First we had problems with the physics network, what with my machine being used to send spam (another break-in this weekend, incidentally) and now my home PC conks out. I started it up on Saturday morning to find that it shut itself off automatically… then I turned it on again and it happened again… and again… finally I went into the BIOS and noticed that the CPU fan had failed. Oh the horror… better that the computer turned itself off, though than the CPU getting fried. I opened it up, checked to see if it had too much dust on it or if the connection needed tightening, but nothing helped. Through my case window I saw that the fan would start and stop at regular intervals, while the temperature showed the CPU temperature increasing well beyond the target temperature of 72 degrees (I became frightened after it hit 90 and turned it off myself). Off to KCP and yes, the sales guy said to bring it in. I brought it in this morning and decided to upgrade to a dual core chip (which I've been meaning to do) and also the chipset fan, which has not worked for a while.
So now I have no home computer and I'm posting from my office at Physics. Not having a computer all weekend has taught me just how bad television is these days – I often leave it on when using my computer without really watching it but now that I devoted my full attention to TV there were times when I felt like hurling something – like my temporarily useless computer – at the screen. I think I've become too integrated with a multitasking culture (even now I am writing this while testing and running an obnoxious data fitting algorithm and grumbling incessantly about the lousy fortran code I have to deal with) and I don't understand how anybody can devote their full attention to anything on TV, the vast majority of programming failing to engage my intellectual faculties even slightly. And of all the terrible things on TV, could there be anything worse than what is shown during PBS pledge drives? Saturday night's 'entertainment' was Lawrence Welk, which would put me to sleep if it didn't make me furious to believe that somebody at PBS actually thought, 'I know! Let's bring back one of the most asinine, insipid, mindlessly uninspiring TV shows ever concocted to try to squeeze money out of people with no taste!' There's actually some good programming on PBS – Frontline (great AIDS documentary last week), Nova, NOW, etc, not to mention plenty of independent documentarians and filmmakers who I'm sure would love some exposure for their work on PBS, but someone actually decided that Lawrence Welk, that egregious waste of perfectly good electromagnetic radiation, would be a better candidate. What the fuck is PBS here for? What could possibly be the point of airing Lawrence Welk?? PBS could be doing so much more, especially during pledge drives, than airing such garbage. It certainly doesn't help court young viewers, who have got enormous competition from the internet (and other sources) for entertainment and information, and it completely fails the mission to 'deliver quality programming' which at the moment is mostly relegated to being broadcast during non-pledge drive weeks. I will be very angry if Frontline is replaced with some nonsense like Helmut Lotti (is he still around?) or James Last (I'm pretty sure they still broadcast him occasionally) this Tuesday even if they are marginally better than Lawrence Welk.
In case you can't tell, I REALLY hate Lawrence Welk and this was a convenient post to let rip. Fortunately I had Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver to keep me company, and I think it will remain by my side for a while.