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Games, Diversions & Perl Culture by Jon Orwant

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Chapter 42. Perl and Nuclear Weapons Don’t Mix

Ray F. Piodasoll

After graduating college and finishing a two-year stint in the military, I joined a software company that developed utilities for clients in the defense industry. I was ROTC in college, but I still had an occasional twinge of guilt about working for the military-industrial complex. Only when I developed a regression test suite for an early-warning comet detection system did I realize that missiles aren’t always a bad thing. When a comet six miles wide is poised to strike Earth, as one did 65 million years ago, destroying the dinosaurs and most everything else chewable, you’ll be glad we have nukes to obliterate it before it turns Earth into space paste. After finishing that project, I rejoined the military, and within eighteen months I was assigned to NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command).

Perl is used quite a bit at NORAD, which gave up ADA long ago when it became evident that ADA programmers weren’t the sort of people you want defending the homeland. At first, my CO balked at Perl, but he softened to the idea when I told him that it had been designed for exactly this purpose and that PERL stands for “Precision Entry and Reentry Launchings,” a lie that would later be repeated several times at my court martial.

I’m not supposed to talk about the work I did at NORAD, which was software development for missile guidance systems. But a few musings on coding style should be okay, since I think they’ll tell you ...

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