Showing posts with label William Skyvington. Show all posts
Showing posts with label William Skyvington. Show all posts

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Fascinating links

I collaborated for a while with Jean Ichbiah [1940-2007], inventor of the Ada programming language, whose name refers to Ada Lovelace [1815-1852], daughter of the poet Lord Byron. That lady worked alongside Charles Babbage [1791-1871], inventor of so-called engines that were precursors of modern computing machines. Much later, in the context of the affair of French submarines ordered by Australia, I happened to meet up by e-mail with Ross Babbage who informed me kindly, when I asked him, that he was indeed a descendant of Charles. Here are portraits of individuals I’ve just mentioned:

Jean Ichbiah

Ada Lovelace

Charles Babbage

Ross Babbage

I wonder at times if a mysterious Force (?) might have led me, as it were, to all those individuals. Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not referring to heavenly guides such as Abraham and Jesus. I was merely imagining possible manipulations carried out by my own humble brain… which has always got a kick out of mentioning unexpected associations (as I’m doing at this very moment).

Maladie infantile que j'avais oubliée

Depuis des années, je ne pense plus à mon attaque de scarlatine, quand j'étais un jeune garçon. C'était une maladie très contagieuse, et j''ai été mis seul dans une chambre à l'hôpital de Grafton pendant plusieurs semaines. Mon père Bill, attristé par la mise en isolement de son fils aîné, a fait un geste extraordinaire pour me consoler. Il m'a construit un petit récepteur radio du type dit "à galène", ou "à crystal", que j'écoutais au moyen d'un casque. C'était un cadeau magnifique. Je ne pensais qu'à mon poste magique de radio. Je ne savais plus du tout que j'étais toujours souffrant. Mon père m'a guéri. La scarlatine a disparu de ma vie et de ma mémoire, sans laisser aucune trace.

Quant aux origines de cette affliction, chacun avait son idée. Ma mère était persuadé que ma scarlatine était arrivée par de grandes liasses de billets de banques en provenance de la Chine, ramenées en Australie par le couple de Lilian Pickering, une tante maternelle de mon père.

Cliquez pour agrandir

Cette affliction n'a donné lieu à aucune séquelle. Ce n'est donc pas à cause de la scarlatine que j'aurais développé mon extraordinaire habitude mentale du raisonnement associatif...

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Xmas gift for me

Here’s an excellent suggestion. Since this French issue of Blake & Mortimer volume 24 is a comic book, I’m sure my momentarily degraded eyesight wouldn’t be a problem.

Some observers claim that the hero of this tale is an archaic writer named Shakespeare. That can’t be true, of course, because we all know he didn’t even exist.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Trying to find ancestors who made me smart

A few days ago, I was trying to solve the enigma of a charming ancestor named Frank Skyvington [1845-1916] whose son named William Skyvington [1868-1959] turned out to be a scoundrel. I kept saying to myself that it was strange to find a father and his son who were clearly so different. Why did this madness appear suddenly, before disappearing just as suddenly. I searched around intensely on the web to find an explanation of the ways in which chromosomes of madness might suddenly come into existence, maybe introduced by a baby’s mother. But every article I found on this genetic question was prefaced, as it were, by a huge warning: Be careful. Don’t assume that genes play any role whatsoever in the situation that concerns you. Maybe the factors that interest you were acquired, not from nature, but through nurture.

For ages, that sort of advice always infuriated me. It was unthinkable that environmental causes might have made me interested in science, then computers, then France, etc. To put it bluntly, nobody in my surroundings could have possibly persuaded me to get interested in out-of-the-way passions such as science, computers, France, etc. The only plausible explanation was that one of my ancestors must have supplied me with the necessary “good genes”.

Well, that last statement is utter nonsense. The only causes that make somebody smart come from the people who talk to him, the books he reads, the stuff he learns, etc. There are no magic genes in our bodies that turn on brightness as if we were an electric lamp.

It has taken me a long time to reach this simple conclusion.

Not as bright as I thought I was

I’ve always considered myself as relatively intelligent. That’s what people told me when I was a kid at school. Later, I thought I was bright when I became a computer programmer with IBM Australia. I simply failed to understand that I was merely the proverbial right man in the right place at the right time. Then I thought I was bright when I moved to France, married, raised a small family, and finally became a French citizen. Once again, as in Sydney, I was simply the right Australian in France at the right time. More recently, I started to think of myself as bright when I used my Macintosh computer at Gamone to publish a couple of family-history books. The truth of the matter is that I would have been silly to not take advantage of that excellent environment to produce those books. In any case, their existence doesn’t suggest for an instant that the author/publisher might have been in any way bright, merely fortunate.

A few days ago, for the first time in my life, at the august age of 76, the truth hit me with a bang. I’m not particularly intelligent. Purely lucky. The good old game consists of being in a convenient situation at exactly the right moment. Right place and right time. There’s a tiny bundle of convenient talents in my brain, but nothing whatsoever of an extraordinary nature.

It's high time that I made this clear! To myself, above all.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Video talk for bloggers

I recorded this video talk on Sunday afternoon, before the amazing US raid on the Bin Laden compound in Pakistan. It's essentially an experimental project, enabling me to know what's involved in using the camera as a blogging tool. Incidentally, I screwed up my mention of two well-known software products. My video editing tool on the Macintosh was Final Cut Express version 4.0.1 (not the Pro product, as I said mistakenly). And the browser that doesn't seem to be able to handle HTML5 is, of course, Internet Explorer, not Express. Also, as with quite a few English words, I'm simply not sure how people pronounce the verb "beatify" (which I can nevertheless pronounce perfectly well in French). The truth of the matter is that I hardly ever listen to English-language TV, and I've become rusty concerning my spoken mother tongue.