A weblog by Will Fitzgerald

Monthly Archives: February 2005

Better to light a candle …

Bess says she wants to cross-stich the final version: Better to light a candle….

Why I love Lisp

In what other language could I write a function like this:

(defmethod subject-to-variable-bound-precondition-p ((operator (eql '%%eql-if-bound))) nil)

Some publications

Gee, I just discovered that two short technical reports I wrote at the Canadian National Research Council are available on their document site: Models for Cross-Cultural Communications for Cross-Cultural Website Design and Integrating Internationalized Websites with Databases and Email Systems: Working with Multilingual Texts.

Spead the meme: captchaservice.org

Spread the meme: captchaservice.org provides a web-served captchas (testat that are easy for humans, but hard for robot spammers, to pass). Created by my wizardly friend Tim Converse and hosted by CommerceNet.


We just returned from Montréal. The main purpose was to celebrate the wedding of our niece Margaret Lipsey to Chris Kassab. They’re both chefs, and the wedding was held in a 30’s vintage restuarant, the Lion D’or. Margaret and Chris planned the wedding (Margaret even made marshmallows for the late night chocolate bar), so I took a picture of her behind the coat check.

I also got to visit friend and colleagues Daniel Lemire and Anna MacLaughlin, with whom I worked at the Canadian National Research Council, which was great fun. The weather was clear and cold, but we hit a major winter storm on our way home, forcing us to stay an extra night in a hotel on the way back. All in all, a good trip, and a chance to brush up on some of my favourite aspects of Canadian culture.

Roseville muralist

I grew up in Roseville, Michigan, an anonymous Detroit suburb of no distinction. It’s among the least beautiful places I’ve ever seen–the homes are non-descript, the businesses are strip-maill ugly. My father still lives there, so I visit it from time to time. One point of artistic light is a funky little studio run by Ed Stross, who has painted a large mural on the side of his building with portraits of Mother Theresa and Princess Diana. So, of course the obvious thing to do is to threaten to send him to jail for including a bare-breasted Eve.

His studio is kitty-corner from the Roseville Theatre, one of the only interesting buidlings in Roseville, where I spent a lot of time as a youth watching double features such as my favorite combonation ever: The Paper Lion and The Yellow Submarine. It now shows indie films and is a band venue. I have no idea where they get an audience for indie films in Roseville.

(Story via boingboing).

First century texting

Jean Veronis has interesting post about the use of abbreviations in an ancient Christian text. He points out that later (medieval) texts had a much higher use of abbreviations, and suggests that perhaps the use of translations for Lord, Jesus, etc., were to mark “membership in a tribe” in addition to compression.

Ne retrouve-t-on pas là le double besoin qui se fait sentir dans l’écriture “texto” : gagner de la place, sans doute, mais aussi marquer son appartenance à une tribu, à un groupe à part ? Il y avait trèsprobablement un tel sentiment chez les premiers chrétiens, comme nous le rappelle l’étymologie du mot église : du grec ek – klesia, “qui a été appelé hors de”…

There one can see the double need that is met by “texting”: to save space, no doubt, but also to indicate membership in a tribe. There was, very probably, such a feeling among the early Christians, as the etymology of the French word for “church” (église) tells us: from Greek ek-klesia, “those who are called out.”

My French is pretty bad, so I relied on Google’s translation into English, which was as good an extended automated text as I’ve ever seen. Still, it translated canon as guni.e., “the construction of the gun by the Church”, and the latin expression Nomina Sacra as nominated crowned. The English translation above is mine, based on the Google translation. I had thought that the English word church derived from ekklesia, too, but according to Online Etymology Dictionary, it derives the Greek for “the Lord’s house,” which means its etymologically related to economics.

Rovers and Whegs

Is the Rotundus the new Rover?

And check out this movie (35mb) of wheg robots.

Thanks to Robots that chase burglers (or…prisoners??) at Mirabilis.ca

A study of a web quotation

A study of a Web quotation (via mrh, who also has a nice picture of the Gates–Thanks, Mike!)

Ash Wednesday

T.S. Eliot’s Ash Wednesday:

Teach us to care and not to care

Teach us to sit still

And the Origins of Ash Wednesday.