15 May 2013

20 minute workout (supine dancer). Egg congee, nice and white and hot and fluffy, with a real egg in Maggi Sauce.

In today’s Grand High Shakespeare Re-Read and Massacree, I completed Love’s Labour’s Lost where some of the most spectacular poetic fireworks occur…this is the only play in which Shakespeare neglected the needs of the entire audience (to see a Show) in favor of showing off his learning and vocabulary in a Ben Jonson style. I’ve started on Measure for Measure and have only a few plays to go, perhaps to my regret: Troilus, Titus, Winter’s, Richard II, “Various Poems” and, I think, I’ll be done. Trying to discover new things and a feel for the language in each play although I am not looking forward to Titus Andronicus. It was a horrible experience to read this at 12 years and I don’t think it’s improved.

Physio workout in the afternoon: 20 minute goal achieved, but I was exhausted and could not make normal goal of about 700 rowing strokes.

In Shakespeare’s Loves Labours Lost, perhaps it was necessary to show the University Shits oops Wits that a little grammar school in a rural town could use the magic of printed books, brought to England 100 years before by Caxton, to give 15 year old teens the equivalent of a university classical education including practicing 100+ figures of Rhetoric and writing sonnets. As an A level tutor I could probably do better than a tenured professor in teaching a Shakespeare play, and I understand that real “professors” may not be able to teach…whence the phenomenon of studentless universities for pure research including the Institute for Advanced Study adjacent to Princeton and the Rockefeller Institute up in Manhattan.

Smashed my one remaining Netvigator-proprietary dongle by putting it on my bed adjacent to the blanket such that an unknowing maid tossed the blanket on it thereby bending and snapping the dongle at an angle greater than 90 degrees.

This means I only have access to the Internet from the wireless in the Grantham common room, and this will be mostly in the morning for I must do physio in the afternoon. But I can batch up tasks for the afternoon and evening and download interesting content. I also need to catch up with pencil and paper tasks such as indexing my medical paperwork and using Erica’s kind gift of drawing paper.

That dongle, as I said, is a uniquely stupid design: unconsciously phallic in that the dork who designed the dongle actually LIKES an ugly thing sticking out in the computer from a USB. This hypothetical bird-brain never realized that the dongle is a sitting duck for being bent at any time. It’s one thing to stick in a (much smaller) memory stick. But for continuous Internet access this is absurd.

While we’re at it in this Massacree, not of Love’s Labours Lost to be sure, but of the defects of Macs…the dongle problem is not unique, of course, to the Mac. However, that power interface so trumpeted by Steve Jobs’ recent biographer, Walter Isaacson, as a work of demotic, American, middle class genius is anything but.

It’s an easily detached magnet rather than a solid connection. The reasoning? A solid connection would cause the Mac to slide off the “desk” when the power cord got entangled. Therefore the connection is loose, a shallow slot with a weak magnet.

But this is absurd. The default usage for laptops is no longer at an office or home office desk with a permanent power outlet. Instead, it’s a variety of locales and positions. It might be a Starbuck’s table. In my case it’s my hospital bed entangled with the covers such that the magnetized connection is frequently lost.

The Steve Jobs “reality distortion zone” was meant to mean just that by Steve’s associates. His demands in the early Apple days such as “no fans on the Mac” were psycho-neuroses in old-fashioned terms and autistic in modern terms, just as some of my programming ideas were applied autism. The inflexibility helped both Jobs and me get work done, where actually “shipping” a bug-free product is hard for idealists and techies (“real artists ship” was a Jobs saying). But it also fails to serve the end user such as the Mac user in a hospital room.

The real software pioneers were people like Edsger Dijkstra (original developer of Algol, inventor of practical and safe concepts for parallel computing), Bjarne Sroustrup (invented C++), Dennis Ritchie (invented with others the C programming language) and many other people who aren’t billionaires.

These men would never have gone to work for Jobs. Dijkstra fled the corporate world of Burroughs for academia (U of T Austin) while Stroustrup and Ritchie spent most of their working lives at the old and now defunct Bell Labs which provided hero engineers with safe and unsupervised jobs and a form of tenure…my experience, and theirs, being contrary to neoclassical economics and its idiot prediction that giving this to a man like Dijkstra will make us less “productive”.

Jobs got at best inferior versions of these men, flawed developers with personality problems whom he’d browbeat day after day to “ship”. These developers got and accepted “the Talk” in which they learned that Apple’s bottom line was what mattered even as Cenk Uigur of The Young Turks learned that management and not the listener was in control at MSNBC.

Until the dongle is replaced I will probably be online in the morning and offline thereafter.


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