Obligatory "ignore this space" : https://sacoronavirus.co.za

The Ultimate Fairytale : A short history of Greece, Rome, Israel, England, France, and Germany.

A fortune cookie for you, sir:

The poetry of heroism appeals irresitably to those who don't go to a war, and even more so to those whom the war is making enormously wealthy." -- Celine

This is from the open source project called fortune-mod. As we are pondering problems with character-matrix programmes it provides a useful example.

You might find that there are fortunes which do not display correctly, but they were then made for a monospace typeface, and as such demonstrated a little lack of foresight.

I don't know where this lady got her energy (I can only guess): she took it upon herself to go through a rather large dataset of quips that had gathered over two and a half decades.

One finds a good deal of mirth in open source projects. One finds a good deal of mirth in closed source, too. It is difficult to have an inside joke in open source.

Except for fortune cookies. For the sysadmin thereby could impose the most revolting ideas on their thus enslaved users, at a whim. With a letter which also represents a pure sound.

But our energetic lady decided to correct this dataset: categorize sixteen thousand quips. I rather suspect my guess is right.

For the good mirth, we refer to the manpage: 'The supplied fortune databases have been attacked, in order to correct orthographical and grammatical errors, and particularly to reduce redundancy and repetition and redundancy. But especially to avoid repetitiousness.'

Now why did they use such a polysyllabic monstrosity as orthography, when there is no difference in meaning between that, and spelling?

Turning to a book which contains some history of words, we find a quote that 'the foolish opinion advanced of late years that we ought to spell exactly as we speak' had been acknowledged as an assertion futile to make. English is international. But it is yet my mother tongue.

The fortune cookies were added in an anarchic fashion; but it was understood that the choice of offending their users was left up to the sysadmin; and this choice was respected, it seems.

One of the darkest things we find in open source, is the directory /usr/share/doc|. We go there when we try to figure out why we're doing things differently: why we're using open source at all.

We feel that the names of the people we find therein are something we must treasure. Because we know that, for some of them, their computer was their only friend. And they themselves were blamed for this fact.

I don't know if one of these people was Amy Lewis. But I give her the floor, now, and quote from the file /usr/share/doc/fortunes-min/Offensive|:

An attempt has been made to restructure the fortune database. This has included, of necessity, a concatenation and redivision of the offensive and inoffensive fortunes. In the process, some fortunes may have gotten lost, and others may have moved from one category to another (or from both categories to one or the other, more commonly).

The following were the criteria I used to make the division:

Anything about sex is offensive. Welcome to America. *sigh*
Insults based on religion or ethnicity are offensive.
Generally, any criticism of anybody's religion is offensive.
"He really said that?" quotes from politicians are offensive.
Political bias is offensive.
Limericks are offensive even if they aren't.
Tastelessness is offensive (q.v. "The Snack").
Misogyny and misandry for the sake of themselves are offensive.
Vulgarity is offensive.
Violence for the sake of humor is offensive.

Surprisingly, given this rather broad definition, there are still more inoffensive quotations, quips, and quozzits than offensive ones. A peculiar, back-handed compliment to human nature (it surprised me).

In another file in this directory (Notes), the original author(s) of the fortune distribution state that "racist, mysogynist [sic] (sexist), or homophobic ideas" should never be included in the fortune database.

This was not the case when the database came into my possession, and I began attempting to divide it thematically. Misogyny and homophobia are both pretty well-represented; it is thus only a minor relief that racism isn't (nonetheless, it *is* a relief). Faced with two unpalatable alternatives, of including material that really deserves no wider publication or of acting the censor, I choose to pass on the responsibility, though I have attempted to make maintenance easier. Misogyny is sequestered in the file "misogyny," homophobia in "hphobia," and racism in "racism" (see the file 'cookie-files' in this directory for a discussion of the contents of the various files), all in the offensive directory. Those who respect women, gays, and people of color may prefer to either remove the .dat file (which keeps the strings, but makes them inaccessible via the fortune program), or to delete these files altogether.

I admit that I was strongly tempted to simply remove these fortunes, an action that I might have justified by pointing to the Notes of the original authors. However, it appears that over the course of time there have been those who find these sorts of prejudice amusing, and in America, at least, even Nazi rhetoric is a protected form of speech. So I include them, and leave the decision to individual system administrators.

I will add, as a final note, that reading through the offensive fortunes (I have been forced to read and reread every fortune in the database several times, in order to assign things to their proper places) has left me far less amused by fortune -o than previously. It is easy to overdose on insult.

Amy Lewis alewis@email.unc.edu September-October 1995.

The Debian package documentation refers also to the following people: Florian LaRoche, Karl Lehenbauer, Helmut Geyer, Brian Bassett, Mark Ng, David H. Silber, Pascal Hakim, Joshua Kwan, Dennis L. Clark, and Ken Arnold.

I have not included the offensive cookies; I have made a meagre selection of the inoffensive ones. There seem to have been many, many people who were very, very short-sighted.

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