Cheeseburger Gothic

More of that Ranger interview by Jason Lambright

Posted March 7 by John Birmingham

There's another entry available and worth a look.

At the Interstellar valley.

Me?

I'm busy as hell.

1 Responses to ‘More of that Ranger interview by Jason Lambright’

jason has opinions thus...

Posted March 7
Less posting more publishing works for me. I want my space opera and I want it now.

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Pete's Ranger School Overview

Posted February 22 by John Birmingham

You'll find this entry on JasonL's blog interesting. The first of a couple of interviews with former war fighters.

Check it out.

7 Responses to ‘Pete's Ranger School Overview’

jason reckons...

Posted February 22
I've been keeping an eye on this and I am hooked on Ranger Pete. I want him as my friend and to rescue me from a besieged embassy in sub Saharan Africa. Hopefully both will happen.

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jl is gonna tell you...

Posted February 23
Pete would be fine with that. He's versatile. Just as long as you keep him supplied with Grizzly chew and Natural Light (or its local equivalent).

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Senator Texas puts forth...

Posted February 24
Got a link?

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted February 24
Hit the test link that says Check it out.

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Bondiboy66 has opinions thus...

Posted February 24
I remember reading of the Rangers Course years back - it's certainly up there in terms of difficulty with courses like SAS Selection for intsance.

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NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 27
Did Pete get f*ked by the fickle finger of fate?

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Senator Texas mumbles...

Posted February 28
Magic!

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NEMESIS: a Dave Vs the Monsters Story, by Don Goodrum

Posted February 21 into The Dave by John Birmingham

I've had a few submissions for the collected fantholoy later this year. (Yes, I just invented that word and I like it). Nemesis, by Don Goodrum runs to to more than five thousand words. This is just a taster from the opening pars.

Hero’s Log: Tuesday 2:24am CST

I stand watch over my city. Watching as the night chokes the tiny metropolis in thick dark folds like a blanket or a shroud. Watching as the light from the city fights its way upward like a drowning man fighting the current of a river. Watching as a gibbous moon casts a baleful eye across the stage below, waiting for the show to begin.
Watching. And the city watches back.
I am the Crimson Avatar. Defender of the Weak and Protector of the City of Pensacola, Florida, I patrol these mean streets, stopping crime; turning back evil; making the world-

“Hey, Doug-?”
-making the world a better place. Safer, cleaner-
“Seriously Doug, are you in there? Are you awake?”
And unfortunately, I don’t work alone.
I turned and looked at the person standing next to me on the roof of the Saenger Theatre, overlooking Palafox Avenue. Shorter and slighter than my own chiseled physique, he wore a yellow tunic with red piping and red pants tucked into matching red boots. Top it all off with a red domino mask and his own mop of curly red hair, he looked much like a combination between the original Kid Flash from the comics and the current leather-clad one on TV. A fact I’ve pointed out to him more than once.
“Cameron,” I said in a long-suffering voice. “Wildfyre. Haven’t I asked you at least a million times not to interrupt me when I’m making log entries? And you know the rule; we don’t call one another by our real names when we’re in costume. You’re putting our loved ones at risk.”
“What loved ones? What risk? When was the last time we did anything other than stand up on this rooftop like a couple of morons in their skintight suits telling lies to one another?”
“We stopped that mugger a few weeks ago,” I said, lamely. “And we work in the soup kitchen every Wednesday.”
“That mugger was a panhandler begging for loose change,” Wildfyre snapped. “And dishing up bowls of chicken noodle is not my idea of fighting crime.”
“We just need to be vigilant.” I said, trying to convince myself. “Sooner or later, our time will come. What we need is a purpose, a calling. What we need is a Nemesis.”
“A nemesis? You mean like Lex Luthor or the Joker?” Wildfyre got some kind of alert on his phone and pulled it out of his utility belt to look at it. “We can barely hold our own against a down on his luck alkie with brain rot and you want to go looking for a super villain? Give me a fuckin’ break, Doug.”
“I will not warn you again about the profanity,” I said sternly in a voice that sounded eerily like my mother. “And please do not refer to me by my secret identity.”
I waited impatiently for a response while he focused on his phone. “Wildfyre?”
He had least had the decency to look chagrined as he said, “Sorry Doug-uh, I mean, Avatar,” but it didn’t last. Brandishing his phone in my face, he said, “But have you seen what’s going on in New Orleans? It’s amazing!”
“You know what I think is amazing, Wildfyre? That you’re spending your time watching YouTube videos when you’re supposed to be keeping an eye on this city and its citizens.”
“But you gotta see this Doug,” he pleaded, sticking the phone right into my face. “There are monsters in New Orleans, man. Fuckin’ monsters!”
“Hey! Language, dude,” I barked, snatching the phone from his hand. “I told you, we don’t use that kind of language when we’re in – costume.” By this point my eyes had finally focused on the video in front of me. It was shot somewhere in the French Quarter, apparently; Bourbon Street or somewhere close to it, given the number of Mardi Gras beads everyone was wearing. But verifying the location wasn’t really on my mind just then; I was too busy looking at the hideous Lizard-Man centered in the frame. Standing at least seven or eight feet high, the creature wore what looked like leather armor and chain mail and carried a huge sword he was currently using as a street sweeper to clear the area around him. Fuck.
Hey, I didn’t say I don’t curse. I just don’t curse in costume. Out loud.
“You see, Doug?” it’s those same things they were talking about yesterday from that oil rig. Only this time there’s more of ‘em and there’s pictures!”

...

13 Responses to ‘NEMESIS: a Dave Vs the Monsters Story, by Don Goodrum’

insomniac mumbles...

Posted February 21
It is an interesting opening. I'd read more.
I was wondering about story length. Doesn't make me worry so much about 3K and rising.
I also thought the next set was Disappearance or AOT. Is there another Dave too?

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted February 21
Any one of the series will do. If I get enough for three books, great, if not, I'll just bundle them together.

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Bondiboy66 would have you know...

Posted February 21
LIKE

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Bondiboy66 swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 21
LIKE

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DaveC would have you know...

Posted February 21
Big ups. Like.

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WarDog reckons...

Posted February 21
You're missing a 'g'. 'fanholoy' -> 'fanthology'.

Do I get the job as your editor now?

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted February 21
Why would autocorrect do that to a poor fellow?

insomniac mumbles...

Posted February 21
If you Google "fantholoy" it comes up with 4 hits ... and you have three of them, so yes you have just invented a new word.

she_jedi swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 21
Outstanding. It's a great word

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NBlob asserts...

Posted February 21
Nice.

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Dave W ducks in to say...

Posted February 22
V. good.

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w from brisbane mumbles...

Posted February 23
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C5UXIkvVUAAU9lK?format=jpg&name=large

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Ceramic would have you know...

Posted February 27
Cool. Very cool.
Speaking of fan stories, JB, are you able to update my text with what I sent you. I'd really appreciate it.

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Project management and the arts

Posted February 15 into Writing by John Birmingham

Just did a really fascinating interview with a project manager. (Surprisingly enough, on commission for a feature in Project Manager magazine). It was fascinating because although this guy came out of the Navy and into mining and marine engineering, almost everything he said was directly applicable to managing a writing career, especially juggling a couple of different projects such as books, columns etc. For once, I'm actually looking forward to transcribing the interview.

15 Responses to ‘Project management and the arts’

Rhino is gonna tell you...

Posted February 16
Project Managers, for the most part, are Gods Among Men.

Before we were wed, I provided my then fiancee with a process flow chart of relationships so that she would have a clearly defined process of inputs and outputs.

She laughed and ripped in half.

A typical management response.

Leftarc reckons...

Posted February 16
I recently built a wood fired oven, and as I say, I had to PM the shit out of it. There was a schedule, bill of materials (broken down into capex and opex costs) and a risk budget. Mrs/Fin Controller was impressed.

damian reckons...

Posted February 17
You still need a stakeholder map and a business change plan. Did you buy beer with the risk budget?

GhostSwirv would have you know...

Posted February 23

Rhino reckons ...

"She laughed and ripped it in half"


I imagined the project flow chart of relationships to be as large and thick as a Telephone Book.

I still visualised Better Half of Rhino tearing it shreds.

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jason swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 16
Part of my full time role is project management. Unfortunately I have been unable to use the skills and experience from this role in the writing process. It's a lot easier to work with paid employees than loved ones when it comes to getting things done.

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Leftarc puts forth...

Posted February 16
JB,
Your book "How to be a Writer' is a good book to add to one's PM toolkit. Deadlines, timeboxing, customer engagement/management, and conflicting priorities are all part of a Project Manager's remit (trying to replicate the routine of Hunter S Thompson as you described is more of an aspirational goal though). At the end of the day, if you organise stuff, you are using project management skills. And that is not to demean this dark art, as I am one. Looking forward to reading your interview.

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Surtac mumbles...

Posted February 16
What the Rhino said.

Forty years of working in IT has taught me that good PMs are hard to find but are definitely worth keeping and feeding.

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Rhino has opinions thus...

Posted February 17
I tend to channel Mr. Wolf from Pulp Fiction in my professional life. He is the ultimate PM.

damian puts forth...

Posted February 17
I'd have pegged Mr Wolf more as a Delivery Manger.

Nocturnalist has opinions thus...

Posted February 18
Wolf in the Manger.

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Vovchara ducks in to say...

Posted February 17
there is no reason why it shouldn't be. Project management is basically management of resources to achieve set goals. No matter if you build bridge, house, road, computer or write a book, piece of software etc. you 've got to have clearly defined end result. And a path to it. And every step on it is an abstract mile stone, pretty much every part of said management is an abstract concept.

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Dirk asserts...

Posted February 18
*nods*

Being one myself (even got a mastersdegree in it) I only can underline that ...

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Ceramic mumbles...

Posted February 20
I've made a project plan for my writing (dare I say it?) career.
Its got basic things like a budget, phases and timeline, but also things for business planning. Future projects, compatable services, marketing plan, and am working on a competative analysis.
I'd love a link for your interview if its online.

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Aaron reckons...

Posted February 20
As a creative person and now dad I can definitely vouch for the benefits of embracing organisation. When I first started in radio my fear was how will I keep generating the content but I quickly learned I had mire to gain from the organisation skills picked up in previous jobs. It's ordering the chaos to allow for some actual work to get done. I am actually doing a degree in project management. I couldn't do it without project management skills!

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Justin mumbles...

Posted February 20
well JB, seems you are onto something here, something about your writing style appears to attract us PM types.
never knew so many of us lurked around this forum.

Here's a bit of PM humor for you;
What is the collective noun for a group of project managers?

A 'Concern'

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Travelers and Van Helsing. (Spoilers)

Posted February 9 into Telly by John Birmingham


I've been following two new shows on Netflix the last couple of weeks. Travelers and Van Helsing. Travelers is the smarter of the two, with a stronger cast and deeper script. It also seems to have more money, given it's clear advantage in production values. But I still enjoy both.

Spoilers follow. (Although mostly conceptual rather than narrative).

Travelers is a simple premise, a reworked cliche of people coming back from the future to prevent bad shit happening. That could be tedious in unskilled hands but it pays off with interest here if you're willing to ignore a couple of difficulties.

The tweak in Travelers is the way they move backwards. Unlike Smith and Cady they don't just conveniently jump into an era. Instead only the conscious mind can travel, and it can only insert itself into the mind/body of another human being, completely overwriting the personality, memories, and life of the previous occupant. For this reason the travelers take over the bodies of people about to die.

The pilot provides a series of WTF mystery moments as this process repeats itself again and again until you figure out what's happening. Things have gone horribly wrong in the far future and it seems all of the dwindling resources of mankind have been devoted to the Traveler program, to sending not just individuals back in time, but whole teams to carry out missions which will change the future and presumably Grandfather Paradox away all the bad mojo.

It could just devolve into a mission of the week series, but it doesn't. One of things that's hooked me is the prosaic difficulties the travelers have taking over the lives of people from hundreds of years in their past. Much of the drama comes not from the purely kinetic adventures, but from the lies they're forced to live and the compromises demanded of them.

It's great. Give it a look.

Van Helsing is different again. Based on a graphic novel it's more gloriously B-Movie inspired, although not as batshit B-grade as, say, Z Nation. A volcanic eruption which blots out the sun allows vampires to come out of the shadows and establish themselves at the top of the food chain. This could set up a standard Walking Dead rip off, except for the eponymous female lead: Vanessa Helsing, a woman bitten and killed in the early moments of the vampire uprising, but one who doesn't turn because of a pre-existing blood disease. Instead she becomes a sort of Buffy/Typhoid Mary imbued with vampire-killing physical skills and, more importantly, blood which is toxic to the biters. It turns them back into humans.

The first couple of eps are a bit wobbly, the acting a little wooden and even splintery, but by about six episodes in, the writers and actors have settled into their roles and it all accelerates nicely. It helps to remember that the source material is a graphic novel and that you should suspend your disbelief just that little bit harder.

But again, it's great escapist fun and well worth bingeing a couple of eps to get into.

12 Responses to ‘Travelers and Van Helsing. (Spoilers)’

Surtac puts forth...

Posted February 9
Adding them to the list now,

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon reckons...

Posted February 9
I was looking at Van Helsing but it made it towards the bottom of the list because it looked so cheesy - only so much time and i'm way behind on other stuff. It has been bumped up the list based on recommendation. Travellers i haven't even got around to noticing yet. Hell, i'm still watching Dirk Gently i'm that far behind.

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w from brisbane ducks in to say...

Posted February 9
Yes, I enjoyed Travelers more than I expected. Action, SF concepts, but with more attention than usual to relatable human drama/melodrama about relationships and, dare I say it, feelings. I liked it.

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Aaron Campagnone ducks in to say...

Posted February 9
Spoiler for Van Helsing (minor)

Did anyone follow it until the bitter end.....really really poor twists (Mohamed) and silly silly character choices (doc). I think it started strong and then ran out of ideas and just threw the kitchen sink at the plot!!

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Murphy_of_Missouri would have you know...

Posted February 10
Have you seen Westworld yet? I want to like it but it has been a slow slog for me.

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted February 10
My mother loves that show! I've been meaning to buy it on iTunes because I don't subscribe to the only streamer here.

she_jedi ducks in to say...

Posted February 10
Westworld was incredible, you'll love it

Murphy_of_Missouri is gonna tell you...

Posted February 11
I find it a bit frustrating, though I love the scenes with Anthony Hopkins and Jeffery Wright (who starred in Ride with the Devil and played Felix in the Daniel Craig Bond movies). However, I do get a bit tired of Ed Harris, an actor I like, with a character I should like, going on about, "The Maze is all that matters now."

she_jedi mutters...

Posted February 12
I found it to be one of those shows were so much stuff like "the Maze is all that matters now" only makes sense in the final episode, where all the disparate threads you've been following either get tied up, or enough other threads get tied up to give you an insight into a particular thread. A colleague watched the whole thing again last week and said that so much of it made more sense the second time around, when he knew where it was going.

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Miss Maudy mumbles...

Posted February 10
I've just finished Travelers, and I really enjoyed it. A lot more than I was expecting - proper story and all that and not just drama of the week. I'm hoping for a second series sooner rather than later. I'm watching Riverdale and The Expanse at the moment.

ntwinter reckons...

Posted March 3
I absolutely loved The Expanse. Very 'true' feeling sci-fi - gritty and down to earth with very believable concepts and characters. Hanging out for season 2!
I'm also 80% through Travelers and found it very entertaining, though I did inwardly groan at the addict character with thoughts of some predictable paths they would take.
If I had to choose I would go The Expanse with a clear win.

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Gutz mutters...

Posted February 10
+4000 for Travellers.
I thought Eric McCormack needed to find a role far removed from Will & Grace and this is a good fit. I like the little things where they experience every day things that do not exist tine the future. Oh and MacKenzie Porter is Hawwwt!

Van Helsing? its a car crash you cannot help to watch on the off chance it gets better? C'mon it can't get worse!
Z Nation has the silly Zed shtick market locked down, so it does now leave many avenues to go down. Er if they go time traveling zombies? I will drop it like nuclear waste!

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Alien Side Boob archive now open to subscribers

Posted February 3 by John Birmingham

I didn't want to build a website. When I decided to test the waters with a subscriber-only column I wanted to keep it as simple as possible.

That idea crashed and burned on the laser turret defences of a couple of corporate firewalls and Gmail's aggresive spam filtering. Apparently too many clusterfuckturduckens in one email means I'm selling time shares in Nigeria.

So, I built an archive. Or rather, Dan did.

Any ASB subscribers can check out all the back issues at aliensideboob.com

Including today's transcript of how that phone call would have gone if Paul Keating had been PM.

17 Responses to ‘Alien Side Boob archive now open to subscribers’

Brother PorkChop mutters...

Posted February 3
Journal friend came up with this beauty Regardless of your politics, or your position on hair tablets/cream, or the condition of your prostate, I think we can all agree that President Trump has a reeeaaally, reeeeaaaaly long bit of hair at the front, that needs to be coiffed over and sprayed into submission, and a short back-and-sides. A kind of 'reverse mullet'. Or, TRullet, if u will. #trullety

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Brother PorkChop is gonna tell you...

Posted February 3
Journo Friend. Not Journal friend. Bloody spellfixer

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Therbs has opinions thus...

Posted February 3
So its all well and good for arsewombles to spam me with "You have $4683 in your account" scam emails but not okay to receive some sweary copy to subscribers?
Once again its one rule for scam artists and another for those seeking enrichment of the intellect.

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Quokka puts forth...

Posted February 3
Gmail spam terminators may be brutal, but the ones at my uni email address have laser blaster eyes like Bronwyn Bishop. It's incredible what uni will block, all that's left after that purge is little smoking piles of dust whimpering sadly in the trash receptor.

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insomniac asserts...

Posted February 3
You made ms insomniac lol with the PK phone call

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John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted February 3
I've been taken aback by the ferocity of the firewall defences. Hence the site and the FB group

insomniac puts forth...

Posted February 3
If you start out with "boob" it probably doesn't matter what you say next

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jl has opinions thus...

Posted February 4
Luckily, haven't had a single issue with Boob emails. For those of you who haven't subscribed, what are you waiting on? It's well worth the little bit of scratch- my kids can go without lunch money for a while. Their sacrifice was for a worthy cause.

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NBlob reckons...

Posted February 4
My plucky @hotmail equivilant of a Fairy Swordfish don't have laser defences, rather a moustache to twirl, a natty leather helmet and guts.

NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted February 5
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairey_Swordfish

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damian asserts...

Posted February 4
I really should subscribe one of these days, I'm sill puzzling out what it is you plan to do one you have my credit card details

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Lulu would have you know...

Posted February 6
The Keating response made me think of Malcolm Tucker from "The Thick Of It" (as played so wonderfully by Peter Capaldi; the reason I could never watch him as Dr Who, because I always expected him to be breaking out the swear stick).

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pitpat would have you know...

Posted February 6
Still chortling.

Could I suggest the use of 'shit for brains' and possibly 'rat fucker' if you choose to reimagine the life and times of PJK. I reckon Keating would have used the term 'rat fucker' way before Rudd if and when cabinet got rowdy or the reporters got uppity

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Legless swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 6
If you want a mailing list service that won't get blocked by Gmail or most firewalls, drop me a line and I'll build you one. Gratis.


I'm a very minor IT godlet who's been around the Net since before DNS was a thing. When you had to type the IP address directly and the web was web 1.0. I've been around.


I've even got a Twitter-bot lying around that I wrote in a fit of rage when my very expensive aircon refused to work at the start of a heatwave. The manufacturer told me they might be able to get an engineer out in about 10 days. So I wrote and unleashed my Twitter-bot.


It sent a message to Twitter using the manufacturer's name as the hashtag every 5 minutes. It used 20 different insults based around how crap their customer service was and then recycled them but added a random 6 digit string to the front of each message. After an hour, it doubled it's output from 30 messages an hour to 60. Next iteration would have been 120. But it didn't get that far. I got a call from the head of marketing asking me to turn off the bit and there'd be an engineer round at 7am the next day.


I did, there was. Aircon fixed.


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Legless mutters...

Posted February 6
On firewall madness, I once had the unfortunate job of wrangling a massive mail server with hundreds of thousands of users. We had a terrible, Yank designed, mail gateway/firewall that kept me up late at night. It would block mail and give enigmatic, generic, messages as to why the mail was blocked. When it blocked an entire town council's messages I had to dive deep into the guts of the monster to find out why.

It didn't like Scunthorpe. An unassuming little town in England and who's mail system we were responsible for. All users could send mail internally, to each other, but any and all inbound and outbound mail was blocked.

Profanity.

That was the message in the logs.


Then it dawned on me.


There's a cunt in Scunthorpe.


So I added Scunthorpe to the whitelist and all worked again. But, as I was going through the database of disallowed words or phrases I found:

"Antique farm machinery" as banned.


That threw me. What could possibly be offensive about that?


Turns out it's an insult to black people on the USA.

Nocturnalist reckons...

Posted February 7
I gather that the problem of false positives in filter software is actually known as "the Scunthorpe problem" for exactly that reason.

Finding this out was a cause for some hilarity in my family since my mother is from there.

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Lulu mutters...

Posted February 7
OT (because Fairfax hasn't enabled comments on today's Blunty): I have to thank you for coining 'Hair Gropenfuhrer'. It's definitely my new favourite.

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