BlathrWayne Lorentz

Showing blathrs with the tag “Language.”

Friday, November 25th, 2022 Alive 18,840 days

It's called a “tech stack” because of how easily it falls over.

❖ ❖ ❖

Umbilical cord accessory sold seperately

Friday, November 4th, 2022 Alive 18,819 days

“*WARLORDS a trademark of ATARI. INC”

I got a new Atari cartridge today. Itʼs the Sears version of Warlords.

Iʼve never played this game, and have no connection to it. But I bought it for three reasons.

  1. I think Iʼm going to try to collect as many of the Sears text versions of Atari carts as I can.
  2. Itʼs the only Sears cart that has a full Atari trademark notice on the end label. No one on the internet seems to know why.
  3. The top label has a misspelling. The third game is listed as “Lightening Ball.” My guess is that this is supposed to read “Lightning Ball.” According to my computer, lightening means

    A drop in the level of the uterus during the last weeks of pregnancy as the head of the fetus engages in the pelvis.

That doesnʼt sound like a very fun video game.

❖ ❖ ❖

Program it again, SAM

Thursday, September 15th, 2022 Alive 18,769 days

Creative Computing, May-June, 1978, page 28

SAM76 was one of many computer languages that came out in the 1970ʼs that promised to be the “next big thing,” but failed to gain traction.

It looks a bit like AP/L, with its tight syntax, but was meant for text manipulation like Lisp.

I haven't found a SAM76 interpreter to play with in 2022, so here's an example of what a SAM76 program would look like, from the May-June, 1978 issue of Creative Computing that would take a number from the terminal input, and uses recursion to print out the factorial of that number.


I'm no SAM76 expert, but I think there's a typo in this listing. I think the !%ii… is actually supposed to be !%is… to retrieve an “input string” from the terminal. But I'm happy to be proven wrong.

As you may have guessed from the ten slashes, this language is all about nesting commands. Amusingly, it doesn't matter how many slashes you close your expressions with, as long as it's enough. So just keep banging that slash key!

SAM76 is a great example of smart people dealing with the scarcity of their time. This is a language that has been optimized for teletypes, punch cards, and paper tape. The % isn't a command prompt, it's a command. (More specifically, a “warning character.”) The “mu” and “pt” and such are shortened, almost tokenized, keywords.

Sadly, there is no SAM76 entry on Wikipedia, and almost no information on the internet about it, so it will soon be erased from the public memory by search engines (*cough*Google*cough*) that choose to only show things currently trending in popular culture. Shakespeare, youʼre next.

❖ ❖ ❖

Stick that in your [redacted] and smoke it

Friday, September 9th, 2022 Alive 18,763 days

A “25 pack!” of fuzzy sticks

At Wal-Mart, pipe cleaners are now called “fuzzy sticks.” Iʼm not sure what to blame for this change in terminology. Perhaps:

  • Kids don't do arts and crafts anymore, so they have no use for pipe cleaners?
  • Pipes are associated with tobacco, so we can't let children know they exist?
  • There are enough people in the world who have never seen a pipe that they wouldn't know how to clean one?

I guess all of the new people don't know about Sherlock Holmes.

❖ ❖ ❖

Do what?

Wednesday, July 20th, 2022 Alive 18,712 days

Street signs embedded into various sidewalk corners in Midtown Houston — poorly

When I lived in Houston the first time, there were many streets in Midtown that still had their historic tile mosaic street signs intact. In the decades I was away, the streets of Midtown were rebuilt, and the old curb signs removed so that the sidewalks could meet A.D.A. standards. Fortunately, the City of Houston decided that instead of throwing away the historic mosaics, it would embed them into the face of the sidewalks to preserve them.

The results is bad. Really bad. What you see above is the result of two things I've observed:

  1. There is a very common attitude of “good enough” in the greater Houston area, where people will do a half-ass job and if it's good enough, consider it the same thing as done well.
  2. You canʼt tell someone to arrange tiles in a “checkerboard” pattern because a surprising number of people have never played checkers, and donʼt know what a checker board is.

The first point I've learned from actual people. Iʼve met a number of people with this “good enough” attitude, and lack of pride in the things they do. One guy who thought this way bought his wife a used iron from eBay because he thought it was a “good enough” anniversary present.

The second point, I discovered while trying to explain the situation with mining rights on the checkerboard sections of the Navajo Nation. The person I was speaking with had no concept of what I was saying until I showed her what it looked like on a map. Until then, she had no reference for “checkers” or “checkerboard.”

I suspect what happened to the sidewalks of Midtown was a combination of a lack of pride in one's work, combined with a lack of basic knowledge. The result is that it makes the City of Houston, and its people, look stupid to anyone who uses a sidewalk in Midtown.

❖ ❖ ❖

Well, add something!

Friday, May 27th, 2022 Alive 18,658 days

Bad string handling in the app

It seems that my choices are to:

  • Add a credit or debit card
  • Add a credit or debit card
  • Add a personal checking account
  • or add a personal checking account

Maybe Iʼll enter my personal financial information later, when Amazon.comʼs system is a little more stable.

❖ ❖ ❖

Itʼs a Frogger cart, not a Foghat 8-track

Saturday, May 29th, 2021 Alive 18,295 days

The most annoying thing about the 1970ʼs: People who would call Atari cartridges “tapes.”

❖ ❖ ❖


Saturday, May 15th, 2021 Alive 18,281 days

A talking electronic translator

Today I said goodbye to one of the most promising, but least used, gadgets in my travel kit. Itʼs a talking electronic translator.

It translates English words into Japanese, Mandarin, and Cantonese. That is, it would have if Iʼd ever used it.

The problem is that I donʼt ever have the need to translate single words when Iʼm traveling, which is about all itʼs good for. It has some built-in phrases, but theyʼre very few, and getting to the phrase you want can take a minute or more. By then, the person youʼve flagged down on the street for help has gone on with their day.

A better version of this might have been a good aide for learning a new language, but the screen resolution is too low to make sense out of the displayed glyphs, and the speech sounds like itʼs generated by a Texas Instruments TMC0281. Think “E.T. phone home” on a Speak-and-Spell. In Chinese.

❖ ❖ ❖

Watch out for Potterʼs asthma

Tuesday, May 11th, 2021 Alive 18,277 days

Today I learned that yellow fever used to be called “American plague,” and syphilis was called “French pox.”

Which is not in any way racist, though “China virus” totally is.

❖ ❖ ❖

Friday, February 12th, 2021 Alive 18,189 days

“China flu” — Racist

“U.K. variant” — Somehow not racist

❖ ❖ ❖

Friday, February 12th, 2021 Alive 18,189 days

I think the reason that many people on the internet incorrectly put punctuation outside of closing quotation marks is because they donʼt read books.

If you read, youʼre used to seeing it done correctly, and are familiar with it.

This is correct: “Word.”

This is not correct: “Word”.

Donʼt believe me? Open any book.

❖ ❖ ❖


Wednesday, January 27th, 2021 Alive 18,173 days

Analytics from my HomePod

Today I learned that not only does my HomePod run Apple TVOS, its firmware has a “Bogus Field Not Actually Ever Used,” and a “Bogus Measure Not Actually Ever Used.”

The use of “bogus” confirms the “Designed in California” label.

❖ ❖ ❖

Saturday, January 23rd, 2021 Alive 18,169 days

Fill a bunch of goblets with wine, and youʼre gonna have a good night.

Fill a bunch of goblins with wine, and youʼre gonna have a bad night.

❖ ❖ ❖

Language matters

Sunday, December 27th, 2020 Alive 18,142 days

I think itʼs very telling that our society calls immediate video delivery “on demand.” Back when VOD started in the 80ʼs, we called it “on request.” Now itʼs no longer a request, itʼs a demand.

Our society has not improved over time.

❖ ❖ ❖

Good choice

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020 Alive 18,137 days

Someone doing a survey phoned me today. She asked for my opinion about COVID.

I told her Iʼm against it.

❖ ❖ ❖

Saturday, November 28th, 2020 Alive 18,113 days

Maybe people wouldnʼt think the world is flat, if journalists went back to saying “around the world” instead of “across the world.”

❖ ❖ ❖

Pretty fly for a baller

Friday, November 6th, 2020 Alive 18,091 days

Today for no reason in particular I was listening to a 1950’s beatnik poetry record. It turns out that “baller” isn’t new slang invented by the hip-hop crowd. Itʼs at least ¾ of a century old.

I guess itʼs just like “fly” goes back to Victorian times. Nothing is new.

I’ve read that pretty much 50% of the idioms in the English language is owed to Shakespeare and the Bible.

❖ ❖ ❖

Warm and full-bodied

Sunday, September 27th, 2020 Alive 18,051 days

Essence of Santa Fe from Pinon Coffee

Todayʼs coffee is Essence of Santa Fe, from Pinon Coffee.

It supposed to have “subtle hints of creamy caramel and vanilla [to] transport you to the heart of New Mexico.” When I think about coffee in Santa Fe, I think about the seven-foot-tall barista who wrote “Stupid effinʼ latte“ on my cup at breakfast one morning.

The caramel and vanilla are subtle. Almost barely detectable. I tried it both hot-ways and cold-ways, and hot was best. But that may be because I like my coffee the way I like my women: warm and full-bodied. Itʼs good stuff, but I will buy it again if other varieties are sold out.

A Stupid Effinʼ Latte from a since-closed coffee shop in Santa Fe, New Mexico
❖ ❖ ❖

Definitely number two

Thursday, April 14th, 2016 Alive 16,424 days


The nice lady at the maid café wrote “ウイーナ♡” on the cheki we took of ourselves.

According to Google Translate, that's Japanese for “Weena.” I guess that means one of the following:

  1. She thinks Iʼm a winner.
  2. She thinks Iʼm a wiener.
  3. Google Translate is bad at translation.
❖ ❖ ❖