Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

Alphabetica Cyberia

By sigwinch in Technology
Mon Feb 11, 2002 at 11:45:05 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

A is for Argon, which dulls the senses and confuses the intellect. Its mind-control properties were discovered in 1864 by Lincoln's Special Technical Investigation Corps while investigating a cave used by the Hopi for rehabilitation of miscreants, but it wasn't practical for wide deployment until transmutation was perfected in 1943. Since then it has been widely used, first by the OSS, and later by the CIA, for political control field work; enclosed stadiums were originally designed in the mid '50s as a civil defense measure for efficiently argon-indoctrinating many people at once. As a gas, containment is difficult and argon levels have been continuously rising over the years, being nearly 1 % of the atmosphere at present. Certain areas, notably the Los Angeles basin which is plagued by atmospheric inversions, have already suffered significant mental distortion, and the uncontrolled release of argon has therefore been banned by de facto international agreement.


B is for Barnacle, a simple sessile organism created by the Catholic Church is 1683. The original goal was to create a self-healing plating to protect ship hulls, and thus help Catholicism out-spread other religions across the world. Unfortunately, the organism grew randomly, forming a rough lumps that slow ships down. Even more unfortunately, genetic controls failed to work and barnacles spread uncontrollably across all the world's seas, infesting ships everywhere. Widely regarded as a warning against genetic tampering, barnacles were the major impetus for the Tunguska Genetic Engineering Treaty of 1919.

C is for the Colorado Mind, a natural assemblage of quartz crystals deep below the Rocky Mountains that has achieved sentience. The Colorado Mind, or CM as he is affectionatelly called by his friends, currently produces 23 % of all comic books, and a staggering 92 % of all fan fiction. CM relies on human-supplied energy and information to achieve full consciousness, having an electricity bill of $28 million/month, and a Usenet bill of $68 000/month. These fees are paid by the Rockefeller Foundation; it is unclear what benefits they receive from this arrangement.

D is for Daffodil. These deadly flowers, when grown in populations of more than about 250 000, are capable of focusing enough sunlight vaporize even the most refractory materials, such as fire brick and tungsten. Smaller populations do not work cooperatively, and are harmless. Larry Niven based the "sunflowers" in Ringworld on a classified DARPA threat analysis of daffodils.

E is for Erbium, the active element in fiber-optic laser amplifiers. Erbium-doped fibers enable the Internet revolution, whilst erbium-doped Saltine crackers are great with chili, although the resulting farts are phosphorescent and smell faintly like a freshly dug grave.

F is for Fluoride. Combined with argon, fluoride used to be one of the premier governmental mind-control agents. Whereas argon makes logical thinking harder, fluoride makes the subject more suggestible. This dynamic duo has nearly disappeared since the release of argon was banned. Channel One, a visual system that acts through the optic nerve, has partially taken over the role in the public schools, but doesn't reach as deeply as the older chemical methods. A higher-resolution optical method, involving enough computers to thought-implant each pupil for several hours each day, is gradually being installed. The state of Maine is leading this research, developing a portable indoctrination device that students can take home with them.

G is for Geller, Uri, who can bend spoons using telekinesis. This was successfully "debunked" by the DoD to protect it as a military secret, but his ability turned out only to affect spoons, which is of little military use.

H is for Hindenburg, an airship that was destroyed by Martian heat rays.

I is for Imelda Marcos, the former Filipino leader famous for her skill at shoe breeding. Her penny loafers were particularly renowned for their style and temperament. Unfortunately, like those little old ladies that have 27 cats in a small apartment, she got carried away and let her footwear mate with little control. Before she could be removed from power the prime breeds had reached a population of nearly 10 000. Worse, she let an inbred population of deformed sandals -- later given the name "flip-flops" -- breed completely without control, reaching a population of nearly 230 million repulsive individuals, nearly decimating the world sandal market.

J is for Jane's, a publisher. Jane's Defence Daily is the standard newspaper read by the intelligence community, and their famous All the World's Pussy was bought by Hugh Hefner and turned into Playboy magazine.

K is for Karma. Karma was a spiritual accounting system developed by the Kennedy administration to manage and stabilize the national mysticism market, but floundered after the Bay of Pigs debacle, and was terminated shortly after his forced retirement in Texas. Jerry Falwell later tried to revive the karma system, but failed to account for inflation due to legalization of abortion, and was delisted from both NASDAQ and the American Federation of Churches.

L is for LASER, Luser Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Retardism. The National Flamewar Ignition Facility at AOL uses a LASER consisting of 28 million Pentium-pumped lusers, focused by array of 639 chat and email servers. It produces a pulse of coherent stupidity 6 000 000 times less bright than David Hasselhoff, which is focused onto a single tiny point. The NFIF recently succeeded in converting a small pellet of actinium into pure boron.

M is for Midichlorians, tiny organisms that inhabit every cell of George Lucas's body. They flow through him and everything he touches, eradicating every touch of humor or joy they come across. Unrelated to the Reagan administration's "Star Wars" program.

N is for Narcolepsy, the medical name for pathological periods of wakefulness during dreaming. Although rare, it causes extreme disruption of the victim's dream life, sometimes even leading to death. The cause is generally unknown, although defective wake alarms have been implicated in some cases. It is not to be confused with the random periods of wakefulness experienced by young children; a positive diagnosis of narcolepsy can only be made when the child has begun dreaming continuously for at least 12 hours each day.

O is for Origami, the ancient Nipponese technique of torturing small pieces of paper.

P is for Paper Mache, the ancient French technique of torturing paper pulp. The relationship to origami is unknown; some researchers believe it may have come from an early -- and unsuccessful -- Norman attempt to turn origami into a cooking style.

Q is for Quetzalcoatl, former ruler of the Americas. Captured by Conquistadors in the eighteenth century and imprisoned in Rome. Currently working as a file clerk and destroyer of worlds for the Vatican.

R is for Rube Goldberg, leader of the Obscurist Engineering movement. The drop in worldwide industrial production capacity caused by his disciples is generally credited with causing the Great Depression.

S is for Stanislaw Lem, famous science fiction writer. [Redacted pursuant to General Order 1974-0063.]

T is for Teledildonics, the controversial technology for making cybersex as real as the real thing. Called "depraved" and "impersonal" by its critics, most of whom don't talk to each other except to make sure the bills get paid, it has been banned in 38 civilized countries and England. Fortunately, General Dildonics Corporation is located in Mexico which has no such laws, and exports its products to eager consumers all over the world in plain brown packages.

U is for Universe, everything there is. Possibly a large computer simulation, researchers note that a large amount of the universe is wasted on empty space, and that a dense cellular automaton would be more efficient.

V is for VA Linux, infamous "dot com" company. Their stock curve is being studied by physicists for insight into black hole dynamics.

W is for Weevils. Weevils wobble, but they don't fall down. The average unicycle contains 650 mature weevils.

X is for X-Rays. Widespread irradiation of southern California with X-rays has prevented the spread of midichlorians outside of George Lucas.

Y is for Yellow. If you load the Guinness home page in the Mosaic web browser and press the "Y" key 37 times, everything will appear yellow to you. (Literally everything, not just on the computer screen.) The effect generally lasts about 20 minutes, although occasional cases up to 3 hours have been reported, and a few poor souls have gone completely blind. If you want to see the shade of yellow without risking your eyes, you can buy a 100-pack of Crayola crayons and look for "Guinness Yellow".

Z is for Zymmetry. The masks used in manufacturing electronic chips are said to possess "zymmetry" if they would make a nice pattern for a stained glass window. All other things being equal, increasing zymmetry causes retail sales to grow. The chips in Tamagotchis have the highest zymmetry ever measured for a commercial silicon chip, exceeded only by a few milspec gallium-arsenide chips.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Favorite technical standards group?
o IEEE 21%
o Vatican 9%
o Delta Green 3%
o Standard Oil 3%
o Ku Klux Klan 2%
o UL 3%
o Fnord 45%
o Procyon Council 12%

Votes: 95
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Channel One
o Guinness home page
o Also by sigwinch

Display: Sort:
Alphabetica Cyberia | 46 comments (39 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
+1FP...not sure why (4.85 / 7) (#3)
by sticky on Mon Feb 11, 2002 at 02:14:33 AM EST

Something just told me to do it. Could it have something to do with brushing my teeth while smashing light bulbs on the floor? I always feel a little out of sorts after engaging in this activity.

Don't eat the shrimp.---God
Just awesome (4.16 / 6) (#4)
by carbon on Mon Feb 11, 2002 at 02:38:00 AM EST

This has got to be the 14th funniest thing I've ever read, right behind everything written by Douglas Adams, the Rock Paper Scissors strategy site, and most of the MSDN (the parts that aren't funny are sadistic)

Wasn't Dr. Claus the bad guy on Inspector Gadget? - dirvish
God (1.78 / 14) (#15)
by suick on Mon Feb 11, 2002 at 08:51:50 AM EST

You're such a fucking tool.

"Oh Douglas Adams and MSDN, ha ha funny funny"

order in to with the will I around my effort sentences an i of more be fuck annoying.
[ Parent ]
Hmm (none / 0) (#20)
by carbon on Mon Feb 11, 2002 at 01:40:52 PM EST

Tool, that's a new one.

/me scribbles in his "foriegn insults" handbook.

And you forgot to make fun of how I chose the number #14 at random.

Wasn't Dr. Claus the bad guy on Inspector Gadget? - dirvish
[ Parent ]
random fact (4.00 / 1) (#27)
by martingale on Mon Feb 11, 2002 at 07:36:44 PM EST

It's interesting that you chose 14 at random - did you know that there was an approx 0.3 chance that the first digit of your "random" number would be a "1"? I'm not kidding - Knuth Volume 2, chap 4.2.4 p. 255 has a nice explanation. In fact, the chance that your number would start with a "1" or a "2" is nearly 50%

The Truth is out there (hums twilight zone jingle)

[ Parent ]
My Fuckored Heading (3.50 / 2) (#31)
by suick on Mon Feb 11, 2002 at 10:45:55 PM EST

Everyone knows that the number 13 is always chosen at random, which is a blatant lie.

order in to with the will I around my effort sentences an i of more be fuck annoying.
[ Parent ]
13? (4.00 / 1) (#37)
by Gully Foyle on Tue Feb 12, 2002 at 09:18:18 AM EST

I thought 17 was the least random number...

If you weren't picked on in school you were doing something wrong - kableh
[ Parent ]

13 or 17 (4.00 / 1) (#39)
by HCase on Tue Feb 12, 2002 at 11:16:39 AM EST

the least random number was randomly picked, so either 13 or 17 can be used.

[ Parent ]
From A to Z, in the Chocolate Alphabet (3.66 / 3) (#6)
by rickward on Mon Feb 11, 2002 at 02:41:09 AM EST

+1 for any homage to Harlan Ellison

"How am I to trust my own 5 feeble senses? Who's to say that when I open the freezer door that I'm really not just opening a gateway to a very cold dimension populated by wire racks?" —MisterQueue

Yup (3.00 / 1) (#21)
by sigwinch on Mon Feb 11, 2002 at 02:20:02 PM EST

I shamelessly stole the alphabet device from Ellison. Now if I could just steal his writing ability...

I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Ability (none / 0) (#43)
by A Trickster Imp on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 10:16:18 AM EST

I dare say you surpassed it. If you write like this, you should have no problem finding a publisher.

[ Parent ]
Alphabetica Cyberia... (none / 0) (#23)
by SIGFPE on Mon Feb 11, 2002 at 02:56:12 PM EST

...looks like perfect S to me.

Everyone should read the Cyberiad.
[ Parent ]

+1 +1 For (2.00 / 1) (#25)
by n8f8 on Mon Feb 11, 2002 at 05:11:26 PM EST

+1 +1 ofor any Tribute to any Tribute to Harlan Ellison

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
Jackass (1.50 / 2) (#26)
by wurp on Mon Feb 11, 2002 at 06:33:21 PM EST

But HE is such a fucking jackass! His stories are fair to middlin in my experience, but I won't buy them because I don't want to give money to the asshole.
Buy my stuff
[ Parent ]
Harlan a jackass? (none / 0) (#44)
by sigwinch on Thu Feb 14, 2002 at 02:31:15 AM EST

Yeah, he is. But he's my kind of jackass. He is merely abrasive to random people, but the things he does to bona fide assholes are truly inspiring. The rest of us just dream about mailing 100 bricks postage due to some butt head, beat our chest a little, but then we get back into our proper deferential place and nothing comes of it. Harlan mails the bricks, then mails a bonus dead gopher.

I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Missing letter (4.20 / 5) (#10)
by GaussZ88 on Mon Feb 11, 2002 at 06:13:28 AM EST

You missed the secret letter <fnord>.
But I have not told you that.

fnord (3.50 / 2) (#11)
by locke baron on Mon Feb 11, 2002 at 06:46:31 AM EST

The <fnord> doesn't print... how about that :-)

Micro$oft uses Quake clannies to wage war on Iraq! - explodingheadboy
[ Parent ]
FnOrD (2.00 / 1) (#12)
by GaussZ88 on Mon Feb 11, 2002 at 07:03:17 AM EST

I looked back at the paper and still saw the fnords.

Question: How many steps beyond Pavlov? ;)

[ Parent ]
Fjord! (none / 0) (#33)
by locke baron on Tue Feb 12, 2002 at 03:10:39 AM EST

Well, I see it on screen, but then I printed out a hardcopy to pass around the office... Whaddaya know, no <fnord> there... How strikingly apropos.

Micro$oft uses Quake clannies to wage war on Iraq! - explodingheadboy
[ Parent ]
Oh, it was there all right. (none / 0) (#30)
by Zarniwoop on Mon Feb 11, 2002 at 10:17:32 PM EST

You just didn't see it :)

[ Parent ]
Lithe opaque nose (5.00 / 2) (#14)
by zakalwe on Mon Feb 11, 2002 at 08:45:03 AM EST

A is for Argon, which dulls the senses and confuses the intellect.
You're not kidding! I always knew there was something deeply sinister about that. No one could produce something so bad accidently.

WHAT HAPPEN ? (3.28 / 7) (#16)
by pb on Mon Feb 11, 2002 at 11:49:46 AM EST

Is it me, or are there a LOT more stories appearing on the Front Page lately?

I'm not saying they don't have merit; I'm just saying that it's bizarre behavior for Kuro5hin.

Anyone else notice this?
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
What happen was.. (3.27 / 11) (#18)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Mon Feb 11, 2002 at 12:27:40 PM EST


Hey, someone had to say it.

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

Re: What happen? (4.28 / 7) (#19)
by GaussZ88 on Mon Feb 11, 2002 at 12:29:26 PM EST

Seems as if countermeasures have been taking place, the post-treshold is now 95. (was 75 a week ago I think)
This leads to more stories beeing hidden because they are too long in the queue. (This was yesterday:
"Your vote (1) was recorded.
This story currently has a total score of 79.
You were the last vote. We've considered the votes and comments, and decided the story should be hidden. Thank you!")
Was there a discussion about raising the tresh I missed?
And why not have a section "vote the treshold" where the treshold can be raised or lowered based on the readers opinions? (e.g. Too many stories for you -> vote treshold +1)

Just my two euro-cent

[ Parent ]
Maybe from Slashdot? (2.50 / 2) (#24)
by nate237 on Mon Feb 11, 2002 at 04:55:28 PM EST

Probably some refugees from Slashdot. I'm one of them :) The editor moderation debacle turned a lot of people off.

[ Parent ]
Me too... (2.50 / 2) (#34)
by GaussZ88 on Tue Feb 12, 2002 at 04:00:49 AM EST

Me too, I was sick of all those "Me too" posts at the other side... ;)
But seriously, I wonder how many others like us switched to kuro5hin after the debacle?!?

[ Parent ]
Weebles (4.50 / 2) (#17)
by mrnancy on Mon Feb 11, 2002 at 12:25:50 PM EST

Unnatural behavior

Whew! I was disturbed for a second there. (4.66 / 6) (#22)
by broken77 on Mon Feb 11, 2002 at 02:31:05 PM EST

I read the part about the history of Barnacles, and had never heard it before. And, seeing as my last name is Barnicle, and I'm Irish Catholic by descent (my great-great grandfather was from Ireland), I would have to assume that my name originated from this other word. So, I was thinking... Maybe my descendants got their name from being barnacle-like peoples, getting in the way of decent folk and infecting their culture? So I decided to look around and find out more about it. About that time, I realized this entire post was completely made up. But I came across some interesting information about my namesake, the barnacle. If you'll look in the "interesting facts" section of this page, you'll see the following:
Barnacles are known to have the largest penis sizes relative to their bodies.
I feel better now. The etymology of my last name now makes perfect sense to me. :-)

I'm starting to doubt all this happy propaganda about Islam being a religion of peace. Heck, it's just as bad as Christianity. -- Dphitz

Brrrrrr (4.33 / 3) (#28)
by localroger on Mon Feb 11, 2002 at 08:34:53 PM EST

All right, it should be funny. A lot of competent work went into it and the Art Meter is wailing away with green lights and positives.

But it leaves me cold.

I suppose it's because I've had to deal with so many people who believe things that aren't that far from these 26 little parodies, not because they're funny as in neurally overtrained conspiracy buffs, but because they're stupid and they believe any damn thing they've heard, or think they heard, or that seems to make sense for 0.1 second sometime around 3 AM one winter night.

So I wouldn't have voted against it if I'd seen it in the queue, but neither for it because it just strikes me as more pathetic than funny.

And yes I am a curmudgeon, I feel exactly the same way about Santa Claus.

I can haz blog!

Ambrose Bierce would be proud (3.00 / 1) (#42)
by A Trickster Imp on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 10:12:52 AM EST

Very reminiscent of The Man. "L" is a truly precious gem.

It does take until "Colorado Mind" to realize you've gone from reasonable-sounding environmental scare to consipiracy to lunacy, but I do agree there are people who believe this stuff.

I overheard a guy in the hall at work talking about the "chemtrails", AKA contrails, left by planes that are actually drugs or chemicals or germs being spread. Another guy criticised me because I had several back issues of "Skeptical Inquirer" and "Skeptic" on my desk (and he was a fellow programmer!)

[ Parent ]
Well... (3.00 / 1) (#45)
by sigwinch on Thu Feb 14, 2002 at 02:57:10 AM EST

A lot of competent work went into it and the Art Meter is wailing away with green lights and positives.
Dunno about Art with a capital 'A'. I was going first for Silliness with a capital 'S', and secondly for screwball speculation, with some random conspiracy theory rah-rah all hail discordia thrown in for the giggle factor.

The funnest part of writing this was the screwball speculation. I like coming up with off-kilter modifications to the world a la Philip K. Dick and seeing where they lead. It's kind of like regular science fiction, but where an sf guy might blast off his characters in a steel rocket, mine would take off in a heavily modified blue whale with biocombustors. Hmmm....there's another idea...

And yes I am a curmudgeon, I feel exactly the same way about Santa Claus.
How about my idea for a leather-clad hard drinking 'Butchy Claus', served by foppish elves?

On second thought, don't answer. It probably turns out that you saw that exact thing in Vegas in 94, and I don't know if I could handle ennui of that magnitude.

I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

+1 FP for making me laugh today... (3.00 / 2) (#29)
by wintermute204 on Mon Feb 11, 2002 at 10:04:38 PM EST

This was just a brilliant (to tired to sp) article... I just cracked up after I got past the first one fnord (I'm sure we all know too many people who believe things like that)... All hail Discordia! :)

Everything is true ! (none / 0) (#38)
by salsaman on Tue Feb 12, 2002 at 10:38:46 AM EST

Everything is possible !

Everything is beneficial !

[ Parent ]

Well obviously Argon's not beneficial... (none / 0) (#40)
by wintermute204 on Tue Feb 12, 2002 at 11:01:51 PM EST

Well obviously Argon's not beneficial. Unless your the CIA!

[ Parent ]
Maybe I am :-) (n/t) (none / 0) (#41)
by salsaman on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 07:43:36 AM EST

[ Parent ]
Hello (3.75 / 4) (#32)
by bc on Tue Feb 12, 2002 at 02:33:03 AM EST

Could someone explain what this article is about please?

I honestly can't make head or tail of it. It is completely impenetrable to me. What does it concern?

♥, bc.

Noble Gas? ;) (4.00 / 1) (#35)
by Matrix on Tue Feb 12, 2002 at 08:41:23 AM EST

Methinks someone's been hitting the Argon a bit hard recently. Lay off the noble gas abuse for a while, and then give it another read.

"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Look up `o` (4.00 / 1) (#36)
by FredBloggs on Tue Feb 12, 2002 at 08:50:16 AM EST

Yeah, its racist, but the rest are really funny!! Check out `W`. I havent laughed so loud since i last got a forwarded email from someone on AOL.

[ Parent ]
Alphabet (4.00 / 2) (#46)
by Scrymarch on Thu Feb 14, 2002 at 06:54:32 AM EST

This would have been a fine article, but it's used of the American Latin alphabet makes it hard for me to take it seriously. All serious seekers of truth use Reformed Post-modern Sanskrit. It's irritating even typing with this "character" set.

Alphabetica Cyberia | 46 comments (39 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
Display: Sort:


All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!