The Bug Came Back
Words: Joel Polowin
Music: "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 -

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..? (Last verse and associated alternate chorus are optional:)

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...


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 / 205 Toronto St. / Kingston, Ontario / CANADA / K7L 4A9 polowin@silicon.chem.QueensU.CA, polowinj@qucdn.QueensU.CA