log (2008/02/29 to 2008/03/07)

Phrase o' the Day: "perfect storm".

Prior to 1991 this was a relatively rare expression, formed more or less by accident when "perfect" was used as an intensifier on "storm", as in "a perfect storm of bullets".

In 1991, the phrase passed into meteorological idiom, and perhaps briefly into the public mind, when someone in the weather biz apparently used it to describe an especially nasty nor'easter that hit North America around Hallowe'en; the phrase implied that some significant number of rare things had all come into play at the same time, resulting in a "perfect" storm-thing.

This phrase was embedded into popular culture in 1997, when Sabastian Junger's book "The Perfect Storm", about that same nor'easter, was published. Lots of people read the book, lots more people heard about the book, and "perfect storm" became a common phrase for any situation (usually a bad one) where various factors coincide to produce an unusual result of some sort.

It's been a bit over a decade since then, and today the phrase means that the writer (usually a copywriter) couldn't think of a significant noun phrase, and deadline was approaching, so he stuck in "perfect storm" 'cause it sounds sort of poetic.

Word o' the Day: dord. It means "density" (sort of). Use it often!

Wiki o' the Day: Wikileaks. What an inneresting concept! I had no idea.

And finally, Little Daughter News o' the Day: she got her first college acceptance letter! Woooot! It's to one of her safeties, but still; it's a nice thing to hold in one's hand. (Not that I have yet; she seems to have left it over at a friend's house, hahaha.)

RIP Gary Gygax.

Without looking it up to see what the community thinks, my memory tells it this way: Gary Gygax and some other guy had a relatively obscure set of one or two semi-professional hobbyist books having to do with miniatures-based warmgaming: a handful of geeks here and there would use the rules in these books to stage battles between squads of medieval knights armed with swords and morningstars and so on, moving little pewter figures around on graph paper or whatever like the crazy old dude in "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" (wasn't it?).

In one of these books, called "Chainmail", there was a sort of wild afterthought appendix that talked about incorporating some (haha) "magic spells" into this kind of wargaming. The appendix was unexpectedly popular (like, I'm guessing, they actually got some mail about it or something), so they expanded it slightly into a thin and still semi-professional hobbyist book called "Men and Magic". And then the whole thing sort of exploded.

In the Princeton Simulation Games Union, us d'n'd geeks had a certain amount of official scorn for the original "Gygax" rules. We'd mostly all made up our own that we liked better, that included dice with more sides, smoother binomial distributions, schools of magic and pantheons and skill ladders that displayed various sorts of geekily pleasing symmetry. But still, however full of our own innovations we got, we always knew that Gygax and that other guy were behind it all, and as much as we scorned the official TSR rulebooks for most purposes, there was always a copy of "Men and Magic", and for that matter even "Chainmail", lying around somewhere...


I was thinking of embedding some of these newfangled video things right here inline in the page, like shiny modern XXIst centurty weblogs do, but I decided that was too scary.

Rats laugh when you tickle them! Really. I swear. And they're cute, too.

Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 2008 Election Early. I know, I know, widely cited a long time ago. But I haven't been reading weblogs much, and I didn't even know The Onion had a video news service.

And speaking of our shadowy overlords, this "Evolution" film from the yummy Dove Campaign for Real Beauty illustrates how our shadowy alien overlords are preparing us for the coming of the stretch-necked, slope-shouldered, huge-eyed plastic-skinned occupying force. Worth watching.


Polish teen derails tram after hacking train network, where "hacking" consists of "sort of looking at for awhile and then reprogramming a TV remote control so as to be able to use the city's tram system as a sort of giant train set".

Who would have thought that the public transit control system required some kind of security or something?

(This from the veracode weblog, which seems worth a look now an' then.)

And a couple more links to more detailed NANOG information about that little prank where Pakistan deprived the world of YouTube (including, presumably, the giggling rats) the other day.


Thanks to presumably Daniel (who is hereby requested to tell Sarah that she is omg gorgeous) we find that the venerable Language Log has noticed (and in fact quoted in its entirety) our little microfiction from the other day.


(Called it "ultimate", too, heh heh heh.)

And from there we get to here, which lets us close tonight's entry by urging the reader to Google upon, or at least repeat frequently to emself, the words "hanpenis" and "enbreasties" (or my own personal favorite variant, "enbrestled".