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"Seven years and six months!" Humpty Dumpty repeated
thoughtfully. "An uncomfortable sort of age. Now if you'd asked MY
advice, I'd have said `Leave off at seven' -- but it's too late now."
"I never ask advice about growing," Alice said indignantly.
"Too proud?" the other enquired.
Alice felt even more indignant at this suggestion. "I mean,"
she said, "that one can't help growing older."
"ONE can't, perhaps," said Humpty Dumpty; "but TWO can. With
proper assistance, you might have left off at seven."
-- Lewis Carroll
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So Richard and I decided to try to catch [the small shark].
With a great deal of strategy and effort and shouting, we managed to
maneuver the shark, over the course of about a half-hour, to a sort of
corner of the lagoon, so that it had no way to escape other than to
flop up onto the land and evolve. Richard and I were inching toward
it, sort of crouched over, when all of a sudden it turned around and --
I can still remember the sensation I felt at that moment, primarily in
the armpit area -- headed right straight toward us.
Many people would have panicked at this point. But Richard and
I were not "many people." We were experienced waders, and we kept our
heads. We did exactly what the textbook says you should do when you're
unarmed and a shark that is nearly two feet long turns on you in water
up to your lower calves: We sprinted I would say 600 yards in the
opposite direction, using a sprinting style such that the bottoms of
our feet never once went below the surface of the water. We ran all
the way to the far shore, and if we had been in a Warner Brothers
cartoon we would have run right INTO the beach, and you would have seen
these two mounds of sand racing across the island until they bonked
into trees and coconuts fell onto their heads.
-- Dave Barry, "The Wonders of Sharks on TV"
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"The Good Ship Enterprise" (to the tune of "The Good Ship Lollipop")
On the good ship Enterprise
Every week there's a new surprise
Where the Romulans lurk
And the Klingons often go berserk.
Yes, the good ship Enterprise
There's excitement anywhere it flies
Where Tribbles play
And Nurse Chapel never gets her way.
See Captain Kirk standing on the bridge,
Mr. Spock is at his side.
The weekly menace, ooh-ooh
It gets fried, scattered far and wide.
It's the good ship Enterprise
Heading out where danger lies
And you live in dread
If you're wearing a shirt that's red.
-- Doris Robin and Karen Trimble of The L.A. Filkharmonics
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THE LESSER-KNOWN PROGRAMMING LANGUAGES #10: SIMPLE
SIMPLE is an acronym for Sheer Idiot's Monopurpose Programming Language
Environment. This language, developed at the Hanover College for
Technological Misfits, was designed to make it impossible to write code
with errors in it. The statements are, therefore, confined to BEGIN,
END and STOP. No matter how you arrange the statements, you can't make
a syntax error. Programs written in SIMPLE do nothing useful. Thus
they achieve the results of programs written in other languages without
the tedious, frustrating process of testing and debugging.
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THE LESSER-KNOWN PROGRAMMING LANGUAGES #12: LITHP
This otherwise unremarkable language is distinguished by the absence of
an "S" in its character set; users must substitute "TH". LITHP is said
to be useful in protheththing lithtth.
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THE LESSER-KNOWN PROGRAMMING LANGUAGES #13: SLOBOL
SLOBOL is best known for the speed, or lack of it, of its compiler.
Although many compilers allow you to take a coffee break while they
compile, SLOBOL compilers allow you to travel to Bolivia to pick the
coffee. Forty-three programmers are known to have died of boredom
sitting at their terminals while waiting for a SLOBOL program to
compile. Weary SLOBOL programmers often turn to a related (but
infinitely faster) language, COCAINE.
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THE LESSER-KNOWN PROGRAMMING LANGUAGES #17: SARTRE
Named after the late existential philosopher, SARTRE is an extremely
unstructured language. Statements in SARTRE have no purpose; they just
are. Thus SARTRE programs are left to define their own functions.
SARTRE programmers tend to be boring and depressed, and are no fun at
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THE LESSER-KNOWN PROGRAMMING LANGUAGES #18: C-
This language was named for the grade received by its creator when he
submitted it as a class project in a graduate programming class. C- is
best described as a "low-level" programming language. In fact, the
language generally requires more C- statements than machine-code
statements to execute a given task. In this respect, it is very
similar to COBOL.
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THE LESSER-KNOWN PROGRAMMING LANGUAGES #18a: FIFTH
FIFTH is a precision mathematical language in which the data types
refer to quantity. The data types range from CC, OUNCE, SHOT, and
JIGGER to FIFTH (hence the name of the language), LITER, MAGNUM and
BLOTTO. Commands refer to ingredients such as CHABLIS, CHARDONNAY,
CABERNET, GIN, VERMOUTH, VODKA, SCOTCH, and WHATEVERSAROUND.
The many versions of the FIFTH language reflect the sophistication and
financial status of its users. Commands in the ELITE dialect include
VSOP and LAFITE, while commands in the GUTTER dialect include HOOTCH
and RIPPLE. The latter is a favorite of frustrated FORTH programmers
who end up using this language.
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THE LESSER-KNOWN PROGRAMMING LANGUAGES #2: RENE
Named after the famous French philosopher and mathematician Rene
DesCartes, RENE is a language used for artificial intelligence. The
language is being developed at the Chicago Center of Machine Politics
and Programming under a grant from the Jane Byrne Victory Fund. A
spokesman described the language as "Just as great as dis [sic] city of
The center is very pleased with progress to date. They say they have
almost succeeded in getting a VAX to think. However, sources inside the
organization say that each time the machine fails to think it ceases to