Entries Tagged 'Humor' ↓

What I Want On My Tombstone


Trevor Harmon has gone offline

Apple’s “Get a Mac” campaign goes international

Inspired by a recent MacRumors article about a Japanese version of the “Get a Mac” campaign, I wondered how many foreign-language ads Apple had made. I found five:

Unfortunately, the Japanese version is the only one with actors other than John Hodgman and Justin Long. The rest are simply dubbed.Still, if I had to choose anyone to replace John and Justin, it would be these guys.

Japanese Get a Mac ad

Name games

Hello. My name is Trevor Harmon.

Tervor Time

“Trevor” comes from a Welsh surname that originally meant “big village” or “great settlement.” It’s derived from the Welsh words tref (“village” or “homestead”) and mawr (“large”). “Trevor” is also a name of Irish descent, an Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Treabhair, meaning “wise” or “prudent.” Alternate forms include “Trefor,” “Trevar,” and “Trever,” and it is closely related to the names “Trevis” and “Trevin”. Here it is in Chinese:

Trevor in Chinese

Famous Trevors include baseball player Trevor Hoffman, actor Trevor Howard, television presenter Sir Trevor McDonald, and pro wrestler Trevor Murdoch. “Trevor” is also the star of a cartoon and is saving young lives. As a baby name, “Trevor” was virtually unheard of in the United States until the 1950s. Its popularity grew rapidly in the 70s and 80s, hitting a peak in the early 90s.

Trevor baby name

“Harmon” is an Anglo-Saxon name, originally derived from the Old French hermant and Old German Herreman, both meaning “warrior.” A common spelling variation is “Harman.” Famous Harmons include model Angie Harmon, cyberneticist Leon Harmon, and actor Mark Harmon. The Harmon Trophy is a prestigious aviation award. The Irish coat of arms for the Harmon family looks like this:

Harmon family crest

My pirate name is Black Tom Flint.

My rap star name is General Killa.

My scammer name is Sithole Tungay, a high-placed officer of a Prime Bank in Africa, Lome Branch.

My bunny name is Humphrey Bogart Stretch-Hop-A-Long.

My cyborg name is Transforming Robotic Exploration and Vigilant Observation Replicant (T.R.E.V.O.R.).

My monkey name is Fingers Knuckle-dragger.

My Japanese name is 猿渡駿. (“Saruwatari shun”, monkey on a crossing bridge, fast person.)

My Mormon name is Trevier Caramon.

Trevor cheer

My poet name is Oberon Dingleberry.

My spammer name is Gratis F. Griddle.

My spy name is Trevor “Intrigue” Harmon.

My squirrel name is Nibbles Smallnuts.

My Star Wars name is Treha Taola, Nommaxima of Halls.

My vampire name is Count of The Great Oceans.

My fluffy kitten name is Sprinkles Merryweather.

My Santa’s little helper name is Lovable Dancing-Tummy.

Bullet with my name on it

Top ten longest titles of research papers

One of the things you learn as a Ph.D. student is how to do research. Though I’m still far from mastering that particular lesson, there’s something I’ve discovered along the way: Academic researchers love coming up with long titles for their papers. In fact, a colleague’s recent 27-word Ph.D. thesis had me wondering, “Just how long do these titles get?” I decided to find out. I wrote a little script that scans the DBLP database and spits out the longest titles it finds (based on number of characters, not words). Excluding non-English titles, here’s the top-ten list:

  1. In silico exploration of the fructose-6-phosphate phosphorylation step in glycolysis: genomic evidence of the coexistence of an atypical ATP-dependent along with a PPi-dependent phosphofructokinase in Propionibacterium freudenreichii subsp. shermanii
  2. A Comparative Study of Artificial Neural Networks Using Reinforcement Learning and Multidimensional Bayesian Classification Using Parzen Density Estimation for Identification of GC-EIMS Spectra of Partially Methylated Alditol Acetates on the World Wide Web
  3. Performance of empirical potentials (AMBER, CFF95, CVFF, CHARMM, OPLS, POLTEV), semiempirical quantum chemical methods (AM1, MNDO/M, PM3), and ab initio Hartree-Fock method for interaction of DNA bases: Comparison with nonempirical beyond Hartree-Fock results
  4. Joint quantum chemical and polarizable molecular mechanics investigation of formate complexes with penta- and hexahydrated Zn2+: Comparison between energetics of model bidentate, monodentate, and through-water Zn2+ binding modes and evaluation of nonadditivity effects
  5. A Simple Flexible Program for the Computational Analysis of Amyl Acyl Residue Distribution in Proteins: Application to the Distribution of Aromatic versus Aliphatic Hydrophobic Amino Acids in Transmembrane alpha-Helical Spanners of Integral Membrane Transport Proteins
  6. Three-Dimensional Quantitative Structure-Property Relationship (3D-QSPR) Models for Prediction of Thermodynamic Properties of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs): Enthalpies of Fusion and Their Application to Estimates of Enthalpies of Sublimation and Aqueous Solubilities
  7. WEB OBJECTS TIME: When Microsoft Started Speaking Like a Good Open-Standards Citizen, The Netscape Extensions Tail Tried to Wag The Dog and Object-Oriented Software Turned Static Web Pages Into Dynamically-Linked Access Boulevards to Significant Online Collection Databases
  8. Hydrogen bonding in diols and binary diol-water systems investigated using DFT methods. II. Calculated infrared OH-stretch frequencies, force constants, and NMR chemical shifts correlate with hydrogen bond geometry and electron density topology. A reevaluation of geometrical criteria for hydrogen bonding
  9. Molecular mechanical models for organic and biological systems going beyond the atom centered two body additive approximation: aqueous solution free energies of methanol and N-methyl acetamide, nucleic acid base, and amide hydrogen bonding and chloroform/water partition coefficients of the nucleic acid bases
  10. The nucleotide sequence of a 3.2 kb segment of mitochondrial maxicircle DNA from Crithidia fasciculata containing the gene for cytochrome oxidase subunit III, the N-terminal part of the apocytochrome b gene and a possible frameshift gene; further evidence for the use of unusual initiator triplets in trypanosome mitochondria

Of course, a trivia researcher’s work is never done. For future analysis, I’ll focus on papers with the highest number of authors. (I’ve already discovered a potential candidate.)

orbit burp

After discovering Spamusement, the website of cartoons inspired by actual spam, I began to notice that some of my junk mail would make pretty good cartoons. Though I’m no artist, I thought I’d try my hand at making some “spamusement” of my own. Here’s my first attempt:

orbit burp

orbit burp

Yes, I actually received some spam titled “orbit burp.” It was an ad for a penny stock, but the subject line was randomly generated, obviously.

I posted my drawing in the Spamusement forums, and it was surprisingly well-received!

Just Right cereal now available on Amazon

I consider myself a cereal connoisseur. It’s true: I’m as picky and eclectic with cold cereal as the French are with wine and cheese. Keep that in mind when I say this: Kellogg’s Just Right is the pinnacle of deliciousness. It brings a refined and sensuous enjoyment to epicureans who have the good fortune to taste this scrumptious blend of dates, raisins, and almonds. It is, of course, just right.

For those without the good fortune to have tried this cereal, it tastes a bit like müsli (but with extra sugar). Perhaps that’s why I like it so much: My part-German heritage still craves that Old World flavor.


You can imagine my disappointment, then, when the two grocery chains in my area removed Just Right from their shelves. My protests led nowhere, and I resigned myself to pale imitations.

Today my luck has changed. Amazon now sells hundreds of grocery items through the mail, and I was able to order a 5-pack of Just Right cereal for $20. I think I’ll start stockpiling it; who knows when a natural disaster might once again separate me from my beloved…


I get several hundred pieces of spam each day. I don’t know the exact amount because most of it is tossed into the bit bucket by SpamAssassin, never to return. Of the few dozen that get past SpamAssassin, almost all are caught by the Bayesian filter I use. But statistical filters aren’t perfect, of course, so every few days I go through my junk folder to check for false positives.

From this experience, I know that spam subject lines can be the most bizarre, obscene, and just plain weirdest bits of English prose in the universe. This is partly due to the fact that spammers sometimes use computer programs to generate random subject lines (with unexpected results). I occasionally find myself chuckling at the wild subjects of the spam I receive.

A man named Steven Frank apparently had gone through this same experience. But instead of simply deleting the spam, he took it to the next level by creating Spamusement, a gallery of cartoons based on actual spam subject lines. He simply takes a spam subject line and brings it to life in cartoon form, usually with a hilarious twist that you’d never expect. A sample:



Warning: Like most spam, Spamusement is not family-oriented.

Stupid Email Disclaimers

I get a lot of email from people asking for help getting on the Internet with their Treo 650. One such email came to my inbox today, but attached to the bottom of it was yet another one of those stupid email disclaimers. Email disclaimers are wrong for so many reasons, but this one took the cake:

this e-mail contains intelectual property & confidential information belonging to the sender/reciever, which is protected by the physician/patient privilege & WIPO laws and treaties. this information is intended only for the use of the individual(s) named above. if you are not the intended recipient, you are here by notified that any disclosure, copying, distribution, utilization or the taking of any action in reliance on the contents of this information is prosecutable by law. members of medical management office solutions, llc maintains the legal right to protect its concepts, ideas and utilization, implementation of such concepts and ideas as enforceable by law. if you have received this transmission in error, please notify the sender immediately.

Normally when I get a disclaimer like this, as a matter of principle, I simply reply to the sender and tell them that I refuse to help them unless they can correspond with me minus the pointless legal mumbo jumbo. After all, why should I help someone who’s making legal threats against me and might take me to court should I allow their “confidential” email fall into the wrong hands?

But when I noticed that the author of this intellectual-sounding disclaimer misspelled “intellectual,” I just had to respond with a disclaimer of my own. At the bottom of my reply to him, I added the following text:

Unless you are named “Arnold P. Fasnock,” you may read only the odd-numbered words (every other word beginning with the first) of the message above. If you have violated this notice, you hereby owe the sender, Trevor Harmon, $10 for each even-numbered word you have read.

That felt good.