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Da Vinci judge writes his own code

The BBC reports that the judge of the recent Dan Brown/Holy Blood Holy Grail (HBHG) plaigarism trial apparently left his own code in the judgement on the case. There are letters in italics which seem to spell out some words. Good stuff. He has apparently agreed to confirm it if anyone cracks it.

This makes sense of why the judgement took so long to come out. Interestingly I noticed that the judgement also admits that he had read HBHG several times over the last twenty years. Oh dear.

CILIP debates

Tom Roper links to a couple of interesting online debates concerning CILIP and its purpose, particular one on Freepint.

I’m playing with weblog setup, in particular tags, so if this post keeps reappearing and changing I apologise.

Happy Easter

Easter, the time when we celebrate the death and alleged resurrection of the founder of the Merovingian dynasty by eating chocolate is almost upon us and the famously secular college for whom I work are good enough to give us a week off while they are closed. As I blog mostly on work computers, I will say Happy Easter and see you next week. To keep you going, a short guide to Easter:Tomorrow is Monday Thursday. Friday is Good because of Hot Cross Buns, which are on a perpetual buy one get one free offer. Sunday is Easter as also is Monday.

You see, I need the week off.

Da verdict

The Da Vinci Code trial ended last Friday with the judge finding in favour of Mr Brown. I think this was the only realistic verdict. As George MacDonald Fraser said in the Telegraph at the weekend:

They’ve got to lose that case … If they win it’s going to make writing historical fiction very difficult. Anyway, as I understand it, there’s no copyright in ideas.

However, it would have been far more entertaining had the the verdict gone the other way. I don’t know quite how these things work, whether it would have come down to enormous damages or cessation of Da The Vinci Code’s sale, but it would certainly have thrown a spanner in the works of the forthcoming film (tagline Seek the truth). As it is, the conspiracy of the Templars (the Temple in London is still linked to the law in England!), masons (everyone knows all judges are masons!), and the Priory of Sion (a secret society, which is why they weren’t overtly connected to the trial, although they surely must have been!) won after all and Baigent and Leigh are effectively ruined. Anyway, there is a trailer for the film on Google Video. I have my suspicions the film will be better than the book.

Aside from the news page linked above, the BBC offer a number of interesting pages on the trial:

  • Extracts from the judge’s ruling, including the following, which contradicts the assumption that the case was won on the idea that a novel can’t be found to infringe the copyright of a ‘history’ book: There is nothing for example in this case, which if decided in the claimants’ favour, would stultify creative endeavour, obtain a monopoly on ideas or historical information or create a precedent which extends the boundaries of copyright protection in sphere of literary works. The complete text of the ruling is available and I intend to try and at least skim through it if I get the chance.
  • Reactions of the protagonists to the verdict, including the following quote from Richard Leigh: I think by its very nature, this case entailed a conflict between the spirit of the law and the letter of the law. We lost on the letter of the law, I think we won on the spirit of the law, and to that extent we feel vindicated. No, you lost, and I can’t see how the judge’s ruling in any way vindicated the plaintiffs. As I said above, I mean to give the ruling more of a read. If I can be bothered.
  • Would you buy a second-hand car from one of these?. That’s not what the story says, of course, but it does give pictures, and does beg the question. If I had to purchase a second-hand Ford Escort from any of them, I have to admit I would go for Dan Brown, providing his wife didn’t do the research on the car’s history. I would have serious reservations about approaching Richard Leigh on a dark night. I’m sure they’re all lovely really.

Roll on the film this Christmas on ITV!

Backgammon luck

Sil, who has for some time refused to play backgammon with me after a series of (admittedly often close) thrashings may find some comfort in the following, which I found on Wikipedia. It concerns one of the earliest backgammon playing computers, BKG 9.8:

by July 1979, BKG 9.8 was ready to play against then current world champion Luigi Villa. It won the match, 7-1, becoming the first computer program to defeat a world champion in any game, although this was mostly a matter of luck, as the computer happened to get better dice rolls than its opponent in that match.

On a related note, Cowthello has now been de-XHTML’d so should work properly again. One day I mean to programme a 3-ply version using the alpha-beta algorithm without tying myself in knots. Until then, you’ll have to make do with this.

Brutal ice cream

Ben and Jerry are bringing out the following new flavour of ice cream (via Crooked Timber):

Ben and Jerry Black and Tan ice cream

I thought this might be an April Fool, but it seems to be persisting in a convincing manner at the Ben and Jerry website. There is apparently a popular drink in the US called Black and Tan which I confess to never having heard of. However, as Crooked Timber put it, how will they marketing this in Ireland? I can’t believe the scores of highly paid corporate advertisers missed this one. To be honest, I can’t imagine it tasting too good either, but I’m willing to give it a go.

New train company

There is now a new train company running through Sandy: First Capital Connect. This is rather a rubbish, overlong, and ambiguous if innocuous name. By my reckoning, First operate 6 services ‘connecting’ to the capital in some way. Still, it’s amusing to hear the announcers at King’s Cross stumbling over the name. I expect they were glad when the old franchisees, WAGN (West Anglia Great Northern) initially lost the West Anglian bit of their franchise, forcing announcers to say WAGN as a word or initials to prevent the name being a nonsence. They’re not laughing now. When I set up my own train operating company, I’m going to call it Red Lorry Yellow Lorry Rail or some such.

No dramatic changes yet. Although I notice that they were very quick to get their staff in new uniforms and the automated announcements (not used at Kings Cross) changed immediately. Either they dug that man who’s been doing the announcements across the south east for the last fifty years out of retirement or they’ve got some flashy voice sampling system going. The WAGN website has also disappeared very quickly. I wonder if FCC, as those of us in the know will no doubt start calling them, will change the livery of the trains and the stations as quickly. It took WAGN ages to do the latter, although I prefer their purple to FCC’s blue (you could have guessed that). As for the trains, the old ones have changed a lot, but the networkers are still mostly in British Rail Network Southeast colours.

Most importantly, I missed out on the FCC goodie bags yesterday as I came in late and my train came into platform one at King’s Cross. Damn.