Things To Say When You’re Losing a Technical Argument

guest post by mikl-em

Pigdog Journal

The Pigdog Journal article “Things to Say When You’re Losing a Technical Argument” by Mr. Bad and Crackmonkey is one of my ten favorites bits of online humor of all time. I can’t even tell you how many times over the years I’ve searched for, dug up and emailed this to yet another geek who had somehow missed its warm, flurpy embrace over the years.

Please be warned and take into account: I am a nerd.

Why is this good comedy? Well for one thing, it improves on the usual suspense-building reverse countdown, ala David Letterman’s top ten lists. This list counts up, starting with #1, the very best answer of all, because why wait for the good stuff? A refreshing approach.

And it doesn’t just go to 11, this list hits a full 70 places. On TV you’d never get beyond 10, given attention spans, on the net we are free to scroll and scroll as long as the joke can keep its laugh on.

Okay, honestly, I love this, but unless you are both a geek AND moreover tending toward geeky nostalgia, it’s 2001 vintage tech-humor might not float your boat.

But with no more ado… here are the first 7 of Things to Say When You’re Losing a Technical Argument:

  1. That won’t scale.
  2. That’s been proven to be O(N^2) and we need a solution that’s O(NlogN)
  3. There are, of course, various export limitations on that technology.
  4. The syntax is idiosyncratic.
  5. Trying to build a team behind that technology would be a staffing nightmare.
  6. That can’t be generalized to a cross-platform build.
  7. Unfortunately, the license would contaminate our product.

…. [click for more]

See, some of it is dated now, you don’t get many FORTH jokes these days; but I think it still comes off pretty well if yr geeky enough to be inclined to this stuff.

Pigdog Journal has been around for 10 years now, but is fairly inactive at the moment. As noted elsewhere, Pigdog’s many authors included Paul Addis aka CyberSatan an old friend of mine who has recently become infamous.

This piece was co-authored by “Mr. Bad” who wrote these lists for a few years on Pigdog (this one is by far the funniest example I’ve read).

Spock Mountain Research Labs

Nowadays you can find Mr. Bad writing for the Spock Science Monitor an organ of Spock Mountain Research Labs which is an independent news sheet published on-site at Burning Man each year. You’ll find archived Spock Science Monitor Issues here.

Spock Science Monitor from 2007

photo via Spock Mountain Research Labs


Actor, nerd, poet, producer, writer mikl-em made his name short so you wouldn't have to. In addition to his blog you can find his writing in "Hi Fructose" magazine and witness him almost life-sized in various plays at The Dark Room Theater in SF's Mission district.

He tends to write about theater, humor, San Francisco culture and history, and stuff that's just plain weird. He thanks Scott for sharing the keys to the Laughing Squid virtual HQ and promises to uphold whatever it is that the mirthful cephalopod would prefer to be uplifted.