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Collected editorials

This, that, and the other thing


I was watching commercials the other day. You know all those cute car insurance ads, like the one with the animated reptile, the one with the lady with the tricked out name badge, and the black guy with his good hands in your money. Well I got to thinking; they all say people save a few hundred dollars on their car insurance by switching to them. Okay, but who did they switch from? Evidently not from these other clowns – they’re all pitching that they are saving people money.

So I figure that there is some other insurance company out there that never advertises that charges $300 a year more than anybody else. In fact, since they don’t advertise, they probably don’t do much business. Maybe the way it works is that the Fancy Dan insurance companies get people to first sign up with Mutual Bogosity Insurance and then switch.

Speaking of names

In a couple of my stories I referred to a fictitious financial corporation called Endworth Corporation. It is not a name that inspires confidence, and I felt certain that no real company would use such a name. As so often happens, I was wrong. There is a British company called Endworth Developments Limited. It is privately held and, as far as I can tell, it has no web site.

In a world where banks, brokers, and investment firms are ending worth around and about, it seems that Endworth is not ending worth. I’m sure that there is a moral here, but I am in doubts as to what it might be.

It’s not your grandmother’s Jane Austen

In last month’s editorial I mentioned a book entitled Pride and prejudice and zombies This sort of thing seems to have become all the rage. Elton John’s movie production company is working on a movie called Pride and Predator that tosses ravaging aliens into the mix. Michael Thomas Ford’s forthcoming Jane bites back features Jane Austen as a vampire. I wonder what they make of all this in The Republic Of Pemberley.

A poem by somebody

Small words are nice
When small words suffice
But words can be alien
When sesquipedalian

Author unknown

A thing of beauty?

In last month’s editorial I wrote a passage about a piece of software that I call the San threading engine. What it does is to let you hook up black boxes up. It then sloshes data back and forth between the boxes – very handy for writing simulations and that sort of thing.

I have worked on this kludge off an on for the last month. Late in February I uploaded yet another version. This one passeth the prelims. With its aid I can write a few dozen lines of code to read a file and print it using separate agents (threads). This may not seem like a big deal since said task can be done in about a dozen lines of C code.

Not so; it is a big deal. The engine lets you split the code up so that different pieces can run in different places. Thus, one thread talks to a user and gets a file name; a second opens the file, lines from it, and ships the lines to a third thread; the third actually prints the line. These threads don’t have to be running in the same machine. We can replace any of the threads on the fly with something else. For example, instead of printing the file contents we could encrypt them.

I suppose this is a natural break point once I write some more test code and do some more documentation. I have updated the implementation notes, mostly so that I can figure out what in the deuce I was doing when I wrote the code. As I said last month, the code is a bit hairy. It does some “clever” things with storage, and there is code to protect against an ever changing execution environment.

I dunno. It’s fun. Sometimes I look at it and think, what in the hell have I done, and sometimes I think, what a beautiful thing I have created. And sometimes I recall the words of the poet,

There are features that should not be used.
There are concepts that should not be exploited.
There are problems that should not be solved.
There are programs that should not be written.

– Richard Harter

We are all socialists now

According to newsweek, we are all socialists now. I, for one, am not surprised. Our latest glorious leader made it quite clear where his proclivities lie. Our last glorious leader did his part by passing on an economy that resembled the last hour of the Titanic. Politicians have their answer for that; their answer is to spend money – lot’s of money. And as long as the government is shoveling out money, some of it may as well go for the social agenda.

Perhaps it is all for the best. After all, the color of socialism is red, and there’s one thing that’s certain about our country – it’s in the red.

Watching disaster

One of the dirty little secrets of our species is that we are enthralled by disaster. If there is a wreck on the highway we slow down to get a good look. When hurricanes strike there is news coverage all over the place. Explosions and disasters are a staple of our movies and television programs. We may feel shock and anguish over events, and sympathy for the afflicted, but we watch with fascination.

I’m not immune to this sort of thing – these days I follow the stock market.

The heart of the matter

For those who might be interested I’m still on the rat poison diet. As I understand it they should restart my heart in about three weeks. Look for an April Fool’s Day special next month.

This page was last updated March 2, 2009.

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Collected editorials