Wednesday, 27 March 2013


I met up with some friends in Zurich over the weekend. In some spare time before the others arrived I went to see the Grossm√ľnster, where Zwingli got his Protestant on only a few years after Luther. It reminded me of a regret I have that in my time at Corpus Christi, which has an annual sermon to commemorate an otherwise forgotten John Mere, I never once managed to get off this joke (pause for effect): "Mere Commemoration? Sounds positively Zwinglian!" (pause for laughter)*

Zurich is remarkably expensive. There are no Starbucks in Rome and my friend who lives in Rome holds that this is a bad thing, so we went into one of the many Starbucks in Zurich to get her a chai latte. I got a small Americano, e.g. just a shot of espresso with some hot water, and it cost nearly four British pounds. Also a small bottle of water at the airport cost £3.75, but that was after security, when all bets are off.

Zurich feels rather small for such a well-known city. It is well provided with waterfowl, and also with large placards to help you identify said waterfowl. The shops all close on Sundays, which is a blow if you were planning to pop into a Coop before you leave and spend all your spare francs on ChocoFresh. I was addicted to ChocoFresh when I lived in Italy.

Luckily my friend from Rome brought me some proper Italian biscuits, which I have been sharing around at work. In a bit of a blow to my career as a Java programmer I found out today that the official rules for doing Java documentation include "Avoid Latin". Admittedly they seem to think that "a.k.a." is Latin, but they specifically say you can't use "viz.". It reminded me of a friend who was trying to force his email to auto-generate Subject lines for replies which started "anent:" instead of "re:". Anent is a good English word while re is not only Latin but from the fifth declension, the worst of all the declensions. He never managed it, and frankly it wasn't likely that he would, since he is a musicologist with little interest in computing. Now I am more connected to computing things maybe I should try to bring his dream to life.

* It's a joke about trans-substantation, and you should admire it like you would admire a dog walking on its hind legs -- "it is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all".

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Things I have learnt recently

1. If you want to start a conversation with the other programmers at your workplace, leave a Game of Thrones DVD box set visible on your desk.*

2. But when you put said box set into your bag and see it nestling next to the fifth volume of Augustine's Commentary on the Psalms you will feel slightly dirty. I can just imagine what Augustine would have to say about sexposition.

3. Augustine doesn't half talk about belching a lot. It reminds me of a thing my brother told me about how he and my sister-in-law went to a place in South America which had a religion that was sort of half Catholic and half-pre-Catholic, and they believed that burping was spiritual so they drank a lot of coca-cola before services, and then sat around burping in front of big pictures of saints.

4. They're going to "sunset" Google Reader. Now I'll have to use something slick with pictures in it. Boo! At least some things last:

5. Joss Whedon had made a film of Much Ado About Nothing with Nathan Fillion. Nathan Fillion!

To be honest, the trailer doesn't make it look great. But it's got Nathan Fillion in it! And the whole of the cast of Dollhouse, it looks like. And Nathan Fillion!

6. Here is a comic about how you can do anything you want in life. Go you!

* By the way, everybody thinks that the books were better. I have a theory that programmers read more novels than academics do...