Haber’s dead wife

From “The Invention of Modern Gas Warfare“, at Ockham’s Razor:

[Dr. Fritz] Haber [inventor of modern gas warfare] was a very patriotic German and so when the war began he looked for ways to assist the military effort. His first major critic was his childhood sweetheart and wife, Clara. She was a talented chemist herself. She was appalled at the use of science to kill people. A few days after the first use of gas, she used his army pistol to commit suicide.

This did not deter Haber. He went off to supervise the use of gas warfare on the Eastern front and he left others to handle her funeral arrangements.

When the war ended in 1918, Haber donned a disguise and fled temporarily into Switzerland. The use of gas warfare had been so controversial that he was afraid that he would be tried by the Allies as a war criminal. About 1.3 million people had been wounded by gas, with 91,000 being killed.

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Walking dead man

From “The Invention of Modern Gas Warfare“, at Ockham’s Razor:

One of Haber’s [Dr. Fritz Haber, inventor of gas warfare] victims was a British soldier named Fred Cayley. He was gassed in 1917. He had poor health for the rest of his life and he had to visit a doctor every week until his death in 1981. The coroner recorded that Cayley had been ‘killed by the King’s enemies’. This is the statement that would have appeared on his death certificate if he had been killed outright 64 years earlier. As far as the coroner was concerned, Cayley was as good as dead back in 1917, it was simply that he did not get buried until 1981.

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Self-sacrifice in plague time

From The Plague in Britain, on The Science Show:

Outside London, the disease spread wherever the plague flea travelled, and it is thought to have reached the village of Eyam in Derbyshire that September of 1665 in a box of tailor’s samples and old clothing sent to Edward Cooper, a village trader. … by mid-summer 1666 over seventy of the village’s 360 inhabitants had succumbed.

It was [Rev. William] Mompesson, a married man with two children, who took the step that made Eyam famous – he urged his congregation to follow Jesus’s words in the Gospel of St John: ‘Greater love hath no man that this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’. Rather than fleeing the village and spreading the infection around the Peak District, argued the young rector, the community should stick together and help their fellow-men. This, clearly, was to risk their own lives in an act of extraordinary self-sacrifice. The congregation agreed, and for more than a year Eyam became effectively a huge plague house, shut off from the world. Their neighbours, meanwhile, who included the Earl of Devonshire at nearby Chatsworth House, responded to their gesture by leaving food and other provisions at the outskirts of the village. Derbyshire was spared further plague, and Eyam paid the price, losing more than 260 inhabitants, some three-quarters of the population. Among the last to die was Mompesson’s wife Catherine, who had gone from house to house during the outbreak, ministering to the sick.

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BSD vs. Linux

As a Linux user, I don’t have a lot of daily experience using BSD. Oh sure, I use it on a couple of servers that I rent, but I certainly have never used it on the desktop. And while I certainly understand the concepts, history, and ideas behind Linux very well (although there’s always more to learn), I don’t really know that much about BSD. So it was a delight to read BSD vs. Linux.

“It’s been my impression that the BSD communit{y,ies}, in general, understand Linux far better than the Linux communit{y,ies} understand BSD. I have a few theories on why that is, but that’s not really relevant. I think a lot of Linux people get turned off BSD because they don’t really understand how and why it’s put together. Thus, this rant; as a BSD person, I want to try to explain how BSD works in a way that Linux people can absorb.”

In particular, I thought the contrast between the non-unified nature of Linux and the unified nature of BSD was pretty darn fascinating. As the author points out, this is not to criticize Linux – it’s just the way it is. It’s not a value judgment. Here’s the author on BSD:

“By contrast, BSD has always had a centralized development model. There’s always been an entity that’s “in charge” of the system. BSD doesn’t use GNU ls or GNU libc, it uses BSD’s ls and BSD’s libc, which are direct descendents of the ls and libc that where in the CSRG-distributed BSD releases. They’ve never been developed or packaged independently. You can’t go ‘download BSD libc’ somewhere, because in the BSD world, libc by itself is meaningless. ls by itself is meaningless. The kernel by itself is meaningless. The system as a whole is one piece, not a bunch of little pieces.”

11 pages of really interesting, well-explained analysis. If you’re a Linux user, go read it. You’ll learn about the other great open source OS.

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