Monday, October 10, 2005

Why I Love Geeks

An extract from a letter from Charles Babbage to Alfred Lord Tennyson, c. 1842:

"Sir: In your otherwise beautiful poem 'The Vision of Sin' there is a verse which reads - 'Every moment dies a man, Every moment one is born'. It must be manifest that if this were true, the population of the world would be at a standstill ...I would suggest that in the next edition of your poem you have it read - 'Every moment dies a man, Every moment 1 1/16 is born.' ... The actual figure is so long I cannot get it onto a line, but I believe the figure 1 1/16 will be sufficiently accurate for poetry."

Quality.

14 comments:

Juggling Mother said...

Both true Genius', this bueatifully demonstrates why they could never possibly undestand each other.

i love it, although you have to despair of the human race sometimes:-)

Of course the really pedantic amongst us must point out that although a man may die every moment, they are never born. babies are!

Pashmina said...

...and lo! Babbage raises the bar of pedantry to a whole new level. In fact he did so fully 130 years before I was born. Am duly humbled.

Jack Spanners said...

But did Tennyson change it?

Ymeln: As in I'm twisting ymeln man. (I think that's the wrong way round isn't it? And am I the only one still playing?)

james henry said...

You see, part of me wants think it's some kind of self-aware, proto-geek in-joke (babbage, not you jack), but it probably isn't.

surly girl said...

the first recorded geek? surely a geek somewhere has a carefully monitored spreadsheet that could confirm....

patroclus said...

Blimey, I go out for one hour...

Yes, the boy Babbage *was* having a laugh. But I don't think he was the first recorded geek - that would have been Archimedes or someone, surely?

cello said...

Euclid, maybe?. But a sarcastic, witty geek - even more respect due to Babbage.

tpbsxy: The state of inebriation caused by imbibing Ukrainian tractor fuel. There you go, Jack.

surly girl said...

nywndce: complicated magyar folk dance involving a headscarf, a squirrel and a bucket.

james henry said...

hnfpoh: annoyed exclamation uttered by a Daily Telegraph-reading rabbit who's just that discovered teenage stoats have broken into his warren and smashed his commemorative plates depicting Somerset triumphing at the County Cricket Finals in 1883.

(we are talking about the word verification thing aren't we? otherwise this just looks silly)

LC said...

Earliest known geek, circa 100,000 years BC: "You still got Pointy Rock v1.3? Hurgh! Me already got Pointy Rock v2.0 - user interface much better. Um.. you know where find nude Jeri Ryan cave painting?"

Urban Chick said...

mades me proud to be a pedant...

**sighs the sigh of the righteous**

Dave again said...

Of course, James, only a pedant would point out that Nottinghamshire, not Somerset, won the cricket county championship in 1883 (and 84,5 and 6).

james henry said...

You know, I thought I probably should have looked that up...

bhmlit: one who basically writes a load of arse.

james henry said...

Although, thinking about it, I was clearly talking about the Woodland Series, played by creatures of the forest, and that year the Somerset Amalgamated Hare/Rabbit eleven did very well, so I was right all along.