inessential by Brent Simmons

December 2001


Top ten really mean put-downs:

10. I’d like you better if you were a corpse.

9. Just because you have an opinion doesn’t mean it’s correct.

8. When I think about things I’d like to do, the thing I think about most often is throwing a hair dryer in the bathtub with you.

7. I’d listen more closely to what you have to say, but I keep getting distracted by all the flying diarrhea.

6. Children and animals are scared of you for very good reasons.

5. My sympathies to your mother.

4. Sorry about the lack-of-brainpower thing. Gosh, that must be hard to live with.

3. I can tell your parents must have done like a ton of acid before you were born.

2. Don’t ask me, ask your lover—Satan.

1. Your life sucks because you suck.

Honorable mentions:

God’s ashamed about you. He’d like to take you back and try again.

On the Internet no one knows you’re a dog. Wait, actually, we all do know that about you, it’s just that we’re too polite to mention it.

If you don’t have low self-esteem, you should.

Don’t be paranoid. We’re not all out to get you. We don’t care nearly enough.

The reason you have a headache is because God is trying to kill you slowly.

You’re the reason no one wants human cloning.

Your momma called. She said, “Die, you unnatural freak of nature.”

I guess it’s a blessing you don’t know how ugly you are.

I used to like you, but then I stopped shooting up.


We’ve entered the age where email is no longer reliable.

It was never perfectly reliable (nothing on the Internet is), but you had a reasonable expectation that if you sent email to someone, they’d get it.

But now there are filters everywhere. Virus catchers, black hole lists, and spam filters set up by your ISP, your office email server, and probably by you.

These filters aren’t perfect. You will miss some email.

My personal filters even look for punctuation—if there’s a ! in the subject line, nine times out of ten it’s spam. So I filter these to a Spam mailbox, which gets a quick look now and again before I trash everything in there.

It’s totally possible I may trash a message from you. I hope not.

Here’s an emailer app feature I’d like to see: it would warn you, before sending a message, that the recipient may filter your message as spam.

If, for instance, you’re sending email to someone and you put three exclamation marks in your subject—as in “Hi!!!”—your emailer should warn you that it’s likely to be filtered as spam.

This wouldn’t be that hard. The list of filters would be a file on the vendor’s Web site somewhere. Your email app would download a new copy every day. This list would be built by looking at the default spam filters for other email apps and by looking at spam itself. It would be maintained by a spam expert.

Then, when sending an email, it would be checked against the filters. If a problem is found, a dialog box would tell you about it. You’d get the chance to continue or cancel sending the email so you could revise it.


Papa helps trim the tree.

Self-help books for geeks:

I’m 200, You’re 200

The 0x07 Habits of Highly Effective People

Zeros are from Mars, Ones are from Venus

Practicing the Power of { ()}


To balance out the list of movies I posted the other day, the list of movies I plan never to see, here’s a list of movies I love.

Wings of Desire
Until the End of the World
Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down
African Queen
Maltese Falcon
Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan
The Jungle Book
Rear Window
Blade Runner

Here’s Greg Pierce’s list of albums that changed his life.

Whenever I get spam for Incest Porn I think it says Insect Porn—and I picture dragonflies doing it in mid-air, praying mantises making out with house flies, mosquitos starring in kinky vampire movies. Where do I join? Do you need my credit card number?


You know how some albums changed your life? How it’s hard to imagine their not existing? Here are the ones that changed my life:

I Just Can’t Stop It - English Beat
London Calling - the Clash
(self-titled) - Velvet Underground
Murmur - R.E.M.
It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold us Back - Public Enemy
Ziggy Stardust - David Bowie
If I Should Fall from Grace with God - Pogues
Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart - Camper van Beethoven
(self-titled) - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Electric Warrior - T. Rex

DRM—Digital Rights Management—is an issue on today’s Scripting News.

Here’s the thing I keep not getting. Me, I don’t really want to play music or watch movies or whatever on my computer.

I’d much rather pop in a CD in my stereo or put a tape in my VCR.

So when DRM comes up, I just think to myself, “Who cares? Not me.”

But maybe lots of other people really do want to watch movies on their computers? I don’t know, it just seems like a weird thing to want to do. I mean, we already have TVs, right, and they’re pretty cool.

On principle I don’t like this whole DRM thing. But it doesn’t exactly get me up in arms, since it doesn’t affect me.

Or, at least I think it doesn’t affect me. I could be way wrong.

Schadenfreude. Via blackholebrain.


Like many others have reported, it looks like there’s more and more spam. So last night I read a little about procmail. It appears to be surprisingly easy to use. I think for me that’s going to be the answer.

Movies I’ve never seen (and don’t plan to see):

Dances with Wolves
The English Patient
Schindler’s List
Saving Private Ryan
Forrest Gump
Harry Potter
Fight Club
Sleepless in Seattle
Good Will Hunting
The Legend of Bagger Vance
The Shawshank Redemption
The Green Mile
The Postman


Sometimes I wish that everyone on the net was at least 40 years old—or 60, better yet—so they were past that age of earnest self-righteousness. It’s boring and unattractive.

It’s in me too, and, you know what, I loathe it. It’s one of the worst things about being a (relatively, in my case) young man, that inner conviction of rightness. Ugh, so slimy. It just wells up, like some kind of irresistible biochemical event. The enemy of poetry.

The sad fact of biology is that every young man has the heart of a cop.

If you look, you’ll see it everywhere. (Here too.)

When I was a boy I was very hot-tempered. I was known for it.

Once, in middle school, another boy made fun of me. So I picked up a chair and tried to break it on his back, like in the movies.

I swung it like a baseball bat, like I was Mike Schmidt and I was swinging for the fences.

The chair didn’t break. School chairs don’t break, the way they’re bolted together, the way they’re made of plastic and metal.

The boy went down, flat on his face. He was bigger and stronger than I was, but I nailed him. The element of surprise was on my side.

We both got into trouble, we both got paddled by the principal.

Violence works. He never made fun of me again, and I never hit anybody with a chair again.

I still remember the feeling of when the chair connected to his back. I remember how it felt to watch him go down. It felt good, real good.

Perversely, it’s a memory I treasure, in part because I learned then that I must not and will not ever do anything like that ever again.

I am not a hot-tempered adult.

What if passionate, idealistic young men ruled? Wouldn’t you get a more fair society?

Actually, we tried this once—it’s called the Middle Ages.


Brent’s Law: Any application runs with greatest stability on the machine(s) of the person who does the builds.

I’m pretty sure it’s Murphy who dictates this.

Brent’s Law of Feline Behavior: The only way to stop a cat from crying at a window is to open the window; the moment you do that, he’ll go cry somewhere else.

I once made the observation that “hell is other people’s servers.”

I’d like to add to that. “Hell is also Network Solutions.” I’ve been trying to deal with some DNS issues for months. I’ve even faxed them. On their side nothing budges.

I will now call them names. They’re poopy-heads. They’re dumb-asses. They’re as stupid as Einstein was smart.

Network Solutions compares unfavorably to other modern ills, including the Greenhouse Effect, war, religious fundamentalism, illiteracy, racism, political correctness, Microsoft, and John Ashcroft.

When you think about Network Solutions, think of smegma.

They might as well be honest and change their name to Unsolvable Network Problems.


Papa at work.

It’s rainy and gray again today. Okey-doke, back to normal.

Spider-man, Spider-man, does whatever a spider can... I spent hours watching the cartoon as a kid. He was my favorite.

Dude, I am like so there when this movie comes out.

Speed Racer was my other favorite. They should make a movie of him too. I always wished Racer X was my big brother. And I wished I could drive the fabulous Mach Five.

Here he comes, here comes Speed Racer, he’s a demon on wheels.

Pitchers and catchers report in two months.


I’m freaking out. The sky is this novel color—somewhere between green and purple, I don’t know its name—and the gray creatures who live up there have disappeared.

What’s more—this is the unbelievable part—there’s this orb, a big, angry yellow eye, which appears to be the source of all this exaggerated shininess everywhere. I stared at it for a while but it hurt my eyes. It’s definitely not friendly.

What’ll I do? What can I do?

But seriously folks, this outburst of goodwill from the weather gods is definitely mysterious. It makes me nervous, as if someone handed me a check for a million dollars and said, “Hey, no strings attached, it’s all yours, have a nice day.”

Expect tornados.

They say don’t look a gift horse in the mounth—but that’s terrible advice. Always look a gift horse in the mouth, since there might be an army of Greeks in there come to over-run your beautiful, cozy Troy.


I cried because I had no shoes—until I met a man with an extra pair, and he gave me them, and I stopped crying.

First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they let all those guys go, and I was sure glad. Whew.

Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. He’ll say, “Mmmm. Fish. Thanks.”

Give a man a steak, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to raise and butcher cattle, and he’ll be all, “Where am I going to get the money to start a farm? Sheesh.”

Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to give fish to other men, and people will be thanking him all the time for the fish.

Give a man a hoagie, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to make hoagies, and he’ll burn out on them pretty quick and start thinking about how he’d like to eat some fish, or anything, just something besides these damn hoagies all the time.

I cried because I had no shoes—until my wife slapped me in the face and said, “Go to the shoe store, y’idiot.”

Go ahead and cry over spilt milk—’cause I’m gonna hit you upside the head for being such a dumb-ass klutz.

Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll take super-long trips to the Keys to fish for marlin, leaving his wife and kids behind in Roanoke. And they’ll be real sore at you.


F7, Cmd-B, Cmd-M—I wish IDE makers would decide.


What one single app keeps me having to boot back into classic Mac OS?




Are you aiding terrorism when you question Presidential orders?

No. You’re being a good American.

Somebody tell John Ashcroft.

Note to Congress: don’t be scared. Stand up.

On talk radio right now they’re talking about how in America we oppress women just like the Taliban do (or did).

We won’t let them take off their shirts in public.

Women are oppressed in direct proportion to the amount of clothing they’re forced to wear.

Well, gosh, I think they’re serious here on the radio.

Warring petitions! Some Mac OS X developers favor metadata in the file system. Others don’t.

Me, I’m in favor of neither. My proposal:

Scrap the file system altogether. We should write down all our data on little scraps of paper, then roll the papers up in little salamis, then store the salamis in the freezer. You can use colored toothpicks if you want to, but you don’t have to.

You’d think that as time goes by since the last big earthquake that one would get less afraid.

But no, it gets worse.

Every time a truck goes by or the wind suddenly picks up, and my 93-year-old bungalow shakes, I feel that thing in my stomach, and my mouth forms an “F.”

Seismologists are certain that Seattle will experience a 9.0-ish earthquake in the next couple hundred years.

Can you imagine the devastation of a 9.0? Remember that 9.0 is ten times worse than 8.0. (The Richter scale is deceptive that way.)

Let’s say that it will happen in the next 300 years. And let’s say I have 40 more years of life on Earth.

That means my chances of being in a 9.0 earthquake are greater than 10%.

That’s just way, way too high.

No sir. I don’t like it.



The Art Test tells me that were I work of art I’d be Prehistoric Cave Art.

Their words: “You are primal and mysterious. Somewhat removed from modern life, you have a powerful ability to evoke wonder and show a sensitivity to nature as well as talents beyond what most people think of you.”


A fierce demon has taken possession of me.




Referrer Pong

It’s not really a game, just something that happens sometimes. It goes like this:

1. I notice on my referrers page a link from Site X.

2. So I click the link and go to Site X.

3. Then the person who runs Site X sees, on his or her referrers page, a link from my site.

4. They click on the link—and discover that the link is from my referrers page.

5. I look at my referrers page again, and see a second link from Site X, so I click on it.

6. And find that I’ve gone to Site X’s referrers page.

Remember to honk when you drive by Vern Fonk.

That funny scooter thing won’t catch on here in Seattle because it has no roof. It rains, you know. Oh well.

I have 15 human clones of me; they live in my basement.

We’ve formed a synchronized swim team. I make them wear bathing suits with numbers stitched on them so I can tell them apart.

When we go out to dinner we always reserve a private room and enter through the employees’ entrance so as not to frighten people.

Terrible fights break out whenever a magazine comes in the mail or I buy a new book. There isn’t enough to read for me plus 15 more of me. Brent #8 has a bloody nose and is crying right now because he still hasn’t read Time magazine from two weeks ago. Brent #3 is hogging it.

Despite the occasional fights, they’re all very cute when they’re asleep on the big giant mattress I put in the basement. I’ll post a picture when I get a chance.

I like to make up gross names for Harry Potter books. Some of the more printable include:

Harry Potter and the Dogs from Hell
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Rock-Hard Member
Harry Potter and the Magical Breasts
Harry Potter and the Goblets of Mad Dog 20/20
Harry Potter and the Men of Cell Block J
Harry Potter and the Candy-Stripers
Harry Potter and the Monster Spliff

Now let’s see if I get some interesting Google searches for Harry Potter hitting my site.


Days like today, so windy and rainy, I can’t believe human beings evolved on this planet. We must have come from some place nicer, where the sun shines and the air is still and warm. Not this planet, not this gray, stinging limbo; no.