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Charles Babbage as Grumpy Old Man

Date: 12-Dec-2013/1:27

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As I continue my scan-and-purge binge, I found an old 9th-grade assignment that I did in High School for a "combined" History/English project. We were supposed to pick a historical figure we were interested in, and do research on them and write a paper. Then write a fictionalized diary covering some days in their lives. As our final presentation we were supposed to do a "persona" of them... and talk to the class while being in character as them.
The historical figure I chose was Charles Babbage. And what I decided to do for my persona was to basically imitate Dana Carvey's Grumpy Old Man character and adopt the format of the sketch.
NBC is a bunch of jerks, who seem to think it's morally acceptable to block the availability of videos where I could show you how that character behaves. But he's essentially an "opinion" character on the news, who doesn't really talk about current events but just about how things in his day were much harder because he didn't have fancy modern conveniences. He paints a morbid picture of how disastrous the effects were on your life because of that. Yet he insists for those living in his time, "You liked it, you loved it!!" The sketch would end with him integrating the comical combination of all the three or so things he'd complained about.
So here's the script from my presentation, which was pretty hilarious for the time I think.
Hello, I'm Charles Babbage. I was born in 1792 and I died in 1871. So I fit in the 1750-1850 category on your persona notes. Which means that for the duration of this presentation...
I'M BABBAGE AND I'M UN-HAPPY!
(My lawyers have advised me to say that any resemblance of characters in this presentation to characters on Saturday Night Live is purely coincidental.)
In my day we didn't have these computer generated accurate logarithm tables. If you wanted to solve exponential equations, you'd have to go out and buy a table that someone had done by hand. Then when you did your problems, you'd get the wrong answer, and you'd say "Oh no, maybe using this table of questionable accuracy wasn't such a good idea!" But it was too late, you were a mathematical failure and instead of becoming an engineer you had to get a job as a ditch-digger and YOU LIKED IT!
In my day we didn't have these friendly con-fer-ences where people support you and are interested in your ideas. If you had an idea for a machine that would calculate mathematical tables called the Difference Engine, you'd have to take it to acquaintances at Cambridge, and they would make fun of you, and tell you that your idea would never work. And you'd say "Oh no, maybe I should have spent more time getting my degree so I could be a professor instead of dreaming up this mathematical machine." But it was too late, you were obsessed with the Difference Engine concept and you LIKED IT! YOU LOVED IT!
In my day, we didn't have all these easy-to-get government grants! If you needed money for a project, you had to go like a beggar to the tightwads at the Royal Society. Then once you got the money, you get sidetracked by a more exciting idea than the Difference Engine. You start working on a new machine, called the Analytical Engine, which would be capable of following a series of instructions, called a program. But you end up spending all your money on this new idea, so that you end up not finishing anything at all. And you'd say, "Oh no, maybe I shouldn't have spent all that money on the Analytical Engine idea, and finished the Difference Engine instead." But it was too late because you'd got your grant revoked, and you ended up spending all your own money pursuing the Analytical Engine and YOU LIKED IT! YOU LOVED IT!
In my day we didn't have all these fancy Radio Shacks. If you wanted parts to build a mathematical machine then you'd have to make them yourself out of wood, and metal, and chewed-up bubblegum! And these newfangled microscopic digital circuits... flibbedly flobbedly floo! In my day everything was analog, so you had to use wheels and gears the size of your head just to represent a single digit in in memory. Then your machine would end up being huge, and it would be too big and complex for even you to understand, and you'd drive yourself nuts trying to figure out what goes where, and you'd end up destroying any progress you'd made AND YOU LIKED IT! YOU COULDN'T BE HAPPIER.
Yes, I was just an obsessed maniac who spent all his money while completely failing to correct screwy logarithm tables using gears the size of my head. But in the modern world, I am acknowledged as the visionary pioneer of computing that I was...so were I still alive YOU BET I'D LIKE IT! I'D LOVE IT!
...guess what folks, that's my persona and I am out of here!
Note The last line was the sign off that Dennis Miller used, "Guess what folks, that's the news and I am out of here.")
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