Tolstoy on teaching history

III. The first history lesson

In the first lesson I intended to explain what makes Russia differ from other countries, on what it borders and how it is governed. I wanted to tell who ruled at the moment and when the Czar had ascended the throne.

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Dear mr. Google

Dear mr. Google,

Although it is great that you now show all of Amsterdam even up to zoom level 1, and that you show roadmaps of the Netherlands, but that tree behind my house was removed last year. Please fix your photo!

Today’s harvest

For this, our national and rather outdoorsy holiday, rain had been predicted. But although it was very windy, and at times chilly, there was sunshine most of the day.

I acquired 20 books (that’s approximately 160 square meter or 1600 square feet of pages); 11 for myself, 7 for Project Gutenberg, and 2 for a friend. The books weigh over 6 kg, and include 4 comics. I’ve paid 11 euro for 16 of them; 4 came at the end of the day and were free.

No real finds, although I will be glad to re-acquaint myself with Lord of the Flies, a book I like despite the fact that it was an obligatory read in high school.

To read: In het rijk van Vulcaan

Edit: OK, let’s translate a bit. The title means In Vulcan’s Empire, and the subtitle, De Uitbarsting van Krakatau en hare Gevolgen means The Eruption of the Krakatoa and its Consequences.

But from Java’s mountains death shows you its grin more eloquently; it is not the death of the far future, when the ice queen will have conquered even the jungle, but death as it arrives on the battlefield, suddenly, by enemy fire. Because Java is one huge artillery park.

They are not just mountains as they rise from the earth, spread over the entire island, but also active volcanoes. Fifty firebreathing mountains aim their peaks at the sky, all recognisable by that peculiar shape that is unique to volcanoes. You can go nowhere on Java without being covered by these mortars. This is Vulcan’s empire. Java is only four times the size of the Netherlands. Imagine the consequence: imagine that the Netherlands had seven active volcanoes!

Taïeb clip

Last weekend I went to the Jacqueline Taïeb concert I wrote about earlier, which was presented by my friend Natasha. Yuri has put up a clip with fragments of a couple of songs.

Live commenting

Here’s an idea: how about sending and storing comments live instead of after you pushed a Submit button? That way, if your browser crashed or something else went wrong, you could come back later and finish what you were writing.

But that’s not why I thought of this. A few minutes ago I was writing a couple of comments at blogs, but decided not to post them. I had trouble finding the right words at one, and decided that the right words weren’t at the other. Now what if my browser had sent my unfinished, undesired comments to those blogs after all? The blogger could have decided that my abortions were worthwhile after all, perhaps only because they made me look bad (and as a result perhaps make him look better), and post them regardless of my wish not to post them.

Am I a sick puppy for thinking of this or what?

Electrofon fun

[a lot of Electrofons]

It seems the Seventies will stay with us for a while. Electrofons (see photo) for sale. Even the Keracolor started its come-back this week. More here and here.

The upside is that the Fifties are now dirt-cheap.

Via Kane, via Yuri. Fifties via Natasha.

Philips spin-off to launch large e-book reader

Sometime during the next two weeks Philips spin-off Irex Technologies should come out with its A5-sized (1024×768 pixels) Iliad e-book reader. That makes three E Ink based readers announced for this year. These devices have screens that look like paper, are paperback sized and run thousands of pages off a single charge. Is this going to be the year of the e-book?

(Another rejected Slashdot submission. Something that ticks me off; not because my stories are great–I doubt they are–, but because of the tripe they do publish. Even with Zonk in my kill filter, pickings have been very slim lately. I guess it’s a story buyer’s market.)

It’s official: civil servants are nuts

The Dutch department for internal affairs has seen fit to publish a style guide for ministerial websites. It is full of sound and meaningful advice, such as:

  • Do not use upper case letters, spaces and special characters in file and path names.
  • Use logical and simple URLs.
  • Use unique URLs that will not change.

This style guide can be found at:

For now.

(Spotted in a posting by René Pijlman in nl.internet.www.ontwerp.)

Venus – she’s got it

Emily Lakdawalla is the official blogger for the Planetary Society, and good at that. But today she went beyond reporting the mere facts, and, part of her coverage of the successful orbit insertion of the ESA Venus Express mission, takes a literary peek at the psychology of ground control:

The other project managers I’ve worked with in the past, like Jim Erickson and Mark Adler on the Mars Exploration Rover mission and Bob Mitchell on Cassini: they always seem very, very even-tempered, tending toward only the most subdued excitement about their missions, whether the events around them are wonderful or awful. (“I’ve seen everything, and I just can’t get excited about it anymore,” Erickson told me once.)