Tag Archives: education

A Mausoleum, A Magazine, and Networking

More History Basics today. The post on Bushmead Priory took about a week to concoct. That was the only completed post I had in reserve. So today, I rather anticipated putting up a bunch of researchy links for some posts, to come back and edit later.

But the place I wrote about over there today, didn’t seem to have a lot in the way of work that had been done on it, and there were a lot less Other Things that it was part of, so I surprised myself by writing the whole post in a day (which is kind of the intent).

The post over there was about a 17th century mausoleum. It’s intact, and stuck on the side of what looks to be a functional church. Not much in the way of research has needed to happen around the site, though there has been some. I had a bit of fun when there was a reference to “‘The Gentlemans Magazine’ in Monuments of the Grey Family at Flitton”. What’s a gentleman’s magazine doing there? Turns out that The Gentleman’s Magazine was a twice-yearly publication that went for nearly 200 years, and when I found the volume in question, it turned out there were over 650 pages. Some magazine. The first digitised copy I found was on archive.org, and it was missing those particular pages. Google Books had a scan with those pages intact. The Gentleman’s Magazine also has the distinction of being the first magazine to use the term “magazine”. So while 678 (IIRC) pages sounds like a lot, it just means our current magazines are just slacking.

You learn something new every day.

I’ve been thinking about doing Facebook pages for this site and History Basics. On the plus side, if I invite my friends to like those pages, that’s an initial burst of awareness. On the negative side, someone going back over their feed isn’t guaranteed to see all that they are subscribed to, unless you pay Facebook. And, maybe it’s down to the time of day that I post that I’ve blogged here, but I don’t get a great deal of interaction on the stuff there. I’ve been considering using Ello, as they don’t hide content that you’ve subscribed to see, the drawback there being that I don’t think many people I know are on there. If you are on Ello, follow me at https://ello.co/commander_frog, and I’ll start doing more stuff over there.

Comparison: Schindler’s List vs Schindler’s Ark

Sometimes there are things you read or watch, that just stick with you. Or some particular story or anecdote that you always have associated with a particular type of feeling or experience, that it becomes your go-to example for the rest of your life.

Schindler’s List the movie at came out at just the right time, that when I was doing World War 2 in school, was encouraged to watch. Or possibly made, I have memory of seeing a “Schools Edition”. Needless to say, I appreciated it more, later. It’s full of good people, it’s not a bad story, some of the imagery is quite clever and haunting. The actors alongside the people they played at the end.

Spielberg’s pretty good at sentimentality, and the film does rather reflect that. The feel of the film is, these people are living through this time that’s very bleak, and oh, it’s so hard and dangerous, and oh no this new situation is even direr.

I read the book the film was based on. My copy is called “Schindler’s Ark”, although I think because of the movie it got renamed to “Schindler’s List”. It’s by Thomas Keneally. The tone is very different.

Rather than the melancholy tone of the movie, the book is much more adventurous. Much more in the way of “previously he’s used his stores of wine to bribe the guards, but now he’s out and has to get across this bridge, which is guarded by two Nazi soldiers. Technically he’s not supposed to go across. How’s he going to get through this?” and so on. Much more enthusiastic and vibrant. More of a sense of just how many times Oskar stuck his neck out for his workers, tried to use the bureaucracy against itself, getting into serious trouble, and how almost unbelievable it is that he got out of trouble again.

I’d almost like to see a movie of the book, one that retains the tone, style and flair.

The only drawback to the book, is that some of those Polish street names are HARD. I thought about asking some Polish co-workers at one point about the pronunciations, but in the end, I didn’t. There were points I just pigeonholed some of the names, recognising the shape of the name and saying, “ok, it’s that one”, rather than forcing my brain to butcher the language each time I came across it. So that’s more to do with my own inadequacies (which, who knows, you might share) than any actual problem with the book.

So Schindler’s List is my go-to reference for difference in tone between book and film.

The film’s not bad. I read a Rabbi’s article saying that everyone told him he should see the movie but he didn’t, because he had certain expectations about the Hollywood-isation of the Holocaust, and other things along those lines, then he read about the movie later, which was apparently enough to confirm his suspicions. For that sort of reason I wouldn’t say the film was a “must-see”, and although the UK ratings certificate says it’s for 15-year-olds and older, I think that might be too young to really appreciate it. And I say this as someone who’s still pretty pleased to have got the Collector’s Edition DVD, with the film cel, little booklet and soundtrack.

On the other hand, the book is much more recommendable, if it were fiction it might be classified with seat-of-the-pants thrillers. So if that kind of book is your kind of thing, and/or if history is your kind of thing, this book’s a winner.

Personality Types

Not being a big fan of forms or tests, personality tests are very Not My Thing. There usually ends up being some stupid question where none of the options are particularly me.

“Which of these two options is more you, Option A which is totally not you, or Option 2 which is totally not you. This will help us determine what kind of personality you have.” Oh, I can tell you – I’m the kind of personality that’s done with these questions.

If you happen to be like me in this regard, then let me help you.

Each personality type is described using four letters, one from each of these sections in order:
I vs E (except after C)
S or N
F or T
J v P

I’ve done the test, but I don’t remember what I got labelled as. So I’m rather fond of four-letter abbreviations for potential use if the question comes up.

I’m into movies, so I might be IMDB.
I’m not into sports, so I’m not ESPN.
IOCC is the charity I chose on Amazon Smile.

If you’re so outside the box that four-letter abbreviations starting with I or E aren’t enough for you, then options widen considerably.

I like FFIX
I’m starting to use HDMI
USPS keep bringing me things (usually after I’ve been busy on Amazon).
I didn’t go to university, but it could very well be that UCLA is a personality type all of its own.
I don’t think these are me, but you might identify with GMTV, CITV or CBBC.
If your into history, SPQR might suit you.

I do have a reputation, however, and perhaps the best four letters for me would be FOOD. I know I’d like some…

Old Computer Magazines

The Internet Archive has a section on old computer magazines, which might interest some people I know.

Personally, I’m happy to be able to browse all the issues of Commodore Format, most of which I have stashed in the garage, rather the worse for wear after years of use (and not-use, and ab-use).

But I have friends who have (or had) Amigas, ZX Spectrums, Amstrad CPCs, and I know people who talk about TRS 80s and Atari STs. There are old PC magazines listed.

I smile when I think about the tongue-in-cheek style of British computer magazines of the early ’90s. And I recall that a lot of the staff of Commodore Format came from, or went onto, other computing magazines.

Waiting ten minutes for a program to load, or typing in programs from a magazine, letters pages hosted by unembodied brains, one wonders what future generations will make of it all.

Be a hell of a history lesson, though.

A Short Experiment In Map Plugins

Today we had a craft day at our house. I saw some rubber-stamping going on, some jewellery-making stuff was out (or, perhaps more accurately, the jewellery had mostly been made beforehand, there may have been stuff that needed fixed). My tiny little niece had her handprints taken.

I tried to keep Youngest occupied downstairs some of the time, with the old Captain Scarlet. the cars, planes and other vehicles zhooming, that helped. Sadly it only worked for about 2 batches of 20 minutes, getting us about 10 minutes into episode 2.

A bit later on, I spent some minutes on some figuring out for a new website project that has been in the background for a while.

I took the XAMPP stack on the laptop, and deleted most of the pages from the WordPress install on there (it was the template for the Transfiguration site, and isn’t needed for that anymore). And of course changed some of the placeholder text to new placeholder text.

The main thing I need to figure out, for a large chunk of the functionality of the site, is which map plugin to use. There’s going to be lots of posts about different places, do each post will need to have a view of that place, but then it would be nice to see all the site markers (or possibly just categories of them) on the map.

There are, of course, many options out there: some free, some paid, some maintained, some long-obsolete. Various pages that reviewed the options had similar issues: some of the recommendations were out-of-date, and so on.

I’d looked these things up before, of course, but I figured it was time to bite the mullet and try something.

Mentioned on only one of the comparison review posts I read, I thought I’d give Geo Mashup a go. Free is always nice, especially when you’re still figuring out just what it is you want.

I did one post with one location. While I told the plugin to where I wanted the map to point, first time I apparently didn’t tell it to actually put the map in the post. This was quickly rectified. The default zoom amount was too far out, but I didn’t go back in and fiddle with it any more at that point.

I need to give the thing a good long workout, with lots of map points. I forget if this was one where you could change what the markers look like for different things, which would be helpful, so when I’m ready to spend more brain on it, I shall burrow into all that.

Still, progress is nice :)

 

Sesame Street

Middlest loves getting to spend time on the Sesame Street site, she enjoys the videos and the games. They do spoofs of recent films that the kids probably shouldn’t have seen. They did The Hunger Games, and one that Middlest keeps referring to is “Jurassic Cookie” (a spin on Jurassic World).

I’m kind of surprised they haven’t spoofed the recent Mad Max. “Furry Road” seems like a gag they would find hard to pass up.

I, of course, remember growing up with Sesame Street, and other relatives before me. Even had some Sesame Street games ont he Atari: Alpha Beam With Ernie, Big Bird’s Egg Catch, and Cookie Monster Munch. The games on the site… well, let’s just say technology has come a long way.

When I was younger, I got a letter from Sesame Street.

I was terribly disappointed, I was expecting two letters and a number.

Children, Language and Meddling

When I grew up, I was fond of Enid Blyton books. I think she told good stories. It was cool how kids were given free reign to do extraordinary things. She did very well at writing books for very different levels of reading. Noddy was for very young kids, Secret Seven was at a lower level of reading than Famous Five. She told the adventure/detective stories like Seret seven and Famous Five, but also much more fairy tale and fantasy with things like the Wishing Chair and The Faraway Tree series, I enjoyed the Mallory Towers and St Clare’s series, and all of this was fairly far removed from my own experiences.

It seems to be the case that the world of the not-fantasy Blyton books, that innocent, idealised, Fifties England (we assume it’s England, at any rate), never really existed. Except in our heads. And that’s OK.

In recent times, kids have been absorbed into the fantasy world of Harry Potter. At school I remember being exposed to a bit of Chaucer, and I think we’re still teaching kids Shakespeare. Expelliarmus and forsooth.

There are worlds, like Chaucer’s and Dickens’ and Shakespeare’s, that expose us to English cultures that are very different to the culture of today. We joke, of course, that we wish these books had been written in English (even without the assistance of General Chang). we expect kids to be able to grasp differences in culture and language (sometimes with the aid of footnotes. “Get thee to a nunnery!”).

Worlds like Harry Potter’s, Middle-Earth, and (not so much for kids but worth mentioning) the world of Stephen King’s Dark Tower (do ya kennit?) invite us to learn new languages, as a significant aid for introducing these new places to us.

This isn’t exclusively the realm of books we expose older children to. If you think that way, you really haven’t read enough Dr. Seuss, who sometimes writes in an exaggerated real-ish world, sometimes in super-crazy nonsense world, and sometimes switching between those places where it doesn’t make any sense.

And of course, it’s not just these. Gilbert & Sullivan. The Eragon books. Jane Austen. And it’s not just books: Disney (bibbedy-bobbedy-boo, supercalifragilisticexpialedocious). Doctor Who. Star Trek (“taH pagh taHbe’. DaH mu’tlheghvam vlqelnlS. quv’a’, yabDaq San vaQ cha, pu’ je SIQDI’? pagh, Seng blQ’a’Hey SuvmeH nuHmey SuqDI’, ‘ej, Suvmo’, rlnmoHDI’?“).

And as a rule, even when we do revise the text (there’s been modern-day retellings of Shakespeare, for instance), the original versions are widely available.

So I don’t understand the revisionism we see with Enid Blyton books.

The word “queer” gets changed to “weird”, “gay” gets changed, too (probably to “happy”?). Spankings get changed to something more politically correct. We can explain Chaucer and Shakespeare to kids, but can’t explain slightly archaic uses of words, or the fairly recent cultural appropriateness of corporal punishment?

“Dick” and “Fanny” get renamed to “Rick” and “Franny”. I know people with these names. If kids can’t get their giggles out of the way while reading the books, and getting invested in the characters, what happens if they meet people with these names (or hear secondhand of someone with these names)? Especially if they find out about the doctoring of these books.

I find it disappointing that I can’t be sure my kids are reading the same books that I read. That I probably didn’t read quite the same books that my parents read. That the publishers don’t trust my kids with Blyton, the way that they (and the schools) trust them with Shakespeare or Chaucer. That they respect practically every other author enough to not rewrite their work, but don’t respect Mrs Blyton enough to give her the same courtesy. That it’s just about impossible for the general public to find the text as-originally-published (not to completely dismiss the role of the editor), even just for comparison. Heck, when buying the Secret Seven books for Oldest recently, prior to purchase I couldn’t find out which revision of the text it was (I don’t think that anybody’s been able to keep track of the incremental changes that have happened over the years – I went looking).

I might joke about the publishers needing forty lashings, but I’d much prefer the original texts as an option. Let the market decide how much the revisions are worth (you can tell my opinion).

I’ll keep the lashings of ginger beer, though.

Learning Three Things At Once

I’m attempting to teach my oldest to ride a bike.

I remember that my Dad taught me, but I don’t remember how he did it.

There are three separate things that you have to pick up all at the same time:

  • Balance
  • Steering
  • Pedalling

Of these, all three are the most important.

I can mitigate pretty much all three by walking alongside, holding handlebars and seat. That ends up being quite hard work, though: there’s quite a height difference. On our first outing, we started like this on the path, and after we’d picked up speed we’d move onto the grass, where it was safer to let go. Sometimes he’d coast for a couple of meters before crashing, sometimes he’d start his descent before I let go.

Trying something different this second time out, I tried to get him to sit on the seat and kind of walk with his tiptoes. He wasn’t really into this, the experiment didn’t last long.

Next, I held the front wheel between my legs, and had him try pushing from one foot to the other. He got bored with this quickly as well, even with the challenge of trying to stay between legs.

It also didn’t help that there was a kid (maybe 4 years old) going around the track, on a bicycle, with training wheels, saying about how he could go faster than us.

Oldest wanted to go back to the method we’d tried before.

Most of the way round the track, I hit on something else to try, a trick I’d picked up, possible after I learned to ride.

Had Oldest hold the handlebars, standing to the left of the bike. Had him put his right foot on the left pedal, and push himself along with his left foot. It’s learning balance, not centered, you have to push and lean right, but hopefully it will help.

We went the rest of the way round the track like this, taking a sit-down break partway through when he didn’t want to do it anymore. After that I insisted he try it the rest of the way.

He fell off a couple of times, leaning or pushing too far to the right: that’s the way the bike went over. One time he found himself kneeling on the side of the bike (the side facing up). It was spectacular, but hurt. He was doing pretty well, though: this might be the most promising method so far. He was managing to coast reasonable lengths for someone starting out. He was wanting to abandon the bike and go onto the slides, from before even the sit-down time (I got him to carry on scooting to the gate to that area, then let him play a little). He was happy the times he managed to coast along for a little. Might try this again next time :)