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Smithson Thus Far... ·

Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: Panel 2's Tip needs to be done as a full image for use in icons and t-shirts.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says: Instead of "USA", shouldn't Tip be chanting "RTFM!  RTFM!"
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Ooooh. [i]Now[/i] it gets interesting...
Pete Bleackley (petethemadscientist) says: Sweetheart, Unity, you're forgetting that it's Tip's job to read the boring paperwork that everybody else ignores.
Joyce Melton (halfelven) says: Lots of dogs can cross their eyes, Sweetheart is doing a pretty good job of trying to cross her ears. :)
Rob (rrreed) says: Ah, the Deus Ex Machina clause. Or perhaps the "Nick Ex Machina" clause, in this instance.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Took a while for inspiration to strike this morning ...
(TUNE: "A Day In The Life", The Beatles)

I read the Skin Horse man-u-al ...
There in the fine print, Section Thirty-Three ...
If Nick i-den-ti-fies himself
As a non-human mind,
Then he's one of our ... own ... kiiiiiiind ...
I'd love to siIiIiIign hiIiIiIim uUuUuUuUuuup ...

Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: Nick Ex Humana, Nick Machina Est (with apologies to Virgil and Tarzan).
Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says:

Sweetheart's in shock because a department reguilation made it possible to do something.  This may be a first in the history of government.

 Ooongawa! (with apologies to tiff_hudson)

Ray Dillinger (bear) says: FWIW, unless they printed the handbook in a very large print edition, it's unlikely that Sweetheart can read it. Even with the requisite literacy skills, Dog-vision doesn't do fine detail on anything like the level of human-vision.
Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says:
Paul Lenoue (palenoue) says: I'm still wondering when we'll meet the person who "outed" Nick.
Andrew Kunz (miyaa) says: "Manual? We don't need no stinkin' manual!"
Dan (selcouth14) says:

Section 33 + Paragrph 9 = 42...the answer to Nick's current problem. A stretch? Yes, though not too far in the Skin Hourseiverse.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

@Dan: brace yourself ...

Oh, this is the first Skin Horseiverse;
The dialogue's terse and it's unrehearsed!
Skin Horseiverse, what's worse, is cursed
With verse disbursed by Ed!

(TUNE: Theme to "Mr. Ed" ... if you don't know it, you're too dang young.)

Michael Taub (otakuloki) says:

It's one thing to read the manual, once. 


It's another level of geekery to memorize the manual.  

Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: Maxwell Smart (Don Adams version) memorized the CONTROL manual....
Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: Sweetheart was paperwork-trained.
Rob (rrreed) says: ORDER forms? How quaint! Leave it to the government to be the last bastion of warehoused paper forms for under-funded agencies instead of using PDF files that could be served up by any web server.

And apparently working for Anasigma has isolated Dr. Lee from the process of applying for grants…
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Heh heh heh...
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Five O'Clock World", The Vogues)

Now, Nick is a client that I've been seeing
Who doesn't call himself a human being;
And by Paragraph Thirty-Three, Section Nine,
His aeronautic carcass is mine!
(Whoa whoa!)

Well, it's a paperwork world in gov-ern-ment ...
Rules 'n' regulations galore!
'Cause if there is a legal pre-ce-dent,
Then common sense goes out the door, yeah!

(We're the government, we're here to help ...)

NigaiAmai Yume (nigaiamai_yume) says: You know, it says something that what frightens me most about this strip is panel 3, with Tip and Sweetheart bonding.
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

Dave Van Domelen:  Sweetheart was paperwork-trained.

You win the Internet.  A sentient-but-non-human Internet!

NigaiAmai Yume:  That looks to me like Tip is opening with the start of an "office proverb", with Sweetheart chiming in for the punchline.  And it's not like they didn't get along before....


Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: Logic bowing to Paperwork is just a subclass of Logic bowing to Law, like the time the Indiana legislature nearly declared pi by law to be 3.2 instead of 3.14159265....
Pete Bleackley (petethemadscientist) says: Mental Mouse: I used to play a sentient Internet on a role-playing site.
Patty Stadnicki (wyvern) says: To quote the silverfish," Oh happy day! Three cheers for the government! Hip! Hip! Huzzah!
Jeremy Berg (pisceneanteater) says:

@Tiff:  Wait, what?

@Rob Reed: If you think paper forms are cute, find the Rolling Stone from the mid 1990s about how NASA was still using 1960s vintage mainframe computers.

Mark H- (eyeharvester) says:

@Jeremy: Actually, a whole lot of big businesses, including most of the U.S.'s electrical utilities, still use old-fashioned mainframes. The programs on the 'Big Irons' are known to work, and because the machines were so expensive to make in their first place they don't break down, like, ever. And when your job is as sensitive as, y'know, managing the electrical grid, it's better to be conservative and use the proven system than spend the (whole lotta) time and (whole lotta) money to upgrade to a system that could go all Blue Screen of Death at any moment.


This educational moment has been brought to you by the letters "I", "B", and "M"! 

Kevin (ofscience) says: @David Harmon:  On the internet, no one knows you're the internet?
Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says:

@ Tiff & Jeremy Berg: Here's The Straight Dope on the subject (No, really! The Straight Dope website actually addresses this issue...): 

Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: On Rachel Maddow Monday night, there was an Army representative named Major Frakt. I couldn't help but think he was the Goofus of the Colonial Fleet magazines. (Just reminded by the fax/fork thing.)
James Rice (jhrice) says: This strip sounds like Jeffery wrote it.
Rob (rrreed) says: @Jeremy: NASA has an excuse for using 40+ year old equipment at times: they occasionally need to talk to equally old equipment that can't be upgraded due to — inaccessibility. Heck, they kept a PDP-11 running just to talk to Pioneer 10, and only replaced it with a PC coprocessor/emulator in 2000 because the PDP-11 finally and irreparably broke down.

And NASA's still looking for the original Apollo 11 raw transmission recordings. If they're ever found, they'll obviously want to be able to read them.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Niiice.
Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

James: This one's mine. You can tell because I didn't give myself anything difficult to draw.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

This strip reminds me of my absolute all-time favorite Pratchett line.  In "Good Omens", when the International Express driver visits the polluted riverside and remembers going there when he was courting his wife ...

"They had often gone there to spoon (and, on one memorable occasion, fork)."

Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says:

Nick, welcome to the land of the 8 1/2 by 11 foot form.

Back around 1978 we upgraded the PDP-11 at Rose-Hulman by adding 256 kilobytes of memory. Kilobytes. It was huge expense and warranted a pizza party to celebrate. The pizza cost $20. Yesterday I bought 1 gigabyte of memory for 1/5th the inflation-corrected cost of the pizza, and that was just to stick in my telephone. Oh, what a wonderful world!

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

@Tiff:  You're a Hoosier as well?  I spent most of 1978 at Purdue, playing "Adventure" and "Dungeon" on the EE department's PDP 11/70.

(You are in a maze of little plot twists, all different.)

Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says: And he signs all these forms ... how?
Rob (rrreed) says: @Ed & Tiff: Add another Hoosier to the mix.

At least Nick will find it difficult to get paper cuts while doing paperwork.
Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says:

@ Ed, Tiff & rrreed: Greetings from Indianapolis! American by birth, Hoosier by accident...

Indiana: Where a Boilermaker is more than just a drink... 

Jeremy Berg (pisceneanteater) says: @Rob Reed (and also thanks to Mark H, yesterday): Ah, that does make sense.  I am reminded of trying to help my brother-in-law get data off a 3.5" floppy at Thanksgiving.  There was an attempt to cross tech generations with a my jump drive and a prehistoric laptop he had that possesed both a floppy drive and a primitive USB port.  Didn't work.
Rob Davidoff (eofpi) says: Another Hoosier here, Indy born, headed to Rose if I can get the money, U Dayton or Purdue otherwise (mechanical engineering, maybe aero). Just how much of the audience do we make up?
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says:

Hoosiers and Engineers: Let's not forget that Shaenon is a genius and therefore attracts the best kind of people. :-) I'm a South Carolinian who merely sojurned in Indiana for four years.

Ed: Do you remember Dan Lawrence, the guy who wrote Dungeon (aka Telengard)? He was there about that time. We got a copy in '78. I only met Dan briefly in 1981 when Rose hosted a programming competition that included Purdue, but a few years later I got to playtest Avalon Hill's Telengard for the Atari.

Rob: Good luck on getting to Rose. It was awesome then and can only be more awesome now that there are female students!

Johnn: Nick will sign forms with digital signatures. More and more of our paperwork is now PDFs that we sign with PKI certificates.


Joyce Melton (halfelven) says: I'm guessing fart sniffer. :)
Michael Martin (mcmartin) says: I'm going to go with "catasser", since he probably *was*.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: No idea.
James Kehl (shykta) says:

Considering his diet of junk food and fungal cola, I'da thought he was just a fat sh...ugar junkie?

 Although he has lost a lot of weight lately. Or he's put on about 15 tonnes - it depends on how you look at it...


Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: I want to know.
Randy Goldberg (drgaellon) says: I assumed it was c*cks*cker...
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says: Wasn't there a teen idol named David Catsitter?  My cousin used to be crazy about him.
Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says: Thank goodness the gummint wasn't looking for a top-secret AI-controlled tugboat, or something.
Rob (rrreed) says: @Johnn —


For example, while the flying submarine (or "submacopter") is a fairly old idea (75+ years!), the gummint really wants one, and started a design competition just a few months ago!
Andy Wetmore (efogoto) says: Ed, wasn't it Shaun Catsitter who sang about "The doo doo run runs, the doo doo runs"?
Michael Brewer (wusemajor) says:

We don't want him dismantled because he is a Human Being!  ...Errr...No wait....

We don't want him dismantled because he isn't a Human Being!

Owl Who says South (owlsayssouth) says:

we dont want him dismantled because he will be cheaper for them to use, because you dont have to pay the pilot in anything besides free internet and cable. and mabye a WoW account.

Rob (rrreed) says: OOOH! OOOH! Let's get four more vehicles similar to Nick, paint them different colors, and rig them to transform and join together! We could call them Team VolGatchaZord-Force!
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: rrreed: NO.
Krid OCaign (krid) says: Unless they take the VR system so that he has a virtual interface I think he's going to need a WALDO unit to use the Internet and play WoW. Of course, I would expect that any WALDO requirements he provided SH with would include a hydraulic penis.
Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: No, the hydraulic johnson is one of Mustachio's seldom-used acessories. Nick would be all about modern teledildonics.
Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says:

Mustachio's business would be copper-plated and steam-powered.  For some reason, he's very popular in bars.

If Nick doesn't have one, he truly fits the definition of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, doesn't he?

Indigo C (indigo) says:

Dave.  I could've gone a good bit longer without knowing the phrase "modern teledildonics".



Jeremy Berg (pisceneanteater) says: They don't want Nick dismantled because it's so hard to get something that big to stay on the mantle in the first place.
'Keiya' (keiya) says:

 Mmm. Nick hasn't thought this through, I don't think. There really aren't very many lady-planes, after all...

 Maybe he can hook up with Unity!

Krid OCaign (krid) says: Keiya: That's actually a believable pairing. I'm positive she would LOVE playing with his rockets - and setting them off, too.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

OK, now I'm picturing Unity doing the Dr. Strangelove-type bomb ride ... but instead of a bomber-dropped big nuke, she'd be straddled on a Sidewinder and riding it like a Sybian ...

(... after lengthy internal debate, adding this to the fan art project pile ...)

Paul Lenoue (palenoue) says: Now you know why mad scientists laugh so much, they're thinking up stuff like these comments ;-)
Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

You draw an innocent little comic strip, you try to bring a dash of joy into people's lives in these troubled times, and before you know it folks are describing steam-powered copper wangs and using the term "teledildonics." Where did I go wrong in my life?
Jeffrey Channing Wells (channing) says:

Very simply, you got onto the Internet.  Everything after that point -- in virtually anyone's life -- is a long slope of variant decline.

Mark H- (eyeharvester) says:

Re: Today's strip - Hah! It's funny 'cause it's true!

Actually, that also works for Shaenon & Jeffrey's comments, too...

Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: The big question raised here is, what's rule 34 of the SH employee handbook?
Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: Work that red tape, dude!
Eric Burns (ericburns) says:

...okay, I still think he's an Impudite?

But sometimes... sometimes I can see Mercurian in him. Just a little.

Regardless, this is the best example of a Mercurian resonance I've seen. Which, given that his Impuditing is generally regarded as good and this Mercurianing is being described as Good... makes me wonder if this is all accidential or if Channing (I don't think Shaenon speaks conversation In Nomine) is intentionally doing a subversion/IN backwards thing.

All of which doesn't hold a candle to the fact that this is awesome.

Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says: ...okay, Mr. Burns. You had me, but you lost me.
James Rice (jhrice) says: Brilliant.
Joseph Charneskie (mutantsentry) says: Well, I don't know about the General's troops, but this is one Airman who would lay down his arms right about now...
Rob (rrreed) says: I wouldn't do that, Joseph. Unity would just pick them up and use them against you put them on.

And Tip's not evil, he's Bureaucratic Neutral.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: *snicker*

Marleen de Kramer (malabarista) says: The best part is that Tip seems to really be embarrassed at being evil! Er, good.
'Keiya' (keiya) says:

 > Dave Van Domelen: The big question raised here is, what's rule 34 of the SH employee handbook?


 "You may not make porn of it. Ever."

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

I love the expression of general annoyance in the last panel.

Pun intended, yes.

NigaiAmai Yume (nigaiamai_yume) says:

To quote one of my favorite personal characters, who is now giving Tip a lovely printed T-shirt with peek-a-boo back:

"You call me evil like it's a BAD thing!" - Olympia, (c) Mary-Melissa Wilzewski

Rob (rrreed) says: @Marleen - Like I said, Tip's Bureaucratic Neutral — an odd subset of Lawful Evil and Chaotic Good.

@Dave - Given the premise of the strip I suppose Rule #34 in the P:SH manual could be, "I will not turn into a snake. I never helps."
Basil Jelly (basil_jelly) says:

There is something very Eric Frank Russell going on here.


Almighty Hat (butjustcallmehat) says: ... Okay, <I>now</i> I see how Tip lands all the ladies.
ysabet hasuko (ysabet) says: ...'Modern Dildonics'.  Yeah, there's GOT to be a Rule#34 for that one somewhere out there.  Aside from the things you can buy that look like briefcases but're powered by Black & Decker, I mean.  o_O
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The education bestowed on Shaenon K. Garrity by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged. ... full profile