I went to the Staatsbibliothek yesterday to pick up Potocki. I got there at 9; the Buchabholbereich doesn't open till 10. So I killed time reading a book on corrosion.
I wish I had been an engineer.
I spent some time wondering whether it might be possible, if I couldn't be an engineer, to find a job working with engineers. Could I get a job as a PA in an engineering firm? An engineering department?
I then went online to look at Language Hat. He had a post about Celtic sites. One offered an etymology for the word 'leprechaun' which commenter John Cowan promptly trashed. I went to Cowan's blog and found a shell script mini-clinic, which begins:
On one of the mailing lists I subscribe to, someone posted the following Unix shell script as a wrapper for a program which unfortunately littered the current directory with temporary files which it did not remove. (Because this post is not about the faults of that program, I've replaced the reference to it in the fourth line of the script).#!/bin/bash
pushd . > /dev/null
popd > /dev/null
The author added, "I'm sure there's a better way to write the script, but this would do the trick." So it does. However, the code exhibits a number of misunderstandings of how shell scripts work that I think are worth clarifying.
The first and fifth lines are used to preserve and restore the current working directory. However, a script (or any Unix process) always has its own working directory; changing the working directory in a script does not affect the caller of the script in any way. This is not true for shell startup scripts like
.bashrc, or for Windows
.cmdfiles, all of which should be careful not to permanently change the current working directory.
So the first improvement is to remove the first and fifth lines entirely.
This too looks so much better as a profession than the one I have ended up in.
I got a Guggenheim Fellowship last year to explore ways of representing mathematical thinking about chance in fiction. I thought the way forward was to use the ideas set out in Edward Tufte's Envisioning Information, Visual Presentation of Quantitative Information and Visual Explanations. Unfortunately I had to deal with a succession of people in the publishing industry who were unable to see the usefulness of quantification in thinking about risk, so most of the time was spent exploring ways it is impossible to write a book exploring ways of representing mathematical thinking about chance if dealing with people incapable of thinking mathematically about chance. How nice it would be to turn up for work every day and spend a solid 8 hours with a team of engineers.
I had an idea for a book a while back. I think it had some of the savagery of Jane Austen, which I like. It had a character who generated $47,397 a year for Jack Daniels from a customer base of 10. (Sorry, I have just checked my notes: in the original version the character generated $49,295.60 a year for JD.) As I thought about the book it seemed to go in the direction of the savagery of Chuck Palahniuk, which I also like. The character was the human counterpart, I now see, of a program which unfortunately littered the current directory with temporary files which it did not remove.How late it is, how late.