98.10 Similar groups
99.0 - Notices and Other Stuff
0.0 - Why two FAQs?
The smaller (on-topic) FAQ is the more truer FAQ that relates to APIHNA subject matter. But a careful study of its contents will show that it's a rather narrow field of topics easily covered and quick to become tedious.
In amongst all of the it's/its abuses that have been reported over the years on Apihna, other topics have made frequent appearances with the effect of becoming embedded in Apihna lore and, sometimes, Apihna law. Newbies stumbling into (or over) Apihna might be put off by some of the references and the in-jokes that create an atmosphere which isn't exactly inviting for them to stay and join in. This FAQ is, therefore, an attempt to explain a few of the things that have intertwined themselves into other threads down through the past two-and-a-bit years.
It also amuses me greatly that the on-topic FAQ is a tiny fraction of the size of the off-topic FAQ. I think it says something subtly about the nature of the newsgroup.
0.1 What is Apihna all about, anyway?
That's a difficult one to answer. I could write what I think its purpose and raison d’être is, but it's likely that it would differ from the next person's attempt. But two things are clear:
1. Most new threads begin as topics related to language (ab)use.
2. Most threads contain hum[o|ou]r in one form or another.
If any other regulars want to sum up Apihna in a small paragraph, please email the words to me and I'll weigh up the chances of maybe considering thinking about debating over the possibility of including them in the next generation of this FAQ.
1.0 - It's/Its Sentences
Just what is an It's/Its Sentence? Essentially, it's a sentence in which "it's" (i.e. the contraction for "it is" or "it has") is used in the correct way along with the use of "its" (i.e. the possessive of "it") also in its correct role. The preceding sentence was an It's/Its Sentence -- as an example.
The best It's/Its Sentences are those that are not too contrived in order to get the two words in, and the highest accolade should be given to anyone achieving this. The nearer the sentence gets to its needing a few reads before reali[z|s]ing that it's actually an It's/Its Sentence then the more divine and skillful it and its author are.
During the first two weeks of July 1999, several posts were made by me (John Flynn) that included both uses of "it's" and "its" within the same sentence. I made no reference to it, but the intention to show the correct use of "it's" and "its" was what I had in mind. On July 16, I made explicit mention of the It's/Its Sentence and lo! the phenomenon was born! This year (2001) we might celebrate its 2nd birthday, but it's unlikely.
Basically, any homophones can be made into a variation of the It's/Its Sentence. Among the most common ones are:
there/their/they're to/two/too your/you're/yore
In this FAQ, all sentences displaying such a quality have been referred to as an "It's/Its Sentence". Seasier, innit.
1.2 Variations on the variations
Create a sentence with two (or more) sets of homophones used correctly. What could be simpler?
1.3 Unacceptable It's/Its Sentences
When discussing a word as a word in its own right and not using that word as a word in the sentence then it's NOT an It's/Its Sentence. No! Look at this unacceptable and disgraceful It's/Its Sentence:
You're using "your" incorrectly.
Now use your eyes to look at this valid and beautiful It's/Its Sentence:
You're getting your use of "your" wrong.
See the difference?
If any long(ish) period of time goes by without anyone making an It's/ Its Sentence, some of the regulars may get slightly restless. Tetchy, even. It's/Its Sentences can't be stored up, though, so making fifty of them in one day won't keep our heads above water when the wolf is at the door demanding its pound of flesh any longer than if only one had been created that day.
2.0 - The Apihna Arms
To provide an environment in which apihna regulars can meet and relate and generally interact on a social level, the concept of The Apihna Arms was born in early November 1999; in a "Get To Know The Regulars" thread; but it wasn't called that; no, I can't remember what it was called; check http://groups.google.com; if you must.
The Apihna Arms is a virtual pub where regulars gather and discuss matters and indulge in the spirit of the newsgroup. It gives the NG a stage (with sterotypical English-pub-related props, e.g. roaring open fire -- even in mid-summer --, dartboard, false oak beams, tables that always tilt unsteadily, condom machine in the gents' toilets) on which things can be placed and made more "real." (Or "real". -- if you prefer.)
Anything goes! Since it's a virtual public house, The Apihna Arms can and will serve you the perfect drink from its infinite supply of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Toasted sandwiches are available too, but this (at least in the UK) is a legal requirement of an alchohol-selling licence holder and shouldn't surprise anyone. Be careful when ordering Marmite(tm) toasties (see section 3.1).
The official drink, though, is the Apihna Colada. Served in a tall glass (with a paper umbrella containing a scrap of Chinese newspaper) the Apihna Colada arrives with apostrophe-shaped ice- cubes and an accompanying leaflet explaining the why-and-wherefores of possessive-indicating apostrophes and their correct and incorrect use's. For those whose reading skills are slightly alcoholically impaired, the leaflet contains large and clear diagrams so that there can be no excuse for apostrophe misuse whatever the blood alcohol level of the reader.
A stronger drink, known as a te-quay-la, is available for the brave, but no one knows just what exactly it is in it. Hmmm. Mystery.
Ken the barman works twenty-four hour shifts every day to provide the regulars with their fav[o|ou]rite tipples, and has had no complaints about his service. So far. But we don't really expect any.
Due to a mis-reading incident, the term "groundhugging" was born and is now used to describe the state of those Arms patrons who imbibe too many Apihna Coladas.
2.4 The Comfy Chair
The Comfy Chair is located next to the open fire and commands a great view of the rest of the place. Anyone occupying the Comfy Chair is in the best position to hear any conversation taking place and to join in but still remain firmly seated (in comfort). There is a properly organi[s|z]ed waiting list, but if anyone cares to take a look at it, they (see 10.0) will see that every available space contains a signature that appears to be "John Ward" followed by a small paw print. Some people might comment that the chair is empty at the moment, but watch it carefully for a day or two and you'll notice that someone keeps appearing and then disappearing in it on an irregular basis. Oh, and you'll also see that there is a cat sleeping there, keeping the seat warm for when its owner returns as a regular.
Not allowed! The Apihna Arms is a peaceful place, and any sort of aggression will be seriously frowned at. There is a sign on the front door that says "No trolls, please!" but occasionally one or two flagrantly ignore it and slip in for a look around. As with any other gathering of people in Usenet Land, trolls only thrive when cries of outrage are directed in their direction. Solution? The time-hon[o|ou]red advice of "Ignore them and they'll go away." Beware of replying to messages from people whose names you don't recognise as being a regular: it might be a cross-post, and an indirect invitation for a spot of trolling from another group. Careful, sirs!
3.0 - Foods
As witnessed almost anywhere on Usenet, food is something that likes to keep coming back up. The foodstuffs below are those that regulars have stomached enough to enjoy a prolonged residency in apihna.
That yeasty, hideous, nice, putrid, wondrous, ear-waxy spread has some ardent haters and equally ardent supporters within the ranks of the apihna regulars. Knowing a regular's like or hate relationship with the spread is advantageous in delivering reward or punishment (in response to a good/bad pun, for example).
For an unknown reason, a lot of regulars insist on putting the Trade Mark symbol after every occurrence of Marmite(tm). I mean... why? It's silly. And you certainly won't find the author of this FAQ adding extraneous clutter to the end of each and every Marmite(tm) reference.
Those who are 'clever' and try to include the one-character version of the TM symbol (see 98.6 -- if you must) go one step further in the Marmite™ silliness. Unfortunately, the symbol isn't always converted to the correct symbol on a user's computer, and may appear as a strange and unexpected character after every mention of Marmite™. Using "(tm)" is the better method.
First introduced to the group for discussion by John Larkin, grits has found a small niche within apihna-lore.
What is grits? Try this (real) link: http://www.grits.com
Alleged to be the food of the gods (or as near as makes no difference) by John Larkin, inducing a psychotropic effect in me (it's a long story), described as simply tasting a lot like semolina by Graybags, grits often makes an appearance in discussions.
"'Grits' is always grammatically singular," advises Mr Larkin.
Possibly as a knee-jerk reaction to the enthusiasm for Marmite(tm), tapenade was proclaimed by Ben Wolfson as being something he LOVES. Surprisingly, no one concurred with him and the matter died quite quickly. At the time of this revision, tapenade has not been mentioned since its first appearance.
And still hasn't.
Not content with giving us grits to digest, John Larkin pointed out a suitable dessert for anyone still hungry. Last seen at:
is the It's It. While never having enjoyed the discussions that the other fav[o|ou]rite foodstuffs have had, it's still a nice addition to the menu simply because of its name.
4.0 - Footnotes
Most apihna regulars like footnotes. They add spice to a message and erudition (or at least, apparent erudition) to a message. After a brief and turbulent time, the consensus seems to have settled on the conventional method of footnotes being numbered and placed in square brackets. Some rebels place other characters in there, but this is probably just due to high spirits and/or youthful exuberance. Or fancy-schmancy computers. Maybe even a careful balance of all three reasons.
Adding to the footnote (but totally superfluous, really), Laury Walkey made it her thing to add a footnote title. It's her thing, okay?
No one else is to do it -- no one.
Footnotes. Feetnotes. Feetnote. Feetneet. Take your pick or make up your own. But not "neatfeet" because that's just getting silly now.
Still undecided? Go for "feetnotes" -- it will keep all fans of regular plurals happy and all fen of irregular plurals happy, too.
When editing someone's message in your reply, there may be footnote references in there that no longer have an associated footnote. Please, please, please remove them! Or if adding your own feetnotes, then number them consecutively starting from where any existing 'notes end. Please? It upsets some people's keen sense of aesthetics to see messy replies -- especially if they contain chopped-up feetnotes.
I guess the same could be said for generally tidying up the reply part of a message, but getting everyone to do that would be like getting the tide... to... turn -- where have I read that before?
5.0 - PNS Syndrome
PIN Number Syndrome is the phenomenon (named by James Farrar) for initialisms to have their last initialled word repeated in full. It's easier to give examples than to attempt its definition in words.
- HIV virus
- ISBN number
- VAT tax
Get the idea?
And yes, "PNS Syndrome" is a self-parodying title -- we already know!
5.1 Multilingual PNS Syndrome
There is a gr[a|e]y area in the case of non-English phrases combined with English words that repeat the English part when the non-English part is translated into English. For example:
"RSVP please." "The right of droit de seigneur." "... and etc."
These may or may not be true PNS Syndrome examples. WHO KNOWS? But until the final decision is made, they have been labelled as having the property of "Multilingual PNS Syndrome". Or "MPS Syndrome" to make it easier to type. And for added confusion.
WARNING: Working out what "MPS Syndrome" actually stands for in full is not recommended for beginners, and should be left to trained professionals.
5.2 Meta-PNS Syndrome
In this crazy, crazy world of initialisms, acronyms, and abbreviations, the area of "meta-PNS Syndrome" covers those silly areas that pure PNS Syndrome leads us into. Examples:
Plurals (ACoPs = Approved Codes of Practice) Recursives (GNU = GNU's Not UNIX) Inflections (NP = New Pronunciation, NPing = ???)
6.0 - The Ben Wolfson Encryption Technique
Some newsgroups use ROT-13; apihna regulars sometimes (note: sometimes sometimes) use the Ben Wolfson Encryption Technique. Put simply, this encrypting takes the vowels from the to-be-encrypted word and places them at the beginning. It isn't true encryption as such, but it does lessen the impact of potentially shocking words (e.g. "Marmite(tm)" to a Aiemrmt(tm)-aehtr). An example to show the Ben Wolfson Encryption Technique at work is:
An eaexmpl ot oshw eth Ebn Oowlfsn Eioncryptn Eiuetchnq at owrk.
6.1 - auo jay+oue
¡ll!au,o ua^a+s awelq +snr
7.0 - The Larkin Manoeuvre/Maneuver
A Larkin Manoeuvre/Maneuver (shortened to LM for ease of typing) is a pre-emptory tactic where a message writer notices that what he/she has written has an obvious (and possibly tiresome/tedious/painful/punful) follow-up and writes into that same message (often as a footnote -- see 4.0) the obvious follow-up or the general nature of the possible follow-up. Sort of a "head 'em off at the pass" thing. Successful LMs can be found at numerous times in several discussions since the tactic's birth.
8.0 - Fish
Fish = surreal. Why? No one really knows, but some people claim to and aren't telling us. One thing can be stated with some degree of certainty, though, and that's that fish and fish-related topics make unexpected appearances in apihna discussions. The wise don't question it, but accept it as part of life. The wise also accept "its" as part of life. The trying-to-be-clever accept "if" as part of "life", too.
9.0 - Turd-posting
Due to an anti-spamming measure made by Graybags and his newsreading program, the terror of the turd-posters was brought to the attention of the readers of apihna. For the actual story, go to:
It's gruesome reading, but its moral is one we should all take to heart.
10.0 - Singular "they" legitimi[z|s]ed
Some people can accept "they/them/their/theirs" used in a singular role (e.g. "Someone is at the door and they wish to speak to you.") and others can't (they know who they are!). After a discussion with his wife, Hilary, Jonathan Caws-Elwitt informed the group about his wife's theory regarding the matter. _Hilary's Uncertainthey Principle_ states that "until we know whether the person phoning is a 'he' or a 'she' (if ever we do), 'they' are a nebulous set of possibilities, and that this makes 'them' actually *plural.*"
That's Hilary's exact words, not mine. Not that I disagree with them, as some people do. Each to their own, etc.
Please note that the above is NOT evidence that singular "they" is perfectly 110% acceptable, but is instead offered as an alternative point of view for those who have room in their house to house such things.
11.0 - "What's a quay?"
Taken from The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary:
“ /ki:/ n. Also (earlier) key.
LME. [OFr. kay, kai, cay (see CAY). Later spelling quay (from 18)
after Fr. quai.]
A stationary artificial bank or landing-stage, built esp. of
stone and lying alongside or projecting into water for loading
and unloading ships.
Comb.: quay crane = wharf crane s.v. WHARF n.; quay-punt a small
fore-and-aft rigged two-masted sailing boat, orig. used for
transporting stores between ship and shore; quayside the land
along the edge of a quay.
quayage n. (a) dues levied on goods landed or shipped at a
quay, or on ships using a quay; (b) the area of a quay: LME.
quayful n. (rare) as much or as many as will fill a quay M19.”
This entry in the APIHNAFAQATTAPOT(woafq) is mainly for Steven O'Neill's education, elucidation, and entertainment, but also for any other interested passers-by.
If anyone knows of a method of making the above text appear on Mr O'Neill's newsreader then please inform the group. Please.
11.2 Okay, so I've found/built myself a nice quay. What do I do with it?
A few things. First of all, check under it for trolls. Then try dangling a participle or two from it to see what you catch. And finally (the climax of the whole Quay Experience), throw a dictionary from it. What? You didn't bring one with you? Well, you know better for next time. If you have the time (and the money), throwing the entire OED2 from the quay might prove to be a fulfilling pastime, but beware that local ["environment groups"|"libraries"] may object strongly. If you're using the CD version then WHOA! Watch that beauty skim and bounce across the water!!!
12.0 - Puns
Ah! Puns! They exist in all manner of places. They particularly exist on apihna. The sooner everyone accepts this, the sooner we can all live in peace and harmony and we can all have cream-cakes every day for tea.
Better still... if we could stop making puns then that peace and harmony might visit us even sooner than sooner.
But asking for the puns to stop? It's similar to asking the tide to reverse its flow
Before the tide WANTS to reverse.
13.0 - Word of the ????
Initiated by Graybags in October of 1999 (for the word "morass"), the Word of the ???? is an almost-regular feature submitted by volunteers with too much time on their hands and access to a dictionary. Quite simply, it's just a normal word defined as its constituent parts would indicate. For example, Stephen Muller gave us:
imply: - to act like a small devil
(which in turn led to a long cascade of "imp" words, but let's never mention that again, okay?).
There are several levels of complexity that a Word of the ???? can contain, but it is not within the scope of this FAQ to discuss them. The words "cryptic-crossword clue" might hint at what I'm hinting at.
13.1 Show me the words
Use your favourite web-browser on this address:
Mark Wallace; he's the bloke responsible for the upkeep of that little lot.
13.2 Give me more! More, I tell you!
You still want more? After all that I've given you so far? Dear me; some people are insatiable.
That a look at this:
for a more-of-the-same-but-slightly-different feast.
This time, Mister Ward is the chap you must write to if you feel that you've been missed off or misrepresented.
14.0 - Why is that man staring at my backside and making notes?
Don't worry... that's just Jonathan Caws-Elwitt keeping a tally on your BQ.
Buttocks Quotient. It was noticed that some of The Arms's regulars had revealed more about their buttocks than any other part of their histories and/or physical features. Such a person has a high BQ. What this actually means isn't the point; the BQ is high and that's all that matters. Perhaps you could make a note of it on your CV/résumé, but probably only when applying for jobs where buttocks have a key role to play.
14.2 How is it calculated?
Easy! Measure the amount of data one holds about a poster in compatible units (it doesn't matter which units you choose, since it's a ratio that we're discussing) and then separate out the pieces of data that relate to that person's buttocks/ass/arse/behind/butt/ rump/duff/derriere/backside/can/buns/heiny/keester/prat/posterior/bum/ tush/bottom. Divide this by the total units and out pops the person's BQ.
14.3 Can I call it my "FQ" for variation's sake?
Absolutely not! Let's not get into that area of "What is your fanny?" There are trans-Atlantic differences, and that's where it should end.
15.0 - Ut
An Ut is an accidental or deliberate typing error, primarily an accidental one made by Graybags, but until he registers it as a trademark or files an application for a patent then anyone can ues an Ut.
For the post in which the name originated see:
16.0 - Polgara Points
Our resident Sorceress, Laury Walkey, will award Polgara Points for a post which meets one or more of the following criteria:
- a particularly clever It's/Its Sentence found in spam or on a web page - a particularly witty comment made by (or about) one of the regulars - something which made Laury smile herself - a particularly nice flirtation directed to anyone, but especially Laury
The value of the Points is not precisely known, although it was estimated by Laury to be approximately 703,582 Points = 1 jam donut (but without any sprinkles on top). Although to our knowledge, they have never been cashed in for the following reasons: - they have a substantial emotional (rather than monetary) value, and - no outlet has been found where they may be exchanged for goods.
98.0 - Miscellanea
Here you'll find little bits of stuff not really deserving of a full section. But there is no need to pity them and go "Awwwww!", because they're still quite important and capable of holding their own, oh yes.
(That was a "there/their/they're" It's/Its Sentence, if anyone cares.)
Where does one get those gorgeous apihna t-shirts and pin-badges? Go here:
Assuming that Mr de Wylfin is still selling them, of course.
Wearing an Apihna t-shirt in public can produce some startling results. Expect the unexpected.
98.2 New Year Celebrations
Officially April 29/30th but, as John Goodwin once or twice painstakingly pointed out to us, a new millennium is starting every second of your life! Don't be disappointed that you've missed all of the fun; celebrate now!
98.3 Is anyone archiving apihna?
The URLs in this FAQ are atrociously long. I've cut out as many superfluous 'bits' as possible, but they are still ugly. Blame Google.
If anyone knows of other reliable web-based archivers, please let me know. Or if anyone knows how to compress a Google URL to a decent length, please let me know. Or if you've got some wonderful news that you wish to share with the world, please let me know.
98.4 Anyone reliable?
Ummm... well... hmmm. There was an attempt to archive it privately, so that its goodness could be enjoyed for future generations, but the number of messages made it impossible. Unless you or someone you know has 6 hours a day every day to spare. Contact me if you do. Please?
98.5 - Proportional fonts
Two simple words can sum up the general attitude to fixed-width fonts in apihna: USE THEM! You only have yourself to blame if you don't, and someone's carefully formatted and witty reply looks wrong (possibly even detracting from the wittiness, oh my!). Okay, so proportional fonts might look nice and are more pleasanterer on the eyes, but they really do lack that certain unviersal having-the-same-width-for-every- character attribute that makes fixed-width fonts the greatest things since baked beans.
98.6 "I have a Windows PC and want to create the TM symbol in the 'Courier New' TrueType font -- how do I do it?"
Hold down the "Alt" key (to the left of the spacebar (which is at the bottom of your keyboard (which is normally next to your computer))). Press (in sequence) 0153 on the numeric keypad. Release the "Alt" key. Voilà!
98.7 Who created apihna?
Richard de Wylfin. But he hasn't posted to apihna in a long time. A long, long time. A long, long, LONG time. Quite a while, actually.
Well, okay, so he DID post a "Save Deja's archive NOW!!!" post at the end of September 2000, but does that really count? Especially now that the Deja archive has been saved and relabelled. Possible HOORAY!
Every few months, messages will be dropped off on the doorstep of The Arms that appear to be from threads several weeks (often several months) old. They all originate from a certain JP Gilliver. Why? Why? WHY??? No one is 100% certain, but they arrive, and they stir up memories of threads long buried. Known as a "Gillivery", this phenomenon doesn't just affect apihna (it appears that the NG uk.media.radio.archers is another site known to experience it) so we try not to take it personally.
A Wardy is similar to a Gillivery but of a much smaller magnitude, spanning days rather than weeks and months. Knowing the opening times of the Asda chain of UK supermarkets may help you in determining when a Wardy is likely to appear.
98.10 Similar groups
Despite occasional evidence to the contrary, the following newsgroups don't exist yet:
99.0 - Notices and other stuff
All of that stuff above is merely my view of the events that happened. If you think you can write a more accurate account, then do so, post it to apihna, and I'll be seeing you outside at closing time with fists at the ready. I'll be the one wearing the chainmail.
If you think that something glaringly obvious has been missed out, then please either write your own full(er) Off-topic FAQ, or email the topic and any necessary messages and links to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll have a laugh---ummm, I mean a look at it. Anyone wishing to submit how to produce the TM symbol on his/her own computer/operating- system please email me with the instructions and it shall be included in the next generation of this FAQ.
If you spot any mistakes -- and I mean ANY mistakes -- then follow this sequence of steps:
1. Re-read it. Perhaps you're not as good at reading as you think you are, hey?
2. Re-read it again and see if there is some humorous point or pointless hum[o|ou]r being made by such a 'mistake'.
3. If you're still convinced you're the most rightest person in the world ever, then contact me and I might reward you with a dog- biscuit. But no Marmite(tm)-flav[o|ou]red ones, sorry.
Any parts of this document can be extracted, removed, twisted, and generally re-used in whatever form you wish. I mean, let's face it... most of the words I used are actually in someone else's book or web- page or text, so I can't really lay any claim to any of those words, can I? Honest.
John Flynn, 6th June 2000