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Let's get ACTIVE

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  The triode was invented in 1906 by  Lee De Forest and by around 1920 was refined enough to be commercially viable for widespread distribution. It  was the World's first 'Active Device'. It could amplify and oscillate. It (and its derivatives) made possible all of the technologies of modernity – public address, radio, audio/video recording, television, radar, radio telescopy, electron microscopy, computing, the Internet, artificial intelligence. Without active devices, modernity would vanish in a flash. Those who really want to turn the clock back need only abandon science, technology and education. Nature will do the rest.

The man that maks the smoke come oot the lum

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This song by Harry Gordon is about 100 years old and is in the Scottish music hall tradition. It's short because it was the lead into a stand-up comedy routine in character. The character in this case being a fireman on the footplate of a steam engine.  

Truth, Language & Reality

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 The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth truth anchors language to reality I hope I am never required, whether under oath or secular affirmation, to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I would have to refuse, on logical grounds. If 'truth' is to mean anything at all, it can only mean 'that which is', in other words, reality, expressed in language. And there is the first problem. Reality is infinitely more complex and subtle than any human language, which fact in itself makes nonsense of the phrase 'the whole truth'. There are not enough hours in the day to state the whole truth even about something as simple as entering a room. Nope, 'the whole truth' has to go, as a logically unsound concept. That was easy, but what about 'the truth'? The problem here is human fallibility in both perception and memory. I can say, "She was wearing a purple jumper". But was she? Maybe it was blue. Maybe it was a cardig

A minor victory

I recently uploaded to YouTube my version of Jake Thackray's 'Brother Gorilla' set to the tune of 'The Three Bells'. I was immediately served a copyright infringement order from the copyright owners of the American country song, The Three Bells (Little Jimmy Brown), issued by The Browns in 1959. I pointed out that their song was itself a reworking of 'Les trois cloches' written and composed by Swiss artist Jean Villard Gilles in 1939. Also that mine followed the chord/melody sequence of the original, not the simplified version of Little Jimmy Brown. I said I would not challenge a copyright infringement order from the estate of Jean Villard Gilles, or that of Jake Thackray, but that no such order had yet been issued. The Americans withdrew their claim and retreated, tails between their legs.

The Epiphone Blues Master, restored

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This 1992 Epiphone Blues Master was sadly decapitated in an accident a few weeks back, fortunately not irreversibly, at least not to a skilled craftsman. Here's what it sounds like, first day back home.

A friendly note

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The Gorilla and the Three Bells

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The Gorilla and the Three Bells is a serendipitous fusion of the lyric of Brother Gorilla by Jake Thackray and the original French melody Les Trois Cloches. (Les Trois Cloches is the song that was very loosely translated to become The Three Bells or Little Jimmy Brown). Of course, just because it is possible to fit Jake's lyric to that tune doesn't make it a good idea, but I had to get it out of my system.