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Brexit at the next junction: Verity's guide to key post-vote skills

Breaking up is hard to do

STOB Pay attention, campers. I have conducted an impartial analysis of the post-Brexit landscape and identified a list of concrete, must-have programming skills for your edification.

Impartial? That's pretty rich, coming from you, Verity, considering what I have heard about your activities since Referendum Night.

I don't know what you are talking about. Besides, those tweets have all long since been deleted or retrospectively re-attributed to Louise Mensch. Let's just "move on", to borrow the popular phrase.

Okay. What are these concrete skills you are promising?

I'd like to start with one of my favourite examples of C++, the ingenious Boost Units library. This uses meta-programming to allow engineering calculations to be performed with individual constituents being supplied in different engineering units. So you can do stuff like

4.32 μm/year + 935.2 km/s

and have it come out with what would be the right answer, except <cough> for exceeding the precision capabilities of the underlying floating point type.

Riiiiight. And this sort of thing is useful in real life?

Well, it wouldn't have hurt them to have used it in the Mars Climate Orbiter.

I promise to ensure that Matt Damon is kept informed, but what has this to do with the price of fish?

A perceptive question. The issue is that, if a certain lobby is successful, we will shortly be de-metricating our weights and measures, and once again be plying our grocery trade using pounds and ounces, cloves and firkins, perches and pecks.

What, really?

Straight up. I read it in the Telegraph.

Good grief. But surely it will only be the choco-vegelate counter and the straight banana stall that indulge in 'metrixit'?

Best leave the funnies to me. If British engineering is to make the most of all the splendid opportunities afforded to it by unilaterally scrapping all previous trading arrangements, it must also re-adopt the practices prevalent when the UK was the workshop of the world. Where the quart and the gill do lead, surely the thou (thousandth of an inch), the British thermal unit (heat) and the slug foot per square second (force) must follow.

I do begin to see how Boost Units might come in handy with these daft conversions, but honestly, Verity, 50p says none of this will ever happen.

You what?

Sorry. I meant "ten bob" of course.

Better. Actually, although you would be well advised to blow the dust off your multi-base 20 shilling/12 denarius/four farthing conversion routines, we don't envisage triggering the full reintroduction of proper money in the immediate future. Pencilled in for Jeremy's second term, perhaps.

However we do predict the immediate revival of the guinea as the unit of currency for transactions involving horse flesh, professional services and Java coding. We can no longer tolerate the disadvantages of a currency unit that is not readily divisible by seven.

You expect trade to be conducted in lumps of £1.05? In the oft-ridiculed name of former President of the European Council, Count Herman Van Rompuy, why?

Like EC membership, decimalisation is another of the actions of Harold Wilson that can now be corrected. As is his bizarre act of devaluation.

Eh? Is this a reference to his 'pound in your pocket' speech?

Nope. This is a reference to his devaluation of the value of numbers.

What, really?

Absolutely. In 1974, Wilson announced that 'billion' would henceforth be interpreted as a thousand million (109), instead of a million million (1012.

He could do that?

He did do that. His pronouncement had an even more dismal effect on BBN.


Bigger British Numbers. For example, Wilson reduced the British trillion from 1018 to 1012, and the centillion from 10600 to 10303. It's a rare politician that gets to devalue by hundreds of orders of magnitude.

Just as well that Wilson left office in 1976 before he could do something really damaging, like putting us on the Oxford comma, making us into a republic or driving on the right.

And you expect this "American billion" action to be reversed? What would be the point?

Pretty obvious, I'd have thought. An renewed sense of national pride in our huge numerics. Reduced resistance to large government engineering projects, which suddenly seem quite cheap. Instantly improved social cohesion by removing envy of the very rich. At a single stroke, the number of British billionaires would be reduced from 120 to zero. All without so much as a groat changing hands.

So, in summary, we should be looking to rewrite all code dealing with SI engineering units, sterling currency handling routines and integers-to-English string converters. Verity, I do believe you have gone quite mad. What else? More reversals of 1970s reforms? The automatic removal of French words from British documents?

A bit more ambitious than that. There is indeed one other European imposition that we believe will be cast aside, but the trail of injustice and deceit goes back a bit further than the 1970s. In fact it goes back to 1752.

You what? Seventeen fifty-two? What on earth do you...Oh. Em. Gee. You want to take us out of the Gregorian calendar. You want to steer the UK into Gregsit.

It's time to correct centuries of temporal exploitation. It's time to end the ridiculous convention of the tax year beginning on April 6th, as opposed to the much more sensible Lady Day of March 25th. It's time to avenge those brave rioters who proclaimed, 'Give us back our 11 days!'

By the way, did you know that the ring-leader of the Bristol mob that first made this demand was recorded in the log of a Parish constable to be one 'Stefan de ffarage', said to be 'an intemperate felloe, fond of his good ale', and believed by some to be a distant ancestor of...

What, really?

No, I just put that in to test your gullibility.

Anyway, by the time you add in the accumulated interest, we are now a whacking great 13 days adrift of Better British Time. But we must be practical. I promise nothing but blood, sweat, and dubious devop fiddling with working set-ups. Since it is well known that almost no software will tolerate the clock being put back, our computers will have to run at half clock speed for 26 days in succession to allow us to...

Verity, you old goat, this is all a complete load of random tosh that you have been making up on the hoof.

Yup. And my approach differs from that of our government in what respect? ®

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