Category Archives: Uncategorized

Automation will kill coding before it kills testing

I twitch-posted this reply to a Reddit /r/QualityAssurance thread because OP was told that “everyone says” that software testing is “a temporary field”, that “automation is going to kill it in another 3-4 years” and “If you go in this field you will be unemployed after a few years and it would be very difficult for you to switch jobs”.

When “everyone says” something like that about testing, I get defensive, I admit. Maybe it’s because that, even after all this time, “everyone” still seems to know more than me. So, let’s actually see whether I can back up my quickfire reply with some cogent argument.

Firstly, I’m not worried about the “everyone says…” part. We should know by now that “everyone says” is a fallacy. Argumnetum ad populum; lots of people think it, ergo it is true. Use of this term, and others like it, should immediately set off the bullshit detectors of anyone who spends any time whatsoever reading stuff on the internet.

Now to “Automation is going to kill it in another 3-4 years”, firstly to the 3-4 year time frame. Four years is not that far away. How many of you in software development land have heard even inklings of using machine learning or AI anywhere near what you do on a daily basis? I’m willing to bet much of your time is still spent grumbling about how you’re mis-using Jira, or abusing Gerrit, or any number of other procedural wastefulness.

That’s what most modern software development is; smart people trying to do something useful while wading through procedural waste. We spend so much time looking to see where we’re putting our feet, we have very little time left to look at the killer robots on the horizon.

To the second part; automation is going to kill testing. Within a couple of generations, automation is going to impact pretty much everyone’s jobs, perhaps even render working itself obsolete (if we’re really lucky). I agree that the machines are out there; they are coming to take our jobs, but I think it’s more like 5-10, probably even 15 years before it makes much of an impact.

Before I get onto which will die first, coding or testing, let’s just quickly deal with the final point; “If you go in this field you will be unemployed after a few years and it would be very difficult for you to switch jobs.

“Unemployed after a few years”? I don’t think so. Sure, some companies have dispensed with their dedicated testing departments in the belief that, with DevOps, they can respond rapidly to customer issues and deploy fixes. I can see how that approach can work for certain business models, but certainly not for all. Would British Airways want to have to phone Rolls-Royce during a London – New York flight to push a fix because the engines timeout after 20 minutes? Probably not.

Even if the nature of software development has changed, there will still be roles for humans until the point at which AI can do everything. Arguably, testers are better positioned to move into different roles than anyone. We have good broad technical and business knowledge of the products and the users. We have good communications and analytical skills. You can’t tell me I can’t find a job with that bag full of reusable skills.

Now to the main point. Will automation kill coding before it kills testing? Firstly, I’m of the opinion that it will kill them both, and every other human endeavour, at some point. In a previous post, I posited that eventually AIs will develop to the point that humans will not have to work, and that all our needs will be met by automated systems. That development will not, of course, be without its challenges, but that is the general direction in which I believe we are headed.

But who dies first? I’m a tester, and not one who is a “failed developer” or who did any sort of computer-related degree (if I’m a failed anything, it’s a failed rocket scientist), so you can give my opinion as much credence as you like.

What I see in modern software development feels like plumbing. I apologise slightly for the inference; testers are often thought of as manual unskilled workers, and I don’t really want to disparage developers in the same way. Or plumbers for that matter.

Never the less, many applications consist of web applications built using one JavaScript library or another built on top of a web of APIs, some built by the team but more often not, all sitting on top of a stack of Iaas / SaaS, virtualised environments provided by someone else, all supported by 3rd party libraries.

The work – and, yes, the skill – is in sticking all these things together into a functional whole. Sure, there are bespoke elements here and there to stick together two components never previously stuck together, but it all still feels a bit…Lego.

If you were to supply a shelf full of documented, reusable components to an AI and ask it to make you an application….well, that doesn’t seem like too much to ask. Does the fact that the system is being made by machines mean that there are no bugs? Will AI make mistakes? Will it notice if it does? Or will all this happen and be rectified so quickly that it effectively never happened at all?

I think production errors – bugs, build problems, deployment mis-configurations – will become a thing of the past, or will be rectified so quickly we won’t even notice. “Did we build the thing right?” will no longer be a question worth asking.

“Did we build the right thing?” will become the only game in town. While humans remain a stakeholder in the production of software, even if only as an end-user, giving the machines feedback on whether they built the right thing will always be a thing (at least as long as there are humans…dun dun dun!)

Testers, with their broad, systemic, technical, and business knowledge, allied to their ability to communicate in both technical and business terms, are ideally placed to act – as we already do – as a bridge between the human and machine worlds, to continue to help translate the needs of one into the language of the other.

As AI advances, and the dynamic – the balance of power, perhaps?  -between the two worlds changes, someone will need to be there to translate. Who better than us?

 

Microsoft’s Surface Pro UK Release Schedule

Late 2012: Microsoft announces they are making the Surface with Windows 8 Professional.

February 2013: Microsoft release the Surface Pro in North America

April 2013: Microsoft release the Surface Pro in China

2020: Technology continues to advance at an geometric rate. There is still no word from Microsoft as to Surface Pro pricing for Europe.

2150: Due to resource pressures, Humanity polarises into two geopolitical behemoths; the United Atlantic Alliance, and the People’s Democratic Federation.

3000: Humanity develop fast interstellar travel, begin colonising nearby systems. The two warring hyperpower blocs compete for resources. The Moon is destroyed. The larger fragments impact the Earth, causing continent-wide destruction and rendering entire hemispheres uninhabitable.

3100: The last humans leave the now dead Earth,

4000: As Humanity harvest the solar system for resources, devouring entire planets, the gravitational instability causes Sol to go supernova. Humanity harnesses all residual matter to fuel their technological advancement.

4500: The last human becomes post-physical. All humanity exists as pure energy beings in the virtual construct known as The Ark.

6000: The post-Human entity known as The Ark begins consuming matter to fuel its growth. It becomes more massive than any known body. Space/time itself begins to contract.

6100: The in-rushing galaxies begin to impact, generating a cloud of galactic fragments accelerating inwards at high fractions of c.

6101: In the last vestige of space/time before it collapses in on itself, and the very concept of space/time ceases to exist, Microsoft release the Surface Pro in the region of space/time formerly occupied by the geopolitical entity known as the United Kingdom

In summary, I’m not prepared to wait that long.

Schrodinger’s Cat Experiment: Mark I

As cultured and educated people, you are no doubt aware of Schrodinger’s Cat. What you are probably not aware of is the distressing truth behind this famous thought experiment and the resulting cover up that has lasted for nearly 80 years.

Knowing the specifics of the experiment, you may reasonably surmise that Erwin was no great lover of cats. On first inspection, it may not be entirely clear why this may be the case. However, I will, in this post, theorise as to the cause of this.

We flashback 80 years to the early 1930s, where we find Erwin Schrodinger jetting between Berlin, Oxford and Princeton, and corresponding with one Albert Einstein about quantum mechanics.

Schrodinger had a theory that needed testing, that at some level, matter can coexist in different states. He had yet to make the leap that it might only apply at the quantum level. Picture the scene; Erwin sits in his office, deep in thought, when his cat Cuddles1 jumps onto his lap. It is there, scratching Cuddles idly between the ears, that he formulates the basis of that famous experiment.

Hang on, you’re thinking to yourselves. Schrodinger’s Cat is a thought experiment. It was never carried out for real. That may indeed be true, and I’m about to tell you why.

As we have already established your intellect and learning, I can assume that you are also familiar with Godwin’s Law, which states that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1”.

RocketBootKid’s Law, which I am hereafter bequeathing to Mankind, can be stated in similar terms, thusly; “Over time, the probability of a cat owner being randomly attacked by their cat for no rational or logical reason approaches 1”.

Back to Schrodinger. He and his cat are in the box, while Schrodinger ponders how the Observer Effect may alter the results of his experiment. The cat, being a cat and therefore experiencing the multiverse on a plane of existence completely devoid of logic and reason, suddenly sinks five of its six ends into Schrodinger’s tender underparts.

Flashforward a few months, and it is only his dedication to scientific rigor that finds Schrodinger still occupying the box, when the better parts of him, his tender and now swollen underparts in particular, are begging him to develop a less painful experimental paradigm.

At some point, Schrodinger had a final falling out of love with Cuddles. The specifics of this event are wasted to the pages of history, but the ramifications for Cuddles are dire. Schrodinger, in a late-night manic episode, arrives at the specifics of the device with which we are now familiar.

His housekeeper, who services were suddenly dispensed with, would later comment that she hadn’t seen Cuddles around for a while. Perhaps fearing a visit from the RPSCA, Schrodinger was careful to categorise the fate of Cuddles as a “thought experiment” when he published his theory in “Die gegenwärtige Situation in der Quantenmechanik” in 1935.

In a museum somewhere, in a display case, is a box inside of which, most definitely, is a dead cat.

1 Schrodinger may or may not have had a cat, which may or may not have been called Cuddles. I think he’d be satisfied if I said all of the above were possible.

The Ephemeral Nature of Knowledge

Okay, it’s a pretentious title, but you’re just to going to have to deal with it.

This post is at least partly to defend my (annoying?1) tendency to never state anything in definitive terms. There are two reasons for this.

The first is that I find absolute, unilateral, or dictatorial statements inherently distasteful. I was going to say inhuman, but that’s perhaps a bit strong. The reason that the overdeveloped thesaural region in my brain returned that word is that a defining characteristic of humans is our ability to work together, to establish a consensus, to collectively achieve more than the sum of our parts.

A unilateral statement – the product of a single human – is inherently exclusive and therefore destructive to the power of the collective2.

The second is that the very nature of knowledge is fleeting, dynamic, you might even say ephemeral. In fact, someone already did. I remember very clearing taking Physics at school and being told in later years to forget what I had previously been taught. Not because what I had been taught was incorrect, but because it was too high-level, too abstract.

The same is true of all areas of expertise, physics perhaps more than most. There are levels of understanding that are perfectly sufficient for most, but which gloss over the finer, more detailed points that are vital for the development of that subject.

Another factor is that the depths of human knowledge are constantly being explored, only to find that it’s actually a lot deeper than previously thought. Unless you’re keeping abreast of all recent discoveries throughout the entire sphere of human knowledge, you’re going to be at least slightly inaccurate every time you open your mouth.

It is therefore extremely difficult to make any definitive statement about anything, other than that which you know inside and out, without it being based on a incomplete understanding of that subject, and therefore not entirely accurate. Now, most people don’t worry about this, and most of the time it really doesn’t affect much at all.

To the extreme pedants among us, and to those who value community consensus over dictatorial pronouncements, it’s an important distinction, and one that should be accepted.

1 I assume it must be at least slightly annoying, but that’s just a guess.
2 I cannot use that word without the Borg or Communism coming to mind.

The Dilbert Stages of Professional Cynicism

Over the years, I have come to believe that there are three stages to one’s professional career, and that those stages may be defined relative to ones opinion of the work of Scott Adams, specifically ‘Dilbert’.

This theory is borne of my own experiences, but like most of the ideas on here, is unlikely to be terribly original, well thought through, or even succinctly put. In an effort reduce the word count a bit, I’ll apply Ockham’s Razor, shave some words off, and define the stages as follows; 

  • You don’t think Dilbert is funny
  • You think Dilbert is hilarious
  • You think Dilbert is based on your professional life.

Or, to put it another way;

  • You don’t get Dilbert
  • You get Dilbert
  • Dilbert gets you.

These three stages reflect the effect of corporate reality as it slowly eats away at the fresh-faced young employee, heretofore swaddled in the protective nirvana of educational utopia. They are the measure of how much of the child has been replaced by corporate robot, of how much idealism has been replaced by cynicism.
 
Someone I know is very keen that people aren’t cynical and go into things with an open mind, with the attitude that things can be done.As I’ve said before, I consider myself to be both a realist and an idealist. I try to nurture the hope that all things are possible, but I’m not going to stay up all night waiting.

People are cynics for a reason. Cynics are not born; we are made, or rather corrupted. While we may be cast in our mother’s womb, we are forged in the fires of industry, in the furnaces of commerce. It is in this inhospitable environment that the naif in all of us has, at some point, had our eyes forcibly opened a la Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange.

Lord Acton was only halfway there; Power may corrupt, but its lack is just as harmful, albeit in different ways. Absolute power may make you believe that you can do what you like, but the lack thereof makes you believe that nothing is possible and that, whatever you do, forces beyond your control serve to constrain you.

Eventually, you stop trying. Only the blindest optimist or greatest fool would continue in the face of a life’s experience. Indeed, Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

To return to The Three Stages, the first two stages are merely precusors to the transition to Stage 3, a transition that represents a paradigm shift in the professional outlook of the person in question. A person who has made the transition from Stage 2 to Stage 3 has been “broken”, a term that intentionally mirrors the process by which horses become rideable.

While horses are more useful once broken, broken employees are often less useful. While they are still useful and important members of the team, they are less likely to go the extra mile.

The point at which employees break is often quite tangible. Someone previously level-headed and conscientious will suddenly become outspoken in meetings, or their grin get slightly manic, or “Thursday Afternoon Effect”1 behavior happens on other days of the week.

We all know the signs, and we all silently mourn the passing of their youth, and think “You’re one of us now”.

1 The Thursday Afternoon Effect is the point on Day 11 of a 12-day week full of 10 hour days when everything, even quite sad things, become hilariously funny, and the slightest thing can send you off into wild paroxysms of maniacal laughter.


I am working on an update to the theory that posits a fourth stage, which may be exemplified by the phrase “You know what, fuck that, it doesn’t have to be this way”. Whether this is merely an acute remission in otherwise chronic decline, or the turning of the tide, is the subject of further study.

    Balls.

    Two years ago, the Scottish Government released Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, on grounds of ill health. He returned to Libya to a hero’s welcome.

    Following the revolt against the Gaddafi regime, al-Megrahi’s family have been unable to give him the necessary cancer medication and have pleaded with the Scottish Government to provide it.

    My first six responses to this request are, uncharacteristically I feel, “Fuck him”.

    That the family have the balls to request that the country that suffered most at his hands – after the US – prolong his life, after he ended so many, feels like a massive boot to Scotland’s balls.

    My seventh thought is that since we released him from prisoner on medical grounds, and continue to monitor him, we retain some duty of care. And since there were doubts around some of the evidence in his trial, it’s possible he’s just some terminal cancer sufferer who got fucked over, in more ways than one.

    All that said, and while it grates against my usual moderate stance, I’m going with Response 1: “Fuck him and his balls”.

    Creating the Universe with Unix Commands

    # In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth
    > su
    Password: jehovah
    > mkdir heaven earth

    # And God said, Let there be light, and there was light.
    > mkdir light

    # And God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.
    > cp light Day
    > mv light Night

    # And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
    > mkdir waters firmament waters
    mkdir: cannot create directory ‘waters’: File exists

    # And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
    > mv firmament heaven

    # And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth…
    > mkdir earth

    # .. and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good
    > mv waters seas

    # And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
    > cd earth
    > mkdir grass seed fruit_tree

    # And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years
    > cd ../firmament
    gsh: cd: ../firmament: No such file or directory
    > cd ../heaven
    > mkdir lights

    # And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also
    > cd lights
    > mkdir sun moon stars

    # And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven
    > cd ../waters
    > mkdir creatures
    > cd ../heaven
    > mkdir fowl

    # And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good
    > cd ../waters/creatures
    > mkdir whales

    # And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth
    > nice whales
    nice: whales: Permission denied

    # And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so
    > cd ../../earth
    > mkdir creatures
    > cd creatures
    > mkdir cattle

    # And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth
    > mkdir man
    > groupadd mankind
    > useradd man -G mankind -m /earth
    > cd /earth
    > chown -rf man:mankind *
    > chmod -r 777 man:mankind *
    > cd /heaven
    > chown -rf man:mankind *
    > chmod -r 777 man:mankind *
    > cd /waters
    > chown -rf man:mankind *
    > chmod -r 777 man:mankind *

    # So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them
    > useradd woman -G mankind -m /earth

    # And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth
    > nice man
    What manual page do you want?
    > nice woman
    nice: woman: Permission denied

    The Great British Earthquake

    The 2011 earthquake struck in the middle of a sultry English summer afternoon, its epicentre the borough of Tottenham in North London. Within hours, the resultant aftershocks had spread to many other areas of the city and, over the next few days, to other English cities.

    This earthquake, however, was not geological; it was social. The trigger was the shooting by Police of Tottenham man Mark Duggan on Thursday, 4th August 2011. While the trigger was at the Police-Public Tension point of the fault, there are many asperities along the social faultline through British society.

    The earthquake allowed the release of pressure that built up at all the other points of tension as well; Haves vs Have Nots, The Nanny State, the list goes on. However, while the main shock was around Police-Public Tension, the main cause of the ensuing aftershocks – rioting – appear to be centered around the fiscal gap between the Haves and the Have Nots, something that has been given media coverage in the US in light of their current financial crisis, but which has been largely ignored in the UK.

    To quote / paraphrase Joe Friday in Dragnet: “There are those that have it, and those that want it. Those who have it, flaunt it, no matter how they got it. Those who want it can get it by attempting to better themselves in a supportive society cheering them on. Or they can take it the easy way…”

    This is what we’re seeing. The looters are taking things they feel they cannot get legally. They are effectively bootstrapping themselves financially towards the rest of society; the Haves. Leaving the facts that it’s illegal and ruins lives aside for a moment, one could argue that looting is an ultimately stabilising factor in situations like this. As the looters become the Haves, they then become invested in stability and calm, so that they may benefit from their ill-gotten gains. If a non-uniform distribution of wealth is [a|the] cause, then a redistribution of wealth, legal or otherwise, is inherently stabilising.

    Given a destabilising event, those with more to gain than to lose will seize the opportunity. People have to be invested in the success of society in order for that society to survive. To quote from the movies again, in this case Xander Cage from xXx, “if you’re gonna ask someone to save the world, you’d better make sure they like it the way it is”. The longer society fails to address the needs of everyone, then the greater the tensions and the greater the likelihood of seismic events like these.

    But what are the causes of these tensions? As with most things that defy digestible media soundbites, they are legion and exceedingly complex. Let’s concentrate of two areas; 1. Why did it start? and 2. Why did it expand?

    Now, writing this as I do from my resolutely white, middle-class haven in the currently riot-free north of the British Isles, I do not pretend to be anything approaching an expert on the contributory factors, nor am I a psychologist. All this probably means I should keep my trap shut and my opinions to myself. But that’s what this blog is: me keeping my opinions to myself, safe in the knowledge that no-one will read them but me.

    So, the trigger to this situation appears to be tensions between Police and ‘minority’ sections of London’s populace. Interviews with local people suggest that Police intrusion into their lives is constant and disrespectful, fostering a distinct ‘us-and-them’ attitude. In the defence of the Police, the fact that black people are 26 times more likely to be stopped and searched than a white person is bourne of the amount of concealed weapons discovered in these searches.

    Leaving the Police’s attitude aside for another post, what is it that causes these people to carry concealed weapons? One option is that they believe that, generally speaking, society does not look after them, so they have to look after themselves. They band into gangs to gain a sense of belonging, importance and power that society, in it’s current state, does not afford them.

    The other option is that it gives them a sense of power, power that society for the most part denies them, whether that’s the power to elect a representative that will represent them, or the power to determine the course of their own lives through education and employment. In the absence of this sense of empowerment within society, I can understand the attraction to step outside it.

    So, the underlying “why” of the current situation is the same as it has always been. At every stage of human development and society, there have been elements of the population that are unable to make best use of the current nature of society, and so find themselves marginalised.

    The exacerbating factor to all this is that our society has evolved faster than human nature. Underlying our more developed notions are those baser instincts geared towards self preservation. In our modern society, where people are living in ever larger groups and so would benefit from a more collective approach, these base instincts are anathema to the common good.

    This selfish nature, allied with the ability – or lack thereof – to benefit from society, is what drives the wedge between the Haves and Have Nots.

    And therein lies the answer to “Why did it expand?”. Any breakdown in society allows those marginalised by that society their greatest opportunity for gain.

    So, what may have started due to perceived Police brutality, and was hijacked by those looking for personal profit, will naturally peter out. What happens then will
    determine when the next earthquake will strike.


    David Cameron has said that the looters will “feel the full force of the law”. This feels like an empty threat, for the following reasons;
    1. given the number of looters and rioters, there is no way for The Law to catch and prosecute them all; the impunity of numbers.
    2. if they do get them to court, proving that a. it was them and b. they did it maliciously, rather than simply getting swept up in the mob, will be next to impossible. Basically, all that will happen is that the courts will be clogged for years and very few sentences will be handed out.
    3. it is difficult to threaten those who have nothing. The only thing you can remove is their liberty, and the jails are already full. Giving someone with nothing a fine that they can’t pay achieves nothing other than to incentivise more misdeeds.

    People Ruin Ideas, or Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

    The stated aim of The Palace is “to champion freedom and justice”, blah, blah, something, something, dark side, etcetera. Where I get my personal kicks is trying to understand the Universe. It is both annoying and satisfying when you discover that someone has already encapsulated the truth of the point towards which you are struggling, in an infinitely more succinct and pithy statement than you.

    To whit; Eleanor Roosevelt posited that “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”1

    I like this quote, not because it is or isn’t true – who’s to say? – but because it supports my world view, and there’s nothing more conforting than having ones world view validated.

    Taking the statement as read for a moment, it does nicely explain something that has resulted in several aborted posts over the years; people ruin ideas.

    Exhibit A: Football

    Now, the core nature, the idea of Association Football is delightfully simple. A competitive game, played fairly between two teams comprising individuals of enormous skill, is one of the finest spectacles humans have ever and will ever produce. It’s simplicity and attraction are what make it the most played2 and most watched sport on the planet.

    Over the years, the idea has been corrupted by small minds. The greed of commercialism has infected almost every arena in which “the beautiful game” is played. The focus these days is on the people that inhabit football; the players, the managers, the agents, the leaders of the associations, even the fans. The core idea is lost in the melee of small minds shouting over each other.

    Exhibit B: Politics

    A well-flogged horse on these pages, Politics. Again, at it’s core, Politics is a fantastic idea. Elect representatives, chosen from the people, to speak for the people, to work together for the greater good.

    None of which sounds familiar, does it? As with football, we’re obsessed with the politicians themselves, rather than that which is important; policies, the core ideas designed to improve life. Policies take a back seat to the bickering of the tiny minds who spend years to become politicians and who then spend their tenure arguing with each other.

    The very word, whose root words clearly define it’s meaning, has become it’s own antonym. Again, small minds have so corrupted the original idea, it makes it so hard to see the gleam of the idea through the layers of small mindedness that encrust it.

    Exhibit C: Celebrity

    The very core of Eleanor’s statement. Elevate certain people to the point where other people want to discuss them, not because of anything worthwhile – like an original idea, or even their participation in a noteworthy event – but purely because society has determined that these people are worthy of discussion.

    Looking at the nature of celebrity through my Monocle of Cynicism, it is not hard to see that there is money to be made in cultivating small minds. Simon Cowell, for example, has become fabulously rich by feeding the small minds with (usually) even smaller minds to discuss; fodder for the millions of Huxley’s Gammas that make up a large chunk of our population.

    And finally, The Big One…

    Exhibit D: Religion

    At it’s core, Religion has some fantastic ideas. Thou shalt not Kill. I can get behind that one 100%. Thou shalt not steal. Ditto.

    Again, over the years, small minds have got the ideas out of the box and mussed them up with their grubby fingers. Religion, at a grassroots level, is probably still focussed around ideas, rather than events or people, Jesus / Mohammed / etc notwithstanding.

    But over the centuries, the core ideas of Religion have been corrupted by small minds bent on furthering their own interests to the point that, to many, Religion has become a sickness, a force for evil rather than for good.

    The prosecution rests.

    Each of the cases cited above is a hostage situation. The original idea is held captive at the core of the towering eyesore that small minds have constructed about it over the years. The idea is rendered powerless, capable only of calling faintly through the cell bars. And only those who are not distracted by the din of smaller minds loudly discussing events and people take the time to listen.

    There is nothing so rare, so valuable, and so fragile, as an idea. And Nothing so careless, so selfish, and so destructive, as people.

    And that’s why we can’t have anything nice.

    1 It occurs that I am quoting a people here, thereby confirming my tiny mind and therefore the suspicions of my RocketBootMum and lots of baffled specialists over the years.
    1 “played by over 250 million players in over 200 countries, making it the world’s most popular sport”.

    And don’t say it’s “fascinating”…

    Aren’t brains brilliant? As well as doing all the useful stuff like adding up and taking mental notes and making Thursday afternoons hilarious, it also quietly does lots of little backgrounds tasks that aren’t immediately obvious to you.

    For example, you could be driving around the town where you live, like you do every day of life and, for some reason, you end up taking a different route and, just like a Japanese car issues a baleful “bong” when you leave your lights on, your brain raises a little “You’ve never done that before.” flag.

    Now, quite why it keeps track of everywhere you’ve been and the route you took, I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s some hunter-gatherer technique to identify places where we haven’t killed / eaten everything yet. Who knows.

    Another weirdness you can expose is to probe the ephemeral nature of meaning. That sounds very grandiose, but really all I mean is that you make a word stop meaning anything. Observe.

    If you take a word out of it’s context, isolate and repeat it, it very quickly rots into its phonetic constituents, losing all meaning in the process.

    I watched a video on YouTube the other day which was a compilation of Spock saying “fascinating” over and over again. It very quickly stops being Spock repeating his favourite word and becomes Spock making the same slightly odd noise over and over again.

    It’s not fascinating. But it is …… interesting.

    EDIT: I have since learned that this phenomena is called Semantic Satiation. So now we know.