austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

How ya gonna keep 'em way from harm? That's a mystery

So the ninetieth anniversary of the end of the World War came. I'd been growing fascinated by the deaths of the last survivors of the war earlier this year, and noticed one of the five known British survivors passed away last week. There aren't any more known French survivors. The Second World War always had this more tangible feel for me --- among other things, I know exactly where my father's parents worked and lived during the war, and it's difficult not to be surrounded pop culturally in it. But, for example, the Battle of Jutland feels arbitrarily long ago, and there's at least person still alive right now who was there. (It's unclear how many German veterans of the first World War are still alive; they haven't kept any central registry.) I don't know why that brushing strikes me so.

As bigger events usually lead to small ridiculousness for me, I had another of those unnerving days at the extruded office product in which I was not at all sure whether I was supposed to be there. As with Columbus Day, it was a state holiday, and as most of the company's work is with governments of various stripes it was a fair question whether anyone would be expected to be there, but I failed to ask anyone this time around. When I arrived in the morning I found the parking lot very nearly empty. However, the other programmer on my floor --- the one whom I asked last week if Election Day was a holiday --- was in, and was in fact walking around the corner from the street to arrive as I parked. (He drove in. What he was doing around the corner I don't know.) As it was an extremely slow day, we were let out early, and I took my time by buying a pair of new dress shirts and deciding, with reluctance, that I shouldn't buy any more books just now.

Trivia: The sophomore class of Queen's College --- which would grow into Rutgers University --- the day the school accepted its first students on 12 November 1771 consisted of Matthew Leydt. His father was a Trustee. (There were no Juniors or Seniors initially.) Source: Rutgers: A Bicentennial History, Richard P McCormick.

Currently Reading: The Railroad And The Space Program: An Exploration In Historical Analogy, Editor Bruce Mazlish. I understand the desire in academic or quasi-academic texts to state explicitly where metaphors or analogies are known to break down before relying on them too much. But it seems a bit odd to start a book about parallels between the forces driving the early construction of railroads, which were heavily driven by government investment, and space development, with a fifty-page introduction reminding everyone that historical analogies are really very silly things that shouldn't be considered the least bit seriously.

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