>From metheus!ogcvax!omsvax!icalqa!hplabs!sri-unix!
[email protected] Wed Sep 28 17:18:53 1983
Subject: Amusement from CMU's opinion bboard
From: Peter Karp <[email protected]>

[Reprinted from the CMU opinion board via the SU-SCORE bboard.]


Ever dreamed of flaming with the Big Boys? ... Had that desire to
write an immense diatribe, berating de facto all your peers who hold
contrary opinions? ... Felt the urge to have your fingers moving
without being connected to your brain? Well, by simply sending in the
form on the back of this bboard post, you could begin climbing into
your pulpit alongside greats from all walks of life such as Chomsky,
Weizenbaum, Reagan, Von Danneken, Ellison, Abzug, Arifat and many many
more. You don't even have to leave the comfort of your armchair!

Here's how it works: Each week we send you a new lesson. You read
the notes and then simply write one essay each week on the assigned
topic. Your essays will be read by our expert pool of professional
flamers and graded on Sparsity, Style, Overtness, Incoherence, and a
host of other important aspects. You will receive a long letter from
your specially selected advisor indicating in great detail why you
obviously have the intellectual depth of a soap dish. This
apprenticeship is all there is to it.

Here are some examples of the courses offered by The School:

Classical Flames: You will study the flamers who started it 
all. For example, Descarte's much quoted demonstration that reality 
isn't. Special attention is paid, in this course, to the old and new 
testaments and how western flaming was influenced by their structure.
(The Bible plays a particularly important role in our program and most
courses will spend at least some time tracing biblical origins or 
associations of their special topic. See, particularly, the special 
seminar on Space Cadetism, which concentrate on ESP and UFO

Contemporary Flame Technique: Attention is paid to the detail
of flame form in this course. The student will practice the subtle
and overt ad hominem argument; fact avoidance maneuvers; "at length" 
writing style; over generalization; and other important factor which 
make the modern flame inaccessible to the general populace. Readings 
from Russell ("Now I will admit that some unusually stupid children of
ten may find this material a bit difficult to fathom..."), Skinner, 
(primarily concentrating on his Verbal Learning), Sagan (on abstract 
overestimation) and many others. This course is most concerned with 
politicians (sometimes, redundantly, referred to as "political
flamers") since their speech writers are particularly adept at the
technique that we wish to foster.

Appearing Brilliant (thanks to the Harvard Lampoon): Nobel
laureates lecture on topics of world import but which are very much
outside their field of expertise. There is a large representation of
Nobels in physics: the discoverer of the UnCharmed Pi Mesa Beta Quark
explains how the population explosion can be averted through proper
reculterization of mothers; and professor Nikervator, first person to
properly develop the theory of faster- than-sound "Whizon" docking
coreography, tells us how mind is the sole theological entity.

Special seminar in terminology: The name that you give 
something is clearly more important than its semantics. Experts in 
nomenclature demonstrate their skills. Pulitzer Prize winner Douglas 
Hofstader makes up 15,000 new words whose definitions, when read 
sideways prove the existence of themselves and constitute fifteen
months of columns in Scientific American. A special round table of
drug company and computer corporation representatives discuss how to
construct catchy names for new products and never give the slightest
hint to the public about what they mean.

Writing the Scientific Journal Flame: Our graduates will be
able to compete in the modern world of academic and industrial
research flaming, where the call is high for trained pontificators.
the student reads short sections from several fields and then may
select a field of concentration for detailed study.

Here is an example description of a detailed scientific flaming

Computer Science: This very new field deals directly with the 
very metal of the flamer's tools: information and communication. The
student selecting computer science will study several areas including,
but not exclusively:

Artificial Intelligence: Roger Schank explains the design of
his flame understanding and generation engine (RUSHIN) and
will explain how the techniques that it employs constitute a
complete model of mind, brain, intelligence, and quantum
electrodynamics. For contrast, Marvin Minsky does the same.
Weizenbaum tells us, with absolutely no data or alternative
model, why AI is logically impossible, and moreover,

Programming Languages: A round table is held between Wirth,
Hoare, Dykstra, Iverson, Perlis, and Jean Samett, in order
to keep them from killing each other.

Machines and systems: Fred Brooks and Gordon Bell lead a
field of experts over the visual cliff of hardware

The list of authoritative lectures goes on and on. In addition, an 
inspiring introduction by Feigenbaum explains how important it is that
flame superiority be maintained by the United States in the face of
the recent challenges from Namibia and the Panama Canal zone.

But there's more. Not only will you read famous flamers in abundance,
but you will actually have the opportunity to "run with the pack".
The Famous Flamer's School has arranged to provide access for all
computer science track students, to the famous ARPANet where students
will be able to actually participate in discussions of earthshaking
current importance, along with the other brilliant young flamers using
this nationwide resource. You'll read and write about whether
keyboards should have a space bar across the whole bottom or split
under the thumbs; whether or not Emacs is God, and which deity is the
one true editor; whether the brain actually cools the body or not;
whether the earth revolves around the sun or vice versa -- and much
more. You contributions will be whisked across the nation, faster
than throwing a 2400 foot magtape across the room, into the minds of
thousands of other electrolusers whose brain cells will merge with
yours for the moment that they read your personal opinion of matters
of true science! What importance!

We believe that the program we've constructed is very special and will
provide, for the motivated student, an atmosphere almost completely 
content free in which his or her ideas can flow in vacuity. So, take 
the moment to indicate your name, address, age, and hat size by
filling out the rear of this post and mailing it to:

c/o Locker number 6E
Grand Central Station North
New York, NY.

Act now or forever hold your peace.