Sky Shock

Musings on servers and human gullibility

It’s 2:43 in the afternoon and I’m sitting in the office unable to do any work because the co-location facility that hosts our severs has been down for the the last 90 or so minutes.

This is not much fun. Yes, on the one hand I’m being paid to sit around and do nothing, but there is a whole lot of work that needs to get done before Christmas, and every minute the servers are down is one minute we’ll have to find elsewhere to fit it all in. On top of that there are dozens of our clients who wouldn’t know a hosting facility from a hat rack, and naturally jump to the conclusion that their site is down because of us, and having to tell them (when they ring up in a huff) that we have no idea how long it’ll take for the server to get back up (because the guys down at the server racks aren’t answering the phones) doesn’t help matters.

So I’m passing the time actually writing a semi-decent blog entry – something I haven’t had the time to do for quite some time. Writing it into a text editor that is, since Wyrmworld is hosted on the same server that is currently causing us all these problems.

But that’s not what I came here to talk about. I came here to talk ’bout contrails.

I saw a contrail on the way to work today. I mention this because they’re fairly rare here in Perth. Something to do with our weather conditions – and the fact that Perth is not one of the most trafficked airports in the world – makes them comparatively rare. So rare in fact that the overwhelming number of contrails lacing the sky is one of the things I really remember from my trip to the UK in 2004. In any case, a long, fluffy contrail was decorating the sky as I walked to the railway station, and that got me thinking about sky-shock.

Sky-shock is what it’s called when someone who hasn’t really looked at the sky since they were a kid happens to look at the sky and is shocked and horrified that it doesn’t look quite like what they’ve been imagining all these years. The stars are too bright, the moon is too small (or too big) or the clouds (or contrails) are the wrong shape and colour. They immediately jump to the conclusion that something is very wrong and ascribe this to a number of sinister factors including (although in no way limited to) shadow governments, terrorists, aliens or the Rand Corporation.

This is how you end up with reams and reams of web pages about “chemtrails” (those contrails don’t look like what I imagine contrails should look like! It’s a conspiracy!). This is why people see the planet Venus, or Jupiter, or even the moon and think the aliens are coming to get them (it’s big and bright and it’s following me!). This is what happens when the general public are poorly educated in astronomy and meteorology and don’t bother to look above the horizon for 99% of their lives.

And this brings me to an idea I had about ten years back when I was in TAFE. And idea that I shall have to elaborate on later, as the server has just come back online… 🙂

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