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Smithson Thus Far... ·

D. Connolly (theogrin) says:

Next thing you know, Unity's going to flip the Speak & Math around, and type in 5318008, just for giggles...

Justin Kane (avatarjk137) says:

"14" really feels like it should have "bitch" immediately following.  But of course that would be a major diplomatic faux pas, considering Sweetheart.

casimir (casimir) says:

Numen makes a nice addition to the team.

Rob (rrreed) says: One has to wonder what Speak & Read did to be excluded from the Triune in favor of William Perry there…

¿Viva la Revolución Liberal? Résistance?
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

@rrreed: "One nation, underground, indecipherable ..."

(TUNE: "The Streak", Ray Stevens)

This one, we call him The Fridge!
Fills the room up just a smidge!
Between humans and machines,
He will try to find the means
To build a metaphoric bridge!

Oh yea, we call him The Fridge!
To him, you're small as a midge!
Man, this dude is really cool,
And he pities any fool
That he'll sit on top and squish!

Rincewind (outworldcats) says: "Hello, Numen!"
Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: I figure y'gotta cut the Machine Union dudes some slack...they're probably not allowed to reveal their sapience in front of mundanes, places like Annex One are their only outlet for frustrations. Elsewhere they have to just passive-aggressively break down at random and leak strange fluids.
Rachel Blackman (rainpacket) says:

Either Numen's no so wise, or he's being clever.  After all, 14 is /not/ the Answer, but it is one third of the answer!  And Numen's one third of the Triune...  hrm.

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

Jeff made up a whole backstory that will probably never come up to explain the absence of the Speak & Read, because that's the way he rolls.
Steve Ford (fordsfords) says:

I like how The Fridge has notes stuck to him.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

@outworldcats: You win the Internet for today!

The Auld Grump (theauldgrump) says:

14=hi :P


The Auld Grump

E.T. the Eccentric Type (et_the_eccentric_type) says:

!5508 51 345

!06 '06 '09

John Breckenridge (jbrecken) says:


E.T. the Eccentric Type (et_the_eccentric_type) says:

(wish I were around for the "I.P." bit; that's easier with 13 more characters to choose from)

Dave Estep (cyaegha) says:

 Oh Heavens... how many calculators, and by extension EVERY SINGLE GADGET I have ever owned, have deserved the Unity treatment....

Adam (10-0-0-1) says: Well on the upside if they ever need to negotiate with Klingons we all know UNITY is qualified to take the lead.
Rincewind (outworldcats) says: @10-0-0-1, She'd probably get on well with the Kzinti Diplomatic Corps, as well.
Rob (rrreed) says: And Unity's just the person to teach the Kzinti the Lesson, too!
Nate Cull (natecull) says:

Suddenly I'm wondering who it was who named the Intel 8008.

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Woo.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Love In An Elevator", Aerosmith)

Sittin' and negotiatin',
Workin' with the union rep!
Gotta put an end to hatin',
Gotta take it step by step!

Now Unity is admittin',
"There's something I really like!
I bunch up my mitt an' commence with the hittin'!"
That's how you break a strike!

Punchin' a calculator!
He's goin' down, yeah that sums it up!
Punchin' a calculator!
Pain in the sound that is comin' up ...

casimir (casimir) says:

Ms.V says "break the ice".

Unity hears "break device".

Diane Castle (deecee) says:

@Ed: filk FTW!  Shaenon, you need to include Ed's filk songs in all Skin Horse books!

casimir (casimir) says:


Kate Cunningham (katfairy) says:


Adam (10-0-0-1) says: Violet's puppets are just adorable :3
Michael Brewer (wusemajor) says:

.....They are so having sex when this is over.

Andy Wetmore (efogoto) says:

While Vi and Tip dither, UNITY aggressively wrestles with her problems. Maybe there's even brains in the freezer.

Duncan McPherson (thraxamer) says:

Oh my. I actually get the "loaf of bread, carton of milk, stick of butter" reference on the fridge.

I'm not sure if I have a good memory for all things Sesame Street or if I'm just old. (Probably the latter.)

At least there are puppets.

Adam (10-0-0-1) says: @Michael: Tip and Violet or their puppets?
Sam Ashley (evilmidnightlurker) says:

@Adam: Or Unity and Fridge? ^.^

E.T. the Eccentric Type (et_the_eccentric_type) says:

Something tells me not all the puppets in this strip can be worn on the hand...


Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

Duncan: Sesame Street TAUGHT you good memory!

And had puppets.
Frank (pokefan_frank) says:

Why does Unity suddenly remind me of Shovelhead?

woozy (woozy) says:

Oh my. I actually get the "loaf of bread, carton of milk, stick of butter" reference on the fridge.

I vaguely remember that but I forget the punchline.  Funny though,  I was thinking about this book ('t+forget+the+bacon&printsec=frontcover&source=bn&hl=en&ei=7NhPTP3XGob0swPgmdS7Bw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=8&ved=0CDgQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q&f=false) tjust this morning.

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Negotiations are proceeding.... well, they're proceeding, anyway.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

As long as we're on a Sesame Street theme today ...
(TUNE: Theme to "Sesame Street")

Let's calm down!
Need to find ... common ground!
Puppets frown
When tempers feel the strain!
Is there any way to get,
Way to get us focused again?

See, Ms. Bee,
Numen is ... going "33333!"
Is after Fridge's brain!
Is there any way to get,
Way to get us focused again?

Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says:

You didn't say, "Any GOOD ideas?", now did you?

Rob (rrreed) says: At least the negotiations haven't gotten aggressive yet—no one's drawn a lightsaber.
John Breckenridge (jbrecken) says:

Shouldn't it be "container of milk?"

Philip Cohen (treesong2) says:

OK, how about an explanation for those of us after whose times Sesame Street and "loaf of bread, carton of milk, stick of butter" were?

Philip Cohen (treesong2) says:

Oops, never mind. Searching on 'container of milk' gets lots of references, including a clip on a Russian site:,_container_of_milk,_stick_of_butter.htm&rel=1

I think you had to be there, though.

Mark Steele (sykomantis) says:

Funny. I remember the "loaf of bread, carton of milk, stick of butter" bit from Johnny Bravo. The way it went was he kept mixing up the order of the words until someone asked him what he was doing and he says, "Not now kid I need to get mama's loaf of buttermilk!"

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

I think it was "container of milk" but there wasn't enough room for that on the piece of paper. It thought it'd be too small to read as-is.
Sam Ashley (evilmidnightlurker) says:

We knew this was coming...

Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: Nick's brother in spirit.
E.T. the Eccentric Type (et_the_eccentric_type) says:

Now, see, here's something I don't get.

Numen is a machine. He has no glands, and, by extension, no reproductive urges. Why would he laugh at an exposed mammary? That shouldn't make him feel anything.

And if he's really that pervy, why did the Union pick "him" as their representative?

E.T. the Eccentric Type (et_the_eccentric_type) says:

And another thing. "Looking down"? With what?

woozy (woozy) says:

We knew this was coming...

Well, When one only has access to 1/3 of the letters and your third include B,L,G and H it's pretty hard not to make a 5318008 joke.

I say, carpe sinum, Numen (poor guy can't even say his own name).  8008.342.32315

Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says:

Doesn't it strike anyone else as odd that she says "looking down this blouse," rather than 'my blouse'? That simply struck me as odd.

woozy (woozy) says:

Doesn't it strike anyone else as odd that she says "looking down this blouse," rather than 'my blouse'? That simply struck me as odd.

Yes.  Then I thought it was similar to her saying to Tip "You can be turning this down" i.e. refering to herself as a thing.  Then I thought it didn't really make sense after all.

But being a woozy, I chose to talk about boobies instead.

Rob (rrreed) says: Hmmm… Maybe Speak & Read has proved itself to be the smartest one by not joining the Triune.

Hey, look at that! Sweetheart's RAMPAGING with the ORACLE! ::Sniff:: Look how far our little Sweetheart has come since the coffee spill incident. It brings tears to one's eyes, it does. ::Sniff::

Somehow "Rampaging with the Oracle!" sounds like a workout DVD…
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Ai yai yi.
Adam (10-0-0-1) says: now I am imagining Alpha 5 making suggestive comments about the female rangers of any given team... this is an exceedingly strange concept.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps", Osvaldo Farrés and Joe Davis)

To solve the Union crisis,
That's what we're here today for,
But you can only say, "Four
Three four, three four, three four!"

Amid the rage and chaos,
My mammaries you lust for!
And all you say is just, "Four
Three four, three four, three four!"

I promise you that after,
We'll go on
A fun date!
But all I get is laughter,
"Five three one eight
double none eight!"

Machine negotiation
You're paid time and a half for!
Yet all you do is laugh, "Four
Three four, three four, three four,
Three four ... three four ... three four!"

Steve J (stevej) says: I don't think she's human-she's an android that the union sent in to make the SK folks think she's human. She is too in league with the union.
Jacob Haller (jwgh) says:

I'm waiting for the fridge to do something spectacular.  Though perhaps its role is more like that of the Man-Eating Cow in the Tick animated series (where it's a member of the Terror's league of evil).

Sam Ashley (evilmidnightlurker) says:

Or perhaps its role is more like that of the Man-Eating Cow in the Tick *comics* (where she does, in fact, eat criminals, and is a terrifying force of nature).

Or maybe it just contains yummy food.

Just Here (justhere4coffee) says:

If ViBe was some kind of automaton, it *would* explain her great enthusiasm for the puppets...

Diane Castle (deecee) says:

@Adam & @woozy: It doesn't strike me as odd at all, as long as you don't assume ViBe is a normal human female.

@rrreed: Somehow "Rampaging with the Oracle!" sounds like a workout DVD…  But isn't it strictly an upper-body workout?

casimir (casimir) says:

Noted: D.Conolly called it ("5318008") at the beginning of the week. Was it foreknowledge, prescience, or art imitating life? Or maybe there just isn't much to say in mathspeak.

woozy (woozy) says:

 Was it foreknowledge, prescience, or art imitating life? Or maybe there just isn't much to say in mathspeak.

None of the above.  It's simply impossible to have a storyline involving upside down letters and not have a 5318008 joke, any more than it'd be possible to have an 80's sitcom have a guy talking about his friend Sam and have Sam not turn out to be a hot chick named Samantha.  

Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: Button pushed.
Joyce Melton (halfelven) says:

No fair, using doggy guilt!

John Kayser (gg_crono) says:

She knows The Word!

Mark SHANKS (drhistory) says:

Time for Unity to rush to Sweetheart's aid....


So It Begins (soitbegins) says: That's UNFAIR.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Tomorrow" from the musical "Annie", Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin)

I'm such a bad girl,
I'm sorry!
If I can apologize, I'm sure we
Can make peace!
My mind's in a whirl,
I worry
Ev'ry time my furry canine fury
Finds release!

When I see that I've gone
Out on
A ram-page,
I just curl up my tail
And wail
And whine ...

I'm covered in shame
And sorrow!
If you need a scapegoat, then tomorrow
I'll resign!
I'm sorry!  I'm sorry!
I'm totally sorry!
Forgive me, the fault's all mine!
I'm sorry!  I'm sorry!
Just like calimari,
I don't have a freakin' spine!

Dave Estep (cyaegha) says:


Rob (acoustic_rob) says:

Oh, that's just dirty pool.

John Ames (commodorejohn) says: Whoa, she fights dirty. Of course, this means that they reciprocate by getting Unity involved, she won't have a leg to stand on...
Peni Griffin (penig) says:

Y'know, that braid would make an excellent chewing rope.

And she's got it coming now.  I grant you, order had to be restored somehow.  But Ms. Bee's tactics from the beginning have involved manipulation of perceived weaknesses, not establishing respect, and that's not negotiation.

Nate Cull (natecull) says:

Tune: "Bad Boys", Inner Circle

Bad dog! Bad dog!
Whatcha gonna do
Whatcha gonna do
To the Union crew?

When you were a puppy
You had a robot mommy
Captain Bram's machines
Spliced up your genes
You of all dogs
understand our integration dream
So why are you
chewing up our arbitration team?

Bad dog, bad dog
Whatcha gonna do
Whatcha gonna do
To the Union crew?

You're chewing on Numen
You're chewing on Oracle
You're chewing on the Fridge and
You're chewing on the scenery
You're chewing on our contract
You're chewing on our homework
You're chewing on Numen and
You're chewing on Bee

Nobody gonna give you no break
Copier give you no break
Dishwasher give you no break
Not even lightbulb give you no break

Bad dog! Bad dog!
Whatcha gonna do?
Whatcha gonna do
To the Union crew?

Diane Castle (deecee) says:

Gaspode the Wonder Dog assured me it would end this way.  Not that he can talk, I mean...

Joseph W. (alberich) says:

Tune - Firefly theme by Joss Whedon

Tigerlil showed Tip hell
Left him but a former shell.
So he don't fall for Vi'let Bee -
That's some serendipity.

Buys us food, entertains,
Buys us butter for our brains.
But that ain't foolin' Unity -
She don't fall for Vi'let Bee.

Then we fought, then said she,
"You're a very bad doggie."
And Sweetheart fell for Vi'let Bee...

Andrew Kunz (ampersand888) says:

It may not be standard procedure for formal negotiation, but I can't help but think that calling someone a bad (insert animal/sex here) wouldn't help many situations.

Of course, the only exception is the cat. If Sweetheart were a cat, there's no way you could guilt a cat into submission. Although putting a pencil into their behind would work instead.

The Auld Grump (theauldgrump) says:

Sweetheart's Kryptonite!


The Auld Grump

Justin Grubbs (jjgrubbs) says:

It's probably Walt Disney's frozen head, posing as a talking fridge. He moves it through a mixture of nanotechnology, mild telekinesis, and sheer force of will.

'Keiya' (keiya) says: Um. Didn't this whole thing start because they got help for one of their injured? >_>
Adam (10-0-0-1) says: @keiya: see you are trying to think about this logically, all that matters here is that the contractor who did the helping was not union approved. Got to love the utter insanity of this stuff.
Sam Ashley (evilmidnightlurker) says:

In my head, The Fridge is played by Old Spice Guy.

Sean McLane (zodo) says: It's too bad the fridge doesn't have a red circle on the upper part, and an ice tray on the lower part of the freezer door. I refer to the Fridge from Jackie's Fridge
Dave Estep (cyaegha) says:

 I prefer to hear the voice of Jack Palance. It resonates oh so well.


 Maybe Christopher Walken too. Maybe both, reverberating. This went to a weird place for me.

Bob Ellis (bobthebassist) says:

I'm hearing James Earl Jones. Complete with 'Vader breath' noises from the fan in the freezer. I wonder what's in the fridge. . . beer or Han Solo?

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Well, crap.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "So Far Away", Carole King)

We're sorry now,
We apologize, we realize our ... lack of tact!
All the Skin Horse guys and girls should not have attacked!
We should honor our contract
With all the ...

Smart machines!
Causing all these scenes just means that we're all ... wasting time!
Punching randomly would be a meaningless crime!
All the other guys and I'm
So very sorry now ... yeah ...

     Talking calmly with Union refrigerator,
     Sorry that I acted like a fool!
     He's big and strong and sounds just like Darth Vader ...
     The greater of these three is really cool!

Truly, we're so sorry now,
Our collective bad, we really had a ... fault severe!
Would a mea culpa be appropriate here?
'Cause we made it worse, I fear,
And we're all ... sorry now ...

Philip Cohen (treesong2) says:

@Adam: Not to mention that they're not complaining about the fact that Tip burned out Moustachio in the first place.

Ruben Krasnopolsky (ruben) says:

The Kickstarter pledges for Skin Horse Volume 2 are now at $6000.  That's twice the goal!

John Breckenridge (jbrecken) says:

I'm hearing the voice of William Perry.

Diane Castle (deecee) says:

So.  Does their teammate Nick count as a 'machine they treat with dignity and respect'?  Or can they pretend he does?

Michael Brewer (wusemajor) says:

I think they give as much dignity and respect to machines as they do to their other clients.  And each other, in fact.

Adam (10-0-0-1) says: Well Nick did refuse to intervene for them on account of being a member so it would come down to what Nick says about how they treat him. However given where he spent much of big bad wolves his testimony might not help them to much.
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The education bestowed on Shaenon K. Garrity by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged. ... full profile