William Dampier

Powell’s Books – Review-a-Day – A Pirate of Exquisite Mind: Explorer, Naturalist, and Buccaneer: The Life of William Dampier by Diana Preston, reviewed by Times Literary Supplement:

William Dampier was a Somerset man, born in the village of East Coker in the middle of the seventeenth century. His memorial brass, in the medieval parish church of St Michael, speaks of a life driven by a profound curiosity about the natural world. Unstated, but implicit in the brief list of his remarkable achievements, is the sustained courage essential for any exploration of the ocean at a time when wind was the only power, when the determination of longitude was problematic and many coastal seas were uncharted:

TO THE MEMORY OF WILLIAM DAMPIER BUCCANEER EXPLORER HYDROGRAPHER and sometime Captain of the Ship Roebuck in the Royal Navy of King William the Third. Thrice he circumnavigated the Globe and first of all Englishmen explored and described the coast of Australia. An exact observer of all things in Earth, Sea and Air he recorded the knowledge won by years of danger and hardship in Books of Voyages and a Discourse of Winds, Tides and Currents which Nelson bade his midshipmen to study and Humboldt praised for Scientific worth.

Surely here was a man of whom the people of East Coker could be justly proud, a heroic figure to add lustre and interest to an otherwise obscure corner of England? Strangely though, Dampier’s memorial was not erected until 1907, and even then, its appearance in the ancient church was not welcomed by all of the worshippers.

Hmm, I have been by his house many times. I knew he was a major figure in England’s nautical past, but didn’t realize he was this notable a figure. And he is no longer the only reason to make a pilgrimage to St Michael’s church: T. S. Eliot is interred in the wall there.


learning new stuff

Did you know that orcas — like J2 Granny — can live into their 90s?

 Podbio J2Gran1

We went to the Seattle Aquarium today and the staff were giving out trading cards with members of our three local pods (J, K, and L). Granny was one of the ones we got, estimated birthyear of 1915, or perhaps 1911.

I had no idea.

the value of X

more serializable books?

Today my feed from Project Gutenberg listed “The Picture of Dorian Gray” and Wodehouse’s “Psmith in the City.”

A bit more involved doing those, but I suppose a clever hacker could do the whole thing in the MySQL backend withou using a client at all.

Well, darn it, I have piqued my own interest.



MacGuffin – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

A MacGuffin is a plot device that holds no meaning or purpose of its own except to motivate the characters and advance the story. The device is usually used in films, especially thrillers. The term “MacGuffin” was invented by Alfred Hitchcock, who made extensive use of the device in his films. It is still almost always used in specific reference to Hitchcock’s plots, rather than as a general term for similar narrative conveniences in unrelated stories.

In the story I am writing, the genesis of it was a character who has now become a MacGuffin. But as I noted earlier, I’m just transcribing events as they happen. If I thought he was a main character, obviously I was wrong.