The Bug Came Back

I first wrote this back in 1991. In late 1994, when Intel's first Pentium bug shocked the computer world ("Intel Inside? Don't divide!"), I submitted it to the rec.humor.funny newsgroup and dedicated it to Intel. ("Who'd've thought it could be a hardware bug..?") It's in the R.H.F archives.

(Lyrics copyright 1991 by Joel Polowin; to: "The Cat Came Back" by Harry S. Miller

The program wasn't complex, and it wasn't very long,
Though it seemed a bit erratic, its results were seldom wrong.
But that little error nagged us, so we stayed up late one night -
Found a missing comma, and we thought that fixed it right -


But the bug came back, the very next day
The bug came back, we thought it was a gonner
But the bug came back, it just wouldn't stay away.

We put away our documents, rewrote the code from scratch
To find out where the new and older versions didn't match.
A subtle shift of logic showed where we had gone astray;
We felt a bit embarrassed, but at least it ran okay -


We wrote in other languages, from FORTH to APL
And ev'ry one ran ev'ry time - just sometimes not too well.
Translation to assembler didn't give us any clue;
The COBOL version crashed on ev'ry system it went through -


We gave it to the hacker squad - the folks who code for fun -
And asked them if they couldn't get the stupid thing to run.
But less than one week later, they no longer wished to play -
Three paranoids... one suicide... and six who ran away...


We got a summer student in to check the code by hand,
With paper, pen and calculator, run through each command,
But suddenly the lights went out -- the air went thin and queer --
A sudden FLASH! of lightning -- and the student... disappeared..?


We set up an experiment that Schrodinger inspired:
A box; a cat; some poison; a computer system wired
Such that IF the program failed, the little moggy would be gassed.
A quasar was - almost - the only remnant of the blast...

But the cat came back, the very next day
The bug came back, we thought they were a gonner
But they both came back, they just wouldn't stay away.


Words copyright (C) 1991 by Joel Polowin. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce this material in any non-profit medium provided that its content is not altered and that this notice is appended. I would appreciate receiving a copy of any publication in which it appears: Joel Polowin / 18 Norice St. / Nepean, Ont. / CANADA / K2G 2X5 but remove the XYZZY -- itís a little magic to baffle the spambots.

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