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Technological Surrealism / Alec Nerds Out

Accidental Surgery Dot Com

The dot-com zone file is the master list of .com domain names. It’s maintained by Verisign and available for the price of asking.

I’ve been a long-time visitor to Popeye Marine, apparently now known as Popeye’s Catalog Shop and historically called Popeye Sailor’s Exchange. It’s a sailor’s scrapyard, where unusual people go to paw through piles of unusual things. It’s been around for a very long time by Vancouver standards; I dimly remember going there as a pre-teen.

Unfortunately it’s temporarily closed for relocation and I’m not sure how or where it’ll pop up again.

I wonder about the name change, though. It’s just possible that Popeye Sailor’s Exchange made an unwelcome discovery when they registered — it’s a little ambiguous. They do own that domain name, and have it redirecting to; the Wayback Machine shows that a redirect has been in place since at least 1999.

Signed “zenzmurphy”; unfortunately I can’t find much information about the artist but it appears his name is Thomas Marrone. Found online via a Google image search.

There are other local businesses with ambiguous parsings — MacLure’s Cabs, for example, is MacLure Scabs ( — but this sex change thing seems to be totally rampant. Professionally, I’ve communicated with a group called Scholarly Exchange; I have to wonder if this somewhat awkward name wasn’t Plan B after “Scholar’s Exchange” proved too suggestive.

Later I’ll do more crunching on the domain list — stay tuned — but for fun I searched the list of 107 million or so dot-com domains for accidental sex changes. There are almost 4,000 of these. A handful of them are probably legit — you’ll forgive me for not exploring that more thoroughly. Here are some of the apparent accidentals:

  • Euro Metal Sex Change
  • Great Idea Sex Change
  • Electronic Sex Change
  • Heavy Duty Part Sex Change
  • Golf Club Sex Change (what you get if you don’t pay off the mafia? Punk band name?)
  • Fastener Sex Change (snap on tools?)
  • New Year Sex Changes (a fresh start for a new year?)
  • Horse Sex Change (neigh!)
  • Used Boyfriend Sex Change
  • Minute Sex Change (would that be minute as in tiny, or as in quick?)
  • Clean Water 4 Kid Sex Change (you drive a hard bargain, sir)

I wasn’t able to find any domains that appeared to legitimately relate to sex change operations but that could be embarrassingly misunderstood as e.g. a mineral rights clearing house. Bonus points to the doggedly long-winded “London International Financial Futures And Option Sex Change“.

Most of these domains are owned by cybersquatters who probably have no idea they’re holding “poisoned product”.

Categorized as: Uncategorized

One Comment

  1. admin says:

    The application for access to the zone list includes a field asking you to describe your intended purpose. I wrote “I will be looking at ambiguous parsing in domain names. For example, ‘MacLure’s Cabs’ ( can also be parsed as ‘MacLure Scabs’. I will also be looking for domain-name equivalents of other linguistic phenomena, such as lisping, homonyms and spoonerisms.”

    Verisign didn’t bat an eye.

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