The Fela Sermon

Posted by Ed Tue, 18 Sep 2007 00:11:00 GMT

CKUT 90.3 FM is the student radio station of McGill University in Montreal. It’s available online and they have some good shows including Dromotexte, a weekly hour dedicated to poetry and the spoken word. It’s hosted by Fortner Anderson who is a good poet but a terrible presenter. But he does have an extraordinary collection of poetry performance recordings.

Here’s an example from a recent show: the (presumably Nigerian) poet Lesego Rampolokeng with a piece called The Fela Sermon inspired by the great afrobeat musician and activist Fela Kuti.

You can hear Fortner reading his poem I’m A Man if you like. It’s strong stuff.

up yours Keith (and CBS)

Posted by Ed Thu, 13 Sep 2007 22:48:00 GMT

Having come across an amusing comedy intro from a Solid Steel radio session by Steinski (you can listen to it here), I remembered having heard him speaking on another edition of the long-running DJ slot organised by Coldcut.

Hear him talking about copyright and his work in this clip from a mix by Strictly Kev.

In case you don’t know. Steve Stein is the original mash-up artist and still the best. You can read about him here and if you want to download his Nothing to Fear mix, click here.

perfectly polite

Posted by Ed Thu, 13 Sep 2007 22:24:00 GMT

Here’s a funny cartoon from this week’s Private Eye:

and a couple of other ones from the scrapbook:

learning the epistemology of loss

Posted by Ed Tue, 11 Sep 2007 10:11:00 GMT

There’s something about the clipped and refined tones of the poet John Berryman which makes me laugh, particularly when he’s describing the existential anguish of a young boy coming to terms with the loss of a ball.


What is the boy now, who has lost his ball,
What, what is he to do? I saw it go
Merrily bouncing, down the street, and then
Merrily over–there it is in the water!
No use to say ‘O there are other balls’:
An ultimate shaking grief fixes the boy
As he stands rigid, trembling, staring down
All his young days into the harbour where
His ball went. I would not intrude on him,
A dime, another ball, is worthless. Now
He senses first responsibility
In a world of possessions. People will take balls,
Balls will be lost always, little boy,
And no one buys a ball back. Money is external.
He is learning, well behind his desperate eyes,
The epistemology of loss, how to stand up
Knowing what every man must one day know
And most know many days, how to stand up
And gradually light returns to the street
A whistle blows, the ball is out of sight,
Soon part of me will explore the deep and dark
Floor of the harbour . . I am everywhere,
I suffer and move, my mind and my heart move
With all that move me, under the water
Or whistling, I am not a little boy.

Listen to the recording of John Berryman reading this poem if you like, and have a laugh at the expense of all little boys.

editing ActiveRecord collection with related drop-downs using related_select_forms

Posted by Ed Tue, 11 Sep 2007 09:13:00 GMT

Another problem setting the HTML name attribute when editing a collection of ActiveRecord objects in a Rails application. This time I was using the related_select_forms plugin to build related drop-down (select) lists. The plugin which creates all the necessary javascript to dynamically reload the second list according to the selection in the first list is kindly provided by Dimitrij Denissenko and available here.

use multiple instances of FCK Editor when editing a Rails collection

Posted by Ed Tue, 08 May 2007 23:38:00 GMT

Scott Rutherford has kindly packaged up a Rails helper for the FCK Editor as a plugin. You can find it here.

I was stumped for a while as I wanted to use multiple instances of the editor in a form used to edit a collection of objects, but figured it out with a little help from Scott.

this one goes out to radio's disappeared

Posted by Ed Wed, 25 Apr 2007 06:43:00 GMT

Did you ever wake up one morning to discover that your favourite radio show had gone missing? Did you go straight to the authorities to seek information about your missing friend? Were you met with blank looks and told there was no record of their ever having existing? Did you think you’d ever wake up from that nightmare?

multiple cygwin terminals without running X

Posted by Ed Thu, 01 Mar 2007 00:08:00 GMT

I found Poderosa to be a good solution for running multiple Cygwin terminals within a tabbed window whilst doing Rails development.

As Poderosa is a Windows app it was easier to set up than the various X Window solutions suggested, such as MRXVT.

You can split the screen if you like which I do when I need to keep an eye on both my development and test log files.

If you like jigsaws then why not try shreds 1

Posted by Ed Thu, 08 Feb 2007 10:51:00 GMT

I once heard a paleontologist boast about how she liked to do jigsaws in her spare time. Not normal jigsaws mind you – her spatial abilities being so superior – she liked to do her jigsaws with the pieces upside down, picture facing down.

If you like the idea of such challenge then consider this piece in which Robert Fisk (from his book The Great War for Civilisation) recounts a woman’s report of how in 1979 a young Iranian called Javad started reconstructing shredded documents recovered from the sacked US embassy:

He was a study in concentration: bearded, thin, nervous and intense. These qualities, combined with his strong command of English, his mathematical mind and his enthusiasm, made him a natural for the job …

One afternoon he took a handful of shreds from the barrel, laid them on a sheet of white paper and began grouping them on the basis of their qualities … After five hours we had been able to reconstruct 20-30 per cent of the two documents.

The next day I visited the document centre with a group of sisters. ‘Come and see. With God’s help, with faith and a bit of effort we can accomplish the impossible’ he said, with a smile.

Fisk goes on:

A team of twenty students was gathered to work on the papers. A flat board was fitted with elastic bands to hold the shreds in place. They could reconstruct five to ten documents a week.

They were carpet weavers, carefully, almost lovingly re-threading their tapestry. Iranian carpets are filled with flowers and birds, the recreation of a garden in the desert; they are intended to give life amid sand and heat, to create eternal meadows amid a wasteland.

The Iranians who worked for months on those shredded papers were creating their own unique carpet, one that exposed the past and was transformed into a living history book amid the arid propaganda of the revolution.

High-school students and disabled war veterns were enlisted to work on this carpet of papers.

It would take them six years to complete, three thousand pages containing 2,300 documents, all eventually contained in 85 volumes.

the muppet-savvy robot army is coming

Posted by Ed Sun, 04 Feb 2007 07:17:00 GMT

When the computers turn against us, Terminator-style, we may find out, amongst much else, that they know more about the Muppet Show than we expected.

This is because of the Muppet Wiki made possible through the work of Wikipedia creator Jimmy Wales, interviewed by Paul Marks for the New Scientist

This resource is really useful. Remember seeing Billy Joel on the Muppet Show but have no idea which episodes to seek out? Muppet Wiki:

Billy Joel (b. 1949) appeared on Sesame Street during Season 20 (1988), singing “Just the Way You Are” with Oscar the Grouch.

He also sang “The Alphabet Song” to the Anything Muppets.

His song, “New York State of Mind,” was sung by Floyd in episode 209 of The Muppet Show and by Rowlf on the album Ol’ Brown Ears is Back.

Not that we should be surprised when intelligent computers seek to out-compete us as this will surely represent just another day in earth’s evolutionary story. The fact that the “wedging out” of our species is being performed by machines may make interesting but probably incidental news around the galaxy and beyond.

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