Saturday, May 20, 2006

Onion: Heroic Computer Dies To Save World From Master’s Thesis

From The Onion:
WALTHAM, MA—A courageous young notebook computer committed a fatal, self-inflicted execution error late Sunday night, selflessly giving its own life so that professors, academic advisors, classmates, and even future generations of college students would never have to read Jill Samoskevich’s 227-page master’s thesis, sources close to the Brandeis University English graduate student reported Monday.

The brave laptop, even after fulfilling its mission, steadfastly resists a technician’s data-recovery attempts.

“This fearless little machine saved me from unspoken hours of exasperated head-scratching and eyestrain, as well as years of agonizing self-doubt over my decision to devote my life to teaching,” said professor John Rebson, who had already read through three drafts of Samoskevich’s sprawling, 38,000-word dissertation, titled A Hermeneutical Exploration Of Onomatopoeia In The Works Of William Carlos Williams As It May Or May Not Relate To Post-Agrarian Appalachia. “It was an incredible act of bravery. This laptop sacrificed itself in order to put an end to Jill’s senseless rambling.”

“From what I read—specifically, pages one through 76—this computer was put through a lot of painful, torturous passages,” said Department of English graduate faculty advisor Judith Mendel, who was scheduled to meet Samoskevich on Thursday to discuss the possibility of publishing the “atrocity” in the department’s academic journal. “Thanks to this laptop’s valor, Jill’s classmates or future students will never have to pick their way through dense and discursive passages about ‘The Red Wheelbarrow’ and North Carolina farming communities. Also, I get to have a free lunch period Thursday.”

Mendel said that even her most scalding critiques and fundamental dismantling of the paper’s core arguments could never have demoralized Samoskevich in the way this computer’s single system shutdown did. “Jill called me last night and told me that she was too crushed to even consider starting over from scratch,” Mendel said. “One determined computer has triumphed over years of misapplied literary theory.”

The day before the crash, the computer reportedly resisted an attempt by Samoskevich to transfer files to an external drive when it failed to recognize a USB port, convincing some that the laptop’s self-destruction was premeditated.

According to Samoskevich’s roommate, Pamela Roscoe, the ThinkPad had been “up to something” for months.

“There were definite warning signs,” Roscoe said. “It infected itself with a virus so Jill couldn’t send e-mail attachments, and it would noticeably lag or shut down while she was typing out particularly long, dry sentences. I guess when she got to the chapter about how the ‘imitative tactility’ used in the first two stanzas of ‘Young Sycamore’ can act as a ‘neo-structuralist, pre-objectivist perlustration and metonymy’ of the importance of anti-Episcopalian sentiment in the rise and fall of central West Virginian coal miners’ unions, the computer just decided that something had to be done for the greater good.”

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