Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Knowledge and Wisdom

"There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit not a vegetable. Wisdom is knowing not to include it in a fruit salad."
- Anonymous

Monday, August 29, 2011

A stone of hope

"With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Yesterday saw the official opening of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial in Washington, DC. A great American and a great human being.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Here's to the Crazy One(s)

Here’s to the crazy ones.

The misfits.

The rebels.

The troublemakers.

The round pegs in the square holes.

The ones who see things differently.

They’re not fond of rules

and they have no respect for the status quo.

You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.

About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.

Because they change things.

They push the human race forward.

And while some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.

Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world,

are the ones who do.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thinking Different

Steve Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple yesterday after 14 years of helping Apple to Think Different again:
"Apple at the core, its core value, is that we believe that people with passion CAN change the world for the better [...] that those people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who actually do."
- 1997, Steve Jobs introducing the "Think Different" marketing campaign.

"There's an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love. 'I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.' And we've always tried to do that at Apple. Since the very very beginning. And we always will."
- 2007, Steve Jobs introducing iPhone.

"It's in Apple's DNA that technology alone is not enough. That it's technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing."
- 2011, Steve Jobs introducing iPad 2.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

For what it's Wirth

A classic article by Niklaus Wirth on Writing Lean Software reminds us about the basic engineering virture of producing more with less. We (engineers) have been spoiled by the (seemingly) endless supply of engineering resources, like energy, storage and memory capacity, processing power, or even money (especially for military projects). But, as we all know, or should know, no supply of anything is endless. This extravagant approach ultimately produces only one result: bad engineering.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Kaspar: Prince of Cats

I've just started reading Michael Morpurgo's Kaspar: Prince of Cats to the boys at bedtime. A great find. The boys and I are enjoying it immensely. It'll be a very sad night when we get to the end of this one. Morpurgo writes beautifully. Here he explains how Kaspar came about:

I'm a story detective. I hunt down clues because I need evidence to write my stories. So what was the evidence behind the writing of Kaspar?

A year ago I was asked to be Writer-in-Residence at the Savoy Hotel in London. This involved putting on some literary events and staying for three months at the Savoy. My wife Clare and I had a bed the size of Ireland, and breakfast every morning looking out over the Thames. Everyone in the hotel was very kind. We were treated like royalty - which was great!

Then one day, in the corridor next to the American Bar, I met Kaspar, the Savoy Cat. He was sitting there in a glass showcase - a sculpture of a huge black cat - very elegant, very superior. I made enquiries, as detectives do, and found out why he was there.

One day, almost a hundred years ago, thirteen men sat down to a dinner party at the Savoy. One of them scoffed loudly at the suggestion that thirteen might be an unlucky number, said it was so much tosh. Only a few weeks later, he was shot down in his office in Johannesburg, South Africa. Thereafter The Savoy decided that they would never again allow thirteen people to sit down together for dinner. They would always have a fourteenth chair, and sitting on the fourteenth chair, there would be a specially carved sculpture of a lucky black cat. He was known as Kaspar.

My first clue.

My second clue: I came down to breakfast one morning, and was walking down the red carpeted stairs into the River Restaurant, when I looked up and had a sudden sense of déjà vu. The whole decor and atmosphere reminded me of pictures I'd seen of the restaurant on the Titanic. I knew then my story would be about a cat called Kaspar, who would live at the Savoy and become the only cat to survive the sinking of the Titanic.

But it was the people who lived and worked at the Savoy who gave me my last and most vital clue. I discovered that they came from every corner of the globe. And I soon discovered also that their lives were very different from the lives of the guests they looked after. It would have been very much like this, I thought, in 1912, at the time the Titanic went down.

My evidence was complete. A little dreamtime, to make some sense of all the clues, and I could begin my story, about how Kaspar was brought to the Savoy by a very famous diva - an opera singer, a Countess from Russia...

Thursday, August 04, 2011

the sky in monocle


by Christopher Okigbo

EYE OPEN on the sea,
eyes open, of the prodigal;
upward to heaven shoot
where stars will fall from.
Secret I have told into no ear,
save into a dughole, to hold, not to drown with –
Secret I have planted into beachsand
Now breaks
salt-white surf on the stones and me,
and lobsters and shells
in iodine smell-
maid of the salt-emptiness,
whose secret I have covered up with beachsand…
Shadow of rain over sunbeaten beach,
Shadow of rain over man with woman.

with the armpit-dazzle of a lioness,
she answers,
wearing white light about her;
and the waves escort her,
my lioness,
crowned with moonlight.
So brief her presence-
match-flare in wind's breath-
so brief with mirrors around me.
the waves distil her;
gold crop
sinking ungathered.
Watermaid of the salt-emptiness,
grown are the ears of the secret.

AND I WHO am here abandoned,
count the sand by wave lash abandoned,
count her blessing, my white queen.
But the spent sea reflects
from his mirrored visage
not my queen, a broken shadow.
So I who count in my island the moments,
count the hour which will bring
my lost queen with angels' ash in the wind.

THE STARS have departed,
the sky in monocle
surveys the world under
The stars have departed,
and I-where am I?
Stretch, stretch, O antennae,
to clutch at this hour,
fulfilling each moment in a
broken monody.