Volume 8 Number 2 -- April 1, 1995

No Backspacing in Virginia

Governor Allen's quality-control initiative affects state keyboards

Virginia governor George Allen, reeling from the state legislature's failure to support many of his campaign promises and the decision by the Disney Corporation to not place a major theme park in already-gridlocked northern Virginia, has proposed a new executive initiative to radically streamline his administration and distract the public from his failures.

According to a press release from the Allen's office, "One of the ongoing efforts of this administration is tp pursue the goal of extracting as much work as possible out of each state employee." Earlier this month, Allen's office issued orders to all offices to remove the Solitaire, Minesweeper, and Gorilla programs from every Windows-based personal computer owned by the state, to prevent state employees from wasting time on the job. "We should realize savings of over $500,000 in the first year alone as workers used to playing games during their breaks and lunch periods instead spend that time working on official business." Experts estimate that the process of sending a systems analyst to delete the games from each computer, and verify that they are not later re-installed by state workers desperate to waste state resources, will cost approximately $12 per system, or about $6 million dollars for all of Virginia's computers.

The new efficiency initiative includes an extensive quality-control process. The Allen press release states, "It is obvious to anyone that the most effective way to reduce the cost of errors and mistakes is to take a pro-active, rather than re-active stance. Rather than recover from errors, we will prevent them."

"According to our tests, the typical state employee strikes the `backspace' or `delete' keys more than 600 times in an eight-hour day. These mistakes are costing the taxpayers money, and have got to be stopped. All state employees are directed to hereby stop making typographical and other keyboarding errors. To demonstrate our determination behind this policy, the `backspace' and `delete' keys are being removed from all state-owned keyboards."

The first response after the new policy started to go into effect came from the Virginia Association of Professors for Intellectual Development (VAPID), a trade group representing the state's college and university professors. "This is the most ridiculous policy yet produced by that lunatic\\\\\\\ Allen adnimistration. It is virtually imposssible to operate copmuters with these keys missingg."

The response from the Governor was swift. "Surely our state's professors should be among the first to recognize the value of increasing efficiency by eliminating inaccuracy. When I took Science 100 in college, I was taught never to erase anything from my laboratory notebook. I am merely extending that paper-based policy to the computer age. That professors are failing to support this initiative clearly demonstrates that they are engaging in partisan politics, opposing my administration at every step merely because I have pledged to put an end to higher-education welfare and get these universities off the public dole."

Rumor near the state house in Richmond is that an Allen supporter has discovered that workers can make up for the removed backspace and delete keys by typing ALT-08 and ALT-127, respectively, and that the administration is considering removing the ALT keys and numeric keypads from all state computers as well.

Baseball Players May Form Cricket League

Trademark law prohibits alternate baseball system

As the time of the 1995 Major League Baseball season approaches, and ballplayers face the prospect of an entire year without any meaningful income, the prospect of starting up a Players' League was presented at a recent players' meeting in Indianapolis. The group, Baseball's Independent Group for the Betterment of Unionized Card Carrying Sluggers (BIGBUCCS), was formed by unionized players separate from the legal structure of the union to avoid anti-trust conflict-of-interest laws.

Players were distressed, however, when BIGBUCCS's legal counsel, Greciam and Fleciam, reported that, because of baseball's anti-trust exemption, the trademark of "Baseball" is owned by the team owners for all intercity games crossing state lines, and the players could not use the word "baseball," or any of the customs and protocols commonly associated solely with baseball, in any league they were to establish.

This revelation dampened prospects severely, until a catcher from the Toronto Bluejays, Opie "Octopus" Oglethorpe, suggested the option of playing a similiar, but different, sport. "Cricket," Mr. Octopus suggested, "contains all the excitement of baseball, and uses many of the same skills, but has none of these legal problems!" When asked if the games were similiar enough for the American people to accept cricket, the same player stated "Of course--cricket is the forerunner of baseball, and except for a few odd terms and there only being two innings per side, only the most avid baseball fan can even tell the difference!"

[A reporter from the Sporting News later determined that Mr. Octopus was, in fact, somewhat inebriated when he made his statements to BIGBUCCS, having just claimed second place at a chugalug contest in a bar across the street from the meeting.]

There was some skepticism about whether two innings was sufficient, and what would happen to the seventh-inning stretch. Mr. Octopus bellowed that the seventh-inning stretch was necessary only because most baseball games were already determined by that point, and fans were starting to get bored. "In cricket," he added, "there is no such boredom." He continued, "We could play nine-inning games, although those would tend to extend a bit into the late hours."

As this publication went to press, a brochure was being distributed to the players, explaining the terminology and customs of cricket. One player from the Chicago Cubs, who said that his pulse had not gotten past 75 beats per minute since his daughter's engagement last October and that he had gained 30 pounds since then, intimated that he was quite relieved that a "popping crease" was not the same thing as a ruptured uniform seam. Some expressed concern that American family-oriented newspapers might be sensitive to printing phrases like "bowling a maiden over with five flippers and a googly".

In related news, a group seeking to promote the presence of women in popular sports, the Council Hoping to Integrate Chauvanistic Sports (CHICS), issued a press release denouncing the BIGBUCCS move. "Cricket's use of the words `batsman' and `fieldsman' instead of perfectly acceptable gender-neutral terms demonstrates the sport's aggressively male-dominated culture. We find use of such terms highly objectionable."

Ask Dr. Staff

Dear Dr. Staff: I was reading a newspaper, and it said that global warming may increase the temperature by 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the next thirty years. I wanted to see how that would affect temperatures in other countries, but all I had for Europe were in degrees Celsius. I converted the change, and was surprised to discover that +3.5 degrees Fahrenheit is equal to -15.8 degrees Celsius. Does this mean that the temperature goes up 3.5 degrees in Fahrenheit and down sixteen degrees in Celsius? How can this be? --Confused by Temperatures

Dear Confused: What you've discovered is the difference between a conversion formula and a conversion factor. To convert from one unit distance to another, such as from feet to inches, you use a factor--such as 12. For every foot you have, you have twelve inches. (Since most people have two feet, they also have 24 inches, but that's another matter.) But temperature doesn't work that way. The formula to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit is much more complicated, involving an advanced mathematical concept referred to as multi-term computation, which is too complex to get into now.

If you look at a map, you'll see that Great Britain is about as far north as Minnesota. Yet, you probably know that winters given to England are not anything like the icy monstrosities the season dumps upon Minnesota. England has only been as warm as it is now since the nineteenth century, when it switched from Fahrenheit to Celsius. It did this to promote global warming--water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but 0 degrees Celsius, so when the temperature is between 0 and 32, water is frozen in Fahrenheit, but liquid in Celsius. So England, which uses Celsius, doesn't get nearly as much snow as Minnesota, which uses Fahrenheit.

But the global climate does not turn on a dime. The global warming you hear so much about these days is the continued warming of the earth from the leftover momentum caused by countries changing to Celsius to make their winters less severe.

The United States and Jamaica are the only countries left in the world to use Fahrenheit, because if a country as big as the United States were to change now, global warming would get much worse and Jamaica works so much with the United States that they use the same system we do. (Together, these two countries make up what's called the thermocouple, but that's another topic too complex to get into.) While converting to Celsius would result in a better climate for all Americans, the US will probably wait to switch to Celsius until the global climate has adjusted to the warming left over from the conversion of the rest of the world to Celsius. --Thermal Wizard

Do you have a question or comment for Dr. Staff? Send it today!

NEW! TASTY! Now your favourite hot dogs are
fat free*
That's right--Peanut Dogs, the hot dogs with the chewy
peanut buttre centre, are now fat free!*
Peanut Dogs are healthier than ever before!**
Make Peanut Dogs a major part of your diet today!
*All fat in Peanut Dogs is included at no additional charge. This means that you're getting 70% of the hot dog free!
**While Peanut Dogs may be healthier themselves, we do not guarantee that you will be healthier when you eat them.

Plus, you can proudly display the Peanut Dogs logo when you work out with
FUN! SLIM-FITTIN! Peanut Dogs AthleticWear
A complete line of bodywear perfect for any activity, prominently displaying the Peanut Dogs logo, and featuring the new miracle fabric,
all the comfort of Burlap with the silhouette of spandex.
Special Offer: Buy fifteen 10-packs of Peanut Dogs and get a free Peanut Dogs Burlex® leotard to show off the results of eating 150 Peanut Dogs (including 150 chewy peanut buttre centres!)

Peanut Dogs Logo

Comments/Mailing List

Time allocated for future SPRIL Newsletter production is a direct function of feedback received. Please send comments of what you like (or don't like) to tjones@spril.com. You can request at the same address to be put on the SPRIL Mailing List, whereon you will receive an e-mail message every time a new issue is made available.

All material in this newsletter is copyright (C) Tom Jones, and may not be transmitted further than the World Wide Web or used for any profitable purpose whatsoever without express written permission.
SPRIL Homepage Dr. Staff's Greatest Hits Tom Jones' Homepage Questions & Comments