Mimsy Were The Borogroves

I saw a movie trailer for The Last Mimzy and immediately recognized it as a science fiction short story I’d read thirty-five years ago. In ninth grade, I read The Year’s Best S-F (edited by Judith Merril) for every year that the school library had. Since that was in 1971, I probably read all eleven volumes from 1956 through 1966. It was wonderful, a new world every twelve pages.

I remain convinced that Mimsy Were The Borogroves was in one of those anthologies, even though I now know that it was first published in 1943. Henry Kuttner and Catherine Moore, writing as Lewis Padgett, put together a tale of a device from the future that educates two children in mathematics far beyond the current understanding. They construct a tessarect, and disappear. Exciting and sad technology at the same time, probably an interesting read for scientists at the Manhattan Project.

I read the anthologies in chronological order, and saw an interesting shift from rockets to inner space. By the end, I was reading Flowers for Algernon and an odd story about a women who can communicate with the roaches in her New York apartment. If you haven’t read Flowers for Algernon, find a copy of the short story (technically a “novelette”). It is really more powerful in a single sitting and weaker when stretched to a novel.

A few years later, at North Central High School in Indianapolis, I was stage manager for a play based on that story. As I remember, I had to manage changes for fifty-six scenes in Charly.

Forty years ago, a school librarian at Baton Rouge High School decided to buy that set of books. It wasn’t a big library (I can clearly see it today in my mind), so I’m sure it was a tricky decision. Whoever you are, thank you.

Liberal Pigs Go To War!

The French nationalist right-wing Front National party set up an office in Second Life and were soon besieged by avatars against intolerance. Things quickly got weird:

So amid the exchange of salvos, the chat log was choked over with pro and anti-Le Pen curses, most in French. And when the lag was not too overwhelming to stream audio, the whole fracas was accompanied by bursts of European techno.

One enterprising insurrectionist created a pig grenade, fixed it to a flying saucer, and sent several whirling into Front National headquarters, where they’d explode in a starburst of porcine shrapnel.

No one can protest like the French.

The End of Open Spider Standards?

Yahoo and Microsoft have signed on to Google’s sitemap.xml format and published it at sitemaps.org. Two weeks ago, Yahoo announced support for wildcards in robots.txt which seems to be something similar to Google’s (non-standard) robots.txt.

It is well past time for updates to these, but it is sad that there was no attempt to include anyone outside of the Big Guys and that there is no invitation for anyone else to contribute. Robotstxt.org is still there, as is the ROBOTS mailing list, but both were bypassed.

The sitemap protocol is published under a Creative Commons license, but there is no mailing list, no wiki, not even a feedback e-mail address on the website. Questions are referred back to each individual search engine.

This is both sad and foolish. The big three are not the only bots in the world, and more eyes make a better spec. Submit this to the IETF, OK? It isn’t that hard, and the spec will be much, much better afterwards. Look at the improvement from RSS 2.0 to Atom (RFC 4287). It is like night and day.