David Thompson


Blog powered by Typepad

« Satan’s Hair Gel | Main | Abductees »

August 24, 2007



The chronology of mathematics is beautiful; what a trip down memory lane. The vintage calculators is sadly lacking because there are no Hewlett Packard 35, 45, or 67 calculators from the early '70s; that will not do.

Speaking as one who has brewed beer in 35 gallon drums, Drew's comment on the importance of cleanliness is appreciated. Of course, I also made a (red) wine fermentation reactor connected to an IBM 1800 data acquisition, control, and simulation system - http://tinyurl.com/39fchu - as my grade twelve biology project in 1972, and I was underage. They probably wouldn't let kids do that any more. Where will we find our future engineers?

The slow motion hack is not responding. Bosch's site is making me sea sick. I should scan in my 40 Perry Mason book covers. Julia Child said that grilled vegetables are both undercooked and burnt at the same time.

The Landsat images remind me of Benoit Mandelbrot. The Road to Serfdom cartoon is indeed classic. There's a rather interesting related video called "Mind Control Made Easy" available here: http://tinyurl.com/2xtzo7

The history of women in art is cool. I wish I could do something like that for the history of men in science. As you can see from my Top 50 Documents List - http://tinyurl.com/ozn46 - such a work would tend to show that such men had decent hair, until about 1900, when most of them started running around like shorn sheep, scraping their fur off their facial epidermis on a daily basis. I blame the invention of the disposable-blade safety razor, by King Camp Gillette, in 1901.

I'll skip the cigarette ads, everyone knows that thinking men smoke pipes. The Singing Science Records are excellent. You might also like this recent Fourier Transform Dance video, a video project from some student engineers: http://tinyurl.com/2bzyrr

What can I say? Too bad there weren't more sweater girls? I know, how 'bout a contribution to this Friday's Ephemera? Here is my updated just this week set of Collected Aprhorisms &c:




I’m hoping the link to hacking slow motion is down temporarily. I’ve short-listed the cult leader clip for an ephemera outing; thanks very much. And the world needs a collection of Perry Mason book covers.

No, really, it does.


Glad you liked the cult leader clip. I'll try slow motion again later, it has worked for me in the past ;-) Alas, things are a bit too busy at the smithy right now to do the whole Perry Mason thing, yet in the spirit of the exercise I have just scanned in as an offering two of my favourite Perry Mason covers, which are now available here:



The Case of the Fan-Dancer’s Horse…? Great Caesar’s ghost. How can you toy with us in this way? It’s positively cruel.


Ok, fine, twist my rubber arm, I have uploaded four more Perry Mason covers to the previous link, for your delectation. Salut.


Be still my girlish heart. Now if you could upload the whole shebang, my dreams would be fulfilled. Not the dreams of being a cruel and ruthless overlord, obviously, but the other ones.




Thanks, David, for hooking me up with EarthAsArt. I have some new groovy screen-art to play with now.

My favorite is "Bolivian Deforestation." It's a bit scary how Man's lines fall on Nature. But weirdly alluring, too.

And, hey, Vesuvius! I got one up on ya: my college microbiology professor let me grow Psilocybe cubensis in the college-labs so I could test the effects of substrate pH on spore germination-rate and colony expansion.

That was the eighties for ya...I call 'em the Reagan Years, very affectionately!



Why...who dat?

Vetruvius, your namesake was one smart guy, and I should have known better than get his name wrong.



Vitruvius ca. 25 BC was indeed an interesting character, Steve. You can read Prof. Morgan's 1914 translation of Marcus Vitruvius Pollio's "Des Architectura" via the Gutenberg Project at http://www.gutenberg.org/files/20239/20239-h/29239-h.htm

I chose Vitruvius as a nom de net carefully. My father was a "real" architect (he designed cathedrals), and based on my 35 years of software development experience and formal education thereto &c, people in my field of work call me "principal software architect". (Mr. Gates made a horrible faux paux calling himself "Chief" software architect, in the tradition of the field the lead is always called "Principal", sort of like ballerinas ;-)

Plus, my background is engineering, and Marcus Virtuvius, though he is noted as the father of architecture, was more of an artistic engineer, really. Just like me. For example, I really resonate with the first two paragraphs of Chapter I of Book I of Des Architectura:

"The architect should be equipped with knowledge of many branches of study and varied kinds of learning, for it is by his judgement that all work done by the other arts is put to test. This knowledge is the child of practice and theory. Practice is the continuous and regular exercise of employment where manual work is done with any necessary material according to the design of a drawing. Theory, on the other hand, is the ability to demonstrate and explain the productions of dexterity on the principles of proportion.

"It follows, therefore, that architects who have aimed at acquiring manual skill without scholarship have never been able to reach a position of authority to correspond to their pains, while those who relied only upon theories and scholarship were obviously hunting the shadow, not the substance. But those who have a thorough knowledge of both, like men armed at all points, have the sooner attained their object and carried authority with them."

But perhaps the root of my affinity for the character of Vitruvius can be found in Albert A. Howard's preface to Prof. Morgan's work, where he notes that:

"Vitruvius was not a great literary personage, ambitious as he was to appear in that character. As Professor Morgan has aptly said, "he has all the marks of one unused to composition, to whom writing is a painful task". In his hand the measuring-rod was a far mightier implement than the pen. His turgid and pompous rhetoric displays itself in the introductions to the different books, where his exaggerated effort to introduce some semblance of style into his commonplace lectures on the noble principles which should govern the conduct of the architect, or into the prosaic lists of architects and writers on architecture, is everywhere apparent. Even in the more technical portions of his work, a like conscious effort may be detected, and, at the same time, a lack of confidence in his ability to express himself in unmistakable language.

"He avoids periodic sentences, uses only the simpler subjunctive constructions, repeats the antecedent in relative clauses, and, not infrequently, adopts a formal language closely akin to that of specifications and contracts, the style with which he was, naturally, most familiar. He ends each book with a brief summary, almost a formula, somewhat like a sigh of relief, in which the reader unconsciously shares. At times his meaning is ambiguous, not because of grammatical faults, which are comparatively few and unimportant, but because, when he does attempt a periodic sentence, he becomes involved, and finds it difficult to extricate himself."

In summary, sigh, yeah that sounds like me.


I see Vesuvius has erupted.


Hmm, I thought that was rather more a puff of steam than an eruption, and self-deprecating too, in any case, I hope it was ok.

The slow motion link works for me again, based thereupon you may be interested in the free/open source Audacity - http://audacity.sourceforge.net - which I and friends have used, on Linux, OS X, and Windows, for audio editing. It does pitch changing, tempo changing, and/or both, and a host of other nice things.

For example, I produced the audio for my "On the Canadian Loon & Government" essay - http://tinyurl.com/y6u8kn - using Audacity.

That said, things have gone very well at the smithy for the last two days (I've got the hydrocarbon assays working with the distillation columns now), which leaves me with a little spare time I wasn't sure I could count on. I light thereof, I've uploaded four more Perry Mason covers to http://tinyurl.com/2hlj2p

You may also be interested to know that the classic Perry Mason intro and theme song (this one from The Case of the Negligent Nymph), and three sets of clips from "The Case of the Wary Wildcatter", are available here:




Bless you, my son. I may have to put together a Perry Mason post in the near future. And, yes, Barbara Bain was indeed a handsome woman. Last seen, I believe, hurtling into deep space, circa 1999.


Wikipedia (yeah, yeah) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perry_mason - has in part this to say about Perry Mason:

"Essentially, Perry Mason is a lawyer who fights hard on behalf of his clients and who enjoys unusual, difficult or nearly hopeless cases. He frequently accepts clients on a whim based on his curiosity about their problem, for a minimal retainer, and finances the investigation of their cases himself if necessary. Perhaps the best illustration of the character can be seen in how other characters who know him react to him.

"In The Case Of The Caretaker's Cat (1935), his principal antagonist, District Attorney Hamilton Burger, says "... You're a better detective than you are a lawyer. When you turn your mind to the solution of a crime, you ferret out the truth." And in The Case Of The Moth-Eaten Mink (1952) a judge who has just witnessed one of the lawyer's unusual tactics says: "... Mr. Mason ... from time to time you seem to find yourself in predicaments from which you extricate yourself by unusual methods which invariably turn out to be legally sound. The Court feels you are fully capable of looking after your own as well as your clients' interests."

"Another frequent antagonist, Lieutenant Tragg of the Homicide Squad, has a discussion with Mason about his approach to the law in The Case Of The Drowsy Mosquito (1943). Mason is recovering from having been poisoned, and Tragg is investigating. He says: "How does it feel to be the victim for once? ... You've been sticking up for criminals and now you can see the other side of the picture." "Not 'sticking up for criminals'," (Mason) protested indignantly. "I have never stuck up for any criminal. I have merely asked for the orderly administration of an impartial justice. ... Due legal process is my own safeguard against being convicted unjustly. To my mind, that's government. That's law and order."

He sounds like my kind of guy, and Della and Paul are icing on the cake.

By the way, I have a hard-cover copy of Gardner's Mason short story, "The Case of the Crying Swallow" (1947), and hard-cover copies of two of Gardner's non-Mason works, "The D.A. Calls it Murder" (1937), and "The D.A. Holds a Candle" (1938). Interestingly, my copy of the former is bound upside down, which makes people look at you funny when you're reading it in a restaurant.

There is more information about D.A. Doug Selby (the mix of politics, media, and justice in the Selby novels is insightful) and other stuff regarding Gardner, Hammet, and Chandler via this Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erle_Stanley_Gardner

Perhaps the unusual thing is that I did not intend to collect the Gardner works as an exercise, rather, after I decided to stop reading newspapers because I became tired of them yelling at me, I needed something to read while jentaculating. I asked my used-book monger to look out for Perry Mason, Ellery Queen, Tom Swift, &c, and, well, a few months ago he found me a box of 35 Perry Mason novels which he sold to me for $25. Ah, serendipity. I'm about a fifth of the way through, and I'm enjoying them immensely.

So just ask your local used-book monger, they're not rare. And if you're looking for good honest entertainment, they beat the crap out of almost all the stuff produced lately, because they're not yelling at you.


Thanks for, um, that. I’m still puzzling over whether Barbara Bain ever made it back from the Moon.

I can’t find “jentaculate” in my dictionary, and I hesitate to ask.


My understanding is that jentaculate is from the Latin "ientaculo", which was a light Roman breakfast of bread and fresh fruit, that would sustain until "prandium", or lunch. Thus we have post-prandial, which means after lunch, and ante-jentacular, which means before breakfast.

Of course, nudiustertian means "of the day before yesterday", so nudiustertially ante-jentacular means before breakfast the day before yesterday. And that never ceases to delight me.

Needless to say, Perry Mason wouldn't put it that way if he was questioning you on the stand about what you were doing before breakfast two days before the murder, which is one of the many reasons why I'm not Perry Mason. Perry Mason is not a borborygmic logophile. But one thing you can say 'bout both Perry 'n me, we're not boustrophedonic.


[ presses button under desk and waits for suction tube to emerge from ceiling ]


Aha! The cosmothetic Vitruvius exposed. But will he have computer access in prison? :)



I presume Dr Dawg is regurgitating the tired cliche that Blacks can't get justice.




Thanks for being such a gracious host, David. I very much enjoyed writing here, as your guest; it's a pleasure to (at least in part) entertain someone I admire so much.


Excuse me while I admire my own fabulousness. Ah, that’s better.


How could I not excuse you? Just watch out with that tube from the ceiling thing though, last I heard it worked about as well as "The Cone of Silence": http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=-4997005089986075061

Or, for that matter, the whip of Emma Peel's antagonist at the 3:21 mark in this footage from "A Touch of Brimstone" in part 2 of The Avengers documentary available at: http://youtube.com/watch?v=klaeo3KwtCk

I mean, at that point, who cares about The Fan Dancer's Horse?

The comments to this entry are closed.