Son of Devil's Advocate
SODA So Far...
A quack (portmanteau for "quick ack") for all DA (Devil's Advocate) fans who wrote tearfully re-the demise of [UR]PC (UNIX Review's Performance Computing) and more so to those who promised to follow my rambling SODA (Son of...) freshly bubbling via Aurora (a radiant emission from above) Software's www.sarcheck.com.
This is my SODA #2 column, formally, unarguably designated SODA March 2000 although most of you will be "idly-clicking-through" and/or enjoying/enduring it during February 2000, a strange month that has either 28 or 29 days depending on which leap-year algorithm your system has adopted. (An infamous "Y2K warning/correction" in Software Development Magazine still managed to get the divisibilty-by-4-100-400 test sequences wrong!)
Some of you with 300-baud acoustic modems ("reliability beats speed every time") running my GODOT [tm] browser under Java- enhanced MS-DOS 4.00, may have to wait until April 1st 2000, or forever, whichever comes first.
The lucky remnant, equipped with SarCheck's diverse UNIX accelerators (www.sarcheck.com), will already have seen SODA #2 during January 2000 or earlier.
However, whenever, whyever, this is my March 2000 SODA column, and previous/relatively-future instances will be duly indexed/archived via www.sarcheck.com as the --months++ go by. Cue in the bloated Mario Lanza: "At the Stroke of Your Mouse, Heaven Opens Its Portals to Me..."
The Boring Dating Game
Any mention of calendric and millennial-enumerating quiddities invokes as many reader reactions as hints that the old GOTO ain't that bad or that objects ain't that good. [ref 1] for Grazziano Lo Russo's remarkable interview with A. (STL) Stepanov and therefrom to other riveting pages. Remember, though, to come back home to MOI what sent you.
In the final UNIX Review/Performance Computing magazine (January 2000 -- don't let your mother throw out this issue with your old SuperMan comics!), Letters section, Johan Van Zanten, Systems Shaman of Tumbleweed Electron Wranglers Inc. [sic, bis, amen], rightly complained that
"If you're using the Gregorian calendar, the twenty-first Century and the third Millennium begin on January 1, 2001."
Johan refers you to two apodeictic sources:
that have been "officially tasked [ref 2] with keeping time since the days when people's lives depended on it. If you want to blame someone, blame the Catholic Church. They made up the calendar, not me."
For a more readable and paper-based account (lots of graphics including the front page of Gregory's Papal Bull [sic] Inter Gravissimas dated [sic] October 15, 1582 together with many suggested "world calendar" reforms to cope with our irrational planetary orbits), see "Adoption and Reform of the Gregorian Calendar," Edward L. Cohen, Math Horizons, February 2000, The Mathematical Association of America.
Adding to the confusion of the "missing days" (ten or eleven?) immediately following the Gregorian 4-15 October, 1582 step- function, Cohen lists the various dates on which the Papal dictat was officially recognized (if at all) in diverse parts of the known world (ranging from Italy [of course] and Poland in 1582, the American Colonies in 1752, on to the Romanian/Greek/Yugoslav Eastern Orthodox Churches in 1924.)
All I can add to Cohen's brilliant account is to remind readers that the Julian Calendar (named for the Brit-bashing Caesar) is not be confused with the Julian Day (JD, the number of real [sez who?] days elapsed since January 1, 4713 BCE) named for Julius Caesar Scaliger (1484-1558) by his son Joseph Justus Scaliger (1540-1609), author of Opus de emendatione temporum (1583 [sic]).
The plot thickens, of course: there are many mm/dd/yyyy-to-JD and JD-to-mm/dd/yyyy algorithms out there, some purporting to be valid and consistent for all date values and allowing for negative JDs (after all, some serious scholars deal with events prior to January 1, 4713 BCE and straddling the Gregorian gap). Simpler algorithms, common in business and actuarial applications where the main gist is "days-between-dates," "sue-after-90-days- past-due," and "name-the-end-quarter-following-preferred-death," are correct for limited date ranges, typically 1/1/1900 and thereafter. The absolute JD value (officially 2,438,762.00 for noon Greenwich Civil Time, January 1, 1965) is often of no consequence provided the applications use consistent algorithms. Alas, IHS ("I have suffered!") Mixing "reusable" subroutines/components have resulted in embarrassing "off-by-one" even "off-by-two" glitches. Not only the "index" problem, do we start counting from the 0th or the 1st (finally "resolved" by the BASIC standards argufiers with the terrible OPTION BASE compromise: start counting at N), but occasional disputes over "noon" when your debtor has a house-boat near the Bering Seas International Date Line.
A thread in the extinct [UR]PC columns followed man-page humor both covert and intentional. Jim Smith reports the overt Solaris entry under spell that lists as a bug: "British spelling was done by an American." More examples welcomed via email@example.com
My final January 2000 [UR]PC DA column carried two quizzes which I now answer:
Chess: the given position (by R. Frangen) invokes a remarkable sequence of checks/counter checks:
1. g8 = Qch, Kf5ch;
then, reports Koltanowski, "both kings get time out for some fresh air! Can the check number be improved on?" Hard to imagine!
Linguistic Trick question: "Can you name a specific-vowel-free work written in the South Caucasus language Lezghi that matches Perec's feat (a novel in French avoiding the vowel 'e,' apart, of course, from the title/author page)?"
Trick answer: Lezghi is rare in lacking the vowel "o," so, unless I hear otherwise, all Lezghian novelists can match Perec by "doing what comes naturally."
What is Scouse?
Scouse is the inhabitant, dish, and dialect of Liverpool/Merseyside. Lern Yerself Scouse is the definitive guide now in its 16th edition, published by Scouse Press. Order via firstname.lastname@example.org
How to pronounce LINUX?
Most IPO billionaires prefer two short equally-stressed syllables as in \\RedHat\\
How to pronounce Bjarne Stroustrup?
Listen several times to the .wav file on www.research.att.com/~bs/
How to pronounce Van Wijngaarden?
The first part is as in the mythical Ajax soccer star, Hertz Van Rental. The proper name (Dutch for Winograd) requires several months in Amsterdam gargling Genevers Wynand Fockink and inhaling dubious substances.
What were the first words uttered by Richard, latest son of Fred and Anne Butzen?
How many Alta-Ego Vista matches emerged from a "Kelly-Bootle" search?
Up from 64 in 1993 to 555 in 2000. Not yet the anti-christ, but prends garde a toi.
How Many CDs?
The complete works of J. S. Bach (the Ha:nssler Edition Bachakademie) will soon be available on 170 audio CDs. So far, as a high-ranked MSDN member, I have received 169 CDs from Microsoft, but these include pre-alphas and post-omegas of the volatile APIs du jour not to mention the Hungarian and Uzbeck variants of Word 9x. A sobering thought when one of my fat books comes back on a slim floppy.
NEW SODA FEATURE
To further enrich, delay your page visitation, I attach a 15- year-ago DA column that is otherwise gathering dust in forgotten attics.
UNIX Review - March 1985 - Stan Kelly-Bootle
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