Category Archives: Puns

Burning Man 2015 in Pictures LX: Graffiti at the Base of the Man, Part Three!

When we last saw our intrepid adventurers, they were investigating the ‘interesting’ keming present in the maze at the base of the Man. Today, we follow them as they enter a more disturbing part of the maze:

Important words to journey by.
Important words to journey by.
I'm not sure which is more disturbing: the writing or the words...
I’m not sure which is more disturbing: the writing or the words…
This was my favourite installation at the Ontario Science Centre 'A Question of Truth'.
This was my favourite installation at the Ontario Science Centre ‘A Question of Truth'[1].
Some directions.
Some directions.
First one to decode this message gets a prize!
First one to decode this message gets a prize!
:o
:o
The maze is at an end!  We have gazed up and beheld the Man!
The maze is at an end! We have gazed up and beheld the Man!
This was the most beautiful sound and visual installation, mixing paper with wood and organ music.  We wanted to stay here forever.
This was the most beautiful sound and visual installation, mixing paper with wood and organ music. We wanted to stay here forever.
The regional burns[2] were starting!  Time to get moving!
The regional burns[2] were starting! Time to get moving!

[1]Ontario Science Centre’s “A Question of Truth”, exploring subjectivity and other difficult topics far before it was customary to do so (IIRC, there was a large controversy over it, when it opened in the ’90s.)

[2]Saturday night was traditionally reserved for the Man burn, Sunday night for the Temple burn. Many people brought other installations to burn at the end of the festival, some of these were burned on Friday night. (In 2013, each or many of the regional Burns sent an installation to be burned on Friday night, hence it being known as the ‘regional burns’.)

Burning Man 2015 in Pictures LIX: Graffiti at the Base of the Man, Part Two!

When last we saw our heroes, they were exploring the maze-like structure under the Man, analyzing its graffiti and cataloguing its denizens.

Today, we catch up with them in media res, as they are analyzing some interesting keming[1][2]:

Excellent keming.  Or perhaps they are trying to say something else.
Excellent keming. Or perhaps they are trying to say something else.
POOKIE
POOKIE

As you shall see soon, our heroes took this advice to heart:

pookie
pookie
Chaton.
Chaton.
Let petit mots du chaton.
Let petit mots du chaton.
S is ecstatic to be communing with the flying elephant!
S is ecstatic to be communing with the flying elephant!

Here we see S taking the ‘make wolves[3]’ advice to heart:

Uh. Oh.  She sees her target!  <rawring noises and screams>
Uh. Oh. She sees her target!
Apt advice for certain experiences with fire art.
Apt advice for certain experiences with fire art.

Playa dust has so many uses!:

The respectful graffiti artist uses playa dust.
The respectful graffiti artist uses playa dust.

[1]Keming as expressed by reddit, and the appropriately named ‘flickyeahkeming’ picture blog. (Each of these is regularly nsfw for words.)

[2]Bad ‘Kerning’.

[3]I suspect this may be more of a coyote. Twice as dangerous, but not in any of the ways that you expect!

Burning Man in Pictures XLVI: The Fearsome Medusa!

In our last installment, our intrepid heroes had met a number of new metallic friends, and gone on myriad adventures with Claude, the dragon.

Today, we follow their adventures confronting the FEARSOME MEDUSA!

Our heroes approach…:

Off in the dusty distance...THE MEDUSA!
Off in the dusty distance…THE MEDUSA!

…and are almost transfixed:

M and S are almost transfixed.
M and S are almost transfixed.

But then S notices that one of the snakes is made out of stone:

S points out some important things.  "I think that snake may be made of stone."
S points out some important things. “I think that snake may be made of stone.”

And receives a whispered quest[1]. “Follow the bird car to the birds’ nest[2]. There you shall find what I seek.”:

Following the drop/bird car to an even more dangerous place...
Following the drop/bird car to an even more dangerous place…

As part of the quest, our intrepid heroes consulted with law enforcement:

An indication of how safe Burning Man is.
An indication of how safe Burning Man is.

And received directions from the BLM:

The Bureau of Land Management, masters of Leave No Trace.
The Bureau of Land Management, masters of Leave No Trace.

To meet the Skull Truck, but that’s another story[3]:

The Skull Truck, off in the distance.
The Skull Truck, off in the distance.

Eventually, after fulfilling their quest for the Medusa, they received directions to their next destination, an important Phage Display:

An important Phage Display.
An important Phage Display.

Next time, we see what the phage may be displaying. Stay tuned!

[1]Comment if you want to hear this story!

[2]Off in the distance, you can see a multi-headed beast that even medusae fear…Comment if you want to hear the story!

[3]See [1] and [2].

“Of All the Things I Miss, I Miss my Cache the Most.”

She was in the zone. It had taken two hours, half a RedBull (she would be paying for that later), and pissing off that guy who always seemed to want to talk longer than a conversation.

Free, flying through the code. There really was nothing like it.

She was working on a new DB caching layer for their server-side app. It was one of those ‘augmented reality’ games, but for corporate training. It still felt good to work on it though, to coerce the bits to bend to her will.

“Achievement Unlocked: You have met five new people in one day!”

Ugh. It sounded terrible, having to meet so many people all the time. To have to spend all that time and effort to convince them that the correct answer to a problem was, well, correct. If only they would just *see*.

But she had given up hope of being able to open peoples’ eyes. Give her code, or a nice juicy math problem, and she’d be content for hours, sometimes days.

*rumble* *rumble*

“Time to eat”, she thought to herself. She gets up, to go to the kitchen. Nyancore streams from her discarded headphones. As she turns, you can see the t-shirt she’s wearing says:

“Of all the things I miss, I miss my cache the most.”

She looks towards you and says “You can’t fault me for that.”

She laughs to herself and continues on her way.

No Basis for a System of Government!

ARTHUR: Old woman!
DENNIS: Man!
ARTHUR: Man, sorry. What knight lives in that castle over there?
DENNIS: I’m thirty seven.
ARTHUR: What?
DENNIS: I’m thirty seven — I’m not old!
ARTHUR: Well, I can’t just call you `Man’.
DENNIS: Well, you could say `Dennis’.

As you’re reading this, I will no longer be able to pretend to be Dennis in quite the same way.

I think I’m at peace with this (although it is really fun to be able to say those lines and have them ring truer than usual).

Speaking of being at peace with things, I wonder if meditation and relaxation can help you deal with nightmares.

Anyways, off to my day off. Enjoy the video!

[script link]

BrNegotiations

In my some recent posts, I’ve talked a little bit about the implications of the ‘Brexit’ vote, an what I thought the actual outcome would be (a re-negotiation of the EU-UK treaty/treaties).

It turns out that some other people have similar opinions:


Almost alone in continental Europe, Merkel tried to slow the rush to get Britain out of the EU door. Europe’s most powerful leader made clear she would not press Cameron after he indicated Britain would not seek formal exit negotiations until October at least.

“Quite honestly, it should not take ages, that is true, but I would not fight now for a short time frame,” Merkel told a news conference.

“The negotiations must take place in a businesslike, good climate,” she said. “Britain will remain a close partner, with which we are linked economically.”

Others say that Brexit is a warning, but not a catastrophe:


Brexit is a Bear Stearns moment, not a Lehman moment. That’s not to diminish what’s happening (markets felt like death in March, 2008), but this isn’t the event to make you run for the hills. Why not? Because it doesn’t directly crater the global currency system. It’s not too big of a shock for the central banks to control. It’s not a Humpty Dumpty event, where all the Fed’s horses and all the Fed’s men can’t glue the eggshell back together. But it is an event that forces investors to wake up and prepare their portfolios for the very real systemic risks ahead.

(For those of you who don’t know who Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers are, they were the two largest investment banks which fell because of Mortgage-Backed Securities during the 2007-08+ financial crisis.

Finally, for the most cogent response to this crisis, we turn to Chuck Tingle, and his most recent novel on just this subject:

Pounded By The Pound: Turned Gay By The Socioeconomic Implications Of Britain Leaving The European Union Kindle Edition[1]

[1]If you’re not sufficiently warned by the title of that novel, I don’t know what to tell you.

Burning Man in Pictures 2015 VI: First Day of Construction and a Slight Case of Sideways

After arriving the previous evening, it was time to start construction on Mirror Blaze!

Looking around our campsite, you can see all the empty space, soon to be filled by campers, art, and activities. Note that we were camped on the ‘Esplanade’ this year, the main ring road. This is the layout of our camp[0], which may help in understanding the next couple of pics:

'The Hive' placement plan, giving you an idea of how much pre-planning goes into building even a small part of this city.
‘The Hive’ placement plan, giving you an idea of how much pre-planning goes into building even a small part of this city.

All the space you see in this picture will be filled, even moreso than the rest of the festival:

Empty Campsites...but not for long...
Empty Campsites…but not for long…

You can also see the beginnings of (I think)[1] the metal and cloth ‘Kaos Maze’ being put together by our neighbours:

The beginnings of a metal-and-cloth maze put up by our neighbours.
The beginnings of a metal-and-cloth maze put up by our neighbours.

Here in the foreground, you can see part of the space which will become Mirror Blaze, in the background, you can see an example of the ‘anti-logo’ art prevalent here. (One of the ten principles is ‘de-commodification’, implemented here by covering or otherwise altering all visible logos on-site.):

In the foreground, some of the space which will become Mirror Blaze.  In the background, an example of the 'anti-logo' art prevalent here.
In the foreground, some of the space which will become Mirror Blaze. In the background, an example of the ‘anti-logo’ art prevalent here.

As we were still waiting for other members of the Charnival to assemble so we could finalize the overall layout, we decided to assemble the lifeguard chair[2] from the parts that Rob had kindly built for us. To do so, we consulted the picture that I had taken during construction and testing:

To construct a lifeguard chair, you must first invent the photograph.
To construct a lifeguard chair, you must first invent the photograph.

However, during construction, we noticed that even though we had assembled all of the pieces in order (including our intrepid heroine!), we had somehow developed a severe case of sideways:

A slight case of sideways.
A slight case of sideways.

We gathered some of our best experts to try to debug the slight case of sideways:

Debugging the slight case of sideways.
Debugging the slight case of sideways.

While pondering this problem, we were looking around the Charnival grounds, and saw the Man in the distance:

The Man, in the distance, as seen from the Charnival grounds.
The Man, in the distance, as seen from the Charnival grounds.

Thinking that visiting and communing might help us solve the problem, we decided to venture forth:

We bravely venture forth, in search of answers to sideways...
We bravely venture forth, in search of answers to sideways…

Along the way, we saw a variable forklift, and decided (using the Dirk Gently Navigation Method) that we should follow them:

A variable forklift?  Complete with chase group?
A variable forklift? Complete with chase group?

What happened next? Tune in tomorrow!

[0]Would you believe it wasn’t until after the event, when I was looking at this picture that I finally put together ‘The Hive’ and ‘Full of Bees’?

[1]Sadly, we never fully investigated it, being too busy doing setup and running our installation.

[2]It sits outside Mirror Blaze so we can sit up top and see inside to make sure everyone is okay.

How do You Think Before You Speak?

I’ve talked a lot about the speed involved and possibly required for retorts and humour, but not all conversation is retorts and counter-retorts[1].

For example, you’re giving a speech or lesson, and someone asks you a question. Many of the same tactics are helpful. It’s helpful to know your audience, to have an idea of their background(s), which types of words will work best for explaining things, and to have an idea of what they perceive the relative level of hierarchy is between you and them.

But once you have an idea of these things, what do you do?

This trigger for this post was an article reporting on Jon Stewart talking about how Hillary Clinton pauses for a few seconds between a question and when she answers[2]:


…“It’s — look, there are politicians who are either rendering their inauthenticity in real enough time to appear authentic, and then their are politicians who render their inauthenticity through — it’s like, when your computer … if you have a Mac and you want to play a Microsoft game on it …”

AXELROD: Yes, yes.

STEWART: … and there’s that weird lag.

AXELROD: Yes. No, I mean …

STEWART: That’s Hillary Clinton.

AXELROD: … that’s a big problem. There’s like a seven-second delay and all the words come out in a perfectly …

STEWART: Right.

AXELROD: … politically calibrated sentence.

STEWART: Right. Now, what gives me hope in that is that there’s a delay, which means she’s somehow fighting something. I’ve seen politicians who don’t have that delay and render their inauthenticity in real time, and that’s when you go, ‘That’s a sociopath.’

So, when you’re answering a difficult question, do you pause? Why? For how long?

For me, it depends on the type of question. For emotionally difficult questions, some of it is finding a neutral[3] perspective from which to address the question, to speak to the person(s) asking the question in a positive and useful way. Sometimes it’s choosing the appropriate emotional outlet[4] for whatever I’m feeling at the time.

For technically difficult questions, it feels much more like assembling a mental model in my head, or choosing between different visualizations/places to start. Parts of this can feel similar to emotionally difficult questions (perspectives vs. visualizations), but to me they feel quite different[5].

So, how does this work for you?

[1]No matter how much bash.org would want you to think so. (Note that outside that page, bash.org is quite unfiltered internet. You have been warned.)

[2] Article is here. In a footnote because the editorializing in the article is outside the scope of this post.

[3]In the emotional perspective sense.

[4]This is often laughter for later when I’m alone. I mean, really, we’re just ape-like creatures who don’t know the first thing about ourselves. Why are we getting all angry about minutiae? This can only be funny.

[5]Now that I say this, I’ll have to watch next time. But something getting my back[6] up really feels different from trying to focus and assemble a visualization. Maybe being able to relax for all types of questions would make them more similar.

[6]Back hackles?

The Name’s the Thing

Last week, I was talking with D, and he mentioned that the name of this blog ‘Sometimes Egregious, Always Gregarious’, because the words are more complex than necessary, because many people don’t know what ‘egregious’ means[1], might turn people away[2], and thus be unduly limiting. In a way, it might act as a filter on those who might read it.

I responded that I don’t see it that way at all. I chose those words because they seemed to fit, and when I looked back, I could find many reasons why that was so[3].

Some might say that my entire blog is itself a filter, and I’m the only one that would enjoy it in its entirety. I am at peace with this notion. At the moment, I’m writing the things that I want to write that I think people might be interested in. Sometimes I’m wrong, sometimes it’s a completely different audience than the previous post.

At the same time, I use the words that flow naturally when I’m talking about a particular topic. As when I’m teaching, I try to notice when I’m talking about something when not everyone would have the appropriate background, and I’m sure jargon will creep in, as it’s useful for being precise and concise. (Also, I love big words, I love the sound and taste of them, and I could never fully give them up.)

[1]Interesting that ‘gregarious’ is considered much more common. They seem pretty similar to me, but what do I know?

[2]Also, ‘‘ feels easy to me, but I realize many people read on mobile.

[3]I’m also really enjoying having some of these thoughts I’ve had kicking around in my head now in blog posts, so that I can refer to them as a link rather than having to write them out each time.

Numerical Jokes

So, a person walks in to a bar. As they enter, someone up on stage says ‘one hundred and fourty seven’, and the whole bar erupts with laughter.

The person walks over to the bartender and asks ‘What are they doing? Why did everyone laugh just then?’

The bartender says ‘Well, a few years ago, they realized that they were just telling the same jokes over and over again, so they wrote them all down and assigned numbers to them. Saves a lot of time.’

‘Oh! Let me try!’

The person runs up on stage, and yells ‘Fifty-two!’. Dead silence. ‘Fifty two?’ Dead silence. They disconsolately walk off the stage and back to the bar. The bartender says ‘It’s alright.’

‘What did I do wrong?’

‘Just watch.’

A person from the crowd, a regular it would seem, walks up onto the stage. ‘Fifty two.’

The crowd erupts with laughter again.

‘What? Why did that work?’

‘Well, it’s all in how you tell a joke.’

Then a different person comes out of the crowd, and walks slowly up to the stage. They pause for a while, and then say ‘One thousand, two hundred and seventeen.’

There is a pause. Another pause. Then one person starts laughing, then another, soon the whole bar is laughing.

‘What did they just do? Why did the crowd react like that?’

‘That was one they hadn’t heard before.’

Notes: I think I heard this one from my dad for the first time when I was very young. I’ve always enjoyed it. It felt difficult to ambiguate the gender of the participants, but it felt necessary. I think there are two endings above, everything after ‘it’s all in how you tell a joke’ is an alternate ending, but I enjoy the whole thing together, if only because you get to surprise people twice.