Monthly Archives: April 2012

“Say what you mean. Bear witness. Iterate.”

I went on an interesting journey online last night that led me to the source of the above phrase, a poem on mortality, entropy, memory… and databases. Yes, you read that right.

I read Tor.com’s wonderful blog almost once a day to check up posts on books, favorite sci-fi and fantasy TV Series, and more. Yesterday they had a post featuring a striking photograph by Cat Valente of some haunting graffiti with the title of of this post scrawled out. She had recognized the line from an earlier post in Tor.com’s Poetry Month series, “John M. Ford’s sonnet ‘Against Entropy’”. Reading the comments in that post led to the original source of the poem, where it was written and shared for the first time.

In 2003 Patrick Nielsen Hayden posted about how moved he was by Andrew Brown’s writing about the slow and terrible death of a friend’s wife. He lamented, If I were a better writer I’d conclude by yoking the trivial to the tragic, relating the twin inevitabilities of death and database error by means of a rhetorical figure involving worms.. In the comments of that post, John M. Ford, the writer Neil Gaiman said of, my best critic … the best writer I knew, wrote the following:

The worm drives helically through the wood
And does not know the dust left in the bore
Once made the table integral and good;
And suddenly the crystal hits the floor.
Electrons find their paths in subtle ways,
A massless eddy in a trail of smoke;
The names of lovers, light of other days –
Perhaps you will not miss them. That’s the joke.
The universe winds down. That’s how it’s made.
But memory is everything to lose;
Although some of the colors have to fade,
Do not believe you’ll get the chance to choose.
Regret, by definition, comes too late;
Say what you mean. Bear witness. Iterate.

A poem, written in a blog post comment in 2003, shows up on a physical wall in 2012.

The poem speaks loudly about the ends of things, our role, and even the work I do, which has everything to do with building systems that can adapt and grow in the face of bit rot and lack of attention.

Damn it, I don’t care if it isn’t hip, I still love the Web.

My Favorite Classic Doctor Who Episodes

This is a handy list of older Doctor Who episodes to watch while waiting for the new season to start. For new fans, if you can get past the special effects, and imagine a series where most episodes were more like ‘The Empty Child’, slower, and a whole lot creepier, and maybe imagine yourself as a 7 year old, watching on a small black and white TV in the middle of the night alone, these will be fun. Enjoy!

  1. Fourth: The Brain of Morbius
  2. Fourth: The City of Death
  3. Fourth: The Genesis of the Daleks
  4. Third: The Three Doctors
  5. Fifth: The Caves of Androzani
  6. Fourth: The Deadly Assassin
  7. Fourth: The Robots of Death
  8. Third: The Spearhead from Space
  9. Fourth: Pyramids of Mars
  10. Third: Planet of Spiders
  11. Fourth: The Arc in Space
  12. Third: Inferno
  13. Fourth: Planet of Evil
  14. First: The Unearthly Child
  15. First: The Daleks
  16. Second: The War Games
  17. Second: The Evil of the Daleks
  18. Second: The Tomb of the Cybermen
  19. Fourth: Logopolis
  20. Fifth: Castrovalva
  21. Fifth: The Five Doctors

“A manifesto for teaching computer science in the 21st century”

John Naughton wrote a public set of proposals to Michael Gove, Britain’s MP, Secretary of State for Education, for rebooting its ICT curriculum and published it in The Guardian. It’s a good read.

Even better, check out The Guardian’s profile of 7 teenagers who code.

Related:

Metafilter: Guardian feature on the future of computing education in UK

Charles Miller: “how mind-blowingly awesome that is?”

We’ve come a long way from the 80s and the devices that so many of us started our journey as programmers Charles Miller notes in “Johnny and Jenny Can Code”:

Today, if you’re a teenager with a Mac (insert some other platform into this paragraph if you object to Apple on moral or financial grounds), you can download for free the same tools that professional developers use to write Mac, iPhone and iPad applications. You can read countless free tutorials on how to use them, download reams of sample code for free, and ask for help on forums full of people who may never know you’re a precocious kid.

Non-Metal Iron Maiden Covers

YouTube: naddani: Wasted Years (Iron Maiden) – Acoustic cover:

YouTube: Thomas Zwijsen: Classical/Acoustic: Iron Maiden acoustic – Wasted Years:

YouTube: JonathanHarpa: Iron Maiden in harp and guitar – Hallowed be thy name:

YouTube: vkgoeswild: Iron Maiden – Run To The Hills – piano cover:

YouTube: WonkyFonk: Iron Maiden – Hallowed Be Thy Name (acoustic):

YouTube: ThomasZwijsen2007: Bruce Dickinson – Tears Of The Dragon (Acoustic):

YouTube: Jcronk: Folkified Hallowed Be Thy Name:

YouTube: hampusvh2: Iron Maiden – The Trooper (Piano):

Related:

Metafilter: “Thomas Zwijsen performs Nylon Maiden”