You remember HAL 9000 don’t you? HAL is the computer that controls the systems of the Discovery One spacecraft and interacts with the ship’s crew in Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 (Can you believe that?) film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. HAL is a villain, you’ll recall, and eventually is deactivated after causing the death of one of the crew members. A cautionary tale about computers found in a story by Arthur C. Clarke called The Sentinel. Clarke wrote the movie’s screenplay along with Kubrick. The movie also introduced a broader audience to Richard Strauss’s tone poem, Also Sprach Zarathustra, when it used the composition’s opening Sunrise fanfare as the opening scene of the movie. As you read this post, hear that opening fanfare in your mind’s ear. I am going to tell you a tale that I hope does not become a cautionary tale.
Dennis Ryan and I are about to embark on our own odyssey of sorts as we make our way to Cambridge, England in search of Cromwell’s Head and Wittgenstein’s Brain. Dennis, happily, has succeeded in gaining us admission to Wittgenstein’s papers and notebooks archived in the Wren Library. The Wren is the library of Trinity College where Wittgenstein taught from 1929-1947. The library was designed by Christopher Wren in 1676. Apart from Wittgenstein’s papers, the Wren has a collection of other books and manuscripts that I’ll try to make the subject of a later post.
I’ll try, IF I can actually manage to make my latest purchase, a HAL junior, usable on this journey of discovery. Today I purchased my first laptop computer, an HP laptop with a 15.6″ screen, Intel® Core™ i5, 8GB Memory, 1TB Hard Drive, Windows® 10 Home whatever all that means. This Friday, my good friend, Roger Venden—a man versed in the arcania of computers—is going to come here to Stately Johnson Manor and attempt to plink whatever magic twangers need to be plunked to enable me to blog from faraway places with strange sounding names including Cambridge. He assures me that he can transfer data from my HP desk computer to the laptop and that, in doing so, my desire to blog, and the only reason I bought the laptop, will be fulfilled. “No problem,” Roger assured me on the phone. Now, when somebody says to me “no problem,” you know, from reading earlier postings, that my eyes glaze over. But, as Little Johnny said to Señor Wences on so many occasions when Señor Wences would complain that something or another was difficult , ”Deeffeecult for you, easy for me.” If Venden says the horse can do, can do; if he says the horse can do, can do, can do. I have every reason to believe that Roger is no tinhorn and is up to the job and will break HAL junior to the bridle of Roger’s expertise and will. “Deefeecult for me, easy for him.”