Author Archives: W.P. McNeill

Power. Truth. Speaking.

In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not … Continue reading

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English Has No Word For

The kind of detritus—rubber bands, thumbtacks, orphaned fasteners, possibly dead batteries—that collects in drawers. A rock or brick left next to a locked door of a common area (the rear entrance of an apartment building, say, or a laundry room) … Continue reading

Posted in Mermaids | 2 Comments

For the Sake of the King

Write a computer program to play chess. It doesn’t have to play particularly well, just display an ability comparable to the average human being who has some aptitude for the game. What is the point of that? Computers have been … Continue reading

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Whorf and Whoop

As a member of Generation X, I can’t stand Millennials. Their sense of entitlement, their social-media driven narcissism, their inability to put their smart phones down for one moment and have a conversation like normal human beings. But mostly what … Continue reading

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Everyday Heroes’ Lives Matter

If an adult man with diminished mental capacity sits down in the middle of the street, acting confused and belligerent, it might be necessary to call the police. Ideally, the police would calm the person and get him out of … Continue reading

Posted in Belonging to the emperor | Leave a comment

IDEs are Code Smell

Pretty much every computer programmer uses an Integrated Development Environment. Pretty much everyone has their favorite: Eclipse, IntelliJ, Sublime Text, Emacs, Vim. There will never be consensus on which is best. Fortunately there doesn’t have to be. The wide variety … Continue reading

Posted in Those that have just broken the flower vase | 3 Comments

I Dream of Digits

Boltz the robot can read digits. If you hold up a handwritten digit in front of him, Boltz will say it aloud. “Two. Five. Two. Seven. Zero.” He is as good at this as a person is. The only digits … Continue reading

Posted in Mermaids, Those that have just broken the flower vase | 2 Comments