December 2004 Archives

Artificial intelligence has made great strides in recent years, but I have never felt like I was living in the future so much as I did today at work. My co-worker "Pepe" received a handheld electronic game called "20Q", which plays a near-perfect game of Twenty Questions. The future is now, and 20Q is leading the way.

It's not just that the 20Q is bright, and obviously quite good at Twenty Questions. Relying solely on on yes/no/maybe responses and a pre-loaded set of questions, 20Q guessed such challenging objects as "volcano" and "post-it notes". It's more that the 20Q takes time to talk electronic trash, warning you of its imminent victory in between questions like "Is it bigger than a loaf of bread?" and "Is it heavier than a duck?" Somehow, a taunt like, "I am onto your game...You can't fool me" is all the more devastating when it shows up one line at a time, with a dramatic pause while the wee processors try to catch up. Bizarrely, the 20Q will occasionally ask, "Is it heavier than a pound of butter?", which sounds like a riddle until you realize that one only has to do with feathers and gold and antiquated British measurement systems.

The 20Q is not by any means perfect. There is some confusion when words have double meanings. For example, an affirmative answer to the question, "Does it roll?" led to a guess of "Is it a beer can?", though the mystery object was actually a condom. We had posited that the 20Q might have some sort of adult content filter, until its final guess of "lubricant", which came remarkably close to the right answer.

20Q was also defeated by "Rolodex", though it guessed both "notepad" and "index card". This was likely due to the fear of trademark infringement, in the same way that news organizations are scolded to never use "TiVo" as a noun or verb - only an adjective. I can imagine the 20Q researchers revising their programming codes with heavy hearts, after receiving a cease-and-desist order from Rolodex's legal department.

The final test of 20Q: Could it identify the mystery object if it were the 20Q itself? "Pepe" argues that one of the most important parts of intelligence is self-awareness. Should the 20Q successfully identify itself, I would be much more inclined to accept it as sentient, albeit handheld being. And at that point, what is our next move? Start teaching the 20Q basic accounting skills and household tasks? Buy another 20Q and see if the two can reproduce? Destroy the 20Q, before it can reproduce and take over the planet? Perhaps the 20Q itself could enlighten us. Is the 20Q's potential danger to human civilization bigger than a loaf of bread? Is it heavier than a pound of butter?

INTERVIEWER: Our guest tonight is Gane$h, superstar elephant rapper from Bombay. How you doin', Gane$h?

GANE$H: I'm aight. Working for peanuts, but ain't we all in this world?

INTERVIEWER: True dat. Let's jump right in here and talk about the new album. On the first track, you declare that the Indian elephant-African elephant feud is over. Is this because of the death of Babar?

GANE$H: You know, a lot of that Indian-African tension was just a creation of Ringling Brothers and the media. The feud was what it was, but no matter what was said, Babar's always been my pachyderm.

INTERVIEWER: You and Babar traded insults for years. His single, "Short Tusks In Yo Mouth (So My Trunk Can Fit)" set off an extended battle. You suggested he was afraid of mice. Babar mocked reincarnation. Finally, in "Burn Babar" you laid down a devastating verse arguing that Babar's work was just an extended apologia for French imperialism.

GANE$H: You know, we trumpeted back and forth a lot. But, yo, that's just how elephants communicate. It was all about selling records. And circus tickets.

INTERVIEWER: Do you think Babar's music will continue to find an audience, even in death?

GANE$H: Babar has a legacy now, and that's gonna last. We elephants, so you know we ain't gonna forget him. It don't matter what size ears y'all have. You gotta hear Babar.

INTERVIEWER: Well said. On a different note, your album cover sparked a storm of protests when you appeared wearing ivory jewelry.

GANE$H: That's misguided. It ain't an endorsement of poaching, 'phant. It's just bling.


WONKA: boy...You won! You did it! You did it! I knew you would, I just knew you would! The factory's yours! Come in, Mr. Wilkinson. Charlie, meet Mr. Wilkinson.

CHARLIE: Slugworth, you son of a bitch. (CHARLIE throws Everlasting Gobstopper at WILKINSON)

WONKA: No, no, that's not Slugworth. He works for me.

CHARLIE: How dare you show your face in this chocolate factory? (CHARLIE begins punching, kicking WILKINSON)

WONKA: Charlie, for God's sake, stop! It was only a test!

CHARLIE: This one's for Augustus! (Punch) And Violet! (Punch) And Veruca! (Punch)

GRANDPA JOE: Charlie, you're killing him! Please!

CHARLIE: Back off, old man! I'll hit you so hard you'll wish you were back in that bed!

WONKA: I don't think he's breathing, Charlie!

CHARLIE: (crying) Fucking Slugworth! (Punch) (Sniff) Oh, Mr. Wonka, what have I done?

WONKA: Cheer up, Charlie. It's gonna be OK, but we have to move fast. Grandpa Joe, we need two gallons of Fizzy-Lifting drink, a case of Scrumdidilyumptious bars, and an Oompa-Loompa that can keep a secret. Charlie, go warm up the glass elevator. We're headed for Mexico.

Rejected Lines From "Garden State"

"I've been off drugs for the first time in 17 years."

"What about marijuana and ecstasy?"


* * *

"Maybe an Academy Award is just a trophy made out of Hollywood's wishes."

* * *

"Who is this?"

"It's The Shins. It'll change your life."


"After you hear this song, you'll try to make people listen to The Shins all the time."

* * *

"Maybe this soundtrack is just a group of songs that make us all nostalgic for the same imaginary mp3 playlist."

* * *

"What's going on?"

"I think I'm about to cry."

"Oh good. Otherwise I would have had to have an epileptic seizure to wrap things up."

* * *

"Why is Method Man in this movie?"

"Maybe the Wu-Tang Clan is just the Actors' Studio for -"

"Stop right there."

* * *

"Hey Albert? Good luck exploring the infinite abyss."

"Thanks. Hey, you too."

"By 'infinite abyss', you mean Sam's vagina, right, Albert?"

"Yes I do."

Someone in the federal government leaked grand jury testimony from the BALCO trial to the San Francisco Chronicle, confirming as fact what was formerly just suspicion. Barry Bonds was using a steroid cream during the 2003 season (if not earlier), and now professional sports and society are headed straight to hell, at least the portion that wasn't already headed there after the Pacers-Pistons brawl. Broken-hearted children will have to look elsewhere for heroes, perhaps to the NFL, a league that's conquered the steroid menace.

I think that many of Barry's accomplishments are still pretty amazing, even though he was on the juice. It's just that they're now amazing in the way that somersault slam dunks off a trampoline are amazing. Or a guy fighting off six cops while on PCP. On one hand, sure, he's on PCP, but on the other, that's still six cops.

While history will forever downgrade Barry's offensive prowess of the past four years, no one can deny that he's the most effective steroid user of all time. Consider the other BALCO defendants. Garry Sheffield had excellent seasons in 2003 and 2004, but he suffered a series of nagging injuries and came nowhere near Bonds's performance. Jeremy Giambi has been in four organizations in two years, and spent all of last season in the minor leagues. Jason Giambi hit .200, got cancer, and was infected with debilitating parasites. Armando Rios and Bobby Estalella are out of professional baseball. Benito Santiago plays for the Kansas City Royals, which is basically the same thing. Bonds won an MVP award every year. Give the man credit - that is some serious steroid performance.

Now that he's been outed as a steroid cheat and a liar, baseball fans are going to hate Barry. Everyone pretty much did already, especially reporters, but now it's open season. Even I kind of hate Barry now, and I love Barry. Barry is the best player on my favorite team, so I'm biased in his favor, but I'm also a guy who called Mark McGwire "Captain Andro" for the last three years of his career. He's going to be booed in every stadium in the league next year, even the few he wasn't booed in last year. There's no chance he'll win over the public, so he might as well play up his unpopularity like a wrestling villain. Here are some ways Barry could piss off the fans even more:

Grow a full beard, like an evil alternate dimension Star Trek crew member.

New walkup music: Motley Crϋe's "Dr. Feelgood" or the Imperial March from Star Wars.

Expand the elbow guard so that it covers all but 15% of his arm.

Go beyond standing in the batter's box to admire home runs. Carry a small digital camera and take a picture of the ball in flight before slowly circling the bases.

Push for the return of Sonny Jackson as third base coach.

Admit to providing a five year old Darren Baker with "the clear" and "the cream".

Move the recliner into the dugout and sit in it between innings.

Change back to his old uniform number, Willie Mays's retired #24. Ask, "When was it the team retired Willie's number? After he won his seventh MVP award, or after he hit his 700th home run? Help me out, I can't remember."

Make a large and public show of support for beleaguered team mascot Lou Seal.

Wear the same dirty helmet all season. In June, stop changing socks. After the All-Star Break, don't wash uniform pants or jock strap.

Punch first baseman J.T. Snow in the face, for no good reason at all.

In a live interview, tell Mike Krukow that he doesn't know a goddamn thing about a kangaroo court, and he never will. Then add, "Put the microphone down, meat."

Marry Mia Hamm.

Put together a new promotional "Say Hey" campaign for the upcoming season. "I didn't commit perjur-ay! Say hey!"

Begin referring to own bowel movements as "splash hits".

After every intentional walk, behead a live chicken and hang it on the right field wall.

Release documents revealing that, in addition to putting Jason Giambi in contact with Greg Anderson, Barry masterminded Giambi's wussy deodorant ad campaign.

Win the World Series.

The public has spoken, and soon will become a reality! Though will be primarily devoted to Sean Keanes, friends and associates of any Sean Keane might enjoy a visit. Until then, you can spend your office downtime and holiday dollars at The Shirt Off Sean Keane's Back, a rapidly expanding online shop. Be the first one on your block to declare, "I'm Not Sean Keane, But My Boyfriend Is". Once I figure out the merchandiser setup, all profits will go to breast cancer research (no, really).

Cassie Wu was responsible for the majority of the T-shirt design work at The Shirt Off Sean Keane's Back, so she deserves ample and heartfelt. props.

In non-virtual Sean Keane news, San Francisco Sean Keane (AKA me) will be returning to UC Berkeley in the spring for what I like to call a redshirt semester. I'm hanging out with my old friends John Milton and James Joyce, as well as my twin nemeses Close Reading and Mandatory Attendance. Hopefully everyone will just assume I'm a TA. Otherwise I'll spend way too much time explaining to freshman and sophomores what it was like to connect to the Internet with a modem, or why there's hair on the back of my shoulders. I will continue with my current job of helping to free political prisoners, but only part-time.

Finally, this Friday marks my triumphant return to the world of stand-up comedy in front of a paying audience. No more laundromats and empty coffee shops until next week, says I! Instead, it's a Comedy Showcase at a club called 50 Mason near Union Square (it's located at 50 Mason). Think of it as a normal evening with Sean, where I only monopolize the conversation with tedious stories for 7-10 minutes instead of two or three hours. The downside is that it costs ten dollars, but the upside is that you won't have to eat my attempts at Mediterranean cooking. I've hosted a show on the night of September 11, and opened for Dave Attell, but I've never played 50 Mason before. It ought to be a hootenanny. I will try not to wear that same green shirt on Friday.

The official announcement is below:

Gene called me up last week to give me the big news.

"Your page is the second-highest listing for 'Sean Keane' on Google", he told me. " is the only one ahead of you. Good job."

Zembla has been around for a little over two years, which works out to about seven months when you adjust for frequency of updates. Just a year ago, the Sean Keane page rankings were dominated by Irish folk singer Seán Keane (also known as "the real Seán Keane) and wee Zembla was barely in the top 100. Now, as my internet famousness has grown, Zembla has pulled itself up the Google ladder, delighting a tiny group of my friends and relatives while confusing thousands of Irish music fans and Nabokov scholars.

If there's one thing I've learned from my meteoric rise up the search engine charts, it's that you can't get complacent. Look what happened to the other Irish musician named Seán Keane. He's a world-renowned fiddle player and a member of Ireland's greatest folk band, the Chieftains. He's also only #3 in the rankings. Maybe it's time to put down the tin whistle and starting working on the HTML, Seán.

That's why I've searched extensively for any and all Sean Keanes that might threaten my Google near-supremacy. You never know when some young Sean Keane might come around, trying to make a name for himself by Google bombing and clawing his way to the top. The way to prepare for that, as both Branch Rickey and Canteen Boy could tell you, is scouting.

The Sean Keane Report

Seán Keane, Finest Tenor Vocalist In Ireland


This is the big daddy of all Sean Keanes. Mr. Keane is wildly popular among Irish folk fans and has won a ton of awards. Q Magazine calls him "the finest singer of his generation". I'm not even the finest singer in my own house. Now that he and his brothers have formed a group (Citizen Keane), he may have locked up his #1 ranking for years to come, as well as stealing the title of my unpublished memoirs. He may be tough to beat, especially with the arrogant "á" in his first name, reminding everyone that he's a bona fide Irishman, not just a California kid who doesn't tan well.

Verdict: Stiff competition, angelic voice.

Fiddler/Tin Whistle Player Seán Keane


The emergence of folk singer Seán Keane probably hit this guy hard. He had a great, multi-decade run of success with the Chieftains, complete with show-stopping fiddle solos and traditional folk groupies throwing their panties and tam-o'-shanters on stage. Suddenly, a superstar emerges in the mid-90's. Sure, he doesn't have the same track record or following as The Chieftains, but the difference is, this Seán Keane sings, so suddenly one of the greatest fiddlers in Irish history is now the "other Seán Keane". It's a damn shame.

Verdict: I don't think he's gaining ground on Zembla anytime soon.

Hockey Sean Keane


No longer a defenseman/forward for Manhattanville College, Hockey Sean Keane is not competition in the page rankings, unless he catches on with a minor league hockey team or something. I am impressed by two things about this Sean Keane. One, he's enough of a versatile athlete that he played for both the hockey and golf teams at Manhattanville. Two, he led the hockey team in penalty minutes AND won the MVP, meaning he is both a tough and talented son of a bitch. His biography even refers to him as "grizzled" at the age of 22. Hockey Sean Keane, you truly are a valiant man.

Verdict: Minimal threat, but I'd totally buy him a beer.

Photographer Sean Keane

I don't know much about this Sean Keane, except that he's skilled in web design, and he has a hot wife named Candy Keane. "Candy Keane" is one of the punny names my parents reportedly considered for me and my sisters, along with "Peachy". It's funnier that it doesn't even appear to be this model's maiden name.

Verdict: Minimal threat, but I'd totally buy his wife a beer.

UPDATE: Photographer Sean Keane is a Navy SEAL, making him the toughest Sean Keane on this list. Apologies to Tae Kwon Do Black Belt Sean Keane, the former toughest Sean Keane in the world. I don't think this affects Photographer Sean Keane's status as an internet threat, because Google does not take hand-to-hand combat into account when they calculate page rank. I would like to amend my earlier comment to read, "I'd totally buy his wife a beer with his permission."

Black Texan Sean Keane-Dawes


So much for those haters who insist that all Sean Keanes are Irishmen or fighters. Mr. Keane-Dawes is a talented attorney specializing in immigration law. It's probably unlikely that he and I are relatives, but I have family members who swear that New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is my distant cousin, so you never know.

Verdict: Mr. Keane-Dawes will provide aggressive representation, but not an aggressive web presence.

Photoblog Sean Keane


This guy even has his own members-only clubhouse, while I don't even have my own Members Only jacket. He has a photoblog with amusing and funny pictures, and he's also interested in Early Childhood Education. In other words, this guy is a rival. Hopefully he will stick to teaching preschool, because anyone who can create an image like the one below is a serious threat.


It checks messages from space! Brilliant!

Verdict: Serious threat.

Penn State Sean Keane


This guy wants a job in IT. He's still in school until 2007, so I think he won't be making his mark on the Internet until then. I just hope his college doesn't poach my college's football coach in the offseason.

Verdict: Go Bears!

Engineering Grad Student and Gun Rights Advocate J. Sean Keane

J. Sean Keane is concerned with gun rights and Vietnam veterans, though I think he's a pretty young guy. He writes eloquently about concealed weapons permits and the Second Amendment. Unfortunately for his Google status, he doesn't appear to be a big arguer or name-caller, so he won't attract enough criticism and venom to truly launch his internet famousness. I do wonder what the "J" stands for.

Verdict: Armed and dangerous, but not so much dangerous in terms of page ranking.

PalmPilot Artist Sean Keane


If PalmPilot art takes off the way that some art critics expect it to, this Sean Keane, whoever he is, might become quite the Internet superstar. "Great Expectations", shown above, is nothing special, but check out "Super Dizzy-Phat" at the link above to see why I think PalmPilot art might have some promise.

Verdict: If he moves on to Blackberry-based art, we may be in for a rivalry.

UPDATE: PalmPilot artist Sean Keane and Photoblog Sean Keane are one and the same! I should have recognized the artistic genius. I told you he's a threat.

Friend To The Van Den Hende Family Sean Keane


Looks eerily like a teenage Dennis Keane.

Verdict: Eerie, but not worrisome.

UPDATE (12/6/05): Another Dennis-like photo can be found here here. Damn if there aren't some handsome Sean Keanes out there.

Irish Golf Course Construction Company General Manager Sean Keane


Pros: Has met Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. Fine bushy mustache.

Cons: You can't play golf on the Internet.

Verdict: Or can you?!?

Albany Police Detective and Drum Major Sean Keane

Detective Keane can handle a snare drum and a service revolver. He may also regularly wear a kilt. This combination is highly valued on many online personal sites, so Detective Keane might well become more popular than he could imagine, given some basic programming skills and an open mind.

Verdict: Intriguing.

Secretary of the North American County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association Sean Keane

I'm just happy that this organization exists.

Verdict: Overjoyed.

Union College Basketball Reserve Sean Keane


Can shoot the three. No longer playing.

Keane played six games for the Dutchmen, averaging just over one point per contest and just under one rebound. This Sean Keane played sporadically for a talented team that just missed a championship, (he's second from the right) which was eerily similar to my own basketball career. Of course, he's a college athlete and I was in fourth grade. While it's likely that neither of us can dunk a basketball, he probably knows a lot more people that can dunk than I do, too.

Verdict: Left open on the perimeter, this Sean Keane is a threat. As an internet presence, less so.

Senior Journalist Sean Keane

This Sean Keane seems to inspire a lot of ire from one particular blogger, though I am not versed enough in local Irish regional politics to know whether the criticisms are fair.

Verdict: Until Kilkenny People develops a better interface to search their archives, this Sean Keane is not a threat.

Irish Taekwon Do Black Belt Sean Keane


This Sean Keane could kick my ass harder than any other Sean Keane on this list. Unless Hockey Sean had a hockey stick, and Detective Sean had pepper spray. Damn, those three would make a kickass crime-fighting team.

Verdict: Awesome.

Residential Businessman From Connecticut Sean Keane

According to the minutes, Sean Keane doesn't have a lot of enemies in Westchesterfield.

Verdict: Not a threat, unless his home business involves routers or pornography.

UPDATE: Another Sean Keane located!

New Jersey Sean Keane

Likes Tupac. At 5'11", this Sean Keane is a good four inches taller than many Sean Keanes, at the tender age of 17. Plus, the ladies love him. Clearly, this is a Sean Keane to keep an eye on.

Discovering this Sean Keane also alerted me to the existence of Keansburg, New Jersey, which might be a good spot for Sean Keane World Headquarters, assuming there is a good place to build a secret underground cave or at least a tree fort.

Verdict: A rising star in the Sean Keane universe.

UPDATE: Another Sean Keane located!

Southern Connecticut State University Soccer Sean Keane

This Sean Keane is a fullback for the Southern Connecticut State Owls. According to his roster information, he's 6'1" - quite tall for a Sean Keane. I also played defense in my days as a soccer player, but that was because I couldn't dribble and was five years old.

Soccer Sean Keane is also Canadian, making him the go-to Sean Keane for cheap pharmaceuticals and legal weed. In the team photo below, I think he's third from the left on the top row:


Verdict: More of a threat if you're using the metric system.

UPDATE: Another Sean Keane located!

Newlywed Sean Keane


This Sean Keane was married last September on Long Island. According to his wedding page, Newlywed Sean Keane "enjoys watching sports, movies, music, computers, and enjoying time with his friends", proving that there are some pleasures common to all the world's Sean Keanes. Newlywed Sean Keane has a degree in Information Technology, so he certainly has the firepower to mount a page rank assault.

Verdict: A sleeping giant.

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

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