Professor Madblood and the Lovelace Affair: November 1-6, 2004

I believe all the titles and authors on the spines of the books are from The Thackery T. Lambshead Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases. The Narbonicon people had given me a copy. Highlights include Amphibian Neuropathology, Guide to Psycho-Tropic Balkan Diseases, and International Gingivitis Review.

Helen does take this seriously. As far as she’s concerned, it shouldn’t be possible for the lab to be hacked by someone who’s better at computer-y stuff than Dave. Such a person should not exist. Or if she does exist, she’s a threat worth getting serious about.

When this strip went up, one hundred billion people immediately wrote to point out that the numbers on the IP address aren’t actually possible. I think Eric Burns was the first person to figure out that the numbers correspond to MY MOM’S. I… I’m sorry. I think these things are funny sometimes.

I always liked this strip, but mostly for Dave’s expressions. The last panel came out better in the thumbnail, but it’s still pretty good.

At this point the lab staff still assumes that Lovelace is a real person and not Madblood himself, a possibility that will be broached later on. Is that a spoiler? Aw, come on, that hardly even counts.

This is the first time Mell and Caliban have appeared together since the end of “Demons,” when they went to a movie. They never got together on-panel; it just kind of happened in the background, and now they’re apparently dating. Go figure.

Many thanks to Mell for bringing everyone up to speed on the plot.

Mell’s mission is revealed later in the storyline. She’s being deliberately cagey about it. SPOILERS: It’s a mission for Helen, not for the military as she disingenuously implies.

Back when I was a nerdy high-school comic-book fan, there was an issue of Sandman where an American character responds to a comment with, “I suppose you must do.” In the next issue, some fan wrote in to yell at Neil Gaiman in all caps for using British English and not knowing how to make Americans talk right. That was my introduction to the hard truth that, if you write for a geeky audience, many of them will only be reading your work so they can correct you about it. Soon after that, in 1996 or so, the Internet was invented, and all those people found a home. Meanwhile, Gaiman’s innocent mistake made a deep impression on me, and I vowed to be careful about where my British-speaking characters left their modals.

So Caliban says, “I have done.” Thank you, Neil Gaiman. Your suffering was not in vain.

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41 thoughts on “Professor Madblood and the Lovelace Affair: November 1-6, 2004

  1. Dave is upset that someone has an intellect more keen than his own.  Among psychologists, this is known as “keenness envy”.

  2. Thank you for mentioning Lambshead’s Guide, I’d been meaning to get one for my wife and had forgotten about it.  Conveniently our 6th anniversary is coming up!

  3. Also, we’ve got a Silent Penultimate Panel and a Silent Antepenultimate Panel.  Official counters, where are you?

  4. Is there a blanet SPOILERS warning for the comments?  I’m going to assume there is.

    Since Dave is only a latent Mad Genius, would it be safe to assume that he should be outdone by anyone who has fully realized their talents?  It seems reasonable that at this point ANY of Helen’s rivals, or at least those who specialize in electronics (e.g.Madblood) could outhack him.  In fact, Madblood showing him up plays a significant role in his breakthrough.

  5. @Ed: It somehow seems not in the spirit of the term to invoke it in a case of consecutive silent panels.

  6. (“Searchin'”, The Coasters)

    Gotta find her … gotta find her …
    Gotta find her … gotta find her …

    Well, Lovelace
    I can’t trace …
    Cyberspace conceals her well!
    I con-fess,
    Her ad-dress,
    What it is, I cannot tell!
    But when this girl out-hacks me,
    I think it’s sex-i-er than hell!

    Gotta find her … gotta find her …

  7. Now Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, they got nothing, child, on me.
    Captain Nemo, Dr. No, and Moriarty.
    I’ll trace her network presence right on down the line.
    I’ve got better brains than Frankenstein!

  8. Assuming SPOILERS on my side too.There are two things of note: on the first, while Dave is still latent, he’s being ‘out-hacked’ by someone whose existence itself is digital — and he’s been able to demonstrate her actual nature, in that she doesn’t exist outside the web. It’s not that she beat him, it’s that he can’t accept what he’s determined.On the second point: the first thing Dave does when he does go full on Mad is completely dominate and overwrite Lovelace. So Helen is, in the end, right. When Dave comes into his own, even a massively powerful A.I. can’t out-hack him.

  9. I just figured that the invalid IP address was the Internet equivalent of using 555 phone numbers on TV.

  10. Took me a minute before I clicked you were meant to break it into two-digit blocks, but that is absolutely brilliant.

  11. (TUNE: “Back In The USSR”, The Beatles)

    Dave is searching high and low through cyberspace,
    Checking out his TCP …
    Gotta find the lonely lady called Lovelace,
    Holy crumbs, what do we see?
    The IP address is MY MOM’S!
    It isn’t Dick, Harry, or Tom’s, no!
    The IP address is MY MOM’S!

    Mell is now complaining, “This is such a bore!”
    Technobabble’s getting thick!
    Dave has found the answer he’s been searching for,
    And I think he’s getting sick!
    The IP address is MY MOM’S!
    We’re burning it on CD-ROMs, yeah!
    The IP address is MY MOM’S!

       You go, girl!  Google, don’t giggle now!
       We’ve got some work to do!
       Though Microsoft can be mega-hard,
       For peace of mind, I gotta find Ya-hoo-who-who-who-who-who-who!

    Helen’s now concerned and Dave is in dismay!
    Mell still thinks it’s really lame!
    After all the searching that they’ve done all day,
    What comes up but Madblood’s name!
    The IP address is MY MOM’S!
    I’m suddenly having some qualms, yeah!
    The IP address is MY MOM’S!

  12. Actually, now my questions is: what exactly did Dave expect the cron logs to tell him about IP traffic? Or did he decide to spout gibberish in the hopes that Helen wouldn’t notice and think he was working Very Hard?

  13. Might be looking at the cron logs of the dummy server he originally thought Lovelace was talking to him from, to see if she had any telling scripts scheduled there?

  14. Thursday:

    This cute-bizarre moment of face-saving jujitsu sounds a little familiar. Dave seems to be on something – I hesitate to call it ‘a roll’, but it’s definitely of that ilk.

  15. So that makes Lovelace … Process Galore?  Or Ursula IPAddress?  And Madblood would be either Ernst Blowhard, or Dr. Nowayinheck.

  16. Is Mell related to Basil Exposition?
    I’ve always admired Mell’s distinctive style sense, and I’d kill for that eight-ball jacket!  Of course, she probably did.

  17. There once was a bringer of doom,
    Who won the Award of Van Boom;
    He said to his mother,
    “I’m smart, like no other!”
    She answered, “Just go clean your room.”

  18. I don’t recall, offhand, if it appears later, but this certainly isn’t the first time; she wears it to pick up Helen from her date with Madblood, way back.

  19. I Googled “8-ball jacket.”  The image results were pretty meh.  Between Narbonic and Skin Horse, Shaenon should have her own clothing line.  (Right, because she has nothing better to do with her time.)

  20. Some of those people comment here almost every day, I’ve noticed!  They enjoy pointing out when you draw a thing wrong, or how many times you do something they read about on tv tropes.  I’m sure it’s very flattering, being treated like Neil Gaiman.

  21. This strip made me go all gooey inside.  It is sweet and touching and adorable, and every word of it is perfect.  Take that, naysaying geeks with your malicious accusory!  (You may have been influenced by Neil Gaiman, but I stole all my best lines from the Dick Van Dyke Show and From Baedeker to Worse.)

  22. It’s really bad for those of us who are natives of one but have spent 5+ years in another English speaking country.

    Most recent example: I work at a bank in New Jersey and when I went to report a day off (that had been previously authorized), it seemed like the database had a glitch. It wouldn’t let me take a “holiday” off. So I mentioned it to my supervisor and she reminded me that in my home country “holiday” and “vacation” are not synonyms. I reported a “vacation” day instead and it worked.

    One of these days I might get promoted to the point where I can set holidays and I’ll accidentally give everyone in the company a week off instead of just me. And if the elevator is broken, maintenance will wonder why the hell I want the “lift” fixed.

  23. Heck, that’s an issue even within countries: I’m currently picking up regionalisms from my third USA region (not counting cyberspace!)

  24. (TUNE: “I Want To Hold Your Hand”, The Beatles)

    I’m on an … expedition,
    Where there’s no mail or phones!
    Before I … start this mission,
    You want to jump my bones!
    You want to jump my bo-o-ones,
    I’ll let you jump my bones!

    You’ve got a … human body,
    with over-active stones!
    You like to … do things naughty,
    You like to jump my bones!
    You like to jump my bo-o-ones,
    Tonight, you’ll jump my bones!

    When you escaped from Hell’s damnation,
    You liked food!
    And then came phy-si-cal sensation!
    Lust ensued!
    We got nude!
    Then we screwed!

    Your body … likes my body,
    For me, you’ve got a jones!
    Good thing that … you’re a hottie!
    Let’s jump each other’s bones!
    Let’s jump each other’s bo-o-ones!
    Let’s make some nasty moans!
    Let’s jump each other’s bo-o-o-o-o-o-ones!

  25. I’m with David on this one. There’s never as much fun as the Soda/Pop/Coke (seriously, why would anyone from any part of the United States think “Diet 7-Up” is the right answer to the question “what kinda coke you want”) debate between differing regions.Also, I’ve lived in multiple states in multiple time zones across the country, and the only place I’ve ever heard the phrase “Not for Nothing” is in Aaron Sorkin dialogue. Of course, I’ve heard it said so much there by people from so many different background…

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