856: Trochee Fixation

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Trochee Fixation
If you Huffman-coded all the 'random' things everyone on the internet has said over the years, you'd wind up with, like, 30 or 40 bytes *tops*.
Title text: If you Huffman-coded all the 'random' things everyone on the internet has said over the years, you'd wind up with, like, 30 or 40 bytes *tops*.

Explanation

Trochees are two syllable words with an accent on the first like the comic says.

However, there is a reference to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers TV shows in the bottom left frame. Additionally, there is a reference to sci/fi author Neal Stephenson who has written Snow Crash, Anathem and many other books.

When the experiment fails, the last comment is "someone get a brick". They are going to smash the brick into the patient's head to try to cure the Trochee Fixation.

Huffman coding is a lossless data compression algorithm. What Randall is trying to say by “30 or 40 bytes *tops*” is that there’s really not much truly random stuff out there on the internet - internet memes are all repeats of the same seemingly random stuff.

Transcript

Girl: Robot ninja! Pirate doctor laser monkey! Narwhal zombie badger hobo bacon kitty captain penguin raptor jesus!
Megan: We'd been seeing this brain damage for years, but only recently did our linguists identify the pattern behind it.
Megan: The patients fixate on animals and types of people whose names are trochees (two syllables, with the accent on the first).
The malfunction causes a rush of dopamine whenever these trocheese are heard or spoken.
[Chart shows "internet" and "brain," with arrows marked "trochees" traveling both ways between them. An arrow marked "dopamine" loops from the brain back to the brain.]
The warning signs appear in childhood:
[Child sits in front of TV.]
Child: Yeah! Mighty teenage morphin' ninja power mutant turtle rangers!
Social reinforcement focuses the fixation on a few dozen words.
Cueball (off-panel): Is there a cure?
[Girl is reclining under a big machine pointed at her face.]
Megan: We're about to try a radical trocheeotomy.
Cueball: Rip out her vocal chords? I'm in favor.
Megan: No, we're modifying her vocabulary* to erase the words she's fixated on.
  • Digitoneurolinguistic hacking! It's totally real! Ask Neal Stephenson.
Megan: Either the gap will be filled by normal words, or she'll just generate a new set of trochees.
Megan: Here goes.
[She pulls the lever on a large panel.]
kachunk bzzzZZZZZZ
[Girl is waking up.]
Girl: ... GzZhRmPh ...
Girl ... banjo turtle!
Girl: Jetpack ferret pizza lawyer! Dentist hamster wombat plumber turkey jester hindu cowboy hooker bobcat scrapple!
Megan (off-panel): Sigh.
Megan: Time for plan B.
Megan: Someone get a brick.
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Discussion

Bad advice mallard would like a word with you. Davidy²²[talk] 07:08, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
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