Poor Mojo's Almanac(k) Classics (2000-2011)
| HOME | FICTION | POETRY | SQUID | RANTS | archive | masthead |
Squid #479
(published March 25, 2010)
Ask the Giant Squid: Cephalopods Prefer Apple Computers
Who is Poor Mojo's Giant Squid?
Dear Giant Squid,

Please help me solve an ongoing dispute between my father and I: Mac or PC?

While he insists that Macs are safer, easier, and more intuitive to use, I have never met anyone who could, nor could I, sit down at a Mac for the first time and figure out how to do anything! How is it intuitive?

Hopefully his Squidliness can help me shed some light on this problem.


Dear Emma,

We here at the lab have had over our tenure many differing computers, artificial minds, differential engines, and operating systems. Every computer, like a Greek hero, comes with its own strengths and fatal flaws. Allow me to ennumerate:

  • # The Cranial Howler of the Benthic Column: In the bad old days, in the suburbs of Ry'leh, we used an inefficient and cumbersome device for basic computations. It was crafted from the spinal columns of captured sailors and woven into fan-shaped conglomerations that perched, waving, in the deep breeze. These were much like the American ENIAC and COMPUVAC devices: terrible. The spines wore out frequently. The skull casings of the sailors howled and gibbered almost as if they could feel pain. The results took weeks to deliver and were often wrong. Also, they lacked any backward compatibility with the punchcard systems used in accounting by the Shoggoths. Not recommended.

  • # Babbage's Difference Engine: Once I accompanied Jules Verne in a poorly crafted rental anti-bathysphere he had acquired, so that we might visit the "laboratory" of Charles Babbage. Verne and I had a wager over whether Babbage would ever complete his "difference engine." Unbeknownst to Babbage, Verne kept removing cylinders, unscrewing bolts, and generally cramming-the-wood-shoe to Bababge's progress—all in the name of winning a simple wager. (Verne had grown sentimentally attached to his right hand, I suppose.) Once I informed Babbage—a sweaty badger of a man—of Verne's underhandedness Babbage took justice into his own hand and installed an infernal clockwork heart than ran counter-wise to Verne's own inside his ribcage. Charles was so pleased with my snitchery (as well as my help restraining Jules and in the operation—life before anaesthetic was a savage place) that he gifted unto me a working prototype of the engine. I never found a use for it—the typographical keyboard lacked both colon and semicolon, rendering the emoticons I dearly favored at the time unexpressable—and ended up selling it to a scrap peddler during the Depression. I was told that most of it went to providing ferrules in order to hold fast the pink erasers to the pencils manufactored by Mssrs. Dixon and Ticonderoga, although I've never sought to verify the claim. Avoid.

  • # The Colossus of 1944: In short, excellent for brute-force deciphering of German and Japanesse communiques, terrible for gathering vital data, as the web-browser did not support Flash, nor was it HTML4 compliant. It is very fair to claim that Allen Coombs "sold the lemons" to His Royal Highness. Customer service for the Colossus is now spotty at best. As an aside, the Colossus still finds service today in the fair island nation of Barbados where an important node in the international Crediting Card industry is located. Primitive runic fortran ancestors are used, like cudgels, to maintain a veneer of stability over the chaotic inner workings of the Diner's Club system. I know this because, as an original holder of a Diner's Club card (Ah, the Spirit of 1949!), I have occassionally been invited to Fred McNamara's lair on a hidden volcanic atoll near the island in question. Fair.

  • # The Cray 6600 Supercomputer: Years after the CDC 6600 was first released, and years still after Seymour Cray had retreated to his subterrenean lair in Chippewa Falls to await the nuclear war which occured in six of the nine relevant time streams I have particpated in shaping, Cray was asked what CAd system he used to design all of his supercomputers. He presented the questioner with his much used Number 2 Pencil. This was taken as a serious minded joke of sorts, but of course what no one mentioned, and what Cray was to mad to articualte was, of course, that his pencil was the last surviving remnant of the Babbage prototype mentioned above. What even I did not understand at the time was that Babbage's difference engine only appeared crude. In fact, the design was both fractal and four dimensional, composed of clockworks etched inside and around elegantly intertwined tesseracts. As a consequence, the ferrule of Cray's eraser was 10,000 times more powerful than the 6600, and all of Cray's designs were actually only doodles explored with the intent being to push the limits of the pencil's design acumen. When told that Apple Computer had recently purchased a Cray to design their next computer, Cray replied, again with mad glee, that he had purchased a Macintosh to design his next Cray. And by that, of course, he meant that his pencil had fused with the Macintosh and he and the pencil had devised a modelling environment within the Mac that perfectly emulated Cray supercomputers from over seventeen different timelines, while the modeling environment used compiled code only 5 kilobytes in size. Each of the Cray's were tasked with designing and modelling the exact Macinstosh in which they resided, such that when parameters were changed to the physical properties of the timelines in which they existed, then the actual Macintosh which sat on Cray's desk would itself change at a fundamental level. As of this writing, that Macintosh is currently an Olympic luge racer from Bulgaria. The marks he etches into the ice as he races down his practice track reflect an idiosyncratic skipping scattered pattern which statisticians from Cambridge strongly believe represent an entirely undiscover 27 bit version of the I Ching. Consequently, CDC 6600's, designed by Cray, now only boot up to a blank screen with a green cursor. If bathed in German techno music for two days, they will play tic-tac-toe with you, but no one ever wins.Unattainable

  • # The Atari 2600: Quoth my lab assistant, Rob: "Oh, hells yeah! We got one of those at a garage sale for 10 bucks two summers after we saw Tron; came with this crazy stash of games—including weird off-brand versions of all the slick Tron shit, lightbikes and all. Shit, also, Jungle Hunt, Donkey Kong, Pole Position. The whole deal. But what totally made that system was a couple years later when me and my cuz, Mike Junior, were dickying around in his creepy step-dad's basement and came up with a box that was mostly old panties, but at the bottom had this porno game cartridges. Fucking Bachelor Party hardly even made fucking sense, but Custer's Revenge was pretty OK—the Indian Princess was pretty hot, in a blocky kinda way—but fucking Beat 'Em & Eat 'Em was off the hook! That game, like, opened my eyes, you know what I mean?" When asked if his the Atari 2600 performed on vital office tasks, such as word processing, or in network communication applications, Rob shrugged. "You're missing the point, Lord A.: Horney cowboys and 8-bit cum-swapping head-to-head action. That shit is classic."

  • # The Commodore 64:
    10 PRINT "DORK"
    20 GOTO 10
    Also, this machine plays Montezuma's Revenge from a cartridge, and when networked with a Cray, allows you to connect to CompuServe Bulletine boards and warn your middle school self about the dangers of downloading unlicensed Sid player files: "Remember, you can get 'Axel F left' and 'Axel F right' but the Commodore only outputs in mono, so you'll have to listen to one track, and then the other in sequence, assembling the stereo sound after the fact, in your simple simian brain." Ambivalent

  • # An eMachines PC running Windows XP:: Molly had this to say. "I bought one of these bargain windows machines before I really knew anything about computers. The price was right ($400 at Staples) and the saleswoman was super nice and helpful. The floor model looked pretty. But then I got it home and hooked it up and the fan came on. The damn thing sounded like a blender chewing up ice. My roommate at the time, Margy Lucy, would walk by and say in her weird Minnesotan accent, 'You makin' margaritas there? I could have one of them, let me tell ya.' And then she'd laugh and go, I don't know, dream of liposuction or something. So, it was loud: strike one. But also almost any program I tried to run—Pagemaker, PhotoShop, whatever—crawled like Rob on St. Pat's day. I needed more RAM, but the damn thing was nearly impossible to upgrade. Strike two. But then nearly every peripheral I bought for it was incompatible, despite saying on the box they worked with XP. Turns out, every XP machine is a special little snowflake with drivers that don't like other drivers unless you install third drivers and overclock the blahdiddy blah. I just wanted to look at the web, maybe work on my resume, but nothing worked the way it was supposed to. I've never owned a Windows machine since."

  • # A Macintosh Apple MacBook Pro running OSX (Snow Leopard): This is currently the loadout for the lab's personnel. Even Devo who claims to be "all about the Linux these days" has one on his desk. They were pricier than the comparable Windows devices, though less shrieky than the computers built of pain and torment. I find them to be perfectly reliable, even when submerged. Jarwaun was upset that he couldn't play the Halos on them. I assume this is some sort of religious devotional application? No matter. Leeks showed him the Wars of Worldcraft and he was pacified like a human infant with a face stuffed full of breast. Highly Recommended

    In closing, your father is correct about all things in all ways. Except, in timestream 385 as measured against this stream, Chippewa Falls 1a, when he decides to have intercourse with the McDonald's Ronald... on that point, in that instance, he had (has) {will have had} made a palpable mistake.

    I Remain,
    The Giant Squid
    Diner's Club Cardholder since 1949

  • Got a Question? Contact the Giant Squid
    or check the Squid FAQ

    Love the Giant Squid? Buy his first book.

    Share on Facebook
    Tweet about this Piece

    see other pieces by this author | Who is Poor Mojo's Giant Squid? Read his blog posts and enjoy his anthem (and the post-ironic mid-1990s Japanese cover of same)

    Poor Mojo's Tip Jar:

    The Next Squid piece (from Issue #480):

    Ask the Giant Squid: Tips For Sandwich Mastery

    The Last few Squid pieces (from Issues #478 thru #474):

    Ask the Giant Squid: On Why I Eat The Dogs

    Ask the Giant Squid: The Parable of the Three Marketing Executives

    Ask the Giant Squid: The Bloop

    Ask the Giant Squid: Eternally Feasting on Sæhrímnir in the Foothills of Olympus

    Ask the Giant Squid: For I Have Found the Big Easy Somewhat Difficult

    Squid Archives

    Contact Us

    Copyright (c) 2000, 2004, David Erik Nelson, Fritz Swanson, Morgan Johnson

    More Copyright Info