Dagger in hand

A man of prodigious fortune, coming to add his opinion to some light discussion that was going on casually at his table, began precisely thus: "It can only be a liar or an ignoramus who will say otherwise than," and so on. Pursue that philosophical point, dagger in hand.

--Michel de Montaigne, Of the art of discussion.

Stab back: cmnewman99-at-yahoo.com


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Thursday, June 23, 2005
Now he tells me...

So I downloaded and read In the Beginning was the Command Line, Neal Stephenson's brilliant little (well, if 40,000 words is little) essay on the cultural and epistemological ramifications of operating systems. In junior high I actually took a "calculator/computer" class in which we programmed a computer (which even by the standards of that day seemed more like a glorified cash register, whose numeral-only output was printed on receipt tape) using punch cards fed into a reader, and got in trouble for playing with the resultant confetti just as he describes. And in college I had some fun writing little programs in BASIC to do things like calculate the golden mean or graph equations on my Apple II. (This was after Macs had already come out, thus continuing my unbroken pattern of being firmly behind the curve on adoption of new technology.) So even though my level of technical skill is so rudimentary that I would never dream of presuming to apply to myself the honorific "hacker," I kind of feel like a fellow traveller. So I read the essay, and Neal's got me all fired up to eschew the mediated idol worship of the GUI and take full grasp of my destiny by swallowing the red pill, learning Linux, and becoming a Morloch in good standing who actually knows how to read rather than just watch pretty pictures. And then, something in the back of my mind reminds me that long before I read the essay, I'd seen a follow-up comment about it by Neal on his website. What was it, now?

Oh yeah, that would be this comment:
In the Beginning was the Command Line is now badly obsolete and probably needs a thorough revision. For the last couple of years I have been a Mac OS X user almost exclusively.
Oh. Well. Never mind, then.

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