The Internet of 1945

The interview with Tim Berners-Lee at BBC news this morning includes reference to the work of Vannevar Bush.

…the idea of hypertext and links had actually been invented some time ago. In fact it was 1945, I think. Vannevar Bush wrote a great paper about how it could be done. But he imagined it all being done using microfilms and electric sensors and mechanics because he didn’t have computers and he didn’t have the internet then, and then Ted Nelson invented the idea of hypertext.

The Atlantic has a 1945 article by Bush on his ideas here where he “urges that men of science should then turn to the massive task of making more accessible our bewildering store of knowledge”


A Fund For George

I got an email from my pal Ann in Winnipeg about a mutual friend from University of Kings College days, George Earles, who died earlier this year. Brian Cormier, another Kingsman, has set up a web group. At Brians site, there is a bit of a bio of George and some posts from friends which goes with the picture at the right: “George Earles, BJ Hons. ’86, University of King’s College. Born on May 7, 1964, George passed away in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, on March 4, 2003. Family, friends and colleagues are welcome to post messages and photos to remember George.” George was well loved by all who knew him, even if, sometimes, we suffered from his Newfie wit turned on our inability to keep up.

Ann wrote:

When I was in Halifax this August I dropped into the Alum Office inter alia (as lawyers say) to see how the endowment for George’s memorial scholarship was doing. I just got an update letter with my tax receipt saying that it is sitting at $7700 – $2300 short of the $10,000 needed for the endowment. Do you think there are any Crows who would be inclined to support the scholarship but haven’t gotten around to it or don’t know about it?

Here is the contact information for UKC alumni:

Bev Mahon,
Alumni and Public Relations Officer
University of King’s College
6350 Coburg Rd.
Halifax, NS B3H 2A1
Phone: (902) 422-1271
Fax: (902) 425-0363

Put the hand in the pocket, guys and give Kings a call. And if you have lost touch with someone…give them a call, too.

Wine by Radio

I was listening to the AM dial yesterday as summer’s close leads [as you all say with one voice] to improved amplitude modulation broadcast propagation and caught the oddest show on WHAM 1180 Rochester, New York: The WHAM wine show. I thought I was listening to good college radio. It was unstructured, amateur and funny. During the show the host and guest were popping corks, comparing wines, comparing glassware and talking over music they liked. It must have been live as they were also giving running scores for the Buffalo Bills game being played on rival radio stations, perhaps to a 95% market share, given western NY tastes.

Given the medium, the show could not rely on long pans of vinyard vistas or uncious hosts puckering their lips approvingly. They actually had to describe what was happening in their noses and mouth.

Oor Wullie

Sae Help Ma Bob!Being a Scots immigrants’ kid in Canada who grew up in the Maritimes was in part about being unacknowledged. Folk assume you are some sort of cousins to the local Mcs or Macs. My buddy Mark of the Beeb told me after he came back to Canada engaged that he finally figured me and my family out after watching his to-be in-laws spend a day together in a room reading papers and not talking. I would think of my friends as Canadians – their families eating cornflakes or jam and toast while drinking coffee, while we would have Wheetabix, marmalade with tea. When you found someone whose family actually also came from Scotland, like my law school pals Neil or Graham, talk devolved into food: baps and square slice (or is it sliced square); mince and tatties; stovies; chip butty; Iron Brew.

After the comfort food and before the dissension caused by asking about your favorite fitba team, there was Oor Wullie, a comic strip from my Dad’s childhood before WWII which focused on Wullie and his pals, including Fat Bob, the smoker above. Comics often ended with kids with black eyes, spanked arses or, like the one you can find by clicking on the drawing above, Wullie barfing after smoking. Sort of a smarter Bart Simpson raised by sensible presbyterians which would likely put a greater fear into the “Zero Tolerance” set. Given the presence, however, of the utterly bastardly version of Dennis the Menace in the UK comic scene, Oor Wullie as your child’s choice would be welcome relief.


BeautyI have only read two books by Douglas Coupland, Generation X (1991) and Souvenir of Canada (2002), the cover of the latter shown, and only read them in the last couple of years. I am more impressed by his observation than his storytelling which makes Souvenir of Canada perfect as it is a personal encyclopedia of things noticed about our mutual homeland. Under the entry “Stubbies” he writes

In order to get stubbies to photograph, I put an ad in the local community paper and was besieged by calls from fiftysomething men with a nostalgic lilt in their voices. They all wish that stubbies would return, but young people would probably look at a stubbie and say, “What’s that thing supposed to hold – molasses?” So I think the stubbie’s fate is sealed.

Today, in the bewilderingly diverse selection at the amazingly well named The Beer Store, I picked up a 12 of Waterloo Dark. It came in stubbies – despite the web image. While it was not the useful 6×2 packaging of yore, cracking open the corrugated cardboard box to see 12 cheery stout little pints was an undeniably happy moment. Holding one immediately reminded me of the feeling of holding a beer in a mitten, something you would likely have only done if you were underage in winter in Canada.

Coupland also tells the story of how he went some way to reinstating the brand Extra Old Stock during a grade 12 work experience day spent at an ad agency. The role of beer in being Canadian is particular. In his 1977 edition of The World Guide to Beer, Micahel Jackson (the other one) spends four pages describing product lines which largely no longer exists. Unlike the UK, brands do not necessarily survive (think James Ready or the elaborately but pointlessly marketed Labatt Copper). Unlike the US, what ever the label, our beers are stronger, bigger and a bit sweeter – something of more sustenance than a cause for unzipping and unwrapping the layers under the ski-doo suit while doing the gotta pee dance at 15 below. Whatever the label, it is that generic taste that maybe we collectively recall. And the feel of the stubby in your mitt.

Hate Crime

Discount Blogger, a New Brunswicker in Atlanta, is speaking and entertaining comment on the new criminal code provisions on same-sex hate crimes. I must say, I am flabbergasted by the failure of this vote in the House to be unanimous. In case you are interested, here is the record from Hansard of who voted yea and nay just in case you want a word with your local MP next election. [Hey, there is Elsie Wayne against it and Peter MacKay for it. Troubles in Tory land continue.]

Just to be clear, here is the Bill as passed by the House of Commons. Bill 250 adds sexual orientation to an existing list of subjects of prohibited hate speech – the others being “colour, race, religion or ethnic origin” – under both sections 318 and section 319:

318. (1) Every one who advocates or promotes genocide is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.

(2) In this section, “genocide” means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy in whole or in part any identifiable group, namely,

(a) killing members of the group; or

(b) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction.

So, the class of speech is limited to advocating killing and physical destruction of a group. These are activities which I usually class in the class “Generally Bad”.

The provisions of Bill 250, now passed, deal with a second set of crimes under section 319, hate speech against “any identifiable group” which leads to “hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace” and “communicating statements, other than in private conversation, wilfully promotes hatred against any identifiable group”. I also include these acts in “Pretty Much Bad, Too”.

Others do not believe this bad is so general. The wackos Certain of the faithful have weasled required an exception to be worked into section 319 – the “Pretty Much Bad, Too” crimes – in our Criminal Code:

if, in good faith, the person expressed or attempted to establish by an argument an opinion on a religious subject or an opinion based on a belief in a religious text.

So now we can sing “Jesus hates you this I know. For the Bible tells me so…” And hates you, and you, and you and especially you.

And it would also be possible for me to say Jesus hates those who supported the section 319 exceptions as hypocritical, soul-scoured falsifiers…if, that is, I thought it was possible for the good Lord to hate.

A Cry for Help

I have a need. There is not much that my employ, family, friends and wit cannot provide me. I have eaten my onions through a winter and drank my ale for years. I cannot, however, make a flag of Norway.

Proud NorwayMy kin were kicked out of Norway in 1250 for not giving up the pagan way. Since that awareness dawned upon my brain, I have had a soft spot for the place and gladly eat pickled fish products. Mighty Norway!I could buy one but it would be a new nylon thing which, beautiful in itself, not as beautiful as a old cloth thing that looks like it spent years on a tramp steamer lashed by the North Atlantic west of Stavenger or Narvik – as shown below left. If anyone has a spare, please advise. We can work it out on Al-Bay. What else would you need to do a proper Norwegian event?

Happy NorwayMad Norway!Drunk Norway!!

Help Celebrate Norway in Our Way…Some Day!