Tuesday, December 10

Two wonderful things:

Via too many of you to count, Eric and Dan most recently, The Night Watch, by James Mickens. It is about programming, but even if you don’t know anything about programming it’s a joyful little slab of prose.

I described the bug, which involved concurrent threads and corrupted state and asynchronous message delivery across multiple machines, and my coworker said, “Yeah, that sounds bad. Have you checked the log files for errors?” I said, “Indeed, I would do that if I hadn’t broken every component that a logging system needs to log data . I have a network file system, and I have broken the network, and I have broken the file system, and my machines crash when I make eye contact with them. I HAVE NO TOOLS BECAUSE I’VE DESTROYED MY TOOLS WITH MY TOOLS. My only logging option is to hire monks to transcribe the subjective experience of watching my machines die as I weep tears of blood.”

Via my feedreader, Pursuing the Platypus.

Pulling into the parking lot, I see a young couple standing by their car, looking over their hood at an emu. The emu is trying to circle over to their side to ask them a question. They are circling in the same direction, skeptical of the bird's intentions. It's not clear how long this dance has been going on, but the couple seems happy to see me, while the emu is frankly delighted. He abandons his pursuit and heads over to my car with what I can't help but notice are very rapid strides. The couple is watching me with a mixture of relief and curiosity as I step out of the car, propelled by some kind of idiot bravado. They have been wondering for some time now what happens when you let the emu reach you, and I am about to demonstrate it for them. I feel a sudden longing to get inside the visitors' center.