September 30th, 2004



I'd heard this one before:

One of the main causes of the fall of the Roman Empire was that, lacking zero, they had no way to indicate successful termination of their C programs. (Robert Firth)

but I was amused to bump into this response yesterday:

Yes, and it was as late as the 9th century that the Hindus invented their zero, allowing for a successful outsourcing industry and finally beginning Europe's long climb out of the dark ages.


Oh, good morning by the way.  Slept for 10 hours straight (well, apart from small cat-shaped interruption) and have awoken sans headache.

Aaah, the empathy

nickys pointed me towards this:

Children, on the other hand, have been the bane of my life ever since I first turned up at primary school and found myself surrounded by the little buggers. And as American writer Florence King so rightly points out in her autobiography, Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady, "The worst thing was, it appeared that I was one of them. I hadn't known that before. I thought I was just short."

which pretty much sums up how I felt (not like a child, just short) as I spent 18-odd years forced into the company of people with whom I shared little but height.

green_amber keeps trying to assure me that kids are a good thing (no, not in that kind of way), but while I find them an amusing distraction for a few hours, once every few weeks, the thought of having to deal with them on an on-going basis fills me with dread, horror and complete bafflement.  I mean, looking after anyone is a pain in the neck - I can barely be bothered looking after myself.  Looking after Denver is only really feasible because she spends most of her time asleep on the sofa and Ed's the one that feeds her.

I don't have a problem with kids, in general.  Much in the same way I don't have a problem with Christians in general.  Both can be fun to spend a few hours with, both can make you think and both can tell you lots of interesting things that don't really stand up to closer examination ("My Daddy created the Whole World!  In 7 days!").  But I wouldn't really want to share a flat with either of them.

Oh, rest of the amusingly written article is here.  Very snarky in places, but dreadfully amusing.

Kids TV presenter turns suicide bomber

A suicide bombing in Israel this week was committed by an 18-year-old Arab children's TV talk show hostess. She came from a wealthy Arab family in Shechem, which owns the  station where she worked.

She detonated her bomb – presumably made from squeezy bottles and sticky-back-plastic explosives – when stopped by soldiers at a checkpoint.

(FYI: Rather than saying “Don’t try this at home”, many Palestinian TV programmes try to indoctrinate Arab children to seek "heroic death for Allah." In 2002, Yasser Arafat, during a televised message to children, asked:"Is it not the greatest message to the world, when a child dies for Allah?")

You have to love PopBitch, you really do.  Possibly the best stories in the world.

Interested in language

I can't really talk about this without spoiling it.  Its marvellousness revolves around a simple trick, but if I told you what it was you probably wouldn't bother reading it.

Let's just say that if you have any interest in how language affects our thinking then you ought to read this pece by Douglas Hofstadter.

Many thanks to catamorphism for that.