MiSTed: JSH: War of attrition (Part 3 of 3)

And now I close out this Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of the sci.math rant JSH: War of Attrition. I never did get around to other Harris rants; he was prolific in the mathematics newsgroup for years, arguing that he had great amazing new breakthroughs. The last and oddest that I remember is his bragging about his facility in describing what a tweet was in exactly 140 characters, this back when Twitter was limited to 140 characters. I don’t get it either.

The riff about donor type AB-elian puns on the blood type and on Abelian groups. Abelian groups are sets of things on which you can define an addition that commutes, just like regular arithmetic does. It’s possible to have additions that don’t commute, which is why it’s worth having a name for these. The closing sketch puts Professor Bobo in an example of the Infinite Monkey Theorem. It’s funny, yes, but it also challenges our intuitions about what probability means.

> Yeah only to use you in the Math Wars.

TOM: I need reserves in case a Tom Lehrer song breaks out.

> I want mathematicians around
> the world to keep thinking about what you are thinking.

CROW: I think that’s what I want to think I want you thinking about.

> I want them
> working hard to figure out how well they have you in hand.

MIKE: Touching and caressing you with loving grace.

> I want them working to keep you.

TOM: Make sure they call you daily to see how you’re doing.

> I want them to demean themselves, crawl on their hands and knees to
> keep you believing in them.

MIKE: To sit up on their nests and keep a bundle of chicken eggs warm.

> And they are doing it.

CROW: They’re the *best*, guys.

> While the war of attrition continues and it is all about inertia and
> momentum as I have always needed time.

MIKE: Time, and a bit of money, and — don’t ask why — my own Phillies Phanatic costume.

> If the world knew too quickly what my discoveries really are, then the
> true targets could have escaped,

CROW: Spooking the herd and causing a stampede from the watering hole.

> but now the net closes, and you are
> the fish that were always part of the trap.

TOM: I … don’t put fish in traps.

CROW: It’s for when you want to capture herring-eating mice.

> You were always the bait.

TOM: And I was the naughty sporting goods cashier … heh-heh-*heh*.

> They care so [ beep ] much about what you people think of them that they
> are willing to lose everything, grasping for what they cannot hold.

MIKE: Why don’t they just kiss you instead of talking you to death?

> Public opinion is such a great thing. I love it. Public opinion is
> all about perception.

CROW: Remember always to judge people by how you think your neighbors judge them.

> People like Andrew Wiles are nothing without the applause or the
> dreams of it.

TOM: Groupies gathered outside his door, women throwing panties
onto his Fermat’s Last Theorem galley sheets …

> They’ll hold on, and hold on, and hold on,

CROW: His needle’s stuck.

[ MIKE reaches up and “shoves” Mr Harris. ]

> and give
> their energy, their very life blood to hold on to it,

CROW: They’re donor type AB-elian positive.

> even if that is
> the means that is used to build the energy to end the wars.

MIKE: And with it RULE the WORLD!

> They give their life’s blood for you to believe in them.

TOM: So everyone in the audience, clap, clap as loud and as hard as you can and just maybe if we all believe enough we can save Dracula!

> And that is
> the energy that drives this forward.
> That is the hope of the world.

CROW: That hope, and a cuddly little bunny.

> It was always about time. I have always needed time.

MIKE: Time and my new … *LETTERS*!

TOM: He thought up an acronym and that’s enough for us?

> James Harris

TOM: Thank you, thank you, you’ve been a great crowd. Remember to tip your cows.

CROW: Waitresses.

TOM: Tip your waitresses’s cows.


MIKE: Let’s blow this popsicle stand.

[ ALL exit, as appropriate. ]

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6.. ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. TOM, MIKE, and CROW shake out their heads. ]

MIKE: I think after that we’ve all learned an important lesson.

TOM: And if you don’t want me to put you on the spot by asking what it was you’d better give me a quarter.

MIKE: What are you, Charlie McCarthy? I’m not afraid to explain it.

CROW: Ooh, ooh, ooh, I know, I know what that was all about, can I tell?

MIKE: Yes, yes, you may, Master Crow.

TOM: Fink.

CROW: [ Standing tall ] Ahem. Thank you and thank *you*.
[ TOM snorts. ] That was all about … *cats*. Thank you.

MIKE: [ Touching his shoulder. ] That was elegantly wrong, thank you.

[ AIRLOCK opens and closes. GYPSY enters. ]

MIKE: GYPSY! Hey, good to see you.

TOM: [ Simultaneously ] Gypsy’s back! Yay!

CROW: [ A second later ] Why not cats?

GYPSY: What is … likewise?

TOM: Um …

CROW: It’s been a madhouse without you.

GYPSY: What is … I’d imagined so?

[ MIKE buries his head in his hands. ]

TOM: Don’t say it … you’re suffering from the heartbreak of …

ALL: What is Trebekiasis?

[ MADS sign flashes; MIKE sticks out a hand enough to hit it. ]

[ CASTLE FORRESTER. BOBO is still in his bed, with a portable typewriter precariously perched on his stomach. The teddy bear is by the typewriter. Occasionally BOBO taps a key. PEARL FORRESTER watches over with blue pencil. OBSERVER is up front. ]

OBSERVER: And welcome back. As long as Professor Bobo’s incapacitated Pearl and I thought it would be a real kick to test out that bit about monkeys at typewriters producing the complete works of Shakespeare, so there you have it.

BOBO: You know, I’m fairly sure I am recovered.

PEARL: Type.

[ BOBO whimpers and then with a single finger hits one key, then another, then gets his fingers jammed between two keys, and whimpers again. ]

PEARL: This just … this isn’t working.

OBSERVER: No, not in the slightest.

PEARL: We need to throw more monkeys at the problem.

[ BOBO grunts while looking up? ]

OBSERVER: I’ll materialize the catapult. [ He walks off. ]

PEARL: [ Surprised, following ] Now that’s the kind of thinking
I want around here.

BOBO: [ Looking at the camera ] Uh-oh.

[ BOBO hides under the blanket, and after a pause, reaches his hand out to grab the teddy bear and pull it under. ]

                 \  |  /
                  \ | /
                  / | \
                 /  |  \

This Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of the James S Harris post “War of Attrition” is done without the explicit permission of any of the many parties who should probably have given it, among them James S Harris, renowned citizen of sci.math; Best Brains Incorportated, renowned production company for Mystery Science Theater 3000; the fine legacy of game shows the world over; and in some unexplained but important fashion, Major League Baseball. No infringement on or challenge to any copyrights, trademarks, service marks, or anything else is intended nor should be inferred. This MiSTing as a whole is the creation of Joseph Nebus, who probably had more useful things to do with his time, but who is beginning to despair of Dr Mike Neylon ever returning. Thank you.

> The Math Wars are to me all about how some people with position and
> power forget the power of the pen, and sit letting the pot slowly come
> to a boil.

[ The End ]

Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

2 thoughts on “MiSTed: JSH: War of attrition (Part 3 of 3)”

  1. >

    It was always about time. I have always needed time.
    Mike: It wasn’t fair! There was time enough at last!
    Crow: So this whole thing was about having a spare pair of glasses in case you’re the last survivor of a bomb and you break your regular pair?
    Mike: Now you got it, CTR.


    1. Boy, now I’m stuck thinking of someone who’s taking the time after the apocalypse to catch up on Usenet. Used to be that even that wouldn’t be enough time, but these days …


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