:Archive Of June 2004:

Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - 11:15 PM -

Computer pioneer Wes Clark lectures on developing the LINC. (November 18, 1981. Hosted on Ed Thelen's grand miscellany of Antique Computers.) He includes this wonderful description of the Honeywell-Emett Forget-Me-Not Computer:

I did, however, in looking through records to find material to show you tonight to keep your interest, come across this lovely thing which I told Owen about earlier. This is a brochure published in 1966 by the Honeywell Corp. The Honeywell Corp. commissioned a British cartoonist names Robert Emmet who was published extensively in Punch magazine over the previous decade or two. Maybe still at work, I don't know. They commissioned him to design a rather festive computer, which he did and you can't see it but you're certainly welcome to come and see it afterwards and I do think the Museum should acquire it. It is called the Honeywell Emmet Forget-Me-Not Computer. It is actually a charming thing. Let me just read about it very briefly.

The Forget-Me-Not Computer comes in three parts, like Henry VI. Built in strict accordance with Livingston's Laws, "Memory may hold the door but elephants never forget", it is of pleasing outward appearance being delicately constructed of bamboo so that it may be placed in any executive suite without offense. It contains a dazzling array of features. Some well-tried, some absolutely new, and some on the fringe of the future. The machine is designed in the shape of an airy elephant. A very open work, full of gadgets, reminiscent of Rube Goldberg. Let me summarize some of these things. Mass memory - it is characterized by heavy watery he thought that would be sufficiently massive. Also it had a drain, called the brain drain, which facilitated the flushing of any wrong numbers and unworthy thoughts. The speed was measured in Billy cycles. That being the length of time it took a little man on a bicycle called Billy to get from one end of the frame to the other. Floating Point Unit with electromagnets going to and fro on the water. Memory lane considered by most to be the moving fitment in the entire computer. Memory lane offers specially treasured pieces of personal memorabilia including the ancestral home where Honeywell started in 1885, mother's sweet old thermiotic valve, first love where positive meets negative, etc. He goes on to say that all the preceding features incorporate the latest solid state design. In the Forget-Me-Not computer solid state takes the form of half a brick from a Scottish stately home. Nothing could be more solid or state than that.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - 4:25 PM -

Ouch. 60.5% voter turnout.

"Registered electors total does not include electors who registered on election day." So the true turnout is lower. That's the worst turnout ever.

No figures on deliberately spoiled ballots yet, and I'm unaware of any organized protest along this line.


At the vote itself, wait in line, receive the little ballot, mark beside the candidate/party of choice with a pencil, and hand the ballot back to the election officer who puts it in the box.

Election officer, with genuine surprise: "That was fast."

Me, also genuine surprise: "I thought about it before I came down here."

That really worried me.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - 8:02 AM -

Whew. Day-after what had been a worrisome election. Lot of Americans have talked about moving north in the last four years. In the run-up to this vote, a lot of us were wondering where the heck we could move to. Turned out we don't have to.

Note for southerners: I've noticed in the past your media tends to report minority governments in Canada as some sort of scary, instable thing. It's actually not so bad. It means that legislation requires some democratic cooperation to be put through. It reduces the king-for-a-term oscillations between highly opposed parties like you often get.

A little difficulty we had a while back is a Conservative majority government acted so out of hand that the party was destroyed in the next election, and stayed destroyed. We lost our traditional correcting swing between two middle-leaning parties, and the Liberals have stayed in power for three terms while the Right went through some scary permutations, starting with an extreme party called Reform, and then Alliance.

By this election they'd reclaimed the Conservative name but hadn't jettisoned near enough of the scary right-wingers. There was serious worry they'd get in, because people were definitely fed up with the Liberals, having had three terms of majority government and gotten quite out of touch and corrupt, as politicians with free reign tend to do. It looked like a lot more people might vote for the "leftist" NDP, splitting the vote as Nader did to Gore. Meaning we might get our own personal Bush, Stephen Harper.

I'm deeply relieved that we didn't, glad it's a minority government because the Liberals need to get some sense, and now I need to go out and find my local party to emphasize that they got my vote for defensive reasons not because I support their policies and track-record.

And just for the record, the separatist Bloc Quebecois (also not as bad as it sounds, but another time) got 54 seats versus the NDP's 19. But the NDP got 15.7% of the vote versus Bloc's 12.4%.

</political commentary>

Regular fun links below.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - 1:30 AM -

The Featherstone-Kite Openwork Basket-weave Mk.2 Gentleman's Flying Machine.

There's far too little Rowland Emett on the web.

There's this page, which has sporadic linking, 404s, and blurry photographs, but there's just enough successful links to send you to it on your own rather than repeat them here.

There's a bit trapped in the slow and rather annoying British Pathe site. The Honeywell-Emett Forget-me-not Computer is perhaps their best.

Emett was a thoroughly delightful last-century English cartoonist and inventor of what we now call kinetic sculpture and then called whimsy. He is unmatched, and to see the sculptures in life is to never forget them. I would have been only about six when I saw the Honeywell and the Flying Machine. They're just that special. It's inconceivable that his work is relatively little known online and off, and that they are not cataloged and displayed more prominently.

Did you ever see Disney's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? Those are Emett's inventions.

Monday, June 28, 2004 - 12:25 AM -

  1. I had a link to a great little Trabi rock video, but it's 404. Poo.
  2. Vintage Trabi-tainment. The four-part download combines into a 40 min documentary on the last days of the Trabant factory.
  3. Paper Trabi.
  4. Trabi technical.
  5. Trabi crashi.
  6. Peel Trident at Bubbledrome.
  7. Karmann Ghia brochures. One and Two.
  8. Large scans of some of the beautiful toys of PlaySam.
  9. You call that a digital watch? This is a digital watch.
  10. How To Make A Wondergraph, from the 1915 edition of The Boy Mechanic.
  11. Or make a glider. Everybody's doing it.
  12. Meccanograph.
  13. BMW StreetCarver. And prototypes.
  14. RoboSnail. Including videos. Yow.
  15. Line Production Methods Applied To Package Handling. There were some great techniques in 1930's infograms. Always worth looking closely.

Saturday, June 26, 2004 - 8:41 PM -

  1. Greg's Pamphlet Folding Machine. "These pages document a project to build a machine capable of folding pieces of paper to a suitable size for inserting in letterboxes." Excellent Meccano fun.
  2. Cat shelves. Because you always need somewhere to put your cats.
  3. Artist Standing, 1:1 scale. David Cerny.
  4. Kacey Wong. How To Make a Happy Face? A 1 minute video work done during the SARS period in Hong Kong, May 2003. 3mb wmv. "When everyone are wearing face masks, Their nose, mouth, and smile are gone. I tried many different experiments in the past two months, Finally discovered this image very effective. Not only the nose and mouth are back, Everybody starts to smile again."
  5. Earthchips, by Hirotoshi Ito.
  6. Isetta, Goggo und Co. Nice thorough overview by Stern.
  7. Art cars at Burning Man. Of course.
  8. 60's Strombecker ad. This was the atari of my generation. Endless, endless hours.
  9. The resurected 1955 Mercedes-Benz High Speed Transporter. Link 1, and Link 2.
  10. Oh good lord. Extreme kite skating.
  11. Now we're talking. Inline scoot.
  12. Single crease origami. See also, Student Work.
  13. "The fascinating and significant point is that, at the start, the 2CV was more a designers' tour de force than a cheap car for the masses. The Bauhaus philosophy of form following function was pursued as a fetish in the prototypes, of which a series was built." -- from the second article on the page, French Revelation. Wish they had more pics. The details on the prototype really are that interesting.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004 - 7:06 PM -

The stars of midnight.

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

... and because there's cash prizes!

The above, of course, is JFK's address of Rice University.

There's probably audio files on the net, but you might take the few minutes to read it.

No man can fully grasp how far and how fast we have come, but condense, if you will, the 50,000 years of man's recorded history in a time span of but a half-century. Stated in these terms, we know very little about the first 40 years, except at the end of them advanced man had learned to use the skins of animals to cover them. Then about 10 years ago, under this standard, man emerged from his caves to construct other kinds of shelter. Only five years ago man learned to write and use a cart with wheels. Christianity began less than two years ago. The printing press came this year,and then less than two months ago, during this whole 50-year span of human history, the steam engine provided a new source of power.

Newton explored the meaning of gravity. Last month electric lights and telephones and automobiles and airplanes became available. Only last week did we develop penicillin and television and nuclear power, and now if America's new spacecraft succeeds in reaching Venus, we will have literally reached the stars before midnight tonight.

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