Anton Aylward

The Benjamin Franklin Method: How to (Actually) Learn to Write

Cover of The Unix Programming Environment, 1984

Cover of The Unix Programming Environment, 1984
Well, that’s interesting.
I’m not sure I’ve ever learned that way.
I learned to program in C by taking a core dump of the UNIX kernel and reconstructing what the source code must have been with only the header files.  Yes I know about “The White Books”, but lets face it, everyone cheats by downloading the source files rather than typing in the code by hand. Yes, hand re-typing all that code would make you think about it.
The other part of learning C for me was doing maintenance programming.  Somewhere along the line I had to decide “this is abominably ugly code, do I dump it and do a re-write or do I patch it into further unintelligibility?”

Once, reading a book on the history of economics I came across a sentence that ran for a page and a half. Galbraith is an excellent writer, he made his living for a while writing intelligible papers for US politicians. That sentence made perfect sense. I kept meaning to go back, copy it down, de-construct it and see if I could break it up into shorter sentences while maintaining intelligibility. Sadly I never did and I’ve forgotten what book that was. Galbraith loved words. Continue reading

Anton Aylward

How the Celts are Responsible For Everything

Cover of "How the Irish Saved Civilizatio...

Cover of "How the Scots Invented the Mode...

These two books look like they go hand in hand, but actually they tell very different stories in very different ways about very different things. One might say that they also reflect the troubles between the two Celtic heritages in Northern Ireland today, but that would be stretching the matter.

Cahill’s book originally came out in hardcover in 1995. I have the trade paperback which came out in 1996. It has full colour front plates and 8 pages of photographs as well as many in-line illustration and maps. It is about two-thirds (218 pages of text) the thickness of Arthur Herman’s book (429 pages of text) in paperback, and therein lies part of the point of this review. Continue reading