like kicking dead whales down the beach
= L =
like nailing jelly to a tree adj.
Used to describe a task
thought to be impossible, esp. one in which the difficulty arises
from poor specification or inherent slipperiness in the problem
domain. "Trying to display the `prettiest' arrangement of
nodes and arcs that diagrams a given graph is like nailing jelly to
a tree, because nobody's sure what `prettiest' means
Hacker use of this term may recall mainstream slang
originated early in the 20th century by President Theodore
Roosevelt. There is a legend that, weary of inconclusive talks
with Colombia over the right to dig a canal through its
then-province Panama, he remarked, "Negotiating with those pirates
is like trying to nail currant jelly to the wall." Roosevelt's
government subsequently encouraged the anti-Colombian insurgency
that created the nation of Panama.
--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.