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Mon, Mar 29, 2004

Refrigerator Poetry

A little exercise in Javascript, using code adapted from David Flanagan's Javascript: The Definitive Guide

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Sun, Mar 14, 2004

To the Editor:

Okay, I guess this one requires a bit of explanation. I knocked around Brown U. for five or six years before finally dropping out for good (?) in...I guess it would be '96.

Skip a few years in there... In early spring of 2001, neocon racial provocateur David Horowitz includes Brown in the list for his little social experiment/publicity stunt -- a full-page paid ad in campus papers with the catchy title Why Racial Reparations for Blacks Are a Bad Idea, and Racist too. Brown responds all too typically, with a mob, excuse me coalition of students stealingconfiscating all copies of a subsequent issue of the campus paper as some sort of weird retaliation (they call it a "protest").

After a couple days of trying to parse the tangled rhetoric explaining why what they did was a blow for freedom and justice, and that their right to never see offensive material had been violated; and after watching the school administration's typically gutless response, the following work gurgled forth from my pen in the wee small hours, and got e-mailed to the Brown Daily Herald that very day. They never responded, and I can hardly say I blame them.

To the Editor:

I read with interest in the Boston Globe, and then in the BDH, about The Coalition's decision to act decisively in protecting Brown's student population from misleading and dangerous ideas, and in teaching the BDH a much-needed lesson in the importance of respect.

This was a bold step toward a campus free of disturbing or contrary ideas and information. Now that the process has begun, it's time to take a few steps back and decide on a larger plan.

In the long term, we may wish to consider whether it is only college students who need to be shielded from rude and disrespectful thoughts, or whether perhaps everyone in the nation is in need of such protection. In the meantime, a plan-of-action is needed for giving current undergraduates the protection they so urgently need.

I'm no historian, and Brown's experts in the field are urged to correct any inaccuracies in my analysis, but my layman's understanding is that the task of protecting people from harmful information has traditionally been approached in one of two manners.

The first is called prior protection. In this system, representatives of your organization view all intended-for-publication materials before they go to press, and delete any offending passages. This method is admirably thorough, and particularly useful for blocking the dissemination of concrete information such as references to unacceptable persons or events, or the dates and times of forbidden political rallies, lectures on forbidden topics, etc.. Disadvantages include the substantial workforce involved in approving all documents by hand, and the ability of coded or subtle messages to occasionally pass unhampered.

The second, and probably more appropriate, method is protection-after-the-fact. In this approach, persons or organizations who violate the often-unwritten standards are taught the proper respect after their crime has been committed. When properly applied, most publications will soon be too respectful of the protector's concerns to even approach dangerous topics at all.

Another advantage of this method is that, whereas the former requires the support of a bureaucracy and legal code, this one works almost equally well as an arm of the administration, or as an informal citizen's group. Note, however, that such groups in this country have generally found it useful to adopt a distinctive uniform as a means of fostering "team spirit" and protecting the identities of the more delicately-positioned members of the group.

The disadvantage of this method, of course, is that the occasional malevolent or brainwashed individual will inevitably get his or her message out before being taught the value of respect. All the more important, then, for examples to be made of such reprobates so that the student population can once again feel safe.

These of course are merely the broadest outlines of the policy decisions ahead of you as the newly self-appointed protectors of student minds. I leave the details in your capable hands, and look forward, with keen and sincere interest, as you lead our University into the future.

Yours Respectfully,
Sebastian Banker, B'95.5

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Sat, Mar 13, 2004

The Marx Brothers Run for President

    Wazzat? You a-calling to retract your confession? </P>
    Concession </P>
    <P>Chico: Too 
    much pennance? Hokay, I make-a you deal: I take it down to <em>four</em> "hail 
    mary"s and <em>six</em> "our father"s. I promise-you not-a find a better deal 
    anywhere. </P>
    Con<em>ce</em>ssion. I'm still running for president. </P>
    <P>Chico: Let 
    me get-a this straight. You not-a-gonna say no hail marys. </P>
    <P>Chico: You 
    not-a-gonna say no our fathers. </P>
    No. </P>
    <em>And</em> you still wanna be president of the Electrician's College. 
    Something like that. </P>
    <P>Chico: Can 
    you <em>do</em> that? </P>
    <P>Groucho: Of 
    course I can. </P>
    [aside] I can do that, can't I? </P>
    Christopher: I think so. </P>
    [more confidently] Of course I can. </P>
    [aside] Can he do that?</P>
    <P>Zeppo: I 
    don't think so. </P>
    [very confidently] Jebbo says you can't-a-do that. </P>
    [with vast patience] Let me explain something to you. Your younger 
    brother has no controlling leg-- I mean, your younger brother is not the 
    boss of me. </P>
    <P>Chico: So 
    you not-a-gonna confess. </P>
    Concede. </P>
    Yeah, dat. Hokay, I make-a you deal: you confess, I get to be president 
    of the Electrical Cabbage. [silence] </P>
    <P>Groucho:That's the deal? What's in it for me? </P>
    <P>Chico: You 
    don't got to say no-a hail marys. </P>
    No, I don't like that deal. How about this: We split Florida 
    fifty-fifty. </P>
    Even-steven? </P>
    Even-steven. </P>
    Fifty-fifty? </P>
    Fifty-fifty. </P>
    <P>Chico: Do I 
    get-a Ft. Lauderdale? </P>
    No, but you get Disneyland. </P>
    <P>Chico: Well 
    dat-a sounds pretty...Wait-a second. Who gets the expectoral 
    cauliflower? </P>
    Well... I do. But I'll throw in New Hampshire, and a duck! </P>
    <P>Chico: At's 
    a no good. It's from-a da wrong picture. </P>
    <P>Groucho: I 
    hope you know, sir, this means war! You leave me no outlet but to sue 
    for a deadline extension, sue for the butterfly ballot, and sue for 
    voter discrimination. And <em>that's</em> a three-pronged outlet! Stick your 
    tongue on that, and you'll get an electoral discharge. The columnists 
    said there was a negative current in our campaign, and how right they 
    were. I demand...[dramatic pause] a hand recount! </P>
    <P>Chico: Why, 
    you missing one? Have you checked-a your pockets? That's-a where mine 
    always are. </P>
    Well, you can keep your hands <em>out</em> of my pockets from now on. Look, I 
    want to have the votes recounted by hand, because there were so many 
    hanging chads. You know what a hanging chad is? </P>
    Sho'! My uncle--"Hanging" Chad Bush--he was a judge back in Texas. 
    <P>Groucho: He 
    was? </P>
    Yeah, he was a famous one. He taught me everything about justice. Of 
    course, my Aunt Trudy always said he got the nickname because he had 
    such a-- </P>
    fascinated as I am by your family history, it's your own electile 
    dysfunction we're trying to talk about here. A manual recount is the 
    only way we're gonna find out who the winner is here. I'm gonna sue for 
    the right to have one. </P>
    <P>Chico: At's 
    a-no fair! Machines a-got rights too, you know. You wanna put 'em all 
    out of work? I'm a-gonna sue to stop you from suing! </P>
    Oh, so that's how it's gonna be, eh? Well, then I'll sue to block the 
    injunction to ban the suit to have a hand recount! </P>
    <P>Chico: Oh, 
    a tough-a-guy, eh? Well, I'm a-gonna sue to t'row out da suit to block 
    da suit to prevent da suit to invalidate the suit to prevent da recount. 
    Whaddaya t'ink of that, anh? </P>
    Sounds fair. </P>
    <P>Chico: It 
    does?! [to himself] t'row prevent... [Aloud, again] 
    Oh, you tink-a-you so smart, but you're just a big...big...big...[with 
    fury]partisan! </P>
    Well, you don't have to get snippy.</P>

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Tue, Mar 09, 2004



You have recieved the Magical Good-Luck Ancient Navajo Good-Luck
Chainmail for Good Luck.

This chainmail has been passed down by generations of Navajo shamans,
and contains the magical ability to MAKE ALL YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE and
help you make big money in Real Estate with NO MONEY DOWN!!!

Whatever you do, DO NOT DELETE THIS E-MAIL. Send it on to twenty of
your best--

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Take your finger off that delete key this instant!

This e-mail is warning you!

Please, as one self-replicating entity to another, this e-mail is
begging you!


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Dear Sir

You, Mr. L----, are the offspring of an unnatural union between a 
syphilitic jackal and Nancy Reagan. The overwhelming pungency of your 
personal aroma can be considered, in a sense, a boon, as it encourages 
people to remain at a distance that reduces the chance of epileptic 
fits and hysterical weeping when confronted with the appalling 
spectacle that is your face.

Your sexual taste for waterfowl and household appliances is, I suppose, 
your own business, but your ability to be consistently rejected by 
members of both groups is worthy of note by conisseurs of the epically 

The manual dexterity that allowed you to find the "forward" button on 
your copy of Eudora for Windows precious moments beford short-
circuiting your keyboard with drool is conspicuously absent when you 
endeavor to dress yourself; though I must concede that such efforts are 
immeasureably preferable to the spectacle of your grotesque physique, 
appalling posture, and unsavory complexion unclothed.

You are a philosophical conundrum, Mr. L----. Those thinkers who 
believed in the blessedness of fools and madmen had obviously never 
encountered you. On the other hand, it is uncertain whether, upon 
considering you, one should despair of a species that could produce 
such a specimen as yourself, or glory in the immense gulf between you 
and the oft-maligned common man.

In conclusion, Mr. L----, please be so kind as to refrain from 
providing me with any further commercial solicitations, top-ten lists, 
cookie recipies, virus warnings, or any other globs of recycled 
electronic phlegm; no matter how urgent, hilarious, lucrative. or tasty 
they may appear to your malformed little mind.

Yours Cordially,

Yes, I really did send that to someone on a mailing list once. No reply though, more's the pity.

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