Anachronisms Forever

This column is currently busy serving other more-deserving readers.

This column is currently busy serving other more-deserving readers. Please wait while we play Wagner's Ring Cycle—or you can piss off quick—who needs you Philistines? You can press #1 for Solti (the default), #2 for Karajan or #3 for Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. Be warned: #3 is the gotchyer exit that precludes all future re-entry.

We'll “hangup” on you, reminding us that the anachronism has survived wondrously from Homer's misplaced metallurgy (according to Robert Graves, Homer nodded over his iron and bronze age technologies), through Shakespeare's chiming clocks (Julius Caesar), and into our post-vertical ebonite telephony.

We no longer “hangup” the phone, simply bang the bugger down flat. Yet there's still a BEL lurking in the ASCII char-set although gongs per se have been replaced by tones—and even Ma Bell, my ever-pined heartthrob (I had her once in the back of a London taxi), has deserted wire-ridden communications for cable TV and credit cards.

Simple verbs such as “ship” have also suffered the anachronistic “curse”. When X says they'll “ship” Y by Z, or else, I can't help but think of the Titanic, Lusatania, Bismarck and Scharnhorst.

Digging deeper, dear patient reader, Virgil and that crowd, predicted the near-future subjunctive gerundive (whatever) with in navem impositurus esse (to be about to [load] ship), but with the ironical secondary meaning of imponere (to deceive or cheat).

Meanwhile, by the time this column reaches you, Bob Toxen's long-awaited tour-de-force Real World Linux Security—Intrusion Prevention, Detection and Recovery (Prentice-Hall) should have been shipped, nay, airmailed, to a bookshelf or Amazon site near you. I can now reveal the identity of the Mystery Man prefacer hinted at in the pre-pub manuscripts I've been enjoying. No other than Eric Raymond who is much more qualified than moi to test and endorse Bob Toxen's efforts. Further, the book has gained a positive blurb from Steve Bourne, without whose pioneering shell where we would be today?

Check for the latest price/availabity news. Security is one of those ever-changing challenges. As Bob told me, he feared his book, like Tristram Shandy's memoirs, could never be completed: “It's killing me and may appear posthumously.”

Stan Kelly-Bootle ( has commented on the unchanging DP scene in many columns (“More than the effin' Parthenon”—Meilir Page-Jones) and books, including The Computer Contradictionary (MIT Press) and UNIX Complete (Sybex). Stan writes monthly at and Visit his home page at


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