Villagers With Pitchforks

The flaming torches were delayed in transit, sorry.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

How to do the Haka

I now have family in Wellington, so the Haka has become more important to me.

Just Doing My Part

There are lots and lots of Hurricane Katrina websites out there. Mine has been up since Sunday night, using a default WordPress install, while I madly finish the software for my check-in site.

The check-in site doesn't look like much, but that's on purpose. It's designed to use minimal system resources or bandwidth. It can run on a laptop. It can be installed in minutes.

Anyway, that's what I've been doing.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Real Renaissance festivals

And as long as we're being Elizabethan...

Here's a collection of what the British Library is calling Renaissance Festival books. No, not those nutty American Renaissance Festivals. Books about festivals and observances (and the people thad made them) from the Renaissance, digitized for your reading pleasure.

What is a festival book?

Festival books are printed accounts of these occasions, issued by or with the approval of court, city or religious authorities. They are often customised with the arms of a princely house, hand-coloured illustrations or a fine binding. The books usually offer eye-witness accounts of a festival, sometimes embellished with moral or philosophical reflections - though at their simplest they may just be a list of names.


Monday, August 15, 2005

The Elizabethan Costumer's Guide to Home Depot

Off and on over the centuries, I've been a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism.

I used to gird my loins with armour and stride out onto the battlefield and, well, get killed a lot. Eventually I realized I enjoy making the armor quite a bit more than fighting in it, and sort of drifted away from the SCA. But while I was doing all of this Manly Combat stuff, I spent a lot of time in hardware stores and eventually Home Depot buying plywood and hose clamps and duct tape and plastics and all of the other materials modern medievalists adapt into instruments of war.

And it wasn't just us Manly Men, either: Here's Sarah Lorraine Goodman's The Elizabethan Costumer's Guide to Home Depot.

- via BoingBoing

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Periodic Table of Science Fiction

Back in the old days of 2002, Michael Swanwick embarked on an unusual project: he wrote a short short story every working day. One story for each element of the periodic table, in order from hydrogen all the way through the elements up to good ole element 118, Ununoctium. The stories were great fun: some of them really about the elements:

Last of all, and most valued, are the oxygen planets, often called the "Goldilocks worlds" because in order to hold the extensive oceans that make such atmospheres stable, they must be neither too far from their suns nor too near, but can only exist at a "just right" distance.

And some of the stories weren't about the real element at all:

But it is not beauty that brings visitors to the Ritz-Beryllium. Beauty, for them, is so common as to be invisible.

They come for the squalor.

At the Ritz-Beryllium, maids place dust-bunnies under the beds each morning. There is always a film of grime on the bureaus and the smudgy patina of fingerprints on the mirrors. The bathtubs all have rings.

You can read them all over here.

- Thanks to Lucy Kemnitzer for jogging my memory.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Comment Spam

I'm getting hit with comment spam in the general form of:

From [perfect stranger]

Loved your post. Here's my blog.

A longer description, perhaps a line or two, that could be mistaken for an
e-mail signature line and always has a pointer to a business that has nothing
to do with the post follows.

Here's the thing: I'm a programmer, and such a reply is easy to automate. You're not fooling me one single bit.

I invite comments.
I like comments and online discussions.

You freeloaders can pay for your own advertising space.

And I've been reading through Blogger's help files.

Comment spam on Blogger sites does nothing to increase your Google page rank. Comments on Blogger sites are almost ignored by Google.

They're on to you.

Business for Geeks

Here's a summary of a presentation from this year's OSCON on selling your business idea to investors.

An engineer might think that all that is required is to combine a good idea with great people and go about your business building the product. To the surprise of most of the session attendees, the list of questions that a potential investor wants answered doesn't include "Is it a cool product?"

The business people focus instead on customers for the product. They want to determine if there are enough customers willing to pay and whether or not they are high-margin customers. An investor wants to know that customers care about the product. They worry about such things as sales channels and market conditions.

As a long-time geek who has a hard time understanding how non-techies tick, this is fascinating.

- via BrainLog

We control the vertical. We control the horizontal.

We see every single comment that comes to the Village and we delete comment spam.

Just saying, is all. If your comment is deleted and you think it's not spam, feel free to appeal.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Your mission, Mr Bond, is to sell this novel

Agent 007 is an ex-editor who is now working as a literary agent. Interesting notes on editing, agenting, and what it's like being on the other side of the editor's desk.

As far as editors are concerned, some agents are smart. Some of them have great taste, great connections, a great list of writers they’d eat all their red pencils just to edit. But the idea of being one of them is… well… unthinkable.

However, I’ve since gained valuable perspective. I know what goes on behind this side of the curtain, and I know how frustrating it can be. But I spent a fair amount of time last week ranting about editors, so I’d like to expose the scoundrels among agents today. Let’s face it, agenting has a bad rep because there are quite a few lousy agents out there.

007 is also soliciting questions, which are themselves quite interesting.

Monday, August 08, 2005


In the forests of Burgundy about two hours south of Paris, a brand new medieval castle is rising over the landscape.

Guedelon uses only medieval construction techniques. The site is open to the public and the builders are happy to explain
their crafts as they go.

I've done this myself, building furniture at the Remnaissance Festival, but mon Dieu this is nifty.

Mirabilis articles: here and here.