Death meets Terry Pratchett

When I was young, before your World Wide Webs and your Twitters, we used to have ‘newsgroups’—kind of Internet discussion forums. They were named like domain names, with dots: rec.arts.cycling, say, or

I subscribed to the Muppets one, and a few others, including and Douglas Adams (dns) used to pop in and say hello on his one occasionally (which was always promptly followed by a raft of newbies accusing the great man of being an imposter).

Terry Pratchett (pterry) was almost a permanent fixture of his. Amongst the silly chat, there were some in-jokes which occasionally made it into his books. He clearly loved his fans, and they loved him. You can’t fake that: he was generous of spirit. His books are influential; his books are imbued with a love of humanity reflecting his own, and his influence spread far beyond his books.

Plus, given the amount of good press he gave to Death, you’ve got to imagine that Death will be kind to him.


Wrapping exceptions for fun and profit

One for the programmers. (If you’re not one, look away now.)

Whenever I work on a nontrivial C# program, I usually end up writing the extension method shown at the bottom of this post. It lets me provide informative error messages when an exception bubbles up to the user, and promotes good error-handling generally. This is me sharing it with you, so you can enjoy it too.

Given an Exception, possibly containing inner exceptions, ‘ToFriendlyString()’ produces an ‘explanation’ from the chain of Exception.Messages: “This failed, because that failed, because the other failed.” Continue reading

House of Lords in Living-Up-To-Stereotype Shocker

House of Lords dining roomRecent news is that the House of Lords refused to share catering services with the House of Commons, for fear that the quality of their free food would decline—and particularly that they’d be served a lesser vintage of champagne. (Champagne wars in the Lords as peers say no to a cheaper vintage, The Observer, 7 Dec 2014)

They’ve spent about £2.6m of our tax money on champers in the last 4 years.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross is delivering emergency food in the UK for the first time since WWII, food banks are on the increase, the government has introduced swingeing austerity measures & the number of homeless families has increased by 18% in the last 4 years.

It seems immoral that we should be paying for free bubbly for the rich and privileged, when we seemly cannot afford to help the poorest out of destitution. There’s a petition to protest it on

The lords can have a glass of free champagne when the last food bank closes. I’ll buy the round.


When I was a child, I thought America was a place of racial harmony. At my school in Birmingham, (England, not Alabama) there was the average amount of racism, but on American TV shows, the U.S. seemed to my 8-year-old-eyes like a post-racial utopia: cops were always one-white, one-black; judges were invariably black women; silver-haired white guys adopted sassy black kids.

Of course, my 8-year-old self knew nothing. Continue reading