Author Archives: Francesca Cappello

99 little bugs in the code

“99 little bugs in the code, 

99 little bugs… 

Take one down, 

patch it around, 127 bugs in the code!”

Genre: joke/song

Source: 20 year old USC student majoring in computer science

Context: The student doesn’t remember exactly when she learned this tune, but says it is the coders’ take on the classic “99 bottles of beer” song. 

Analysis: In this adapted version, the number of bugs increases many instead of going down by one classically. The student explains this is the focus of the joke, because the patching of an error frequently leads to the creation of more “bugs” in the code. Where the traditional version of this song is normally heard during monotonous tasks, or when killing excess time. In this 21st century rendition, the song achieves the same purposes, as fixing code is often a seemingly endless and time intensive process. 

Potato, Potato

“Potato, potato” (po-tay-to, po-tah-to)

Genre: modern proverb/idiom

Context/Source: An early childhood memory signified by his (26 year old man) initial confusion with the meaning of the sentiment. 

Analysis: The simplicity of this two-word sentiment confounds it’s meaning. Hearing it for the first time as a young child, the source wondered if there were two names for the same vegetable, or two vegetables with the same name. Over the course of a few weeks he speculated that maybe it was various regional accents that caused the discrepancy in pronunciation, or maybe there was no single way to pronounce it. The more you think about it… potato potato, tomato, tomato, the more the meaning is obscured, the less distinguishable the words become. It shows there’s more than one way for individuals to arrive at the same idea. Though playful, it embodies that, despite language and culture, a potato is a potatoe. 

After further research, I found the idiom seems to be derived from the song “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off”, written for the film Shall We Dance, released in 1937.

Keep that line green!

“Keep that line green!”

Genre: agricultural jargan

Source: My father– was born in Bakersfield, California in 1959 to a family of farmers and currently works in finance. 

Explanation/analysis: My Dad remembers this saying as one of many from his teenage years working on his family’s farm. During watermelon season, he remembers his childhood friends (and summer coworkers, and eventually all trojan brothers) yelling to “keep the line green”, encouraging the workers to work as fast as possible loading the watermelons from the fields to the trailer. The line refers to the visual green blur the watermelons created when thrown fast enough. He elaborates that in the tough heat and conditions the workers would form a passing line for each row “with 100 melons, in perfect unison” being thrown from one person to the next until it reached the final strong man standing in the trailer being pulled by a tractor. My dad notes that sayings like this kept morale high and encouraging joking and keeping their minds off the heat.