When I was a boy my first computer was a Spectrum +2. You could code on it pretty easily using a language which I believe was called BASIC.

I wasn’t massively interested in coding on my Speccy as you couldn’t really make the machine do anything fun (in my opinion!) – so I used it mostly for playing games like Gauntlet.

A few years after that, my younger brother got into coding for a while on our first IBM clone PC and learned html. He was able to do some fun things with websites for a while.

These days I use my PC a lot and I use my smart phone too. But I have never really got into the stuff behind the web pages. So far I havent really needed too – various web site hosts make it possible not to make your own sites – this blog is a WordPress site and I believe somewhere in the user panel I can probably see the raw code, I don’t imagine I would ever do anything with it.

I have been following the progress of the Raspberry Pi device for a while and read an interesting article about it. This article notes the main success of the device has been in getting middle age men to be nostalgic about the coding they did in their youth. Which is nice, but the real aim of the device was to get the current generation of children to code.

I have children and my eldest is currently learning to read in his first year at school. There will be tests at some point and his literacy progress no doubt reported to the Government and then on to international comparisons. All fine and so very expected.

But will he and his sister be able to get away their whole life, as I have, without really being able to code?

Does the Government (or anyone) collect coding literacy rates (and do they break it down by which language people can code in)? Do other countries do this?

Perhaps they should start collecting this data, even if at this stage it is only to benchmark against future progress.

A couple of centuries ago literary rates were much, much lower than they are today. Will coding rates raise in the coming two centuries rise from what I expect are low levels in the general population today to almost every adult being able to do it by 2213?

Today the BBC is celebrating 50 years of Dr Who (no one is dwelling on the decade and half (ish) when they did not make the show for TV (aside from the under rated US pilot).

Why has the show endured for so long, especially during that TV show blank period (altho I understand the continuation books flew of the shelves during this era). There are countless audio books available and fan sites, blogs and the British tabloids go properly nuts for any snippet of Dr Who news.

But why is this the case?

Well, certainly domestically, the Doctor is very British. An eccentric, intelligent gentleman (so far – am personally very pro a female Doctor as that would be within the (modern) show’s ethos of refreshing itself). There is a bit of Sherlock Holmes in there and as quoted in the BBC dramatisation of the genesis of the Doctor a bit of HG Wells, CS Lewis and father Christmas. British quirkie-ness, British geekie-ness (before the term geek probably existed).

Outside of the UK, why has the Doctor endured? Well in the US he is so that lone hero character so popular in Westerns and beyond: think Clint Eastwood in the Dollars trilogy, Batman or Superman or the Lone Ranger. Even Buffy – which I remember reading somewhere the 2005 return was particularly influenced by, in terms of the companion element of the narrative. Buffy was that lone hero who had friends, but walked a path they could not ever fully understand. The Doctor walks a path like that too.

And what has contributed most to the longevity of the Doctor on TV? The genius idea of regeneration – or what to do with your TV show when the star wants out. This sci fi way of dealing with the problem is completely genius and works so well within the narrative universe of the Timelords. This also gives the producers a way of refreshing the show every so often and, in theory at least*, allowing it to go on and on. What is not to like: a little blue phone box; new Doctors every now and then; endless new companions; adventures across all of time and space.

 

* There is that lingering plot device about the Master being on his last regeneration (13th, if memory serves) but I am sure some genius already has that covered (spoilers alert) – I expect River Song gave him all of hers when she saved his life that time, or maybe he has all of the Timelords regenerations ever, assuming it was he who wiped them out during the Time War.

 

50 years ago today JFK was assassinated.

Who did it and why has been a question on many people’s lips for much of the last half century.

They say in crime novels and TV shows the person who did it is usually the one with the most to gain.

What did Lee Harvey Oswald have to gain from JFK being dead? Not much that is apparent, mostly his prize seems to have been being shot a couple of days later.

Did someone else have more to gain?

To be honest, I don’t believe I will ever know what really happened that day in Dallas 50 years ago.

Like many people, I still care that someone murdered JFK. He was a young President with an agenda for positive change in the USA. Some of that seems to have been carried thru by LBJ, but we’ll never know what two terms of JFK would have done for the US or for the world. That is probably the real tragedy.

The Song of Fire and Ice by George RR Martin is a work of genius.

I just thought I should mention that as I got a bit lost reading his work in my spare time and consequently I haven’t blogged for a while.

I have now got to the end of book five of the cycle – A Dance With Dragons 2: After the Feast (a short, for George, 493 page volume) and will resume blogging.

At some point a book six and, I understand, seven will also follow. I apologise in advance for the loss of blogging service when I get my hands on them.

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