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Self-Depeditation with PL/I

Does anyone still use that vast bulk of a programming language, PL/I? Probably not, but I still find something rather satisfying about the following "How to Shoot Yourself In the Foot with PL/I" joke.

You consume all available system resources, including all the offline bullets. The Data Processing & Payroll Department doubles its size, triples its budget, acquires four new mainframes and drops the original one on your foot.

For comparison with a now better-known language, here's the C++ version:

You accidently create a dozen instances of yourself and shoot them all in the foot. Providing emergency medical assistance is impossible since you can't tell which are bitwise copies and which are just pointing at others and saying "That's me, over there."

The jokes are two of many in Susan Stepney's reconstruction of the December 1991 issue of Developer's Insight, How to Shoot Yourself In the Foot. Susan also has some noteworthy reading linked from her Science Fiction page. This includes her discussion of the very different ways in which SF readers and readers of mainstream fiction interpret the phrase "Her world exploded".

She also links to Peter Anspach's list of advice to aspiring Evil Overlords. One important warning: never employ any device with a digital countdown. If you do find that such a device is absolutely unavoidable, set it to activate when its counter reaches 117 and the hero is just putting his plan into operation. Also, make sure that your ventilation ducts are too small to crawl through.

And because every Evil Overlord must ultimately suffer defeat, something that invariably requires a Quest, I also recommend the link to Nick Lowe's The Well-Tempered Plot Device. Nick's theme is that critics spend most of their time analysing the properties — plot, characterisation, style, ideas, significance — of good writing. But bad writing has its own characteristics, and because there's so much more bad writing than good, critics ought to be analysing it too. What is the "grammar" of a typical bad novel? Nick explains why Tolkien should be known as Lord of the Plot Coupons, how to exploit red kryptonite as a Universal Plot Generator, and why it is so important that red kryptonite decays in a time equal to the length of the typical Superman story.