December 03, 2000
Well, I've been reading up

Well, I've been reading up a storm lately. One book I highly recommend is The Code Book: The Evolution of Secrecy from Mary Queen of Scots to Quantum Cryptography. Full of great stories about the impact of codes and ciphers on history; there's also this little tidbit from a a letter by Charles Babbage to Tennyson complaining about these lines from the poem The Vision of Sin: "Fill the cup, and fill the cann:/Have a rouse before the morn:/Every moment dies a man,/Every moment one is born.

It must be mainifest that if this were true, the population of the world would be at a standstill...I would suggest that in the next edition of your poem you have it read - "Every moment dies a man, Every moment 1-1/16 is born."...The actual figure is so long I cannot get it onto a line, but I believe the figure 1-1/16 will be sufficiently accurate for poetry.

I am, Sir, your, etc.

Charles Babbage.

Charles Babbage: father of the modern computer and prototypical geek.

Posted by Bill Stilwell at December 03, 2000 12:00 AM
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