“When a person is mystified by a good magic trick it is because he can’t figure out how the magician did it. When a physicist is mystified by an unexpected observation it is because he can’t figure out how the universe did it.
“The big difference, of course, is that the universe plays fair.”— Martin Gardner, Science: Good, Bad, and Bogus
Han shot first.
We never saw Newt’s family.
There was no World War II scene.
The government agents had guns.
Think of your favorite movies, the way you remember them. Pick them up on DVD, and there’s a disturbingly high chance that the movie you see will be different somehow. Maybe it’s subtle, adding a few minutes here and there that were originally chopped out for runtime or ratings issues. Maybe it’s dramatic, restoring huge chunks of material that were arbitrarily slashed away by a clueless studio. More and more often, though, it’s the result of a director revisiting his earlier work and simply changing his mind about how best to tell the story.
I call this “pissing in your whiskey,” because the director is insisting that the best work he could do ten years ago has soured in the barrel, and needs an infusion of mature creative juices.
My job was Unix support for Corporate Services, which basically referred to everything in the company that wasn’t related to developing, selling, or training customers how to use our products. In practice, though, it usually just meant MIS, because HR and Legal were composed entirely of Mac people, who had their own support team.
The oddest exception started one day when an HR manager asked me to help him set up a beta-test of a Lotus Notes-based applicant tracking system. The application was being developed on OS/2 servers and PC clients, but we wanted to test it with a SunOS server and Mac clients, since that’s what we had.
A.J. was worried. For several months, he’d been growing more and more concerned about the reliability of the Unix server backup system that he operated every day. He was just the latest in a long string of junior contractors paid to change tapes, but he actually cared about doing a good job, and something wasn’t right.
He had raised his concerns with the manager of Core Services and the Senior System Administrators who were responsible for the corporate infrastructure, but they assured him that any problems were only temporary, and that he should wait until they had the new system in place. A.J. resigned himself to pretending to do his job, and grudgingly agreed to stall for more time whenever a restore was requested that he couldn’t accomplish.
And then the system just stopped working.
No, not the genemod stuff. Frankly, if I could find a grocery that sold produce that was guaranteed genetically modified, grown with artificial fertilizers, sprayed with pesticides, and then irradiated, I’d shop there every day. Modern technology has done wonders for the quality and safety of food, contrary to the claims of people who confuse natural with safe and healthy. Don’t even get me started on their abuse of the word organic.
No, I’m talking about the single-serving can of fruit I’m holding in my hand. The label reads “raspberry-flavored peaches.”
What were they thinking?
Brian Tiemann has an ant problem. No surprise there; I think it’s on the Universal New House Checklist, right after “otherwise quiet neighbor with yapping dog.” What surprised me, though, was that he was willing to accept their presence in the house as long as they didn’t get too aggressive.
Not me. Slaughter-and-sanitize is my motto, and their right to life ends with the very first bread crumb.
It happened in 1980, I think. My father and I were vacationing in Michigan, in the general vicinity of Manistee, when some of the local kids told us about a special place they were calling Mystery Hill, where if you put your car in neutral, it would roll uphill.
It’s a fairly common optical illusion that often results in the creation of a cheesy tourist trap. By happy coincidence, on the day we went out to see it, my father had a toolbox in the back of his truck. It contained a carpenter’s level. We set it down on the allegedly-uphill road and let the universe reveal the truth of the matter.
Hey, what’s a web site without fraudulent threats of legal action? There’s a guy out there who has bullied and blustered his way into a business running pay web sites for Playboy models under various names, primarily “Alpha Interactive” (no links provided; after all, my goal here is to convince you to spend your money elsewhere).
This is old news, but I couldn’t resist the urge to yank his chain by reposting his threats and explaining his motive in making them.
It’s been about eighteen months since I bought my new car, a Lexus RX-300. It was basically a storage-and-comfort upgrade from my eight-year-old Camry, but what technophile could resist upgrading to the DVD-based GPS navigation system? Certainly not me.
It’s an interesting mix of pros and cons, features and limitations, but on the whole it’s proven to be both useful and entertaining.