Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Turtles all the way down

Explained very nicely on Wikipedia.

Apocryphal quote from Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time:
A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: "What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise." The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the tortoise standing on?" "You're very clever, young man, very clever," said the old lady. "But it's turtles all the way down!"
But I like the reference from William James.
William James published a different version in his book The Will To Believe (1898), specifically in the essay "The Sentiment of Rationality" (p. 104 of The Will To Believe in the Dover reprint):

"Like the old woman in the story who described the world as resting on a rock, and then explained that rock to be supported by another rock, and finally when pushed with questions said it was rocks all the way down, -- he who believes this to be a radically moral universe must hold the moral order to rest either on an absolute and ultimate should, or on a series of shoulds all the way down."
This is about the regressive tendency of thought, and our inability to see to the foundations of our premises. A topic dear to my heart.

Worst passwords of all time!

Weak passwords are one of the greatest vulnerabilities in any application or network environment. Not enough people take it seriously.

Here are the top 500 worst passwords of all time.

Oh, and here's an attack dictionary, kindly offered by a commenter to that blog.