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24 March 2017
Morning Sedition

"133t5p33k" or "!337$p34k"

Leet Keyboard

Microsoft has disocvered Leetspeak and the risk it poses to children:

Key points for interpreting leetspeek

• Numbers are often used as letters. The term "leet" could be written as "1337," with "1" replacing the letter L, "3" posing as a backwards letter E, and "7" resembling the letter T. Others include "8" replacing the letter B, "9" used as a G, "0" (zero) in lieu of O, and so on.

• Non-alphabet characters can be used to replace the letters they resemble. For example, "5" or even "$" can replace the letter S. Applying this style, the word "leetspeek" can be written as "133t5p33k" or even "!337$p34k," with "4" replacing the letter A.

• Letters can be substituted for other letters that may sound alike. Using "Z" for a final letter S, and "X" for words ending in the letters C or K is common. For example, leetspeekers might refer to their computer "5x1llz" (skills).

• Rules of grammar are rarely obeyed. Some leetspeekers will capitalize every letter except for vowels (LiKe THiS) and otherwise reject conventional English style and grammar, or drop vowels from words (such as converting very to "vry").

• Mistakes are often left uncorrected. Common typing misspellings (typos) such as "teh" instead of the are left uncorrected or sometimes adopted to replace the correct spelling.

• Non-alphanumeric characters may be combined to form letters. For example, using slashes to create "//" can substitute for the letter M, and two pipes combined with a hyphen to form "|-|" is often used in place of the letter H. Thus, the word ham could be written as "|-|4//."

• The suffix "0rz" is often appended to words for emphasis or to make them plural. For example, "h4xx0rz," "sk1llz0rz," and "pwnz0rz," are plural or emphasized versions (or both) of hacks, skills, and owns.

"A Parent's Primer to Computer Slang: Understand how your kids communicate online to help protect them" by Microsoft Corporation

And here's a set of kewl words that Microsoft says you should be on the lookout for:

Leet words of concern or indicating possible illegal activity:

• "warez" or "w4r3z": Illegally copied software available for download.

• "h4x": Read as "hacks," or what a malicious computer hacker does.

• "pr0n": An anagram of "porn," possibly indicating the use of pornography.

• "sploitz" (short for exploits): Vulnerabilities in computer software used by hackers.

• "pwn": A typo-deliberate version of own, a slang term often used to express superiority over others that can be used maliciously, depending on the situation. This could also be spelled "0//n3d" or "pwn3d," among other variations. Online video game bullies or "griefers" often use this term.

"A Parent's Primer to Computer Slang: Understand how your kids communicate online to help protect them" by Microsoft Corporation

Remember, kids, if someone offers you some "pron" just say, "Thanks, Dude!". Or, more properly, "10x d00d!"

Leet Cereal

Sometimes Opium is the Opiate of the Masses

The Velvet Underground, 1966

The thing is, heroin gets you addicted to heroin. But opium is 40 to 50 different alkaloids, meaning 40 to 50 different drugs I was becoming addicted to.

"Confessions of an EBay opium addict" by Peter Thompson, News Review, 31 March 2005

You might be able to find anything you want at Alice's Restaurant, but if there isn't one local, or it isn't open a 4 am, try eBay instead:

Like anyone trolling the Internet at 4 a.m., I had been looking for some kind of temporary drug fix. I found it on eBay under Crafts>Floral Supplies>Flowers, Foliage>Dried.

Crafting. Sure. I liked art.

A query turned up all sizes and quantities of poppies. Some, called gigantheums, were as big as tennis balls. A special of “600 XXL-sized gigantheums” was selling for $399. Fortunately, for crafting projects requiring so many poppy plants, financing was available for $17 per month. For all of us hard-core flower arrangers, of course.

The recipe was simple enough. Hot water and crushed poppies. A blender and a strainer or an old T-shirt to squeeze out the pulp. I ordered a few dozen dried flowers from a seller with more than 3,000 positive-feedback points and a clever handle that was a clear double-entendre on horticulture and getting high.

At first, the plants came double-boxed, rubber-banded by the dozen with the stems intact. But after a few more orders, the seller seemed to cut out the pretense that I might actually be using the poppies for floral arrangements and just sent the pods themselves.

The first taste gave off a steamy insult. Even after being filtered twice, the manna was as putrid as a bowl of warm pus. It seemed completely undrinkable. Its fermented, earthy taste--a little like a liquid squeezed from gym socks--had to be chased with something sweet. The dark grinds of crushed seed and sediment formed a repulsive grit in a half-ring around the bottom of the bowl.

As I poured the slosh into what would become my ceremonial chalice--a plastic child’s cereal bowl with a built-in silly straw on the side--I learned how to drink it. Rather, it seemed to teach me how. Its nauseating properties demanded that it be downed fast at first, and then titrated for the rest of the session.

"Confessions of an EBay opium addict" by Peter Thompson, News Review, 31 March 2005

He just makes it sound so, well, attractive, doesn' t he? (And I wonder what fungicides those dried flowers may have been treated with, too. Some of them will give you liver cancer for sure, and maybe even Parkinson's as a bonus.) Television may be the opiate of the masses, but sometimes, it seems, opiates are the opiate of the masses.

Another thing opium tea slows down is the bowels. As an experienced pod-head, I learned to carry a Fleet two-pack before any major binge. (Those are the enemas in the green box.) Opium bunged things up the way eating a beach towel might. When things did finally make their exit, they felt like pine cones being forced through a tiny hole in a dry brick.

"Confessions of an EBay opium addict" by Peter Thompson, News Review, 31 March 2005

"ET Phone Home"

William Edward Ayrton

Professor William Edward Ayrton (1847-1908)

I was thinking about the ubiquity of cell phones and the price of being reachable anytime, anywhere, for any reason, no matter how trivial. And then I remembered the words of William Ayrton — a professor, scientist, engineer, and Fellow of the Royal Society — about the future of telecommuniations. (Keep in mind he said this in 1897.)

There is no doubt that the day will come, maybe when you and I are forgotten, when copper wires, gutta-percha coverings, and iron sheathings will be relegated to the Museum of Antiquities. Then, when a person wants to telegraph to a friend, he knows not where, he will call an electromagnetic voice, which will be heard loud by him who has the electromagnetic ear, but will be silent to everyone else. He will call "Where are you?" and the reply will come, "I am at the bottom of the coal-mine" or "Crossing the Andes" or "In the middle of the Pacific"; or perhaps no reply will come at all, and he may then conclude that his friend is dead.

— Professor W. E. Ayrton, lecture at the Imperial Institute, 1897

I, fortunately, haven't had anyone conclude that I'm dead when I don't answer my cell. There are, of course, times when I won't answer it; I'm not, after all, Paris Hilton.

Lorem Ipsum Dolor Sit Amet…

While I used to see it a lot more, many Websites are still riddled with "Lorem Ipsum" placeholder text. (Just do a search on Google.) Some use it until the real content can be added, while others use it as a bit of copyright-free text to demonstrate differences between fonts, point sizes, justification rules, etc. So where did this bit of fake Latin come from?

Years ago I came across the origin and largely forgot about it except to the extent it crops up in conversation. (I clearly hang out with too many writers and artists.) Anyway, it came up in conversation and so I decided to write it up.

Lorem Ipsum, in brief, is derived from "Finibus Bonorum et Malorum" (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, an ethics book written in 45 BC. The literal translation is, "There is no one who loves pain itself, searches for it and wants to have it, simply because it is pain." Typesetters have been using this as dummy text since the 1500s. Much of the modern popularity seems to stem from Aldus which included a Lorem Ipsum generator in PageMaker. The best source is which has an excellent explanation and even includes a generator to spew out placeholder text so you too can have a Website that is clearly still in the throes of design.

What is Lorem Ipsum?

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

Why do we use it

It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout. The point of using Lorem Ipsum is that it has a more-or-less normal distribution of letters, as opposed to using 'Content here, content here', making it look like readable English. Many desktop publishing packages and web page editors now use Lorem Ipsum as their default model text, and a search for 'lorem ipsum' will uncover many web sites still in their infancy. Various versions have evolved over the years, sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose (injected humour and the like).

So there you have it.

Sources and Further Reading

  1. Straight Dope Column (less informative)
  2. Google Search for "Lorem Ipsum"
  3., includes generator
  5. Text Generator


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