Driving Athena home from school: "So what did you do today?"
Athena: "We read a story."
Me: "Cool! What was it about?"
Athena: "Uh... a princess..."
Me: "Is that what the story was about, or are you making up something now?"
Athena: "Making it up. Her name was... Isabella."
Athena: "And she had a beautiful dress."
Me: "And she was 20 feet tall, and made of fire!"
Athena: "No! That's not my story, that's a different story!"
Me: "We're making up the story together. I'm afraid I have to stand firm on this. Princess Isabella, beautiful dress, 20 feet tall and made of fire."
Athena: "Okay but she doesn't burn anyone."
Me: "I can work with that, it's magical fire. So what does she do?"
Athena: "She lives in a magical kingdom."
Me: "What's the kingdom like?"
Athena: "It's not a fire kingdom, it's a calm kingdom."
Me: "And the people in the kingdom love to...?"
Athena: "Visit her castle!"
Me: "It's 200 feet tall and made of fire!"
Athena: "No! It's 10 feet tall."
Me: "10 feet is far too small for a proper castle. How about 100 feet tall?"
Me: "So all the people in the kingdom love to visit the castle, because it's 100 feet tall and made of fire!"
Athena: "They go to the castle to get away from the monsters."
Me: "Oooh, what are the monsters like?"
Athena: "They have camouflaged spots on their backs, and they have TNTs for bones."
Me: "TNTs? Did you say TNT?"
Me: "Like... explosives?"
Athena: "Yeah but they don't explode unless they want to. And don't eat their eyeballs, because they are filled with poison."
Today I learned that the first atlases were not called atlases. Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Antwerp, 1570) by Abraham Ortelius translates as 'Theatre of the World (Globe)'. A few years later came Speculum Orbis Terrarum (Antwerp, 1578), or 'Mirror of the World (Globe),' by Gerard and Cornelis De Jode.
It was only later when Mercator used Atlas in the title of his book of maps that the word stuck. And good thing, too! Otherwise, there's a good chance I would have to admit I have a huge pile of speculums in the bottom shelf of my book case, and that I have a hard time passing up a used speculum if it's cheap and still in good shape.
You may remember the free online book, An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments, doing the rounds on G+ in 2013, well now its author has produced Part I of a new story, kindly in the Creative Commons, called Hans in the Land of Bards.
Part II: Hans in the Belly of the Nihilistic Tuna Fish and Part III: Hans in the Mantle of the Socially Awkward Deep Sea Octopus are coming later in the year. The work sets out to explain some common computer algorithms in an eccentric adventure story form with links to more technical details and code in the side bar. It looks to me like Ali has lived in England and he's been influenced by Lewis Carroll.
Ironically, given that Ali works for Mozilla, albeit on visualizing Firefox Metrics, the little anchor links in the side bar don't take me, a Firefox user, into the bottom of the screen as I imagine they are supposed to. So, if you are interested in details, please go to the end of the story part and find and click on read more.
Hans in the Land of Bards is an adventure story about an absentminded tailor and his quick-witted accomplice who struggle to escape a land where things aren’t always what they seem. During the journey, our protagonist is exposed to concepts that are ubiquitous in software, but whose usefulness extends beyond that field. Much as in life, the lessons come in the form of head fakes, which means that our protagonist doesn’t realize at the time that he is learning anything of value.
Hans in the Land of Bards: http://goo.gl/JMEzM2
@ Github: http://goo.gl/ZvpB66
Now that you have read Part I you should be ready for
this puzzle: http://goo.gl/kGLkz9
An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments: http://goo.gl/yeuRTq
(also available for fee in hardcopy, for gifts, etc.)
Ali Almossawi: http://goo.gl/jHdZrd
Image: Alejandro Giraldo.
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