Friday, September 26, 2008

Language Log Blogroll: A Follow-up

I mentioned here that I had suddenly experienced a rise in readership on my other blog, Logophilius, for no apparent reason. Well, I think I found the reason. Logophilius is now listed in the blogroll at Language Log, and some people who read that blog (and there are a large number of them) must have seen it and clicked over.

I hadn't noticed because I get their RSS feed in Outlook, and I rarely click over to the actual Language Log site anymore. But today I did.

I am honored to be included. But once again, this means that I need to keep up with posting.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Networks Get Smart

It's no secret that, instead of coming up with creative original ideas, TV and movie studios are clamoring to remake hit shows from the 70s and 80s. Underdog, Speed Racer, Get Smart, American Gladiators, Battlestar Galactica Knight Rider, etc.

Well, somebody finally got smart. Instead of putting out the money to create crappy remakes of old shows, someone finally decided to just re-release the old shows instead!

Over at NBC's Wayback Wednesday (, you can find episodes of The A-Team, the Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Rod Serling's Night Gallery, Buck Rogers, the original Battlestar Galactica, and a couple of shows I'm not interested in.

I thought it was just NBC, but WOOT!, CBS ( has The Twilight Zone (the original, with Rod Serling), MacGyver, the original Star Trek, Beauty and the Beast, and HOLY CRAP! MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE SHOW Twin Peaks!

Looks like FOX and ABC need to catch up...and I can just about get rid of my TV and live on my computer.

Monday, September 22, 2008

You Didn't Say What You Thought You Said

Without looking at your keyboard, can you figure out what's wrong with this statement:

Okay, so there is really more than one thing wrong with this statement — most notably the fact that someone would be making statements about their penis size in a public forum.

This was just too funny. I had to share.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Computers Launch World Domination Plan

Complicated, globally linked computer systems are supposed to be labor-saving devices. But at what cost?

Last week, I went through the Taco Bell drive through for a quick bite and ordered three supreme chicken soft tacos and a medium gluggable. I estimated that the bill would be around (but under) $8, considering I ordered four items, each of which costs less than $2. When I pulled around, my bill was up over $9. I questioned the woman in the window about it. Because "Chicken Soft Taco Supreme" isn't in their computer system, she punched up a fiesta soft taco, minus avocado sauce and fiesta salsa, plus sour cream and diced tomatoes. Each "additional" item cost me 30 cents per taco; but of course I didn't get any "discount" for removing items.

I argued with her a bit. It didn't make sense to me that one taco ought to cost 60 cents more than another with the same number of toppings, as if sour cream (plenty of cows in Indiana) is much more expensive than avocado sauce (plenty of avocados in Indiana?), and — more to the point — that diced tomatoes cost more than machine-processed salsa with multiple ingredients. In the end, she argued that she couldn't change the way the computer rang up the bill.

(To her benefit, I could tell she was frustrated, but she didn't lose her temper with me, and always kept smiling.)

Computers – 1; Humans – 0

Last Friday, I stopped in at Papa Murphy's Take-n-Bake Pizza. The sign out front advertised a large pepperoni pizza for $6.99. I ordered one half-pepperoni, half-cheese and one with pepperoni, chicken, and diced tomatoes (a great combination after I added diced garlic to it at home). The bill: $23 and change. I had been charged full price ($10.99) for the half-pepperoni pizza.

I asked him about this — after it was wrung up but before I signed the receipt — and was told that, because he had to ring it up with "special" toppings (as opposed to, I don't know, pushing the big red "Pepperoni Pizza" button), it wouldn't ring up as the special, so I had to pay full price.

That's right: I paid $4 to have half the pepperoni removed.

(Why didn't I just order a pepperoni pizza and move the toppings around when I got home? Hindsight being what it is, this is what I should have done. I very rarely order uncooked pizza, so I guess my pizza-ordering habits weren't quite ready to make the shift. Plus, I was so excited that they actually had chicken as a topping choice.)

Computers – 2; Humans – 0

Just now I went to Taco Bell again; this time I went inside. The customer in front of me ordered a simple lunch and gave the cashier his credit card. She ran it through the Credit card machine and waited. And waited. And waited. She ran it through again. More waiting. She ran it through the machine in the drive-through area. More waiting. Apparently, the credit card machine broke just before I got to order (I was paying with a credit card anyway). A couple of other people tried things, but nothing worked.

It must have been 10 minutes of waiting. Not until production slowed to halt — because no one else could order — did someone with some knowledge and authority assess the situation. Yup. It's broken. Cash only.

The guy in front of me and the people waiting in the drive-through got their food for free. I only had a little cash on me and ended up spending less than a third of what I had planned at Taco Bell. Production stopped, customers got frustrated, and Taco Bell lost money, all because one little piece of technology stopped working.

Computers – 3; Humans – 0

Keeping all this in mind makes me wonder if I really should be worried about the big atom smasher in Switzerland.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A New Face(book), and a Surprising Jump in Readership

On Sunday night, I finally opened a Facebook account. Why, after avoiding what will surely become another time sink for so long, did I finally decide to do it. Because I had a reason, for once. The Indiana Wind Symphony now has a Facebook page, and I figured I, as president, ought to be in there, too. (I didn't say it was a good reason.) There are probably a dozen or so other IWS members in there, too, that I've already "friended."

I don't know whether it's related, but this weekend saw a (for me) huge jump in readership on my other blog, Logophilius. I got five new comments from five new people in the last three days. I think that just about matches the number of comments I had gotten the entire year before that.

But, now that I know there are actually some people reading it, I'll have to actually update it more regularly. And I don't mean once-a-year regularly. I'll be happy with once a week.