The Linux Launderette Runoff


(?)Ben's clone
(?)St. Brendan
(?)Another cracker caught in the act
(?)British songs
(?)Cyrillic to Latin
(?)Python vs. Perl
(?)Sound disappearing with KDE upgrade

(?) Quotes

From Jimmy O'Regan

Then he got a look on his face as if he were thinking. Daniel had learned, in his almost seventy years, not to expect much of people who got such looks, because thinking really was something one aught to do all the time.
-- Neal Stephenson, "The System of the World"
The rest was easy. (I'm speaking relatively here, of course - relative to a week ago, when all I had to worry about was what I was going to read on the toilet and which can of soup to open for supper, it was the seventh circle of hell.)
"A Friend of the Earth", T.C. Boyle
Because what I'm feeling is gratitude, what I'm feeling is an affection so deep for this big-shouldered oblivious old lady in the bed at my feet that it's verging dangerously close to love, and beyond love, to forgiveness and even - dare I say it? - bliss. I'm in love all over again. I am. Standing there in the dark, the silence so profound it's beating in my veins with an unconquerable force, the force of life undenied and lived right on down to the last tooth in the last head, I'm almost sure of it. On the other hand, it could just be indigestion.
"A Friend of the Earth", T.C. Boyle

(?) PWNtcha

From Jimmy O'Regan

We had a discussion a while back about captchas. Here's a page about a program that breaks quite a few of them:

(?) Ben's clone

From Jimmy O'Regan

(!) [Jimmy]
> l Bei Okopnik * Editor-in-Chief, Linux Gazette * *
Did this come from one of your army of clones? :)
(!) [Ben] Yah, it's that Turkish guy - Bey Okopnik. He keeps waving that big sword around, so we've, ahem, cut all relations due to their edgy nature...
(!) [Jimmy] "He expanded his chest to make it totally clear that here was the sort of man you only dared to cross if you had a team of Sherpas with you."

(?) OpenBRR

From Jimmy O'Regan


Business Readiness Ratings (BRR) is being proposed as a new standard model for rating open source software. It is intended to enable the entire community (enterprise adopters and developers) to rate software in an open and standardized way. BRR is a community initiative that is being sponsored by Carnegie Mellon West Center for Open Source Investigation, O'Reilly CodeZoo, SpikeSource and Intel. Phase one is a public comment period. We are asking the community to provide feedback and help shape this standard to make it useful to both enterprise adopters and open source developers.


(?) St. Brendan

From Jimmy O'Regan


St. Brendan was, if the stories are true (and if you think they're not, I suggest you have some more whisky until you do), the first person to reach the Western Hemisphere from Europe in the sixth century (well before that other guy whose Day we celebrate merely for doing it a thousand years later), traveling west in a hide boat from Ireland. He is the patron saint of navigators, and with the right PR behind him might well have become the patron saint of the internet ...


(!) [Rick] Deirdre and I are now equipped to perform this important task, thanks to purchase of some Tullamore Dew on Saturday in, of all places, Glasgow. It is averred that such is not ordinarily imported into the USA, owing perhaps to the relative rarety of the likes of Brendan the Navigator in these impoverished times.
I personally have no taste for the aforementioned water of life, but I can use Deirdre as my interpreter. (I gather that the message comes through more clearly than with Bushmills or Jameson, but I don't quaff those, either.)

(?) Everyone in Ireland is indoctrinated with this legend. For those of you who weren't:


In 1977, adventurer, author and filmmaker, Tim Severin constructed a boat fashioned from oxhides stretched over a wooden frame, and based on 6th century designs and materials. He sailed from Brandon Creek on Ireland's Dingle Peninsula to Newfoundland to prove that it was possible for Brendan the Navigator (see below) to have made his voyage.


The medieval legend of Saint Brendan the Navigator claims that an Irish monk and a few companions crossed the Atlantic in a leather boat to a "blessed land" of many wonders. A 1977 Expedition (National Geographic Volume 152, Number 6 - December 1977) has reenacted this crossing in a leather boat thereby proving the feasibility of such a voyage.


The boat used in the 1977 voyage is kept at Craggaunowen (, which also features a replica crannog (artificial fort the Celts used to build in lakes[1]) as well as other examples of how life in Celtic Ireland is assumed to have been.

[1] It's speculated that the pathways to these forts were hidden underwater, and twisted and turned in ways only known to the inhabitants, to slow down invaders (though I prefer to think it was so those who couldn't make it to the pub could laugh at those who could)

(!) [Ben] Excellent book, that; I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoyed Heyerdahl's "Kon-Tiki" or other tales of exploration. Great story, huge loads of fun, and proves a theory as well. What's not to like?

(?) Userfriendly

From Jimmy O'Regan

(Forgive the tardiness of this email, but I'm on 'holiday' and have only recently found an internet cafe)

(!) [Sluggo] Are you travelling? Where?

(?) My son's mother went on a holiday and couldn't take him, and decreed that I should take him on holiday instead[1], and that since he so enjoyed my parent's winnebago, that such would be his holiday. Not a holiday I would have chosen, but it turned out OK in the end[2]. We went to Banna and Castle Gregory in Kerry, and ended up with a day in Limerick while my Dad underwent dialysis.

[1] Sure, it's reasonable to expect me to take him on a holiday, but not to follow her method of planning the joy out of everything or face emotional blackmail.

[2] After I found Castle Gregory village. Though the pub and internet cafe was bonuses, I mainly enjoyed the fact that there were people around.

(!) [Brian] Cartoons. Sigh. No point looking for the actual bounty page, then, I take it? I'd expect such a thing to be prominently visible on GrokLaw, I suppose.

(?) Another cracker caught in the act

From Sluggo

Excerpts from my system log:
Aug 12 19:26:06 [sshd] Invalid user shell from
Aug 12 19:26:09 [sshd] Invalid user print from
Aug 12 19:26:13 [sshd] Invalid user get from
Aug 12 19:26:17 [sshd] Invalid user hk from
Aug 12 19:26:23 [sshd] Invalid user pl from
Aug 12 19:26:44 [sshd] Invalid user haxor from
Aug 12 19:26:47 [sshd] Invalid user hacker from
Aug 12 19:26:51 [sshd] Invalid user max from
Aug 12 19:27:00 [sshd] Invalid user stan from
Aug 12 19:27:42 [sshd] Invalid user sex from

Aug 13 20:43:40 [sshd] Invalid user ahmed from
Aug 13 20:43:41 [sshd] Invalid user albert from
Aug 13 20:43:43 [sshd] Invalid user alberto from
Aug 13 20:43:45 [sshd] Invalid user alex from
Aug 13 20:43:47 [sshd] Invalid user alfred from
Aug 13 20:43:48 [sshd] Invalid user ali from
Aug 13 20:43:50 [sshd] Invalid user alice from

Aug 14 01:14:29 [sshd] Invalid user test from
Aug 14 01:14:31 [sshd] Invalid user tester from

Aug 14 01:13:48 [sshd] Invalid user user1 from
Aug 14 01:13:50 [sshd] Invalid user user2 from
Aug 14 01:13:51 [sshd] Invalid user user1 from
Aug 14 01:13:53 [sshd] Invalid user sales from
Aug 14 01:13:55 [sshd] Invalid user show from
Aug 14 01:13:56 [sshd] Invalid user media from
Aug 14 01:13:58 [sshd] Invalid user rob from
Aug 14 01:13:59 [sshd] Invalid user portal from

Aug 12 16:02:35 [sshd] Invalid user deborah from
Aug 12 16:02:37 [sshd] Invalid user a from
Aug 12 16:02:37 [sshd] reverse mapping checking getaddrinfo for failed - POSSIBLE BREAKIN ATTEMPT!
Aug 12 16:02:37 [sshd] Invalid user deborah from
                - Last output repeated twice -
Aug 12 16:02:39 [sshd] Invalid user shadow from
Aug 12 16:02:39 [sshd] reverse mapping checking getaddrinfo for failed - POSSIBLE BREAKIN ATTEMPT!
Aug 12 16:02:41 [sshd] Invalid user cynthia from
Aug 12 16:02:41 [sshd] Invalid user shadow123 from
Aug 12 16:02:41 [sshd] reverse mapping checking getaddrinfo for failed - POSSIBLE BREAKIN ATTEMPT!
Stupid program, keeps trying the same users after they fail.
The log also shows different IPs trying the same series of names on different days.
Aug 14 18:30:47 [named] lame server resolving
'' (in ''?):
Aug 14 18:30:47 [named] lame server resolving
'' (in ''?):
Aug 14 18:30:47 [named] lame server resolving
'' (in ''?):
(!) [Rick] Yes, but they make it up in volume.
When you have tens of thousands of zombie machine hammering away at other people's security, and thus are wasting only other people's machine resources, there's not a lot of incentive to be efficient or clever.

(?) British songs

From Sluggo

Thomas, since you said High Maintenance Bitch is "so American", here's something that's "so British".
(!) [Jay] What, you don't think "Alice" is "so British"? :-)
(!) [Jimmy] Alice?
(!) [Jay] Not the band, the song.
"Alice? Who the $%^& is Alice?"
(!) [Jimmy] Oh. I thought that was Smokie?
(!) [Jimmy] Yep: Smokie, "Living Next Door to Alice", 1976.

(?) Alice is one of their songs? I've never heard their stuff except that song. Too many bands, not enough time or money....

Here's one for Ben. I went to a boxing/kickboxing tournament tonight, and there was a Russian fighter. It was in the suburb where I grew up, but I'd forgotten how many Russians had moved in after I left, or how many go to this particular event ("Ring Sports United"). There were two guys at his corner, who might have been his older brother and his father. The one guy was jumping up and down shouting at him, "Pobol'she, pobol'she! Davay! Yescho, yescho!" (I'll let Jimmy figure those out, but they all more or less mean, "More!") I hadn't heard "bol'she" with a "po" in front of it before.

(!) [Ben] It's an "additional imperative/superlative" kind of thing (I'm obviously not a semanticist or a linguist - this is just the water I swim in.) Making the word longer gives it additional emphasis - just like the "baaa-leen!" that you mention later. However, "pobol'she" is actually official usage; I haven't looked at Dal' or anything like that, but it's got to be in the dictionary (possibly as "somewhat more/bigger", as contrasted against "bol'she" (more/bigger).) The way it was being used, though, is somewhat slangy.

Jimmy, does Polish have a word like "Davay!"? It literally means "Give!" but people use it to mean "Keep going! You're doing good!" One of the most interesting aspects of Russian.

(!) [Jimmy] Yes. Dawa[c with an acute] is the verb "to give". 'Dawaj' is the imperative, and I think it's used in the same way (or, at least, that would explain a bit :)

(?) Then when somebody loses a goal they shout, "Pah-LEEN!", which I'm told is supposed to be "blin" (pancake).

(!) [Ben] "Blin" is a minced oath for "blyad'".

(?) And everyone makes a "dzhzh" sound when they punch something, even girls with no boxing experience. Then there's the guestures that go with certain words. Whenever somebody says "pit'" (drink), they tap their throat.

(!) [Ben] Not everybody, certainly; that's generally a sign of a serious drinker or an alcoholic. Usually, you just look at somebody and sort of bend your head to the side, kinda like "let's go" in the US (actually, it's also used for "let's go" in Russia - it's just that "let's go" has a few additional meanings. :)

(?) Maybe just when it involves alcohol.

(!) [Jimmy] Palm pointing inwards with fingers at 90 degrees? When the Polish guys do that, it means vodka, specifically. (And flicking your throat means whoever you've just been talking about is an alcoholic).
(!) [Ben] Yep, ditto in Russia. There's a way of making a hollow sound by flicking your throat, and that's the "alcoholic" thing. It can also be used to say "let's go" (v2.0).

(?) And when you say someone/something is crazy, you point your finger at the side of your head and turn it like a screw.

(!) [Jimmy] Yeah, that's a Polish gesture too.

(?) "Soshyol s uma" and "sumasoshedshiy" mean crazy,

(!) [Ben] The last is written and pronounced "suma_s_sh_edshiy" as one word. Mind you, you could break it out into the individual pieces (as any portmanteau word can be), but you'll get a look that says you're, well, that.

(?) but I think there was another word too that I've forgotten.

(!) [Ben] There are lots - most of them considered improper for polite company.

(?) I kept watching people whenever they said those words to see if they'd make the gesture and they always did. I don't know why.

(!) [Ben] It's a warding sign. Most people do it without knowing why; the folks in the villages know exactly why they're doing it.

(?) Then for "Wow!" there's "Ni figa sebe!" (not a fig to itself) and its euphamism "nichevo sebe!" (nothing to itself) and its anti-euphamism "ni khuya sebe!" (not a dick to itself). Wherever those came from.

(!) [Ben] Translate "what the fuck" or "that was some crazy shit" into another language, please. :) Colloquials are non-portable.
(!) [Jimmy] Heh. If you just modified for spelling and sound changes in Polish, I think all of those sentences would work: "Nie figa siebie", "Nikogo siebie", "Nie chuya siebie". (Though my grammar is terrible :)
(!) [Jimmy] Erm... I meant "Nie chuja siebie" there. "chuya" would sound like a hiccough :)

(?) The Toy Dolls, "Nellie the Elephant", from the Punk University 2 comp: a 1970s punk song that sounds like it came out of Mary Poppins or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or I don't remember what. The blurb on the CD calls it a fairy-tale style and says it also resembles football chants, not that I can recognize those. It's about a trained elephant at a circus that escapes to the jungle, "Off she run with a choppity-chop, chop chop chop!"

(!) [Jimmy] "The head of the herd was calling from far, far away. They met one night in the silvery light on the road to Mandalay"

(?) Curious if you've ever heard this before, Thomas.

(!) [Jimmy] It occurred to me last night at work that that's one of the songs my mother used to sing to me when I was a sprog. (That, "Yellow Submarine", and "La Bamba"). I think it was inevitable that I'd be drawn to the louder end of music, especially since I remember the first song(/video) that made my jaw drop was "Bohemian Rhapsody", when I was 4 or 5 (I was waiting to watch the premiere of Michael Jackson's "Thiller" video (hey, I was 4 or 5), which left me with nightmares for weeks after (hey, I was 4 or 5 :))

(?) Is there a program like the GIMP for sound files, if you want to crop everything around a certain section? Something that doesn't require guessing the sound from waveforms or playing it sloooowly?

(!) [Jay] Audacity, and probably half a dozen others. But I'm not sure how you would set your cut points, if not one of those two ways.
(!) [Jimmy] As Jay mentioned, Audacity. It gives you a timeline and you can change the 'zoom' level along the time line for finer selections. You can set marks, and perform your modifications within these. If you're just cropping, it's even easier: select a wider area (pressing 'play' will

(?) Cyrillic to Latin

From Jimmy O'Regan

This is mainly for Ben to look over, but I've started learning Russian and whipped up a silly script to help me learn to read Cyrillic.

It follows the rules in "Teach Yourself Russian Grammar" (typical that the grammar book would arrive before the beginner's book), but I'm sure it's wrong in at least one place: the book says the Cyrillic 'o' is 'o' (and not 'a') in monosyllabic words, but I'm pretty sure that doesn't count for prepositions.

See attached

(!) [Sluggo] The Russian letter o is pronounced oh when stressed and ah when not. It's oh in all the one-syllable words I can think of. It's normally left as o when Anglicizing, unless you really really want to track the pronounciation.

(?) "Ya nye gavareetya pa Russki" is the example I had in mind.

(!) [Sluggo] That would be short (ah sound).
Ya nye gavaryu pa-russki. (I don't speak Russian.)
(!) [Ben] "govoryu". I think you're starting to confuse pronunciation with orthography, Mike. :)
(!) [Sluggo] Jimmy spelled "pa", so I thought he wanted a pronounciation-spelling.

(?) I went with a pronunciation spelling because that's how it appeared in a little phrase book I have. Y'know... one of those phrasebooks that gives approximate pronunciations that aren't worth a damn.

(?) Damn. Thought I'd remembered that one correcly. At least the mistake would serve as emphasis :)

(!) [Sluggo] Ya nye gavarYU pa-RUSSki.
The hyphen is necessary because it's a special adverb. Otherwise it would be "pa russkomu", but that would mean:


Pogoda plokhaya po russkomy. (The weather is bad according to the Russian man.)
Liliputantsy idut po Gullivery. (The Lilliputians walk along Gulliver.)


(!) [Sluggo] russkomu, Gulliveru
It's hard to remember that i looks like u and u looks like y.
(!) [Sluggo] I think there are phrases where the preposition is stressed, but I've forgotten them.

(?) "I said drive to my house, not through it"?

(?) I haven't seen anything written about prepositions, but my conclusion after having listened to a few examples of spoken Russian was that prepositions behave as in Polish, and are spoken as if they were part of the following word.

(!) [Sluggo] They do.

(?) Yay! Now I have to find a list of prepositions to check against.

(!) [Sluggo] they're easiest to learn in triples.


iz /  v    / v   :    out of, in, into    (things you enter)
s  /  na / na :    from, on, onto    (things you stand on or hang on)
ot / u  /  k   :     from, at, to         (things you stand a bit away
from, especially people)


If you can enter it, you can do all three. (v dom, na dom, k domy : house). If you can be on it, you can do the latter two. (na stadion, k stadionu: stadium. na stantsiyu, k stantsii: minor train station/platform). By arbitrary consensus, you can't be "in" a stadium or minor train station. But you can go "to" it, meaning you stop before the entrance. (You can be in a major train station/terminal: v vokzal, which is from English "vauxhall".)
But even though you only go "to" a person, you punch "into" them. Nice bit of boxer's philosophy there.


iz-za / za / za     :  behind
iz-pod / pod / pod  :  under,  in the suburbs of
iz-pod              :  stakan iz-pod piva  (a glass "out from under
beer"; i.e., the beer has been drunk.  Fancy the Russians having word
for this!)
nad                 :  over
po                  :  along, according to
o                   :  about (locative), against (accusative, waves against beach)
pro/naschyot        :  about   (s+ch, although some pronounce it sch)
(being "about" a person -- i.e., nearby -- is u.)
protiv              :  against  (philosophical, teams, enemy, etc)
za                  :  for (philosophical)  (accusative)
za                  :  in order to   (instrumental)
pri                 :  during the time of, during the reign of
pered               :  before, in front of
posle               :  after
vperedi             :  same as "pered"


"because" is blagodarya (positive), iz-za (negative), or ot (neutral, also for diseases).

(?) Unsurprisingly, most of those are similar to the Polish equivalent, if not the same.

(?) I saw a module while surfing around CPAN that converts from Russian to IPA and thought I'd have a look to see how it handles it: it strips the vowels before doing anything else. Grr.

(!) [Sluggo]
doktor    pronounced "doh'ktr"   doctor (as title; e.g. "Doktor Vatsn")
Chikago   pron. "chikaw'gah"     Chicago
novoe     pron. "nove'-ah-ye     new (neuter)
(!) [Ben] I'm not sure how "nove'" is supposed to be pronounced, but "nov-ah-ye" is not a bad way to gloss it.
(!) [Sluggo] Like Karl Rove, of course. The silent-e method seems to be the least ambiguous way to specify long vowels in consonent-vowel-consonent clusters.
(!) [Sluggo]
novogo    pron. "nove'-ah-vah"   new (genetive masc & neuter)
(!) [Ben] Assuming the same pronunciation as the above, yeah.
(!) [Sluggo]
o doktore pron. "oh doh'ktr"     about the doctor
(!) [Ben] That would be "oh doh'ktre".
(!) [Sluggo] "oh dok'htrye"
(!) [Sluggo]
o vrache  pron. "oh vrache"      about the doctor (general term)
(!) [Ben] That one is more likely to be "ob vrache" - since the 'v' is soft ("vowel-like"); however, either one is acceptable.
(!) [Sluggo] Yeah, it's been a few years since I spoke Russian significantly, so I forget little details. Like k stadionu and k stantsiyu; they should be ko stadionu and ko stantsiyu since the word starts with two consonants.
(!) [Ben] Believe it or not, both of the above would be 'k' rather than 'ko'. The latter is sorta deprecated, and is very rarely used - except where 'k' would just smash the following word into an unrecogizeable mush. "Ko mne" is about the only thing that comes to mind, right off the top.
Country folks usually change that 'k' to 'kh', which makes everything more easily pronounceable anyway, and that's influenced the changeover to some degree.
(!) [Sluggo] And I wrote k domy and didn't even notice it; it looked right coz the Cyrillic letter looks like y, but it's k domu. (Jimmy, if you ever see me write "k ---y", it's really "k ---u".)
(!) [Sluggo] Note that g is pronounced v in -ovo and -evo.
(Not "the Cyrillic letter o". Alphabets don't have pronounciations.)

(?) I know, but it cut down on quite a bit of typing to say that.

(!) [Sluggo] There's a special rule about o following the "hushers" (ch, sh, sch, ts, zh). You have to write ye or yo even though it's pronounced o.
(!) [Ben] Really?
None of the above 'e's following the "hushers" are pronounced 'o'. In fact, there are some cases that I can think of in which the above is true, but it's not what I would think of as a rule.
(!) [Sluggo] I didn't explain it right. Those are cases where the vowel is naturally ye. But there are cases where it's naturally o but is forced to ye because of the spelling rule.
(!) [Ben] Ah... right, now I see what you're saying.
(!) [Sluggo] (And where I spell e, it's really ye 98% of the time. It just gets too ridiculous to spell ye every time it occurs. Snyegoochistyetyel', chyelovyek. Better to just trust that people will recognize the few cases of hard-e when they occur.)
(!) [Ben] Russian's got the same thing going on with "yo" versus "ye", with the former being quickly deprecated. Both are being written as "ye" 99% of the time, newspapers and all (although books, and to a smaller degree, many magazines are still holding the line.) Languages, as I understand it, lose those special cases over time... but it's hell explaining how to figure out where to pronounce it "yo" or "ye" to someone just learning it.
(!) [Sluggo] That's because sh/ts/zh were formerly soft but are now considered hard. ch/sch are soft, so they have to be followed by a soft vowel anyway. But ts + stressed o is OK.

(?) There's a bit about that in the section on identifying the gender of nouns in the nominative.

(!) [Sluggo]
consonent    -> masc
-a           -> fem     (including -ya)
-o           -> neuter  (including -ye, -yo)
soft sign    -> either masc or fem
other vowel  -> indeclinable (foreign word)
Masculine words with soft sign are all animate (people/animals). Feminine words with soft sign are that -i declention.
(!) [Ben] [blink] "-i" declension? Whuzzat? (Not saying they're not; I just don't understand what you mean.)
(!) [Sluggo]
vlast':  vlasti in genitive/dative/locative singular  (power)
ochered':  ocheredi  (line, row?)
tserkov':   tserkvi      (church)
(!) [Ben] Ah, now I get it. Thanks. Yeah, those are odd.
(!) [Sluggo] I would have called it 3rd declention (the unusual one), but it's 2nd in some grammar books, and I don't know which one it is in Jimmy's.

(?) I haven't seen any numbering of declensions so far.

(!) [Ben] Yeesh. I think the Russians hung or shot all their grammarians and semanticists after the revolution, and with nobody to look after the language, it's branched off in some totally crazy directions. It desperately needs pruning... and these days, some of the really tangled branches are choking themselves off and dying.
(!) [Sluggo] For language learners, it's much easier to understand 19th-century authors than post-Revolution samizdat literature. Because the former are scrupulous about the rules and use conventional vocabulary, while the latter use as much slang as possible.
(!) [Ben] Absolutely true. Even for those who don't try to use slang, modern usage in Russian is a lot less precise - much in the same way as Jefferson's or Madison's English can be incredible examples of diction by comparison to a modern writer.
(!) [Sluggo] I would never haveunderstood Shukshin's "Moy zyat' ukral mashinu drov" (My Son-in-Law Stole a Carload of Firewood) without somebody to explain it to me.
It's a delightful story about a young man in a tiny Siberian town who drives a truck. He's saving up for a leather jacket, and dreams about strutting down the main street wearing it. But while he's away on a delivery, his wife impulsively spends the money on a fur coat that's on sale. He comes home and is angry with her. "Thanks, I'm happy you got it --- your mother!" (tvoyu mat'yu!) Then her mother, whom they live with, takes her side and says, "What kind of husband are you? Any husband should want his wife to look beautiful. A pretty wife 'decorates' her husband." He huffs and puffs, saying he's a successful husband, he drives a truck! And a long truck at that. The wife joins the insults and calls him a smelly man. He calls her a 'kurva' (whore, bitch).

(?) Kurva? That's in Russian too? In Polish (and Czech), it's used like 'fuck' in English... spoken punctuation, general expressions of anger, etc. Heck, there's even a kid-friendly version, 'kurde'[1]. It really doesn't map well to 'bitch', though: a female co-worker got really upset at a work party after a friend called me a bitch [2]. I didn't understand it until the same misunderstanding came up again.

[1] I've only heard that said once, as 'kurrrrrrrrrrde', where the 'rrr's were accompanied by a glance around that confirmed that yes, mother is nearby, much in the same way that Irish kids say 'shiiiiiiesus'.

[2] It's an injoke on my old shift... one of the guys calls everyone bitch (erm... every male, anyway) and has been known to get so flustered that he can only utter that word over and over.

(!) [Sluggo] The mother-in-law says, "What's that you said? Kurva? I'll show you kurva. You'll 'sit' for that." Meaning sit in jail. Apparently it's a crime to call a woman that.
(!) [Ben] Not a crime, exactly... although the connection can be difficult to explain, or understand. The way the Russian system worked then, anyone could write a complaint about another; it wasn't exactly a legal matter, unless the authority being complained to (the manager of the factory where the accused person worked, the secretary of the "raikom" ("area commission"), etc.) felt that the problem needed to be "passed upwards". From there, once "serious people" took a hand, it could turn into anything at all - and, if you were unlucky, could result in a long, long sentence, literally for no reason at all other than that you came to the attention of the authorities.
The mother-in-law, as Shukshin shows her, is a "letter writer" - that hated, despised, and feared person of that period of Russian history who knew "who to write to" and would do so for any reason, such as being insulted.
(!) [Sluggo] She goes to the study, then comes back saying, "You stole a load of firewood, didn't you? You took wood off government land." He said, "I did it to keep you warm." He stews and worries about her threat to turn him in, then decides to 'sit' her good for revenge. While she's sitting on the pot in the outhouse, he nails the door shut and pushes the outhouse over.
(!) [Ben] He didn't push it over; when she started screaming, he threatened to set it on fire.
(!) [Sluggo] The second half is in the courtroom. All the townspeople say he's a good guy, and one of his comrades defends him. But some lawyer slicker official from the city prosecutes, saying you'd better punish him for this small crime, because we know guys like that, they'll be onto bigger crimes later. He secures a conviction.
(!) [Ben] Two years probation. The terrifying thing to the protagonist is that he doesn't know this man, has never seen him before in his life - and he, for no conceivable reason, is trying to put him in jail for years.
(!) [Sluggo] After he's let out, the man is driving and passes the lawyer, and offers him a lift. They make small chat, then he suddenly tells the lawyer to get out of the car, and he does. That's the end. The ending didn't make a lot of sense.
(!) [Ben] He tells the prosecutor ("prokuror") that he's going to run off the bridge that they're approaching, speeds up and lets go of the wheel. After they careen to a stop - with the prosecutor white-faced and terrified, and Ven'ka laughing - the man climbs out, tries to say something, and walks off after slamming the door, and Ven'ka feels much better.
Shukshin's fame comes from the fact that his voice is authentically Russian, the voice of the average man - and that the emotions that he shows are those that all men can recognize and understand. Solzhenytsyn, for example, can be a little pedantic at times - even when he's telling the stories from the same milieu that he and Shukshin share. Shukshin is instantly accessible to any Russian.

(?) Yeah, my book mentions that. It says that these words have to be learned, but they're a small group... and then gives a single example of each. Really frickin' helpful.

(!) [Sluggo] The vast majority are feminine. And these are the only words with the i-declention. The majority of masculine words are:
-el'         :  English -er (masculine)
-el'nitsa    :  English -er (feminine)
One of the few others is medved' (bear, masculine). From myod (honey).

(?) Not from picanic basket?

(!) [Sluggo]
V Sankt-Peterburge yest' yescho medvedi po prospektam.
In St Petersburg there are still bears on the main roads.

(?) Heh. I bet they have right of way too.

I'm reminded of a conversation I had with a Polish friend, Lukasz.

Lukasz: My dream is to go nightclubbing in Moscow
Me: Why Moscow?
Lukasz: Snowboarding, bungee jumping... I love extreme sports.

(?) Polish is a hell of a lot more difficult there.

(?) I was wondering about that 'sch' thing. Everything I've seen in English says it's pronounced '*shsh*'[1],

(!) [Ben] I've always considered that to be a place-holder - i.e., "we have not the slightest goddamn idea of how this weird Russki thing is pronounced, so we'll use something that no one else can figure out how to pronounce either." 'sh' is pronounced more or less as you'd expect it (except, of course, harder - this being Russian); 'sch' (my preferred gloss for it) is sorta like the "sh" in "sheet". Actually, to break it down in more detail, the beginning of it is much like "sh", but the end is more like the "ch" in "cheese"; the tip of the tongue is almost between the teeth with the lips pulled back (unlike 'sh', where it's about 1" back from the teeth and the lips are more relaxed - at least for me.)
(!) [Sluggo] But to a non-Slavic speaker it amounts to the same thing. They've never heard sch so they don't know what it sounds like. If you say it sounds like "fresh cheese", that's something they can grasp.
BTW, Jimmy, when you get two hushers together they're often pronounced sch no matter how they're spelled.
   schyot    (receipt/bill, spelled s+ch but often pronounced sch)
   schtu     (I will consider, ditto, from same root)
   seychas   (now, literally "this hour", often pronounced schas)

(?) but I've seen one or two things rendered in Polish as 'szcz' (like 'shch', but from the same place of articulation as 'k').

[1] ...but since I started learning Polish, I know how much trust can be placed in pronunciation guides.

(!) [Sluggo] There are two pronunciations. Pick either.
  1. sh + ch
  2. sh with mouth in ch position.

(?) Hmm. I think I'll try Wikipedia for that. After I discovered how crap the pronunciation guides for Polish were, I looked at the Wikipedia article, which lists each letter along with the linguistic description -- alveolar palatal or whatever. By the time I'd finished looking up what that stuff actually meant, it had sunk in :)

(!) [Sluggo] By the way, you mentioned the nightmare of Polish verbs.

(?) Nah, Polish verbs are no more nightmarish than Russian verbs. Polish declension, however, is a little more difficult.

(!) [Sluggo] Just to make you feel worse:
faras, faris, faros         (present, past, future of "do")
faranta, farinta, faronta   (active participles)
farata, farita, farota      (passive participles)
fari, faru, farus           (infinitive, imperative, subjunctive)
That's the end of your Esperanto verb lesson. It's almost a haiku. Oh, and Zamenhof, the creator of Esperanto, was Polish.

(?) Heh. I stumbled on the beginnings of a Slovio text book on Wikibooks: all the grammar of Esperanto, but with vocabulary derived from Slavic languages. The introductory note said something like: "If you speak Slovio, you will be able to communicate with over 40 million speakers of Slavic languages", so I had a look... I'm now convinced that you'd have more of a chance speaking English than Slovio :)

(!) [Sluggo] People have pointed out how most of Esperanto's vocabulary is Romance because he thought it would be more universal. The Slavic features are mostly in the grammar, and they seem to have slipped in unaware.
    antaux ol    (before, literally "before than")
    post kiam   (after, literally "after when".  Why not "post ol"?)
Additionally, ek- (prefix meaning sudden start) seems to be inspired by the perfective, and -ad- (ongoing) by the imperfective. Although the normal usage is the ambiguous base forms. Some of the participle usages also seem to have perfective meaning.
(!) [Sluggo] If you think Russian verbs are bad, just wait till you get to numbers.

(?) Nah, Polish is really similar when it comes to numbers. A Polish friend, Leszek, was working with a Russian a while ago. Though he tried to stick to Russian when talking to that guy, he sometimes forgot himself, and was met with a blank look. Once, though, he was calling out a weight: "hundred treesta(sp?) trzy". He fell about the place laughing when the Russian guy wrote it in, correctly, without noticing what he's said.

(!) [Sluggo] If you ever want to fluster a graduate student in the Russian department, ask them, "How do you say 'two clocks' in Russian?"
(!) [Ben] [LAUGH] Oh, that's *good.* I'd never thought of it before. I got it right away, but - just to underscore your point - my brother and his wife (I'm in New York, visiting them) got into a 5-minute argument about it.
(!) [Sluggo] This simple question stops even some Russians cold, and they stop and think and say, "I don't know."
(!) [Ben] That would be a little odd. I could see a little delay while they figured it out, though.

(?) OK, Polish isn't that similar. 'Czas' is time in Polish, but 'godzina' is hour, and 'zegar' is clock. 'Od czasu do czasu' is (literally) 'from time to time', but to ask the time it's "kto'ry godzina".

(!) [Sluggo] The word for clock is chasy, plural of chas (hour). You can say five clocks just fine (pyat' chasov), with a genetive plural noun. But numbers 2-4 take a genetive singular noun (the old dual form), and there is no singular for clock. "Dva chasa" means two hours or two o'clock, not two clocks. You have to use a parallel set of numbers, the collectives. "dvoe chasov", a pair of clocks. But the collectives are defined only to ten. If you want to say twenty-two clocks, you're out of luck. The only way is to recast the sentence to put the noun in a non-nominative case, then you can use the ordinary plural. "dom dvadtsati dvukh chasov", the house of twenty-one clocks.
(!) [Ben] [laugh] You got it exactly.
(!) [Sluggo] Even more bizarre, the word for "one" had a plural form, so you can say one clock! "odni chasy".

(?) Hmm. Dunno if that's also true of Polish. Polish used to have two plurals though: one for pairs, one for three or more. These days, it's only used for things that normally come in pairs: oko/oczy (eye/eyes), ucho/uszy (ear/ears).

(!) [Ben] Collectives are plural, and since Russian matches the adjective suffixes to the noun, it's an obvious consequence. It doesn't make the word "one" plural; it just says that the object it's applied to is collective.

(?) Erm... I'm lost here. Do you guys mean that 'one' is acting as an adjective? Erm... I'm pretty sure you are, but not 100%. If so, yeah, that's like Polish: "adjectives must match the noun for case, number, and gender".

(!) [Ben] In the same way as "first", yes.
(!) [Sluggo] 'one' behaves like an adjective. But its nominative forms are short (odin/odna/odno/odni vs novyy/novaya/novoe/novye).
The other numbers behave kind of like nouns. Only 'two' has a feminine form, and that only in the nominative. The others all have one form for each case. A nominative number takes a genetive noun, but the other cases are all normal. Sampling of nominative, genetive, dative:
2: dva/dve, dvukh, dvym
3: tri, tryokh, tryom
4: chetyre, chetyryokh, chetyryom
5: pyat', pyati, pyati
100: sto, sot, (? -- stum?)
(!) [Ben] If I'm following what you're doing, then it's
2: dva/dve, dvukh, dvum
3: tri, tryokh, tryom
4: chetyre, chetyryokh, chet'verym
5: pyat', pyat'/pyaterykh, pyati
100: sto, sta, sotne
(!) [Sluggo] 6-99 are like 5, except any number that ends in 1-4.
Note that 5-99 behave like i-declention nouns, but take singular endings!
(!) [Ben] Wow. I'd completely forgotten all those rules... like I said, "water I swim in".
(!) [Sluggo] There's also no singular for sutki (24-hour day) or kanikuki (school holiday).
(!) [Ben] You meant "kanikuli", of course - which is both "school holiday" and "school holidays" (collect the entire set!) And "sutki" used by itself is explicitly singular; you could say "odni sutki", but only as a way of emphasizing that singular status.
(!) [Sluggo] That must be a difference between English and Russian. Plural nouns aren't "collectives" to me.
(!) [Ben] Err... well... they're actually kinda in the middle between the two. I see "kanikuli" is a collective because there isn't a "more singular" form of it, and the meaning is plural - it's a sort of a super-plural, because even in its simplest meaning it still covers a range of days; in the other one, it means a group of those ranges.
(!) [Sluggo] A "collective" is the opposite, a word that has a singular form but plural meaning. Two sheep, two fish. Also all non-count nouns like "sand" and "ketchup" where you say "some" or "how much" instead of "how many". Russian has more collectives than English, e.g., kartofel' (potato, potatoes).
(!) [Ben] And, of course, the "more Russian" 'kartoshka', which gets us a little further away from the obvious German transliteration.
(!) [Sluggo] They also tend to use singular for food where we'd use plural, even when a plural noun exists. "Frodo sobiraet grybu," (Frodo collects mushrooms.) Well, he's not collecting just one mushroom, is he?
(!) [Ben] Eh... 'grib' is single; 'griby' is plural.
(!) [Sluggo] Grr, another place where I meant 'gribu'. But that's wrong too. I keep thinking 'grib' is feminine like 'ryba' (fish). Anyway, what I meant is, both languages consider 'fish' collective even though a plural exists (fishes):
Robert Redford sobiraet rybu.          (accus. fem. singular)
(!) [Ben] Well, "lovit rybu" maybe. You don't usually find them lying around to be picked up. :)
(!) [Sluggo] I assume he was cathing more than one fish. But Russian extends this to words where English wouldn't:
Frodo Baggins sobiraet griba.          (gen. masc. singular)
(Genetive often replaces accusative with masculine non-count nouns.)
You wouldn't say in English, "Frodo Baggins collects mushroom." It has to be, "Frodo Baggins collects mushrooms."
(!) [Ben] [blink] I'm afraid not, Mike. It would be "sobiraet griby" (gen masc plural); there's no case here in which it would be "griba". Although there is a usage in which this works - something like "Hawkeye ushel v les strelyayet barsuka" - which also works in English: "Hawkeye has gone to the forest to shoot the badger" (even though the meaning of "badger" in both cases is plural, the usage is singular.)
(!) [Sluggo] None of my teachers said chasy, sutki, kanikuli were collectives, they said they were plural, in that inexplicable way that "scissors/jeans/clothes" are plural in English. Perhaps that's incorrect and not what Russian kids are taught, but that's what I was taught.
(!) [Ben] That's an exact parallel. Yes. That's why you get into such trouble with it in both Russian and English both: shouldn't "two pair of jeans" mean four articles of clothing?
(!) [Sluggo] What does sutka/sutko mean and why is it never used? I always assumed it meant "hour" or something.
(!) [Ben] There's no such word. "Sutki" is just a... how do I put it... more "precise" way of saying "den'", because "den'" is very aproximate to a Russian. Anything from more than a half a day to less than two is "den'"... perhaps it's the vodka. :\ "Sutki" is, as you say, 24 hours - although there's nothing in the word (as far as I know; it's Old Russian, and I'm not sure of the exact meaning) that means "24" or "hours". It's the word that's used in official documents (when a drunk gets jailed, it's always "na troye sutok", never "na tri dnya".)
(!) [Sluggo] And where does kanikuli come from? I've always wondered that. In school we could never figure out why there were separate words for "vacation" (otpusk) and "school vacation".
(!) [Ben] Ya know... I strongly suspect - now that I've been sorta immersed in Latin - that it's "dog days", straight from that period. If you think about it, it's when the farmers would need their sons at home - harvest time, etc.
(!) [Sluggo] As for "one", it just looks hilarious with a plural noun. Because in English we'd drop it. "One jeans", no! Just "jeans". Although "scissors" gets irritating and people sometimes say "one scissors", grammar be damned. But "one clothes": "one cloth"? No, that means something else. A pair of jeans, a pair of scissors, a piece of clothing, sigh. There was that joke in Crazy English, "Why is it that you can never see just one smithereen?"
(!) [Sluggo] I think there's a word sani that means sled or sleigh, that also doesn't have a singular form,
(!) [Ben] Ummm... that's sort of like asking for a singular of "herd" or "bevy".
(!) [Sluggo] Sled and sleigh are singular in English. It's the thing you sit on. The fact that it has two skis underneath makes no difference.
(!) [Ben] The implication of "sani" - not the direct translation, because that is "sled" - is "runners" (the bits underneath.)
(!) [Sluggo] Is a car plural because it has four wheels?
(!) [Ben] Think of the slang term "wheels" here.
(!) [Sluggo] Herd is singular. One herd. Two herds. Bevy, er, that sounds like an old English word I don't know what it means.... (Looking up) Does it mean bar? Place of alcohol consumption? No. "(1) A group, especially of girls or women. (2) a flock; now chiefly of quail. (3) any group or collection." It certainly sounds singular.
(!) [Ben] Sorta like "an anthology of prostitutes". [1]
(!) [Sluggo] "Data" and "media" are also collectives. Two words that were meant to be plural but are often not recognized as such, so they become de facto singular.
(!) [Sluggo] but I don't have a Russian dictionary to check. Ben, any other interesting plurals? What about taksi? You know, that thing you drove.
(!) [Ben] "Takso" :) [1.1]
Actually, I can't think of too many others - perhaps it's just a case of "the water I swim in".
(!) [Sluggo] Is it singular or plural? What gender?
(!) [Ben] Singular masculine - and it's not a collective, despite the ending.
[1.1] It's a "pretend-ignorant" form of the word that Russians like to play with - especially the drivers themselves.
(!) [Sluggo] (Pretending not to notice the plural of takso would be taksa.)
(!) [Ben] What, a tax on the illiterate? Kinda like the lottery is a tax on the innumerate?
(!) [Sluggo] If you say 'takso', can I say 'nukular'?
(!) [Ben] [1] A bunch of collective semanticists in a UK bar had tried "a jam of tarts", "a flourish of strumpets", and finally settled on [2] "an anthology of English pros".
(!) [Breen] You forgot "an essay of trollops".
(!) [Lew] I've heard "a giggle of girls" mentioned at times, usually in reference to a sleepover or some other activity that involves teenage female humans. :-)
(!) [Sluggo] That's great!
(!) [Ben] [2] Please don't shoot; I'm only the keyboard player.
(!) [Jimmy] Ben also looked over the script...
(!) [Ben]
> #print word("ДО́КТОР")."\n";
> #print word("Шоколат")."\n";
That would be "Шоколад".
>    # Accented О
>    s/([Оо])́/O/;
What's an accented O? It's not from Russian.

(?) My grammar book says the acute accent is used to show the accented vowel, and sho 'nuff, my Russian-English dictionary uses them for just that.

(That's the general purpose Unicode "add an accent to the previous character" character, btw).

(!) [Ben] Right - it's not actually a part of Russian, it's just a mark to show where the accent goes in, say, primers. It's never used in normal writing.

(?) I figured that after some browsing to see how it's done in other encodings than Unicode (it's not) and came across a mention of a GPLd Russian-English dictionary that uses capitals to show where the accent is.

(!) [Ben]
>    # Erm... this is dumb and needs to be fixed.
>    # (It's a dumb way of guessing syllables)
>    if (tr/$vowels/$vowels/ == 1)
"tr" doesn't interpret variables. What you're doing is converting a '$' to a '$', 'v' to 'v', 'o' to 'o', etc.
> #    if
> (/(.*[ЖЦЧШЩжцчшщ])([Оо])(.*)/)
> #    {
> #        $_ = $1 . ($2 eq "О" ? "O" : "o") . $3;
> #    }
The above looks like you're replacing the above string with itself. What are you trying to do?

(?) The same thing as in the next s///, before it occurred to me that I was spending too much time arsing about with cases.

(!) [Ben]
>    # Doh! stick to lowercase.
>    s/([ЖЦЧШЩжцчшщ])([Оо])/$1o/g;
>    # Done with the accent, so strip it
>    s/́//;
This is where "tr" would have been useful. The easy way to remember is "'s' for strings, 'tr' for characters".

(?) Bands

From Ben Okopnik

Please don't shoot; I'm only the keyboard player.

(!) [Breen] I play rhythm. (Ka-SMASH!)
(!) [Jimmy] And I play lead guitar... cue death from boredom, by means of months of jazz fusion. (No, the threat is real: my drummer joined the army, so we got a new drummer... who's into jazz fusion. Great drummer. If only we could convince him to a) learn some songs, b) play them the same way a second time, and c) stop playing 'lead drums').
(!) [Jay] <chuckle>
I feel so left out. Everyone else is a musician, and I'm just a sound guy.
(!) [Sluggo] I don't play music; I just listen to it. And I'm not a sound guy either, although I played one in a radio class in high school. But I managed to configure KMix, does that count?
(!) [Pete] I'll take your sound guy, and raise it 'drummer's roadie who, at the band's first and only gig, also doubled as the pyrotechnician' :)
(!) [Jimmy] Drummer's roadie... pyrotechnician... Was there a Spinal Tap moment? That is, did you also act as a pallbearer a few days later?
(!) [Pete] Lol - thankfully no :) They were a local (to Reading, UK) band. I shared a house with the drummer, so used to go along to the practise sessions. They called themselves 'Fire and Ice' (at least, they did for the gig), playing a mix of rock covers, a Gary Numan medley, and some original material. My job at the gig was to set of the hired pyro's, handle the lighting, and the smoke machine - yep, Spinal Tap about summed that night up ;-) If I remember rightly the lead guitarist wore a long blonde wig that night...
(!) [Jimmy] Heh. I've never been in a proper band (i.e., one that managed to get past the rehearsal stage),
(!) [Sluggo] Heh heh, I've been to gigs that shouldn't have gotten past the researsal stage.
(!) [Jimmy] So have I, believe me.
The worst thing is, because musicians tend to seek each other out for support etc., I end up getting to know anyone in my area with musical aspirations. It can be tough letting them know (as politely as possible) that they need more practise. Especially when you get the arrogant types who think they're a guitar(/whatever) god. (Though I have, more than once, found them coming back, having asked around to see "who that guy thinks he is", to ask for lessons :)
(!) [Jimmy] I may not have made it past the rehearsal room, but I have managed to jam with the most talented musicians in my area :)
(!) [Sluggo] Um, and how many talented musicians are there in County Tipperary?
"Well, lessee, there's Joe, he's real good, he did an audition with U2, didn't get chosen, but he did play in Dublin a couple times...."
(!) [Jimmy] Ah sure, bejaysus, didn't ya catch me dere Mike. Sure isn't there only meself and Mixie in the whole o' da county, and, sure, what would we be doin' dealin' with them shitehawks in Dublin?
Among my acquaintances, there are somewhere between 100 and 200 musicians. All living in this town, or the villages around it (Rock musicians, that is). In my circle of friends alone, there are 6 bands. I can think of maybe 10 people who I would consider to be extremely talented, to the degree that it's obvious they've gone through the phase of spending every spare moment with their instrument.
The whole county? I wouldn't even hazard a guess.
There are a lot of amateur musicians everywhere, you just have to know where to look.
(!) [Sluggo] Er, I was mainly thinking of famous musicians, as opposed to people with talent. Sorry for the unclarity. I meant, how many musicians from Tipperary have gone on to national or international fame? (Giving you an opening to name them if you choose.)
(!) [Jimmy] Ah. That's ... a really difficult question to answer. I can only think of one person who's known nationally, and I wouldn't call her 'famous' exactly. Aside from U2 and Thin Lizzy I can't really think of anyone Irish who's Internationally famous (well, aside from some pop people, but I wouldn't consider them 'musicians' as such).
(!) [Pete] Erm, how about 'The Saw Doctors'?
(!) [Jimmy] Ugh. :)
(!) [Rick] "Say it loud. I'm black, and I'm proud."
(Irish, for very perverse values of "Irish".)
(!) [Jimmy] Heh. Great film.
I can't believe I forgot The Cranberries. I never liked them, but they were massively successful for a while (and a friend of mine took a computing course with their drummer).
I also forgot the local hero I mentioned earlier. His band were fairly successful (by metal standards -- they toured with Slipknot) in Britain and Europe. Another tenuous connection, or rather, two: my son's mother's brother went out with his sister (I could've just said "I know his sister", but there's Irishness involved here),
(!) [Sluggo] My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl who saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavours last night. I guess it's pretty serious.
(!) [Jimmy] Yay! "Ferris Bueller's Day Off".
(!) [Sluggo] It was one of my favorite films. It spawned two TV shows. I guess it was supposed to be one but there was some screwup in the rights, so the better show had to change the main character to Parker Lewis, and the worse show kept Ferris Bueller.
(!) [Jimmy] "Parker Lewis Can't Lose". Yep, I remember that.
(!) [Jimmy] My favourite quote of that kind is:
"Dark Helmet: Before you die there is something you should know about us, Lone Star. Lone Starr: What? Dark Helmet: I am your father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate. Lone Starr: What's that make us? Dark Helmet: Absolutely nothing! Which is what you are about to become."
That gives me a second pair of similar quotes: "Now they know that we know that they know that we know." (

"Capt. Amazing: I knew you couldn't change.
Casanova Frankenstein: I knew you'd know that.
Capt. Amazing: Oh, I know that. AND I knew you'd know I'd know you knew.
Casanova Frankenstein: But I didn't. I only knew that you'd know that
I knew. Did you know THAT?
Capt. Amazing: Of course."
The whole thing about my friend's Cranberries connection came up around the time Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon ( was popular. (Try :)
My friend's Bacon connection goes like this: He was on a course with the drummer from the Cranberries The Cranberries were on the soundtrack of "You've Got Mail", starring Meg Ryan Meg Ryan was in "In the Cut" with Kevin Bacon.
My best effort is (pretty pathetic): I was on a quiz show hosted by Ray D'Arcy Ray D'Arcy interviewed Moby Moby was in "Zoolander" with Theo Kogan Theo Kogan was in "In the Cut" with Kevin Bacon
(!) [Sluggo] Reminds me of a poem I learned when I was little.


2 plus 2 is 4
4 times 3 is 12
Twelve inches make a ruler
A famous ruler was Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth sailed the ocean
Oceans have fish, fish have fins
The Finns fought the Russians
Russians are red, so fire engines are red
Because they're always rushin'


(!) [Jimmy] Heh. Nice.
(!) [Sluggo] (She wouldn't have said Flavours though. Other scripts and the Baskin-Robbins home page have Flavors.)
(!) [Jimmy] and my (non-musician) brother is engaged to his cousin. Thanks to him, I got my one and only "I'm on the guest list" experience :)
(!) [Sluggo] I can top that. I got a comp ticket to Goetterdaemmerung in high school when my friend was a Niebelung.
(!) [Jimmy] :)
According to this quiz (, I've earned my own place in the 9th circle of hell :)
(!) [Jimmy] The general wisdom in Ireland is that you have to bypass the Irish music industry to even have a chance at being successful, and on top of the other odds against being successful as musicians (as in, being able to play music for a living) that's enough to make most people give up any professional aspirations.
Even with independant lables... it's almost impossible to get anything other than mainstream rubbish. Most of the Irish indie stuff I have was bought in pubs. A friend of mine, with whom I started my first band, was a member of the band society in the University of Limerick. One year, for charity, they decided to release an 'Unplugged' CD: arranged with the university to use their studio equipment, recorded the best of the bands in UL, and released the CD to a few shops in Limerick. My friend's band was on the CD, so I wanted to get a copy. Damned if I could find it anywhere.
(!) [Jimmy] I'd also like to point out that I'm not particularly gifted, but I did have that magic combination of too much spare time, and not enough money (so whenever I read a guitar magazine, it was a quick flick through the interview section where I always managed to pick up the "you must do X" bits, but never the parts that said that X wasn't actually necessary).
(!) [Sluggo] I once arranged to meet someone at a cafe, and when I arrived I found out there would be a band playing soon. The band came and started tuning their instruments. A while went by and I noticed they had been tuning their instruments for an awfully long time. Then we realized this "music" was the show and walked out.
(No, it wasn't like some of Einsturzende Neubauten's stuff.)
(!) [Pete] Lol - that sounds a bit like the Purple Turtle bar we have in town here. It usually has a local band playing every night. One memorable Friday evening we were treated to a band that included a vacuum cleaner as one of the instruments, and they were deadly serious... ;-)
(!) [Jimmy] but my brother's been in a few (after I pimped him out -- I knew my band wasn't going to go anywhere quickly because both my brother and I are control freaks when it comes to our music, and being brothers means we don't pull our punches). His second gig with his first band wasn't quite Spinal Tap material, but it was pretty funny, IMO.
After a pretty successful warm-up gig at our (then) regular, with an audience of maybe 90 friends and acquaintances, he went to playing a gig for a local festival, in the middle of the town, with an audience of somewhere between 800 and 1000 people. They had nothing but trouble right from the start -- the drumkit was falling apart (the singer and guitarists had to kick the bass drums back into place at regular intervals),
(!) [Sluggo] I thought that was part of the show.
(!) [Jimmy] So did the audience, fortunately.
(!) [Jimmy] and the sound guy had the bass so low in the mix that my brother didn't even know whether or not he was in tune.
So, he was pretty angry right from the start.
Halfway through their third or fourth song, he broke a string. That was the last straw: he threw his bass into the corner, and jumped off the truck trailer that was serving as a stage. The crowd parted to avoid him, the rest of the band thought that he'd quit (and the singer made a remark to that effect), but my brother is pretty dedicated: he stormed over to the band's former bass player and asked if he could borrow his bass :)
I don't remember any wigs,
(!) [Sluggo] It was on your head. Shake your head quickly and you'll see it.
(!) [Jimmy] Feh. I needed no wig at the time.
The oddest decoration I've seen on a band was a one-off (well, two-off) System of a Down tribute band my brother was in (called "System of an Up". Groan!) SOAD have a song called "Sugar", the singer works in the stores where I work, and managed to lay his hands on the empty tonne packets of sugar, and the band were to decorate themselves with those logos. They thought better of it after seeing how stupid they looked at practise :)
(!) [Jimmy] but in his second band (basically his first band, but with a new singer) they were playing in the finals of a 'battle of the bands' competition. Part of the competition was that they had to put their own spin on a cover chosen for them by the judges: the fey indie band got a heavy metal song, and my brother's band -- a metal band -- got a Britney Spears song: "I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman".
Shocks, the (male) singer, dressed for the occassion: a school tie and a t-shirt with the slogan "Britney sucks, Christina swallows". They even exceeded expectations by playing a medley of other Britney songs, and after they'd noticed that a local hero (singer of a British metal band that had a major lable deal) was in the audience, they played an unrehearsed cover of one of his band's songs. Guess who won? :)
(!) [Pete] I eventually fell out with the drummer, but bump into other ex members of the band occasionally. The keyboard player is now a manager with Royal Mail, sold his kit when kids came along. The lead guitarist carried on, travelled around the world a bit playing some fairly lucrative gigs (so I'm told), although last time I saw him he was working as an orderly at the Endoscopy department at my local Hospital.
Funny old world ;-)
(!) [Jimmy] Nah. It's a common tale. Fact of the matter is, it's bloody difficult to make a living as a musician. It's no coincidence that so many people from successful bands go on to become record industry executives: look at any successful band and you'll find at least one member with a flair for marketing and a good grasp of the essentials of business.

(?) Python vs. Perl

From Benjamin A. Okopnik

(!) [Jimmy] Ben was talking about the difficulties he has faced in tweaking the scripts used in the LG publishing process...
Most of the meat from this thread is in TAG, but there was quite a lot that was Launderette worthy :)

Have I mentioned, yet, that *I DON'T KNOW PYTHON*? Just in case I haven't, *I DON'T KNOW PYTHON*. Since *I DON'T KNOW PYTHON*, my tweaking is guided by something other than knowledge; it can be approximately imagined as a cross between voodoo, poking a long stick down a deep hole which has ominous sounds issuing from it, and using a large axe to flail wildly in random directions. The only definite part of the process is that is takes a long time.

(!) [Sluggo] Ben, do you know Python?

(?) I think I might be able to answer that question. Maybe even definitively.

(!) [Sluggo] You mean you don't find it immediately more readable than Perl? Nice English words instead of obscure symbols,
(!) [Jimmy] May I introduce you to COBOL? :-P
(!) [Sluggo] less packing of several operations in one statement?
(!) [Jimmy] Uh... your complaint is that Perl needs less typing than Python?
(!) [Sluggo] I almost think you should get an award, as the first person to find Python harder to read than Perl.
(!) [Jimmy]
use Acme::Python;
hisssss Hissss hisss Hiss hisss Hissss hiss
Hiss hisss Hiss hiss Hisss hisss Hissss hiss
Hisss hissss Hiss hiss Hissss hisssssss Hiss
hissss Hiss hissss Hiss hissss Hiss hiss
Hiss hiss Hiss hisss Hiss hisss Hiss hisss
Hiss hisssssss Hiss hisssss Hiss hissss Hiss
hiss Hisssss hisss Hiss hisss Hissss hisss
Hiss hiss Hissss hisss Hiss hisssss Hiss
hiss Hiss hiss Hiss hisssssss Hiss hisss
Hisss hiss Hiss hisss Hiss hisss Hissss hisss
Hiss hiss Hisssss hisss Hiss hiss Hissss
hiss Hiss hiss Hiss hisssssss Hiss hisssssss
Hiss hiss Hiss hiss Hiss hisss Hisss hiss
Hiss hissss Hiss hiss Hiss hiss Hiss hisssss
Hiss hisss Hiss hiss Hisssss hisss Hiss hisss
Hissss hisss Hiss hisss Hiss hiss Hiss hiss
Hiss hisssss Hissss hiss Hiss hisss Hissss
hiss Hisss hisss Hiss hissss Hiss hisss Hisss
hiss Hissss hissss Hiss hiss Hiss hissssss
Hiss hiss Hiss hisssss
(!) [Jimmy] (That's Perl, honest!)
(!) [Sluggo] Would you mind if we get a DNA sample so Python Labs can isolate the gene that causes this?

(?) I swear, I have really wondered if I'm missing some relevant chunk of brain. Maybe I suffer from a will to believe, but after hearing all these Pythonistas yell about how easy and obvious Python is, I tried reading "How To Think Like A Computer Scientist" - I really did, put in hours and hours of trying to make my way through it. Clear as mud, impenetrable, and confusingly complicated - that was all I got out of it.

I will say that the way you code it makes it just a little less so.

(!) [Sluggo] Maybe they can make a Python Pill to cure it. Just don't look at the ingredients, I think there's some snake venom in it, and a liberal scoop of spam.

(?) I always knew that about Python. I mean, look: spam-fighting software is almost exclusively written in Perl; it would make perfect sense that all the spam generators are written in Python. It's obviously the battle of Good against Evil... or at least against the confusingly unreadable. :)

(!) [Sluggo] Yeah, Perl hackers come up with new ideas (majordomo) and we improve on them (Mailman). But we never did manage to Pythonize SpamAssassin. On the other hand, is there a Perl equivalent to Zope?

(?) Err... I've seen the name, know almost nothing about it otherwise. "apt-cache show zope" says


Description: open source web application server Zope enables teams to collaborate in the creation and management of dynamic web-based business applications such as intra-nets and portals. Zope makes it easy to build features such as site search, news, personalisation, and e-commerce into your web applications.


I haven't the slightest idea of what kind of wine would go best with that.

(!) [Sluggo] Think of it as the emacs of web application environments. It includes an object database and is very flexible, but you have to do things "the Zope way", which isn't always "the Python way".

(?) Hmmm, I've never dug into that end of things, so I wouldn't know - I'm not even sure what you'd use for search terms. Searching for "perl version of zope" gets me something called "Project Woohoo" - and I'd be at a total loss for anything resembling comparison or review ability.

(!) [Sluggo] Kind of like why Seattle can't build a comprehensive mass transit system: the various factions (including the "add more freeway lanes" suburban mall developer [1]) are all equally powerful and cancel each other out.
On the plus side, that means no more bridges without sidewalks or carpool lanes....
[1] Remember the Japanese internment? Guess who used to own the land where the mall sits on. Guess who bought it for cheap when it was forcibly abandoned in the 40s.
(!) [Sluggo] What kind of tweaks do you have to do? What don't you understand? Would it help if I described how all the different parts of the scripts fit together?
(!) [Jimmy] I don't think it's a question of understanding what's there, it's a matter of not knowing enough Python to change what's there.

(?) Nope, I've actually got that part - again, thanks to your coding. It's simply that variations come up that mess with the processing - i.e., Jimmy spells the name either "lg_laundrette" or "lg_launderette",

(!) [Jimmy] I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that I changed the spelling after one of the members of Thomas's LUG razzed me for it after all of the American vs. British spelling threads we've head. (And for the record, I inherited the title from Sluggo).

(?) and suddenly it's not at the end of the issue anymore. Or an article breaks processing [1] - "lg-build-issue" stops working - and it's pure hell for me to trace the problem, since back-tracing the multiple sourced files in Python is not something I'm used to. Or I have to trace that error that Python generates when it crashes, and I have a "fun" time figuring that out. All part of normal procedure, and something that would have taken you a couple of seconds apiece, but a PITA for me. [shrug] Such is life.

[1] That was one tricky sumbitch. It had a "hidden" ASCII character at the beginning of the second ("author") line, which looked normal in "vi", "less", and "cat" - but hosed the script. "vi -b" finally showed me what the hell was going on, but...

(?) Mike's done a good job with these scripts, so it's not a case of broken code; just variations in data and changes in requirements that couldn't have been predicted at the time of creation.

(!) [Heather] Yeah, we should try to have a hack fest.
Remember the ol' Lifehacks? When deconstructing someone else's program to understand it, I like to turn it back into comment-type pseudocode, and save the partial results as a .flo (for flow, only incomplete, haha) so I can do it in snackable bits.
(!) [Jimmy] This bit comes back to how this thread started: the stresses of producing LG
(!) [Heather] Just remember this among the signs in the TAG lounge: burnout is not permitted. The same horror Thomas expressed that long while ago when Jim archly commented that I was coming out of my study resembling a zombie from a B movie should be equally ours if Kat is forced to say the same.

(?) Oh, I'm rather decent at handling that; if I hadn't gather A Large Clue from you and Thomas over the years, then this thing I call a brain could easily be swapped for a lead weight without me noticing the difference. Fortunately, it's still all squishy and kinda works - at least, the last time I looked inside my skull (one of those Yoga exercises, y'know.) It's just a case of me getting grumpy at staying up late and spending way the hell too many hours on this one thing that are needed elsewhere.

(!) [Heather] We're all friends here :)

(?) [smile] Yep.

xteddy: Awwwww. [Hugs Heather]

(!) [Heather] It is ok to stop now and then, accept a cup of smooth hot choccy at the TAG bar, and mutter strange glowing letters about why $author can't be trusted to mix spanglish with japangul, get a nice hug from xteddy, and see if one of us has a spare sonic screwdriver and/or taser to apply to the misbegotten submission you got stuck with.

(?) Yep. Just takes me learning to unwedge my head... it's all good practice. :)

(!) [Heather] Maybe a cheesecake wedge would help. Or not. I usually find about a bite and a half just about enough.
Remembering to eat something seems to help a lot.

(?) Heh. My problem goes the other way: remembering to stop eating random somethings while engrossed in a task that requires a high degree of focus can be... a challenge. [shrug] If it wasn't for the challenges, life would get boring.

(?) Oh, we're not bleeding from any open wounds; despite my ineptitude with snakecharming, I've got all that stuff fixed up. There's one tiny change that I'll need Mike's help to make, but it's absolutely not critical - just a mild annoyance.

(!) [Heather] /me repacks the first aid kit with band-aids just in case.
And headache pills. For some reason we're running low on those. I think this "meditate & vegetate & then use the Force" brand will do nicely.
If I put a 20 pound sledge in, that first aid kit's gonna be kind of heavy. Gotta find a lighter lart. On second thought, maybe it should stay.

(?) Could we get an inflatable 20lb. sledge, d'ya think?

(!) [Heather] ^^ Fine example of a sentence where a comma really is important.

(?) "I'd like to thank my parents, Ayn Rand and God". :)

Omitting the serial comma, I find, annoys me even more than omitting all of them.

(!) [Jimmy] So... on the topic of 'map', how would I use a regex with the map in this:
sub am_asz
    my $verb = shift;

    my @end = qw (am asz a amy acie aj$a);
    return qw (dam dasz da damy dacie dadz$a) if ($verb eq "da$c");
    return qw (mam masz ma mamy macie maj$a) if ($verb eq "mie$c");
    return "error" if (substr ($verb, -2) ne "a$c");
    return map {substr ($verb, 0, -2).$_} @end;


>    return qw (dam dasz da damy dacie dadz$a) if ($verb eq "da$c");
>                                          ^^

That's not going to work - "qw" disables variable interpretation.

(!) [Jimmy] Ah. Well, to answer your later question, those are the extra non-ascii characters in Polish. I just changed them here because I didn't want to mess around with character sets in my mailer, but in the actual version I use the real characters.
I suppose I should have given more information about what I'm doing. There doesn't seem to be any software to do Polish conjugation drills, so I'm trying to write my own. Polish verbs are very much like Russian verbs, so you can imagine the difficulties[1] :)

(?) [grin] Perhaps the words "nightmarish" and "insane" could give a hint to the uninitiated.

(!) [Jimmy] (I've chosen to return an array of possibilities in the event that the caller hasn't given enough information. I'm trying to find a way to sort by likelihood, but that may be a pipe dream).

(?) What, weighted sorting? Pshaw. Pshaw, I say (perhaps because nobody alive today pays even the slightest attention to a silly word like "pshaw". I suspect he was bshaw's younger brother, the one that was always picked last for the soccer team and such... But I Digress.)

(!) [Jimmy] Yeah, well. When I said 'pipe dream', I didn't mean how to do it, I meant determining when...
(!) [Jimmy] Woohoo! I found what looks like a comprehensive list of verbs and their conjugation types (, so I can at least use probability as a weight.

(?) I'm not really clear on what you're asking here, Jimmy - what's "$c"? What is "$a"? What are you trying to achieve by using a regex?

(!) [Jimmy] Ah. Yeah, back to my question (sorry 'bout the extraneous information in that last mail).

(?) Extraneous information? WHAT extraneous information?

[grin] Welcome to TAG. Have a nice day.

(!) [Jimmy] [1] For the rest of you: Part of the problem is that there isn't really any standard for conjugation groups: most texts have different conjugation groups: this ( lists only 4, this ( lists 10, this ( says that there are possibly 18, etc.
Polish dictionaries generally help by listing the first and either the second or third person singular of each verb with the infinitive[2] (as well as the perfective form[3]). The function in my mail handles one (generally agreed) subgroup: verbs whose first and second person forms end in 'am' and 'asz'. That's the easy bit :) Where it gets complicated is that some verbs have stem changes, there are different stem changes for different conjugation groups, and I want my program to cope in the event that it gets no information other than the infinitive.
[2] Well, not really. Some list the whole forms, others just list the endings, others list the whole words with a delimeter separating the stem from the ending.
[3] There's another complication :) Polish doesn't differentiate between the simple present and the present continuous, but it does have separate verbs to describe ongoing actions (imperfective) and actions that, for lack of a better way of putting it, will have an end or outcome. 'I speak English' would use an imperfective, 'I will speak to him' would use a perfective. The complication is, because of their nature, perfective verbs don't have a present tense :)

(?) Sound disappearing with KDE upgrade

From Mike Orr

Anyone know how to tame Firefox into playing this sound link? ("No Static at All: Hi-Tech Radio") It's got some Javascript function to choose the file that seems to be too much for Firefox.

(!) [Jimmy] Whenever I came across a site like that, I normally tried to pick apart the javascript to find the actual URL, and just grabbed that.

(?) Yes. It's finding and deciphering the Javascript function that stumped me.

(!) [Jimmy] Oh. It's in
It's called with "javascript:getMedia('ME', '15-Aug-2005', '8', 'RM,WM');", so assuming you want the Real Media[2.1] version, the URL should be:
I was going to just send that, but decided to not be so lazy as I was last time, and got back an SMIL file:
<meta name="title" content="Morning Edition - Monday, August 15, 2005" />
<meta name="author" content="" />
<meta name="copyright" content="2005" />
title="No Static at All: High-Tech Radio" author="Morning Edition -
Monday, August 15, 2005" copyright="2005" />
Looks right to me :)
(!) [Jimmy] I used to have a few shell functions for different sites that amounted to "wget$1"

(?) I'm thinking about making a cron job that pulls the web pages of my half-dozen favorite radio shows and makes a menu of the latest ones, so I can just choose an interesting-sounding title and play it. Some of the sites have RSS feeds, so that'll make it easier.

(!) [Jimmy] Sometimes you need to set a referer, sometimes you need to masquerade as another browser, but it's quicker than browsing most of those sites.

(?) On a good note, Firefox can now play the BBC's embedded radio player.

(!) [Jimmy] I used to use MPlayer's 'dumpstream' option to listen to the book readings on BBC4 (usually whenever they had pTerry readings) because streaming audio annoys the crap out of me.

(?) Konquer still can't, but oh well. Heh heh, Jimmy, I listened to "Aithris na Maidne". There was no way I could figure out from the Gaelic titles which links were the news programs, but fortunately there were helpful descriptions in English.

(!) [Jimmy] Look for 'Nuacht'.
Sheesh. I wouldn't even listen to the news in Irish, because it's pretty hit and miss whether or not I'd understand it: they sometimes use speakers from Donegal :(
Irish is mandatory in schools, unless you were born outside of Ireland and/or don't have Irish parents. There are three main dialects of Irish, and Irish lessons have to cover the differences, so, for example, we're taught two words for fox: sionnach and madra ruadh ("dog with red[1] hair").
It amuses my Polish friends to hear Irish spoken, because it 'sounds like Arabic'[2]:

(?) My friend in Dublin (not Mick Conry) sent me a copy of what proclaims itself "Ireland's Only Muslim Newspaper". He said the street he lives on is mostly Muslim. Us yanks are just getting over the shock that large Muslim communities exist in France and Britian, and now lily-white Ireland....

(!) [Jimmy] Heh. Imagine the shock five to ten years ago when immigrants went from being a "city thing" to a "country-wide thing". In my own home town, it was African refugees[2.2]. At first the reaction was "Gasp! Black people!", but now they're just part of the furniture.
It was the same thing where I work when the first group of Philipinos came over. And the same with the second group of Polish[2.3], the Lithuanians, etc.: "Taking Irish jobs" etc. etc.

(?) It has been amusing over the years watching the European paranoia over immigration. It's like, "Dude, we've had a lot higher percentage of immigrants for decades and decades, and our society hasn't fallen apart yet. Get over it." [A]

(!) [Jimmy] Actually, now that I think over it a bit more, there hasn't been as much said about the Polish etc. coming over. Partly, it's because... well... they're not actually "taking Irish jobs" as such. They're mostly doing jobs that Irish people just don't want to do.

(?) There's another aspect people don't seem to notice. It's not so much "taking our jobs" or "doing jobs we don't want to do" as "those jobs don't pay enough". Why would I want to rake a garden for $8/hour when I can get $12/hour doing something much easier?

One thing I learned about jobs. No matter how bleak the job market is, "You only need one of them."

(!) [Jimmy] Another thing is that people haven't forgotten ~15 years ago, when we had the same levels of unemployment and spread around Europe.

(?) But this phenomenon of very large Muslim communities, sometimes isolated and separatist in places, is new. We don't have any equivalent. So y'all did get one over on us. But just one, heh heh.

I gather this "shock" happened around 2000 or thereabouts?

(!) [Jimmy] Around 2000, yeah.

(?) When I went to The Business/Runnin' Riot/Skint show in Dublin in 2000, we went to a bar afterwards. There was one guy nobody would talk to saying he's a bonehead (=white power). So of course I had to find out for sure, since I heard there weren't such things in Ireland, and there hadn't been WP/sharp battles for years. So I asked him what's up, found out he's from some town away from Dublin, and he volunteered, "Not many people will talk to me coz they think I'm WP. ---Are you? ---No, it's just there are six Ethiopian refugees in my town living on welfare, and I don't like my tax money supporting this bla bla bla." My thought was, "Six people out of 15,000 (assumed population of his town) or of 6 million (assumed population of Ireland) is enough to give you a bad day?"

(!) [Jimmy] Now, even the most racist of the Irish has Philipino friends (yet still managed to be racist, somehow...)

(?) Yes, that happens here too. I figure, better they be friends than not. Most WP guys either mellow out or get "reformed" after a few years anyway, when they realize the error of their ways.

(!) [Jimmy] [2.1] Sure, Real are nice and have not only provided a Linux player, they've open sourced most of it, but Windows Media files play in MPlayer (without binary plugins, usually) and download with less hassle in my experience.
[2.2] Aside from the Malaysians who own and work in the local Chinese restaurant. It's taken as a given that if you want proper foreign food, you need the foreigners to make it. Even if they have accents that are more Irish than yours.

(?) I've thought about opening a curry chip shop. As far as I know, it'd be the first of its kind in America.

[A] Although as I read more about the history of Britian, I found out its immigration level was actually similar to ours throughout most of its 2000+ year history.

(!) [Jimmy] Yeah, that was mostly us :)

(?) No, not mostly you! First it was you, then the Romans, then the Vikings, then the Angles and Saxons, then the Normans, then you

(!) [Jimmy] I'm not sure about your timeline there. I'm pretty sure the Angles and Saxons were there before the Vikings.

(?) again. (And a fine reputation you made for yourselves in Liverpool.)

(!) [Jimmy] And yet, if a friend of mine is to be believed, if you want a properly poured pint of Guinness, you have to do it yourself. (For those who don't know, Guinness is properly poured at a 45 degree angle. Leave to settle for a minute or so when the pint is half-poured, finish pouring. Scrape the excess head off with a knife, and draw a shamrock with the edge. If the pint has been poured properly, the shamrock will still be intact after drinking. (If you value your intestines, you *don't* drink the bottom of a pint of Guinness)).
Yeah, Liverpool is neck and neck with Cork for the title of "The real capital of Ireland". Who do those Dubs think they're kidding? A Viking town, that expanded into a city that became the capital of the British occupied area before they took the whole country? Please! (The traditional response to a Dubliner who has called you a "culchie", "muck savage", or "bog trotter" is still "Fuck off back to the Pale". So much history, yet we can only remember the bits that can be used to someone else's expense. cf. British="Tans")

(?) Although it sounds like in the Roman times it was already a huge mixture.

(!) [Jimmy] I think there was a change in British passport law a while back, but when my father was living in London in the 70s he found out he was entitled to a British passport as the son of a British subject -- the whole declaring independance thing didn't seem to count :)

(?) Yes, and I could get a British or Irish passport too if I could prove ties to a grandparent who'd lived in the country. [1] That whole declaring independence thing doesn't seem to count.

[1] My dad even went to the Mormon geneological society to trace his family -- his parents didn't tell him anything -- but even they came up with nothing.

(!) [Jimmy] My family has an odd genealogical situation: my uncle Tim (RIP) spent a few years researching the family tree, back to the nephew of Brian Boru (about a thousand years, give or take a few decades), as an anniversary present for his parents. They dumped it in the attic, so it's all pretty much lost :)
(My uncle Tim was responsible for my introduction to computers. He had bulshitted his way into a job as a systems analyst, and thought computers were the way to go, so he bought me a Sinclair Spectrum. Unfortunately, he died before he had a chance to send it, and his house was robbed shortly after (he had a lot of expensive hobbies, and a knack of making money at everything he turned his hand to). One of the things[1] that was left behind was an Amstrad PCW, which was given to my Dad, because he did the accounts for his brothers. As soon as he got it, he decided to wake me by dropping the manuals on me: "Read those. Learn how to program this thing." :)
[1] "Things" is a pretty poor way to describe a collection that included thousands of pounds worth of video cameras and editing equipment, but it shall suffice.

(?) I should also plug Edward Rutherford, who has written some excellent multigenerational historic epics a la Michelener. My favorites are London, Russka, and The Princes of Ireland.

(!) [Jimmy] Hmm. I'm on the lookout for (non-textbook) reading material...
(!) [Jimmy] [2.3] The first group consisted of two women, one extremely goodlooking, so in a predominantly male workplace there were no complaints.

(?) (The paper mostly covered an Islamic human-rights conference. I'm not sure if it was just in Ireland or an international thing. There was nothing good to say about US policy but the authors said they supported peace rather than violence. There were a few pages of "what is Islam" tutorial material. Some of the articles were rants; not what I'd consider "newspaper quality".)

(!) [Jimmy] our 'ch' sound is to the Polish 'ch' or Russian 'kh' as they are to the English 'h'. (We also have 'th' and 'gh' sounds[3]). Donegal speakers take it up a notch further. The bane of everyone's school life was the Irish spoken comprehension exams, because they always contained at least one segment in the Donegal dialect. We never stood a chance... you couldn't tell if the speaker was saying something or clearing his/her throat :)
[1] Red is dearg, but red hair is rua or ruadh (Irish still has some holdovers from pre-spelling reform times) -- the name 'Rory' is 'Ruadhri' in Irish: redhead. Similarly, blonde is 'fionn', hence names like 'Finn' (which was a man's name), 'Fintan', and 'Fiona'.
[2] It amuses them even more now, because one night we went out drinking in a nearby village with a bunch of people from work, and got talking to an old woman from the area. One of the girls explained to her that most of the guys were Polish, and the woman turned around to me and said (in fairly shaky Irish) 'Conas ata tu?' ('How are you'). I rattled off a long-ish explanation (in Irish) about how I was fine, thanks, and how I hoped she was in good health, etc. She just stared at me, before turning back to my colleague: "I can't understand these Polish lads at all".
[3] Umm... I can't really explain them. Mostly, the 'th' sounds like a slightly more aspirated English 'h' (maybe more like a Spanish 'j'), sometimes you can hear the 't' underneath. You'd need to be familiar with the Irish 'ch' sound to really understand an explanation of the 'gh' sound. It's like a normal 'g' with that kind of aspiration.

(?) Email

From Karl Carlile <>

(!) [Rick] Forwarded more for the punch line than anything else. This was round n of Karl asking extremely unfocussed, mystifying bash questions: Longtime TAG members will probably suspect the distinct odor of homework, wafts somewhere in the background.

How do I send and receive email by way of BASH and the use of a Consul?.

(!) [Liam Bedford] What? What is your bash fetish?
You can't send mail from bash. You send mail from programs that are written to send mail. Mutt, or if you really must, sendmail.
Nyeargh, please go read a book. For all of our sanity, go, quickly.
Here, try this one:
(!) [Kieran Tully] Oh really?
3<> /dev/tcp/ ; ( echo "VRFY root@localhost" ) >&3 ; cat <&3
You get the idea... (Sorry, I'm in a pedantic mood :) Obviously you'd need a willing SMTP server, but never say never.
To the original poster, yes, get a book, please!
(!) [Paul O'Malley] Karl,
Please, Please, Please, read some online documentation. Here are some references.
And a book; surprise, surprise:
For elisp, maybe you can find someone who would sell you this:
After all, it is a little old.
Maybe you could type mail at the command line, and, if your system is set up correctly, it will invoke mail and send mail to, but I doubt it, and I guess you would be very frustrated.
(!) [Rick] According to historians of the Res Publica Romanorum, consuls have not been known for their adeptness at e-mail, being primarily charged with various religious and military duties, the reading of the auguries, and leading armies in the field. A Linux computer and e-mail program might be more immediately applicable to the task, not to mention easier to find.