Friday 11 June, 2021

Zoombini RIP

Our beloved cat, Zoombini, was — as the euphemism goes — put to sleep yesterday. After 17 years of vibrant life she suffered a stroke early on Tuesday morning which had left her pretty incapacitated. At first we hoped that she would slip quietly into oblivion but yesterday morning it became clear that she was in real distress and that the most humane thing to do was to put her out of her misery, which a wonderfully compassionate Vet then did. She died at home, in our bedroom, surrounded by those who loved her. And we buried her last night in our garden after a small, communal, Irish wake – which is why this edition arrives in your inbox later than usual.

She was a remarkable animal — the most intelligent cat I’ve ever known. She was wily, perceptive, affectionate, needy and could be imperious, so much so that we used to joke that she conformed to PG Wodehouse’s explanation of why cats are different from dogs — they know that the ancient Egyptians worshipped them as gods. She could never understood why we — her servants — never rose at daybreak, and made her displeasure vocally plain. Although we had a perfectly good cat-flap, she would on occasion sit outside the back door yowling insistently — and of course I would eventually cave in and open the door, at which point she would strut in, purring ostentatiously at the triumph of the feline will.

Her passing leaves a big gap in our lives. People who haven’t had pets will doubtless scoff at this. After all, she was “only” an animal. But in thinking that they are ignoring a fundamental truth: so are we.

(The photograph, taken over a year ago, shows her sitting on the keyboard of my Raspberry Pi, having (possibly?) inadvertently pressed a keystroke sequence bringing up the ‘install’ dialogue for the Thunderbird email client! And — in case you’re wondering — her name comes from an ancient computer game.)

Quote of the Day

”My face looks like a wedding cake that has been left out in the rain.”

  • W.H. Auden

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Mozart |  Le nozze di Figaro | Voi Che Sapete (Cherubino’s aria) | Marianne Crebassa and the Dutch National Opera


Short but very sweet.

Long Read of the Day

The Cost of Cloud, a Trillion Dollar Paradox

The use of the term “cloud” for what is actually a global mesh of giant, air-conditioned sheds filled with computer servers, started innocently — it was the symbol that geeks would use on whiteboard diagrams to indicate something that was happening on the Internet rather than on a local network. But it morphed into a pernicious metaphor for concealing the environmental and security implications of putting all our eggs into a particular technological basket (just to square metaphors!). When the move to the ‘cloud’ had begun in earnest, Nicholas Carr, in his (fine) book  The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google, dignified it with the logic of inevitability. After all, the smartphone revolution would be impossible without cloud computing.

But now one can see stirrings of doubt about this ‘inevitability’ proposition, which is why this perceptive piece by Sarah Wang and Martin Casado is interesting. Their argument is that while cloud computing clearly delivers on its promise early on in a company’s journey, the pressure it puts on margins can start to outweigh the benefits, as a company scales and growth slows.

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