Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The justice

It's Friday. The week is over. Stu liked Fridays. Because they aired his favourite show on the WTV - "The perfect crime". Every week they'd pick up one of the cases where the jury failed to find the consensus - and rerun it on air live. And collect the instant responses from the audience to make the verdict based on the simple majority. The direct democracy: crowd wisdom at its best. The audience would make a decision whether the person goes into the recycler or not. There were thousands of the replies - one can't be wrong with such a sample. But still the result was uncertain each time until the last moment. He liked the tingling sensation these shows would bring - it reminded him the good old times before the machines took it away from him.

He was a skyscraper window washer. He was not in it for the windows - it was that tingle sensation that attracted him. He mastered the corner wipe better than everyone and was rightfully proud of his skill. But he could not compete with the machines - they were cheaper - did not require insurance and would never make mistakes, except when mis-programmed. He helped the geeks who came with the machines to hone their skills, but being the cyber-shepherd was not for him, so he moved on to become an instructor in the local climbing club and opened a little food shop in the ground floor of his house. But all of that was not the same - and that's why he liked Fridays.

Today's case promised to be interesting. It was an investigation into an accident that was suspected to have been cooked. The defendant, a young woman, was fully aware she was the only available suspect - and has already told her story. She was visibly nervous, but in her last words she said that she firmly believed that the nation will judge her right. Because it was not her.

Something in her tone, in the way she was talking, made Stu believe she was a victim of the circumstances. He usually would not press the button during the shows - but today he had a feeling he probably should. Even though almost every time they'd say something to try to convince the public. But this time it was different.

The noise of the broken glass downstairs. Not good - need to check. There's been a few burglaries lately in the neighborhood - someone said it was the gang of homeless, the others claimed it was the underground communist cell refilling the replenished reserves. And this of course had to happen just today, when he had blown off the fuse. Sigh. Got to take a flashlight.

The quick inspection of the door revealed nothing suspicious. Windows - intact as well. The dietary supplements corner revealed the truth. Some visitor had smelled the Valerian and did not properly close it. Flasky, his cat, took this upon himself to fix this - of course, smashing all the rest of the glass in ecstatic joy. So all of that noise was for nothing, after all. The damn animal had just spoiled a nice evening in front of the TV. Stu collected the glass and put it into the bin. Hopefully he can make it in time to at least see the result.

As he was climbing the stairs, he heard the polished voice of the host - "Thank you. Thank you to all who participated in today's poll. The decision was extremely hard for you - the difference is only one vote! But you voiced your opinion, the nation of Tivyland. And the verdict is: Guilty".

Damn cat, he mumbled. Should have listened to Johnny and sterilized it. Gonna do that on Monday. He went on to his fridge and wrote in the planner attached to it, right where the hearts of weekend were turning back into the spades: "Take care of Flasky".

Then he opened the fridge and took another beer. He still had an untouched six-pack and Friday evening was just beginning. There were still some other good shows later on tonight.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The good news

Torro was unlike his mates. He was not excited by those of the boys' games that favored the hesitation of choice in them. What he was fascinated with was having a purpose for himself. He excelled at going towards the goal, rushing to the finish line and blowing past it, tearing the ribbon apart. He was the winner, and the world treated him accordingly - he'd always be in the hot spot of attention. Why was he like this ? Probably the adrenaline rush. Probably the ego. Probably the taste of the fruits of fame. Probably all together.

Bruna lived for today and now. She did not hurry - why rushing past ? It's like going on the express train through the summer forest - all you get is the branches hitting your face and the locomotive smoke. Jump off, close your eyes - can you hear that nightingale ? Wait until the tar dissolves and fall onto the ground - can you smell the strawberries ? You may have forgotten it - because none of the supermarkets can recreate this smell, no matter how hard they try. It dies off as soon as it hits the civilization - getting yourself out of it is the only way to experience it.

- "Hey, Bernie, check this out - "
- "What ?"
- "The news says, down there in Europe, they've forbidden the bull fights"
- "Did they allow the bull fights to begin with ?"
- "Yeah, looks like they did."
- "That's silly. Torturing the poor animals."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Theseus

The plane was about to land. The landscape underneath was all squares. They were mesmerizing in their proximity - feels like they are all so close, just a couple of meters away, he could not stop looking at them. This has been his favorite nightmare of all the times - inexplicable and personal, like all the nightmares are. The squares which are at an arms' length and at the same time so far that it feels frightening. He was not afraid of height, but this was not about the height - it was about the strange, magical power of the uncertainty. When he was a little kid, he would imagine throwing the ball at these squares, and whenever the ball bounced, he knew the squares were close and small - not those huge ones that are kilometers away that he was afraid of - then he would go to sleep again.

Today was different - it was window behind him and the squares, so he could not use his trick to understand where they are - and this filled him with the anxiety. Hopefully the pilot does know how high they are. And it better be those huge ones far away - otherwise there's no time even to take the position that they show during the briefing in the beginning of the flight. He remembered it was resembling the fetal position, as much as the safety belts permitted it. Maybe worth doing that just in case - but if his feeling about the height was wrong then it would look embarrassingly stupid.

Like that guy that ran with all his belongings when the fire alarm falsely rang in the middle of the night. He chuckled. In any case, if the plane would have slammed the ground, not a whole lot of the positions would help. Someone cynical once told him that the sole purpose of these positions in the airplane was to preserve the jawbones as intact as possible during the accident - then it is easier to identify the passengers, by their teeth. Like archaeologists do. Screw that, no one is waiting on either side of the route - so whether they would be able to assemble the teeth or not, does not really matter. They'll find it from the engraved label on his luggage, if they want.

Strangely, he was not afraid of the magical squares anymore - the nightmare becoming the only hope. He lost the count of time - maybe it was a second, maybe ten minutes - the time went its own ways, independent of him - it felt like an eternity. Finally he felt the shock of the wheels hitting the ground. Landed. So, it was all right after all.

The noise woke her up and she lifted her head - he was sitting on the floor, staring into the carpet. The carpet was a childhood present to her - gentle gray wool, with squared ornament. She liked it, it reminded her of labyrinth, from the favorite book of hers - the legend where the Theseus killed the Minotaur. That was how she met him - he reminded her of Theseus.

- "What's the matter, darling ?"
- "Nothing. I just fell on the floor. Sorry to have waken you up."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Disable HTML in Outlook

More of a note to myself really.

Two steps:

1) Tools => Options => Mail format ; "Compose in this message format" - set to "plain text".

This makes all newly composed messages show as plaintext.

2) Tools => Trust center => Read all standard email in plain text.

This makes messages you receive show as plaintext.

Oh, and probably uncheck the scripts, while you are on the latter.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Airfoil. ASCII.

Read on HN about the http://xkcd.com/803/ with the comment "What's the correct answer ?"

I think it is this:

                                                


^ counterforce
| lifts the plane
|
+
/--- <-- this is a wing
spits hot pollutants <===[engine]===> counterforce /---
pushes /---
forward /---
/--- +---- <=== air hits
| this direction
|
|
v air
bounces down




The drawing is imprecise. I welcome you to spot the places where it is.

But it should be correct in principle.