Lost in Cyberspace
Haiku Schmaiku
© 2000 by H.B. Koplowitz

Sensing that the Microsoft antitrust case has created an opening in the computer market, Sony has developed its own computer operating system, which it is installing on its hot new portable PC called the Vaio. <clubvaio.snap.com>. Combining the inscrutability of Windows with the user friendliness of the Apple operating system, the new Sony OS is supposed to make computing a more Zen-like experience.

"We intend to capture the high ground by putting a human, Japanese face on what has been until now an operating system that reflects Western cultural hegemony," announced Sony Chairman Asai Tawara.

As an example, he said those cryptic Windows error messages have been replaced by Japanese haiku poetry, meant to make you reflect before you put your fist through the monitor. So when the computer can't find a file, instead of one of those meaningless error messages, like "error 16," up pops a screen that reads: "A file that big? It might be very useful. But now it is gone."

When your browser can't find a Web site, it says:

"You seek a Web site.
It cannot be located.
Countless more exist."

And when your machine is about to crash, it announces:

"Chaos reigns within.
Stop, reflect, and reboot.
Order shall return."

I don't usually forward e-jokes, but lately I've received some really funny ones. Actually, the Sony error message story has achieved the status of urban legend. It has been circulating for years and can be found at numerous humor Web sites, including the online version of Douglas Adams' "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" <www.h2g2.com/A185988>. Here are some of the other "error messages":
Aborted effort:
Close all that you have worked on.
You ask way too much.
Yesterday it worked.
Today it is not working.
Windows is like that.
You step in the stream,
but the water has moved on.
Page not found.
Out of memory.
We wish to hold the whole sky.
But we never will.
Having been erased,
the document you are seeking,
must now be retyped.
First snow, then silence.
This thousand dollar screen dies,
so beautifully.

I also received an e-mail announcing that the New York City School Board has officially declared Jewish English as a second language, called Hebonics. It goes on to explain such rules of Hebonic grammar as questions are always answered with questions, as in:

Question: "How do you feel?"
Hebonics response: "How should I feel?"

Also, the subject is often placed at the end of a sentence after a pronoun has been used at the beginning: "She danced beautifully, that girl."

Common phrases translated from "Standard English" to Hebonics include:

English: "He walks slowly."
Hebonics: "Like a fly in the Vaseline he walks."

English: Let's go riding.
Hebonics: Riding, schmiding. Do I look like a cowboy?

English: It's been so long since you've called.
Hebonics: You didn't wonder if I'm dead yet?

Variations of this joke, usually attributed to the Encino School Board in Southern California, can be found at numerous humor Web sites, including "Language Humor (Ebonics and all the other 'onics')" <www.voiceone.com/html/onics.html>.

The site also has a list of "Modern Yiddish Terms" including:

Deja Nu: Having the feeling you've seen the same exasperated look on your mother's face but not knowing exactly when.

Disoriyenta: When Aunt Sadie gets lost in a department store and strikes up a conversation with everyone she passes.

Meinstein: "My son, the genius."

Re-shtetlement: Moving from Brooklyn to Miami and finding all your old neighbors live in the same condo as you.

Blintzkrieg: A late-night assault on the refrigerator in search of leftovers.

Kinderschlep: Carpooling children to school.

Santashmanta: The explanation Jewish children get for why they celebrate Hanukkah while the rest of humanity celebrates Christmas.

Yet another recent e-mail warned me about various computer viruses, such as the Viagra Virus, which makes a new hard drive out of an old floppy. Other viruses include:

-- The Lewinsky Virus, which sucks all the memory out of your computer, then e-mails everyone about what it did.

-- The Mike Tyson Virus, which quits after two bytes.

-- The Oprah Winfrey Virus, which causes your 300-megabyte hard drive to shrink to 100 megs, then balloon back up to 200 megs.

-- The Dr. Jack Kevorkian Virus, which deletes old and damaged files.

-- The Joey Buttafuco Virus, which only attacks minor files.

-- The Prozac Virus, which screws up your RAM but your processor doesn't care.

Lists of humorous computer viruses can also be found on various Web sites such as "Jokes and Quotes -- Computer Viruses" <www.webabout.com/jokes/viruses.htm>, which adds the following:

-- The Pat Buchanan Virus: Your system works fine, but it complains loudly about foreign software.

-- The Ellen DeGeneres Virus: Disks can no longer be inserted.

-- The O.J. Simpson Virus: You know it's guilty of trashing your system, but you just can't prove it.

copyright 2000 by H.B. Koplowitz, all rights reserved.

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