Sunday, November 28, 2010

C++ is like...

trying to build an octopus by nailing legs onto a dog.

This put me in mind of Dijkstra (I wasn't sure if it was actually Wirth but the 'net assures me it was EWD) -- as we can see here:

  • FORTRAN's tragic fate has been its wide acceptance, mentally chaining thousands and thousands of programmers to our past mistakes.
  • LISP has been jokingly described as "the most intelligent way to misuse a computer". I think that description a great compliment because it transmits the full flavor of liberation: it has assisted a number of our most gifted fellow humans in thinking previously impossible thoughts.
  • When FORTRAN has been called an infantile disorder, full PL/1, with its growth characteristics of a dangerous tumor, could turn out to be a fatal disease.
That 2nd one isn't about FORTRAN but I enjoyed it so much I left it in. and then for some reason I stumbled across this brief incomplete and mostly wrong history of computer languages which I thought hilarious.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Workplace humor US-Japan

Back in the previous millennium, during our six-year stint in Japan, Mizuno-san and Kamei-san had accompanied me on a business trip to the US. As we sat in the company cafeteria, my old buddy Paul, who I worked with back in the 1980s, stopped by to say hi.

We shook hands, and I introduced him to my Japanese colleagues. "You work with Collin?" he asked them.

When they replied in the affirmative, he said, "And you're willing to admit it??" The Americans guffawed, but my colleagues were mystified.

Back in Japan some time later, I described this interchange to some other colleagues. Kubo-san, one of the best English speakers in our department, was surprised at this sort of joke. "It is an honor," he said. He meant an honor to work with me. He was completely serious.

Fast forward to the 21st century...

My current boss asked the other day what I was working on, "besides beating on Chris two or three times a day."

I replied in mock exasperation, "You said two or three times a week!"

The reply was immediate: "That was before you moved right across the hall from him! Slacker."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Two financial articles from The Atlantic

  1. Why Wall Street Always Blows It
    The magnitude of the current bust seems almost unfathomable—and it was unfathomable, to even the most sophisticated financial professionals, until the moment the bubble popped. How could this happen? And what's to stop it from happening again? A former Wall Street insider explains how the financial industry got it so badly wrong, why it always will—and why all of us are to blame.
    by Henry Blodget (December 2008 ATLANTIC MAGAZINE) link
  2. The Great Stock Myth
    Why the market’s rate of return—and your nest egg—may never recover
    By Megan McArdle
    Business September 2010 ATLANTIC MAGAZINE link

Saturday, November 06, 2010

A few films I want to remember

Before I head off to the market (gonna smoke some turkey before the rains start) I wanted to tell you about Date Night; while I'm here, I also want to find the title of that film about the young painter...

Based on the advice of a Blockbuster (MP) clerk, we watched Steve Carell and Tina Fey in "Date Night" (2010), an action farce billed as a romantic comedy. I'll have to say that overall I liked the film (Hey, I like all the corny jokes in "Live Free or Die Hard" and "Car Talk") because in spite of the somewhat, ah, raunchy stuff they get into, this husband and wife really want to make their marriage work.

Guys, I wouldn't recommend this film as a date night movie unless your wife/gf likes "Live Free or Die Hard."

Local Color (2009)

Really enjoyed this one, though I had a hard time remembering the title. Yes, as the above review says, it's got "formulaic structure, treacly score and earnest voice-over narration" but great acting. The basic idea is that a young would-be painter spends a summer in the country with a curmudgeonly old master. There's some "Karate Kid" stuff about mentoring, but more prominent is the writer-director's agenda related to art (real art, vs some of the stuff that passes for art today).

Our daughter is a painter, and especially after watching My Kid Could Paint That earlier this year, we found Local Color a winner.

Deja Vu (2006)

I don't know why we rented this one, but it was quite entertaining. It's got time travel (with the usual paradoxes -- finessed with a plot device at the end), terrific effects (the fire/explosion were real, not CGI), interesting reversal of racial stereotypes, and a little romance with Denzel Washington and Paula Patton.