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Tuesday, 30 Sep 2014

Commander William Riker - making it so since 1987

When I found this picture, I just had to annotate it.

Man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything.

It's a long time since I used Unix and shellscript etc and it makes a change, although not really a pleasant one, to hear tales of woes related to the can-do-no-wrong-Linux platform instead of the Axis-of-Evil Microsoft.

When I have read and digested these articles about the bug in bash, maybe I willbe able to offer some critical comment. For now, I am in curate-only mode. article:-

The Internet Is Broken, and Shellshock Is Just the Start of Our Woes

More restrained headline from

Shellshock bug already enabling botnet attacks

Tuesday, 23 Sep 2014

The Total Perspective Vortex is a thought-provoking concept dreamt up by Douglas Adams in his legendary Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Here's what it's about.

The Total Perspective Vortex

The Universe, as has been observed before, is an unsettlingly big place, a fact which for the sake of a quiet life most people tend to ignore.

Many would happily move to somewhere rather smaller of their own devising, and this is what most beings in fact do.

For instance, in one corner of the Eastern Galactic Arm lies the great forest planet Oglaroon, the entire "intelligent" population of which lives permanently in one fairly small and crowded nut tree - in which tree they are born, live, fall in love, carve tiny speculative articles in the bark on the meaning of life, the futility of death and the importance of birth control, fight a few very minor wars, and eventually die strapped to the underside of some of the less accessible outer branches.

In fact the only Oglaroonians who ever leave their tree at all are those who are hurled out of it for the heinous crime of wondering whether any of the other trees might be capable of supporting life at all, or indeed be anything other than illusions brought on by eating too many Oglanuts.

Exotic though this behaviour may seem, there is no life form in the Galaxy not in some way guilty of the same thing, which is why the Total Perspective Vortex is as horrific as it undoubtedly is.

For when you are put into the Vortex you are given just one momentary glimpse of the size of the entire unimaginable infinity of creation, along with a tiny little marker, saying, "You are here."

The Vortex derives its picture of the whole Universe on the principle of extrapolated matter analyses.

To explain - since every piece of matter in the Universe is in some way affected by every other piece of matter in the Universe, it is in theory possible to extrapolate the whole of creation - every galaxy, every sun, every planet, their orbits, their composition and their economic and social history from, say, one small piece of fairy cake.

The man who invented the Total Perspective Vortex did so basically in order to annoy his wife.

Trin Tragula - for that was his name - was a dreamer, a speculative thinker or, as his wife would have it, an idiot.

And she would nag him incessantly about the utterly inordinate amount of time he would spend staring out into space, or mulling over the mechanics of safety pins, or doing spectrographic analyses of pieces of fairy cake.

"Have some sense of proportion!" she would say, thirty-eight times a day.

And so he built the Total Perspective Vortex - just to show her.

And in one end he plugged the whole of reality, as extrapolated from a fairy cake, and in the other end he plugged his wife: so that when he turned it on she saw in one instant the whole infinity of creation and herself in relation to it.

To Trin Tragula's horror, the shock annihilated her brain; but to his satisfaction he realized he had conclusively proved that if life is going to exist in a Universe this size, the one thing it cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion.

“Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile.”
― Billy Sunday Beacon