This story is being told because, in our rural, Norwegian existence, Trish and I are dependent on a vehicle to thrive. We have chosen to live about 13 km from the economic centre of Inderøy, which has opted to place a sawdust burning, central heat distribution service at the centre of the village.
While public transport can be arranged, we have not used it for many years. Instead, we use a 10-year old multi-purpose vehicle (MPV). It is sufficiently large enough to carry (up to) seven people and/ or lots of goods, including building supplies. It can be fitted with roof racks and can even pull a 1 200 kg utility trailer. Yet, this Mazda 5 has not been a faithful friend, breaking down more than once, first on Saturday, 2013-08-10, returning to Inderøy from Bergen, 1 400 km away, ten months old, after being driven a total of 12 030 km. We were forced to wait until Thursday 2013-08-15 for repairs to be made, allowing us to continue our journey home.
Two MPVs were part of my childhood memories. One of these was a Volkswagen Type 2 Kombi, owned by the Bibby’s, on the laneway behind my childhood home. It was appreciated as a practical vehicle, for transporting goods, but mainly people, usually Florence (1908 – 1990) who sat in the back, driven by one of her sons, less often by her husband, Pat (1912 – 1990). Yet, at the time, this was probably not my favourite MPV on the laneway. That honour would go to Alf Fenton’s (1902 – 1995) Hillman Husky. It too was an MPV, but in a more compact format.
From 1954 to 1965 Rootes Group produced the Double Duty Hillman Husky: You pay for one car, but have the services of two. It was a Commer Cob van with Hillman badging, factory-fitted side windows and fold-down rear seat. It was intended to be a full commercial vehicle as well as a passenger vehicle, an MPV before the term was even used. The interior was basic or, to be polite, minimalistic, with rubber floor coverings, minimal sound insulation, a minimum of instrumentation and, a minimum of everything else. This was not only appropriate for its intended usage, but a necessity to keep the price low. This avoided competition with more luxurious wagons. The Husky was slightly old-fashioned. Even when the Husky was updated, it was always behind the latest developments. Unfortunately, as far as I am aware, there have been no attempts to revamp the Husky.
In many ways, the Volkswagen Type 2/ MPV/ van/ bus/ minibus/ Transporter mirrored the Husky. It too was more functional than fashionable. It too was minimalistic. Yet, unlike the Husky, it still lives on. Its latest incarnation is the Volkswagen ID. Buzz, which will be the topic of three future weblog posts.
Ben Pon (1904 – 1968), Dutch importer of Volkswagen vehicles to the Netherlands, is credited with the initial design idea for the Type 2. His 1947 sketch was inspired by a flatbed parts-hauler seen while visiting the Volkswagen plant. This ultimately resulted in the Volkswagen Type 2 that started production on 1950-03-08. It was available in two versions: The Kombi, with side windows and removable middle and rear seats; and the Commercial, a panel van.
The Type 2 was authorized on 1949-05-19. The first vehicle came off the assembly line on 1949-11-12. The first MPV, designated a Microbus, dates from 1950-05. Since the Volkswagen’s model year starts on 08-01, and ends on 07-31, these were 1950 models! While the first T1s were built at Wolfsburg, production moved to a purpose built factory at Hannover, in 1956. The models were under continuous development. This distinction between commercial and passenger vechicles carries on to this day. Sales of Type 2 vehicles is undertaken by specialists in this area.
Paul Niedermeyer has put the Type 2 into its historical perspective, incorporating personal experiences starting in 1965. The assorted van/ bus generations are generally coded T1 to T7, with the first three generations retroactively named. They had the following production years, in Europe: T1 = 1950 to 1967 (17 years); T1 = 1967 – 1979 (12 years); T3 = 1979 – 1991 (12 years); T4 = 1990 – 2004 (14 years); T5 = 2003 – 2015 (12 years); T6 = 2015 – present; T7 = 2022 – present. This system of generational designations, was only adopted after the introduction of the T4, but applied retrospectively to the T1 to T3 generations. Only the first three generations were based on the Volkswagen Beetle/ Type 1.
To gain insights into the various models of Volkswagen Type 2 MPVs produced, a first stop could be Wikipedia. The production of older models often continued outside of Europe after the introduction of newer models in Europe.
The original T1 was appreciated for its versatility, especially an ability to transport goods and people in varying quantities, depending on the need. At the time people commented on its roomy interior, conventional rear-wheel drive, and less conventional air-cooled engine. It was regarded as easy to operate and maintain. In North America it was seen as a cost-effective alternative to a station wagon.
Roger White, curator of road transportation history, Division of Work and Industry, at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, says, “For many people, the VW Microbus [= T1] became the symbol of protest with Detroit’s overpowered cars and society in general. It was a way of thumbing their noses at the establishment. It became popular with people who were rejecting mainstream American culture. It was their way of saying, ‘We don’t need your big V8 cars.’”
Because of its relative low cost, owners began to adapt the T1 to meet their own specific needs. One such need was for a camper, outfitted with beds, a table, kitchen facilities ( such as a stove and sink), and sometimes even a toilet. Volkswagen contracted with Westfalia to make camper conversion kits. These were exported to North America, starting in 1956.
While this Volkswagen MPV has participated in numerous historical events, such as the Woodstock music festival near Bethel, New York in 1969. It has been used to transport countless surfboards as well as an infinite number of hippies.
National Museum of African American History and Culture
Some individual vehicles have had a significant impact on people. At the National Museum of African American History and Culture, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., two pieces of what was a green T1 are on display, a side panel and rear hatch. They contain a message from Esau Jenkins (1910 – 1972), “Love is progress. Hate is expensive.” This 1966 VW Transporter took African-American children to school and adults to work on the Sea Islands near Charleston, South Carolina. While Esau Jenkins drove, Janie Jenkins (1929 – 2016) taught passengers about the South Carolina constitution, and their rights.
As a teenager in the early 1960s, I remember talking to an old man, possibly seventy, in New Westminster. He owned an old car. Unfortunately, my memory is not reliable, but I believe it was a 1904 curved-dash Oldsmobile. It was about sixty years old: not just old, but outmoded and obsolete, for the technology underpinning the vehicle was no longer in use or usable. Regardless, it was venerable, the oldest vehicle I had ever seen.
Model A Fords were produced from 1928 to 1931, a fact I can recall without having to look it up. In the 1960s, two of my neighbours were into them. Being into something, means that whatever that something is, doesn’t come with commitments. One neighbour was more of a parts collector, than a mechanic. No driveable Model A ever emerged to quench his obsession. The other, Patrick, managed to restore one! With that challenge met, he was able to sell the vehicle, and move on to greater things.
A Model A was only half the age of that venerable beast, previously mentioned. Models As were slightly over thirty years old. They were old and outmoded, but not obsolete. That is, their DNA could be found in every internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle produced since the 1930s to this day. Now, every model A is over ninety years old. They are just as outmoded as they were in the 1960s, but no worse than that. Their lineage lives on, in today’s ICE vehicles.
A similarly aged car in 2023, would have started its career somewhere between 1988 and 1991. Apart from some safety equipment, there is not much that distinguishes it from a more modern vehicle. It is old, but not outmoded, and definitely not obsolete, just yet.
Soon, all ICE vehicles will be obsolete, regardless of their age. This is because drivelines are being transformed, to use motors powered by batteries. Unfortunately for new ICE vehicle owners, but not for the world, CO2 production has led to global warming, so that even brand new ICE vehicles must be made obsolete. I have absolutely no desire to own any vehicle dependent on combustion. Following the Pandemic, it has not been possible to buy most EVs without waiting. It is common now to wait nine months for a car delivery. The ID. Buzz, now has a wait list lasting 18 to 24 months. Many consumers are aware of the impending climate crisis, wanting to do their part. While not everyone is moving at the same speed, an increasing number of people expect their next vehicle to be battery electric.
If one really wants to see people living in the past with a passion for obsolete vehicles, one comfortable way is to watch an episode of Rust Valley Restorers (2018 – present), filmed at Tappen, British Columbia, near Shuswap Lake. In the tenth episode of its fourth season, the last vehicle restored is a 1964 Pontiac Parisienne, 9-passenger station wagon. There are some vague similarities to a Volkswagen bus: two tone colours, with a white top and bright green underneath. Some people may regard it as attractive, but I find it far too low. It also makes a terrible noise, whenever its engine starts and is in operation. It may offer exhilaration, but no fun.
I cannot recall any Volkswagen MPVs or vans in Mike Hall’s collection at Tappen. With the exception of a Sunbeam Alpine, there were no cars that captivated my heart. In my childhood there were lots of cars on the laneway from the 1950s. Yet only four cars attracted me sufficiently for me to want to own one: two Nash Metropolitans, belonging to the two mothers of the boys obsessed with Model As, Alf’s Husky, and Pat’s Volkswagen microbus!
This appears on what would have been the 90th birthday of Peter Zinovieff, (1933-01-26 – 2021-06-23) composer, hesitant engineer and reluctant synthesist.
There are some elements to Zinovieff’s life, that only happen because of his Russian aristocractic background. In 1960, Zinovieff married Victoria Heber-Percy (1943 – ). Her tiara was auctioned, to finance Zinovieff’s first computer. This was used to control an array of oscillators and amplifiers he had bought from an army surplus store. He claims that this was the first computer in the world in a private house. I am uncertain what benefits Heber-Percy got out of the sale of her tiara, but the marriage did not last.
Zinovieff closely followed some developments in computing related to sound generation. In particular this was happening at Bell Labs in New Jersey, where its owners had a vested interest in telephone research. There in 1957, Max Mathews (1926 – 2011) had written MUSIC, the first widely used program for sound generation. This had been further developed in the 1960s with new versions. In 1964, Jean-Claude Risset (1938 – 2016), had used MUSIC IV software to digitally recreate the sounds of brass instruments. He made digital recordings of trumpets and studied their timbral composition using pitch-synchronous spectrum analysis tools.
In 1963, David Alan Luce’s (1936 – 2017) doctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology implemented a pitch-synchronous approach to analysis/resynthesis of instrumental tones. Luce joined Moog Music in 1972, where he developed a polyphonic synthesizer, the Polymoog. Later, he became head of engineering, then president of Moog in 1981. He became a co-owner in 1984. Moog Music closed in 1987.
In 1966–67, Zinovieff, Delia Derbyshire (1937 – 2001) and Brian Hodgson (1938 – ) ran Unit Delta Plus, creating electronic music. Its studio was built by Zinovieff in a shed at his house in Putney, Greater London. Unit Delta Plus had a short life, and was disbanded in 1967.
Zinovieff worked with a medical technician with electrical engineering skills, David Cockerell (? – ) and software engineer Peter Grogono (1944 – 2021) to develop an analogue–digital (hybrid) performance controller. Grogono was tasked with developing a new musical composition and sequencing language, MUSYS, that was to be easy to use (composer friendly) and efficient, and working within the limitations of two Digital Equipment PDP8/S and PDP8/L older and newer computers, respectively, named Sofka and Leo, after Zinovieff’s two first children. The system saved output data files to disk. A musical keyboard was added for input, as an afterthought.
In the mid-1960s electronic components were expensive, and the equipment being made exceeded Zinovieff’s means. Thus, it was decided to sell some machines to finance further development costs. Zinovieff, Cockerell and composer Tristram Cary (1925 – 2008) founded Electronic Music Studios (EMS). It is likely that the name was selected for this enterprise prioritizing a studio making music, while ignoring a product manufacturer making synths. EMS created a commercial, miniaturised version of its studio as a modular, affordable synthesizer for the education market. A prototype called the Voltage Controlled Studio 1 (VCS1) was designed by David Cockerell, consisting of a two oscillator instrument built into a wooden rack unit, and built for the Australian composer Don Banks (1923 – 1990) for £50, after a lengthy pub conversation.
Some of this equipment was subsequently marketed as a synthesizer system using the EMS label. It was considerably more portable than the existing Moog system. Possibly because Robert Moog recognized the limitations of his synthesizers, he offered to sell out to EMS for one million dollars. Zinovieff turned down this offer.
The EMS Synthi 100 was a large analogue/digital hybrid synthesizer series, of which 30 were produced. The first unit was orriginally a custom order from Radio Belgrade for its Radio Belgrade Electronic Studio. This order was the result of contact between composer/ saxophonist Paul Pignon (1939 – ), then living in Belgrade, and Zinovieff. The synthesiser was designed by David Cockerell who documented it in detail in 1971. The cost at that time was £ 6 500.
While EMS lasted until 1979, its key personnel soon began leaving the company. Cockerell left in 1972 to join Electro-Harmonix to design effect pedals. Cary left in 1973 to become Professor of Electronic Music at the Royal College of Music and later Professor of Music at the University of Adelade. Grogono left in 1973 but continued working on the MUSYS programming language and further developed it into the Mouse language. He became a computer science professor at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.
The main challenge for Zinovieff was his aristocratic origins, that prevented him from doing technical work. In 2019 he commented on EMS as a business: “It’s always been a problem with me because I don’t like synthesizers. So this side of EMS was never interesting to me, it was always the studio. The basic purpose of EMS was to finance the studio, but unfortunately that’s not what happened. EMS got bigger and bigger and we made more and more products and it took up more time. And instead of making money, it started to lose it. In the end, when EMS went bankrupt, it pulled the studio down.”
Zinovieff then closed the Putney studio, which was sold to the National Theatre. The equipment was put into storage, and later destroyed in a flood.
He then moved to the remote Scottish island of Raasay between 1975 and 1983. His cottage had no mains electricity supply, so synths were powered by wind generation that charged batteries.
He then move to Cambridge where, in the 1980s, he received two commissions from Clive Sinclair (1940 – 2021) including a piano-sampling project and consultations on sound support for the Sinclair QL personal computer, launched in 1984.
Zinovieff as Composer
In 1968, Zinovieff staged the world premiere of Partita for Unattended Computer, notable for being the first ever unaccompanied performance of live computer music, with no human performer involved, with the piece read from paper tape.
Later in 1968, as part of Cybernetic Serendipity, the first UK international exhibition devoted to the relationship between the arts and new technology, Zinovieff et al created a computer system, that could analyse a tune whistled by a visitor to the show and improvise upon it.
Zinovieff collaborated with Harrison Birtwistle (1934 – 2022) on Chronometer (1971–2) with recordings of Big Ben ticking, and Wells Cathedral clock chiming. Zinovieff claimed that in this project he had invented the technique of musical sampling.
The soundtrack for Sidney Lumet’s (1924 – 2011) film The Offence (1972) was composed by Birtwistle with electronic realization by Zinovieff.
Zinovieff also wrote the words for Birtwistle’s Nenia: The Death of Orpheus (1970) for soprano, 3 bass clarinets, crotales and piano. Here the electronic realization was by Barry Anderson (1935 – 1987). Zinovieff wrote the libretto for Birtwistle’s opera The Mask of Orpheus (1973-84).
He also worked with Hans Werner Henze (1926 – 2012) producing a tape in Tristan’s Folly in Tristan (1975).
Through an association with Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza (1964 – ), Zinovieff was able to create an audio work for a large-scale installation, The Morning Line by Matthew Ritchie (1964 – ), Bridges from Somewhere and Another to Somewhere Else (2011). Good Morning Ludwig (2012) followed.
Following these projects, Zinovieff’s compositions typically combined sounds from live instrumentation and field recordings and multi-channel performances.
He collaborated with Kazakhstani violinist Aisha Orazbayeva (1985 – ), composing two concertos for violin and electronics: OUR (2010) and Our Too (2014).
From 2011 he collaborated with Scottish poet, historian and broadcaster Katrina Porteous (1960 – ) to combine her poetry with soundscapes created by Zinovieff using sound sources related to physics and astronomy. This resulted in Horse (2011), then with the Planetarium at the Centre for Life, Newcastle upon Tyne, Edge (2013), Field (2015) and Sun (2016). Live visuals for these last works were created by planetarium supervisor Christopher Hudson.
A retrospective compilation of Zinovieff’s work in the EMS era was compiled by English musician Pete Kember/ Sonic Boom (1965 – ) and released in 2015.
Zinovieff collaborated with cellist Lucy Railton (? – ) on RFG (2016). An album version was released as RFG Inventions for Cello and Computer (2020).
Between the years 2013–2017, Zinovieff composed South Pacific Migration Party, based on from hydrophone recordings of blue whales recorded by British oceanographer Susannah Buchan off the coast of Chile. In was released on the record label The Association for Depth Sound Recordings in 2021.
Zinovieff’s final work was, Under The Ice (2021), a 30-minute piece based on recordings of Antarctic glaciers.
Hostile attitudes towards Asians in British Columbia, particularly those with Chinese origins, should vex everyone. A frequent excuse for discrimination throughout the 20th and mid to late 19th centuries, was that Chinese workers had the power to reduce wages being paid to others (read: people of European ancestry). When the Canadian Pacific Railway, along with other transcontinental railways (British)/ railroads (US), was constructed, the Chinese received minimal wages, but were assigned the most dangerous tasks. It was as if their lives were of no consequence. When the rail lines were finally completed, European immigrants expected the Chinese workers to return to China, while they themselves remained in North America.
More recently, some people have laid blame for the Covid-19 pandemic on people of Chinese origins, attacking anyone (everyone?) with a Chinese appearance – mostly verbally but aggressively – in public venues such as shopping centres. This is totally unacceptable.
Much of the current Asian hostility expresses Europhile exceptionalism, that has replaced an earlier Anglophile exceptionalism, that became codified into the history of the province as an anti-Asian consensus.
Confronting this Sinophobia is of personal importance to me. Should I ever become a grandfather, it is most likely, genetically, that my grandchildren will be 50% Chinese, and almost equally likely that they will be living somewhere in Greater Vancouver. Patricia and I will likely share these grandchildren with Louise Yeoh and Don Wong. Don Wong provided a photo of his grandfather’s $500 Head Tax certificate, that allowed him to become a resident of Canada, in 1912. Thank you, Don. Our families have roots going back more than a century to Kerrisdale, Marpole (Eburne), Steveston, Burnaby and New Westminster. Most of these communities are along Sto:lo, the Fraser River.
Much of the early history of British Columbia was researched, written and published by Hubert Howe Bancroft (1832 – 1918), born in Granville, Ohio, but who moved to San Francisco in 1852 where he started the largest bookseller, stationer and publishing house west of Chicago. His research into British Columbia’s history began on a trip to Victoria in 1878. He published a definitive history of the province in 1887, written by himself, William Nemos (Swedish), Alfred Bates (English) and Amos Bowman (1839 – 1894), from Blair, Ontario. The major challenge with this work is its emphasis on pioneer history, where settlers of European origin set the premises for the work. It is the migrants to the area that are intent on determining its history. Despite the First Nations populations far outnumbering these settlers, they were largely ignored, as were people of Asian origin. Despite this shortcoming, Bancroft did, however, manage to strike a balance between British and American perspectives on the province.
The next significant historian was Frederic Howay (1867 – 1943) born in London, Ontario, but who moved first to the Cariboo goldfields as a young child in 1871, and then to New Westminster in 1874. He studied law at Dalhousie University, graduating in 1890. He was appointed a judge in 1907, retiring in 1937. He used as much of his working day as possible writing history. Like his political opponent Richard McBride, Howay was opposed to Asian immigrants.
Walter Sage (1888 – 1963) was born in London, Ontario. He was educated at Oxford University and the University of Toronto. In 1918, he started teaching history at the University of British Columbia (UBC), from 1933 to 1953 as department head. Sage regarded himself as a teacher rather than a researcher. He specialized in the history of British Columbia, especially the personalities that had shaped the province, starting with a 1921 article on The Gold Colony of British Columbia. He was also appreciated for his sense of justice.
Henry Forbes Angus, (1891 – 1991), was born in Victoria, British Columbia. Rather than focusing on his education at McGill University in Montreal, or his prestigious law scholarship that allowed him to study law at Oxford, I will simply state that in 1919, he became an assistant professor of economics at UBC , subsequently becoming professor, department head, and dean of graduate studies.
In 1942 Walter Sage and Henry Angus, protested against the mistreatment and internment of Japanese Canadians. Geographer Kay Anderson (1958 – ) regarded Angus’ opposition as an important breakthrough in the dismantling of the anti-Asian consensus, in the province. Angus regarded Asian-Canadians as part of the “us” (Canadian citizens who regarded British Columbia as their home), and not a “them” (alien outsiders).
Margaret Ormsby (1909 – 1996) was born in Quesnel, raised in the Okanagan, educated in Vancouver and Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. She became a professor of history at UBC history in 1955, and department head in 1965. The first book I read written by her on the history of British Columbia was British Columbia: A History (1958). In Chapter 12, “The People’s Dick”, she writes: “The outbreak of the South African War in 1899 found British Columbia standing loyally at the side of the Mother Country: in no other section of Canada was there greater martial ardour or more enthusiastic endorsation of the British Cause.” (p. 327). I have often wondered how much the word British in the province’s name has had a (negative) behavioural influence on its citizens.
Despite the increased professionalism in history, the Canadian public often chooses to read the works of populists, such as Pierre Burton (1920 – 2004), who became editor of the Vancouver Sun, at the age of 21. To his credit, he also opposed the internment of Japanese Canadians.
Another annoying aspect of British exceptionalism, is the monarchy. Monarchies are opaque institutions. In the United Kingdom, over 1 000 laws have been vetted using a secretive procedure – The Queen’s/ now King’s Consent – where government ministers privately notify the Queen/ King of clauses in draft parliamentary bills and ask for her/ his consent to debate them. In essence, this asks her/ his permission to include clauses in legislation. This allows her/ him to change proposed bills before they are presented to elected members of parliament. According to the Guardian, the procedure has been used to conceal her/ his private wealth from the public, and to exclude her/ his estates, and those of her/ his heirs, from proposed laws relating to road safety, land and historic site policy. I do not know how much this has been done in Canada.
My political beliefs have not changed significantly in more than fifty years. At that time, there seemed to be more political understanding, if not consensus, between the left and the right. Now? Not so much. A three minute video by Robert Reich explains it. Because of the deterioration of this understanding, along with increased racism in some segments of the population, it is important to come to grips with anti-Asian sentiments.
Note 1. An inspired source for this weblog post was Chad Reimer (1963 – ), Writing British Columbia History 1784-1958 (2009).
Note 2. This is the first of three parts about British Columbia and Asian Canadians. The second part will examine the situation for Chinese immigrants to Canadians, from Chinese sources. The third part will look at the Komagata Maru.
Note 3. This is being published on the Lunar New Year, the Year of the Water Rabbit, that starts on Sunday, 2023-01-21.
This post lists core sonic moments that are permanently branded/ etched into my brain about music that I have listened to. These are organized by the decade they became influential. Since it is based on memory, rather than written notes, there is no guarantee that this map corresponds to the terrain.
Tom Glazer (1914 – 2003): Building a City (1948)
This is the first song that I remember. It appeared on a 78 rpm record, that was played on a child’s record player in the 1950s. I am not sure exactly when. I had to listen to a YouTube presentation of it, to be sure it was the same song. Surprisingly, I reacted to the mention of an architect and a banker on the first version I heard. I then found out that these were added later. The original version is what I remember from my childhood.
Maria Straub (1838 – 1898), lyrics & Solomon Straub (1842 – 1899), composition: God Sees the Little Sparrow Fall (1874). Of the hymns I experienced at Sixth Avenue United Church in New Westminster, this is the one that had the greatest impact on me as a child. The starting point for this hymn is Matthew 10:29, which the Open English Bible (OEB) translates as: “Are not two sparrows sold for a one copper coin? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.  While as for you, even the hairs of your head are numbered.” These two verses are disturbing, because God’s role is portrayed as that of an accountant.
At some point in the early 1960s, our household acquired a stereo record player which occupied a secluded place near the shuffleboard in the basement rec room. The record player could play LPs at 33 rpm, and singles at 45 rpm. It could not play 78s. I found its location to be a place of refuge.
The Highwaymen, a group of musicians with origins at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, whose album of the same name, was the first LP I remember owning. This was world famous for Michael [, Row the Boat Ashore]. They also made the first recording of Universal Soldier in 1963, on their March on Brothers album. It was written by Buffy Saint Marie. Part of my interest in this group came decades later, and relates to one of its founders, Dave Fisher (1940 – 2010), who graduated as an ethnomusicologist.
I also remember my father buying assorted LPs with traditional Scottish music, that I also listened to, sometimes even enthusiastically.
Surfing music, as performed by The Beach Boys and others. Unfortunately: Jan and Dean, were part of this repertoire until they recorded/ released Universal Coward in 1965; Dick Dale (1926 – 2014) and Misirlou, was not part of it, until much later in the 2010s.
The Animals, House of the Rising Sun (1964). I remember listening it for the first time sitting in the back of a Ford Econoline van, being transported to Hollyburn mountain to spend a weekend at a cabin with other scouts.
Other songs by English groups I remember well: The Zombies, She’s Not There (1964); The Yardbirds, For Your Love (1965); Herman’s Hermits, Mrs Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter (1965); The Troggs, Wild Thing (1966).
Listening to The Beatles, Paperback Writer (1966) for the first time, moments before hearing about the deaths of two fellow students.
After this event, my musical interests changed, becoming decisively more American. I remember listening to: Country Joe [McDonald] and the Fish; Jefferson Airplane; Janis Joplin; Quicksilver Messenger Service. These were all living in the Bay Area of California. The Byrds, living in Los Angeles, added Turn, Turn, Turn (1965).
Another important event occurred 1967-12-26 to 1968-01-01, when I attended the Cleveland Week of Process, as a representative of the Canadian Student Christian Movement, at this American University Christian Movement event. This, along with the political assassinations of John Kennedy (1917 – 1963), Martin Luther King, Jr (1929 – 1968) and others, ignited an interest in protest songs, especially as recorded by Pete Seeger (1919 – 2014), a Unitarian, Joan Baez (1941 – ) and Buffy Sainte-Marie (1941 – ). It would take some years until I found kindred spirits like Joe Hill (1879 – 1915).
Soon after, I became a Unitarian, and became interested in the music of Béla Bartók (1881 – 1945) and Edvard Grieg (1843 – 1907).
Not all musical choices are rational, including an enjoyment of Desmond Dekker (1941 – 2006) & The Aces, Israelites (1968).
In about 1970, I remember meeting a girl I had sat beside in the alto horn section of the New Westminster Junior Concert Band, some years earlier in the 1960s. We ended up drinking coffee at a cafe. She put a song on the jukebox, Play with Fire (1965), by the Rolling Stones, and asked me to listen very carefully to the lyrics. Over fifty years later, I am still trying to interpret her message. I have not seen her since.
Whenever, I think of the band, I also think of a trip to Ellensburg, Washington and a stopover in Seattle at the Green Onion cafe, which invariably brings to mind Booker T[aliafero Jones, (1944 – )] and the M.G.s, with their hit Green Onions (1962). Their Stax sound, named after their recording label, is noted for the interaction/ reverberation of the recording studio, the former Capitol Theater, in Memphis, Tennessee, with the musicians, to produce a deep bass and raw mid-range.
This was very different from the controlled sound produced by Roxy Music. Starting in 1972, all of their albums were purchased as LPs. At this point, I took an interest in art school musicians, where stagecraft/ theatre/ melodrama took precedence over any musical content.
Starting in the mid-1970s, I attempted to broadening my musical horizons with jazz. Influences included Django Reinhardt (1910 – 1953), Dizzy Gillespie (1917 – 1993), Miles Davis (1926 – 1991), Herbie Hancock (1940 – ) and Chic Corea (1941 – 1921). This, in part, was because many of the local Baha’is had an interest in jazz.
At about the same time musical tastes were being influenced by film. Notable examples include: Michelangelo Antonioni’s (1912 – 2007) Blowup (1966); the musical content of Putney Swope (1969); Issac Hayes (1942 – 2008) and his theme from Shaft (1971),
In 1978 I married Trish, who was an accomplished musician, singing as well as playing the piano and acoustic guitar. In 1979 we travelled to Europe together, taking with us recorders for entertainment. We returned to Vancouver in 1980-03, but departed permanently to Norway in 1980-08. All of our LPs was disposed of in 1980, prior to moving to Norway.
1980s & 1990s
From 1981, various classical music cassettes were purchased. In 1986, we purchased a used CD player. It allowed one to specify and play the first ten tracks. If one wanted to listen to, say, the twelfth track, one would have to specify track 10, then wait until the intervening tracks (10 & 11) were played. After this purchase, much of my musical listening involved CDs. Especially after 1987, Naxos CDs of classical music, were purchased at the rate of one per month. One important work was: Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 – 1958): Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis (1910). Works by modern British composers were listened to extensively.
1990s and 2000s
Continued investment in Naxos CDs, of classical music, but at a reduced frequency. The last CD was purchased in 2006. One important work from this time period was: Henryk Górecki (1933-2010): Symphony of Sorrowful Songs (1976). This was first heard in a documentary about a Ford rubber plantation in South America.
From about 2002, work started on digitizing CD content.
Works introduced to me by students included: Smells like Teen Spirit (1991) by Nirvana; Learning to Fly (1991) by Tom Petty (1950 – 2017) and the Heartbreakers; Zombie (1994) by the Cranberries; Tonight, Tonight (1995) by the Smashing Pumpkins, from the album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. In addition come assorted Finnish symphonic metal bands, such as Nightwish, and a somewhat more diverse list of Norwegian bands, of which the most interesting is Madrugada. In response, I introduced many of them to Mr Oizo = Quentin Dupieux (1974 – ), and Flat Beat (1999), featuring Flat Eric. For those interested, there is also a Flat Beat synth tutorial.
Work at Verdal prison brought me into closer contact with Goth, industrial and related music. In addition, there was considerable interest among inmates, both male and female, in various forms of metal and rock.
Second Flight (2011) by Approaching Nirvana, heard originally as background music on a long forgotten technical video.
My daughter, Shelagh, introduced me to the Lipdub concept in general, and a University of British Columbia lipdub production, soon after it was made in 2011. After failing to encourage students to produce a lipdub to promote their senior secondary school in Leksvik, by showing them several, including a favourite, Lipdub per la independeència de Catalunya (2010), I attempted to encourage them with something less ambitious, and with fewer people, by using Hideaway (2014) by Canadian Kiesza, born Kiesa Rae Ellestad (1989 – ) in Calgary, but of Norwegian ancestry, as inspiration.
Original works and covers by The Iron Cross, a Romanian band, including Fear of the Dark (2020).
Lebanon-Hanover is more difficult to place musically. Larissa Georgiou = Larissa Iceglass (1988-08-24 – ) and William Morris = William Maybelline (1986-03-15 – ) a dark wave duo, founded in 2010 with roots in Switzerland, Berlin and Newcastle/ Sunderland.
Note: The writing of this weblog post was initially begun on 2021-03-27. It was again edited for publication on 2022-11-09, with additional materials added 2023-01-08.
There are times, when I actually believe that people can learn to cope with stress/ anxiety, and offer myself as an example. To cope with stress, I divide activities into six categories: Routine, Infrequent, Novel, Challenging, Frustrating and Overwhelming. As I approach an activity, I categorize it, as best I can. I have no problems changing a category, should it be necessary. I use the above terms because I can mark each activity I have planned with a single letter category code, without conflicts arising.
The category determines how the activity will be engaged. Routine activities can be performed at any time. The others, including infrequent activities, will be started when I am fresh, usually in the morning. Novel activities require me to write notes about the activity. Challenging activities require me to consult these notes. Frustrating activities require to me consult with another person about the activity, as well as notes. Overwhelming activities, require me to ask others to help.
In this weblog post, I will be looking at these with respect to dealing with some recent computer software and hardware issues, but they also apply to many other areas in life.
Routine activities are those performed regularly, with little risk of extraordinary situations arising. Typical examples include: updating application and system software, which can occur many times in the course of a year. Some software manufacturers think their updates should take precedence. Thus, I remember one weather broadcast on television that was interrupted because Microsoft had decided that the computer being used to present a weather animation, should be updated, while the animation was being broadcast. I believe companies like Microsoft, now offer their customers the opportunity to specify time slots for updates.
If one is concerned, one can use expired software that is exempt for updates, such as Windows 7 as long as that part of the system is not exposed to the internet. One can also use software with better manners, such as assorted Linux distros. Because routine activities take place so often, there is usually no need to consult a user manual or check list, although pilots, surgeons and others may disagree.
Some routine activity take place infrequently. When the frequency is about once a year, such as a major upgrade of an operating system to a new version, a different approach may be needed.
A typical annual event is the writing and sending out of an annual letter. While writing emails is a routine activity, an annual letter is often sent to many people. Hopefully, everyone has one or more computer address books used for assorted purposes, filled with contact information for family, friends, colleagues and providers of goods and services . One does not send an annual letter to everyone in one’s address book. Instead one makes lists for assorted groups of people. For the residents of Cliff Cottage, one such list involves people to be sent an annual letter in Norwegian. A second list is for those to be sent an annual letter in English. These lists have to be updated annually.
This year I had a strange experience working with these lists. The first one went fine, I was able to add and remove people from it, without any complications. I then waited ten days to work on the second list. By then I had forgotten how to add a person from an address book entry to a list. It did not take long to look up the procedure in the operating manual, and to remember. When working with infrequent activities, it is often appropriate to have a manual or check list available.
Initial/ novel/ original/ unique activities are those that are being performed for the first time. It is important to write down the sequence of steps used in such activities, so that these notes can be consulted later, if this turns out to be repeated. I have folders of notes on various topics. There is always room in the folder for one more topic. Frequently, I copy then edit instructions from an online source, then paste them into a LibreOffice Writer file, complete with a link to its source. I often edit the file to suit my style of writing, because not every one writes well.
In order to reinstall Windows onto a 2015 Asus AiO computer, I attempted to burn an ISO file onto a USB stick = pendrive = flash drive, from my Linux desktop. This was a routine task, but somewhat irritating, because I had run out of 16 GB USB memory sticks, and felt I was having to waste a 32 GB stick for the installation of an old operating system. Then Linux gave me a warning that the program I had selected was inappropriate for burning a Windows ISO file, and invited me to investigate Ventoy.
I found that Ventoy was an improvement. It allowed multiple ISO files to be installed on a single USB stick. So, I was able to store several: Windows XP, Windows 7, Linux Mint 21.1 with Cinnamon desktop, despite a suspicion that Windows XP will not install from this drive. In the future, I intend to store other Linux flavours for specific purposes on this stick, especially related to CNC control and robotics. Should Mageia ever release a version 9, it will also be included. Then there are other tools, such as GParted (for creating partitions).
From one source, I made appropriate notes about working with Ventoy.
An electric vehicle should soon start occupying our carport. Once it arrives, it will have to be fed! The most convenient way is to have a charger in the carport. An Easee Home charging robot was installed 2023-01-04. To control the charger, a smartphone app is required. Installing this app was a challenging experience. There was no problem in downloading or installing the app itself, but it there was a problem opening an account, because a control number failed to arrive.
In the end, I used Easee’s chatbot, and explained the situation. While the chatbot could not offer any solutions, the issue was soon resolved. Easee seemed to have more data about the charger than I expected. They knew who I was, where I lived, even the serial number of the charger, and its pin number. Thus, they were able to open an account for me without me having to do anything.
Recently, Trish and I discovered that our main communication channel, Signal, was disabled on our laptops, because Signal had not been updated. It was still working on our hand-held devices, and on my desktop machine. Signal provided instructions, involving three simple steps, on how to correct this issue. I decided that the most gallant approach was to solve the problem on my laptop, before fixing Trish’s.
After completing these steps, Signal still failed to work, and a message was received that the Linux Mint operating system on my laptop was compromised. Then, and only then, did I ask for advice from my son, who is more experienced than I am working with Linux. He suggested that I uninstall Signal on Trish’s machine, then reinstall it. I followed this advice, and her OS continued to work. Signal accepted the updates, and started working.
The main reason for this problem arose was that I had failed to install TimeShift, a backup and syncronization tool used on Linux systems that protects that system from corruption, by taking incremental snapshots of file system at regular intervals. Should an unfortunate situation arise, TimeShift can roll back the file system. It is the equivalent of System Restore in Windows and Time Machine in Mac OS.
Correcting the errors on my laptop proved to be more challenging. After three failed attempts to reinstall Linux 21 as the operating system, I had to examine what was happening. I had originally used this same USB stick to install Linux Mint on the two new laptops. Then I upgraded them to Linux 21.1. I decided that remnants of the system didn’t want anything to do with Linux Mint 21(.0). Thus, I burned Linux Mint 21.1 onto the stick. This simple change was all that was needed to get the laptop up and running.
The last situation involving overwhelming activities happened at the end of 2018. In an Email dated 2018-12-30, I admitted to feeling overwhelmed by some imminent digital technology transitions. When I was in my forties, that started in 1988, I had more serious mental health issues related to anxiety and depression. I was not going to allow this to happen again, as I entered my seventies.
Internet changes: a) technology changing from asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) to fiber cable; b) digging a trench, laying then burying forty meters of orange jacket from our property line to our house, Cliff Cottage; c) preparing an indoor wall for placement of a fiber modem. Professionals would then insert the fiber cable into the orange jacket, and put the wiring into the house, and install the modem.
Telephone changes: d) smartphones = hand-held devices replacing a landline; e) transitioning from two different mobile network/ SIM card providers to yet another provider; f) transitioning from two different smartphone models (Huawei 9 Lite & 10 Lite) to a single model from a different company (Xiaomi Pocophone F1).
Server changes: g) technology changing from one server (Asustor AS1004T) to a completely different type of server (retrofitted Dell enterprise rack equipment, with ; h) new server components; i) transitioning from one brand of hard-drive (Western Digital Red) to another brand ( Toshiba N-300); j) transitioning from server access using WiFi to Ethernet cabling throughout the house, including placement of – k) Ethernet (RJ-45) wall sockets, and l) a network of Unify U6 Lite access ports; m) a new server operating system FreeBDS; n) a new file system OpenZFS; o) new server software FreeNAS (now called TrueNAS core).
Printer changes: p) technology changing from inkjet to laser; q) change of supplier from Epson to Canon; r) change from wireless to Ethernet connectivity.
PC changes: s) Transitioning from one laptop (Acer Chromebook 11.5″) to another (Asus Vivobook 14); with a change of operating system from t) Chrome OS to a more familiar Linux Mint.
Media player changes: u) Relocating the media computer and screen; v) accessing the media player via ethernet, rather than WiFi.
Thus, I wanted to alert people close to me, that twenty-two technological changes (a – v) were demanding attention, and asked for help in dealing with them. These fell into six categories:
Then I also commented on other things that to be done, including a need to replace the media player computer. Then added that this would not be happening during the next few months, as the entire computing budget for 2019 has been used up, before we even entered the year.
People can legitimately ask why there were so many changes happening, in such a short space of time? The answers are grouped. Categories 1 to 3 involve changes initiated by others. Categories 4 to 6 increasingly involved my own decisions.
Much of the time a person does not have control over technological choices. Their role is that of a technological bus passenger. At some point they decide to enter that bus and take a ride, not knowing precisely where the route goes, or even where they want to transfer to the next bus. Adventures happen.
For example, we have never had any real options about an internet service provider (ISP). We could either accept ADSL provided over a copper cable network by Telenor, the Norwegian telephone company, or we could use a lower speed, but more expensive local solution, that failed to operate when it was windy, with communications equipment on a tower of Skarnsund bridge. There was no real choice.
Then, Inderøy municipality decided that our rural area would have internet served by fibre cable, provided by our electrical power supplier, Nord-Trøndelag elektrisitetsverk (NTE). We were further told that after it was installed, support for landlines would be terminated, and we would be dependent on smartphones and cellular base stations for telecommunications, including internet, if we didn’t opt in to the fibre solution. Again, there was no real choice.
Some of these transitions felt minor, some felt less so. Most of the transitions went well:
Additional backup onto external hard-drives.
The transition to fiber went well, despite a couple of misunderstandings, where the supplier enrolled us into using numerous television packages, and an internet speed in excess of what we asked for. These were resolved with a telephone call.
The decommissioning of landline equipment.
Installing new SIM cards on new cell phones.
Physically installing hard drives onto the new server.
Some involved assistance that was appreciated:
Copying data from an old phone to a new phone.
Setting up Signal messaging on computers.
Setting up mail servers.
Installation hardware and software on the new server.
Creating new backup procedures on the new server, since the old server was not backing up data properly.
Copying photos from hand-held devices, so they were available on personal computers, and also saved on the server.
Setting up the printer.
When I look at the original floor plan for Cliff Cottage. I don’t understand the placement of anything. I feel the house should have been rotated 90 degrees , counter clockwise, with the kitchen and living room facing the view. It wasn’t, and I have spent the first years of my retirement improving not just the relationship between the house, and the property it sits on, but also changing access between different parts of the house. Among the changes was a better location to access to the living room from the hallway. This was straight forward, but also required the home theatre/ media centre to be moved to a completely different location.
For those who do not know me, I am a sliding/ pocket door junkie. If a conventional door can be replaced with some form of sliding door, it will be replaced. Cliff cottage has seven sliding doors, as well as four sliding doors in the kitchen cabinets. This will increase to thirteen, when the kitchen remodelling is complete.
On 2023-01-13 a 10 year old Acer Revo mini PC computer complete with Windows 7 arrived in the mail. This was acquired to work with a 10 year old 24″ Acer screen, and to work specifically with our household’s library system, BookCAT, with about 4 000 records, and our 35 mm PlusTek OptiFilm 8200i SE slide scanner, and our 4 000 slides. Except, when the computer arrived, I realized that it could be better put to use as a CNC controller in the workshop. I decided that it would be better to use an existing Asus AiO (All in One) computer for the library system and slide scanner. This had had its original Windows system removed, which meant that it needed to have it reinstalled.
I last wrote about Innherred Renovasjon (IR), just after the Utøy Recycling Station opened on 2018-09-18. This station serves all of Inderøy, and is located 7.3 km east-north-east of Cliff Cottage, on Hwy 755, our usual road to Straumen, the municipal centre, 12.3 km away.
This post looks at what happens to the various categories of waste, that is either picked up by truck, or received at a recycling station. It was started on 2018-10-21 at 14:43 to give an overview of regional recycling. For over four years this post has been gestating. This is a polite way of saying that it has been ignored most of this time, apart from short periodic bouts of guilt, encouraging sufficient enthusiasm for me to look at the post, before procrastination, once again, takes the upper hand.
Owned by and operating in nine of Trøndelag County’s 38 municipalities, IR, describes itself as an inter-municipal waste recycling company. As of 2022-01-01, it serves a population of 90 479 people, who occupy an area of 7 580 square kilometers, with 36 212 household subscribers and 12 138 cottage/ leisure subscribers.
There is considerable difference between the quality of service being offered by the various companies providing recycling services in Norway. IR has a good reputation, nationally, despite its relatively small size.
Of IR’s 106 employees, 21 of these work for its subsidiary, Retura IR AS. The managing director and four operations managers are responsible for four departments: Upstream operations (collection); downstream operations (reception and processing); administration; and human resources and communications.
IR is also responsible for emptying sludge (septic tanks) in all member municipalities, apart from Stjørdal. All properties with a toilet connected to a sludge system, must be emptied at regular intervals that depend on the size of the tank. In total, IR clears approx. 30 000 m³ of sludge from 6 000 septic tanks annually.
When Skarnsund bridge was under construction, from 1988 to 1991, temporary housing for bridge builders was provided in pre-fabricated buildings in a field across from Cliff Cottage. The bridge construction company was required to install a sewage system. Sixty local property owners used the opportunity to form Vangbekken kloakklag SA = Vang creek sewage cooperative, to serve local residents and the bridge builders. It was a profitable venture.
In 2022 the residents at Cliff Cottage paid NOK 500 (CAD 70/ USD 50) for sewage. Some years we pay nothing because the cost is covered by a new property owner joining the cooperative. A single connection fee pays all maintenance costs for at least a couple of years.
IR’s core values are to be open, efficient and committed. Their vision is: Itjnå e søppel! = Nothing is garbage, written in the local Trønder dialect, rather than proper Norwegian.
IR’s business concept is to offer residents efficient waste disposal with a high level of service. They use forward-looking technology, expertise and an environmental focus, to solve owner municipalities’ waste treatment, recycling and reuse tasks.
IR has the following performance targets set for 2025.
Customer satisfaction: 80% of citizens should feel like active contributors to the circular economy by supporting IR’s schemes. IR will develop the current level of service with a focus on providing the greatest benefits for the least cost.
80% of the citizens should feel like active contributors to the circular economy by supporting IR’s programs.
Sustainable Environment: 55% material recycling of collected waste; a transition to fossil-free fuel.
IR will utilize technology and infrastructure to reach the future’s material recycling and climate goals.
Employees, owner-operators and others who work for IR: Will have a maximum of 2% short-term absence, and a maximum of 5% long-term absence,
IR must be an attractive workplace with competent and motivated employees who represent the values of the company
Fee development: fee development must be among the 2 best in Central Norway, by offering competitive solutions for household waste and sewage sludge.
Innovation: IR must be an attractive partner for regional and national development in the industry. As an example of this, the company is frequently the first in the country to offer various forms of service.
For example, IR was the first company to supply every household with four wheelie bins: blue lid, green lid, brown lid and green with a smaller orange hatch lid. Blue is for paper; brown is for organic waste, green for residual waste; green with orange is for glass and household metal, e.g. tin cans. Plastic is picked up separately, with large clear plastic bags provided for the purpose. Indoor containers are also provided, a black bucket for collecting organic material, and a blue box for paper. At local food stores households can pick up bags for organic waste as well as for plastic, without charge.
Other solutions involve underground storage of waste. A video shows how this waste is collected.
For us at Cliff Cottage, organic waste is picked up every other week, along with either residual waste or paper. There are other schedules for plastic and metal/ glass waste. There are Android and iPhone apps, and information sources accessible with a web browser, to advise people about their specific collection dates.
People can also deliver waste to a recycling centre, without charge. This is because recycling fees are added on to the purchase price of products to cover their return to a recycling centre. Note: this is not the situation with all recycling centres in Norway.
Residual waste Residual waste is sent to combustion at Heimdal Central Heat, near Trondheim. The energy is used for heating households (district heating) through Statkraft Heating.
Cardboard and paper Cardboard, paper and cardboard are sent together to Retura TRV in Trondheim, which sort out the different types for further recycling. Cardboard is delivered to the Ranheim paper and board factory, and is used as raw material in the production of new cardboard products. Paper is delivered to Norske Skog på Skogn to become newsprint. Beverage carton is sent to Fiskeby Board in Norrköping, Sweden, and is made into pizza and cornflakes packaging.
Food waste Food waste is used as raw material for the production of biogas and fertilizer at Ecopro in Verdal. Biogas is converted into fuel and electricity, while fertilizer is distributed in agriculture. Ecopro is a high-tech biogas plant that processes food waste in an environmentally-friendly and forward-looking method. The plant removes the risk of infection, reduces odor and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The fuel is sold to and distributed via the company Ecogas.
Household cost of IR
To use the recycling stations, and to have garbage collected regularly, a household pays about NOK 4 000 (CAD 550/ USD 410) a year. There are legitimate and acceptable ways to reduce this cost, or to pay more to receive additional services.
Note: This weblog post was updated on 2023-01-01 to make some corrections, mostly spelling, and to eliminate what one reader found to be extraneous content about financing.
The Norwegian renovasjon has nothing to do with renovation, as in refurbishment, but with the collection and processing of waste/ garbage/ trash. It is related to renhold which is a general term for cleaning.
Innherred is a term for the areas around the inner part of the Trondheimsfjord, including the municipalities of Levanger, Frosta, Verdal, Inderøy, and Steinkjer. Steinkjer has its own recycling service. Malvik, Stjørdal, Meråker, Selbu and Tydal are not included in Innherred, geographically.
In my retirement career as a writer of weblog posts, I try to maintain a balance between using words that almost every adult understands and some more unusual, but appropriate, words that can enhance people’s appreciation of a topic. There is no point in using hyfalutin English, if nobody understands what it means.
Rather than choosing just a single new word, I wanted to select groups of relevant words, related in different ways to each other. Many of these words refer to social justice, or at least the social situation society finds itself in towards the end of a pandemic, with a war waging in Ukraine, and with Iranian women (and many others) protesting their denied basic human rights.
Social justice entered the English vocabulary, almost two hundred years ago, in 1824. Its emphasis has evolved. Earlier, it was concerned about social rights and roles. Then came the suffragette movement to extend the vote to women, and many others, emphasizing political rights. Currently, the emphasis is on social mobility and economic justice.
The term acronym was invented in 1943 by Bell Laboratories to refer to new words like RADAR = radio detection and ranging, that had been created from the initials of the words in phrases. Except, some people want to exclude RADAR and SONAR = sound navigation and ranging, because they do not regard them as real acronyms. Both RA- and SO- use two letters to refer to a single word, radio and sound, respectively. FONO has similar challenges.
On my daily to do list, I have managed to write two items: 1) painting (as in artwork), 2) walking. The list is actually titled, fun things to do without a computer, so writing weblog posts is excluded, as is playing a synth – which is nothing more than a computer musical instrument. But it is not the only thing left out. Leaving Cliff Cottage to socialize is just not worth the effort, much/ most of the time. HOGO = “hassle of going out” is used as an acronym, but probably inaccurately. A more honest acronym would be FOGO = “fear of going out.” Perhaps, HOGO is subsumed in FONO = “fear of normal” which has largely replaced FORO = “fear of running out,” common at the beginning of the pandemic, applied to toilet paper and other necessities, real or imagined. This replaced the pre-pandemic FOMO = “fear of missing out.”
There are lots of new terms related to influencers. Quantitatively, one website wants to use the following multipliers: nano influencers with 1K–10K people following; micro influencers with 10K–100K; macro influencers with 100K–1M; and, mega influencers with 1M+ followers. Apart from the last one, these defy convention. Purists believe there should be influencers (i) with 1 – 999 followers, kiloinfluencers (ki) with 1 000 to 999 999 followers, and megainfluences (Mi) with 1 000 000 or more followers. At every level there are also fake influencers, paying for followers and engagement, so they look more influential than they are.
Personally, I don’t even like the term influencer, despite its English origins in the 1660s. I continue to live in hope that others will refer to me as a doyen = a senior member, as in age, rank, or experience, of a group, class, profession, etc., a term with French origins, at almost exactly the same time. I prefer it to the more modern, maven = expert or connoisseur, with Yiddish and Hebrew origins.
A finfluencer is a social media influencer who focuses on financial and other money-related topics. Like other influences, their job is to encourage people to buy particular services.
A silvfluencer is a middle-aged or elderly person who encourages people, typically queenagers, to buy items such as clothing and make-up by recommending them on social media. A queenager is a middle aged or older woman, who leads a busy life, dresses stylishly and enjoys having fun. Sometimes these people are so old they are referred to as coastal grandmothers, who embody the simple, elegant style of rich, older women living by the sea on the east coast of the United States. Many of these are part of the elastic generation, between 50 and 70 who are well off and have a broad range of interests, seen by the advertising industry as consumers who are likely to spend a lot of money.
Planet placement involves conversations/ products/ services related to environmental issues, to raise the audience’s awareness of climate change/ environmental destruction. Presumably, this would include references to probiotic architecture = buildings that can host bacteria that help keep people healthy. If pets are involved, barkitecture may be part of the solution.
Readers are encouraged to start their own influencer careers, that involves only their families and friends. If that seems too massive, start off with just yourself, then gradually scale up to ten followers. A free, hosted weblog is an appropriate place to start. Set an achievable goal, such as an annual posting. Some people may prefer to post photos, or other graphic content, without any words. Others may prefer spoken words (as in podcasts) rather than written words. In the blogosphere there is a place for everyone.
When I first came across sponcon, I thought it referred to spontaneous content, rather than sponsored content. This is equivalent to one of my favourite phrases, native advertising. Wikipedia mentions its origins with Hallmark Hall of Fame, a television series that started in 1951. Native refers to the matching of product form and function with the platform upon which it appears. In other words, the product and content are merged. For example, an advertorial is an advertisement in the form of editorial content, a portmanteau = blend, of the words advertisement and editorial. Product placement = embedded marketing, a precursor to native advertising, places the product itself within the content. Think of a frosted glass of root beer on the tray attached to a woodie station wagon with a surfboard, parked at an A & W drive-in in Everett, Washington.
Companies fail for different reasons, but a lack of focus on the product or service and target customers is a big part of the reason. Burning through cash is another challenge, indicating an inability to plan and prioritize.
Founders and investors should acknowledge the existence of unicorpses = failed billion dollar startups, and spend less time and energy fantasizing about unicorns. What the world needs now are businesses that are sustainable.
According to a weblog post by Chris Joyce, a J-Score, with its 10 criteria, each subjectively rated from 0 to 10 points, can be used to distinguish unicorpses from unicorns. Unicorns earn 95 points or more.
These are, in summary: 1) There must be multiple barriers to entry other than money and marketing. 2) The product must be differentiated in several ways. 3) The product must not be a copy or newer version of an existing product. 4) The product must offer some form of controversy. 5) In order to be successful in a mature industry, a product must be fundamentally different from that offered by existing companies. 6) The product must not be a commodity, a standardized, universally distributed type of product. 7) The product must actually work/ function. It cannot just be a proof of concept/ prototype/ minimum viable product (MVP). 8) The product must not be ahead of its time. 9) The product must be salable. 10) The product must provide extreme value to purchasers.
April: Exhausted majority
More in Common, is an organization that comments on American society. They have concluded that as many as three quarters of Americans are exhausted from the tribal actions of political leaders and the media, and – especially – from having to navigate the ever-changing landscape of political correctness. This majority of Americans are the Exhausted Majority!
Today’s battleground for the exhausted majority is the office. After two years of thriving without it, and even increasing productivity, workers feel no need to return. In fact, if they do show up, it is likely to be a lonely place. The challenge facing businesses is demographic. There are fewer children being born to replace retiring workers. People in many countries express their opposition to immigration, not willing to admit that if fertility rates fall below 2.1, as they have in most developed countries, immigration is regarded as the only alternative to maintaining a workforce. A few countries, allergic to immigration, wish that robots could be a viable approach.
The Population Reference Bureau (PRB) provides the following fertility rates for 2022. Niger is at the top with 6.7 births per woman. Iran has about 1.7 according to PRB, but other sources state 2.1, almost exactly the same as the replacement rate. In Europe, Italy is one of several countries that has a fertility rate of about 1.3. Other sources state that the average age for first-time mothers in Italy is 31 years old, the highest in Europe. In Norway, PRB says the fertility rate is 1.6, but other sources indicate that it is back up to just under 1.8 after falling to under 1.5 in 2019. Other PRB figures: India = 2.1; USA = 1.7; Russia = 1.5; Canada = 1.4; China = 1.2; Ukraine = 1.0. South Korea, Macau and Hong Kong have the lowest fertility rates in the world, at 0.8 births per woman.
In an attempt to find other phrases containing majority, I came across the blind majority who, apparently, drink the kool-Aid. This usually refers to a person who believes in a dangerous idea because of perceived potential high rewards. The phrase originates with Tom Wolfe’s (1930-2018) The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968), about Ken Kesey (1935 – 2001) and his band, the Merry Pranksters, in 1964. The term also references the 1978 revolutionary suicide of 900 members of the People’s Temple, in Jonestown, Guyana, drinking Flavor-Aid mixed with cyanide. Yet, whenever I hear the phrase, the blind majority, I start reflecting on wilful blindness, as described by Margaret Heffernan (1955 – ), in her book Wilful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at our Peril (2011), and more generally a legal term about a situation in which a person seeks to avoid civil/ criminal liability by intentionally keeping themselves unaware of facts.
Other phrases include the non-majority, the minority, who are bucking a trend; those who are following the crowd, conforming to majority beliefs, opinions or practices; and crowd-pleasers, saying something the majority wants to hear.
May: Ruscism & more
At one level Ruscism/ Rusism/ Russism can be regarded as a form of ethnic discrimination applied to Russians, and people of Russian ancestry, especially since the start of Putin’s special military operation on 2022-02-24, that everyone else refers to as a war. Like all forms of ethnic, religious and cultural discrimination, it is not something to be condoned.
Since this Russian invasion of Ukraine has had so many implications, some related variations will be examined.
Russism (русизм) was popularized, described and extensively used in 1995 by President of the unrecognised Chechen state, Ichkeria, by Dzhokhar Dudayev (1944 – 1996), who saw the military action by Russia in Chechnya as a manifestation of the rising far-right ideology. He described it as: “a variety of hatred ideology which is based on Great Russian chauvinism, spiritlessness and immorality. It differs from other forms of fascism, racism, and nationalism by a more extreme cruelty, both to man and to nature. It is based on the destruction of everything and everyone, the tactics of scorched earth. Ruscism is a schizophrenic variety of the world domination complex. This is a distinct version of slave psychology, it grows like a parasite on the fabricated history, occupied territories and oppressed peoples.”
The variant рашизм = rashism/ rashyzm, has its origins in the 2008 Russian-Georgian war. It became popular in Ukraine after the Russian annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. It refers to Russian fascism generally, and is often used specifically to refer to Russian military forces occupying parts of sovereign Ukraine. In both Ukrainian and Russian it is written the same way, but romanized as rashism in Russian, and rashyzm in Ukrainian.
On 2022-04-23, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated: “This country will have a word in our history textbooks that no one has invented, which everyone is repeating in Ukraine and in Europe – ‘Ruscism’. It’s not just random that everyone is saying that this is Ruscism. The word is new, but the actions are the same as they were 80 years ago in Europe. Because for all of these 80 years, if you analyse our continent, there has been no barbarism like this. So Ruscism is a concept that will go into the history books, it will be in Wikipedia, it will be [studied] in classes. And small children around the world will stand up and answer their teachers when they ask when Ruscism began, in what land, and who won the fight for freedom against this terrible concept.”
A leat is an artificial watercourse dug into the ground, especially to supply water to a watermill or its mill pond. Paul and Rebecca Whitewick used the term in a video describing the Hereford and Gloucester abandoned canal tunnels.
This prompted me to reflect on the use of other archaic water terms, where the acre-foot is the most problematic. An acre is traditionally defined as the area of one chain by one furlong = 10 square chains = 22 x 220 yards =4 840 square yards = 66 x 660 feet = 43 560 square feet. By international agreement an acre is exactly 4 046.856 422 4 m2. When a surface area of one acre is covered by one foot of water, the result is 1 613.333 cubic yards = 43 560 cubic feet = 325 851 American gallons = 1 233.48 m3. This forms a cube approximately 35 feet 2 inches = 10.72 m in all three directions, to the closest inch or cm, respectively.
Note #1: Videos about canals, trains and buses are entertaining! One of videos we watch repeatedly is All Aboard! The Country Bus which is a two-hour journey through the Swaledale valley in North Yorkshire, first shown in 2016.
Note #2: Thankfully, the length of a chain has been standardized at 66 feet. Before 1834, a Scots chain was about 74 feet and an Irish chain 84 feet, adding even more confusion.
Note #3: When we have to translate acres into something understandable, we use these approximate values. For larger areas: 1 km2 = 250 acres, while 1 000 acres = 4 km2; For smaller areas: 1 000 m2 = 0.25 acres, while 1 acre = 4 000 m2.
There is an group of emerging nations, known as the BRICS, from the names of member nations. In alphabetic order these are: Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa. Except, now they appear to have admitted two new members, Argentina and Iran. To help these nations find a collective name for themselves, I have used an anagram solver. The one name that attracted my attention was cibarsi, an Italian word meaning to feed on, or to eat. Since Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria and Türkiye have also expressed an interest in joining, I am encouraging everyone to find an inclusive name or phrase for this extended group.
A totally unrelated group of states is DACH, majority German-speaking states of Central Europe (except Liechtenstein). From Deutschland in German for Germany, Austria in Latin for Austria and Confoederatio Helvetica in Latin for Switzerland. Dach means roof in German. The term DACH+ is sometimes used to include Liechtenstein. DACHS = badger in German, includes German-speaking South Tyrol in Italy.
Since American families typically have long and convoluted histories of immigration, one creative activity is to invent an inclusive name that includes much of that geography as possible. Here is the anagram solver that could be helpful.
Prindel, possibly spelt prndl, is the mechanism on a car, used to select: park-reverse-neutral-drive-low. Before, people called them a gear selector or, possibly incorrectly, gear lever. This appeared on an episode of Munro Live, with Carl Crittenden talking about the Nimbus One electric vehicle (EV), a tadpole = reverse trike = three-wheeled vehicle with two wheels up front and one in the back. The prototype was being tested at Kettering University, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 2021-03-01 Nimbus stated the price of a Nimbus Halo would be US$ 6 420, with deliveries expected worldwide in mid to late 2022. By 2022-09-01, the name had been changed to Nimbus One, the price to US$ 9 980, and the delivery date to late 2024.
On 2022-08-17, Stellantis presented an Dodge Charger Daytona SRT electric concept vehicle, expected to enter production in 2024, and displacing the current ICE versions. While Stellantis stated that the reason for this vehicle is performance (read: burning rubber), another motivation is saving US$ 609 million in civil penalties for Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) fines arising from missed emission targets.
The Charger EV is probably the antithesis of other EVs in other ways, especially because of three features:
R-Wing: intended to increase aerodynamic efficiency while maintaining the Charger’s characteristic bulky front-end.
eRupt transmission: a multi-speed electro-mechanical transmission with distinct shift-points (jerks), rather than a smooth transitions from one gear to the next.
Fratzonic Chambered Exhaust: a fake exhaust note made so that the EV sounds just like an ICE vehicle. While this may appeal to muscle car enthusiasts, it will offend everyone else.
Fratzog is a Dodge term and logo that was used between 1962 and 1976 (some say 1981), especially on high-performance Dodge models. The logo contains a fractured deltoid composed of three arrowhead shapes that form a three-pointed star. Elwood Engel (1917 – 1986) was Chrysler’s chief designer, but for me it is unknown who came up with the meaningless Fratzog name for the logo, when pressed. It stuck, and was incorporated into assorted badges/emblems and integrated into the design of such parts as steering wheel center hubs and road wheel covers.
Prior to this, Chrysler’s chief designer, Virgil Exner (1909 – 1973), had introduced a radical Forward Look redesign of Chrysler’s vehicles that was the design language for the 1955 – 1962 model years, that featured a Flookerang logo, with two overlapped boomerang shapes, representing space-age rocket-propelled motion.
A fictosexual is a human being sexually attracted to a fictional character. I am not a member of this clan, especially if I restrict myself to fictional book characters. In Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons universe, there are, admittedly, three potential objects of attraction: Susan Walker, Ruth (Nancy) Blackett and Margaret (Peggy) Blackett. Television opens up some greater possibilities with The Avengers, whose characters include Cathy Gale, portrayed by Honor Blackman (1925 – 2020), Emma Peel, portrayed by Diana Rigg (1938 – 2020), and Tara King, portrayed by Linda Thorson (1947 – ), a Canadian. So that I do not completely offend American male readers, I will also mention Honey West, with the title character portrayed by Anne Francis (1930 – 2011).
I searched fictional male character women find most attractive, in order to find a suitable result for women readers. The first result was disappointing. If I selected a random romantic novel depicting the Regency period, Duke would probably emerge. The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains is about an unnamed ranch hand, working at the Sunk Creek Ranch, located outside of Medicine Bow, Wyoming. The novel was written by Owen Wister (1860-1938) in 1902, but set in the 1880s. For those who prefer a more graphic approach, Classics Illustrated #150 is available. Numerous film and television versions, have been made.
We learn that the word is lox, which is probably Proto-Indo-European, was pronounced the same then as it is now in modern English. Then, it meant salmon, and now it specifically means smoked salmon. With the exception of delicatessen owners, and their patrons, I am not sure how much the term is actually used in English. It probably entered English through Yiddish, a West Germanic language historically spoken by Ashkenazi Jews. However, variations of lox = salmon, abound. The Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in German is Lachse; in Icelandic and Swedish it is lax; in Danish and Norwegian it is laks. In Finnish, it is Lohi. In many slavic languages it is losos. Further west and south there are salmo variations, such as the English salmon, the Dutch zalm, the French saumon, the Spanish salmón, the Portuguese salmão, and even salmo, in Esperanto. The Interlingua-English dictionary, confirms that salmon in Interlingua refers to the English noun salmon: 1. Salmo salar, the fish salmon; as well as 2. the color salmon. This is to be expected in a constructed language based on Romance languages.
Uptober is another word found the same day. This apparently refers to the month where bitcoin is going to turn around and increase in value. In 2013-10, one bitcoin was worth about US$ 192. This rose to a peak of over US$ 65 000 in 2021-11. Since then it has generally fallen in value. On 2022-11-10, the price was US$ 15 742.44.
Other -tober references encountered during the month include: inktober, for people interested in pen and ink drawings. On Halloween, cobwebs and dust loose their status as dirt, and become decorations. Then, as midnight approaches, it is Oct-over.
Watching a BBC video, The Surprising Story of Kid’s TV, the surprising part of it was that children’s television included hosts who were a little different. It might be a northern English dialect, an origin in the Caribbean, Down syndrome, the absence of an arm or (for teen programs) a non-binary sexual orientation. Sometimes, it might even involve children. At the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the BBC showed Belfast children laughing and having fun, and children from dysfunctional families. The surprise I wanted to investigate more, related to deafness, and the use of signing.
With the internet, one is always being led on to the next exciting topic.
First there was Deaf View/Image Art (De’VIA), visual art that represents the Deaf experience and Deaf culture. The term was first defined and recognized as an art genre in 1989. The De’VIA manifesto outlines criteria for De’VIA works: representative of Deaf experiences; use of specific artistic strategies such as color contrast and centralized focus; visual fine arts and alternative media; not exclusive to Deaf artists and not inclusive of all Deaf artists.
This led to: Arnaud Balard (1971 – ), who was born deaf, but who became increasingly blind. He is best known for his Surdism manifesto. Surdism as an artistic, philosophical and cultural movement offers an affirmation of Deaf culture. Surd (English) = sourd (French), which remains the principal word for deaf. In appeared in French as a noun from 1540s. It arrived in English about the same time, 1545–55. It is derived from the Latin surdus = muted, deaf.
Balard also created the Sign Union flag. Wikipedia tells us: After studying flags around the world and vexillology principles for two years, Balard revealed the design of the flag, featuring the stylized outline of a hand. The three colors which make up the flag design are representative of Deafhood and humanity (dark blue), sign language (turquoise), and enlightenment and hope (yellow). Balard intended the flag to be an international symbol which welcomes deaf people.
Note: Here at Cliff Cottage, hearing can be a challenge. Trish has used hearing aids since her early forties, while I have had tinnitus since my early fifties.
A hogamadog is a snowball used to start a snowman – by rolling it through a snowfield, so it gradually becomes increasingly bigger. More generally, it is something that increases in size as it spirals outwards from a central core. According to Paul Anthony Jones, who found it in the English Dialect Dictionary, as a word that began life as a local name for the shell of a snail.
Other dialect words mentioned in the article are: adullamite = someone dissatisfied with the current political outlook; barleyhood (Tudor) = crapulence (defined by Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784) as sickness by intemperance) = hangover; boun = to decorate a home with evergreen branches; bull week = the week leading up to Christmas Day, when workers had to tie up all their loose ends ahead of the holidays; flapdoodler = a dissembling political speaker, in 19th-century slang; fyole = a dusting of snow; grantism = political cronyism and nepotism, after President Ulysses S. Grant (1822 – 1885) awarded more than 30 of his friends and relatives high-profile positions in the early 1870s; kirsmas-glass = a toast to a house given at Christmas; present-silver = money given in place of a gift, used since the 1300s; propine = pourboire (originally French) = Trinkgeld (originally German) = money to be spent on drink; roorback = a rumour circulated for political gain; sonrock = a cosy fireside chair; toe-cover = an inexpensive but pointless gift; whullup = a gift given to curry favour; yuleshard (a corruption of yule’s jade) = a festive fool, someone who leaves work unfinished on Christmas Eve.
Special mention: -flation
Throughout 2022, there have been many new -flation terms circulating, especially with the onset of supply-side inflation, since the pandemic. From the 1960s, until now, most inflation has been demand-side, where consumers have too much money to spend, and the price of products and services increases. The common cure is to increase interest rates, so that people are discouraged from borrowing, and encouraged to save. Supply-side inflation is due to production issues. Increasing interest rates does not alleviate the problem. Both price controls and rationing have been used to restore order.
Greedflation uses inflation as an excuse to increase prices more than necessary in order to make as much money as possible. Greenflation results in a similar price increase, but it is caused by moving to more environmentally friendly options. Ripflation arises when companies use inflation as an excuse to increase their prices more than necessary in a way that rips off (= cheats) their customers. Skimpflation involves a situation where the price of a product or service stays the same but the quality becomes worse. Cash stuffing = saving cash in a different envelope for each type of purchase, is a financial strategy that involves saving cash instead of investing it, in order to beat inflation. Cash? The only cash I have is one (1) 10-krone coin, shared with Patricia and kept in our car, used to release a shopping cart, and to ensure that the cart is returned to a designated collection point before leaving the shopping centre.
A Norwegian language article on the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation website about the price of eggs, provides some numbers for discussion. In 2022-06, 18 Eldorado brand eggs cost NOK 32.90. On 2022-07-01, the price of eggs was increased to NOK 37.40. In 2022-09 the price increased yet again to NOK 37.90. But, at the same time, the number of eggs was reduced from 18 to 12. The price per egg had increased from NOK 1.82 to NOK 3.16, a price increase of 74%. This was termed krympflasjon = crimpflation = shrinkflation. In marketing, this psychological trick is referred to as barely noticeable differences. Marketers hope that customers won’t notice the difference.
On 2022-12-14, at 06:36 the Norwegian Language Council (Språkrådet) announced that krympflasjon is the Word of the Year 2022. Council director Åse Wetås said: [It] summarizes 2022 in an striking way. There are many who experience difficult times because of the price trend we has seen so far.
Word to avoid in 2022 (and beyond): Metaverse
Metaverse is a word that has been nipping at my heels the entire year. It was actually the word of the month for January, until it was replaced. It also resulted in an emphasis on social justice.
Metaverses are found in two flavours. 1. In the beginning there was a science fiction concept, of a shared, realistic, and immersive computer simulation of the real world or other possible worlds, in which people participate as digital avatars. 2. This diverged into a networked online space inhabited by people in digital environments who interact and experience a shared virtual space with virtual reality, augmented reality, game consoles, mobile devices and/ or conventional computers.
In 2022-04, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel (1990 – ) told the Guardian that Snap avoids using the term because it’s pretty ambiguous and hypothetical.
This was followed in 2022-05, with Amazon senior vice president, devices & services, David Limp stating if he asked a few hundred people what they thought the metaverse was, he’d get 205 different answers with no common definition.
By 2022-07, Mark Zuckerberg (1984 – ) had commented that he believes Apple and Meta are in a very deep, philosophical competition to build the metaverse: “This is a competition of philosophies and ideas, where they believe that by doing everything themselves and tightly integrating that they build a better consumer experience. And we believe that there is a lot to be done in specialization across different companies, and [that] will allow a much larger ecosystem to exist.”
Then in 2022-10, Tim Cook (1960 – ) responded: “I always think it’s important that people understand what something is…. I’m really not sure the average person can tell you what the metaverse is.”
Looking at other social media products, in the week after Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, on 2022-10-27, there have been several controversial developments at Twitter: Senior management are fleeing; ordinary workers have been threatened with mass firing; hate content has multiplied; advertisers are pausing their spending; veryifying an account will cost a monthly fee. In response, users are terminating accounts.
Colin Harrison, emeritus professor of literacy studies, University of Nottingham, writes in a letter: I’ve spent much of the last 10 years researching how best to educate young people into becoming safe, confident internet users, but this becomes more difficult every day. Academics and teachers need to let Musk know that his thoughtless and dangerous behaviour does not broaden democracy. Instead, it supports the view, already held by tens of millions of Americans, that if you don’t like the world that democracy has given you, you simply use money and violence (amplified by social media) to eliminate it.
On 2022-11-02, Tik-Tok admitted that: [W]e allow certain employees within our corporate group located in Brazil, Canada, China, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States, remote access to TikTok European user data.
Oxford Languages has awarded goblin mode their 2022 Word of the Year, best reflected the ethos and mood of the past 12 months. The slang term is defined as a: type of behavior which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations. The term first appeared on Twitter in 2009, and went viral in 2022. Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Languages, stated: It captured the prevailing mood of individuals who rejected the idea of returning to ‘normal life’, or rebelled against the increasingly unattainable aesthetic standards and unsustainable lifestyles exhibited on social media. People are embracing their inner goblin.
While Word of the Year is typically based on analyzing language data on the popularity of emerging words, in 2022 Oxford Languages held a public vote with over 300 000 people participating. About 93% favored goblin mode, against metaverse and #IStandWith.
There will be no discussion of gaslighting, Merriam-Webster’s word of the year, 2022. Instead, people will be advised to investigate this and other such words in an appropriate Wikipedia article.
Other word of the month contenders, that didn’t make the grade in 2022 include: Clerihew = 4 line poem; Psychotronic = paranormal.
Word of the Year: Necessory
Necessory is a noun that combines necessity with accessory. It is not to be confused with the adjective, necessary. A necessory is an appurtenance that one can not live without. Personally, I regard a Pilot V-ball 0.5 mm pen with blue ink, a necessory when awake and dressed; a 5 meter tape measure, with millimeter markings is a necessory in the workshop; a hand-held device aka a cell phone or mobile phone, is a necessory most 21st century people cannot leave home without. I would like to thank my dear wife, Trish, for inventing this word.
For those who avoid using appurtenance on a daily basis, it is often defined as something associated with another, more important thing. In other words, it is an accessory. The plural, appurtenances, refers to equipment: clothing/ tools/ instruments, used for a specific purpose. In other words, gear.
In 2022 social justice has involved opposition to a war in Ukraine. Thus, many military terms have entered people’s vocabularies since 2022-02-24, when the world was forced by Russian attrocities to remember the words of Carl von Clausewitz (1780 – 1831), [Vom Krieg (1832)] On War (1984): War is a mere continuation of policy with other means (Chapter 1, title of section 24).
Ukrainian geography is better understood. Increasingly, some people can even place the Donbas = Donets basin, on a map, along with Mariupol, the Sea of Azov, and the Carpathian mountains. Odes(s)a has been Vancouver’s sister city since 1944. Crimea is no longer just known for its 1853 – 1856 war. Kyiv has effectively replaced Kiev as the spelling of Ukraine’s capital. KyivNotKiev is StratCom Ukraine =the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) online campaign for strategic communications, that started 2018-10-02 had a goal to persuade English-language media to use Kyiv (Ukrainian Київ) instead of Kiev (Russian Киев).
In Snidanok. Online, Oleksandr Avramenko (1971 – ) encourages writing russia in all lower-case letters, and states this is a Ukrainian language rule since Soviet times, but not codified in the current Ukrainian orthography, allowing/ encouraging the names of disparaged people, such as hitler (1889 – 1945) or putin (1952 – ) to be written this way.
The expression I appreciate best is Затридні = Inthreedays = In three days, which refers to Russian statements that it would take Kyiv in three days, at the beginning of its special military operation, a euphemism for war. It now describes any strongly believed, but unrealistic plan. Завести трактор = Start the tractor, refers to: the use of unusual methods / tools, specifically tractors to drag abandoned tanks.
At the beginning of the war there was Saint Javelin, a mime created by Toronto broadcaster Christian Borys (1986 – ), which has now raised over US$ 1 million in funding for children in Ukraine. Soon javelin, stinger, NLAW = next generation light anti-tank weapon, manpad = man-portable air defense system, referring to guided surface-to-air missiles, were part of a common vocabulary. APC referred to an armoured personnel carrier. Similarly, T-64, T-72, T-80 and T-90 were commonly understood to refer to Russian designed battle tanks. Then there is the high mobility artillery rocket system (HIMARS) and the Patriot surface-to-air missile system.
The term drone was used as early as World War I to refer to towed aircraft used in target practice. One of the first descriptions of a drone as an unmanned aerial vehicle, appeared in a Popular Mechanics article in 1940-12. Lee de Forest (1873 – 1961) and U. A. Sandabria (1906 – 1969) were described as working on a robot television bomber, effectively a drone. Today, people are more specific, distinguishing a Shahed-136 kamikaze unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from a Bayraktar TB2, a medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV).
Some military terms are more psychological than others. There are six situational awareness centres in Ukraine. Ukrainian infowarriors = programmers, at these centres are responsible for Delta = a dynamic battlefield map/ software package showing battlefield positions/ movements. Its purpose is to predict enemy moves so they can be struck faster and more accurately.
These centres have an informal feel, They use Agile techniques = short cycle creation: code, test, launch, repeat. Ukraine has a younger, less hierarchical political culture, where there are more and better horizontal links between units, military and civilian. There is an absence of military uniforms, and the presence of a drone workshop with engineers perfecting a light activated bomb release mechanism on an off-the-shelf quadcopter, fitted with 3D printed parts. Aеророзвідка (aerorozvidka) = aerial reconnaissance, involves drone operators and programmers. One cannot function, without the other.
Then there is the open source intelligence (Osint) department, where date and location data is extracted from social media posts written by Russian recruits, along with satellite imagery supplied by Nato partners, drone footage, photos and information supplied by informers behind Russian lines. These are all fed into the Delta battlefield map, which is accessible to military users through Starlink satellite communications. Delta’s integration of battlefield information is an essential part of a competition Ukraine has to win to survive, with computers as weapons, and data as bullets.
To gain a better understanding of war, I watch a weekly video made by Perun, an Australian military-industry analyst. To gain a better understanding of the Ukrainian language, I study Ukrainian with Duolingo four days a week (M-Tu-Th-F), the other three days are devoted to Dutch (Sa-Su-W).
The war has also influenced our purchasing behaviour. Whereas before, Russian radios and Chinese cars might have been considered for purchase, both amateur radio operators in our family have acquired American made radios, and our upcoming electric car originates in Europe. Acquiring products has become more difficult, because globalization with outsourcing and just-in-time inventory policies are not working for the benefit of ordinary people.
Soon, it will be 2023, and the focus of words for the year will change from social justice to environmental justice.
When this post was first envisioned, when writing Made Without Repression, in 2019, I was mainly concerned about developments in Hong Kong. Since then, the situation in other countries has revealed a greater need for insights into the challenge of censorship. It is easier to prepare for censorship before it happens, than after. That said, it is probably time for everyone, everywhere to prepare themselves for internet censorship.
Various organizations, with assorted mandates and disparate reasons, make lists of countries engaging in internet censorship and surveillance. Some of the counties currently on their Countries under surveillance list by Reporters sans frontières, (RSF) = Reporters without borders, include: Australia, France, South Korea, and Norway – the last one with a proviso that states that this only applies to metadata on traffic that crosses the Norwegian border. A more serious RFS list, introduced in 2006 and last updated in 2014, Enemies of the internet, is more important because: all of these countries mark themselves out not just for their capacity to censor news and information online but also for their almost systematic repression of Internet users. Of the twenty countries on this list at its 2014 update are: China, India, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, United States.
On 2013-12-13, RSF published a Special report on Internet Surveillance, with two new lists: 1) State Enemies of the Internet, countries whose governments are involved in active, intrusive surveillance of news providers, resulting in grave violations of freedom of information and human rights = Bahrain, China, Iran, Syria, and Vietnam. 2) Corporate Enemies of the Internet, companies that sell products that are liable to be used by governments to violate human rights and freedom of information = Amesys (France), Blue Coat Systems (U.S.), Gamma (UK and Germany), Hacking Team (Italy), and Trovicor (Germany).
Of course, not all people, organizations or companies exhorting free speech are sincere. Recently, the current CEO of Twitter has been encouraging free speech, at least for himself and a former president of the United States, but not necessarily for anyone else, especially those who express opposing views.
Thus, everyone should be preparing their own plan for managing an internet censorship situation. In addition, they may want to consider how they can help others already caught in one, such as people living in countries listed on the Enemies of the Internet, list.
There are many approaches to dealing with internet censorship, but an easy one is to become acquainted with Psiphon, an open-source Internet censorship circumvention tool, originally developed by the Citizen Lab in 2006.
The Citizen Lab, was founded in 2001, at the University of Toronto, Canada. It studies information controls that impact internet openness and security that threaten human rights. Computer-generated interrogation, data mining and analysis are combined with intensive field research, qualitative social science, and legal and policy analysis methods.
In 2007, Psiphon, Inc. was established as a Canadian corporation independent of the Citizen Lab and the University of Toronto. It uses a social network of trust model, to provide tools that offer internet access to people who live in censored countries. Psiphonode is server software that is easy to install, while psiphonite is client software, that is even easier. These products give ordinary people the opportunity to circumvent internet controls. The key is that the people involved have to trust each other.
Psiphon is currently engaged in developing/ maintaining two related projects: A cloud-based run-time tunneling system, and a cloud-based secure proxy system. Their original home-based server software is no longer supported. This software has been in development since 2006, initally with psiphonites from all over the world, including central Asia and the Middle East, accessing a test psiphonode server.
While the risk to psiphon users is never zero, if appropriate measures are taken, it is much safer than using any other method to visit a censored site. A psiphonite must connect to a unique, and traceable, IP address. Psiphon has been built to run as a private network connecting to home computers, where the connection information is never publicly disclosed. Encrypted psiphon messages are buried inside other commercial traffic.
The software uses a combination of secure communication and obfuscation technologies, including virtual private networks (VPN), secure shell protocol (SSH) = cryptographic network protocol for operating network services securely over an unsecured network. and a web proxy = an intermediary between a client requesting a service, and a server providing it. It is designed to protect the client, Psiphon is both centrally managed yet geographically diverse. It is a network of thousands of proxy servers, using a performance-oriented, single- and multi-hop routing architecture.
With Psiphon effectively out-sourced, the Citizen Lab has been able to concentrate on investigating situations where internet openness and security are restricted, and human rights are threatened. Notable reports include:
Tracking GhostNet (2009) documented a cyber espionage network of over 1 295 infected hosts in 103 countries between 2007 and 2009, with many high-value targets, including ministries of foreign affairs/ embassies/ international organizations/ news media/ NGOs.
Shadows in the Cloud (2010), documented an ecosystem of cyber espionage that compromised computer network systems for government/ business/ academia at the United Nations, as well as in India and other countries.
Million Dollar Dissident (2016), documented the tracking of Ahmed Mansoor, a human rights defender in the United Arab Emirates, with Pegasus software, developed by Israeli NSO Group.
My views are influenced by La Crise d’Octobre (1970-10-05 – 1970-12-28) that started when members of the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) kidnapped the Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte and British diplomat James Cross. Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau then invoked the War Measures Act for the first time in Canadian history during peacetime. This limited civil liberties and granted the police far-reaching powers. There were 3 000 searches, and 497 arrests. Everyone arrested was denied due process. Habeascorpus = an individual’s right to have a judge confirm that they have been lawfully detained, was suspended. The Government of Quebec also requested military aid to support the civil authorities, with Canadian Forces being deployed throughout Quebec. Canadian historian Desmond Morton (1937 – 2019) later wrote: “It was unprecedented. On the basis of facts then and revealed later, it was unjustified. It was also a brilliant success. Shock was the best safeguard against bloodshed.”
In the United States, four coordinated suicide terroristattacks carried out by 19 al-Qaeda against the United States on Tuesday, 2001-09-11. The attacks killed nearly 3 000 people and instigated the Global War on Terrorism. Criticism of this war has focused on its morality, efficiency and cost. A 2021 Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs study concluded that the several post-9/11 wars have displaced at least 38 million people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and the Philippines. It estimated these wars caused about 900 000 deaths and cost $8 trillion. Despite the U.S. Constitution and U.S. law prohibiting the use of torture, this became common practice.
More recently, on 2020-01-06, following Donald Trump’s defeat in the 2020 presidential election, a mob of his supporters attacked the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., seeking to keep Trump in power by preventing a joint session of Congress from counting the electoral college votes to formalize the victory of Joe Biden. This was the seventh and last part of a plan by Trump to overturn the election.
These events show that democracy is not guaranteed anywhere, and that people have to be vigilant.
A Plan to prevent Internet Censorship
One of the first tasks a person can engage in, is to visit the Psiphon website. It claims that: Where other VPNs can not connect, Psiphon will find a way. These connections are free, built on leading edge, research driven security and network technologies. These services are designed to keep people connected. They provide everything from social media, to games, to voice over internet protocol (VOIP) = a telephone service based on the internet, Psiphon is designed to help people access online content and services they appreciate, even if they are blocked by the authorities.
Once these internet connections are in place, it is much easier to provide content to people. My intention is that in 2023, I will set up a website, possibly mist.mclellan.no, but more likely an equivalent website with a more neutral name, that will be able to house courses/ lectures/ labs on technical subjects that will be freely available to people anywhere in the world. I specifically think about political hotspots of the world, currently: Hong Kong, Iran, Ukraine. It is not something I can do alone, since I have no knowledge of Cantonese or Farsi. My knowledge of Ukrainian is so elementary that it is of no practical use. Thus, I hope content can be translated by others, potentially learners who have a good understanding of English.
It would be interesting to know what other people feel they can contribute. They can send me an email at first name @ last name.no, where the first and last names are found as the name of this weblog.
At some point in their lives, many people admit to being collectors. They use this term because it is neutral: less pious than saver, which would suggest an ethical motivation; less compulsive than hoarder, which would admit to an addiction.
The pronunciation of these terms provides insights into the mind set of listeners. Sometimes, I deliberately mispronounce saver as savior. No one has ever misunderstood or commented on this mispronunciation. I do this when I am trying to represent saving as a religious mission, perhaps even regarding collected stuff as an environmentally sustainable alternative to buying new things. One can also feel the greater intensity of negative impressions, when the term hoarder is pronounced almost normally, but with increased emphasis on the first syllable.
In this weblog post, there will be no attempt to prevent anyone from living in their own fantasy world. The actual thing collected/ saved/ hoarded varies. The economic elite might engage in ostentatiously collecting Renaissance art or incunabula = books printed before 1501. Members of a middle-class might collect hard-covered books, stamps or coins. Sports enthusiasts might collect baseball cards. My mother collected representations of birds, one from each of her trips.
In the 1960s, pennants were popular with children, and we at Cliff Cottage still have remnants of a pennant collection. Many of these were subsequently displayed on bedroom walls. The attached photo of a pennant of Hope, is for a location that represents a boundary, separating polite, sustainable, environmentally conscious Cascadia from the wild, ruinous, environmentally indifferent interior of British Columbia. Hope is on the banks of the Fraser River, about 110 km eastwards/ upstream from New Westminster, and 70 km southwards/ downstream of Hell’s Gate. While five species of Pacific salmon can be found there, with one depicted on the pennant, I am more interested in the declining number of White Sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus), found south of Hell’s Gate. Sometimes I try to impress some people by mentioning that the area was used as the location for the film Rambo – First Blood (1982). Others are more impressed when I mention that the Othello tunnels, part of Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park, take their names from the works of Shakespeare.
Some insights into collecting will be offered by looking at how others approach the acquisition of things. As this paragraph is being written, our teletype replacement reports that over half of newly baked Norwegian fathers have bought something used on Finn, the Norwegian equivalent of Craigslist. This is a change of attitude. In contrast after 42 years in Norway, we have bought our first new sofas. Previously, we have only had used sofas. Before that, it was covered mattresses on the floor.
Unfortunately, the art of buying used equipment online requires diligence. On one occasion, I bough a computer with a hard drive that contradicted the product description. Since I intended to upgrade it anyway, I ignored it. On a second occasion, stage clips were missing from a stereo microscope, both in the product description provided by the seller, as well as in the sending, but not in the photo used as part of the product description.
A large number of former male colleagues acquire vehicles with personality, when their economy allows it. The vehicles vary. I know some who have bought: (former) military trucks/ motorcycles/ muscle cars/ sports cars/ vans.
One colleague specialized in buying Land Rovers. He confided that he told his wife that he owned eight, because that was the number of vehicles that were registered. I believe the real number was fourteen. Some of these may have just been kept for their parts. Soon the number was reduced to thirteen as he gave one to his daughter, at the time one of my students. I suspect this was in order to buy her silence about the real number of vehicles involved. She admitted to me that she had obtained the very best of the vehicles in his collection.
I had noted that a disproportionate number of male workers in what can be regarded as female-dominated professions, such as teaching and nursing, own uber-masculine vehicles, such as large trucks and muscle cars.
To test this hypothesis, I have watched documentary/ reality programs to see if these stereotypes are common. Not only are the results inconclusive, they seem to point to the opposite conclusion, at least in three series involving vehicle collectors.
Marshal Chapman, was a professor of geology who lived on Isle au Haut, population 70, in Maine, when he appeared in the fifth episode of the documentary, The US East Coast (2014), starting at 33:08. He has a relaxed and modest approach to collecting his two functioning older vehicles, a 1924 Ford Model T coupe, and a 1930 (?) Ford Model A flatbed truck. Among the characteristics he appreciates about his Model A is its high ground clearance and low top speed (33 mph = ca. 50 km/h) allowing him to see more of the landscape as he drives through it. He claims he has no problems obtaining spare parts, with old restorers dying off, and their widows wanting these obsolete vehicles out of their lives. He also claims that once there is one vintage car in a barn, it starts to reproduce so one ends up with four or five vehicles. He is unsure how this happens, just that it does. He also allows his vehicles to take a day off, if they need it, accepting that old cars have quirks. These are internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, but Chapman’s approach to collecting involves several ethical principles that are needed if the world is to successfully transition to a greener future.
Mike Hall, appears in Rust Valley Restorers, a reality series set in Tappen, British Columbia on Shuswap Lake. I know the area well. For most of my childhood, our family stayed for a week at a waterfront cottage at Blind Bay, 15 km from Tappen. Hall is the opposite of Chapman. When the series started, he claimed to own 400 vehicles from the 1950s – 1970s, rusting away in what he describes as a field of dreams. Towards the end of the series, he gives up on his dream, and auctions most of them away, because he is unable to restore them. Hall is a hoarder, and his collecting habits are an obsession and probably an addiction.
Mark Towle, from Gotham Garage, appears in Car Masters: Rust to Riches, another reality series that looks at car revitalization, so far in 32 episodes, from 2018 to 2022. Gotham Garage uses two workshops located in Temecula, a city in Riverside County, California, with a 2020 population of about 110 000. While there has been some discussion about the authenticity of the program, the important point here is that Towle and Gotham Garage are portrayed, not as collectors, but as distributors/ dispensers/ vendors of enhanced/ customized one-off vehicles, built on an existing chassis/ body. Despite claims to the contrary, these are not usually restorations. Rather, vehicles are rebuilt to incorporates the dreams of typically wealthy clients into their newly reconstructed vehicles.
I am still in a state of denial with respect to my collector status about tools. Starting about 2016, I built up a woodworking workshop to assist in the restoration of Cliff Cottage. I soon learned that it can be economically advantageous to buy specialty tools even for a single specific task. Hiring a worker is usually more expensive, and here in rural Norway, there is no option of renting unusual tools. Thus, the perpetual question asked is, what quality should that tool be?
To begin with, I often bought cheaper house brand tools that, while capable of performing assigned tasks, are less effective than better quality tools. I regret some of these earlier purchases.
I have replaced a Scheppach table saw (that suddenly stopped working), with a Bosch table saw, that continues to operate. The one tool that I have been most disappointed with is a Ryobi compound mitre saw. I should have opted for a Bosch model, even though it is three times more expensive. The Ryobi is the one tool in my collection that I refuse to allow anyone to inherit. I have left clear instructions that it is to be recycled!
I own several Meec battery electric tools, because they use the same standard battery, of which I have four. These tools are gudenuf! Many people regard DeWalt as the highest quality woodworking tool brand commonly available in Norway. When I look at their prices, I accept that Bosch has a quality that meets my needs. Most of these woodworking tools have been so little used that they will last not just my lifetime, but the lifetime of the next generation of user that inherits them, and possibly the generation after that.
Computers & Peripherals
I hope to apply what I have learned about woodworking tools, to computers and peripherals. My attitude to collecting computing equipment is that while the quantities exceed basic needs, they are still manageable.
I still recall one day, when indulgence took the overhand. I contacted a Norwegian company whose mission is to sell used computing equipment. I asked specifically about its holding of older Asus EEE PCs and netbooks. A white Asus EEE PC 702 from 2007 is arguably the first netbook. With a profusion of good will, one can almost regard this device as a PDA = personal digital assistant! Almost!!
I then mentioned that I might be interested in acquiring an Asus tablet. Originally launched in 2010 as an EEEpad, its name was later changed to ZenPad. Fortunately, they had neither. This obsession with an ancient EEE equipment is totally irrational. Despite having no need for obsolete kit, I am still attracted to the EEE netbooks, writing about them in 2016 and 2018. They are totally useless in this modern era.
Asus (which takes its name from the mythical winged horse, Pegasus) is a Taiwanese multinational computer company, the sixth largest in the world by unit sales. It was founded in 1989. I often claim that Asus is my go-to brand of computer, but if I consult my records, it turns out that Acer is bought almost as often. Acer is another Taiwanese mulitinational computer company, ranked as the fifth largest in the world by unit sales. It was founded in 1976. I think the main difference between the two brands is that Asus is pushing performance limits, which results in thermal = heat issues. Acer accepts that its products will be less powerful, but without thermal issues.
I also have a collection of Logitech products. Logitech is a Swiss-American multinational manufacturer of computer peripherals and related software, with headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland and Newark, California. It was founded in 1981.
My fascination with particular items of computing equipment can be found in earlier weblog posts, including: here, here, here and here. My main challenge is that I tend to treat each device as an individual, with its own personality. This attitude can be expensive.
Saved/ Collected/ Hoarded Equipment:
The easiest way to recover from excessive collecting, is to transition from collector to dispenser. Product enthusiasts may want to systematize their behaviour, establishing criteria for the acquisition, use and disposal of equipment.
Before acquiring any item, its life expectancy should be determined. This allows the user to count down to a disposal date. Use the term, it helps reduce attachment to an item. For computers of various types, the useful life has not crept up significantly over the years, since we first acquired a computer in 1986. Because of its expense, our first machine was kept five years. Many of the subsequent ones also lasted about that time, but with exceptions – especially after laptops became the norm. The next step is to determine how to get rid of that item, when it has reached the end of its operational life. A typical answer involves recycling. This is often a machine’s fate if it has failed in some way, shortening its expected life. For me, the most common cause involves chronic overheating, because I am always buying equipment that is too powerful, relative to its components, and too cheap, relative to its power.
Another situation arises if some temptress of machine becomes too alluring, encouraging one to acquire a new machine before the expected end of life. My rule is that I have to find someone who could take over that older machine, and give it away to them. With one exception, that I regret to this day, I have never sold a computer, keyboard or rodent. They are either recycled or given away. That means that few machines end up being stored at the end of their life.
Yet, I often feel compelled to give a plausible, rational explanation for my desktop machines. I tell them that sometimes, I need to work with multiple documents. Here having a large screen is the most sensible approach. If the person looks skeptical, I add that age, and the increasing weakness of my body (eyes and hands especially) encourage the use of ergonomic equipment (keyboards, rodent and screen) and the use of desktop machines. I conveniently forget to mention that docking stations are available for laptop computers. The truth of the matters is that I am impressed with miniturization, and how much computing power that can be fitted into a litre of space. My PN machines occupies just over half a litre. My hand-held device, just under 0.1 litre. Much of the time, I simply prefer using a desktop machine. Yet, at other times I prefer the convenience of a portable machine. Then again, nothing beats a hand-held device, for photography and telephony.
One way to look at costs is to compare amortized costs = costs per time period (day, week, month, year). I have selected monthly costs for comparative purposes. Capital costs are the one time expense of acquiring an asset. For cars and related products, operating costs are significant, so that the costs of insurance, registration and fuel should be included. For computing equipment, operating costs, such as the cost of electricity to run a machine, are difficult to take into consideration, with any degree of accuracy.
A Disciplined Collector
Disciplined collectors maintain control over the objects they are collecting, and are not controlled by them. They set physical limits on the size of their collection, and the amount of money invested.
Collecting an object is not a life-time commitment to that object. The size of a collection can be up-sized or down-sized. Newer objects can replace older objects. Regardless, there should be a plan, and this plan should be revised regularly.
The collection lifecycle involves several stages. Stage 0: A plan is worked out in advance for the life cycle of an object, involving a further 7 stages. Stage 1: Investigation. The characteristics that an object needs to meet are determined. Stage 2: Acquisition. One determines suitable specifications and price, enters the marketplace, and buys, or in some other way, acquires an object. Stage 3: Enthusiasm. The object is used with passion and joy, because it meets specified needs. Stage 4: Satisfaction. The object is used, but without enthusiasm, because one observes that other objects perform better or faster. Stage 5: Disappointment. The object is used, but its failings dominate its use. At this stage, the collection process for a new and better object starts at stage 1. Stage 6: Replacement. The new item reaches stage 2, and there is a transition in usage between the old and new object. At the end of this stage the old object is no longer in use. Stage 7. Disposal. The old object is sold/ given away/ recycled.
The US East Coast (2014), mentioned above, is a series I watch repeatedly. It is not so much the video content that attracts me, but more the incidental music by Gianluca Cerchiello!
When I mentioned the topic of this weblog post to Trish, she told me that I should write about my video collecting habits. The short version is that from 1998 , a large number of DVDs have been acquired. Starting in about 2000, their content has been transferred onto assorted hard drives. So I believe the question she really wants answered is: Why are these DVDs still kept? Except, that question is too kind. It should probably be rephrased: Why I am unable to discard these useless DVDs? Yes, I would like to know that myself, because they could be given to others to enjoy. I don’t have an answer, except to say, I am a hoarder!
The purpose of this weblog post is to introduce the concept of a database primary key, Without it, a database will not work because data conflicts will arise. A primary key is a single attribute or group of attributes that can uniquely identify an individual record. Part of the challenge of database design, is determining what to use as a primary key.
Often, the solution is simply to generate a number in sequence. In many cases this is effective. In other cases, it might be more expedient to use an existing code, that can access more information, when that is needed. In many cases, geographical information is wanted, that is not contained in a database. such as the name of a mayor of a city, or a chronological list of mayors.
Geoscheme is my way of organizing geographical data. The land area of the Earth is divided into 26 different regions, labelled A to Z. Each region is populated by countries that can be further sub-divided. This process can continue into smaller and smaller units.
When a data set about a geographic area is being assembled for inclusion in a database, it is important to assess existing keys to see if one distinguishes itself from others. For geographical jurisdictions, this can be an agreed upon international code, for subdivisions of countries national or other codes may be appropriate.
I have used Geoscheme for so many years, that its origins are lost in the depths of time. Needless to say, the map with regions did not originate with me. I have simply appropriated it for my own purposes. The alphabetic coding, on the other hand, is something I recall creating.
Africa: [A] Southern Africa; [B] Eastern Africa; [C] Middle Africa; [D] Western Africa; [E] Northern Africa. Europe: [F] Southern Europe; [G] Western Europe; [H] Northern Europe; [I] Eastern Europe + North Asia. Asia: [J] Western Asia; [K] Central Asia; [L] Southern Asia; [M] Eastern Asia; [N] South-Eastern Asia. Oceania: [O] Australia and New Zealand; [P] Melanesia; [Q] Micronesia; [R] Polynesia. Americas: [S] Northern America; [T] Caribbean; [U] Central America; [V] South America. Other: [W] Antarctica; [X] Atlantic Ocean; [Y] Pacific Ocean; [Z] Indian Ocean.
My current work with Geoscheme is the collection of outline maps and flags for most countries, often using Fortnight Insider as a source of black on white maps. It provides answers to the Worldle game, that I lost interest in playing, that offer white on black maps.
ISO 3166-1 alpha-3 codes are currently used in Geoscheme as a primary key for countries. These three-letter country codes are defined in the ISO 3166 standard published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), to represent countries, dependent territories, and special areas of geographical interest. There is also a two-letter coding system, referred to as ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 codes. The 3 letter codes give a better visual association between the codes and the country names than the two-letter codes. There is also a purely numeric code that offers no visual association. ISO 3166 became a standard in 1974. It is updated at irregular intervals. Some of the codes used are: CAN (Canada); MUS (Mauritius); NOR (Norway); TWN (Taiwan); UKA (Ukraine); URY (Uruguay); USA (United States of America).
Since ISO does not allow duplicate 3166 codes to be used, there are no issues using them as primary keys.
As noted, it is possible to expand these areas to use codes to define areas that are smaller than an unit with a 3-letter code. ISO 3166-2 defines codes for identifying the principal subdivisions. These use two-letter country codes, as well as two-character subdivisions. Thus, the province of British Columbia in Canada is CA-BC; The Moka district in Mauritius is MU-MO; Trøndelag county in Norway is NO-50. It was the result of an amalgamation of North (-17) and South (-16 ) Trøndelag on 2018-01-01; the state of Michigan in the United States is US-MI.
This approach can also work at lower levels. Inderøy municipality has its own municipality number. These representations are not written in stone. Municipality numbers were first introduced with the Norwegian census of 1946. Even municipalities that had dissolved before then, were given municipality numbers, that could be used for statistical purposes. Municipality numbers use four digits, with the first two being the county number.
Inderøy municipality was officially founded in 1837. The municipalities of Hustad and Røra were established on 1907-01-01 when the old municipality of Inderøy was divided into three municipalities: Røra (population: 866) with municipality number 1730, in the southeast, Hustad (population: 732) with municipality number 1728, in the north, and Inderøy (population: 2 976) with municipality number 1730, in the west. In 1912, Hustad changed its name to Sandvollan, but retained municipality number 1728. During the 1960s, there were many municipal mergers across Norway. On 1962-01-01, the three neighboring municipalities of Røra (population: 1003), Sandvollan (population: 750), and Inderøy (population: 3 194) to form a new, larger municipality of Inderøy.
Mosvik and Verran formed a municipality in 1867 that lasted until 1901, when Verran (population: 1 456) became its own municipality. Mosvik (population: 969) had retained the old municipality number, 1723. Adding to the confusion, 1968, the Framverran area on the south side of the Verrasundet strait (population: 395) was transferred from Verran municipality to Mosvik municipality. When Mosvik (population: 811) joined Inderøy in 2012, this newest iteration of Inderøy were assigned municipality number 1756. This lasted until 2018, when it became municipality number 5053.
These amalgamations, splits and transfers are mentioned in detail, because this is the reality of geography in the world. Situations change, and people interested in geographic realities have to be aware of the changes and their consequences. One cannot assume that boundaries are fixed.
Since primary keys are generally confined to database operations, there is no problem making artificial constructs as keys. One example is combining a 3-letter country code with a 2-letter subdivision code, even if this is not an acceptable international standard.
Geographical information about a country/ sub-division can contain a variety of information, that have to be formatted correctly. A jurisdiction name, or the name of its capital are generally a sequence of letters. Its population and its area in square kilometers are often integers. Typically when information about a country is assembled it occupies a single row in a table, but where every column will be formatted to accommodate the data collected.
Some people ask, why not just use longitude and latitude as a primary key? In such a system, the prime meridian and the equator dividing the world into four Eurocentric mathematical quadrants. So that: lines of longitude north of the equator are positive (+) from 0 at the equator to 90° at the north pole, while those south of the equator are negative (-) from 0 at the equator to 90° at the south pole; lines of latitude east of the prime meridian are positive (+) from 0 to 180° in the middle of the Pacific ocean , while those west of it are negative (-) from 0 to 180°at that same position in the middle of the Pacific ocean. One of the major problems with a geographical jurisdiction, is that it occupies an area not a point. So point data is uninteresting, and difficult to specify.
Another approach is to codify a small area. Because of radio interference issues, amateur radio operators are less interested in precision than a short code that gives an approximate position that is gudenuf. John Morris G4ANB originally devised such a system and it was adopted at a meeting of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Very High Frequency (VHF) Working Group in Maidenhead, England, in 1980. The Maidenhead locator has an interesting historical development. A sub-square can be described using two letters, then two digits, ending with two more letters. Two points within the same Maidenhead sub-square are always less than 10.4 km (6.5 mi) apart, which means a Maidenhead locator can give adequate precision from only six easily transmissible characters. There is no guarantee that a Maidenhead sub-square will be located in the same country. EN82lh is such an example. In the north of this map, one finds Detroit, Michigan, USA while the south of the map is in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
Another approach is to use what3words, which has given every 3m square (9 m2) in the world a unique 3 word address. The words are randomly assigned, but will always remain the same.
Cliff Cottage is located at 63° 50′ 31.596” N and 11° 5′ 26.178” E which converts to 63.8421098 N and 11.0906046 E in decimal format. It occupies Maidenhead sub-square JP53nu. Its What3words are casual.year.messaging (in the middle of the living room), conqueror.lawn.consented (in the middle of the kitchen), popular.feuds.positives (in Trish’s work room) and hides.lake.proclaims (in my work area). The multiplicity of codes for a single dwelling creates its own problems.
While a well designed database-engine can ease the workload of creating data-structures and algorithms, and running a database, database administrators study the types of data that are needed. Some of the most difficult decisions involve finding ways to structure the database content so that a collection of data values, relationships between them, and operations/ manipulations/ functions that can be applied to them, work for the benefit of users. Once that is done, users can concentrate their time on adding/ editing/ deleting data that can go inside a database, and transforming data into valuable information.