1. Do I understand the premise correctly? The hot dogs have gotten inserted sideways into the buns, due to astrological effects?

  2. For the astrology-minded, Mercury in retrograde is associated with confusion and bad decision making. So the host’s mistake is being attributed to this phenomenon.

    The rise of the popularity of the concept in pop culture apparently started in the early days of Instagram, and was given a huge boost when Taylor Swift made reference of the term.

  3. Well, I use the Mercury in retrograde excuse, even though I don’t believe in astrology. It sounds so technical. “Retrograde”, what a great technical term. You can drop it in almost anywhere, and shorten it to “retro” if you want. “I didn’t realize the car was in retro when I backed into the tree.”

    Another excuse: when I play the piano badly in rehearsal I say “I’m sorry, I just washed my hands and I can’t do a thing with them!”

  4. @Danny Boy and @zbicyclist, if it’s the cook at the right who’s speaking, I don’t take it that they’re apologizing for their own fully conscious actions in assembling the hot dogs incorrectly due to influence of the stars (sorry, planet); but rather that there was something supernatural going on (albeit in a minor way), in that astrological forces somehow drilled holes going the transverse direction in the buns. The hot dogs aren’t just laid down sideways!

    BTW, retrograde motion of a planet’s apparent position against the background of the fixed stars, is a perfectly real and natural phenomenon, known to at least the ancient Greeks and perhaps other ancient peoples. It’s part of what Ptolemy was working hard to explain, and what epicycles were invented for. It’s only when we ask what the influence is on human affairs that we depart from science.

  5. I’m not even sure if the astrological retrogrades match the astronomical ones. I recall that the astrological signs are out of sync with the constellations these days due to the shifting of the Earth’s axis.

  6. @ Brian – Isaac Asimov documented that “out of sync” condition and a plethora of other obvious contradictions in an essay demonstrating the stupidity of astrological superstitions. I find it incredibly depressing that even as newspapers squeeze their once entertaining comic sections down to nearly nothing, they still waste space on worthless astrological “predictions”, which are just as effective as any fortune cookie.

  7. Kilby: Like Ginger Meggs said today, they need to pay attention to what their readers actually want.

    As for the comic, I guess the retrograde Mercury made them all totally incompetent.

  8. @ Boise Ed – Even if newspapers are using reader demand to justify publishing that astrology garbage, that doesn’t make it any less depressing. It merely shifts the blame from “idiotic newspapers” over to “idiotic readers”.

    P.S. Chatfield is hoping to orchestrate a grass roots campaign to get his (and other) comics reinstated in the Australian newspapers. If that doesn’t work, he’s using his last newspaper strips to guide readers over to his website, which he has been advertising in the Sunday title panels for over two years (since 14-Jun-2020). For this to work, he needs to redesign the website to show the newest daily strip on the initial page. Nobody is going to visit an oversized advertisement for his anniversary book more than once.

  9. There used to be a “BOFH excuse” server that you could… I think finger, actually, and it would select one from a large library.

    One I remember that works nicely with this comic is “parallel processors are running perpendicular today”.

  10. @ CaroZ – Thanks for the explicit command: I had no idea what Dave meant by “finger”, but with your hint I was able to try it out, and it worked for me, too.

  11. Wow, the internet has made me stupid… I can’t tell you how dumb I feel that it took me a couple minutes and a few useless Google searches before it dawned on me that I could open a terminal and do the finger command from there. Duh!
    (And proof positive that I have literally forgotten more about Unix than most people know today…)

  12. My old friend Dr. Google tells me that “BOfH” stands for “Bastard Operator From Hell.” That command seems to be a random excuse generator. I think WordPress must have BOfH in charge, because it makes me log in every bloody time.

  13. If you’re a fan of Charles Stross’s Laundry series, the original main character is Bob Oliver Francis Howard.

  14. Ed, if recall correctly, things like this were not generated by any program, but would be randomly selected from a pre-made list stored by the user.

  15. Yes, certainly random. What I was objecting to was “generated”. I’m pretty sure the output is a randomly selected line from a text file that the user put in their account, and may or may not have customized. But the program is not writing the contents.

  16. Dave, yeah probably.

    But in the Unix heyday, if your version of finger was set up to use a user-designated executable and emit it’s output, this random selector would have been a shell script.

  17. Mitch4: indeed. As I recall you could also get the whole file somewhere, or maybe it was periodically posted on asr.

    (asr = alt.sysadmin.recovery)

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