Thomas Thurman

An author of magical realism and a formalist poet. When he was a child, his ambition was to write storybooks. Many other things got in the way, including owning various cats, ringing tower bells, writing sonnets, moving to Cambridge, unexpectedly emigrating to Pennsylvania, learning to make fudge, maintaining interesting but obscure parts of computer systems and unexpectedly moving back to England. Nevertheless, he is still writing.

Tesco and the Armada

I was just at Tesco. I did not previously know the checkout person.

CHECKOUT PERSON: So, that’ll be £16.48.
MARN: (long pause) What happened in 1648? I thought it was the Spanish Armada. But that sounds like it should have been in 1548.
CHECKOUT PERSON: Yeah, that’s definitely the Tudors. It was under Henry, wasn’t it? The Mary Rose and all that.
MARN: I thought it was Elizabeth. Didn’t Philip of Spain send the Armada because he wanted her to marry him?
CHECKOUT PERSON: Well, what you’ve gotta remember is, Spain as such didn’t exist at the time. There were, like, two or three different states there, and then you’ve got the Holy Roman Empire making things more complicated…
(discussion continues for a while)

More of this, please.

A complaint from 1846 about the vile and barbarous word “talented”. Plus ça change.

A complaint from 1846 about the vile and barbarous word “talented”. Plus ça change.

Most of my set this evening was not this lewd, but this is the song that got recorded! Still, the crowd loved it.

Turing’s sword

See you our server farm that hums
And serves HTTP?
It’s spun its disks and done its sums
Ever since Berners-Lee.

See you our mainframe spewing out
The Towers of Hanoi?
It’s moved recursive discs about
Since Babbage was a boy.

See you our ZX81
That prints the ABCs?
That very program used to run
With Lovelace at the keys.

Magnetic floppy disks and hard,
And tape with patience torn,
And eighty columns on a card,
And thus was England born!

She is not any common thing,
Water or Wood or Air,
But Turing’s Isle of Programming,
Where you and I will fare.

On April 14 2014, NASA will dye the moon PINK to raise awareness of breast cancer across the world. The dye used (HOACS-4U) is entirely harmless and will fade by 2084 at the latest.(nb: not actually true)

I once tried to write a hymn as unusable as possible

As we see in your creation
creeping things upon the earth,
show us, with the caterpillar,
how to reach a second birth.

As the spider spins her cobweb
patiently to catch a fly,
grant us means to share your message
in the lives of passers-by.

As you granted limbs aplenty
to the peaceful millipede,
make our feet upon the mountains
swift to reach a world of need.

As the beetle digs the dunghill
seeking where its food is stored,
teach us that this world is refuse
set against our loving Lord.

Today I went to Kingston in Surrey. Here’s a picture of the Thames, a little below where it becomes tidal. Also, here’s the King’s Stone which gives the town its name, where seven kings were crowned. (The last was Ethelred, on 14th April 979.)

1942 guide for GIs coming to the UK: Don’t mock British soldiers for respecting women, because British women are badass.
This is such a lovely opening paragraph.
it’s an airlock!
(ok, call me pathetic)

it’s an airlock!

(ok, call me pathetic)