So this happened.

What is meant by "Now you have two problems"?

There is a popular quote by Jamie Zawinski:

Some people, when confronted with a problem, think "I know, I'll use regular expressions." Now they have two problems.


I mention this only because it gives me a chance to tell you about one of the saddest features of my Twitter feed, which is that every couple of weeks, someone out there in the dunderweb @-mentions me with this super clever new variant they've just now thought up all by themselves on either "now you have two problems" or the Law of Software Envelopment (the latter usually sounds something like "Hurf durf cloud durf Facebook hurf durf expands hurf durf git".)


Stop. Please stop.


You are making a "GOT MILK"* joke here, people. It's the Twenty First God Damned Century. It is no longer the Nineteen Hundred and Nineties. It's time for some new jokes!

(Though I did get a kick out of this one for a minute.)

Previously, previously, previously.

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10 Responses:

  1. Those who do not understand jokes are condemned to repeat them.

    At you.


  2. Don Hopkins says:

    "It combines the power of C with the readability of PostScript." I beg to differ. At least PostScript has nice fonts.

  3. kingmob says:

    "I should email this to jwz," I thought to myself. "Wait, better check his blog first."

  4. rho says:

    You're associated with an aphorism. Accept and appreciate it.

    • jwz says:

      I appreciate it. I am just trying to do the important work of encouraging people to be funnier and cleverer.

      • rho says:

        It is possible that you are the terminal point of what is funny and clever about regular expressions.

        Accept your fate. It's not glamorous, but it ain't bad for being right.

        • demcanulty says:

          Pff. Regexp is just the punchline, the structure of the joke is what's funny, a curatorial stroke of thoughtfulness and generosity. I really think Friedl's idea of a martial version: “Some people think `Let's ask the officers'....” is ultimately timeless.

          • demcanulty says:

            and here I'm almost certainly abusing the term punchline, as the context is the flexible item being punched, but the humor requires the implicit 'now you have two problems'. I think there is must be somewhere a syntactic theory of jokes that would provide a more accurate terminology. Someday I expect it will be incorporated into gcc.

            • emf says:

              ... so you're saying "Now you have two problems." is isomorphic to "The Aristocrats!" ?

              Yeah, I can believe that about regex.

  5. Bill Paul says:

    Unfortunately it seems the domain has been grabbed by someone in Shanghai and now no longer has anything to do with its original purpose. So I guess now we have three problems.

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