Just a while ago I gave you some of the comic strips that made me laugh absurdly hard over the course of my life. The ones I present here were not always that kind, but they are ones that pleased my inner linguist. You don’t spend a lifetime playing with languages and not appreciate things like this.
(Some of the images enlarge when you click on them, others don’t.)
On that note, I mentioned this joke earlier in a post about macaronics:
A professor of Latin at Yale, (sounds like a limerick in the offing, doesn’t it?) having ordered a meal at a fine New Haven restaurant, decided that he would like some wine with his dinner. So he summoned the wine steward and asked for a bottle of hock. Feeling clever, he added, “hic, haec, hoc.”
“Very good, sir,” replied the wine steward, and left.
Twenty minutes later, no wine. The learned man summoned the steward again, and asked, “Didn’t I order a bottle of hock?”
“You did indeed, sir,” replied the steward, “but then you declined it.”
I, too, am very hung up on languages. And I have studied Hebrew, and Korean, and Serbian. They are all still “in progress.”
Many others, there are in the world – but this will have to suffice for now.
While searching for something else in my LiveJournal archive, I ran across this little gem which was sent to me by a translator colleague in 1999. It’s out on the net, but you have to know just what you’re looking for to find it.
Merge matic books from the Washington Post Invitational: Readers were asked to combine the works of two authors and provide a suitable blurb. Back to the books.
The overall winner is also the Rookie of the Week:
Second Runner Up: “Machiavelli’s The Little Prince” Antoine de Saint Exupery’s classic children’s tale as presented by Machiavelli. The whimsy of human nature is embodied in many delightful and intriguing characters, all of whom are executed. (Erik Anderson, Tempe, Ariz.)
First Runner Up:
“Green Eggs and Hamlet” Would you kill him in his bed? Thrust a dagger through his head? I would not, could not, kill the King. I could not do that evil thing. I would not wed this girl, you see. Now get her to a nunnery. (Robin Parry, Arlington)
And the Winner of the Dancing Critter: “Fahrenheit 451 of the Vanities” An ’80s yuppie is denied books. He does not object, or even notice. (Mike Long, Burke)
“2001: A Space Iliad” The Hal 9000 computer wages an insane 10 year war against the Greeks after falling victim to the Y2K bug. (Joseph Romm, Washington)
“Curious Georgefather” The monkey finally sticks his nose where it don’t belong. (Chuck Smith, Woodbridge)
“The Hunchback Also Rises” Hideously deformed fellow is cloistered in bell tower by despicable clergymen. And that’s the good news … (John Verba, Washington)
“The Maltese Faulkner” Is the black bird a tortured symbol of Sam’s struggles with race and family? Does it signify his decay of soul along with the soul of the Old South? Is it merely a crow, mocking his attempts to understand? Or is it worth a cool mil? (Thad Humphries, Warrenton)
“The Silence of the Hams” In this endearing update of the Seuss classic, young Sam I Am presses unconventional foodstuffs on his friend, Hannibal, who turns the tables. (Mark Eckenwiler, Washington)
“Jane Eyre Jordan”: Plucky English orphan girl survives hardships to lead the Chicago Bulls to the NBA championship. (Dave Pickering, Bowie)
“Nicholas and Alexandra Nickleby” Having narrowly escaped a Bolshevik firing squad, the former czar and czarina join a troupe of actors only to find that playing the Palace isn’t as grand as living in it. (Sandra Hull, Arlington)
“Catch 22 in the Rye” Holden learns that if you’re insane, you’ll probably flunk out of prep school, but if you’re flunking out of prep school, you’re probably not insane. (Brendan Beary, Great Mills)
“Tarzan of the Grapes” The beleaguered Okies of the dust bowl are saved by a strong and brave savage who swings from grapevine to grapevine. (Joseph Romm, Washington)
“Where’s Walden?” Alas, the challenge of locating Henry David Thoreau in each richly detailed drawing loses its appeal when it quickly becomes clear that he is always in the woods. (Sandra Hull, Arlington)
“Looking for Mr. Godot” A young woman waits for Mr. Right to enter her life. She has a looong wait. (Jonathan Paul, Garrett Park)
“Rikki Kon Tiki Tavi” Thor Heyerdahl recounts his attempt to prove Rudyard Kipling’s theory that the mongoose first came to India on a raft from Polynesia. (David Laughton, Washington)
This exchange was shared with me on Facebook as a screen capture. I went digging and found the original post at the Tumblr of Iowa Rambler (systlin), followed up by a repost with a couple of comments at the Tumblr of assasue.
I present it here in slightly bowdlerized form for a family-friendly audience (my apologies to the original writers); if you don’t mind language you can follow the links above for the original text. Other than one small spelling correction for clarity, nothing has been changed.
Something I find incredibly cool is that they’ve found neandertal bone tools made from polished rib bones, and they couldn’t figure out what they were for for the life of them.
“Wait you’re still using the exact same thing 50,000 years later???”
“Well, yeah. We’ve tried other things. Metal scratches up and damages the hide. Wood splinters and wears out. Bone lasts forever and gives the best polish. There are new, cheaper plastic ones, but they crack and break after a couple years. A bone polisher is nearly indestructible, and only gets better with age. The more you use a bone polisher the better it works.”
50,000 years. 50,000. And over that huge arc of time, we’ve been quietly using the exact same thing, unchanged, because we simply haven’t found anything better to do the job.
i also like that this is a “ask craftspeople” thing, it reminds me of when art historians were all “what?” about someone’s ear “deformity” in a portrait and couldn’t work out what the symbolism was until someone who’d also worked as a piercer was like “uhm, he’s messed up a piercing there”. interdisciplinary stuff also needs to include non-academic approaches because crafts & trades people know things ok
One of my professors often tells us about a time he, as and Egyptian Archaeologist, came down upon a ring of bricks one brick high. In the middle of a house. He and his fellow researchers could not for the life of them figure out what it could possibly have been for. Until he decided to ask a laborer, who doesnt even speak English, what it was. The guy gestures for my prof to follow him, and shows him the same ring of bricks in a nearby modern house. Said ring is filled with baby chicks, while momma hen is out in the yard having a snack. The chicks can’t get over the single brick, but mom can step right over. Over 2000 years and their still corraling chicks with brick circles. If it aint broke, dont fix it and always ask the locals.
In James Thurbur’s miraculous foray into the realms of whimsical and linguistic fantasmagoria, The Thirteen Clocks, prince Zorn of Zorna and his unique companion, the Golux, are tasked by the Evil Duke of Coffin Castle to find a thousand jewels and return, all in the space of nine and ninety hours, in order to win the hand of the beautiful princess Saralinda.
Desperate, they seek out Hagga, who in exchange for saving the life of Good King Gwain of Yarrow, was blessed (or cursed) with the gift of weeping precious gems. When they find her, she’s all cried out; “Once I wept when maids were married underneath the April moon. I weep no more when maids are buried, even in the month of June.”
Unable to make her cry with his most tragic tales, the Golux tries another tack; he tells ridiculous stories to make her laugh, but all he gets for his trouble are rhinestones, pearls, and semiprecious gems. Nothing seemed to help, until “without a rhyme or reason, out of time and out of season, Hagga laughed and kept on laughing…and precious jewels twinkled down her cheek and sparkled on the floor.” “I wish that she had laughed,” the Golux sighed, “at something I had said.”
The heroes gathered up the gems and returned in time to save the princess from the salacious attentions of the evil Duke, but as they left, Hagga laughed and kept on laughing.
I get Hagga, I really do. I have a sense of humor that is bizarre, often sophomoric, and wildly mercurial. Sometimes I’ll encounter something in life that clamps my funny bone in the jaws of a bear trap and won’t let go, and heaven have mercy if it strikes when I’m in public. I recall being around 18 when Bored of the Rings by Harvard Lampoon was published; I had purchased it and was sitting in a Nedick’s in New York reading it, laughing so hard that I thought I’d either be thrown out or taken away by the men in the white coats. I’ve alluded to other instances here.
In keeping with the spirit of uncontrollable laughter, I present to you a series of cartoons, some print and some electronic, which have resulted in meltdowns of various levels over time. Many of you will think that these are impossibly stupid, and that’s just fine.
The Far Side by Gary Larson
Don Martin, cartoonist for Mad Magazine
Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
Garfield by Jim Davis
Broom Hilda by R. Myers
Overboard by Chip Dunham
Wildwood by Tom Spurgeon and Dan Wright
Rose is Rose by Pat Brady
Certainly there are other things in life that have made me laugh without being able to stop – I’m thinking of the baked-bean supper from “Blazing Saddles” (who doesn’t appreciate a good flatulence joke, really), the pie fight from “The Great Race,” and the feeding machine from Chaplin’s “Modern Times” – but these are the things that floated to the top while I contemplated this particular subject.
I hope you have things in your life that have done the same for you. Laughter, they say, is good for the soul.
I don’t get much spam these days with Gmail, their filters are pretty good at sifting out the chaff. But I still have an account with another provider that lets a few things through.
The first one I saw this week was the old “Nigerian Prince” ploy, it amazes me that people are still trying this one.
I am contacting you to see if we can make a business together, My names are Suvo sarkar the Chief Executive Director of Emirates NBD in United Arab Emirate U.A.E. I discovered a dormant account with a holding balance of US$63M in the bank where I am working in United Arab Emirate U.A.E, Actually I do not have to involve myself officially because of my job and position in the bank, but I know what will be required to release the fund to you as I will present you as next of kin to the inheritance. I know all about the depositor who has passed away leaving no beneficiary to the account he deposited the funds.
Please get back to indicate your interest so I can give you the full details of the transaction for us to commence immediately.
Best regards, Suvo Sarka
By now, everyone should know about this kind of thing – but just in case, this is 100% pure bull manure – there’s no money, you’re not next of kin, and if you respond, there will be “taxes,” “fees,” “bribes,” “administrative stamps,” and other things to be paid until you run out of money, time, or patience.
These people are criminals, thieves, bad actors with no conscience and no morals. Many of them justify their theft by saying to themselves, “The White Man plundered our country, it’s only fair to take their money.” Others are just evil men with no conscience. Do not interact with them.
The second scam, commonly known as “sextortion,” was more interesting, I had not seen one of these before.
From: nightmarе <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: <redacted> Subject: You are my viсtim.
Hi, my prey.
THIS IS MY LAST WARNING!
I write you because I put a virus on the web page with pornography which you have viewed. My trоjan caрtured аll your рrivate dаta аnd switсhed on yоur сamеrа whiсh rеcordеd thе act оf yоur solitаry sex. Just аfter thаt thе trоjаn saved your contact list. I will erаsе thе cоmрrоmising videо rесords аnd informаtiоn if you send me 750 USD in bitcoin. This is address fоr pаymеnt : 1PLtH8HPHQLboeFvrBN2XJPJz99TxayGCo I give you 30 hours after yоu opеn my mеssаgе fоr making thе payment. Аs sоon аs you reаd thе mеssаgе I’ll sеe it right аwаy. It is nоt nесessаry to tell me that yоu hаvе sеnt mоney to mе. This аddress is connectеd to yоu, my systеm will еrased autоmаticаlly after transfer соnfirmatiоn. If you nеed 48h just Opеn thе calculatоr on yоur desktор and press +++ If yоu don’t раy, I’ll send dirt tо all your contасts. Let me remind you-I sеe what you’re dоing! Yоu cаn visit thе policе officе but anybody cаn’t help you. If yоu try to dеceivе me , I’ll know it immediately! I dоn’t live in your cоuntry. So аnyоnе cаn not trаck my lосаtion еvеn fоr 9 mоnths. byе. Don’t fоrgеt аbоut the shame and tо ignorе, Your lifе сan be ruined.
This is sheer nonsense, blasted out to all and sundry with harvested or leaked emails in the hopes of catching a scared victim. Because some people do visit adult sites, and some people do have webcams, and it is possible for hackers to access these cameras remotely if people are foolish enough to download the appropriate malware.
I don’t have a webcam, I don’t visit adult sites, and my computer is well-protected against malware, so all his noise about trojans and “compromising video records” are nothing but lies.
Opening a calculator app and pressing “+++” could not possibly interact with an email program to let a scammer know that I needed 48 hours instead of 30 to send him his blackmail money.
You can go to https://bitcoinwhoswho.com/ and look up bitcoin addresses like the one the scammer lists above. According to the report generated, this particular address has been reported multiple times for fraudulent activity, always the same sextortion scam but often with varying messages
You have the last chance to save your social life – I am not kidding!! I give you the last 72 hours to make the payment before I send the video with your [indecent activity] to all your friends and associates. The last time you visited a erotic website with young Teens, you downloaded and installed the software I developed. My program has turned on your camera and recorded your [indecent activity] and the video you were watching. My software also downloaded all your email contact lists and a list of your Facebook friends. I have both the ‘Info.mp4’ with your [indecent activity] and a file with all your contacts on my hard drive. You are very perverted! If you want me to delete both files and keep your secret,you must send me Bitcoin payment. I give you the last 72 hours. If you don’t know how to send Bitcoins, visit Google. Send 2000 USD to this Bitcoin address immediately: 32u7BDdEb48LXNTDDTe9q9Nce5Z9QAJG1g (copy and paste) 1 BTC = 3470 USD right now, so send exactly 0.588241 BTC to the address above. Do not try to cheat me! As soon as you open this Email I will know you opened it. This Bitcoin address is linked to you only, so I will know if you sent the correct amount. When you pay in full, I will remove both files and deactivate my software. If you don’t send the payment, I will send your [perverted] video to ALL YOUR FRIENDS AND ASSOCIATES from your contact list I hacked. Here are the payment details again: Send 0.588241 BTC to this Bitcoin address: 32u7BDdEb48LXNTDDTe9q9Nce5Z9QAJG1g You can visit the police but nobody will help you. I know what I am doing. I don’t live in your country and I know how to stay anonymous. Don’t try to deceive me – I will know it immediately – my spy ware is recording all the websites you visit and all keys you press. If you do – I will send this ugly recording to everyone you know, including your family. Don’t cheat me! Don’t forget the shame and if you ignore this message your life will be ruined. I am waiting for your Bitcoin payment. Ma Anonymous Hacker
P.S. If you need more time to buy and send 0.588241 BTC, open your notepad and write ’48h plz’. I will consider giving you another 48 hours before I release the vid, but only when I really see you are struggling to buy bitcoin.
And one more:
From: nightmarе To: [redacted] Subject: You are my victim.
Dо nоt mind оn my illitеrасy, I am frоm China.
I uрlоаdеd thе mаliciоus рrоgram on your systеm. Sinсе thаt mоment I рilfеrеd аll рrivy bасkgrоund frоm yоur systеm. Аdditiоnally I have somе morе соmрromising evidеnсе. The mоst intеrеsting еvidenсе thаt I stоlе- its а videоtаpе with your [indecent activity]. I аdjustеd virus оn а роrn web sitе аnd аftеr yоu lоadеd it. Whеn yоu dесidеd with thе vidеo аnd tарpеd on a рlаy buttоn, my dеlеtеriоus sоft at оncе sеt up on your systеm. Аfter adjusting, yоur саmerа shoоt thе vidеоtаpе with your [indecent activity], in аdditiоn it saved рreсisеly thе рorn vidеo yоu were watching. In nеxt fеw dаys my mаlwаre cоllесtеd аll your sociаl and wоrk сontaсts. If yоu wаnt tо dеlеtе thе recоrds- pay mе 340 еuro in BTC(сryрtосurrenсy). I provide you my Btc number – 1JRMsH8xnm2Uk3XZQfS63woi4uFyM2gBLC Yоu hаvе 24 hours after rеаding. Whеn I gеt trаnsfer I will dеstrоy the videotaрe еvermоrе. If you need 50 hours just Open the calculator on your desktop and press +++ Оther way I will send thе tаpе to аll yоur cоlleaguеs and friеnds.
Again, these messages are sheer nonsense, but might well frighten some people into paying. The criminals who are perpetrating these scams are very evil. Never respond to them, never send any money to them.
Ransomware that encrypts your data is a different kind of beast, and it is more prevalent, and easier to be affected by even if you don’t visit infected websites. Don’t open attachments from unknown senders, regardless of how innocent or official they may look. Verify first.
This is an example of a ransomware scam:
From: “Troy Almaguer” <email@example.com> Subject: Wire Transfer To: <redacted>
Did you authorize a wire transfer to our accounts? We have acquired a sum of USD $2000,00 from your bank account and we do not understand what the funds are for. We do not have any purchases with your firm that we know about. So why are you generating settlements to us? Please see the attached remittance files and double check with your corporation and bank. Password is 1234
[Attached Document with clickable link]
It looks really official, and an administrator, or assistant, or secretary might be easily fooled into clicking on that innocent-looking attachment. Don’t ever do it, you’ll likely end up with all your data encrypted and no way to get it back unless you have robust backups.
There are a lot of scumbags out there. Be careful, practice safe computing, and don’t let the criminals win.
This image from the AP shows smoke rising over an Israeli airstrike in Gaza. Far better minds than mine have wrestled with the ongoing violence in the Middle East for lifetimes, so I’m not really qualified to make pronouncements as a political pundit. That said, a comment I saw over at reddit resonated loudly with me:
Hawkeye: War isn’t Hell. War is war, and Hell is Hell. And of the two, war is a lot worse.
Father Mulcahy: How do you figure, Hawkeye?
Hawkeye: Easy, Father. Tell me, who goes to Hell?
Father Mulcahy: Sinners, I believe.
Hawkeye: Exactly. There are no innocent bystanders in Hell. War is chock full of them – little kids, cripples, old ladies. In fact, except for some of the brass, almost everybody involved is an innocent bystander.
This conversation from M*A*S*H was probably contrived by a scriptwriter, but I’ve quoted Alan Alda before and it wouldn’t surprise me if he had come up with it himself or at least had input.
Gaza is home to 1.7 million people, living in ghetto-like conditions that are difficult to comprehend for anyone not living in a war zone.
Without any cognitive dissonance or hypocrisy, one can be completely in favor of Israel’s existence and security but still believe that the campaign of Palestinian suppression, ongoing settlement building in the West Bank, and the rejection of a two-state solution in the Middle East on the part of the Israeli government is inhuman and wrong. Sadly, voicing such an opinion almost always results in accusations of anti-semitism, but that can’t be helped.
Bibi Netanyahu has said:
“If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel’”
I think that’s completely accurate, but I also think that what is being perpetrated on the Palestinian people rises to the level of crimes against humanity, and somehow it has to stop.