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16th of April, 2024



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More and more, it seems to me that there’s nothing new or innovative in life. I think the more you understand something, the less you enjoy it. Take computers, for example. I understand computers. I’ve been working on them now almost thirty years, ever since my first home job, the risible Texas Instruments TI 994/A. My second computer was the much more suitable Mattel Aquarius, replete with 16K expansion board. 16K? I remember thinking it was the shit, something I could never even dream of filling up. Consider the following BASIC program:

10 ? “HELLO”

20 GOTO 10

That’s about 25 bytes, and also about the extent of my BASIC programming abilities at the age of 11. I remember there was this other kid in my sixth grade class who also had an Aquarius. I remember him bitching because he only had the 4K expansion, and he didn’t have any room left in memory for the data sets that he used in the Dungeons & Dragons-based RPG he’d programmed on it. I would have loaned him mine, but I was humiliated into lying that my flight simulator was almost finished, so sorry, no dice.

In the eighth grade, I took my first computer-oriented course at school, which was called “Business Computing on the Apple ][“. I’m not exactly sure what eight-graders are supposed to understand about business computing, or what we were supposed to think of the cleverly hackerish use of square brackets for the roman numerals in the Apple ][‘s name, but I was nonetheless intimidated into swearing that I would never buy a computer, much less one that had the colors of the international homosexual conspiracy brazenly embedded in a fruit. Subtle it ain’t, the old Apple logo. Instead, I would live my life in buckskin trousers and shoot at revenuers with my kentucky windage, wishing for simpler times when men were men, and night was dark. Which of course is why I’m now a UNIX system administrator, and write blog entries in bars on my Apple laptop.

So nowadays, I understand that every laptop is basically a remix of different off-the-shelf parts, with a selection of the available software, as money allows, nothing special. There’s only the capacity of hard drives, the speed of the processor, and the amount of RAM installed that make any dent. It’s all the same shit. There are many computer companies, but only a few huge factories that pump out the shit that they all build into their computers. There is no wonder, no joy, mystery to any of it.

This principle applies to everything in life. At least, it applies to anything built after the second world war. German engineers are no better than the Americans anymore, they all use the same CAD software to get their shit done, and, with the Internet, there are no magical metallurgical formulas, no secret underground laboratories, no oil fields in the Balkans that make a difference, only Google results. Nowadays, there’s only the price of commodities on the global market, the intricacies of international currency markets, and the sewing together of the same, tired old components by some poor saps in Taiwan for each and every manufacturer in each and every field of business, be it shoes or MP3 players.




The world is, truly, flat.

Great book by the way.


There's no Santa Claus, either? You miserable bastard. Couldn't you have waited until I was a little older before you told me?

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