Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Miles and Trane

Dave Osler links to this amazing clip of Miles Davies and John Coltrane performing So What.

Go listen. Go be inspired.

Anorak returns to the cupboard.

After my moment of success in geekdom I now have a failure to report. I installed the bright, shiny and new Internet Explorer 7 and my PHP stopped working.

Here goes loads of investigation. Seems someone else had the same problem. Now just to find an answer. Finding a solution would be wrong, a bit too much like a Private Eye column.

Anorak is back in the cupboard.


Going to the source is always better than some dodgy teach-yourself book, even if it has some cute cat on the front. W3C revealed that my book was showing a style of coding that worked in IE6 and works in Firefox but is not the true and proper way. Do stuff that's right.

So endeth the lesson.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Anorak is in the post

I don't normally do geeky stuff but I've installed Apache 2.2 and PHP 5.2.0 on my laptop. And, after a gentle introduction, they even talk to each other.

I am so pleased.

And so to bed.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Lit Crit Comes Alive

Today Brenda attended the reburial of a Mohegan tribal chief, Mahomet Weyonomon, who came to England in 1736 seeking justice from George II about the capture of his land by English settlers.

Now it turns out that Mohegans are not Mohicans but James Fenimore Cooper got a tad confused.
Even James Fenimore Cooper got things confused when he wrote "Last of the Mohicans" in 1826. Since Cooper lived in Cooperstown, New York and the location of his story was the upper Hudson Valley, it can be presumed he was writing about the Mahican of the Hudson River, but the spelling variation chosen (Mohican) and use of Uncas, the name of a Mohegan sachem, has muddled things. Other factors have contributed to the confusion, not the least of which was the Mohegan were the largest group of the Brotherton Indians in Connecticut. After the Brotherton moved to the Oneida reserve in upstate New York in 1788, they became mixed with the Stockbridge Indians (Mahican) from western Massachusetts. Because of this, the present-day Stockbridge Tribe should contain descendants from both the Mahican and Mohegan. Anyone not confused at this point may consider himself an expert.
Such are the trials of a historical novelist. But Fenimore Cooper was not just any historical novelist. Fenimore Cooper had the delight of being savaged, in print, by Mark Twain.
Cooper's gift in the way of invention was not a rich endowment; but such as it was he liked to work it, he was pleased with the effects, and indeed he did some quite sweet things with it. In his little box of stage-properties he kept six or eight cunning devices, tricks, artifices for his savages and woodsmen to deceive and circumvent each other with, and he was never so happy as when he was working these innocent things and seeing them go. A favorite one was to make a moccasined person tread in the tracks of a moccasined enemy, and thus hide his own trail. Cooper wore out barrels and barrels of moccasins in working that trick. Another stage-property that he pulled out of his box pretty frequently was the broken twig. He prized his broken twig above all the rest of his effects, and worked it the hardest. It is a restful chapter in any book of his when somebody doesn't step on a dry twig and alarm all the reds and whites for two hundred yards around. Every time a Cooper person is in peril, and absolute silence is worth four dollars a minute, he is sure to step on a dry twig. There may be a hundred other handier things to step on, but that wouldn't satisfy Cooper. Cooper requires him to turn out and find a dry twig; and if he can't do it, go and borrow one. In fact, the Leatherstocking Series ought to have been called the Broken Twig Series.
Go and read the whole piece. If you've ever read a better literary savaging please let me know (and let me know the details).

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Power of Indirection

Magic is all about leading your audience to believe they are seeing one thing when something else is happening.

If that's a guiding light of magic then I have just had a magical journey. Rullsenberg and Cloud set off from Nottingham to Y Drenewydd. Taking advice from Multimap we decided to try the M6 Toll. Threw our £3.50 in the hopper, waited for the barrier to rise and off we went. We remarked how splendid the road was. We remarked we were going in the wrong direction. We left the splendid M6 Toll.

After stepping into the same river, almost, twice we found our way. Paying to go in the wrong direction.

There's an analogy in there, somewhere, trying to get out.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Sometimes you have to make a decision.

Sometimes a decision is needed in seconds. And sometimes it takes a little longer. And sometimes you prevaricate. Here's what indecison is all about, according to Ambrose Bierce.
The chief element of success; "for whereas," saith Sir Thomas Brewbold, "there is but one way to do nothing and divers way to do something, whereof, to a surety, only one is the right way, it followeth that he who from indecision standeth still hath not so many chances of going astray as he who pusheth forwards" -- a most clear and satisfactory exposition on the matter.
"Your prompt decision to attack," said Genera Grant on a certain occasion to General Gordon Granger, "was admirable; you had but five minutes to make up your mind in."

"Yes, sir," answered the victorious subordinate, "it is a great thing to be know exactly what to do in an emergency. When in doubt whether to attack or retreat I never hesitate a moment -- I toss us a copper."

"Do you mean to say that's what you did this time?" "Yes, General; but for Heaven's sake don't reprimand me: I disobeyed the coin."
That's from The Devil's Dictionary etext, expertly transcribed by Aloysius West.

One of those elongated weeks where ...

It seems like forever that I've been working hard trying to get other people's buggy software to work. Finally it's working as it should and I can relax.


Calm. All is calm.

What's been happening in the world? I've gathered that Donald Rumsfeld "was asked to leave and he wouldn't stay" (that's a saying of my Mother's but other people's mother's may have prior claims on it and some girl's mothers are bigger than other girl's mothers and I don't want to start a fight).

Saddam Hussein has been sentenced to hang. Whatever the crime capital punishment is wrong. Always. In all circumstances. Wrong.

The Guardian blog gets more comments on a piece on book storage than on almost any other piece, ever. Book storage is a major topic of conversation in the house of Rullsenberg and Cloud. We talk about it. We shuffle books. We see books. We see books where there weren't books previously. Where do they come from?
Make it stop.