back to article New IETF draft reveals Egyptians invented pyramids to sharpen razor blades

Warren Kumari has had it with Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) drafts being held up as canonical statements that reveal the organisation's thinking or position. And so he has written his own hilarious draft to make the point that such documents are not normative. Among Kumari’s declarations: pyramids were used to …

  1. Dinanziame Silver badge

    The RFCs have been known to be very imaginative as well — RFC1149 or RFC2549, for instance.

    1. b0llchit Silver badge

      Even with these imaginative RFCs, they are real and are in fact functionally useful in one or another way. At least one group has made an implementation and thus proven its viability at some level. Adding weights to the feet is a practical consideration, which is left to infrastructure operators for actual implementation.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Given how often DownDetector shows big red blobs of internet problems (generally centered on my house), an avian backup plan sounds more and more reasonable. We would need an avian diaper to handle unexpected overflow conditions.

        1. martyn.hare
          Thumb Up

          A fantastic recommendation

          Much cheaper than engaging in the human element of Post Office Protocol when our federated-yet-supercritical asynchronous electronic communications channels fail!

    2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Some get government support

      One of our previous home secretaries wanted mandatory implementation of RFC3514.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Some get government support

        One of our previous home secretaries wanted mandatory implementation of RFC3514. ..... Flocke Kroes

        Hence their current, previous home secretary status, Flocke Kroes. One can't have madness running amok in office. It is terrifying and terrorising and just encourages the natives to revolt and exercise their own initiatives with rogue and renegade resources from forceful sources well beyond the physical reach and remote control of afflicted and supporting government agencies.

      2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: Some get government support

        One of our previous home secretaries wanted mandatory implementation of RFC3514.

        I just reread that RFC. I'd forgotten the wonderful suggestion of an application/evil MIME type. I can think of a few existing MIME types that could be replaced by that.

        1. Yes Me Silver badge

          Re: Some get government support

          RFC3514 has of course been updated for IPv6; see RFC8136.

    3. Dave559

      Clearly this draft was itself submitted over RFC1149, which must be why it arrived so very much later than the traditional 1 April date for transmitting, and receiving, similarly-themed data…

    4. Zarno

      I also like RFC2324 and error 418.

      1. bpfh

        Yes please

        White, no sugar.

  2. GlenP Silver badge

    It's something journalists in the wider world need to understand too.

    A think-tank suggestion is heralded as, "The Government is planning to..."

    1. Andy Non Silver badge

      A think-tank is needed to resolve the problem of how to extract crocodile skins to make leather strops.

      1. UCAP Silver badge

        Thats the easy part. The real trick is stopping the crocodile from objecting with extreme prejudice.

        1. Andy Non Silver badge

          We need a good negotiator to get them to agree to part with their skin in exchange for a nice woolly jumper. ;-)

  3. Ordinary Donkey

    Patent 91304

    Did anyone ever work out what was up with the pyramid razor thing anyway? It was quite a big thing until people realised it didn't do much.

    1. Andy Non Silver badge

      Re: Patent 91304

      I made a model pyramid as a kid and tried it on one of my dad's blunt razor blades. Needless to say it didn't work. Basically it was a load of bollocks.

      1. Clive Galway

        Re: Patent 91304

        However it did revive problematic ZX microdrive tapes :P

        1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

          Re: Patent 91304

          That was ALL of them wasn't it?

      2. Peter Prof Fox

        A useful project

        Although it may not have worked to sharpen razor blades, it got you (and me) interested in experimenting and actually trying something for ourselves. Was there something in our set-up that wasn't quite right. How do you actually make a pyramid? Is sellotape or compass direction going to interfere with the 'forces'. When you give up you're able to face loonies with confidence, and tell them if it's so easy they why don't they show you a working system.

        In a world where opinions smother facts, actual experiments are fresh air. For your pleasure I enclose a link to a page I wrote long before Google existed. Seven easy to do-it-yourself experiments which are quirky know-all bait.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: A useful project

          > if it's so easy they why don't they show you a working system

          Define "working system"... The problem with those things is the placebo effect. I've seen people turn blue and topple over due to [environmental condition], but have no reaction at all when they didn't know that condition was met.

          So the razors might be just as blunt (or even blunter), the believers will be persuaded they are now sharper. Maybe not totally sharp, but definitely sharper than before, no doubt possible. Convictions are impervious to reality.

          1. jmch Silver badge

            Re: A useful project

            "The problem with those things is the placebo effect"

            I'm not sure the placebo effect is a problem, as long as the desired outcome is achieved. If I convince an asthma sufferer to go into a pyramid to breathe better, and they get better, then does it matter if they got better because of the placebo effect?

            What's really a problem is the nocebo effect - people genuinely getting sick because they've convinced themselves (or allowed someone to convince them) that they are somehow unhealthy.

            1. ThatOne Silver badge

              Re: A useful project

              > I'm not sure the placebo effect is a problem, as long as the desired outcome is achieved

              That's true and even sometimes actively used by modern medicine.

              My point was rather about the difficulties debunking crazy theories by simple observation: Observation, and thus the assessment of efficiency, is never objective (due to participants' expectations and biases), which is why serious research uses blinded experiments (double-blind trials).

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Patent 91304

      It was quite a big thing until people realised it didn't do much.

      This didn't stop homeopathy / crystal healing / reiki / insert new-age woo of choice.

      1. not.known@this.address

        Re: Reiki

        If you have ever had a Reiki 'practitioner' squeeze your foot and felt something go all weird* in your back, you wouldn't be so quick to mock. It might not solve world hunger or stop missiles unexpectedly turning into bowls of petunias but it can be very relaxing...

        * a sort of 'crunch' followed by a pleasant warmth that spread slowly. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in *your* philosophies...

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    RFC is "rough draft"?

    I thought it stood for "Request for Comments" - i.e. "here is my proposal, please shoot it down before it becomes a de-facto standard"

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: RFC is "rough draft"?

      Or Request For Change.... Or Rugby Football Club.... Or

      ... Or... Or

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: RFC is "rough draft"?

      I-Ds (Internet Drafts) are drafts of some sort, rough or otherwise, and that's what we have in this case.

      Frankly, while Kumari's draft might be amusing (I haven't read it, and the excerpts quoted in the article didn't inspire me to do so), I don't have much sympathy for his complaint. Some people will cite I-Ds as authoritive. So what; people will cite all sorts of things. Those who understand the IETF know that I-Ds are not normative and neither are many RFCs, only some of which are even on the Standards Track.

      The archive that the IETF maintains of I-Ds is nonetheless useful, because some I-Ds never make it further but nonetheless become de facto standards, or at least a guideline for implementation, where no other standard exists. draft-ietf-tn3270e-extensions-04.txt (which I don't think made it to an RFC) is one example.

      There are others of historical or theoretical interest, such as draft-ietf-usefor-useage-00.txt.

  6. martinusher Silver badge

    Bit late to this game

    This isn't the first time that people have noticed that you can put anything in a RFC. The early ones had all sorts of weird stuff in them (back then people had both a higher tolerance for weird stuff and a sense of humour).

    As for sharpening razor blades, I don't know if anyone's got it to work. Its such an old idea that it talks about 'razor blades' even though the safety razor has long followed the cut-throat into obsolescence. (Yes, I know some people still use's like that......)

  7. Baudwalk

    As Pratchett himself wrote:...

    ..."A Pyramid, properly viewed as a device for manipulating time, doesn't so much keep a razor blade sharp as remind it of a time in its life when it wasn't blunt, and to make a suggestion that this would be a nice time to revisit, for just long enough to do Pharaoh's legs."

    1. NullNix

      Re: As Pratchett himself wrote:...

      Yeah. You know what was missing in this RFC? An assignment for X-Clacks-Overhead and/or "GNU Terry Pratchett". (But the existing assignments were hilarious, and reminded me of nothing more than the oh-so-carefully-chosen keybindings for the immortal gnxt text editor.)

  8. John Savard

    Former Soviet Union

    Ah, yes. This brings back memories, as it was the book "Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain" which brought the notion of sharpening razor blades by placing them within something having the shape of the Great Pyramid of Giza to the world's attention.

  9. Zarno

    I say....

    I say we pipe the output from AMFM into an IETF draft, then see if we can get it to become an RFC...

  10. HinD

    Well, i knew it

    Laugh all you want, but the quartz in the chambers, the positioning and the electrical conductivity of the pyramids suggested all along they could vibrate to supersonic speeds, almost as if they were designed to rub against a metal plate of some sorts. I think you all are underestimating the importance of keeping one's lawn well trimmed when you are an alien millions of light years away from the closest intergalactic convenience store.

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