2007 — Day 96 - heavy weather? Pah!

It's also kind of cool, this watching wintery weather1 when you actually don't have to go out into it lark. Which puts me in mind of that wet Wednesday while they were wending their weary way westward — a long-remembered opening to a story in one of my childhood Eagle comics.2

Also long-remembered was the time, having been late for some probably tedious (and certainly long-forgotten) school ritual, I had to attend Saturday morning detention as a deterrent punishment. My task, assigned according to the Gilbert & Sullivan principle of making the punishment fit the crime, was to write an essay on the subject of "punctuality". Sadly, I must either have mis-heard or simply confused the word with "punctuation"3 and, as it were, pulled out all the stops. This was doubtless taken as a signifier of deeply anti-authoritarian tendencies. As it happens, I do indeed distrust authority, more or less exactly to the extent that it believes its own nonsense. Put me down as a firm believer in Sturgeon's Law. (Or "Revelation"; I'm not fussy.) And if I had to formulate a human Law of my own, there are worse ones than "Follow the money" should you be seeking the true reason for some group activity. (The Iraq war, for example.)

Yes, I've been reading my newest Chomsky again. Between him, Private Eye and the New Statesman magazine I tell you it can be a relief to dive back inside something as lightweight as that Ubuntu Linux Bible. Or watch a film as delightful as last night's Crossing Delancey. Or, failing that, enjoy a rambling conversation about music or other arcana over a mug of Assam with my neighbour in between his attempts to get his car's exhaust system through the MOT.

I don't claim to understand people, but I've always felt you at least have a vague idea of where you are with software. Well, as long as you write it yourself... though I seem to remember Knuth saying something along the lines of "I've proven it's correct but I haven't tried it, so I've no idea if it works."

It's official

Mr Postie popped my P45 through the postbox. I am officially an ex-peon — does that constitute a rite de passage do you think?

I'm not a hacker, but...

.. I've just spent a fascinating 62 minutes watching a Google video that deconstructs the Xbox security system. And I must say it was a great deal more interesting than any of the Corporate internal videos I was expected to suffer through in the cause of IBM propaganda. I'm only the 105,339th person to watch it, but I'd award it five stars.

7 February 2007  


1  Yesterday evening's dire warnings of heavy weather, however, have so far proved about as aligned with reality (though I grant you it is certainly cold) as this morning's news in the Guardian that our guvmint's 3,000,000 new high-tech passports (issued for a decade at a time) have chips in them that Philips Semiconductors only warrant for 24 months. Oops. But then Mr Bush's budget has the cost of the Iraq adventure dropping to zero after the next two years, so perhaps somebody reckoned we won't need this particular defence against terror after that?
2  Actually, now that I think about it, the Eagles may well have been Big Bro's. I was probably supposed to make do with the more age-appropriate Beano or Dandy at the time. But, unless it was nailed down and out of reach, I'd read it...
3  Yes, of course it struck me as odd, but as Paul Graham puts it much more neatly than I could in his essay "Why nerds are unpopular": Kids are sent off to spend six years memorizing meaningless facts in a world ruled by a caste of giants who run after an oblong brown ball, as if this were the most natural thing in the world. And if they balk at this surreal cocktail, they're called misfits.