Don't try to disprove Terry Pratchett

The mighty hedgehog Bestiality sure is a fun thing to do
But I have to say this as a warning to you:
With almost all animals, you can have ball
But the hedgehog can never be buggered at all.

Gytha Ogg, as readers of Pratchett’s Discworld novels will know, has a penchant for drinking songs with rather rude lyrics. The two mentioned most frequently are “A Wizard’s Staff Has a Knob on the End” (possible lyrics) and “The Hedgehog Can Never Be Buggered at All”.

The spines on his back are too sharp for a man
They’ll give you a pain in the worst place they can
The result I think you’ll find will appall:
The hedgehog can never be buggered at all!

Clearly, Dear Reader, you are thinking to yourself that this bit of ribald folk wisdom is naught but common sense. Alas! Witness, if you will this sobering article from Ananova (via reddit):

A Serbian man needed emergency surgery after he had sex with a hedgehog on a witchdoctor’s advice.

Zoran Nikolovic, 35, from Belgrade, says the witchdoctor told him it would cure his premature ejaculation.

But he ended up in an operating theatre after the hedgehog’s needles left his penis severely lacerated.

A hospital spokesman said: “The animal was apparently unhurt and the patient came off much worse from the encounter. We have managed to repair the damage to his penis.”

Clearly, Mr. Pratchett’s novels need to be translated into Serbian.

I find the choice of the word “witchdoctor” is also quite curious, and I admit that I was previously unaware that this particular trade is practiced on the Balkan Peninsula.

Practiced, dare I observe, with a rather direct sense of humor.

At the end of the day, when you’ve had your rough way
With all of those creatures, you’ll just have to say
“That damned Erinaceous has been my downfall–”
For the hedgehog can never be buggered at all!

(There have been far too many fan attempts to create lyrics for the Hedgehog Song.)

(Hedgehog image courtesy of stonefaction.)

academia computer science reflections

Magister Scientiae

Ramon Lull’s Arbor Scientiae Somewhat to my surprise, I find that I have finished my M.S. and the degree will be awarded in six days. At last, I can be addressed as Wohlgelehrter Herr Magister! My calculations had led me to believe that I had two more quarters before completion, but I certainly wasn’t going to argue when the department sent me a graduation notice.  The bureaucrats have been propitiated, so it’s all over but the ceremony.

Next stop: doctorate. I’ve officially transferred into the Ph.D. program. Until Friday I could still say that I was still on the fence, but iacta alea est. I’d assumed that switching tracks wouldn’t be a particularly big deal, but I find that it’s a significant mental and emotional shift.

There have certainly been research elements to the master’s program, but at its heart it is structured around classes. Until now, it’s been picking the most interesting items off of a menu and running with them. From here on out, I’m building my own curriculum, and research is central.

It really is like starting out fresh, but from a higher level of sophistication. The professor who has been acting as my advisor is leaving, so I’ll need to establish a new relationship, one that will be the best match for my research interests.

Research interests! That impending choice has certainly been haunting my sleep for the past few months. To my generalist instincts, it feels a bit like selecting the color of my straightjacket. There are too many interesting pathways to select just one! Still, this is the way that the game is played, and I have some ideas. Once they’ve coalesced, expect some discussion in this forum.

I’ll have a brief, much-needed respite before I pick things up again for the summer term. Of course, work continues—it will be a bit of a dance balancing office and academia, but I’ve survived this long. What’s three or four more years?