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Entries published on December 3, 2007

2 entries published on this date. See also: all entries published in December 2007, full archive.

Making magic

In yesterday’s article I spent a fair amount of time talking about the word “magic”, specifically in the context of Clarke’s Third Law, which states that

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

A big part of what I was getting at was that a lot of things which seem to be explicable only by appealing to “magic” are really just cases of technology — sometimes extremely simple technology — being used in a complex way. Or, to borrow an excellent turn of phrase from Terry Pratchett, “ninety percent of most magic merely consists of knowing one extra fact.” In the case of the “magic” which used to be (up until the 0.95 release, the first after the “magic removal” effort) in Django, the apparent “magic” was that you’d define a model class and it would mysteriously disappear, to re-surface as an entire module worth of code somewhere else.

To return to …

Entry published December 3, 2007. Read full entry.

Clarke’s Third Law

Every so often, a TV producer who wants to get ratings will air a “documentary” about some wonder of the ancient world. Say, the great pyramids at Giza. The formula for this “documentary” is pretty simple: you get a bunch of people from modern, industrialized nations to go crawl over these huge ancient monuments in Egypt and speculate on how those ancient Egyptians managed to build them. And, inevitably, a lot of these people will throw their hands up and decide that the Egyptians must have had help from aliens or mystical “pyramid power” or some other magical or quasi-magical force, because the average modern Westerner doesn’t know the first damn thing about how to build a huge pyramid and line it up just right so that it points at Betelgeuse on the Feast of St. Swizzen.

And if it’s a really well-done documentary, there’s a thirty-second segment where somebody shows …

Entry published December 3, 2007. Read full entry.