fail to change the inherent illegitimacy of the Southern Way of Life, they fail to define "civilization", and they fail to convince any intelligent person that the beliefs and practices of Southern whites are laudable, moral and just. Even a gentleman has limits, sir. Enough is enough. Name your seconds and choose your weapons. I shall meet you on Schenley at dawn. Pistols for two; coffee for one. -Olin Shivers
20-Mar-85 Olin.Shivers@CMU-CS-H Social encounters in CSD Butcher- I read your scenarios of possible sexism with much interest. Yet, I think the general consensus is that they were too complex and bizarre to reflect real life occurences. I should like your opinion on an encounter I think is a little more typical among the Opinion BB readers: A young gentleman, dashing, erudite, and cultured espies a comely lady in the hall. She has been prominent in his thoughts of late. He approaches her. He: Miss, for some time now, I have been admiring you from afar. I enjoy your mind, the way you move, even your cute little mustache. I am, even as we speak, returning to my apartment, there to prepare the evening's repast. Would you like to come for dinner? She: You are very kind, but I'm afraid this is a poor evening for me. On this day two years ago, my parents were killed in a steamship accident. The boiler exploded. He: Were they niggers? She: What! Racist pig. He: Thank goodness. You know, sometimes people do get hurt. She responds with a front snap kick to the solar plexus, a spinning wheel kick to the jaw, and a well-executed reverse punch which undoes, in the space of a few milliseconds, all the thousands of dollars that His parents spent on orthodonture. She bursts into tears, whirls around, and stalks off sobbing. As our pain-wracked and formerly dashing hero slowly crumples to the floor, he thinks: did I say something sexist? What do you say, Butcher? -Olin
02-Nov-85 05:59 Olin.Shivers@H.CS.CMU.EDU Some opinions I'm glad to see we have left silly, irrelevant bogosity like homosexuality and the SEI behind. All I can say is: better latent than never, huh, Leonard? Perhaps now we can grapple with some tough issues that could stand a hard look. I have two that have been on my mind as of late. 1) Does it worry you when you see toothpaste pumps displacing the older toothpaste sqeeze tubes in the supermarkets? The new technology is truely wretched. The old technology worked well, and displayed the simple elegance of brilliant design. The new pumps give you less control, making it harder to apply a controlled dose of toothpaste to the toothbrush, and they always leave a little bit of excess goo on the nozzle, which then sticks to the inside of the cover when you screw it on. Of course, since the cover *rotates* as you screw it on, the inside spins past the icky nozzle, smearing the goo all over the inside of the damn thing. Hitech smegma. Thanks a lot, Colgate. That's not to mention that the new pump is bulkier for less functionality than the sqeeze tube. It enrages me to see this sort of brain-damaged misfeaturism hit the market place just to have the sexy claim of "New! Improved! Hitech!," particularly when it's a giant step backwards. 2) Do you ever worry about growing old? (Those of you who actually *are* old, well, my sympathies, but this section is not really addressed to you). Frankly, I can't fathom people who grow old. It sounds like a total lose to me. I mean, do you ever worry that someday you will address your lover and/or spouse as "Darling" or "Honey"? Try it. Really. Just... try it. Next time you see your lover and/or spouse, say "Honey, would you pass me the salt" or "Would you like to see a movie tonight, Darling?" or something like that. See how awkward and foolish and schmaltzy and insincere that sounds? Feel like you have just stepped out of a real, rewarding emotional relationship, and into a poorly written TV show? That means -- you're young. What a relief. Now look around. See all these old people -- your parent's age and up -- who call their spouse "Sugar" or "Dear?" Wow. Someday you, too, maybe. Pretty unsettling, huh? And do you ever notice, sitting there in your carefully reasoned, happy, secure agnosticism, the famous intellectuals who start off as atheists or agnostics and end up converting to Christianity in their old age? Thus abandoning all the intellectual rigor and moral courage they'd displayed in their younger days? T.S. Eliot and W.S. Auden leap to mind. Frightening, huh? Might happen to you. You might grow old, and sell out too. And shortly thereafter, of course, you'll die, which I've always considered a fate worse than taxes, even the flat-rate kind, and Amtrak, even during the Daylight Savings switchover. Old age. It's a bitch. -Olin ------ The opinions reported herein are supported and backed to the hilt by the Office of Naval Research, the John Birch Society, and the Trilateral Commission, and are not those of their creator, me.
13-Nov-85 15:21 Richard.Wallace the world is fucked up From: Richard.Wallace@ROVER.RI.CMU.EDU I am sick and tired of the 99% of people in this world When I was a student of philosophy, the problem that bothered me the most was the impossiility of building a system of morals from first principles. I think most people realize this, or at least realize that they themselves are not clever enough to devise moral principles. But rather than think about it, they tend to fall into one or another dispicable mental states: religious fanatacism, or apathy and cynicism. You religious fanatics know who you are. You are too feeble minded to conceive that there might be another reality besides that pack of lies you swallow. Sure, I believe in freedom of religion. I believe that you have the right to believe anything you want about the nature of being. It's too bad that most of you, even in a country where you can question the validity of your beliefs, don't. Given the opportunity to think for yourselves, you choose to accept the beliefs of Pat Robertson or the Pope. But I'm not going to convince you otherwise. Go for it, if it makes you happy. You apathetics and cynics are even worse. You who have brains and can use them get themselves into a happy-go-lucky state of mind and respond to the lack of moral fiber with indifference and humor. As long as moral choice is somebody else's problem, you laugh off or ignore the difficulties involved. In tough situations, you will let other people make choices for you. You are spineless. You lack courage and you are fools for not thinking. A few rare individuals (I am not one -- it's too easy for me to be apathetic and cynical) have given serious thought, the kind they might give to a scientific or mathematical question, to the problem of morality. They have probably learned things the hard way, because left without reference to an imaginary deity or set of moral axioms, they have only themselves and their experience. I admire anyone who can tell me how he was unsure about a moral choice to be made, but found the courage to take one path or the other. If it worked, he can tell me what he learned from it. If it didn't, what he tells me is even more valuable. Experience is a damned good teacher.
01-Aug-86 21:38 Olin.Shivers@h Karl doesn't understand sodomy 01-Aug-86 04:16 Karl.Kluge@g Re: BAGSbiters (or "You must be joking!") I have NEVER screwed another BAGS user. Although there are one or two that I wouldn't kick out of bed. And I refuse to be forced to use "separate but equal" computing facilities simply because of my choice of mail program.You can only get away with that sort of thing in Georgia. This is the sort of crap I've had to put up with ever since Faulkner started associating incest with Southern families. Now, Karl is a good guy, and I think we are in agreement about BAGS users, but he fundamentally doesn't understand the Southern concept of Law. Allow me to explain. The fact that the Supreme Court has upheld anti-sodomy laws in Georgia has nothing at all to do with sodomy in Georgia. I assure you that your average Georgian thinks sodomy is more fun than watching Dolly Parton jump rope. A real E ride. If you know what I mean. In the North, the Law is the mechanism society uses for making your life miserable, a sort of abstracted parent figure, to slap your wrist when you do the sort of things you *really* want to do. A means of enforcement. I find this sad, and puzzling, but then, Northerners have always seemed to have this strange talent for making themselves miserable. For instance, a Northerner would probably make bizaare claims like, "We have rent-control laws to keep indigent tenants from being thrown out onto the street." Whereas, in the South, we all know that the Law is just a fun kind of game that keeps the lawyers happy, occupied, and gainfully employed. Kind of like Monopoly, or sodomy. A Southerner, i.e. someone who truely understands Law, would more realistically claim that "We have laws because without laws my uncle Doug, the lawyer, would be out of a job. Fuck the indigents; rent-control laws keep my uncle Doug from being thrown out onto the street." Now, my uncle Doug is a pretty cool guy. My whole family likes him. So you have to agree that rent-control laws serve a useful end. But beyond the purpose of keeping my lawyer buddies solvent, the concept of Law is completely vacuous. Southerners just go on and do exactly as they please. And if you don't like it, they'll bust your head. Or secede. Or something. Faulkner knew about this trait when he described the attitude of Southern men in court in *The Hamlet* as being "not so much 'What would you have me do,' but 'What would you have me do if you thought you could make me do as you pleased.'" Legislating laws to a horde of crazed rugged individualists is hard enough; Southern lawmakers know better than to try to enforce them as well. Besides, in the South, there have always existed alternative techniques for seeking redress than simply legal appeals. If you know what I mean. Let me illustrate with a few examples. The moonshine tax some Southern counties passed leaps to mind. If you need revenue money for your county, and the only major industry is illegal hooch, well, that's what you tax. Sure. And I always admired the strange politics behind the wet/dry county decisions. Who has an interest in outlawing legal liquor? The Baptist ministers, and the moonshiners, of course. So these two groups with allied interest formed lobbying coalitions, and... And in the meantime, everyone who wasn't a minister, or a moonshiner, or both, laughed heartily, and went on drinking whatever they were used to drinking. It's very Southern. But all of this is just a simple example of a general Southern principle: The essence of Southern morality lies in appearance. Passing an anti-sodomy law makes it OK to commit sodomy. Right. It doesn't matter so much what you do on Saturday night as long as you're in church on Sunday morning. The Sweet Young Thing can do as she likes after the big Bal de Salut, as long as she wears a formal evening gown, and remembers to write her thank-you letters. If the panties she pulls down in the back seat of her date's Cutlass are of organdy and lace, can virtue be far behind? Briefly put, "sin" is not an important concept in the South. "Faux pas" is. I hope this clears up all this sodomy nonsense. Passing the law provides a sense of virtue. Sodomy provides the good times. Where else but the South can you have your, uh, cake, and eat it too? Right. -Olin
02-Aug-86 21:37 Olin.Shivers@h Unix & C Sorry, Carlos. I disagree with you. Unix and C suck. C is little more than structured assembler. Ever wonder why "bus error core dump" is the standard C program crap out? Because C freely hands out random pointers to anyone that asks. Slut. That's not to mention how sleazy the damn compiler is. CC is really bogus. Derek Beatty has this program that automatically generates C code as part of a circuit simulator. It generated the following code fragment: register int c1; c1 = c1; c1 = c1; c1 = c1; .... ; c1 = c1; Which the idiot compiler faithfully rendered as: mov r1, r1 mov r1, r1 . . . (Tcc did what you might hope for, by the way). Of course, in C you don't *need* an optimising compiler, because you can do all the low level transformations and code munging yourself. C allows you to drop down to that level: Please put this quantity in a reg. Please change this doubly-nested array-indexing operation into a simple pointer incrementation. Pull this loop invariant out of the loop. But the thing is, I don't like doing that sort of bullshit, because I know that a real compiler -- like Wulf's Bliss, DEC WRL's Modula-2, Cocke's PL.8 or the T groups's Orbit -- does all that for me. I object to doing things that computers can do. Particularly when it makes my programs harder to understand, harder to write, and easier to screw up. I like to be able to write elegant code, knowing that the compiler will sweep up for me. Can't do that with CC. And Unix. Try to write a compiler sometime. Look at the a.out format. Or the paging. Dynamic linking? Interrupt structure? Forget it. And the file structure. Version numbers? Real filename extensions? Sure. Count on it. I think Termcap is a great example of just why Berklix 4.2bfd is so random. The database has this horrible, gross syntax. I've seen other termcap type systems, so I know it doesn't have to be that bad. Anytime you want to read or mung an entry, you have to whip out the whole damn manual entry and pore over it. Great. Or how about franz lisp. What a crock. It's incredibly slow. Dynamically scoped. Has bizarre features imported from -- believe it or not -- Harvard PDP-11 Lisp (the one written in the non-Unix assembler). It's compiler is so half-assed that the system kernel has to be written in C, instead of Lisp. Unix things just have this tendency to come out cheesy. Unix has a nicer user level interface than VMS, granted. (Although there are those that think otherwise) But VMS has more powerful innards, in just about all of the ways I complained about above. And it's a lot more efficient, from what I hear. Unix was great stuff, on a PDP-11. But the Berklix people failed to grow it up to Vax size very well. It seems incredible to me that these guys just ignored all the lessons they could have learned from other successful operating systems, like Tops20 or Multics. They've managed to fix up some of the more blatant screwups in 4.2, but it's way too late. Euthanasia would be kinder. Mach sounds like much better stuff. And if you insist on an OS that really exists right now, I much prefer Apollo's Aegis. Too bad everyone is terrified of not being Unix compatible. Unix is doing to OS's what Fortran did for languages: holding them back. -Olin
03-Aug-86 19:37 Olin.Shivers@h Apology & retraction Ever since I made that recent post, people have been jumping up and down on me via the net. No one seems to mind the rather dry and factual sociological analysis of actual post, but people are really upset by the subject line: 01-Aug-86 21:38 Olin.Shivers@h Karl doesn't understand sodomy Apparently, au contraire. From the mail I've been getting, it seems that Karl wrote the book on sodomy. Someone who really knows the ins and outs of the subject. Some of the mail I received positively waxed lyrical, claiming that Karl brought "not only enthusiasm and dedicated application to his sodomising, but such imaginative flair and tasteful creativity that the whole process was transformed from simply exercising a sweaty animal drive to an elegant, elaborately choreographed ritual of lust." Wow. Still another wrote that "Karl has made sodomy a legitemate [sic] art form." And at least one professor said, "I'd rather get sodomised by Karl Kluge than get published in *The Journal of AI*." Although I was inclined to dismiss the person who claimed it was "a rivetting experience" that "kept me on the edge of my seat" as just some wiseass who reads to many Rex Reed reviews, in the end, I got the point. It's just amazing to me that the guy could have generated such an impressive reputation is the 10 short months he's been here, but there it is. I hope that people didn't take my lighthearted jest too seriously, as I never meant to seriously imply that Karl was anything less than, as many claim, a total pro when it comes to sodomy. I'd like to formally retract my claim, and apologise to Karl. I hope he can now step forward, out of the shadows -- or the closet -- and accept the acclaim that is his rightful due. Sorry about that, Karl. -Olin
05-Aug-86 19:00 Olin.Shivers@h The gentle art of making enemies 05-Aug-86 04:15 Karl.Kluge@g Re: R.S.D'I's post Yeah? Well, at least no one has accused you of butt-fucking/going-down-on the entire department/Robotics Institute/ITC/CGI recently. I should be so lucky. Oh, c'mon, Karl. I never said anything about CGI. Actually, folks, I was picking on Karl because I figured he's in a good position to take the abuse. The real, no-foolin word on Kluge is that the mild-mannered exterior conceals a fairly successful ladies man. I've heard more than one person comment on the foxy women Karl tends to be seen in the company of. I haven't the faintest idea what Karl's real attitude on sodomy is. So all you Op-bboard voyeurs who want the real poop will have to ask his girlfriend(s). I know I shouldn't go around making random fictitious assertions about people. But... what the fuck. Random assertions are what computer science is all about. The joke was just lying there. I couldn't resist. -Olin
21-Sep-86 21:52 Lee Brownston@A Road Runner "Road Runner" cartoons are allegories of the antinomies inherent in technology. Wile E. Coyote is constantly relying on advanced ("Acme") technological solutions toward achieving his goal of capturing the Road Runner. The stratagems and devices never work as intended, in the way that formal systems such flush out weaknesses in axiomatization. The discovery of these flaws is repeatedly dramatized in bold visual objective correlatives. In addition, these films use Zen-like paradoxes to expand our awareness. For example, Coyote paints an expansive vista on a rock, hoping that the Road Runner will run into it, but the Road Runner runs through it instead; when Coyote tries to follow, he smashes into the rock. This metaphor nicely contrasts the often startling mechanisms of nature with the crude inflexibility of human attempts to overcome it; it also comments tellingly on Einstein's famous aphorism "Raffiniert ist der Herr Gott, aber boeshaft ist er nicht." Other paradoxes include the violation of laws of kinetics, in which Coyote runs off a cliff in a straight line until he realizes that he is unsupported, at which point he falls straight down. This of course symbolizes the technocrat's blindness to the harmful side-effects of his "solutions" until it is too late. Finally, there is Coyote's seeming immortality, regaining his vigor after each fall, explosion, or crushing. Needless to say, this is a comment on the indomitable spirit of technological enterprise, however chastening the experience. The structure of a "Road Runner" cartoon is one of theme-and-variation familiar from music; each film consists of a sequence of three or more episodes in which the theme of pursuit by means of cleverness is thwarted by a surprising turnaround. The makers of the "Road Runner" cartoons have been exploring this theme at length over the years, with the result that no more extensive exploration of frustration can be found in the history of western narrative fiction. The films have even become self-referential, in that the audience can be assumed to know the outcome, and the tension is in anticipating how Coyote is to be thwarted, as inevitably he must be. The dramatic irony is that the audience knows that Coyote's attempts are doomed to failure, but Coyote is under an inner compulsion to keep trying new futile schemes; this is a very sophisticated reference to Camus's "Myth of Sisyphus." ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The moral: critical jargon can make anything sound deeper than it is.
31-Oct-86 19:10 Andi.Swimmer@h pals sit on a potato pan, otis. do good? i? no! evil anon i deliver: i maim nine more hero-men in saginaw; sanitary sword a-tuck, carol i (lo!) rack; cut a drowsy rat in aswan; i gas nine more hero-men in miami -- reviled, i, nona, live on, i do, o god! Piel's lager on red rum did murder no regal sleep. A slut nixes sex in Tulsa. Naomi, sex at noon taxes, I moan. I moan, 'live on, o evil Naomi!' Now Ned, I am a maiden nun; Ned, I am a maiden won. Dennis and Edna sinned. Niagara, O roar again. Lew, Otto has a hot towel. Norma is as selfless as I am, Ron. Draw pupil's lip upward. Straw? No, too stupid a fad. I put soot on warts. Doc, note, I dissent. A fast never prevents a fatness. I diet on cod. I, man am regal; a German am I. Snug & raw was I ere I saw war & guns. Si nummi immunis. [If you pay, you will go free] Ablata at alba. [Out of sight, but still white] In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni. [We go into the circle at night and we are consumed by fire] Never odd or even. A man, a plan, a canal - Panama. Able was I ere I saw Elba. Anna: "Did Otto peep?" Otto: "Did Anna?" Dogma I won, now I am God. He goddam mad dog, eh? Lewd did I live & evil I did dwel. Madam, I'm Adam. May a moody baby doom a yam? Rise, sir lapdog! Revolt, lover! God, pal, rise, sir! Step on no pets.
05-Nov-86 17:55 Andi.Swimmer@h one more palindrome A man, a plan, a caret, a ban, a myriad, a sum, a lac, a liar, a hoop, a pint, a catalpa, a gas, an oil, a bird, a yell, a vat, a caw, a pax, a wag, a tax, a nay, a ram, a cap, a yam, a gay, a tsar, a wall, a car, a luger, a ward, a bin, a woman, a vassal, a wolf, a tuna, a nit, a pall, a fret, a watt, a bay, a daub, a tan, a cab, a datum, a gall, a hat, a fag, a zap, a say, a jaw, a lay, a wet, a gallop, a tug, a trot, a trap, a tram, a torr, a caper, a top, a tonk, a toll, a ball, a fair, a sax, a minim, a tenor, a bass, a passer, a capital, a rut, an amen, a ted, a cabal, a tang, a sun, an ass, a maw, a sag, a jam, a dam, a sub, a salt, an axon, a sail, an ad, a wadi, a radian, a room, a rood, a rip, a tad, a pariah, a revel, a reel, a reed, a pool, a plug, a pin, a peek, a parabola, a dog, a pat, a cud, a nu, a fan, a pal, a rum, a nod, an eta, a lag, an eel, a batik, a mug, a mot, a nap, a maxim, a mood, a leek, a grub, a gob, a gel, a drab, a citadel, a total, a cedar, a tap, a gag, a rat, a manor, a bar, a gal, a cola, a pap, a yaw, a tab, a raj, a gab, a nag, a pagan, a bag, a jar, a bat, a way, a papa, a local, a gar, a baron, a mat, a rag, a gap, a tar, a decal, a tot, a led, a tic, a bard, a leg, a bog, a burg, a keel, a doom, a mix, a map, an atom, a gum, a kit, a baleen, a gala, a ten, a don, a mural, a pan, a faun, a ducat, a pagoda, a lob, a rap, a keep, a nip, a gulp, a loop, a deer, a leer, a lever, a hair, a pad, a tapir, a door, a moor, an aid, a raid, a wad, an alias, an ox, an atlas, a bus, a madam, a jag, a saw, a mass, an anus, a gnat, a lab, a cadet, an em, a natural, a tip, a caress, a pass, a baronet, a minimax, a sari, a fall, a ballot, a knot, a pot, a rep, a carrot, a mart, a part, a tort, a gut, a poll, a gateway, a law, a jay, a sap, a zag, a fat, a hall, a gamut, a dab, a can, a tabu, a day, a batt, a waterfall, a patina, a nut, a flow, a lass, a van, a mow, a nib, a draw, a regular, a call, a war, a stay, a gam, a yap, a cam, a ray, an ax, a tag, a wax, a paw, a cat, a valley, a drib, a lion, a saga, a plat, a catnip, a pooh, a rail, a calamus, a dairyman, a bater, a canal--Panama. --Dan Hoey
07-Nov-86 13:05 Richard.S.D'Ippolito Moonlight Sonata by... From: Richard.S.D'Ippolito@sei.cmu.edu ...Mozart?? Watch out for Ludwig's flying piano! In the old (very old) days, music was a participation, not spectator sport, and was essentially classless. Nowadays, the musically illiterate chemical-culturist yoyos know only how to shake their scabrous pudenda roughly in time to the ear-assaulting artificial electronic noises of 3-chord 10-thumb string pluckers and pouting nasal whiners of misologia, all gratefully deadened by the boom-boom metronomic skin beaters until the senses gradually acquiesce into total nerve-deafness except for the reflexive autonomous jerking... Ever look at the volume slider on an R&Rer's system? It's bent to the right from being forced repeatedly against the stop. Ever notice the blown speaker cones littering the floor? The penny in the fuse box? Notice how the scratches and dirt on the record only improve the sound with the variety?
21-Nov-86 01:29 Olin.Shivers@h Character assasination goes international 20-Nov-86 14:11 Richard.S.D'Ippolito EVERYONE?? Israel never (except for a short time) stopped selling arms to Iran beacuse () They considered Iraq a bigger threat, () They wanted to protect the several thousand Jews there, and () They made MONEY! And France *gave* away $300 million to 'normalize' relations. C'mon, Rich. France? Gimme a break. Now, look. I'm a known francophile; my friends can all confirm that. But seriously. I thought it was just taken for granted the French government was synonymous with incompetence, craven opportunism, and a total lack of scruples or moral restraint. Remember Exocets? The Rainbow Warrior? The "Force Frappe?" Their policy of radical accomodation, that just about got Paris blown off the map this summer? As Joe Bob Briggs sez, the Eiffel Tower would be a fast food joint joint called "Kraut-in-a-Box" if it hadn't been for Our Boys in WWII, and the silly twits wouldn't even let us use the air space we fought for to go and bomb some Middle Eastern asshole who can't even decide how to spell his own name. Well, that's what Joe Bob said. The point is: we are in bad shape if our actions are comparable to those of the French government. -Olin
21-Nov-86 01:29 Olin.Shivers@h An immodest proposal Alice, may I propose the following useful filter: Invite each of them over for an all-night bout of wild sex. Same night. Same time. See what happens. Now, the way I see it, one of a couple of things could transpire, all of them good: 1. They all go for it. You simply retire from the dating rat-race, with a fully stocked male harem of rich lovers. Quit your job; your menage-a-n is going to keep you very busy, and they're all rich, anyway. Screw marriage; just tell your son to refer to them all as "shu-shu." 2. Some of them freak out. Well, you've filtered your list of applicants, haven't you? It's guaranteed that you won't be bored by whoever's left. [3] They go for it, but in the process discover they like each other better than they like you. Introduce them to Michael. 4. All of them freak out. Marion was right; they're losers. You're better off without them. Now, of course I've never done anything like this myself, but a friend of mine -- grad student -- says it works wonders with the undergraduates in his classes. Well, that's what he said. So give it a shot; you have nothing to lose but your ennui. -Olin
26-Nov-86 11:29 Purvis.Jackson@sei.cmu.edu Racism On racism South and North, Eswaran's and Marion's observations parallel mine. In South Carolina, there used to be separate beaches for Blacks when I was a child, i.e., < 13. However, there were also separate beaches for Carolinians and foreigners, i.e., yankees. For years, tourists flocked to Myrtle Beach and residents stayed away, preferring to avoid the taint of crude yankee behavior: the women with too much makeup, the whining underweight men in plaid shorts, and the loud-mouthed ill-mannered children. The tourists inevitably interacted with local rednecks and came away thinking them to be representative of Carolinians in general. The proper Carolinians, however, looked upon yankees as rather trashy vagabonds unworthy of proper company. Thus, it was difficult for yankees to forge friendships with Carolinians; but once forged, the friendships were long lived. One of the better essays I have read on segregation in the South is included in a collection by William Styron titled _Writings in the Dust_ I believe. Styron, following evidence suggested by the noted historian C. Vann Woodward, argues that the role of segregation laws in the South was not to prevent Blacks from entering White establishments, etc., but to put an end to a growing trend toward biracial relations. Black and White children grew up together in the South, played together, and often became best of friends. The White fathers were so psychologically disturbed by the notion that their daughters might lie down with the children of slaves that they affected laws to make such acts punishable. In so doing, they added the flavor of moral wrongdoing to such behavior. Following Styron's starting points, I want to suggest that racism is largely the product of male insecurity. I say largely because I realize that there are female racists, but the principles I believe are derived from the underlying male fear that sexual preference is more than a remark about the individuals involved. The point here is that when a male sees a female of his race with a male of another race, the male is immediately occupied with the notion of sex between those two people. The argument then becomes something like: 1) Woman is White 2) White women can have White men 3) Man is non-White 4) Woman prefers non-White to White 5) Non-White is superior to White 6) Cognitive dissonance Before people start railing on me about how stupid this argument is, consider this for a moment: Do you know any biracial couples? If so, how many? Now, which member of each couple is White? By the way, one of my nieces married a Black man about seven years ago. Her father has denied her existence since she married. ******************** Among evening mists and moss-draped oaks we drifted like ancient ghosts about the lawn's edge near the great house in which lived the golden girl. Upon the night shade cast by lamp her features floated like wind in the leaves fallen from the magnolias by the iron gate. On mornings we watched to see her foot step ever so softly into her handsome cab for school while we filed into the wagon for the fields. One time the golden girl stopped by her carriage and stared at me as if thinking "Do you like that dress? It was my favorite once." She did not speak and stopped there but a moment before lifting her hem. Us nevuh drimp de golden gull would won'ttuh be our frin, till huh come to wheh us at, hoin weeds in de vegatibble patch and say, "Will you be my friend?" and us says back us would but she bettuh don' be toll nobody cause us git in trubbuh, but she say it wohn nobody bidniss no way.
05-Dec-86 03:01 Olin.Shivers@h Beth & child abuse A few comments on Miss Byers' recent post: C'est la guare Close enough for war, Beth. America, she eez eezy, no? Ahem. Glass houses, Beth. Olin, the stories of Paris I've heard from other travelers suggest to me that Parisians are members of an exclusive mutual admiration society. Allow me to defend Parisians. I have multiple Parisian friends that are as friendly as can be. The first time I visited some of my wilder friends in Paris, they discovered that I wanted to see Versailles. This discovery was made at 1:30 AM. I forgot to mention to them that by saying "I want to go see Versailles" I really meant "...during the daytime, when it's open." So there we were, 2:00 AM, not very sober, climbing the castle walls. I didn't know which consequence of getting caught I was more frightened of -- having to explain it all to the American Embassy, or having to explain it all to my mother. The only problems I had with my friends in Paris -- not including the time they stole my Glenlivet -- were (1) trying to beat them to the check at restaurants and cafes and (2) trying to convince them that I really did like the food/wine/ scotch/vodka/... but I was way too full/bombed to eat/drink any more. The latter was particularly difficult. "More Veau Normand?" they'd say. "Oh, God. Please, no. It was great, but I can eat no more." They'd look hurt. "How about some fresh strawberries from the garden?" I could feel the pressure in my stomach from all the strawberries I'd just finished. "Uh, no, thank you very much." "Ah, you don't like strawberries. Wait, I'll go get the raspberries we picked yesterday." "No, wait. I love strawberries. Raspberries, too. But I just ate more in the last two hours than I eat in three days back in the US," I'd hastily say. They were wounded; I could tell they thought I was just being polite. "Well, how about finishing off this bottle of Bordeaux?" "Uh, you go ahead; I think I've had enough." "No wine? Well, let's drink some Scotch!" "Uh, actually, I don't feel like drinking anything more right now," I'd mumble. What an understatement. By that point, I wasn't able to lie on the floor without holding on. However, the refusal had no effect on my host's efforts to get me intoxicated to the point of total paralyis. After I turned down the scotch, I then had to turn down, in series, the vodka we hadn't killed off before dinner, calvados, Vat 69, gin, .... I just could never get through to these people that I liked what they were offering; I just had a finite capacity for ingesting food and liquor. I also fondly recall Paris because that's where I learned to debug Zetalisp while drunk. But that's another story. I must confess that I sort of admire the French, particularly Parisians, for the enthusiasm with which they embrace every new vice that comes along. Smoking, drinking, eating, adultery, drugs, argyle socks, you name it. If suicide were suddenly to become chic, Paris would be decimated overnight. Hunter Thompson said there's no place in the world of serious drug abuse for amateurs. The Parisians, I believe, have generalised this concept. I think I identify with them, too, because I'm from the South. Each culture -- Parisian and the American South -- has made insanity not just socially acceptable, but a fundamental element of its sociological fabric. Anyway, the point is, I found the Parisians to be friendly, generous, hospitable to a fault, frequently exhausting, and never boring. ---------- A few comments for those of you whose copy of *Lolita* has lots of pages with the corners turned down: So Richard has a 17 year-old daughter, the kind whose moral values could be dangerously warped by Rock lyrics. Hmmm. I'd be more than happy to read her the lyrics of my favorite Rolling Stones' songs: "When the Whip Comes Down," "Black and Blue," "Slave," "Let it Bleed," and "Some Girls". I'm not too threatened by Richard himself; I got over my fear of right-wing papas 8 years ago, when I dated a girl whose father: 1. Got two deer every year with his 30-06 2. Went back, and got another with bow and arrow. 3. Made knives for a hobby. 4. Was a teacher at my high school. 5. Was cleaning his guns on the porch the first night I arrived to take his daughter out. -Olin
22-Jan-87 10:51 Robert.Firth@bd.sei.cmu.edu Giant Eagle Well, I don't think my faith in Giant Eagle is irrational or unjustified. Look at the texts and the historical record... (1) Giant Eagle offers 'Absolute Minimum Pricing'. No other religion makes this claim. Moreover, it is a claim that can be scientifically tested. (2) Giant Eagle imposes no weird restrictions on ones lifestyle. You can buy pork anytime, meat on Fridays, cookies during Lent, leavened bread during Passover, and so on. You can shop alone, with a spouse, with any other partner of any sex, in groups (unless you are disorderly), with small stuffed animals... (3) Giant Eagle is always open and ready to serve you. You don't have to go through a ceremony to visit for the first time; if you stay away for years you can go back without doing penance; you're always welcome. (4) The manager of Giant Eagle is accessible in person or by telephone. No lengthy spiritual preparation is needed to perceive him or her. You don't even have to die. Other religions make this claim, but somehow it doesn't work that way. (5) Giant Eagle does not require its senior staff to be celibate, does not exclude women from parts of the hierarchy, does not restrict what its employees may teach or publish, does not require you to teach your children to shop at Giant Eagle. "Verily I say unto you, except ye shop at Giant Eagle, ye shall not save!"
28-Jan-87 12:28 Hans.Tallis@ml Mission Impossible I almost had to walk out of the Mission partly because of ennui and partly because of irritation. Who hasn't seen this film several times already? Leaving out surface characteristics like plot and setting (already short on the former, overly long on the latter) we've seen this film as many times as there were Planet of the Apes remakes. Who could sit through a day of The Mission, Emerald Forest, Out of Africa, Mosquito Coast, Gallipoli, etc., etc.? The generic title for these films is "Civilization and Cinematography Come To Beautiful Undeveloped Country" or "Passion, Feeling, Conflict Need Not Apply." It's entertainment by grandeur, lushness, and American Express Travel Services, Ltd. But what makes The Mission actually irritate instead of just lulling to sleep is its smugness (a quality often found in these CCCTBUC movies). It's filmmaking for those with an artistic eye and quick wit and keen grasp of the subtle, moviemaking that loves to soar over the head of the less-than-filmgoing-elite. It quickly becomes a self-parody, leaving in its wake nothing of entertainment value. Snoozer. Just ask yourself why The Gods Must Be Crazy will be long remembered after The Mission fades into a collage of green and blue hues, and you'll get the idea. A sampling: DeNiro, in a less-than-surprising move, renounces his vow. Irons, delivering a line with all the weight and pomposity normally attributed to Vatican pronouncements, shakes his head and says "you cannot." The anguish carves rivers across DeNiro's deeply tanned face. MacNally labors under the great weight of white man's burden with his edict from the church to firebomb the Garden of Eden. We soar as his eyes soak in the wonder of this simple continent and its simple, peaceful, hard-working, exploited, undereducated, disease-free, xenophilic people, and we sigh as he sighs his tortured indications of the inner torment. It turns out his profuse sweating is only an analog of the tedium the audience is forced to endure. DeNiro, one of the more ruthless characters we have met (at least during the first five minutes of the film) all of a sudden becomes a man tormented over the slaying of a brother he obviously didn't care much for anyway. So he immediately begins sinking into an existential quagmire, declaring himself unfit for life (not a dry eye in the audience, I assure you.) Irons, in a flurry of metaphor and innuendo, parry's DeNiro's suicidal tonguelashing with an offering for repentence which takes quite a while to deliver, considering how many bushes he needs to beat around. DeNiro, in yet another in-character line, asks Irons if the priest could stand to fail. No doubt Irons' death march into a salvo of flaming 6-foot arrows was borne out of his sense of failure to convert this poor louse. Who needs this? I can get a nightly fix on WQED's Adventures in Great Listening, anchored by Charles Emerson Winchester III. Joe Bob says 'check it out, but return unopened'
07-Mar-87 10:55 Rick.Busdiecker@h Modern Times (from The Atlantic)>From the February 1987 issue of the Atlantic comes a plaint by James Fallows on the electronic age in Malaysia: ... In the old, colonial days the expatriate's lifeline from Malaya was the Singapore packet ship, bringing tinned biscuits and the weekly mail. In the "old" pre-computer days it was the Telex machine, expensive but quick. On arrival in Malaysia I initially relied on the Telex, scrawling dispatches in big block letters and taking my sheaf of papers to a downtown office, where I could chat with the Telex girls. Now I have "advanced" to a more stylish and direct connection. My new lifeline is MCI Mail, the computer network that in theory provides a cheap and immediate link to anyone with a computer and a modem, anywhere in the world. In the U.S. using it was quick and painless; here the gap between theory and reality threatens to swallow me up. Malaysia has a brand-new "public data network," called Maypac, which in principle allows me to call a number in Kuala Lumpur to be connected with MCI Mail. But for obscure reasons MCI and Maypac couldn't make connections during my first two months of trying. My fallback plan was to attach my modem, brought from America, to my home phone and, on the days the phone was working, to call MCI's number in the U.S. But the connection, via satellite, was too fuzzy. To make matters worse, on my second try the modem blew up when my 240-to-110-volt transformer failed. I tried another modem, bought in Japan, which ran on batteries and did not explode. This one clamped onto the rounded telephone handsets that are standard in the U.S. and Japan. But residential phones in Malaysia are squared off, and the modem won't fit. I refused to be denied the convenience of a modern computerized link. I learned that Singapore has a data network -- and no disagreements with MCI. From pay phones in Malaysia you can reach Singapore, and the pay phones have rounded handsets onto which the modem, with some shoving, will fit. I signed up with the Singapore network. My preparations were complete. This is how I now use advanced technology to keep in touch: I leave home in the morning dragging a big blue canvas sack. In the sack are the clamp-on modem, a small Radio Shack computer, a modem-to-computer cable, and eighteen to twenty pounds of Malaysian coins. The coins are each worth twenty sen, or about eight American cents, and they're thick and heavy. One of them is good for seven seconds of connection to Singapore, so I need them in bulk. When my supply gets low, I stop at Bank Bumiputra Malaysia ("Bank of the Original Sons of the Soil of Malaysia"), where i can walk in with a 100-ringgit ($40) bill and walk out an hour later with my coins. I go to one of Kuala Lumpur's busiest streets and set up shop under the sign that says TELEFON ... The modem goes on top of the phone; the coins get piled in big mounds wherever I can find a flat surface. The ones left over sag in my pants pockets, making me list. I raise my right knee and brace it against the bottom of the phone, rest the computer on my now-horizontal right thigh, and connect the cable. I'm ready to begin. I dial the number in Singapore, wait to hear the computer tone, and slam the handset down into the modem before the tone cuts off and my first twenty sen's worth of time expires. Then comes the hard part: shoveling twenty-sen pieces into the phone every seven seconds, and digging spares out of my pockets when the mounds dwindle down, while trying to type the commands necessary to make contact. "NQJFXPM03106004759" is only the first part of the elaborate sign-on code. Every four or five minutes the phone's coin box fills up and I have to break contact, disassemble my equipement, and move to the next phone in line. I've chosen this location because I don't know any other with so many phones in a row. There is a bus stop right by my telephones, and a hangout favored by off-duty police. To the regulars I have become an institution, a major spectacle, a dependably hilarious diversion to replace the rock concerts that Malaysia recently outlawed. As I fumble to keep the money going into the slot, coins inevitably fall to the ground. Little children with backpacks, waiting for the bus to school, dart between my feet, filching twenty-sen pieces and skipping away in glee. Women in beautiful saris, sober Muslims going to work in the nearby Tabung Haji ("Fund for Pilgrimages to Mecca"), young toughs on their loud motorbikes, all laugh openly at the sweaty, red-faced foreigner doing his Modern Times routine at the phones. The humiliation of the West is complete. Then the daily inch-a-minute downpour begins, nd I try to hold an umbrella with my chin. When I have finished, I carefully repack my equipement, sweep the remaining coins into the bag, and walk off looking straight ahead, with as much dignity as I can muster. Tomorrow I will do it all again. On my way home I pass the Telex office. Through the window I see my friends the Telex girls, in their smart tan uniforms, smiling as they sit at their machines. I am too modern to need the likes of them. - James Fallows
09-Mar-87 00:50 Olin.Shivers@h Lethal Weapon (slight spoiler) I'll try to limit my spoilers to points Jon's earlier post already mentioned. 08-Mar-87 18:28 Jon.Webb@ius2 Lethal Weapon You have to give credit to a guy who can pass through a bar, shoot one of the patrons at the bar apparently for turning quickly in his direction, give the bouncer four quick shots in the chest for trying to throw him out, and then later indiscriminately spray a freeway with a machine gun without making you feel sick. I can't let this go by unchallenged. Mel is a *good* guy; he doesn't do things like that. Here is what actually happens: Mel is escaping from the back rooms of a disco owned by the bad guy. He enters the disco from the back, and sees one of the mercenaries the bad guy has for guards. As the guard is going for his gun (clearly visible in its holster), Mel shoots him. Very quickly. The disco is enemy territory; the people in it aren't bouncers, they are killers. And they've made multiple attempts on Mel's life. Mel is with a wounded man and a young girl. He is way outnumbered. It's not as if he opened up fire on the bouncer because the guy wouldn't let him in without a tie. I'll admit you only see the mercenary Mel shoots very briefly; Jon probably didn't recognise him as one of the Bad Guys. But that's only to say that while Jon is working on real time vision algorithms, Mel already has them. When he (Mel, not Jon) opens up fire on the freeway, he doesn't spray it indiscriminately. He is firing at a specific car. I didn't feel sick; I felt great. I really enjoyed *Lethal Weapon*. There is this spectrum of movies, delimited on the left by porn movies, so I'm told, that describes just how much cheapness and bogosity you can get away with and still turn out a saleable product. Action flicks are to the left of center; script writers can turn out pieces of junk as long as the F/X crew has lots of gasoline explosions on hand. Consider the last N James Bond movies. The plots are unreal to the point of laughability. It's impossible to willingly suspend your disbelief. Note that wild or far-out plots are not antithetical to suspension of disbelief: it's much easier to accept the reality of a good science fiction story than a James Bond movie. So action movies like *Lethal Weapon* and *Terminator* are welcome. The plots are basically convincing -- the bad guys are good shots, and reasonably motivated. The characters are basically believable. The good and bad guys' superhuman abilities are credibly established. That kind of thing. I get so tired of movies that have neat car chases and explosions, but where all during the movie you keep breaking out of the fictional universe to tell yourself, "Wow. That is so bogus. How come 50 bad guys, with automatic weapons, keep missing our hero, who is standing up out in the open?" Further, *Lethal Weapon* had some fine images. The opening credit sequence is pretty classy. There are two slow motion bits, one at the very end, that are terrific. I wouldn't say the images are as good as *Terminator* or *Risky Business* or *Clockwork Orange*, but still, very nice. Cool and/or funny bits. There are two scenes, one involving a Christmas tree farm, and one involving a jumper, that are fabulous. And finally, Mel Gibson's character is a totally cool character. The script does a very good job of establishing this, and Mel does a very good job of portraying it. One intense dude. Right up there with the coolest -- Schwarzenegger's Terminator, Eastwood's Man with No Name. I don't know about soi-disant "men" like Jon, but one of the reasons I go see movies like *Lethal Weapon* is to see guys like Mel Gibson, so I can tell myself, "If I were him, I wouldn't have to take shit from anybody." But I'm not, so I do, and that's why I like movies like *Lethal Weapon*. So, in sum, *Lethal Weapon* is well made, tightly scripted, well acted. Good, clean all-American violence by everybody's favorite Australian. -Olin
Date: 9 Mar 1987 10:56-EST From: Jon.Webb@ius2.cs.cmu.edu To: Olin.Shivers@h.cs.cmu.edu Subject: Re: Lethal Weapon (slight spoiler) hey, I'm not soi-disant. I've got 'em, two big ones. Just ask yo' mama. Jon
30-Apr-87 09:05 Kathryn.Swedlow@h something relevant from the weekly world news: vampire attacks have reached an all-time low as AIDS terror sweeps eastern europe, a leading researcher reports. dr. josef sperl told a medical conference in graz, austria that incidences of vampirism have fallen from a high of 75 per month three years ago to less than five a month today. he flatly blamed the fear of the AIDS virus for the dramatic decline in bloodsucking. he further predicted that the practice might soon die out completely if the disease continues to be spread at current levels. "vampires are facing the most serious threat in the historyof their breed," said the vienna-based virologist. "there is every indication that several of them have already been infected with the AIDS virus and the rest of them are terrified they'll be next. to a vampire, AIDS is worse than a stake through the heart. At least with a stake death comes quickly. When AIDS kills, it kills slow." in a frightening footnote, dr. sperl noted that vampires are doubly apt to catch AIDS because most of them are flaming homosexuals. "their sexual preference alone puts thm at great risk of getting AIDS," he said. "to make matters worse, they have a taste for blood. and everybody knows that the exchange of blood is one of the ways that AIDS virus is transmitted." other experts contacted by the austrian press confirmed that vampire attacks were down but they were reluctant to blame AIDS alone. "AIDS has certainly played a role but there are other factors as well," said psychologist hans moser of graz. "for one thing we have more and better mental health facilities that we had just three years ago. it's safe to say that some vampires have learned to control their urges with therapy."
30-Apr-87 19:39 Olin.Shivers@h DDD & France 30-Apr-87 10:12 Richard.S.D'Ippolito Where you bin, Calvin? ...And what do you think I do with my fishing rods?... Wow. You could go a long time without being handed a straight line like that. By the way, let me add that I support the proposition put forth by Michael and Kurt that we should invade France. Socialist government or no, I think it's an idea whose time has come. The last time we did it, we managed to overcome the German army. This time we only have to contend with the French army, which suggests that we could probably get by with just subcontracting the invasion out to New Zealand. Since France is basically about the size of Texas, it'd make a dandy 51st state. Among the numerous advantages of such a move, two that immediately leap to mind are the resultant dramatic improvement in domestic wine quality, and of course the convenient military air access to Libya we would gain. And that's not to mention the positive effects towards countering nuclear proliferation: the number of world powers with nuclear capability would be reduced by one. Now, people might contend that although the invasion might be trivial, the occupation would be horrendous. I disagree. The French are not exactly enchanted with their current administration. They'd go for an American annexation if only for the Walt Disney reruns. Besides, the French are notoriously trendy. If we simply retained a good public relations firm to run a media blitz depicting an American invasion as hip, chic, the latest thing, then France could be taken without firing a shot. Remember that today's generation of French were raised in a time that has not seen an invasion of France; they'd be intrigued by the sheer novelty of it all. As far as international sentiment goes, well, it's not as if Germany or Britain are in a position to point fingers. I really think Michael and Kurt are on to something here. Perhaps we should organise a write-in campaign to our respective senators and congressmen. -Olin
Date: 30 Apr 1987 22:51-EDT From: Jeffrey.Stout@g.cs.cmu.edu To: Olin.Shivers@h.cs.cmu.edu Subject: Re: DDD & France In-Reply-To: Olin.Shivers's bboard message of 30-Apr-87 19:39 I laughed, I cried, I fluffed my sofa. --jeff
04-May-87 13:37 Kathryn.Swedlow@h man bashing i don't know the source. but it's true... what is masculinism: masculinists are particularly men who engage in a dialogue aimed at understanding the sources and mechanisms of their oppression. first of all, adult people really don't care about men's personal affairs. second, most of men's problems are brought on by behavior to reward people who rape men. third, men have a very short time-constant associated with their endocrine system; their bodies have no sense of the rhythm and harmony of a monthly cycle, they can just "go off" suddenly at any time. although it's important for employers to make special allowances for these special problems that men have, it is important to realize the limitations inherent in this lack of a regular cycle. the settling in to a endocrine cycle is characteristic of maturity, and since men are not able to have a cycle, it is quite possible that many boys' lagging behind in their physical and emotional maturity have a physiological component. the other problem with men is that they never bear children; therefore they never really settle down. wheras most people can be relied upon to create some social and financial stability for the sake of the children they have given birth to, it is nearly impossible to expect the same level of dedication from a man who, by definition, does not even have the ability to bear children. face it. lacking the ability to carry life within them, men have no real understanding of life. since most of our social and political institutions are aimed at fostering life, it is difficult to understand why a man, who is unable to bring forth life of his own, would be so interested in playing a more prominent role in our society. of course, there are those men who are so undesirable that they cannot find anybody to support them, so they must work. and of course, it's impossible for the country to do without the labor of men in times of Peace. during WPII, many women were away from their normal jobs for years at a time, when increased production was necessary to aid the Peace effort. at this time, the governess established a large propaganda effort to.... but, despite these very real difficulties that exist in establishing social and economic equality for men, real gains have been made...
05-May-87 14:35 Olin.Shivers@h Reading between the lines 04-May-87 13:37 Kathryn.Swedlow@h man bashing [Men] can just "go off" suddenly at any time. Poor Kathy. Obviously she hasn't had much luck at choosing boyfriends. I suspect this explains why she seems so tense all the time. -Olin
06-May-87 21:26 Olin.Shivers@h Correction 06-May-87 00:48 Doug.Philips@theory BB Bashing! In response to: Olin.Shivers Poor Olin. He obviously hasn't had much luck finding any girlfriends. I suspect this explains why he is trying to be-little [sic] Kathy. Mr. Philips. You suffer from premature expostulation. I am not criticising or belittling Kathy; I am sympathising with her. Let me tell you -- it's incredibly frustrating when you go to bed with someone, and 30 or 40 seconds later she's ready to "go off" -- moaning, panting, screaming, thrashing uncontrollably -- and you're just left hanging. Drives me up the wall when it happens. -Olin
10-May-87 12:41 Sean.Engelson@nl Hey, hackers! I'M JUST A TWO-BIT PROGRAMMER ON A SIXTEEN-BIT MACHINE Well, I sit at my computer, staring at the screen Like a chloroformed iguana. My brain has got gangrene. And while my mind is rotting, I feel like such a jerk: I caused a disk crash wiping out my last two decades' work. Oh, Mama, who could have foreseen I'd be a two-bit programmer on a sixteen bit machine? I go on dates with women, and I talk of bits and bytes, So is it any wonder that I sleep alone at nights? To think, I could be human, instead of the nerd I am! But then again, let's face it: who really gives a damn? Oh, Mama, it's just too obscene. I'm just a two-bit programmer on a sixteen-bit machine. by David S. Platt, reprinted without permission Copyright (c) 1987
17-May-87 03:38 Olin.Shivers@h Gun control considered harmful 12-May-87 11:11 Michael.Witbrock Boy, 10 Shoots Parents. 12-May-87 12:49 Michael.Alex@henry Boy, 15 Shoots Father It's exactly this sort of thing that shows what a terrible idea gun control legislation is. If my child opened up on *me* with a .38, I'd sure want to be in a position to return fire. -Olin
Date: Sun, 17 May 87 13:55:51 EDT From: Doug.Tygar@F.GP.CS.CMU.EDU To: shivers@h Subject: Other good uses for guns ``First came the case of 31-year-old Gerald Stano, arrested in 1980. He stabbed, strangled, beat or shot to death at least 27 and possibly as many as 39 young women across central Florida because, as he put it, `I can't stand a bitchy chick.' '' >From Boston Globe, May 7, 1987: ``Is Florida Becoming America's Most Bizarre Killing Ground?''
19-May-87 18:07 Alice.Sun@sei.cmu.edu final words on modeling It seems that I always read the opbb posts a week late for some reason. Please excuse my belated post. This may be the only chance you guys can learn something from an ex-professional model. During the summer right after my high school graduation(this was many,many years ago), I was at New York city looking for summer jobs to cover my college expenses. I was picked right in a Manhattan restaurant by an agent who was looking for an oriental model who could model some summer clothes and early fall fashion for an incoming fashion show. Since I was not experienced, he sent me for a three weeks training in order to get me started. Needless to say, I was a quick learner.I worked two summers full time at NYC, made about $3000-4000 in each summer, which covered all my 2-semester school expenses and even had more left for luxuries. (I remembered the housing was $45 a month, and grocery was $5 a full bag.) Because this was my only means of making a living, supporting myself through the first 2 years of college at WVU, I considered myself professional in that sense. Rich was right, a model does not need to have a look or body beyond normal range. But it has to be above the median. As long as you don't have some kind of unchangeable facial feature, just about any blemish can be covered by make-up or some way of making over. But it is obvious that the better look you have, the higher the chance is for success. I don't have anything to say against Barbazon, since I don't know anything about them. The only thing I want to say about modeling schools in general is that they prepare you how to model(how to walk, how to move, how to apply make-up, how to hide your physical weakness, etc) they do not prepare you how to deal in the fashion world once you are in. It was not an easy world to be in. If you wanted to make money (get work, not just sitting around waiting),you had to learn how to play games well, how to manipulate people who could "help"you, how to meet/impress new "important" men, how to sleep around to your best advantage. Rich's picture of innocent modeling job using mediocre looking people did not exist in the New York City fashion world, certainly not the high fashion world which I was never a part of it. Developing your portfolio is another important key element in getting jobs, which I am not sure it is discussed in a modeling school today. Who shots the pictures, who actually owns them, who presents them to whom, who promotes you, all have a part on whether you get the job. Modeling was not just let someone take pictures like Barbara described. It sometimes required long hours of working under HOT spot lights. You constantly worried about your make-up ruined by your sweat, your shiny nose, etc. Especially pictures with many girls, they arranged your postures and positions by the color you wore and your size, etc. Sometimes it took forever to get them right. Then in a fashion show, you could have clothes ripped at the last minute, having "accident" on the stage, forget some necessary things. Even bruise under your neck, pimples on your face took extra effort on you to get them right(assuming they still allow you to work with your bruise on). The party after the fashion show where you mingled with potential clients(whether they were export/import traders or retail clothes buyers) were also like work. You didn't just wear clothes, you also need to know the textile, style trend, answers to some related questions. On top of these, you took verbal abuses and sometimes physical, from all men you were working with for whatever the reason. You also treated every move you made, every word you spoke as a game so that you would continue getting jobs. No need to mention you also fought with other girls for everything(from underwears, to dates, a chance to meet some agent, etc). I would not say there were less screwed up people in the fashion world than people in the showbiz. Certainly many were around when I was there. Although it was a short part of my life, it was an important one. It taught me: (1) As long as you do things that allow men to exploit your body(including your face), you can forget about that you have a brain, cause they won't notice. (2) Modeling was a short-lived career choice, there was no security. This may explain when models are insecure. The chance to make something big was very slim(even with the best look/body), yet there was a jungle you had to survive day to day. If I have to invest my time and energy into a career, I rather want to invest into something that is foreseeable, secure and high return. (3) It was very sad to be an"old"model who couldn't make enough to live, most of them got married soon, some turned into high-priced prostitutes, a lot of them just disappeared. I would never want to be in their shoes. To this day, my parents and my sisters don't know what I was doing at New York city these two summers, they thought I was a waitress. My parents were very conservative,and both were college professors. They could never understand or allow me to take this type of job. I was rebellous, so I just decided I would not let them find out. One day in July, they flew in the city to visit me. The plane arrived about ten in the morning, and I just got out of all-night long partying about eight oclock. I took a taxi back to my apt and got cleaned up, then I went to the airport to greet them. I remembered I was so very shameful that I was very quiet. This made my mother very concerned because she thought I was tired from working too hard. They trusted me very much and respected my will for wanting to finish my college without their assistance. But the way I made money just wasn't honest enough to face up to their expectations. I partially agree that modeling money and all this business are just not all that honest. Modeling looks like a glamorous job, but it is not. I rather think being a software engineer is glamorous. Right? folks.
Date: Fri 22 May 87 09:35:00-EDT From: David Nason <David.Nason@C.CS.CMU.EDU> Subject: Re: One more question... To: Olin.Shivers@H.CS.CMU.EDU In-Reply-To: Message from "Olin.Shivers@H.CS.CMU.EDU" of Fri 22 May 87 02:09:23-EDT Actually, they used four weapons more than any other: PK-6 (pistol), AK-47C (shinese manufacture) SKS (carbine, semi-auto) AK-47 (russian) D. -------
21-May-87 17:05 Olin.Shivers@h pederasty and the media The strangest line I've heard in a radio advertisement in quite a while: "Young Joey took the gleaming silver nozzle from the masked man." My advice: tell your children to stay away from Amoco service stations. -Olin
22-May-87 03:38 Olin.Shivers@h The gentle art of character assasination: part V I was intrigued with Alice's writeup of her college summers spent in the "modelling" biz. The thing that caught my eye was the extreme shame she recalls with respect to her parents discovering just exactly how she'd spent her summers. Didn't that strike you as odd, too? Sort of stuck out. Hmm. Now... you all know I'm not the sort of guy who goes around dragging innocent people's good names through the mud... and I surely hate to cast aspersions... but... it seems pretty clear to me that there aren't that many high paying jobs that could cause a young college girl that much shame and embarassment. If it makes Alice feel better to call what she was doing until 8:00 AM that morning her family rolled into town "modelling" or "partying," well, she's certainly not the first. I mean, it certainly isn't my intention to suggest that Alice is "fast," but there's got to be *some* reason why she got the nickname Alice "Sublinear" Sun. If you know what I mean. Lest anyone foolishly think I'm criticising Alice, let me point out that I firmly believe Alice's summer jobs have given her a perspective that will carry her far in a career of DOD contracted research. "Needless to say, I was a quick learner." -A. Sun I believe you, Alice. -Olin
22-May-87 10:47 Greg.Hansen@sei.cmu.edu Can anyone tell me why Olin... shivers? Maybe it is the thought of young Joey. Maybe the thought of a silver gleaming nozzle in his hands. Maybe it is the thought of Alice. Maybe it is because you can have so much fun with his name, like by adding a letter: c-Olin h-Olin (one?) m-Olin (young boys?) r-Olin (drunks) I suggest you change your name to, something like Olin Trembles, or Olin Shakes, or Olin Quakes.
22-May-87 18:33 Olin.Shivers@h Greg & Alice 22-May-87 10:47 Greg.Hansen@sei.cmu.edu Can anyone tell me why Olin shivers? ... Maybe it is the thought of Alice. Not unless she were gagged. Is there an operation that corresponds to an inverse lobotomy? C'mon, Greg. Making jokes on peoples names is an even lower form of humor than making puns. Not even Jon Webb makes jokes about my name; like the gentleman that he is, he limits himself to making remarks about my mother. It's not so awful, just incredibly unoriginal. Like making jokes about Cyrano's nose. I'd heard just about every single joke you made before I was three. And I have clear memories of how I reacted to them when I was three: "Jesus. Same stupid joke. Another self-appointed wit who thinks he's original." Except I didn't have a vocabulary that good when I was three. I've heard only one actually funny joke on my name since I was three: Olin Shivers, but he don't fall down. If you can't do better than that, stay off the bboard. 22-May-87 15:50 Alice.Sun@sei.cmu.edu Re: character assasination Oh, Alice. Come, now. Calm down. I said you'd go far in a career of DOD contracted research, didn't I? Maybe I am struggling for my degree, but at least I'm not following *your* career path. Just because I'm actively contributing to the next generation of the US government's technology of death doesn't mean I'm an intellectual prostitute: it isn't prostitution when you do it for fun. Maybe in the process of getting your Ph.D. (assuming you work hard) you will learn "the gentle art of self-discipline".... Well, I like discipline as much as the next guy, but I'm not much for self-discipline. I know which side of the riding crop I like to be on. -Olin
22-May-87 19:24 Olin.Shivers@h Presentation announcement It's common knowledge that whenever you get two or more CS grad students together, the conversation will inevitably drift to the same topic: automatic weapons. Lately, we've noticed that whenever we attend a CS party, picnic, or bullsession, we always hear the same questions and discussions, usually from the younger grad students: "When I switched from guncotton to standard ball powder on my .223 loads, the gas ports on my M16 would clog like you wouldn't believe. Steer clear of that stuff." "You haven't cleared an ejection port jam until you've cleared one in the Hill district at 4:00 AM on a Saturday morning." "I want to mount an M60 in front of the sun roof of my Tercel, but the mounting bracket wasn't drilled for import cars. How did Josh Bloch do his?" "What exactly are those special 'conference rounds' that Newell hand loads before AAAI every year?" "Some of my friends at the MIT AI Lab don't like M203's because the grenade launcher adds too much weight, but I wouldn't have gotten out of IJCAI-85 in one piece if it hadn't been for those 40mm flechette rounds. What do you think?" "Do you have to be a god-damned tenured professor to get teflon rounds at this place?" "Does the 'reasonable person principle' cover hosing down a member of the Soar project after he's used the phrase 'cognitively plausible' for the fifteenth time in a 20 minute conference talk?" "Where *did* Prof. Vrsalovic get that Kalashnikov AK-47?" "I used to use Dri-Slide to lube my M16. How come my advisor says Dri-Slide is for momma's boys and Stanford profs?" "Does the way Jon Webb keeps flicking the safety of his Mac-10 on and off at thesis defenses make you nervous, too?" In short, there is a lot of concern in this department for the proper care, handling and etiquette of automatic weapons. So as a service to the department, we are starting a two week daily series on "The Care and Handling of Your M16A1." Every day for the next two weeks, we will post on the wall outside our office the day's helpful hint on care and maintenance of that good old departmental standby: the M16A1. Our thanks to the US Army, whose training manuals we have shamelessly cribbed for material. We would like to encourage other knowledgeable members of the CS community to share their expertise in a similar fashion. There is a real need for this kind of dialogue in the department. The new students come in here every fall, and are totally unequipped to handle the realities of graduate student life at CMU. Computability theory and lexical scoping are fine things to know about, but they just don't cut the mustard when somebody from the Psych department opens up on you with an Ingram set to full auto. -the friendly automatic weapons enthusiasts of SkyCave1, Olin, Derek, and Allan
23-May-87 23:41 Olin.Shivers@h Sensitivity 23-May-87 00:16 Mike.Blackwell@rover Rambolin I dunno, maybe it was just me, but I sure thought that Billy in Beverly Hills Cops [sic] II struck an uncanny resemblance to Olin ... They both unsuccessfully strive to put on this air of the caring and sensitive types, but secretly would much rather be mercinaries [sic], 'cuz they have so much neater toys... No, Mike, no. A foul canard. You have me all wrong. Can't you see that I'm actually a deeply, deeply sensitive, caring human being? I'm so painfully shy I hide all this behind a facade of macho bravado; I would probably blossom forth into the kind of self-actualised man who reads Adrienne Rich, and isn't at all ashamed about crying in public -- a sort of combination of the best features of Alan Alda and Benjamin Pierce rolled into one -- if I could only find emotional support and spiritual commitment from the right woman. Preferably one with large breasts. I think it must've been the switchblade, and the larger than life Terminator poster... Let me go on record here as not owning a switchblade. I think they are in poor taste. I'm aware that de gustibus non disputandum; nevertheless, pulling a switchblade on me is a surefire way to get yourself removed from my dinner party invitation list. Oh, well, good flick for a hot summer night... I thought Beverly Hills Cop II was pretty bad. Like flat beer. A dull, uninspired rehash of the original. The T&A were introduced with all the subtlety of a commercial break: "We'll return to our plot in 60 seconds after this strip tease number brought to you by..." Bleh. Brigitte Nielsen bores me to tears. And her death in the movie is yet another wretched instance of "if you're going to shoot somebody -- shoot, don't talk." Murphy must think he can take any random piece of self-serving, half-baked script and magically transform it by virtue of his supreme talent. Nope. Further discussion of Beverly Hills Cop II probably belongs on the Film bboard. -Olin
23-May-87 09:48 Greg.Hansen@sei.cmu.edu c-Olin-ectomy I fooled with your name to pass the time while I did a psychological profile. Do you know that two of your last three posts deal with young children, and, worse, contain references to phallic symbols. C,mon, everyone knows that a pistol is a phallic symbol, especially to impotent insecure males. Then there is the famous post in which you claim to know what to do with a fishing pool. I suggest that you tell us. I am willing to bet that reeling up the line is what makes you shiver. In fact most of your posts reveal that you are sexually insecure,lonely and impotent. With this in mind, I will attempt to overlook your attempts at macho via bboard attacks. Have a nice day.

Dissertation Advice, by Olin Shivers

I give the same advice to graduate students writing dissertations so often that I will set it down here to save myself the repetition.

What is your thesis?

First, do you understand the difference between a dissertation and a thesis? A thesis is an idea. A dissertation is a document that supports your thesis. After you write your dissertation explaining why your thesis is a good one, you have to stand up in front of a crowd and defend it -- the thesis defence.

It is best if you can capture your thesis in a single sentence. If you can do this, make it sentence #1 of your dissertation, and repeat this sentence, word for word, wherever you need to drive home the point of your dissertation. This is a tremendous aid in focussing your work. A side benefit is that it provides an unassailable defense to an entire class of attacks on your work. For example, should someone attack your work by pointing out that it does not scale, you simply reply,

You may be correct, but right or wrong, your point is irrelevant. My thesis is that "crossbreeding gerbils with hamsters provides an order of magnitude speedup over standard treadmill technology." I clearly demonstrate factors of 12-17 in my dissertation; I make no claims beyond an order of magnitude.
This is one of the benefits of focus.

Some examples

When I wrote my dissertation, I began with the opening sentence:
Control-flow analysis is feasible and useful for higher-order languages.
Then I spent 200 pages explaining first how to do CFA for higher-order languages (feasible), and second, the kinds of optimisations it enables (useful). My dissertation was nominated for the 1991 ACM Distinguished Dissertation award.

The first chapter of John Ellis' dissertation, Bulldog: A Compiler for VLIW Architectures, is titled "My Thesis." Not much room for misinterpretation here -- it's clear what the chapter is all about. The first sentence of this chapter is:

Ordinary scientific programs can be compiled for a new parallel architecture called VLIW (Very Long Instruction Word), yielding order of magnitude speedups over scalar architectures.
There is never any doubt in the reader's mind what Ellis is setting out to demonstrate with his book.

Ellis' dissertation received the 1985 ACM Distinguished Dissertation award. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to see how to write academic prose: it is the single best piece of academic writing I have ever read. It is clear and lucid. It does not get tangled up in stilted, passive, jargon-laden "academic" style. Ideas flow effortlessly off the page and into your head. When something is an opinion, it's obvious that it's an opinion; when something is a fact, it's obvious that it's a fact. You should try to write a dissertation this good.

The first sentence of Henry Massalin's dissertation on the Synthesis operating system is,

This dissertation shows that operating systems can provide fundamental services an order of magnitude more efficiently than traditional implementations.
He then spends 140 pages showing how this can be done. Henry's dissertation was nominated for the 1992 ACM Distinguished Dissertation award.

The point is: what are you trying to show? The point is: what is your point? If you can get that straight in your head, and put it up front at the beginning of your document, you will be able to proceed in a straight line. You will know what things are essential, and what things are distractions or detours. You will know when to stop writing: when you have demonstrated your thesis. If your thesis committee makes unreasonable demands of you, you will be able to tell them: "(a) My thesis, as stated, is a solid advancement of the field, and (b) I have supported my thesis. This is all I need to do to graduate; your requests are above and beyond this threshold. Cancel them and give me my degree."

Don't be alarmed if you are unable to precisely state your thesis when you start work in your thesis area -- you may only have a general and long-winded notion of the problem and its solution. But you may find it useful, as you progress in your work, to refine this down to that single sentence (or couple of sentences) that states your thesis. As you grind away on your PhD, and your understanding of your problem matures, it will help you to have a little background voice asking at regular intervals: "What is my thesis?"

Recommended reading

I recommend Mary-Claire van Leunen's A Handbook for Scholars to any academic author who wishes to write well. Mary-Claire's book will help you write clear, unpretentious, unstilted academic prose. She also gives excellent advice on the details of citations and bibliography. Olin Shivers / shivers@ai.mit.edu
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