Guess the drought is over ...



High season at Featherstone Farm ...


Reaching for a joke

State Fair: Be there or be square.
MPR Webcam


Would Descartes have programmed in Pascal?

The Umberto Ecco excerpt below is an English translation from his column, "La bustina di Minerva," in the Italian news weekly Espresso, September 30, 1994.

Sounds like ancient history and it is from the last millenium, but I'm old enough to remember when it was first published. It's really interesting to read something before the dawn of the internet, which changed everything about the tech world. It's like visiting Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts, a recreation of a 1830 early industrial village. I think I was using Netscape as a browser in 1994, having just moved on from its earliest incarnation as Mosaic.

"The fact is that the world is divided between users of the Macintosh computer and users of MS-DOS compatible computers. I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant. Indeed, the Macintosh is counter-reformist and has been influenced by the ratio studiorum of the Jesuits. It is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory; it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach -- if not the kingdom of Heaven -- the moment in which their document is printed. It is catechistic: The essence of revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation.

"DOS is Protestant, or even Calvinistic. It allows free interpretation of scripture, demands difficult personal decisions, imposes a subtle hermeneutics upon the user, and takes for granted the idea that not all can achieve salvation. To make the system work you need to interpret the program yourself: Far away from the baroque community of revelers, the user is closed within the loneliness of his own inner torment.

"You may object that, with the passage to Windows, the DOS universe has come to resemble more closely the counter-reformist tolerance of the Macintosh. It's true: Windows represents an Anglican-style schism, big ceremonies in the cathedral, but there is always the possibility of a return to DOS to change things in accordance with bizarre decisions: When it comes down to it, you can decide to ordain women and gays if you want to.

"Naturally, the Catholicism and Protestantism of the two systems have nothing to do with the cultural and religious positions of their users. One may wonder whether, as time goes by, the use of one system rather than another leads to profound inner changes. Can you use DOS and be a Vande supporter? And more: Would Celine have written using Word, WordPerfect, or Wordstar? Would Descartes have programmed in Pascal?

"And machine code, which lies beneath and decides the destiny of both systems (or environments, if you prefer)? Ah, that belongs to the Old Testament, and is talmudic and cabalistic."

Wiki: Ecco


A soft summer sunset


Admiring Angels and Ages

I was sharing my affection for Adam Gopnik’s book with a friend. It’s fit the bill for a book of worthy writing and worthy reading. Worth posting a bit from an interview with Gopnik here.

Britannica: Much of Angels and Ages, your latest book, focuses on the literary styles of Abraham Lincoln, whose oratory was grounded in legal argument, and Charles Darwin, a meticulous observer whom you characterize as writing about science like a novelist. What were the biggest similarities and biggest differences between Lincoln’s and Darwin’s rhetoric?

Gopnik: The similarity lies in their precision, and in their replacement of the old rhetoric of honor and exhortation by a new rhetoric of argument and observation, and by their insistence on making that new rhetoric popular. Lincoln’s greatest speeches – the Cooper Union speech of 1859, for instance, which “made him President” by one account – are closely reasoned and even legalistic arguments: he goes painstakingly through the history of the early American Congress to see if the Founders intended Congress to rule on slavery as a national question. Only then is the moral issue introduced. Darwin, writing the most ambitious work on biology in its history, first of all publishes it for a popular audience, as a “trade” book, and then introduces it as a homely tale of dogs and pigeons. Darwin began with the narrow language of the naturalist, Lincoln with the close reasoning of the lawyer, and both aimed to persuade, not to intimidate.

The biggest difference is that, Darwin was a persuader speaking softly to an audience of intimates, as all reading audiences are; Lincoln was a politician, speaking clearly, and loudly, to a public gathering. Lincoln had to be terse where Darwin was voluble, and grand where Darwin was modest.

Article link

A short cookbook of dough bait recipes

I like set bait fishing and a bobber makes me very happy, so the dough bait recipes at bottom interest me. First, as a follow up to yesterday’s note on catfish bait, here’s the recipe I used:
* half cup cornmeal
* half cup flour
* tablespoon oil
* teaspoon flavored oil, almond
* sufficient water to mix
Adjust ingredients to get a doughy mix. Separate into one inch balls. Tie into spawn sacks.

Apparently catfish like their dough stinky, while carp like it sweet. And even trout will take a bite.

How to Know What Ingredients to Use for Carp Fishing Bait
How to make carp dough bait
How to Make Cheese Catfish Dough Bait
How to Make Homemade Trout Dough Bait | Rainbow Trout Lures​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​



Roll on big river

Whipped up some dough bait ... stuff somewhere between the stinky bait for catfish and the sweet bait for carp. Barely hit the water in front of the boathouse and the bobber submarined. About a five pound cat. Thought for a minute it was a walleye. Similar coloration. Gave it to a neighbor. Let me know if you want the recipe.

Remembering Luxembourg City

Bumped into someone from L. today. Here’s a shot I took there. Lovely place.


Levels of learning

Teaching tennis has me thinking about learning. Why do we need so much practice to excel at a skill set, using Gladwell's 10,000 hours as a baseline? I ran into this four level schema and it reminded me of something a magician said once about learning a trick. So I'm adapting.

1. Unconscious Incompetence (Hour 1: We don’t know we don't know the trick. We think anyone can do it.)

2. Conscious Incompetence (Hour 2: We realize we don't know the trick; we don't know we can learn it.)

[I think there is a level missing here: Unconscious Incompetence: Hour 100: We realize we don't know the trick; we think we an learn it.)

3. [Self] Conscious Competence (Hour 1,000: We know the trick but it still takes a lot of thought and effort.)

[Another level missing: Other Conscious Competence: Hour 5,000: We know the trick well, but we see others know it better.)

4. Unconscious Competence (Hour 10,000: We can do the trick without thought or effort. And nobody does it better. Magic.)

I once roomed with a magician and it's true. When they are good, you can know how the trick is done and still marvel that they can do it.

Link: Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell


Messing around with a publishing scheme

I have been looking for a publishing scheme that achieves the broadest broadcasting with the least effort. Here’s today’s version:

* The orginal entry is created in MacJournal, used because I want my work to reside somewhere on my hard drive in a format that I can access and export as I will.
I find too that I can amend entries later on and post without affecting the linking downstream.
Another benefit is that the text in MacJournal is searchable using Spotlight or Google search.
And MacJournal handles links and photos very simply and flexibly.

* The entry is posted from MacJournal to Blogger, my online publishing hub. I want all my links to show up somewhere online. And it’s free.

* The entry is automatically posted as well to Twitter, and from Twitter to Facebook, with links back to Blogger. Both free.