Saturday, December 31, 2011

Jan Zwicky Bachelard

Jan Zwicky's Gaston Bachelard epigram* is from his Poetics of Space (La Poétique de l'espace 1957 ISBN 2-13-054444-4.)

The original, page 30, is this: [ scribd ]
Chacun devrait alors dire ses routes, ses carrefours, ses bancs. Chacun devrait dresser le cadastre de ses campagnes perdues.
Why 'then', "alors" ? Le chemin.  Page 29:
Et quel bel objet dynamique qu'un sentier !
cp: his La formation de l'esprit scientifique: ... and the Pléiade volume by Jean Piaget, Logique et connaissance scientifique, Encyclopédie de la Pléiade, 1967 with Hermann Weyl's Philosophy of Mathematics and Natural Science.

v.  La flamme d'une chandelle

In our day,the Saskatchewan chemistry textbook opened with a qualitative task: describe a flame. Forty years later, work in catastrophes, chaos, attractors and fractals brings us to an account of the typical isolated flame, steady, flickering, steady.

See also: Bachelard preface to Jean Cavaillès Sur la logique et la théorie de la science
cf Georges Canguilhem,
La Connaissance de la vie
Idéologie et rationalité dans l'histoire des sciences de la vie: ... 
Vie et mort de Jean Cavaillès
Études d'histoire et de philosophie des sciences 
cf Michel Leiris' "Judith", J.H. Van den Berg

* Robinson's Crossing, 2004, Brick Books (Shibboleth: can you say CC? But as to that other inscription, what would Ivan Illich have made of her use of Canada Council funding for support of her books of poetry? Did Arne Naess avail himself of CC? Consistency, that anarchical hobgoblin. On the use of the internet to sustain poets in subsistence economies, see the earliest proposed use of M.I.T. Curl web pages as pay-per-page and the possible survival of the penny as the web fractional penny.  millipenny ??)

The Bachelard in English as cited is:
Each one of us, then, should speak of his roads, his crossroads, his roadside benches; each one of us should make a surveyor's map of his lost fields and meadows. 
[ which continues with]
Thoreau said that he had the map of his fields engraved in his soul ...

The uncredited translator was M. Jolas

Note Bachelard on Bergson M&M in Sec VIII on the Intro.

The epigram is followed in the text of Bachelard by a quotation from a poem of Jean Wahl

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Art McKay's "Effulgent Image"

Naomi Jackson Groves said of Art McKay's Effulgent Image that it
has the mesmeric magnificence of some far-off sun a billion years of age
Was it Comte who was certain we would never observe the surface of a star other than our sun?

From the CPU heatsinks problem, here is an idea for ensuring that the fuzzy star is at its best when viewed through a Newtonian telescope: a fan.

see: astronomical interferometer, interferometry, angular resolution, diffraction limit,Wm Herschel,aperture masking interferometry,speckle interferometry

Arthur Fortescue McKay's technique, quote:
 [...] in 1997, Dr. David Howard described the painter’s  technique  as relatively simple. First, a layer of white  latex  paint was placed on  masonite  board. Then, using a scraper, McKay would create a rough geometric  shape  with a  series  of concentric lines or circles. Three dimensional  texture  was kept to a minimum [...]as any ridges of paint would be sanded or tapped down to maintain the two dimensionality of the geometric designs. The latex would be allowed to dry overnight before proceeding to the most important stage of paint application. (In many paintings a layer of another  colour  of enamel paint would be applied to create  colour  variation),” Howard notes. “The next day McKay would pour a layer of Northstar Stovepipe Enamel paint over the latex and then would scrape the  surface  again, very hard, from the centre outwards to the edge of the circle, square or rectangle being represented. The scouring of the  surface  reveals both the  latex  and residual enamel paint creating a materially flat image with extraordinary visual depth. (Howard, 2006)

Publishers Weekly PWxyz blog's most beautiful book of 2011

The 2011 most beautiful book of the year from the PWxyz blog of Publishers Weekly is the Vladimir Nabokov Pale Fire box set from Ginkgo Press.

which set comes complete with faux long-hand note cards.

Mine is on order through my local bookseller, Westminster Books of Fredericton.

Note: a small ginkgo tree can be found growing in town on the east side of University Ave. not far from Charlotte Street near a weeping copper beech.  Ginkgo are common in Memphis and were planted at one time near the entrance to the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Please find below an image of an Eocene fossil of Ginkgo biloba from MacAbee, B.C.

Note the cleft found in most Ginkgo leaves below:

[ images from Wikimedia Commons ]

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Romeo Savoie

I arrived at Ingrid Mueller'a Gallery in time to see the packing blanket about the Jean Rooney electric night over and along the Dublin Liffey.

For a while I sat filling note cards before Romeo Savoie's layered diptych, Fan IV. The the pair that form a companion diptych for me: two multi-media on paper, one with flowing black strands, almost a complex Kanji on a fond of rose and yellow with a grey-green, almost carrés, on a dull red, almost the pastel aurora of Fan IV, but there a palette knife left only edges of ochre  — and next to it, the "action" of whites and white-grays, a red stippling on grey.  Nearby, on a table, stood the small "untitled diptych" in a black frame two six-by-eight inch canvas panels, each dominated by white brush strikes, the inverse of Kanji, one over reds, one over a yellow stencilled beginning of an alphabet. The latter, a Kanji morphing from white to black through Möbius twining, twists from black to white.

The great Philip Iverson portrait of Elie Wiesel was not available in the gallery.  I did not ask to see the carmine and emerald piece.

Fan IV may be dripping stove paint from what appears embossed gold but what is, on canvas, an overlaid piece, divided, occupied by arachnoid figures, mirror of a figure. (See: Mirrors of Gold.)  The great blinded Zeiss Teleskop of the Sternwarte of Zürich has no gold mirror.

Fan IV may be dripping stove paint but a palette knife was at work, as was such a tool in Art McKay's Effulgent Image, also seen here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Facebook blocks Blogger post from Blogspot and Google

Facebook just refused to post a short link to my previous post on Elizabeth Smart and Rilke.

Facebook rejected this Blogger address as SPAM whether posted as public or "friends".

Is this the beginning of an assault on by Facebook?  An attack on Google?

Or a malicious "flag" raised by someone I stopped following recently?

By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept

In a curious moment in By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept, Elizabeth Smart echoes Rilke as
“ Who, if I cried, would hear me among the angelic orders?”

The Rilke text has Schriee which gives cry out or screamschriller Schrei would be shriek.

But here a curiosity: the Rilke echos schreibe or write which has curious twist in English where shrive, confess, is from the same verb but for the written assignment of a penance.  And then there is the scrivener.

Wer, wenn ich schriee, hörte mich denn aus der Engel

A closer reading might be:

For who, were I to cry out, would hear me from the ranks of the angels?

For who — as in  So who — not For whom.

Do we cry out, if there is no one whose attention we might attract?  Do we not then scream?

Did the author choose this variant with care? Her title is not "At" but rather "By" — attentive or arbitrary?

cf: Psalm 137 and its mistranslations.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

kizuna as the "2011" kanji

Bond, tie

Compare: fetters ?
セツ   or  シツ  ?

shackles = ashikase or 足枷

See:    Ai suru.  Note: indigo = Ai  あい  or 

Cf:  amae  甘え  as psychological dependence and reliance upon another or others: あまえ and the parent-child bond.

v: The Anatomy of Dependence by Takeo Doi, M.D.
v: The Japanese mind: understanding contemporary Japanese culture by Roger J. Davies, Osamu Ikeno

To see the above, your browser must allow UNICODE utf-8 character encoding as a VIEW option.

Wiesel Versions

There are two versions of Elie Wiesel's NIGHT: a Yiddish version (And the World kept quiet c. 1954) and the French La Nuit, 1958.

The liberation photo of Buchenwald creates a puzzle for the variant concerning the German girls and fiction.

Consider this: the witness, bearing witness under oath, is constrained.  The American troops had a word in their speech which returned in every second sentence.

What events occurred in the Weimar, Thuringen area post-liberation - events which might be tied to the Yiddish original?

Was it not a fiction that the burghers of Wiemar were ignorant of the nature of the camp in the years 1937 to 1944 prior to the arrival of Wiesel?

It was a common-place of the eastern regions that the women and girls feared rape and murder at the hands of the invading Russian troops.  Were they also starving in the Weimar region?

cf: facts and legend of Ilse Koch: what Wiesel heard of Ilse Koch after his arrival (her trial in Dachau was in 1947.) Did Wiesel know of the Weimar and Kassel Karl Otto Koch hearings for pre-1944 acts in Buchenwald by 1953?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Ondaatje, Debolt and ‘The Story’ in “Handwriting / poems”

A few years ago Daisy Debolt told me that she would not be trying any lyrics from me as she was back working with Michael Ondaatje.  So now, after her death,  I went looking at what I had on my shelves and in stacks of paperbacks of recent work by Ondaatje.

I found myself reading ‘The Story’ from his “Handwriting”.

One problem of being a great writer is knowing when to rely on a good editor: this piece is surely jarring for anyone who has both close ties to philosophy of psychology and poetry and who has been present at the birth of children.

The poem begins with ‘a child’ but then falls into ‘Some are born screaming’.

I can attest that some are born furious, angry and, moments later, are loud.  But I know the sound of screaming — the badly injured child, screaming. You forget neither. It is not what is heard at childbirth. Some ER nurses say they know the ‘ectopic’ scream of women at dire risk.  Some are born as others hear the screams of a mother - or as others hear the scream of a father as efforts to resuscitate a mother cease.  Some were carried by mothers who screamed and what was heard was nothing as compared to what was felt.

But matters are immediately worse: ‘some full of introspective wandering’.

I stumble, reading ‘wondering’ — from what we know of reading, I am not alone.

‘introspective’ is one of those words that has a casual meaning and a valued meaning and should be used with care — it is a foreign word at great distance from our ‘wander’.  There is no need to read Husserl and Heidegger to know this.

Was he aware of just how flawed the piece is when he chose the title of the poem as prose?  We ignore an initial flaw: this passage was not annotated as ‘i’ when the next is ‘ii’. (The publisher is Random House.)  We ignore the flaws, wanting to get on with the story?

The notes say it is dedicated to persons (perhaps in Sri Lanka.)  But the note is appended to the book (my edition has it page 77.)

I believe that as lines of a song, both phrases would not escape edits by a singer: so my question is whether they both passed muster for a poetry editor or editors?

Who is really concerned about the poems of a great novelist?  A flawed poem is not so serious a matter as a flawed novel?

And we do sing flawed songs — some anthems take decades to find imperfect corrections.

One Tagore translator has said not to translate songs.  Nor are all poems lyrics.  But it is worth asking: how well would that sing?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tarantino Kubrick

For a few years I have refused to watch Reservoir Dogs. Perhaps to ensure that I would not do so on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, I saw it last night. What struck me was the connection to Kubrick's The Killing.

The one maps to the other not at all like quotation and not through obvious parallel ( I see now out on the web that QT is said to call RD "My Killing".)

But what is it - beneath, behind, at root  - to be struck with such a relatedness across two films which are otherwise so very different?  Is it the result of watching films as "types" - perhaps reinforced by serial television, by "westerns" ?

These links are not self-evident as "associations" - they seem to me to be based on my limited capacity to talk about film - itself a requirement for "intellectual" standing of any rank among avid conversationalists, let alone cinema mavens.

Perhaps it only strikes me so, given my struggle to recognize faces, and the embarrassment of familiar faces which prove to belong to complete strangers.

And then there is the resident of the Victoria, BC area, who has been my Doppelgänger these past 40 years  if brief exchanges with the few strangers who accost me first are to be accorded any credence.  Have we aged in so similar a manner?

Mercury 11.07

The Mercury logic-programming language — which provides Java, Erlang and C# compilations — is now available as 11.07 from

No binary downloads are available so *nix requires a GNU C build and Windows requires Cygwin or MSYS.

Both x86-32 and x86-64 are supported.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Daisy Debolt (1945-2011)

Daisy Debolt has died.  She passed away October 4, 2011 after a very brief illness.

We corresponded in recent years - she was a valuable source of encouragement.

One late summer evening in 1974 she gave a great performance in Regina, Saskatchewan at the old Folk Guild. Almost 40 years later it remains very memorable.

She is survived by a son, Jake.

I was enquiring of wikipedia why she was not on the list of Canadian musicians when I happened to go from her "pals" page to the home page.  It was a shock and so saddening.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A poet's hubris?

One volume of the Ben Belitt translations of Pablo Neruda includes not a single translation by another poet or by another poetry translator.

One of the translations is obviously flawed: a Chilean poem becomes a poem for all mechanized and schooled mankind. What is worse, the poet may have encouraged his translator in this cosmopolitan reading — but it is lacking in the original as given on the facing page, verso.

A better title: The Collected Translations of Neruda by poet Ben Belitt, 1970.

A book for me: a single volume with the best translations of Neruda from any European language (look how well Italian appears to translate to Danish - the concision - and Spanish?) with originals in Spanish RECTO and the selected translations VERSO (an e-book?) - not the usual arrangement (but consider how French bilingual dictionaries begin with the French lexicon, but those by the English or Germans begin with the target language - so the privilege would go to the poems, not the polyglot translations.)

A UN poetry week project: Tagore?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

QR Codes for Fair Trade without exploitation?

I looked at a retail holiday gift item today, but there was no way to determine that it was neither from a sweat shop nor a factory using child labour.

Had there been an FLO fair trade or related QR Code on the item, then I might have been able to make the purchase in good conscience. My choice was to continue on so as to try to buy local instead.

The original Curl platform would have charged a fraction of a penny per page: could we offer QR Code origin validation for a penny CDN/US/AU /GB/UK/IEP/EUR?

Friday, December 16, 2011

IE Updates

Oddly, the Windows Update option for Microsoft XP as found in the IE8 Tools menu (Internet Explorer 8) does NOT go to an HTTPS site but instead to even though just going to provides the XP user of IE an HTTPS site for updates!

Why does MS even keep that HTTP target on-line?

What would such a minor update to IE8 have cost the accidental collosus?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Header Image

The, i.e., simple template which we have been using has an option to add a background image and to have that image adjust its size to fit.

The result is not acceptable except for the mobile view.

But this one minor edit to the template HTML for the default CSS style gives a good result:

#header img {
width: 100%;
margin-$startSide: auto;
margin-$endSide: auto;

Select "Proceed" when warned about doing edits to the HTML. Be sure to preview the result before saving the template.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Confucian Analects of Confucious in Curl

At there is now a Curl-markup version of this text the understanding of which is crucial to assessing the political climate in China.

The above version includes Chinese Kanji  for critical passages. Another version in Enlish only and with a Serif font can be found at

Both require the Curl RTE browser plugin from

Both pages use the identical source SCURL file but each main Curl file provides a different definition of {c } which is a text format procedure whose expression wraps each piece of Chinese content. In one page it returns the content and for the other page it returns en empty {text } expression.

The table of contents in the left panel indexes the chapters of the 20  books.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Georg Misch

There are now two versions of Georg Misch Geschichte der Autobiographie over at the philosophy pages.

I have added a version with over 800+ footnotes partially restored at
The footnotes are being handled by a script, so they are now sequential, but they also show the old fn number in the note itself.

The available text scan OCR is so poor and was ANSI and not Unicode, some many footnotes are yet to be restored. There are some places where italics and quote indentations would also be helpful.

I will work on dynamic user annotations later when time and new code permits.

The same web page links to a version with no footnotes which loads and processes faster.

The text sources are the same SCURL file, but the parent Curl files each their own definitions of {fn } and {footnote }.

Given the OCR issues, anyone noting text oddies is invited to drop me a line.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Kant Mind

The term used by Kant in the first Kritik is Gemüte. While the English word 'mind' ties back to "gemynd" it has largely lost the immediate penumbra of memory and recollection (as in 'bring to mind') and has a aura of Latin "mens": the Greek had close links with memory.

The loss of the prefix in English means a real loss in translation.

Present-day English-speaking poets relying on Kemp-Smith are in serious neglect of the words of Kant: Vorstellung, Verstand, begreifen, Begriffe, Anschauung. No one would dream of so neglecting the word of Heidegger or Rilke.

Poets with a command of French can readily see English as a lost Germanic dialect: they need not learn to speak German, but they have no excuse for not reading the text which they cite in translation.

What did the angel say (as recorded in Hebrew) when he found himslef beind the door of Lot's house?  I have a link to Luther's version at

Readily accessible on the web: Mit Gemüt meint Kant den gesamten (bewussten und unbewussten) Umfang ...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Penn Riots

Milosz reports that the Polish universities were the hotbeds of antisemitiism.

Here at UNB, the Fredtown university is already truly "occupied" — by cars. Automobiles. Trucks. SUV's. Diesel buses. The food is shuffled in and out, from building to building, in large cargo trucks (unlike the tunnels of Laval University.)

They map the oceans while banking on Exxon and the "tar sands" of Exxon's North America.

How long since students last lined up to "thumb a ride"? (Regina campus, 1972-74, at College Avenue.)

And then there are the two visitors to North Africa, Oscar Wilde and André Gide — surely they paid those boys … 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

MIT Processing

While I do prefer the MIT Curl web language, the MIT Processing language deserves attention.

If you try processing and the graphical element of the IDE windows are flawed, try increasing your screen resolution.  I overcame my relutance when the nVidia driver update screen showed similar flaws ...

Just as there is Smalltalk in JavaScript (Jtalk is now Amber Smalltalk) so there is also processing.js

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dryer Kant

The characterization of science in the opening of D.P. Dyer's Kant's Solution for Verification in Metaphysics (U. Toronto) is a vexation.

Sixty years after the death of Boltzmann, the battle for atomism at the turn of the century should have given pause.

At the time Dryer was writing, were not the Petroleum Engineers of America battling against plate tectonics just as they now battle against global warming (geology, geography and meteorology strike me as very much sciences close to Kant's own lectures and interests) ?

Today a massive revision of the Linnaen tree of species is underway - arguably as significant a revision in biology as that stirred by Darwin, the structure of DNA/RNA and the electron microscope (and many others that come to mind only with regard to biology which were fresh at the time he was writing.)

And then there is the role of important "thought experiments" in physics which do not fit easily into his brief portrait of the "success" of science (to use Dryer's term.)

The ability of suggestions by Murray Gell-Mann to keep String Theory in constant revision without yet succumbing has troubled at least one Harvard philosopher.

For one glimpse of the current state of philosophy in relation to science and metaphysics, see the CMU work on causality associated with Clark Glymour.

For progress in philosophy in the last century, see the work of Hilary Putnam and John Searle among others.

That philosophy remains beset with sophistry may be evident in the life's work of Habermas when see in relation to Hegel, Marx, Weber and then Searle.

Economics is no doubt the most difficult to assess, with psychology and sociology following close behind (as one might expect.)

Perhaps a present day figure of Kant's stature would being with the problems besetting economics as a science in the sense of organic chemistry or genome-based botany.

For credit to Habermas, see the opposition to GM botany and GM fisheries versus GM mosquitoes.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Joy of Freud

Freud may have been the sophist of the last century: as the winner of a Frankfurt Goethe prize (1930), his rhetoric merits attention in the original German.

One delight is the opening of Beyond the Pleasure Principle. The term "Spannung" is interwoven with walking, running, falling. Today it may be hard to capture how this may have delighted some female readers in its day.  The term, of course, covers both 'tension' and 'voltage'. The "Spann" is intimate to the exposed ankle.

Only a few decades ago, Canada's Eli Mandel was trumpeting the family triangle.  Today I prefer Gruenbein's Im Zweieck, the two-cornered polygon which escaped Escher.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Albrecht Haushofer

I have added a second poem from Albrecht Haushofer's posthumous Moabiter Sonette to

The poets Aule or site now has both Der Vater and Der Bruder.

His brother lived and is said to have found the poets corpse where he had been murdered outside the prison in the last days of the NSDAP terror regime.  His father later committed suicide.

The poetry markup is in MIT Curl from and requires their safe and secure RTE (runtime engine) browser plugin.

Curl is a trademark of Sumisho Computer Corp, Tokyo.

Romain Gary

A recent talk by a novelist at the English university of the bilingual province of New Brunswick was a talk premised on the audience being ignorant of the work of Romain Gary.

The talk began with an insult to those of the West who failed to grasp that "other Europe" of Milosz. We, the acquisitive, we in our striving for recognition, reward, we who have not read Hamlet (one supposes.)  Or not understood Hamlet.

And surely none of us in the audience displaced, dispossessed, unemployed ...

The one Lithuanian in the audience had not heard of Romain Gary (!) let alone read Education or Cerfs.  Some present may even have seen the film, "Madame Rosa", or heard of it.

In "La Parole" Ge. Gusdorf writes of how we must mistrust the speaker who is too aware of his audience - or perhaps too sure.

In fairness, the opening words which I heard concerned the trove of documents concerning partisans in the years 1944-1948 and the talk closed with an admission that our author had worked from secondary sources.

My initial reactions were posted on Facebook.  At the close of the talk I mentioned The Painted Bird, but this seemed to pass unnoted.  There is a parallel between the story of the re-submission  and rejection of that manuscript and the view Gary took of himself in the hey-day of his Emile Ajar personna.  The gap between 1944 and the 1987 Klaus Barbie trial is almost that which our writer invoked and that of Education and Cerfs.

But Gary was not simply a French novelist.

By 1953, no assassin came stalking Milosz. Or do the KGB records read otherwise?  And then came '54, then '56, '67.  Who are we supposing lived in the sunny light of ignorance? Children?

By 1980 there was no feigning ignorance of the role of Milovan Djilas.

By 1980 we had Nikolai Tolstoi's Victims of Yalta.

What is this requirement for historical documents and "distance". Reconciliation? Truth?


1945: Éducation européenne
1975 : La Vie devant soi (as Emile Ajar)
1980: Les Cerfs-volants

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Apple iTunes desktop app

If there is a worse desktop application for a better mobile device, I cannot imagine what it is.

The first oddity today was that suddenly my PC came up as "unauthorized".  Then an entire album could not be found.  I re-authorized the PC and was told that now 2 of a possible 5 computers were authorized for my account.  What!?!  I went to look at iTunes Preferences and decided to update address and phone number.  But country was a separate entry ( we are now living in Canada.)  Bad idea.  All record of purchases went poof!

In an effort to wake up the iTunes "store", I went ahead and purchased yet another tune for 0.99$ - a nice guitar rendition of an old blues number by the late John Fahey. And there it stands: my one music purchase.

O Apple!   Must I be driven to Amazon?  Must I use an Android?  What does the "i" in "iTunes" really mean?  Indifferent?  Inexplicable?  Let me see ... a word starting with "i" meaning "doomed" ... "idiotic" ?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Unable to open TWAIN source

The annoying Canon scanner error "Unable to open TWAIN source" is usally caused simply by the PATH environment variable not containing the appropriate value such as c:\windows\twain_32\SOME-SCANNER-DEVICE_NAME

I would create a new env var named scanner and give it that string value. You can then add %scanner%; to your path variable and be able to change scanners withot messing with the path variable.

If you need the fix take immediate effect without a reboot, open a cmd session on the directory of your scanner and lauch its EXE file from there.

Under Windows XP, a left-click for the PROPERTIES of My Computer will give you access to env var's via the Advanced tab.

Saturday, August 13, 2011 .htm for Mini Mobile and .html for aLL eLse Larger... .htm for Mini Mobile and .html for aLL eLse Larger...: "2014 might not be too late to achieve this simple option: ht M for M obile web content htm L for L aptop and a LL other L ayout ..."

.htm for Mini Mobile and .html for aLL eLse Larger?

2014 might not be too late to achieve this simple option:

  htM for Mobile web content

  htmL for Laptop and aLL other Layout

Luckily, we never had an "xhtml" file extention - and we were permitted both SHTM and SHTML for server-side includes.

The reason to consider HTM for mini displays is that it would not require typing by users to shorten or lengthen the extension if browsers would agree on a hot-key combination.  A smart browser would check at any site offering an HTML whether there was an HTM if the last URL used was HTM by user choice and so offer the option visually to the user for the current site.  It would be a simple browser  configuration option for those devices, the format of which, was neither Large nor Mini.

Lately I have been using htm for 4.01 HTML and html for XHTML and also for HTML5.  As the web moves to the latter, we should be able to set a meta value to flag that, say,  this .html file has a sibling .htm file for constrained display and vice versa.  And ditto for .shtm and .shtml and whatever might follow from 2014 until we achieve 20/20 hindsight.

Monday, July 25, 2011

MediaWiki geographic markup at Wikipedia

I saw some useful geographic markup at wikipedia today.

The article for the town of Dawson Creek ends with graphic display of relevant links by direction.

Wikipedia is generated by MediaWiki, itself written in server-side PHP.  You will not see the markup unless you run EDIT on the geo links section.  What you will see then is:

{{Canadian City Geographic Location (8-way)
|Centre    = Dawson Creek
|Northwest = [[Fort St. John, British Columbia|Fort St. John]]
|North     = [[Taylor, British Columbia|Taylor]]
|Northeast = [[Fairview, Alberta (town)|Fairview]]
|East      = [[Rycroft, Alberta|Rycroft]]
|Southeast = [[Hythe, Alberta|Hythe]]
|South     = [[Pouce Coupe, British Columbia|Pouce Coupe]]
|Southwest = [[Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia|Tumbler Ridge]]
|West      = [[Chetwynd, British Columbia|Chetwynd]]
|image_flag            =
Over at my Curl blog I'll place some Curl code that does the same on the client side of a browser.  This will not require an 'extension' to Curl but will simply be a declarative use of an instance of a user class or of a user macro.

Really quite simple and useful for the towns accessible from the junction of highways which form Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Skype and the Future (past and present)

A very few years ago CIO's and CTO's were declaring that web applications were the future.  Significant software projects were launched to convert best-of-breed programs from being desktop applications to being something presentable in a web browser - often at the expense of improved or new functionality.

Having spent a few years on such projects in niche financials for medical pricing and business risks, I have a question for top managers who drank the kool-aid: explain Skype.

Skype is not running in my web browser.  It is a desktop application which happens to run over the internet. Had the FCC ruled otherwise, it could even have been ruled in the USA to be telecom software or have been barred from dialing POTS subscribers or cell phones.

It is not always very well-behaved. It does not update in the background.  Smart is not a word that comes to mind.  It is very popular and it is on handheld devices as an application.

Would you want it running in an HTML browser under HTML5?

Why?  HTML pages are delivered over HTTP using TCP/IP.  Text-chat, audio-chat and video-chat software   may run using a protocol which is neutral as to whether TCP/IP is the protocol or UDP or other.

That Skype is a desktop application comes as no surprise to those who continue to use IRC.

Would we ask developers why Eclipse or Visual Studio have not been converted to run in a Web Browser?

At least no one is asking whether Skype is acceptable as an instance of a RESTful architecture.

Someone may want to argue that Skype is a variant of an RIA for some of its more annoying 'features' that come and go.  Because the Skype client app's internet communication protocol is proprietary, a Gnu video chat is due: perhaps it will be RESTful and run in Firefox.

If Skype can be on your desktop, why is the only "browser" on your desktop running HTTP with HTML as the content markup?  Perhaps a million browsers did not bloom, but at least two alternatives to HTML appeared.

What does strike me when looking at opensource web application server frameworks is that they are almost all tightly coupled to HTML.  They are not likely going to survive communications services 3.0 (whatever that proves to be.)

The irony will be when the Chrome browser dissolves into applets running on an OS - applets for which HTML will be the exception rather than the rule for applets doing anything beyond lookup/display, err, 'browse'.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Chrome, Safari, WebKit and those cookie settings ...

I changed a cookie setting to comply with a web page in Chrome. Nothing happened. Re-started Chrome, checked for my change, still the page protested. Hmmm.  WebKit.

Stopped Chrome.  Started Safari.  Made that SAME change to the cookie setting.  Stopped Safari.

Started Chrome and voilà!  There's the change in effect.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Cloud Hype

"Clouds" is a comedic play.  Cloud hype is closer to hubris.

Remember "network PCs" ?  Just as we were getting X-Windows to actuaries and LAN PC's to underwriters who had been confined to 3270 dumb terminals, an arrogant insurance CEO informed me that hard drives were already a thing of the past (and most were what, 20Mb with 2MB RAM on the PC's?  We had just paid IBM big bucks for our first external RS6000 drive for our one AIX box. Meanwhile the CIO was betting on AS400.  M/F Prolog-based expert systems for underwriters had just been replaced by procedural C + Sql just a fast PC Prolog implementations became available (they had nothing to do after their departmental LAN pension PC system for HR.) Windows 286 had recently been replaced by the extremely buggy 3.0 for 386 PC's with hope for a 3.1 version.  To my utter amazement much departmental software was, er, uhmm, unlicensed.  Especially the price-y APL for actuaries.  WordPerfect was still the standard for PC text and the 99$ word processors were being crushed by illegal schemes ignored by anti-trust law enforcement.  Smalltalk was being priced out of reach as competition collapsed in that niche.

Now, today: just as sold-state drives become a reality (and the Winchester drive from IBM Watson Labs was a big tech leap - or have we forgotten?) we are told that corp's will want to move to "dumb laptop" ChromeBook.

This is not like having an X-Server on a graphical workstation.  Far from it.

And consider this: a really advanced programming language such as Oz is only now moving to being Distributed Oz.

Look at the hackers public "helping hand" site: the vast majority of programmers listed are really only competent in one procedural language: one of Java, C++ or C# (please don't start in on C# as multi-paradigm ...)

While Perl finally begins to take a bow, PCRE remains the standard while not a single text-processing language is in the TIOBE "top 20" PL's (no, Perl is not; SNOBOL was and REBOL, ICON, UNICON, Object Icon and Converge are just as LISP can be a TPL.)  Perl is not a TPL - not any more than Crystal Reports could be called a TPL. Or Tcl's expect. Or grep.

While most programmers remain ignorant of advances in text parsing and constraint handling, the industry commentators would have us believe in the cloud.  Nebulous shibboleth.

The cloud will not respond to the needs of forensic accountants (see the top-seller in the accounting niche for how many of the Big 4 ? )

The cloud will not respond to the need of health insurers to have smarter software and health providers to have smarter software (see the decade's repeat top-seller in that niche - so critical to controlling rising debt in USA and Canada.)

The cloud as a source of medical e-records will not reduce medical costs (await an unintended consequence in billing.)

The cloud is not the answer in logistics as so many diesel-burning haulers run dead-head on highways or back-and-forth in cities such as Vancouver, Canada (where the pollution drifts away and up into the higher Fraser valley) or that yellow-pancake-cloud hanging over the city of Toronto.

Just as we get multiple-CPU's we are to believe in the cloud (with USA and GB at not even in top-ten nations for internet connections.)

Common wisdom: the bottlenecks tended to be I/O and/or database accesses.  The historically single biggest PC design flaw: I/O.  The dominant database is SQL Oracle who now   effectively own Java.  Note the ties of C# to Microsoft, C to unix.  IBM had to buy iLog even after the critical contributions of Watson labs to constraint programming (old Prolog is now viewed as a subset of a constraint logic programming strategy.)

The two critical languages never embraced by Microsoft: Prolog and Smalltalk.  The Apple difference is that they dumbed-down a Smalltalk as Objective-C for programmers more comfy with C-syntax (Objective-C is the principal iPhone app language; when Apple stole from Nokia they stole from the company running Smalltalk in phones; Ericcson originally banned its own invention, Erlang. No kidding. C-only, please.  Mercury now generates C or Erlang.)

Less common: the internet relies on HTTP with its connection restrictions.  So the cloud will become the "private cloud" and then the "privately switched cloud" and the lessons of, say, 1989, can be re-learned in, say, 2019.

JavaScript is now being touted as the server-side solution. JS has a fine lineage back to Self and inlining ( aka Google V8), but a lot has happened in programming languages since the mid-80's.  Without programmers able to work in multiple paradigms, abandoning the power of the client to run domain specific software is folly.

Those who will run such software: the high-end consultants and trouble-shooters.  That trend will not help to bring down medical costs or prevent another Lehman Bros where a large part of the problem was the software used on the laptops of the E&Y auditors ( a trail that leads right back to the software run by the auditors at Enron.)

Is Drools on JBoss part of the answer ?  IBM's acquired iLog and jLog ?  Not likely.  Too little, too dumbed down (not that for some tasks a "dumbed-down" language is not great, as Erlang has shown repeatedly.)

The critical software in audit is the worksheet component.  If it resides in a procedural framework, suitable forensic options are unlikely to emerge.  Cross ChromeBooks off the lsit for those EU auditors faced with Bulgarian government ministries, departments and agencies and those soon to be faced with Macedonia and Montenegro.

Maintainable software: server-side in the cloud at least one major bank and on major insurer have demonstrated that Smalltalk need not be visible (let the web UI be whatever) but we still lack a Smalltalk with fully integrated rules, logic and constraint handling.  Traits in Smalltalk may achieve this.

Programming languages do matter: it is better to generate C code but have textual code which is maintainable, documented than to have C++ code that takes a few years to write and that is near impossible to evolve.

At the core of many of the leading "niche" software packages that prevent controlling medical costs are inadequate C libraries that programmers fear to touch.  DLL's were intended to prevent this.  Dot net will not help here as its dynamic languages fail to integrate rules and constraints in the manner in which they are integral to say, Oz.

Until a US congressional committee investigates the software used by auditors and risk managers, we will not be free to discuss was remains not in the cloud, but enveloped in a smoke-screen fog.

At least least outside the cloud, we can ask and be told what was running on those auditor laptops, which version, when last updated and with which customized features.  Those are apps are software as desktop user applications.  With replaceable SIMM drives, we could even ask for the read-only chip which was in use in that "laptop".  Yes, there is an associated IT cost.  But compare the costs of inadequate pricing control and audits in healthcare and in banking.

And the OS on the ChomeBook - welcome back to the past: a unix.

And the hope for getting around HTTP 1.1 limitationd in the Cloud: that other dinosaur, TCP/IP connections.

And this is without even mentioning the vulnerability of the G3 or G4 cloud in the case of any major international conflict, e.g., China blaming uncontrolled civil unrest on the West, in, say, 2019.  Not to mention chaotic sunspot flare-up.

Remember, 1989 was touted as the "year of unix" when it was the year Microsoft undermined developers of ...

From IBM to Microsoft to Google, while the lesson of evolution is variation and alternatives. Java, C++ and C#:  the majority of 'hackers' have less to offer than we might hope.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Curl Graphics: extensions packages

There are beautiful page changing options to be seen in the early edition of COM.CURL.EXT over on SourceForge.

These are extensions to the Curl web-content language from and rival anything else available for dynamic business applications on web or desktop.

It is hard to imagine a business having to choose from among ONLY Adobe Air, Microsoft Silverlight and the various Googlisms when the Curl option is now so strong visually (it was always very strong as a framework and in terms of security.)

Other extensions which are not at all eye-candy include spreadsheet-like "worksheet" objects which should interest many of the large corporations already using Curl internally (a third-party package has long been available in Japan.)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Processing 1.5.1 for artists and others

There is a new release of the Processing programming language from MIT.  It is intended for artists and creative talents.  For non-programming kids, MIT has scratch and Microsoft has kodu while Smalltalk has both e-toys (as found on OLPC) and the Croquet/Cobalt projects.

The revisions in 1.5.1 have some notable admissions.

Needless to say, Processing is not to be found on the top-20 TIOBE language index on which Lua has now appeared ( and on which Smalltalk-ish Objective-C is rising.)

But which language will rise as Android becomes dominant?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Private Cloud

Microsoft is marketing the private cloud as the new corporate solution.

Think of it as cloud meals: you fired your kitchen staff to switch to salads from any caterer, appetizers from any caterer.  Now Microsoft will not just cater to you, they will, uh, set back up that  kitchen you dismantled - with catering called in as needed ...

Or are they marketing "dry water" at a time when aquaduct infrastructure is looking suspect ... will there soon be a new dry water tank up atop the IT shop?  Remember the water-cooled M/F - was that water outa the cloud or the main?  Did IBM bring out a dowser before that TOS/360 went behind the glass?  A ribbon-cutting or a rain-dance?

The private cloud.  Wasn't there a Joe Capp comics character with one of those?  Ah, yes, Joe Btfsplk.  Next someone will offer private vapourware.  Very steam punk.  Just don't let someone tell you that's fog - that's your shared cloud on the road ahead.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Squeak MVC

At the blurb for 4.2 says
  and legacy MVC support
but the first test that I make gives a ScheduledControllers that is nil.
Both BitEditor and FormEditor appear unusable.
I looked in Monticello and the Universe browser but I see no relevant package to retrieve.
The package ToolBuilder-MVC retains this gem:
"Answer whether I am the currently active builder"
"This is really a way of answering whether 'Smalltalk isMVC'"
ScheduledControllers ifNil:[^false].
So something is amiss.  I am looking for a dependency framework - events, or Announcements or whatever in this image.

In Kernel-Objects package the Object class has a class variable DependentsFields.

In Kernel-Model package Model has an instance var named dependents.

But I see no tests for MVC.

There had been a Tweak package and a project to revive MVC in Squeak.  Perhaps more interesting is Announcements in Pharo and the coming changes to Model-View-Presenter in Dolphin Smalltalk.

Abstractions are needed.  MVC could be complex and Morphic seems best for direct manipulation rather than for traditional GUI applications.  I like the admissions made at Dolphin for their candor - and I like working in Dolphin when all that I need is a Windows app or tool over at

note:  the method >>isMVC  is not available.

BUT.  There is an answer.  You need to start a new project which is an MVC project.

And now you are in as old a Smalltalk as you can imagine: an ST-80.  Oh vey.  This is not offering an MVC option.  This is a collapsible Model-A in the cargo space of your auto-plane.

This is not Smalltalk the programming environment, but Smalltalk the split-environment for a house divided among partisans, some laboring under a tax of 90%, some under a flat-10%.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Converge 1.2

A new version of the "alpha" stage or phase of the Converge programming language is available: version 1.2 at from Laurie Tratt.

Converge is a pythonic version of Icon (or UNICON or ObjectIcon) if you will - which is curious as Python generators probably come from Ralph Griswold and others' Icon programming language. It is prototype-based with goal-directed evaluation and generators.

Converge shares with its predecessors more than generators: it is something of a logic language almost in the way that Erlang is almost an LP.  Converge uses success/failure instead of true/false and unlike the processes of Erlang, uses co-routines which can be reset.

These Icon-ic languages could be called string-oriented (and ObjectIcon is also UNICODE compliant) and descend from the efforts to replace SNOBOL4 - itself perhaps the first unintended "free" language for processing text as string data.

Converge provides an alternative to macros in the form of compile-time meta-programming.  As with macros in other languages, a substitution occurs, but these CTMP substitutions are specific to this language (relying on the AST) but are called with an explicit splicing notation (in this regard I prefer Curl from - they are documented with both the binary downloads and in the GIT codebase. Note: the substitutions occur before the VM has generated instructions.

In the years since the GOTO of SNOBOL was rejected by academics, layers of goto have crept into the mainstream languages first as exception handling jumps and then as aspects or as labeled break statements.

An ICON language continues to be used by one large USA agency (if one can infer from budget disclosures.)

At this time there are two mature ICON variants: Icon 9.5 and Unicon 11.7 (both freeware.)

My own preference at the moment is ObjectIcon 2.4 but if you like prototype-based over class-based then you may want to stay close to the Converge project - I know I will.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Complicity of Celan in the Palestinian plight?

The post at Barbaric Document on Paul Celan's complicity in Middle East injustice somehow offends.

Is the author unaware of the little pogrom in Poland after the war's end?  That some 300,000 hid their identities and remain hidden?

That in the DP camps the western nations were complicit in the Zionist effort to redirect refugees to Palestine?

Where were they to go? Back home to Marburg?  Evict the new tenants?

Where were they to go? Alexandria?

Stalin's little Jewish republic in the far east of the USSR?

Where were Polish Jews to go?  Rumanian Jews (not yet "Romanian") ?  Hide behind non-Jewish names, cover names which may never been their own?

Why was the state of Montana not their destination? Or Paraguay?  Or Stalingrad?

Where is Galicia now?  Where was the Swabian Jew to call home?

Some tried: Frank never reached his destination in Marburg.  G. Husserl tried for some justice in Kiel.

And Sussana Ginzburg - a Ukranian Jew or a Polish Jew? Oh, I see, dead.  Nationality irrelevant if the corpse was not found.  And have I not mis-spelled her surname?

I have no answer: the borders of Europe were not about to dissolve; the Americans and Canadians did not want Jews.  At least not ordinary Jews.  Let alone Polish Jews. Ukrainian Jews.  "Rumanian? [turns to his uniformed colleague] Rumanian - is that more like Serbian or more like Czech?"

Never underestimate the ignorance of an immigration bureaucrat.

Of course, by the 1950's the high north of Arctic Canada was in need of "inhabitants" to justify a "border" between Russians and Americans ... "Any of your Jews good at spearing walrus?" [Canada paid compensation to those victims but refused to apologize.]
They lured in aboriginals from the south - into canvas tents in the highest arctic with no moose - yes, walrus as moose.

And who all was complicit?  Would a show trial or two help to clarify which artists are to be banned from the first union and relegated to the second or third artists' unions?  Do we campaign to snatch back the Nobel Prize of Symborska?

Note: neither of my paternal great-grandfather nor my maternal grandfather seem to have set much store by the border known at the 49th parallel.  My maternal great-grandfather may have ignored it and his father ended defending it while his maternal grandfather ignored it (while fearing the Sioux and preying on the Blackfoot ...)

When will I be invited back to claim my block of land or rock in the Orkney Islands?  In the Jura.  In Ireland.  In Blackpool.  Among the Swampy Cree of the rivers flowing into the western shore of whatever we will rename Hudson's Bay.

When will the Navajo south of Grants, NM, acknowledge me as a cousin and fit to share the water that I might view the pristine night sky above the ancient fields of lava of El Malpais?

And yet I share some of this - after learning of the deception Paul Ricoeur and his sometime colleague, Mircea Eliade.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

René Char

The work of René Char is missing from the NB public library system.

Why should this matter?  Well, there are bilingual editions available (quality varies) and perhaps he is important for Acadiens given their Quebec neighbours: consider what he says in Feuillets d'Hypnos about the French staff officer who laments the language spoken by Char's courageous maquisards.

He is not a Parisian poet so much as a poet of Provence.  Yes, I know, Aix is a favourite destination of the Quebec intellectual.  But all the same ...

Two nights ago I went to meet an Anglo-Irish poet at Alden Nowlan House at  One table in the Windsor Castle bar was speaking French during the hockey game. A woman stepped out onto the deck and said "Look, I can speak French, too" and began making noises.  It could have been a Russian imitating a Pole or a Ukrainian.

I keep hearing this kind of offensive drivel and noise-making here and there around this officially bilingual town - and in this, Canada's only bilingual province.  And when will I hear an Acadienne imitate an NB anglo here in "Arcadia"? Will it be among Australian graduate students at UNB?  I think not.

Is the answer to require Canadian schools to teach that Norman French forms a large part of our English vocabulary - and that the largest part of that came from Latin Rome?  That the French were Franks? ( Is Germanic ancestry still the dominant ethnic origin of "English" Canadians? Does it remain so for "whites" in the USA?)  Or are we to concede to ethnic loathing?

Should foreign students be required to take at least one course on Canadian history to obtain a graduate degree from one of our universities?  Is UNB finding and funding graduate candidates from "la Francophonie" as much as from the Commonwealth?

As to the absence of Char: I have noted elsewhere how deficient the New Directions bilingual edition of Char is -  but better that than nothing.

And here in Fredericton, where is the monument or plaque to commemorate the burning of those Acadian homes on these fashionable streets? (Shades of another quiet university town filled with tourists in summer: Marburg in Lahntal.)  The Marburg of the students Eliot and Pasternak.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ximena Gautier Greve

I found these four calaméo links for e-books by Chilean poet Ximena Gautier Greve:

Réquiem por Chile
Chile mon amour
La Rama Quebrada o Pasión del Destierro
Unidas por la Sangre - Antología poética ilustrada

All can be read on-line as paginated books using Flash in your web browser.

[from a suggestion by Nela Rio and Joe Blades, May 14, 2011 Fredericton NB "Word in the World" poetry reading]

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sony PlayStation netWork hacKing eXplained

SONY now says that PlayStation user credit card info was encrypted (at some level) - but they continue to suggest that the relevant tables may have been accessed.
The personal data table, which is a separate data set, was not encrypted, but was, of course, behind a very sophisticated security system that was breached in a malicious attack.
Very sophisticated indeed.

SONY has posted this FAQ. It includes this paternalistic gem:
For your security, we encourage you to be especially aware of email, telephone, and postal mail scams that ask for personal or sensitive information
Mind you, SONY did not take much care with that user personal information.  "We will not give out your information."  We will not do much to protect it, either.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

SONY PlayStation network user credit card info hacked

The SONY admission that a hacker may have accessed all user info short of credit card 4-digit CSC's should lead to a class-action lawsuit in the USA.

Users should have had the option to use their hardware as the basis for a public-private key encryption of personal information.

The main reason not to do so is greed: SONY required access to pursue fraud and non-payment.  Let SONY now balance this against their present plight.

In all likelihood Oracle relational databases were used by SONY.  Storing strings in relational tables is easy for the developer and a joy for the hacker.  But what functionality could have required relational tables for the personal information of users? Well, it may have made things easier, faster and cheaper for the SONY info tech folks.  Manager gets bonus but users get ...

Sadly, the focus now is likely to be on network security.  And a Master appointed to advise a judge would likely come from the world in which Oracle DB tables are the norm for any and all data.

Access to data should have been on a process basis and no hacker should have been able to fork such a process: only such a process should have been able to convert that data into readable and usable information.

So ... had SONY used Erlang, would their customers be in this sad situation today?  And that is only one option from their asset stables.

Users will have a different view: regardless, of the technology in play, they should have been notified pronto.  Forget KISS, CRUD and ACID. The term of the day is PRONTO.

With any luck, the hacker was in for cred and not credit cards.  But SONY is a giant and this should be a sobering moment for corp IT that is public-facing.  And for users? Well, caveat emptor.  And then get a lawyer with a proven record in class actions.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Western Digital WD MyBook Premium HID 1394 Firewire external drive problems

When we relocated, I parted with a number of old office DVD's.  I have owned a few external Western Digital harddrives and it seems that the DVD for my current MyBook went the way of "all the things".

Since that time my UPS failed after repeated brown-outs here up the Saint John River near the hydropower station.  One victim recently was the WD MyBook.

Like most corporations, I remain on Windows XP.  One of the drawbacks of XP is its ability to handle Firewire.  Then there is the firmware in the WD enclosure.

The problem was simple: XP refused to recognize the drive, and if it did , it would give a code 10 error for "device cannot start".  It would usually take over an hour to get the drive up.  A cold reboot in safe mode and then a cold shutdown followed by a normal restart would sometimes result in my being able - after several attempts - to get the device to spinup.

On one occasion, using the hardware device manager to enable and then again disable 1394 networking resulted in the happy result.  On other occasions, an uninstall and reinstall.  Sometimes the Windows driver would suffice, sometimes the WD driver and sometimes the device would be an anonymous disk drive and reported as a HID device with a problem.

But there is hope.  The WD spindown utility seems to work ( I can now even let XP go into SLEEP mode and the drive spins up as we awaken.)

Here is what has been working (lately.)  I restart and then launch the Process Explorer ( from Microsoft's web "Power Toys" after ensuring that I have a clean shutdown and restart of XP (one cold cycle through Safe mode + Networking and one warm cycle as a normal user doing the cycle start/logon/restart. )  If XP will not shutdown cleanly, all bets are off.  Here goes:

1) kill the explorer process with Process Explorer
2) start explorer  from within PE
3) use Process Explorer to kill itself (we don't want PE as the parent of explorer)
4) restart Process Explorer from Windows Explorer desktop
5) attach the drive
6) start the spindown utility ( it may report only a generic drive, but no matter.)

Thereafter, spindown the drive before sleep or powerdown or as you like.

You may try letting XP do the spindown, but painful experience has taught me to do it explicitly.  My suspicions lie with the "Button Light" firmware which puts itself up as a 1394 HID device, but that's just my gut feel when the icing is there but the cake is missing ...

Now, for my own sanity, the drive is set for quick removal, not delayed-write, but just in case, I run a little Rebol script at low priority - that script writes to the drive every 9.5 minutes.  It is started in a cmd shell and then PE is used to kill that shell.  I then set the Rebol process to be full screen ( I have a few uses for Rebol during the day and am less likely to close this one's window inadvertantly.)  The downside is that I have to remember to kill it when I do want the device to spindown.  Unwanted spindown is such a headache with these WD drives and the spindown utility lacks the WD "Button" utility's command line option to adjust the interval.  But the latter is just too annoying and useless ...

I should add two items:  with device manager I have disabled the annoying WD button as an HID device and with msconfig I have blocked it from being in the XP startup.

It is possible to have the correct drive noticed and it is possible to run with the default Microsoft XP SP3 disk driver but I am doing best just now with the WD driver  – and a new external drive (not WD) is on the way via UPS.  But this is Fredericton, NB, so that will be another story ....

Thursday, April 14, 2011

IE blogger

Internet Explorer was going berserk on this blog!  This was not the case for Google Chrome or Firefox.


Too many links in the Tag Cloud widget!

I restricted the tags that can appear in the widget and IE behaves.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

JNode OS

Over at there is activity on the JNode Java OS.  Although the files to download are unchanged since 2009, commits continued through March 2011.

Seaside Tutorial and Lulu eBook

I don't recall posting a link to this tutorial for Seaside for Smalltalk.

There is also a Lulu book.

There are many thinks going on in Smalltalk these days (Cog VM, Roar VM, Pharo, revival of but Seaside, like SOUL, is one of the best indications of the strength of Smalltalk as compared to Java, Ruby or Python.

I noted with annoyance that there is almost no mention of Smalltalk in the VM article on  — the reader would think it all began in Java!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Free Makichan Tex Viewer for Windows

The free WIndows Tex Viewer from Makichan - their "Scientific Viewer" - amused me today. Here is a screenshot:

Note the jagged mossy-green around the white background of the text.  That lovely green is my Windows preference for a default background in any window where the code does not set the background.

In some other Tex documents it became just nasty.

For many weeks this was also the case at - one CSS setting missing.  Oh vey.

Remember when C programming for Windows began with the bare Frame?  Now we have both alpha-settings and this sort of silliness.

Where does user acceptance testing go wrong in these cases?  The testers don't know Windows?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What to make of the claims of ?

Here are three links:


Simple TclOO and static class variables

The discussion of class-side slots for TclOO is instructive in light of Carl Sassenrath's blog on defining "simple" in Rebol and in-the-large.  But in the real world things are not so simple.

The TclOO architect offers his snippet from the view of the code internals of his framework.

Tcl 8.6 is in a slow beta while Rebol3 remains alpha - and in fairness TclOO was already a library for 8.5

A Curl (as in architect in Boston once gave me his take on Tcl ... but again, in fairness, not having access to the internals of how mixins are implemented in Curl ...

The simple view: use traits where they are useful in maintaining separation.  Much harder: to get a project to adopt traits effectively (e.g., non-HTML output for Smalltalk Seaside or Scala Lift.)  Perhaps not possible: getting traits into ObjectIcon.

Anecdote: the Avro Arrow had a compontentized "open-bay" in its belly - long before the ISS universal docking spec.

Question: is re-motoring aircraft types always "simple" ?  DC-8?  And new wings for C5 Galaxy?  Will the Shuttle engines be re-used?

Question: Should the Canadarm2 have been coded in Erlang or Oz instead of Ada? Erlang would offer X, Oz X, Y and Z.  But for Ada there are tools and staff.

What is the "simple" approach to handling text in the age of Unicode?  My test candidate: Octavio Paz' "Blanco" as the intended "dynamic text".

Monday, March 28, 2011

Apache Wicket

Igor Vaynberg has an Apache Wicket Cookbook over at

A bit price-y for an epub in that genre.

Wicket has some virtues: it was not near impossible to convert to non-HTML/non-XML web content markup (unlike Scala Lift which is, well, ahem.)

Okay Lift: they have no excuse for the XML-lockstep as they have something like Traits available in the Scala language.  Type of output should be orthogonal to HTTP forwarding, redirecting and the rest.  But Lift has a project leader first, and a framework second.  Scala itself has more promise.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mercury programming

There is a new blog to follow on the Mercury logic programming project:

It has a specific focus and is sure welcome.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pharo Smalltalk 1.2RC2

Over at the next release of Pharo is almost ready.

I had some issues today trying to load a MetaCello configuration of O2 - the traits-compatible version of OmniBrowser - perhaps the build already has the latest O2 ?

I did manage to load Aida/Web into the Pharo image (a separate Aida image is also available as part of the continuous build process).

This comes after a few days of freeing my PC from an attack which appears to have come through having Java enabled in default IE (although the attack began in a new Google Chrome while I was in that browser.)  AVG, Ad-Aware and SpyBot were of no more help than Microsoft's Malicious Software Removal Tool.  The real target appears to have been Firefox - but because I don't use it, that tampering was easier to detect in explorer alone.  A few bogus DLL's and many hidden files later I appear to have survived.  One casualty was my recent Google bookmarks.  Browser Helper Objects.  Yeah, right.

Rather than rant, this much was funny: Ad-Aware made some suggestions but also had a high-lighted "read more" which I clicked on in their application window - but it did not open a dialog - it opened IE with add-on's running!  Gee, thanks, folks ....

Monday, February 28, 2011

AI Hype, or, To MIT and Beyond!

Here in Fredericton, NB, hype about IT is part of the city plan.  It reverberates in the local campus, is amplified in the media, and so it goes.  Fuzzy neural net agents.  Evolving fuzzy neural net agents.

But seriously, what about M.I.T. ?   Engineering practical robots is still not enough.  The new claims seem to reflect a change in plan - late in life.  I say that because some of the staunchest advocates may now realize that they will not live to see mechanical minds.

The strategy now covers both integration of systems and strange admissions.  While there is no good reason to believe that evolution of smart organisms such as ants, bees, cuttlefish and octopus result from anything like integrating Java modules with Python modules except at the level of rhetorical tropes, the funding flows.

Consider M.I.T. itself.  If it is true that MIT abandoned LISP for JAVA as the programming language of choice - not multi-paradigm Oz or proven engineering languages such as FORTRAN, ADA or SMALLTALK .... not R or APL ... but betting on what future?

Here is a symptom: programming for artists at MIT.  At the institution with MediaLab, LOGO, CLU in its hstory, we get and the Java-bound Processing language.

What was a language for artists?  Quite possibly ICON or UNICON - both are languages not wedded to TRUE-FALSE logic but success and failure - what works and does not work.  Both are not hard-core AI languages: back-tracking behavior in ICON is as restricted as it is in Erlang.

Currently, an "artist" would download a 60+ MB zip of Processing replete with a complete Java JDK environent.  I recently installed Processing 1.2.1 only to be confronted with egregious bugs.  Their bug list is impressive.

What is worse, Processing, the language, was never needed: MIT had already produced Curl, the language (

Now we see an effort by James Resig to salvage Processing in JavaScript.  Not in Self or Self/Avocado or even Io, but in processingjs at

The fate of Processing in JavaScript will be that the one innovative idea in Processing will be lost.

Why are we not teaching artists a Smalltalk such as Pharo or introducing them to a project such as Cobalt?

Now this iis just computing for artists, not computing for business and he military.  Fact: the two robotc arms of the ISS are programmed in ADA.  But artists working on simulations for ISS training would start in what ... AcionScript?

As for innovation, the legendary internet is plagued by two truly bad ideas: Perl and PHP.  HTML5 does not resolve that.  Apple may have abandoned Java, but they are using a Smalltalk-cum-C++ in Objective-C which show no sign of evolving.  Will the Steve Jobs replacement embrace Scala.

Consider Scala.  Scala tries to take a lesson from business and from OOP:  embrace VM's and Traits.  But Traits some from Self, one of those languages ignored at MIT.  Traits emerged because some dicta of programming gurus were wrong and cannot be solved by AOP.

So what impedes the evolution of smart languages?  Tenure?  Take the most recent release of Squeak Smalltalk as 4.2   The Squeak folks embrace the idea that when a program starts it can be begin by consuming a script which can modify most any aspect of both the environment of the program and the program itself.  Any of us who worked in demanding IT industry projects can tell you that this is a compliance and governance non-starter.  What leaves the project leads - the academics - so out of touch that Squeak could 'evolve' in a way which imperils its survival in any real world niche?

Now to weave back to the hype at M.I.T.   One of the most important AI innovations of the 70's was not embraced at MIT.  The French company was absorbed by a large French corporation.  The gist of those ideas lives on in AI in Europe and in 1.4 Distributed Oz of the oz-mozart project.  In the first decade of the new millenium, major projects at large US corporations showed no glimmer of those ideas.  the result is dumb software tackling medical pricing in hospitals and dumb software tackling risk management in banks, insurers, governments ... and MIT?

After years of pursuing internal representations (a notion long debunked by mere philosophers and linguists) MIT AI has embraced 'leaving much of the information out there in the environment".  This idea of "invariants in the ecology" was championed decades ago by JJ Gibson.  It was old hat by 1964 in the work of French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty.  MIT AI is slowly embracing "embodied intelligent behavior" - again old hat in the work of M M-P from his critique of the psychology of his day and his lessons from the early days of the neurology of brain traumas and military amputations.

 Much of what passes for the "programme" of AI at MIT is just rhetoric and most often relies on a variety of fallacies.  When in 1960 an infallible pope declared as dogma that Mary had been taken up physically into heaven as both body and soul, the faithful did not ask for clarification as to whether she had first died at the end of her days.  The dogma trades on words.  The terms of the trade at MIT are 'agent',' 'action', 'learn', 'adjust', 'adapt', 'integrate', 'system'.

The promise of neural net began with the mollusc slug.  What reason would a skeptic have to believe that such a project will evolve to build something on the order of a cuttlefish or octopus.  Just take the one example of the obsession with duplicating the hominid hand.  It ha taken years for someone to think outside of that box the 'gripper' as inflatable/deflatable bean-bag.  A mollusc might have evolved one of those (and might yet do so if the seas survive us.)  But.  What reason to think that such a cephalopod  would resemble anything like the proposed MIT AI strategy?

Take IBM's Watson strategy.  Not a robot and not "intlelligent" (expect no witticisms, sarcasm, tantrums, devious resistance, passive aggression ... ) - but needing to show an AI result, IBM abandons the one big strategy for a more evolutionary notion of let all try and go with the most promising in any one round.  Unlike warfare on the shifting battlefield along long battle lines, Jeopardy is polite repetition.

Dolphins evolved something akin to language and even a cross-species lingua franca.  Cuttlefish have, in their skin, evolved something like a mental image, which we, their homunculi-by-proxy, witness and which often confounds their dolphin predator - perhaps on occasion evoking delphine amazement, delphine amusement, a delphine tingle that travels down the spine.  No robot wil tingle all over when it realizes that THAT piece of 'coral' ain't no coral nor will it feel the grit of its teeth on cuttlebone.  No robot appears to have any prospect of evolving to tolerate the ammoniac taste of the giant squid as has the sperm whale.  Integrating taste sensors with vision sensors is not what occurred there.  Adopting common messaging protocols across progamming libraries of procedural languages is not what occurred there.

I can think of no way except embarrassment to move someone past the doctrine of the physical assumption.  Perhaps seriously thinking of Yeshua the healer helps the believer move one step towards atheism.  The AI faiths are much harder nuts to crack: a "physical assumption to heaven" is "adjusting action to environment" - which just sounds so sensible.  Just as heaven was once above.  Just as necrosis was once a mystery.  The bodies of the pure do not rot.  The robot  "solves the problem".  Language will not make it so.  The kingdom does not come in this lifetime.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Object Icon

Object Icon 2.5 is now available at as source code.

An internet search will reveal that the choice of name for this Icon language variant may be regettable.

Ralph Griswold had wanted to keep the name of the language intact, i.e., which precluded "Icon2".

'ICONUO' might have captured ICON+Objects+UNICODE but misses the key role of succeed/fail/retry logic and the role of co-expressions in Icon.

'ICOEXP' (pronounced Eye-Ko-eX-Pea ) appears an option for internet search.

The single word 'ObjectIcon' appears to be precluded legally already.  In addition, a Google search must quote, as in
  "Object Icon" programming language
in order to obtain a result.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

BBC's Vatican: less than Global Minds

The BBC's Duncan Kennedy had this report as journalism from Rome under the rubric Europe News:

"If the Big Bang was the start of everything, what came before it?"
That is one of the questions being posed by a new website being set up by the Vatican and Italy's scientific community. After centuries of mistrust between religion and science, the intention is to give the public a greater understanding of both sides. The website, which will be available in Italian and English, has information on everything from astronomy to theology, from space missions to philosophy and art. ...

It was my good fortune to hear his drivel about philosophical questions and cosmology.  Kennedy is unaware that there is a field of philosophy of physics and philosophy of science and philosophy of religion.  But, ah, yes, the web site is for the "public", which Kennedy also serves.

Only he serves cold porridge.

Kennedy appears ignorant that in my own lifetime Hoyle and Gamow's beginning of astro-biology was such an offence to the harmless Lutherans of Sweden that a Nobel was out of the question.  And nothing as changed for atheists in Catholic countries.

Suppose Kennedy had asked what parallel existed between String Theory and the doctrine of the Trinity or between dark matter and the Physical Ascension of Mary?  We have a clear idea of what might cause String Theory to topple - but will the Vatican revisit the triumph of the mystery of the Triune-God over the heresies of the "philosophical" early Christians?  We know what may alter the calculation of the amount of dark matter surrounding the Milky Way, but did the feces and urine of Mary also physically ascend to heaven?  The parasites in her intestines?  The dogma of Pope Pius in 1960 came at a time when even the relation between nuclear membrane and cellular membrane in the somatic cell was not yet well understood.  But what could cause that pious dogma to be revised?  Is there an equivalent discussion to that in 1960 of the endoplasmic reticulum?  How does bad theology cease to be dogma in the one true Church?

What counts as "philosophical" for the paid BBC reporter is what counts as "sophomoric" elsewhere.

Kennedy's priest mentions Einstein, but not Weyl.  Hermann Weyl had philosophic concerns that did not lead him to the Christian soul or the Christian God of his native northern Germany.  What could have brought Weyl, Gamow or Hoyle home to the One True Church?  Not that BBC broadcast or this BBC web posting.

Science does not have all the answers - but it can defend a few assertions, such as the importance of condoms.  Social and medical science can make a strong case against the celibacy of priests.  Ethics can make a strong case for female priests.

The core issue for me is whether a non-reductionist, non-materialist atheist such as myself could ever by evidence and argument alone convince a believer in the soul that evolved embodied mind is a biological-social-linguistic fact and that individual minds end with their respective biological lives.  End of story.  A Weyl, perhaps.  A Pope Pius, no.  And among the philosophers courting the Vatican: Charles Taylor, no; Alasdair MacIntyre, well, time is running out there.

Note:  The Vatican has been active in observational astronomy for many years - which is why facts are important (but only if your theory is not a dogma.)  In mathematical physics, Georges Lemaître was both a priest and the author of the Big Bang.  But he was also an artillery officer in WWI - something which Bertrand Russell was not.  I take more issue with the use of heavy field artillery as morally unjustifiable in any infantry conflict between France and Germany ( as much so as aerial bombardment, machine guns and poison gas  ) than with his being ordained as a priest and continuing in that confession.  Note that after that war, conscientious objectors in pious Canada lost their right to vote - they might as easily have lost the right to study at universities.  With argument, vote was restored, mustard gas banned.  But the dogma of the Trinity stands untouched in Italy (see the fate of Bernard Bolzano, centuries after Bruno.) COBE may have backed  Georges Lemaître over Fred Hoyle, but the facts and theory did nothing to legitimate the views of either - not the Jesuits' God and not Hoyle's "a bit of God ... operating in all of us".

Friday, February 18, 2011

Squeak Smalltalk 4.2

Squeak Smalltalk 4.2 is now available at as a single bundle "app".

I find the more conventional IDE to be to my liking - a click on a menubar selection opens a window.  On my Windows box this gave a much more conventional feel which, for better or worse, is now the common desktop look and likely an aid both to productivity and to ease of adoption.

This version is designed to be compatible with the coming "Cog" VM so additional performance improvements can be expected soon.

The main alternative 'squeak' is now where Traits from Self have been brought into Smalltalk as an alternative to AOP and Mixins.  The awaited Pharo 1.2  is expected soon.

Both Squeak and Pharo are compatible with the Seaside 3.0 web application framework.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Faber and Faber poetry page layouts

For all his faults and flaws, Seamus Heaney, "Opened Ground", 1998, did not deserve the orphans and widows of his publisher.

Time and again a stanza is broken only to end on a partial page.

The publishers do not know that when a page will be a few lines short, either to increase the spacing between stanzas or to suppress the page number (if it is at the foot) or replace that number with a simple arrow or to place a discrete arrow in the right margin or ...

Anything of that sort must be better than these fractured verses.

Perhaps it could be offered as what one gains by purchasing the hard-covers edition (electronic publishing from smart markup rather than mere SGML should not have a problem in providing for that luxury.)

Cannot they not see that this manner of lazy page layout is as flawed as perverting the order of stanzas?

Not as bad, of course, as U Cal Press placing the titles of at least one poem on every page with no bracket style to indicate "here it ends" or "here it begins" - as though the page is not before the reader.  Poetry is not fiction in paragraphs; poems are not pages of fiction.

And yet so much careful attention to wrappers, dust covers, jackets, ...

The Faber and Faber does also mis-number the preceding roman numeral pages in adding an extra blank page (appreciated by me for my notes) in doing the gathering for the bookbinding.  Page -I and page 0 may be quite fitting for the funereal in Heaney.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Blue Brain, BBC and Global Minds: gullibility and hyperbole.

In both GB and Europe the high-blown claims for what we may learn from computer neo-cortex simulators continue to be propagated by the web entertainment journalists at BBC.  Here is a quote from web BBC:
The scientists say the project could lead, for example, to new ideas on how psychiatric disorders develop - illnesses such as autism, schizophrenia, and depression.
Here are my last few tweets at this point:

rshifflet G. Robert Shiplett
Brain simulator advocates do not propose to explain why some people ignore principled objections to their research proposals or faith or

rshifflet G. Robert Shiplett
Why not claim that your neo-cortex simulator may explain _________ (here you fill in the blank with any apparent dichotomy in behaviour.)

rshifflet G. Robert Shiplett
computer brain simulator builders claim that all they need is more money; theorists of AOP, stateful Traits, co-routines needed more time...

rshifflet G. Robert Shiplett
computer neo-cortex simulators suggest may explain schizophrenia - but why not explain 'tendency to exaggerate' or 'obsessed with computer'?

But before I stop mocking hyperbole in CS at let me ask this: why is neither project working with the Vienna Freud society?  If fuzzy neural nets are to learn to "emulate mind" from Freudian fanatics, why would not at least one of these projects have done the same?

What if both tried? One could use ego | id | super-ego and one could use eros | thanatos.  Both could ignore cathexis, catharsis, resistance, introjection, repression ....

We could have a race to explain why most victims of bi-polar disorders are not cured by meditation alone or why schizophrenia [ here take your pick: strikes more at 19 than 13 or is so seldom violent paranoid or has SEEMED to have no single neural correlates.]

And by all means, do send more money.  Those who are busy squaring the circle or building perpetual motion machines are also sometimes starved for cash.  Perhaps if they were using millions of parts or drawing millions of lines they would get the attention of BBC "Tech".

But why the claim to explain schizophrenia?  Why not atheism?  Paedophilia?  Witches?

What would really matter is to explain why most schizophrenics are not violent paranoiacs.  Or not obsessed with building computer traffic simulators for crowds approaching the Roman Coliseum or wondering why "arena' would be used to name a building in which ice hockey is played - or being amused by really bad puns.

Yes, explain inveterate punning - it causes more annoyance to more people than schizophrenia.  Believe me.  Or I'll hold my breath until my brain turns blue.  Unless you pay up ...  Explain the willingness to take bribes, to turn a blind eye, and if nothing else, propose to explain the need to mock, to mock cruelly, to perseverate, to perdure in follies, to exaggerate, to fib.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

signature, catchword and fuzzy neural networks: the hypebole of emulating mind

There is a fracture in which might give pause in any enthusiasm about the coming singularity or the use of AI by emergency management planners

While reading a rebound hardcover Fulke Greville on Philip Sidney I was struck by the word on an orphan line at the end of each page: that word matched the first word on the next verso or the next recto page.

This typographic practice in page layout is related to the task of gathering in bookbinding.  It's only role as an aid to the reader is that it may have helped ensure that pagination of the book is correct.

The term 'gathering' has no link in the bookbinding article and the term 'catchword' is missing from the relevant articles.

The article on 'catchword' has no relevant "See Also" or other helpful link for a webcrawl.

Now what if I deliberately refrain from correcting this oversight?  The current hyperbole concerning melding the social web with the data web might be tamed by more enthusiasts reading Cornelius Ryan's "A Bridge Too Far" with an eye to presuppositions [not following an order and Van Zwangen's 15th at the Schelde; Montgomery's innovation, chance, bad luck, logistics, failure, intention, compliance, risk, emergency management, command,collaboration,messaging,trust,folly,enthusiasm,slaughter.]

Then there is the idea that science is more fundamentally theory of error and measure than else [ but with a strategy for peers to expose liars, lies and frauds as much as falsehoods and fallacies.]

What measure shall we apply to this 'fracture' in wikipedia, this missing branch, failure to connect, and the attendant misinformation such as the quote selected for use in the 'catchword' article?  Unintended misinformation recalled as explanation.  Hmmm ...

Trivia: how to detect in Google Books the last book published in which catchwords were employed by the printer and bookbinder?  Error?  Metric?  Estimate?

Inspired by hyperbole concerning fuzzy neural nets and 'holistic' computational 'ecosystems' in pseudo-computer science at [ or, from simple glaucoma to wartime responses to unforeseeable emergencies as documented by Ryan for the Arnhem glider airborne debacle risk, the unexpected Ardennes counter-attack and the 2010-2011 "Jeopardy" inclusive or multi-paradigm strategy of IBM's "Watson".]

Communication.  Logistics. Innovation. Improvisation.  False belief.  Risk.  Evidential value.  Connections.

Ivor Winters: the canon and Fulke Greville

Note: the canons of page layout

Innovation: the IBM "Jeopardy" meta-program strategy for "Watson" versus Watson Research and Winchester drives and Bell Labs "escape of COBOL" versus microwave background radiation.  C.P. Snow on innovation in bi-plane tail slide and bombing civilians up to and including Wuerzburg [Würzburg].

Of interest: signature and foliation in differential geometry; confer: jet bundles and the space-time metric; Hermann Weyl

ObjectIcon, branching, success, failure, design strategies, text analysis, neglected options, co-routines, green threads.  The cable ferry on the Rhine.  Antwerp. Self and Strongtalk stranded or suppressed at Sun. Actor and Io.

Google Blogspot blogger labels or tagging limit: 200 characters and 20 tags.  Gloss.  Annotation. Pull quote.  See more text. Detail.  Map.

Compare this 'fracture' to noticing a distracting river on a text web page upon changing the magnification or 'zoom'.