Dead People Server
[ Issue 4 ]

The Dead People Server delights Emily Bronto

Permit Bikwil to reveal the delights of 'The Cambridge Australian English Style Guide', by Pam Peters

The Dead People Server, Find the Spam and the Klingon Language Institute

Tony Rogers in Issue 4's Web Line column answers reader requests for further info on eccentric sites.  He's chosen The Dead People Server, Find the Spam and The Klingon Language Institute.  Facetious?  Deadly earnest?  Read on.

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Web Line — Tony Rogers


Reader interest has been shown in the eccentric sites so far considered in this column, so this issue I’ll acquaint you with some more of the same.

First something for those boasting a sick streak – The Dead People Server *. Here the morbidly inquisitive can find out if such and such a famous person is still alive, or, if not, when they died. Some entries even give cause of death. Here’s what the site says about its idiosyncratic self (incidentally, “to be spaced” = “to have your ashes shot into space”):

The Dead People Server is simply a list of interesting celebrities who are, or might plausibly be dead, and even those who have been spaced, with information as to who has really Rung Down the Curtain and Joined the Choir Invisible, and who's Just Resting. "Interesting," in the previous sentence, means "I felt like putting them on this list".

Some examples straight from the site (with minor typos amended):

Mel Blanc (voice) -- Th-th-th-that's all, folks. Heart disease. Jul 10, 1989. Born May 30, 1908.
Denholm Elliott (actor) -- Dead. AIDS. Oct 6, 1992.
Grace Hopper (computer scientist, inventor of the term "bug") -- Dead. Jan 1, 1992. Born Dec 9, 1906.
John Gielgud (British actor) — Alive. Still doing Shakespeare. Born Apr 14, 1904.
Stephen Hawking (physicist) — Alive. Born 1942. (Yes, he's still alive. Even recently remarried and paid off a bet he'd lost.)
Peggy Lee (singer) -- Alive. Born May 26, 1920.
Terry Nation (writer) — Dead. Mar 9, 1997 (Wrote many Dalek episodes of Dr. Who and most of Blake’s 7.)
Charles Schulz (cartoonist) -- Alive and working.
OJ Simpson (ex-everything/"alleged" double-murderer) — Alive. Born Jul 9, 1947. (But many DPS fans "remain hopeful.")

As facetiously written as a few entries are, no doubt this site has its serious uses as well. You might be doing some research, for instance, and need to know if a contemporary figure is still living. The Internet being a generally helpful tool for really current stuff, DPS might well come into its own here, especially since your other main sources (encyclopaedias and biographical dictionaries, whether in print or on CD-ROM) must of necessity be out-of-date as soon as published.

Even so, as you might expect, not every well-known dead person appears in the DPS list, non-Americans being frequently overlooked. The other day someone suggested to me that Polish-born expatriate Australian actor John Bluthal (recently seen on TV in McDonald’s ads and The Vicar of Dibley and in the big-screen movie The Fifth Element) had just died, but if this is so, DPS certainly hasn’t mentioned the fact.

And now from the graveyard to the refectory — Find the Spam, which introduces itself and its photograph in the following straight-faced manner:

Somewhere in the picture below is spam. If you think you've found the spam, click on it to find out if you're right. You probably don't think there is any spam in the picture, but look closely. Many people only find the spam after staring intently at the picture for several hours.

A pointless site, awesomely so, which I heartily approve of. There’s even a count of how many people have succeeded in finding the Spam and how many have failed.

Not so pointless is the site of the Klingon Language Institute, devoted to the study and spread of “the fastest growing language in the galaxy”. Over 1000 individuals have joined the KLI, from more than 30 nations.

Our primary means of pursuing our goals is our quarterly journal, HolQeD. Not simply a newsletter, HolQeD is a refereed journal utilizing peer review. Each issue includes columns, articles, interviews, and letters exploring the Klingon language.

All deadly earnest, and you don’t have to be a Harlish Goop to realise it. Although it helps if you’re a linguist (most of its contributors are language academics), beginners are nevertheless well catered for with:

audio files for pronunciation practice
a list of Klingon words not in the published Klingon dictionary
books (including the dictionary) and tapes for sale
a free postal course
an email facility.

What more could a loyal Trekkie ask for? Well for starters, how about lending a hand on the Institute’s two ambitious undertakings: the Klingon Bible Translation Project, and the so-called Klingon Shakespeare Restoration Project? There, that ought to keep you busy.

* Note:
Since this article was first published in 1997, Dead People Server has moved several times. As at December 2004 it was at this location.

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