COMMUNITY BULLETIN BOARD.

St. Britney Church will be celebrating the traditional Blessing of the Baloney Sandwiches at specially marked Masses in February. Father McWhirter asks that you do not bring salami sandwiches, as the Blessing of the Salami Sandwiches is scheduled for April, and we need to have something to look forward to after Lent.

ASK DR. BOLI.

Dear Dr. Boli: How should I excuse myself when I’m at dinner with good company in a decent restaurant, and I need to, you know, excuse myself? —Sincerely, A Gentleman Who Will Be Right Back.

Dear Sir: The principles of etiquette imply, if they do not state outright, that you should be bound by what the restaurant calls its facilities.

Restroom: “I’m going to go take a rest.”

Bathroom: “I’m going to go take a bath.”

Washroom: “I’m going to go wash up.”

Water closet: “I’m going to go put some water in storage.”

Comfort station: “I’m going to go make myself comfortable.”

Public convenience: “I’m going to be convenient.”

Men’s room: “I’m going to be a man.”

Facilities: “I’m going to facilitate.”

Powder room: “I’m going to take a powder.”

You see the principle, and can doubtless adapt it to the local vocabulary. Alternatively, you could just stand up and say, “Excuse me,” and etiquette would be perfectly satisfied with you.

READERS WRITE.

It has been a long time since Dr. Boli looked into the comments from readers that unaccountably ended up in the “spam” folder, but he would like to take this opportunity to apologize to those correspondents and answer a few of them personally.

Many of these little notes are very complimentary. For example, one of our correspondents writes,

Your blog posts never fail to entertain and educate me. I especially enjoyed the recent one about [insert topic]. Keep up the great work!

Dr. Boli is very happy to hear that you were entertained and educated, and he assures you that [insert topic] will receive a good deal of attention in the Magazine over the next few months.

Hello my loved one I want to say that this post is amazing great written and include almost all significant infos I would like to look extra posts like this

Well, this is enough to make one blush. If, by the way, you would like to look extra posts, you might try the Random Autobolificator.

Hi my loved one! I wish to say that this post is amazing, nice written and include approximately all vital infos. I’d like to peer more posts like this.

Something about this note seems vaguely familiar, but we can’t quite put our finger on it. We would encourage the reader to write again, however, and tell us what it would take for our posts to include exactly all vital infos. We strive for perfection.

Terrific paintings! This is the kind of info that should be shared across the net. Shame on the seek for no longer positioning this publish upper! Come on over and talk over with my website . Thank you =)

Shame on the seek indeed. But we suppose Google, DuckDuckGo, and the rest are feeling pretty smug and think they have no need of a publish-upper. And we are glad you like our paintings. Someday we may produce some, and it will be good to know that they come out pre-liked.

Now, we would not have it understood that the correspondence is uniformly complimentary. Sometimes the correspondents have useful suggestions for improvement.

I loved even more than you will get done right here. The overall look is nice, and the writing is stylish, but there’s something off about the way you write that makes me think that you should be careful what you say next. I will definitely be back again and again if you protect this hike.

Here Dr. Boli must disappoint a reader, because it is Dr. Boli’s firm belief that hikes should be launched into the world unprotected. That is the difference between a hike and a mere stroll.

Other readers have more general advice, not about writing per se but about the good life and how to live it:

Singles night clubs happen to be all-around for an extended time, as well as although they will often not necessarily interest every person there’re excellent due to the fact everybody offers the identical target as the primary goal. You might be most of within the same motorboat, and yes it might not be understated however it definitely is straightforward.

It probably takes someone more straightforward than Dr. Boli to appreciate the nuances of this comment, but we can all be grateful that a reader took the time to attempt to improve our lives.

MORE TERMS AND CONDITIONS.

In the past we have mentioned how terms and conditions are not things we “agree” to, but things that are forced on us whether we like it or not. Some people were appalled that we compared this situation to slavery, but they misunderstood. We did not compare it to slavery: we called it slavery, which is quite different. We said not that it is like slavery, but that it actually is slavery. We implied that forcing us to agree to terms that, in word count, often amounted to the size of a substantial book showed a complete contempt for the users on whom these conditions were being imposed.

But is that fair? “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity,” as the proverb known as “Hanlon’s Razor” has it. Perhaps the multiplication of verbiage is simply the result of a long series of small individual decisions made by lawyers and managers, none of whom really intended to make it impossible to read the terms and conditions.

Let us then look at an example. Samsung is one of the world’s largest purveyors of mobile phones. In order to use their mobile phones, you have to agree to the terms and conditions. Dr. Boli thought he might, as an exercise, see how many words he was agreeing to if he used a Samsung phone. The first section of the agreement came to 16,839 words. That was the general agreement. Like relativity, though, your theoretical agreement is divided into general and special theories. There is a separate agreement for each component of the software that Samsung places on the phone. Tapping the link to the first of those agreements brought up this screen, which, we remind you, displays the terms and conditions specifically for a component of a mobile device. It is displayed here as close to actual size as possible, considering that device screens have unpredictably different resolutions, and we might add that this is a picture of a larger-than-average mobile-phone screen.

If you can’t see this image, all you’re missing is a grey cloud of invisibly tiny text.

We should note that the text does not flow: the line breaks are fixed. The only way to read this text (which goes on for quite a few more screens’ worth) is to enlarge it, and then move the enlargement back and forth to read the beginning, middle, and end of each line. To make it even barely legible if you have perfect vision, you will have to enlarge it enough that only about a third of each line will be visible at a time; so you will have to move the enlargement a minimum of three times to read one line. Multiply that by the number of lines in this screen, and multiply that by the dozen or so screens’ worth of text in this document.

Dr. Boli, on this evidence, rests his case, and believes the defendant corporation stands convicted of contempt by its own testimony.

EMOJIS FOR STOICS.

Had a generally satisfactory dinner.

Stubbed toe.

Just given seven-figure legacy by anonymous benefactor.

Saw the most amazing sunset.

Saw younger longtime rival promoted to high position at work.

Found spouse in compromising position.

Elected president of university philosophical society.

Lost argument with Epicurean.

COMING SOON: INTERNATIONAL ANYTHING-BUT-HAIKU MONTH.

For some years now, the haiku industry has been promoting February as a month for writing haiku, as if haiku would wither and die if we did not spend twenty-eight or even twenty-nine days reminding the world of its existence.

Haiku is in no such danger. Haiku is what poetry conservationists call a species of least concern. When the great extinction event comes, the last few dozen remaining humans will record how they feel about it in haiku form, because it is the one species of poetry every human being learned to compose in the fifth grade. Haiku is the great equalizer: it makes poets of the most egregious yokels, and it makes yokels of the most outstanding poets.

Since the rest of the world will be haikuing itself into a stupor, Dr. Boli thought we might throw a little counter-party of our own. We can adopt the same goal as the haikuists: one poem a day for every day of February. But we shall add one rule: the form of the poem can be anything but haiku.

Would you like to write a sonnet? Go ahead. A ballad? A limerick? An epic? As final arbiter of the rules of the event, Dr. Boli will permit a certain number of lines toward an ultimate epic to count as the day’s poem. (But try to do better than poor old Virgil, who notoriously composed the Aeneid at an average rate of two lines per diem.) Even free verse will be permitted, if you will give Dr. Boli your word of honor that you are thinking about sound and rhythm and not just hacking prose into lines.

So get ready for International Anything-But-Haiku Month. You have ten days to prepare, which should be enough to fill your inkwell, sharpen your pencil, or drop a new ribbon in your Woodstock.