Happy Columbus Day!

Five hundred twenty-six years ago today, on October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus discovered America. Here’s some celebratory music:

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Vocabulary

from Murder Must Advertise, by Dorothy Sayers

  • Bran tub: “Bran-tubs are not so common as they used to be, but there is no better way of giving your guests presents at random. As many presents as there are children are wrapped up in paper and hidden in a tub filled with bran. This is placed on a dust-sheet, and the visitors dip their hands in and pull out each a parcel. The objection to the bran-tub is that boys sometimes draw out things more suitable for girls. This difficulty could be got over by having two tubs, one for girls and one for boys.” — What Shall We Do Now? A Book of Suggestions for Children’s Games and Emplouments, by Edward Verrall Lucas and Elizabeth Lucas
  • Vehmgericht: “FEHMIC COURTS (Ger. Femgerichte, or Vehmgerichte, of disputed origin, but probably, according to J. Grimm, from O. High Ger. feme or feime, a court of justice), certain tribunals which, during the middle ages, exercised a powerful and sometimes sinister jurisdiction in Germany, and more especially in Westphalia. Their origin is uncertain, but is traceable to the time of Charlemagne and in all probability to the old Teutonic free courts. They were, indeed, also known as free courts (Freigerichte), a name due to the fact that all free-born men were eligible for membership and also to the fact that they claimed certain exceptional liberties. Their jurisdiction they owed to the emperor, from whom they received the power of life and death (Blutbann) which they exercised in his name. The sessions were often held in secret, whence the names of secret court (heimliches Gericht, Stillgericht, &c.); and these the uninitiated were forbidden to attend, on pain of death, which led to the designation forbidden courts (verbotene Gerichte).” — 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica
  • Free warren: “The right to ‘Free Warren’ was principally the right to hunt hare and fox in particular places and at particular times, often granted by the king as reward or favour.” — Charters of Free Warren
  • Gin and potash: An old man has one. Mr. Carroll asks for one in Mr. Scarborough’s Family. Potash is said to have been used in the past to adulterate spirits. That’s all I got.
  • Nun genh wir wo der Tudelsack: Tudelsack is German for bagpipes; though sometimes I wonder if the Germans are just messing with us.

Update

Big tech problems, and Big Tech problems, are limiting what I can do online, but I have a paper copy of Deschooling Society, by Ivan Illich. It’s a mix of acute observation and nonsense, but worth reading.

The views of Anthony Esolen’s father, in Faith, Family, Government, & the Company Store, are almost exactly those of my father.

Conspiracy theory

So Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, CNN, and probably the Bavarian Burgerbilders got together and kicked Alex Jones off the internet. That’s ironic in two ways. So Big Tech conspired to silence Jones – for peddling crazy conspiracy theories. But Jones wasn’t really a conspiracy theorist. Maybe he is now.

Irony aside, this is foolish. Now that Google and all of them have shown that they can kick someone offline, they’ll have to explain why they haven’t kicked X off line. X is an obnoxious idiot; X is a racist homophobe; X is literally Hitler. Why does X still have a weblog, email, phone service, paypall?

Someone a little more to the left is sure to ask.

SpiderOak’s canary

I used SpiderOak for a while a couple of years ago, and liked it, but not enough to pay for it. When they stopped offering their free tier I went back to Dropbox. SpiderOak said they encrypted everything, but that wasn’t important to me and I didn’t rely on it. In any case I’m not going to trust any encryption product that isn’t open source. More, I don’t trust anything I don’t understand, which in practice limits me to the Imelda’s-shoes protocol. SpiderOak said they were committed to having everything open source eventually, but they seem not to have got there yet.

Now it seems SpiderOak’s Warrant Canary Died. They say it didn’t really die, but that they changed to a transparency report or something. As far as I can tell, that means either that they accidentally killed their canary, and so don’t rely on SpiderOak for encrypted file storage, or that the canary functioned as designed, and so don’t rely on SpiderOak for encrypted file storage.

Again, SpiderOak worked fine for me when I used it, and there’s no reason I know to trust them less than Dropbox; but there’s no reason to trust them any more than Dropbox either.

Can’t top that

When I was in Dushanbe, the Korean-Tajik ladies who ran the (tiny) cafeteria would serve this daily. We would also get it in Turkmenistan, but it was less common there.”

Well, once I was served roast lamb in a Navy mess hall. It was pretty good. The Marines didn’t know what it was.