38 Comments

  1. Wasn’t the original Java programming language given its name for exactly that sort of coffee consumption suggestion?

    (The compiled or byte-compiled server-side language, that is. Not the later, dissimilar but imitatively named, client-side interpretive language “Java Script”.)

  2. CaroZ, I think Karl’s explanation suffices to answer your question. When the note withing the post says a pun is not necessarily on a word actually appearing in the comic caption or dialog, I figure this is what they’re getting at, with the term “play with” meaning either “play a game, such as cards” or sadly “tease with catch-and-release, and batting around”.

  3. Thanks. Even with the note, I wasn’t seeing the pun. Question – has anyone had a cat that actually ate mice? I have a cat that has managed to catch a couple in her lifetime, but she didn’t seem to have any desire to eat it. It was just a toy to her.

  4. I believe Dana is mistaken on one substantive matter*; but correct on all the points that critique why this Reality Check fails. They are correct in saying that Java Script was named in imitation of the rival and earlier Java system, and that Java was named that with coffee in mind:

    The language was initially called Oak after an oak tree that stood outside Gosling's office. Later the project went by the name Green and was finally renamed Java, from Java coffee, the coffee from Indonesia.

    And to this day, their graphic logo still pictures a steaming cup of coffee.

    So what’s the problem? It’s the comic making a presumed stance of originality, as though they are the first to associate the Java or Java Script computing terms with the use of “java” as a designation of the origin of some coffee, or in some circles an informal term for any coffee. But it goes back to the beginning.


    * Namely, saying the original Java was meant for server-side use. First, Java itself is just a language, it can have a variety of implementations. But the Java Platform, with Java Virtual Machine, was meant to run the byte-code “compiled” programs (written in Java the language) on the remote hardware, which is to say on the client side, sort of. This was the famous “write once, run anywhere” goal — since the compilation was not all the way down to your machine code. (The JVM engine is what needed to be compiled down to your machine code.) See the Wikipedia article

  5. I think maybe you guys are being a little too tough on Whamond and the squirrel. Your history notes are very interesting, and I think it’s possible or even likely that the cartoonist doesn’t know the association between coffee and the Java programming tools goes all the way back. But that unawareness isn’t tantamount to a pretense of complete originality. It’s not a bad offense to try to base a joke on an association you’re aware others have linked before you. (That’s why we have Synchronicity posts.)

    Also this may be a writer (first words “My writing”), so if he’s a scriptwriter that would explain the label for Java Script and not plain Java. Besides, despite the history and origins, the world at large is much more likely aware of JS than original Java.

  6. Mark M,

    Doc was starving when I took him in, and he ate double the normal amount of cat food, in an apartment seriously infested with mice. The number of mice went way down, and I assumed they skedaddled when the cat arrived. I did hear him chasing through the apartment at night. It wasn’t until he’d been fed regularly for about 6 weeks that he left me half a mousy trophy. Then I’d get them regularly (only half, though) until I moved

  7. It’s probably been months and I still don’t know who the narrator is on the main page. However I’m tempted to think that the unmentioned pun they’re thinking of is “Don’t be catty.”. I actually thought, at first, that it wouldn’t really be funny because this situation is the actual reference of the word.
    (Do you know, they say that when impressionism was new, some people couldn’t see, for example, a row boat floating in a pond among the tall golden grasses.)

  8. Kevin, I think the Andertoons with the cat and mouse has gotten some good explanations already. Because there’s this saying or belief that “Cats like to play with their prey before finally killing them” we understand that in the sense of releasing a mouse for repeated chasing, and swatting it around etc. But here the cat is playing cards with the mouse. And the mouse is aware of the saying, and would just as well quit the playing and get the killing done.

    But the word “play” does not appear, in the text of the caption or any dialog. But that doesn’t prevent this cartoon from being an OY, a joke based on a pun.

  9. Also, I’m not sure what you mean by “narrator” exactly, but I wrote the sentence you wanted to ask about.

    There have been suggestions that the Acting Editors should identify who individually is making a statement more of the time. Winter Wallaby has been sweetly cooperative about doing that fairly often. But I generally resist that, and like to use the editorial “we” when that can work. I’m harking back to things like the letters column of Mad, where if there was an answer made to a reader’s letter, the answer would be signed “Ed.s” What does it matter?

  10. Sorry Mitch4, but I have a hard time giving Whamond a pass. Maybe half a pass for the script part. But there’s no way around the fact that the name Java comes from coffee. I would feel the same about a comic showing an email with a link to a certain famous Monty Python skit going to the Spam folder.

  11. Mitch4, I heartily agree that “play” would be the word. My first thought was “he’s playing with him.” My comment was ridiculous, making no sense; “catty” doesn’t mean, at all, what I was thinking it means. I don’t think I ever used the word, “catty”, so it was easy to overwrite the real meaning, which I did know, in my brain. (I wonder if there’s another word that that’s similar that actually comes from an animal similarly playing with its food.)

    This is a lesson in why not to write comments shortly after discovering that an FDA-required 48-hr data-collection software test failed after 26 hours with OutOfMemory exceptions.. (Not my code, but it’s been in my lap for months.)

  12. ” I would feel the same about a comic showing an email with a link to a certain famous Monty Python skit going to the Spam folder.”

    But that’d be acceptable. It’s frustrating but acceptable. Precedence was set when studio execs not only chose allow Jerry Seinfeld to live, but also allowed him to make a joke on prime time television “What’s the Ottoman Empire? They have an empire just for footstools?”.

    At least Java Script and Spam is presented in a funny appearing (although with analysis obvious) way that the may take the audience by surprise.

  13. The use of Russian in that picture is a little maddening. The letters under the picture of Marx transliterate to something like Mdyakh.

  14. It bugs me to see Cyrillic text misused like this, especially “backwards Rs” and “Backwards Ns”. I also am bothered by the use of musical G Cleffs to represent the letter “S”. 🙂

  15. Oooh, Kevin, so sorry about that software trial!

    I’m starting to see that we regard the question “what is the pun here?” a little differently. I treat it as answered by saying “play” is the pun, or the two meanings of “play” constitute the pun. You seem to be looking for a whole phrase or whole sentence, like asking for a punchline.

  16. Woozy, that should be totally an educational experience! A kid hears that Seinfeld joke, maybe gets it but is left with a question: why do we have the word ottoman for these two different ideas? And after that, while we’re sitting back comfortably and putting our feet up, we may wonder how a divan is both the couch we’re sitting on and a legislative body, council chamber, or court of justice in the Ottoman Empire or elsewhere in the Middle East.

  17. “Woozy, that should be totally an educational experience!”

    Maybe. Or maybe we should take Jerry Seinfeld behind a woodshed and beat him. The humor seems to be that we are supposed to look at the guy who is stupid beyond belief and we are supposed to think his mind-boggling stupidity is somehow clever. He’s just stupid and the gall that he thinks he is clever is appalling. Stupid people who think they are smart are the bane of existence.

    Anyway, taking “Java Script” literally and tying it in with the incidental mood mania at least makes us look at something it a new light is acceptable. Had the joke been a guy saying “I’m drinking coffee because it’s Java script” would have been inexcusable and the line behind the woodshed would be one longer but getting a chuckle by seeing someone literally Java scripting under a coffee high is chuckle worthy.

    Maybe the Ottoman Empire joke is salvageable in a similar way … although I don’t see how.

  18. “Maybe. Or maybe we should take Jerry Seinfeld behind a woodshed and beat him.”

    Gosh, seems a little harsh for having a different sense of humor.

  19. Divan is also a chicken dish. That is named after a New York restaurant, which I gather from some research takes its name from a 19th C. Parisian restaurant. That in turn got its name the French word “divan”, meaning “[Eastern Civilization] room furnished with low seats and cushions where the notables of a council sat”. The Parisian cafe was in that style.

  20. Speaking of the Firesign Theatre, and separately of the regions formerly Ottoman, do you all remember:

    “This is side five. Follow in your book and repeat after me, as we learn three new words in Turkish…’towel’…’bath’…’border’…”

    (I was misremembering that and thought it used “delight”)

    For the uninitiated, that intro is followed by a border nightmare scene starting from “May I see your passports please”

  21. Over here. This way. That’s it. You’ve made it. Welcome to side six. Follow in your book and repeat after me as we learn our next three words in Turkish:

    Coffee …. delight …… border.

    May I see your passport please?

    “Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him” – Peter Bergman channeling Samuel Beckett.

  22. When I was seven or eight years old I thought this was a really funny joke:

    Mother lioness: Junior, what are you doing?
    Lion cub: I’m chasing this hunter around a tree.
    Mother lioness: Junior, how many times have I told you not to play with your food?

  23. MarkM – It was a bumper year for mice scouting my space this fall. My cat literally behaves as if blind to mice, even those trapped and struggling merely inches from her face. On the other hand, put on a nature show with mice or groundhogs, or birds, or pigs or Boston Dynamics robots or anything living but not human and she’s raptly sitting, watching, though only sitting if you ignore the space between her bottom and the coffee table and all the twitching and guttural sounds. A mouser she’s not. In her defense, she’s nearly 20 and it’s only in the last 2 or 3 years that I’ve seen mice, so maybe it’s just that she’s retired.

  24. Someone once told me:

    “Java is to Javascript as Car is to Carpet.”

    which I’m sure is hilarious if you know what he’s talking about.

  25. I think the cartoon joke with Lenin is supposed to be a pun on “Lenin” sounding like “linen,” but I can’t help thinking about this line that I’m sure Yakov Smirnoff never said:

    “In American hotel, you request room. In Soviet Russia, room requests you!”

  26. Oh, I think Lenin and linen sound enough alike that the hotel service operator could get the message wrong. Or maybe guests can text their housekeeping requests, and mistyped this one.

  27. I think more accurately you could say “Java is to JavaScript as TV is to TV Dinner.” It’s said that Netscape changed the name of their language LiveScript to JavaScript because of all the excitement over this new language Java. Both languages are in the “C family” and are thus very similar.

    I wonder how many young programmers, having seen only C, C++, Java, C#, Python, JavaScript and some others, think that all programming languages are like that. I wonder what they would think if confronted with Fortran, Snobol, APL or Mumps.

  28. During my time in a CS Dept., the undergrad intro programming course used Pascal then switched to Scheme. Meanwhile, the upper-undergrad and grad joint Programming Languages course worked on Scheme for much of the term but then also looked at Smalltalk and then Prolog.

    For our projects in the AI group we were LISP all the way, though the dialect and brand kept changing. For a while it was Franz Lisp, which included an implementation of Flavors or Mix-ins (a sort of object-oriented tool, with peculiar inheritance), then a couple brands of Common Lisp, notably Allegro. As a member of the Techstaff as my employment, some of my bailiwick was periodically recompiling and distributing certain Department-wide packages, such as TeX, but particularly LISP since I was right there with the main users. Allegro CL had a nice feature that you could start it up, interactively load some special package of some sort, then dump an image which users could run and have that package ready without further load time. Such as Garnet, which implemented screen graphics for X-Windows within LISP.

    The user handbook for Snobol had a reputation as fun and witty, and I pretty much agreed. I never had to do anything serious in the language so didn’t get a sense of whether the handbook was also a good tool. Steele’s “Common Lisp” is a wonderfully-written, fun to read, deeply thought out masterpiece!

    I used FORTH for a couple terms because that was what the professor had materials ready in, and there was something very admirable about how clean it was for a low-level control language; but it was hard to do anything advanced, for us novices. But there’s another quite NON-“C-family” language for you.

  29. I did some actual paid work in Pascal and Ada during my time at Megacorp. Percentage-wise C and C++ were the leaders (I couldn’t say for sure which led, but probably C++). That was followed by C#, although had I put in more years before ceasing to be a productive member of society it would have narrowed the gap, as I was doing a lot in it the last few years.

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