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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Alan Turing pardoned - I'm sure that makes him feel much better

As you've probably heard, Alan Turing has received a royal pardon: The British government no longer thinks he's a disgusting pervert who needs to be "chemically castrated" by a forced drug regimen. I'm sure that's a great consolation to Turing, who died by accident or possibly suicide in 1954.

Although, to be less cynical on Cristmas Eve, it probably gives consolation to many living people.

Turing and the Bletchley code-breaking WWII work is so well known now that it's easy to forget what a surprise the book "The Enigma" was when it came out in 2000; the Enigma program was largely unknown to the outside world because of secrecy. I remember being amazed by its revelations. It's a fine book, meaty and comprehensive - well worth a read, although parts of it are not easy.

As a side note, I recently read the autobiography of British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge, who was a spy during WWII in Africa. It was published in the early 1970s, long before the Enigma work was public, but he mentions casually that Bletchley gave him an insight into what the Germans were thinking and doing, so to some extent its success was known in the outside world.