In the News

R.I.P. Pierre Berton

SvenGolly asked if it would write some kind of elegy for Canadian journalist/historian/author/television personality Pierre Berton. As I mentioned earlier,

my schedule today is rather packed, but let me say that one of the

things I admired most about Pierre was his ability to challenge and

confront other people in a genial, gentlemanly way.

If you want a good elegy for Mr. Berton, allow me to point you to Colby Cosh, who provides an interesting writeup; after all, he’s a new-school conservative who’s writing up an old-school liberal.

And for your enjoyment, I’ve enclosed a video that you’d never see a

similar American figure take part in; it’s of Pierre Berton explaining

how to roll a joint.

(The video is included with this article as an enclosure.)

Photo: Pierre Berton in 'Rick Mercer's Monday Report', holding a joint.

In the words of Louis Riel, “What you need is a fatty boom-batty blunt!”


Christmas and Chanukah Songs for You!

I’m a little busy at the moment, so in the meantime, why not download

these lovely holiday tunes that I’ve attached to this entry? They are:

  • Sarah Silverman: Give the Jew Girl Toys

    Quite possibly the best Christmas rock/pop song in a long time. I dedicate this tune with a shout-out to Wendy.

    (Note: Sarah Silverman was Star Trek: Voyager’s cutest guest star, IMHO.)

  • Adam Sandler: The Chanukah Song and The Chanukah Song Part II

    These have already acheived classic status.

  • Stryper: Winter Wonderland

    The premier Christian hair-metal band of the 1980s take on this classic carol; everybody loses.

Photo: Stryper!

On what day did the Lord create Stryper, and couldn’t He have rested then?

(Podcast-type people: the MP3 files are included in this entry as enclosures.)

Click here to see the page with the attached MP3 files.


Programming for Cities

[This was also posted on The Farm.]

Programming for

Cities is one of those events that made me wish

I had some kind of teleporter device:


for Cities” is a

workshop that reinforces a long existing link between

code and

architecture. Many fine buildings can be reduced to a few lines


code, and a quick glance backward in time shows that is a consequence

of architectural theory.

This workshop will

start with a short but broad overview of this longstanding


between programming and architecture. After this the basic


(about 6 of them) of programming will be discussed. The main

part of

the workshop will be consisting of a hand-on approach to design


city from code.

Technical skills are

not needed for this workshop. No Computers will

be used. This

workshop is ideal precisely for those people who think that

programming is not for them.


from making people familiar with code, which might break the ice


actually learning a more conventional programming language, the


of this workshop is to show a method of design that is

driven by internal

logic instead of the ‘one damn bit after another’

approach more commonly


If you’re in Amsterdam tomorrow and you have the time,

Programming for Cities is being held at:


December 3rd, 3 pm

Public Space

With A Roof Overtoom 301

1054 HW


The Netherlands

Bonus reading material: If the concepts of programming and urban


appeal to you, I believe you’ll find Paul Graham’s article, Made in USA, quite



My Semi-Regular Plug for "The Farm"

The Farm: The Tucows Developers’ Hangout

is the blog that I’m paid to write (or, more accurately, it’s part of

what I do at my job). It’s for programmers, and while it’s an official

Tucows site, I do try to imbue it with the “voice” and “personality”

for which The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century is known. Last month, The Farm got a record number of pageviews — over 300,000 — and I hope to get us up to the half-million mark sometime next year.

There’s lots of good stuff in today’s entries,

including a number of announcments of new language versions, grants for

teams who want to write Ruby libraries and a monthly .NET programming


In the News

Our Pro-Bush Contingent Can’t Draw a Crowd, Didn’t Learn from "Star Wars" and are Cheapskates

[via Relapsed Catholic] Here’s a breathless writeup of a pro-Bush rally organized by the unintentionally funny site (“Show up and be counted”, the banner ad for the rally says).

Judging from the photos, I think I get more people at my birthday parties, and I’m not a world leader. Yet.

Photo: Pro-Bush rally outside Ottawa.

A funny moment: The “Queen Amidala Decoy” trick actually works in real life!

Finally, the big moment — the fake Bush came through with his

motorcade and we cheered, not quite certain if this was the real thing.

Fortunately, the Secret Service intervened and held us back, at which

point everything clicked for those of us who weren’t certain. In

hindsight, it seemed a little strange that the President was driving

his own cadillac.

In addition to being unlikely to solve quadratic equations anytime soon, they’re also bad hosts:

Also unlike the anti-Bush rally, we outnumbered the Americans by about

10 to 1 at our pro-Bush rally. Nevertheless, the Americans who showed

up displayed the class as the President — after the pre-rally, they

approached each of us Canadians and personally thanked us for giving

the President a warm welcome. (They also showed American hospitality

when, despite our protests we should treat them as our guests, they

picked up the tab for coffee and donuts at Tim Horton’s between the

pre-rally and the rally.)

Yup, despite outnumbering the guests 10 to 1 and being more likely to

have the local currency on hand, the FreeDominioners completely fell

down and let the visitors

pay for coffee. The poltical right, in spite of the fun I poke at

them, are generally much better with the social graces than their

cousins on the left, but ours completely fell down on the rules of

hospitality while the Americans went above and beyond the rules of comity. We’re not talking chateaubriand-and-claret dinners here, folks, but coffee! No wonder we Canadians have a rep for being bad tippers.


Quite Possibly the First Time the Word "Blog" was Used in Comics

In honour of “blog” being Merriam-Webster’s “Word of the Year” for

2004, here’s what I believe is the first occurrence of the word in a

comic book…in 1959.

In 1959, the Lois Lane comic featured Clark Kent and Lois Lane in a story in which our two favourite Daily Planet

reporters end up in one of those “valleys that time forgot” that

eventually appear in every suprerhero comic. It’s typical “goofy age”

Superman fare: Lois and Clark end up in some crazy situation in which

Lois acts all stuck-up and Supes uses his powers surreptitiously.


makes this comic noteworthy is the use of the word “blog”.

Unfortunately, it’s not “blog” as in “weblog”, but “Blog” as the name

of a cave-dwelling nebbish.

Just call her “Mrs. Blog”! The splash page of the comic.

Note Lois’ and Clark’s attire in the comic panel above. Although the

pith helmet and khaki clothes are suitable for jungle trekking, they weren’t

actually planning on going to the jungle; their plane just crashed

there. They were doing some work in Mexico City, where they were

wearing those clothes. I’m pretty sure that Mexico City was not

a jungle, not even in 1959. They must’ve been walking around in those

outfits while the locals laughed at the ridiculously-dressed gringos.

A weak-muscled jellyfish

with awesome pecs, a six-pack and biceps and quadriceps the size of

tree trunks. It must be the glasses that are throwing her off.

Remember, this was before geek chic.

The valley in which the plane crashes is full of pretty noble savages.

They check to see if Lois is married before hooking her up with

the last single member of the tribe.

Introducing…Blog! If you put a baseball cap on him, he’d look just like “Cooter” from the old Dukes of Hazzard TV series.

A number of comic book plotlines from this era are what I like to call

“superhero knows best”: an arrogant “normal” bites off a little more

than he or she can chew, and the superhero smugly teaches the normal a

lesson with the assistance of super-powers.

Someone should write a book titled Women Who Send Suitors on Suicide Missions and the Men Who Love Them.

Here’s where the fun begins. Even though the cavemen say that Lois is

their prisoner and that they can go all Abu Ghraib on her, poor Blog

still has to prove himself worthy by performing three tasks

(essentially a 75% off version of the Labours of Heracles). Wendy made

me do the same thing; the three tasks she assigned to me were:

  1. Belch the alphabet and these two smilies:
  2. Go to the grocery store while extremely hung over and rearrange the Campbell’s soup cans in alphabetical order
  3. Give her a backrub

Lois, who’s developed a severe case of self-centredness after

having Superman as her personal bodyguard, decides to give Blog a

series of impossible tasks in the hope that he’ll chicken out. What she

fails to account for is the male ego, especially when in the pursuit of

a hot chick. It’s the reason why a lot of young men’s last words are

“Hey everybody, watch this!

Nope, nothing Freudian about that meat on a stick. Nope, it’s just a perfectly innocent penis. I mean drawing.

Luckily for Blog, Superman is there. Supes uses his powers to make it

seem as though Blog performed the impossible tasks assigned to him by

Lois. After Blog completes the third task, Supes uses his super powers

to help Lois escape from the valley of the cavemen. He could’ve done

that  from the very moment the plane crashed, but then there’d be

no story, would there?

Chicks dig blogs!

Download the comic [1.9 MB .zip file]. If you

have one of those programs that can read .cbz files (like CDisplay for Windows or FFView for Mac OS X), change the filename extension of the file from .zip to .cbz.

It Happened to Me Music

Last Wednesday: The Pixies Concert

Last Wednesday’s Pixies concert

marked the start of my mini-vacation for American Thanksgiving. This

reunion concert was one that nobody expected — in spite of their

relative obscurity, this band is so loved by alt-rock fans that tickets

for the show sold out when they went on sale six months ago.

When the tickets went on sale, I simply bought four and assumed that it

would be easy to find three other people who would want to attend.

Photo: Adina and Paul at the Pixies concert -- Toronto, November 23, 2004.

Deenster and Paul, just before the show began.

Those three people turned out to be my housemate Paul, Deenster

and her boyfriend Chris. They’d arranged to meet me at the office, from

where we’d hop into my car and drive to the show. For some reason, the

concert was booked to take place at the International Centre, a

cavernous warehouse typically used for auto and computer shows located

in a bleak industrial park right by the airport. Still, we were seeing

The Pixies, providers of inspiration for Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit,

key players in the soundtrack of my years at Crazy Go Nuts University,

and we’d have gladly seen them play at a sewage treatment plant.

Deenster arrived first with two guys named Chris. One was her

boyfriend, the other an internet friend from the online

community. HappyRobot Chris was accompanied by his girlfriend, Becky. I

invited them into the Tucows kitchen, where they were impressed by our

vending machines and assorted free coffee, teas and hot chocolate.

We’re livin’ the high life in this office!

After giving my guests some hot drinks, I showed them my desk, located

in the dead centre of the Tucows offices. Becky noticed a photo of Wendy that I had on my bulletin board.

“I know that girl!” exclaimed Becky.

“That’s Joey’s fiancee,” said Adina.

“Wait…you know Wendy?” I asked.

“I know Wendy from NTI!” Becky replied.

I knew Wendy attended NTI — short for the O’Neill National Theater Institute

in Connecticut — about ten years ago, back in her school days. That

clearly ruled out any possibility of mistaken identity; it was just

another one of those strange coincidences to which I’ve grown


Photo: Becky and Chris at the Pixies concert -- Toronto, November 23, 2004.

Becky and Chris,

just before the show began. They came up from Jersey to catch the show.

To the right of the photo, an unknown hand attempts to do some product


We arrived at the International Centre in the middle of heavy rain. The

pairs of glass doors at the entrance had a sign with this laser-printed

on it on each left door:


And each right door had this laser-printed sign:


I interpreted this as:




I resent the fact that Ticketmaster thinks that by dint of booking an

act, they own your experience and the right to take some snapshots of

it. We really need to spank the music middlemen.

I had my Nikon Coolpix SQ in a case attached to my belt. I told security it was a cellphone and they waved me through.

I ran into a number of friends at the show and even saw Miranda the Accordion Girl and her friends (although they didn’t notice me waving “hello”).

Chris and Deenster suggested going back downtown for drinks after the show, but I had to decline.

“I fly to Boston at 6 a.m.,” I said.

6 a.m.! It must be love,” said Chris.

“You better believe it.”

Photo: Joey at the Pixies concert -- Toronto, November 23, 2004.

Me, phasing in and out of our space-time continuum just before the show. I had a 6:25 a.m. flight to catch to Boston the next day.

It’s been a dozen years since I last had a chance to catch The Pixies

live in concert, and I must say that they sound much tighter this time

around. Perhaps the fact that bassist Kim Deal requested that it be a “dry tour” — she was famous for playing sloppily onstange because she was drunk or high — helped.

Photo: Black Francis onstage at the Pixies concert -- Toronto, November 23, 2004.

Black Francis (a.k.a. Charles Michael Kitteridge Thomson IV) gets things rolling.

Here’s some video that I shot during the show. The quality’s not going

to be the greatest, but it should give you an idea of what the show

was like: