A Pardon Overdue, and A Christmas Eve Wish.

Alan Turing has been granted a Royal pardon. That probably doesn’t mean much to you, but it should for three very big reasons. Alan Turing was a cryptologist, who worked at the famous Bletchley Park in England on breaking the German Enigma code. Breaking the code allowed the German U-Boat menace to be slowed and eventually stopped, thus ensuring Britain’s lifeline to the rest of the world, and an Allied victory in World War Two. Turing also worked on early computers, laying much of the groundwork for the advancements in computing and even lending his name to The Turing Test, an internationally recognised method for judging the success of artificial intelligence. Third, and perhaps most importantly, the pardon was granted because he was found guilty, in 1952, of being gay. This destroyed his career and led to his committing suicide. He was every inch a hero, and an amazingly intelligent and talented man. And he was convicted, chemically castrated, publicly shamed, and eventually driven to take his own life, because he was gay. A wrong, half a decade old, has finally been corrected. Call it a Christmas present sorely delayed.

I won’t be so ignorant to believe that everybody out there celebrates Christmas, or even counts themself a Christian. But even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, and regardless of the religion you may practise (if any), I believe that this time of year should bring something to all of us. A time of year when we think less of ourselves and more of others, a time to put others’ needs in front of our own, or even just a time to consider what we have and how lucky we are to have it.

It’s been an up-and-down year for me, and I’ve been absent from the Intertubes far more than I would have liked. But every time I’ve returned to this little corner of the blogosphere, I find more and more people following me. It still amazes and bewilders me, but my mother brought me up to be grateful, even if I don’t understand that for which I am grateful.

So Merry Christmas, or whatever it is you might celebrate. I thank all of you for continuing to follow my blog, and I wish to each and everyone of you all the best of love, peace, and good fortune. May the brightness of a million stars light your path to family and kinship this season, and lead you to dreams and wishes fulfilled in the New Year. And thanks!

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26 Responses to A Pardon Overdue, and A Christmas Eve Wish.

  1. tom says:

    “Lets get that guy for NSA. No not Turing, Erickson” barked Barack from his Christmas hidout in Hawaii.

  2. Merry Christmas to you as well, my friend. I have a Christmas post scheduled for tomorrow and have been half-tempted to go back and say, “My celebration is not faith-based.” But then, really, that doesn’t seem as important as the rest of what I’m trying to say. For reasons I can’t explain, this is a time of joyous reflection for me, and one in which I feel my mom most profoundly. For whatever reason I celebrate it, whether or not I can articulate it, I am excited and glad to share this day (and its eve) with my own family. ♥

  3. El Guapo says:

    Merry christmas to you and yours, John!

  4. aFrankAngle says:

    Thanks for the Turing story – one that I did not know. I know the blog world is important to you, so wishing you the best for 2014. Hopefully, timing will work out so I can make a return visit. Meanwhile, Merry Christmas to both of you … and the pets as well!

  5. Elyse says:

    A great reminder that we live in a better, if still imperfect, world. Why in blazes does anybody care about the preferences of anyone else???????

    Merry Christmas, John. And may next year bring you way more ups than downs!

  6. benzeknees says:

    My wish for you John is a better 2014 – it is the same wish I am making for myself. I was able to find a couple of bloggers on C4C who are already dealing with COPD & I plan to keep in touch to glean some wisdom from them about how to deal with this new stage in my life. Whether you’re here or lost in the wilds of a flooded basement, I think of you often & always wish the best for you! I am honored to call you friend. Thank you for highlighting this overdue right of a terrible wrong.

    • Thank you for that wish. I hope you find a path through this new challenge. And I share your wish that 2014 is a whole easier – on the both of us!
      Happy Boxing Day, or Day After Christmas, or (I hope) day 2 of C4C!

  7. Hey, thanks for sharing this although it was sad the way Turing was treated during his life. NO ONE should experience that.

    • I always like sharing little-known facts with my readers, though I try to keep it either to military stuff (especially World War 2 related) and sci-fi. Alan Turing is a happy mix of both – making great contributions to the war effort, AND doing ground-breaking work in computers, which places him in the science-fiction pantheon, especially in a wonderful online universe knows as Orion’s Arm (www.orionsarm.com). If you have any interest in sci-fi, you just have to check that site out!
      And of course, welcome to my little padded room … er … corner of the Net! :D

      • I’m open to discovering what I might find of interest in areas that I don’t normally sink my teeth into…(I stopped to check before I finished this reply). My Lord there is a lot of info on OA. So much to see. And it looks fascinating.
        Thank you for the warm welcome to your cell…umm nice cozy spot :)

      • That’s the beauty of OA. Whether you’re into hard science, philosophy, theology, cool ships, planetary ecologies, life form evolutions – they’ve got it all. I started going to the site a couple years ago, and I’ve barely scratched the surface!
        Glad you liked my referral. I’ll have to try to come up with some more interesting things for you to check out.

  8. Archon's Den says:

    I knew most of the Turing story, but hadn’t heard about the pardon. Good, finally!

    Check with Frank about the correct Hanna-Barbera character, Snagglepuss (?) You’ve got a lot to be modest about. ;)

    • I think you’re right. About the character name, that is. I’ll argue about me having a lot of anything – except insanity and hot air. :D

      • Archon's Den says:

        Say it ain’t so, Joe….uh, John. You’re the Honus Wagner of commentators, one of a kind, quite valuable, and highly collectible. (Was either of those a Cubs quote/reference?)

        Pay no attention to my kid, or tell him to get the “n” out of his third Tur(n)ing. He’s like this at the house, too. “You were born on a Thursday night.” “No I wasn’t. I remember, it was a Saturday morning.” What’s worst is, he’s right. :? :(

      • Well, I’d point out that asking me about sport is like asking a cat about physics – it’ll just waste your time.
        Hey, I fumbled century into decade, so the kid’s allowed a rogue “N” here and there. Besides, the kid is only right if he’s living in his own place. Remember my father’s phrase – “There’s right, there’s wrong, and there’s moving day”. He won more dang arguments that way!

  9. shimoniac says:

    First, a nit-pick. The wrong is over a half-century old. Being convicted in 1952 and being pardoned in 2013 is a gap of 61 years; therefore more than a half a century.
    Next, I had never heard of Turing’s pardon before reading it here, thank you for that. Turing’s pardon probably meant as much to Turning as Galileo’s did to Galileo. Although the gap between conviction and pardon dropped by about three centuries, I imagine Turing would have preferred not to be punished for something he couldn’t change.
    Third, I hope you had a happy holiday season.

  10. Um … doesn’t a decade mean 50 years? (That sounds so much better than “DUH! Typo!”) :D
    Yes, I’ll grant that pardoning someone AFTER they’re dead is a wee bit late for the person involved. It means far more for his survivors (I don’t know if Turing has any surviving relatives, sorry) and especially to the person’s position in history – it removes that “asterisk” from his “record”, if you will. (I guarantee you, Turing’s conviction did not diminish his standing in either the I/T or the sci-fi community.)
    And I did have a happy holiday season, made a lot more happy by participating in an online chat group (Company For Christmas, now Come For Company). Oddly fitting that the technology Turing helped establish, as well as the correction of this wrong to his name, both played a part in making things happier.
    And finally, thank you for catching my brain fade. Or brain fart. Whichever you prefer. ;)

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