Power Challenge of the Week


This week’s challenge: say some nice things about Brutalist architecture without it coming out sounding sarcastic. Here are some attempts.

  • “That one looks pretty inviting.”
  • “That actually makes a dramatic end to the green-roof part of campus.”
  • “I can see how the concrete fountain the plaza originally had would have balanced the composition.”
  • “Hey, that’s right, this side does look like a child’s harmonica.”
  • “It’s the way the entrance looms over people that makes gives the building character.”
  • “I would not have guessed this was built in 1975.”
  • “The patio area certainly doesn’t need plants.”
  • “It’s not until a winter storm that you appreciate those concrete pillars on the southern side.”
  • “It’s very effective in the way it overpowers the people walking around it.”

On This Date: Sarcasm Correctly Detected


October 15, 1994: In the Usenet newsgroup comp.sys.chemistry an attempted use of sarcasm was correctly identified by all of the post’s readers as such, and the comment was treated as such. This is one of twelve recorded instances of sarcasm online being so correctly used. In a further twist, remarkable enough to have earned the thread a place in Cyber-Ripley’s Believe It Or Not web site of the day that December, the thread did not then degenerate into a pun cascade, nor did anyone quote Monty Python at anybody else, although someone did (sigh) follow up a reference to the left hand of something as “sounding sinister”.

Your Technology Requirements Of Next Week, Today


I had good reason to be in Best Buy during New Student Orientation Week but don’t ask me what it was. Whatever it was comes in second to what I found, a bunch of sheets listing the Technology Requirements for the various universities that students might be going to somewhere around here.

According to Best Buy, according to the various universities, students really ought to have some kind of laptop, because apparently they haven’t noticed students have merged with their iPhones to become a big mass of people with better things to do than notice there’s a professor trying to turn them into informed citizens. I’m delighted they recommend not just getting a laptop but also an operating system and one that’s compatible with Microsoft Office, the leading way to get documents which, on any system, can be read with random lines of XXXXX marks or weird glyphs wherever you’re supposed to sign your name.

Also recommended: anti-virus software, showing that they’re right on top of the big computer security news of 1996 there, and every one of the local universities recommends a laptop with “wireless capabilities”. I considered asking a clerk if they had any laptops without wireless capabilities but was worried that one, in the eagerness to please, would make a laptop wireless-uncapable by the normal expedient of putting it in a transporter pod so as to catastrophically merge its molecules with those of a cinder block.

I didn’t buy anything there.