Computers: August 2006 Archives


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OK, seriously now, since when is science or language (except in France) determined by voting?

A legitimate case can be made that Pluto is not properly called a planet, but despite what the many news reports I've seen have said, Pluto is not now "officially" not-a-planet. There's nothing "official" about it. The International Astronomical Union has no authority. The International Star Registry has as much authority as the IAU does, and dammit, if they decide, for a $1,000 fee, to call the third star to the left of Orion's belt "Pudgimus Prime," then that's just as bloody official as anything the IAU says.

The IAU is a bunch of nice people who do good and important work. But they have no actual authority to name anything, let alone to classify anything, any more than anyone else has. That's not to say we should ignore them; far from it. That we can look to this group of scientists for a common set of words -- like "planet" and "Pluto" -- is extremely useful. But it's not "official." It's not law. It's just one group of people. A really smart and influential group, but that doesn't make them "official."

We do not have to go in and change all the textbooks in all the schools, we don't have to change our dioramas and mnemonic devices, we don't have to change ... well, anything. If you want to keep calling it a planet, feel free to do so, as long as it's understood you're not using the same definition the IAU is using.

Pudge's Picks

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Please, if you wish, go to join Pudge's Picks, now hosted on

After logging in (create a new login if you don't have one), create an entry. Set it to "no spread."

Then for each entry, click Join a Group. Type in "Pudge's Picks" in the search field, submit the form, then click on Pudge's Picks when it shows up in the list. The password to join is "longhorn."


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Went to dentist today. Lady said I should swallow my saliva. Apart from that making my stomach feel ill, it also tastes really bad. I have to work hard to keep my tongue (the part that isn't numb) away from the saliva gathering in my mouth, too, because of the taste. Perhaps I should put "Supertaster" on my medical form next time.


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This year's OSCON was the best I've been to since it left California (my third in Portland, I think). I am not quite sure why. The technical content seemed higher, at least in the sessions I went to (although there were two sessions on cross-domain Ajax, in the same room, on the same day ... oops). Maybe it's because I didn't go to as many Perl track sessions as usual?

I noted before I was disappointed in the lack of Perl content at OSCON. Maybe I still am. But I also said at the time that my complaint was only about the Perl content, not the conference as it is, what it has become. It's still an excellent conference, even if it is no longer "The Perl Conference."

If your only interest is Perl, then you might be a bit disappointed. Then again, you might not: there's lots of Damian, there's MJD, there's Larry, there's Peter Scott, there's lots of Perl content around. I am just old and jaded and have seen and heard most of it before.

Then again, maybe that's why OSCON has less interesting Perl content (to me, and others): because fewer people are creating interesting Perl content, because we've all seen it before. [Insert Jarkko's sig here.]

Regardless, if you are interested in Apache and MySQL and JavaScript and even Ruby or Python or PHP or whatever, or you don't care about sessions and want to just hang out and talk to lots of people, then OSCON's pretty damned good. I enjoyed it, and learned quite a bit, both from the sessions and from just hanging out and chatting.

The food wasn't to my liking. I miss the crummy box lunches we had in San Diego. :-)

Somewhat idle thought: sometimes I wish there could be a whole day at OSCON of nothing but BOFs; it seems there's too little time to go to all the ones you might want to go to, and there's a lot going on at night anyway. Maybe Tuesday could be BOF day for people who don't attend tutorials? Promoting it might hurt O'Reilly's bottom line, encouraging people to avoid tutorials, but ... it's late, maybe it's a stupid idea.

Re: Incomparably amusing

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In re:, from Federalist 8:

Safety from external danger is the most powerful director of national conduct. Even the ardent love of liberty will, after a time, give way to its dictates. The violent destruction of life and property incident to war, the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they at length become willing to run the risk of being less free. ...

They would, at the same time, be necessitated to strengthen the executive arm of government, in doing which their constitutions would acquire a progressive direction toward monarchy. It is of the nature of war to increase the executive at the expense of the legislative authority. ...
<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Computers category from August 2006.

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