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Showing posts from July, 2006

41 Seconds

What does “Global Warming” really mean?  The entire planet isn’t heating up, only the atmosphere.  The temperature of the oceans isn’t increasing either, only the surface temperature is changing.  So what is “Global Warming?” Should you care about “Global Warming?”

As you may know, our planet has been around for over 4 BILLION years.  That’s a very long time in the cosmic sense, because our universe is estimated to be around 13 BILLION years old.  You might say that our planet is now an “adult” planet that is reaching middle-age.

There is no human alive who can fathom the gulf of time that is 4 billion years.  Our lifetime is only 72 years on average, sometimes longer, sometimes shorter.  Therefore, humans really only live for about 0.0000018% of the current planet’s lifetime. Our lifetime is to the planet as a creature living for 41 seconds is to our lifetime. How much influence can that one creature have on our lives in those 41 seconds?

Well, as an infant, when we are the most dynamic…

Assert This!

Long ago we all went to college and learned about the assert() function in C and later, C++. At the time, assert() was a great little tool for quickly bailing out of your program when you thought it could not finish.  I used it when my calls to malloc() would fail.  Lately, though, I’ve seen commercial software vendors proclaiming their use of assert() as a way of writing safer code.  This is madness.

First of all, the assert() function is just a print and exit macro.  Your assertion message is printed to the tty, and then your application exits with an error code.  That’s it, no segmentation fault, no core dump, nothing else, just exit.

Imagine your surprise when your favorite game all of a sudden just exits back to shell right in the middle of fighting the super.  You would likely not play that game again.  When there’s a GUI, the tty is redirected to the /dev/null device, which means there is no output.  So much for that assert message getting to your users.

Now let’s imagine a more s…

Roman Polanski's Mystery Apparition

I recently watched Roman Polanski’s “The Tenant.” This is a 1976 horror film that is more about character development and legerdemain than modern shock-horror. If you like classic movies, such as Salem’s Lot, The Hounds of Basquerville, or the works of HP Lovecraft, then you would enjoy this film.

Should you ever rent “The Tenant,” quickly track forward to time index 41:12. In this scene, the main character is moving furniture around in his haunted apartment. Pay attention to the left hand side of the screen when he places an item next to the mirror. You will see a woman’s body, with black matted hair and a gash in her shoulder. The mystery apparition is facing the character yet he doesn’t notice her. In subsequent footage of that scene, she no longer appears.

The woman who haunts the apartment does not have black hair and is never really shown in the film. This mystery apparition appears to be out of context. I wonder if Roman Polanski meant this apparition as a prop to “shock”…