Archive for September, 2010


September 29, 2010

Why is it that you’re only told to be more proactive after something’s gone wrong?


September 27, 2010

As per usual, the Bench and Bar (licensed to sell all intoxicating liquors for consumption on and off the premises and occasionally in the doorway)(just across the road from the old magistrates’ court) was slow to fill up.

First in, early afternoon, were the freshly acquitted, quaffing a quick quart of relief and leaving in a hurry. Or not.

Then came the triumphant claimants for damages, dutifully damaging their livers with multicoloured spirits.

At six of the clock dead the court clerks arrived, they went about their drinking meticulously. (The basic routine is as follows: always open with two pints. Idem. Ibidem gin, cf. vodka. Most orders are pro se but on a payday you might get a round ex parte. Repeat until non sum qualis eram.)

The clerks were followed by The Man Who Had Nothing To Say. ‘Good evening to you all’, would The Man Who Had Nothing To Say say with clockwork precision

The judges only popped in to say hello and grab a packet of pork scratchings for the journey home.

The barristers always came late, after they were thrown out of their inns. ‘Gentlemen, we’ve been called to the bar’, quips inevitably the one leading the procession, to which the polite answer is ‘Ah, that joke never gets old, doesn’t it?’, but the crowd just murmurs to themselves instead. (Except for The Man Who Had Nothing To Say, who was well-known for talking through the night without repetition, interruption or deviation from the subject of nothing in particular.)

They sat around a table and sung heartily until closing time. The others didn’t like the barristers very much.

Nobody really does.


September 16, 2010

The 14th European Skeptics Congress is going to take place this week in Budapest, and to be fair, it would be very hard to disagree with their general goals, and of course it’s a very good thing that a society actively promoting science-based thinking exists, and they obviously need to get together every now and again. But they’re also going to have guest speakers.

Well, what’s the point?

They’re going to present their theses and the audience will just go “Hmm, I don’t believe you.”

A List of Mildly Annoying Things

September 3, 2010

The ability and the urge to make lists is probably one of the things that makes us human. It’s easy to imagine that well before inventing chipped stone tools or language our early hominid ancestors had already been compiling lists of the ten prettiest females in the savannah, the twelve tastiest species of hooved animals or the five worst things to do when ambushed by a predator while taking a dump.

This means that by now almost everything has been compiled into lists, even lists and probably lists of lists too. Almost everything, but not quite everything, because there are things that are just too ordinary and average to make it to either a best-of or a worst-of list. In particular, there are things that are definitely not pleasant but at the same time extremely trivial, nowhere near awful or important enough to have a moan about it. Not even on the Internet or in Britain. And I think that’s rather harsh, why shouldn’t they have their own list too?.

So with that in mind, here’s my list of mildly annoying things.

  1. Realising that the incredibly dumb forum post that you wanted to reply to is three years old.
  2. Missing a bus but knowing another one will be around in five minutes.
  3. Having to repeat the punchline of a joke because the sound of a passing lorry drowned it out.
  4. Discovering that someone left the door of the office fridge slightly ajar.
  5. TV ads being slightly louder than the programme.
  6. A tiny speck of toothpaste on your shirt that you only notice in the afternoon.
  7. Slightly cold feet.
  8. Forks that are bent out of shape.
  9. Forgetting the password of an unused bank account.
  10. Realising that the incredibly dumb forum post that you wanted to reply to is three years old and yours.


September 1, 2010

When something goes pear-shaped in a computer system, engineers may draw on a surprisingly rich vocabulary to describe it: bug, error, problem, failure, issue and many others. All of them can be taken at face value as engineers generally find it very hard to be dishonest about their own creations.

All of them but one. There’s one very special word which roughly translates into layman’s English as “a catastrophic failure that is so severe that we’d rather play down its seriousness to avoid panic”

And that word is “glitch”.

When you hear it, run.