Wednesday, December 30, 2020

2. The Wabbit and Strangeglove's Machine

Doctor Strangeglove called the Wabbit to see what he'd done. He'd been working in the Wabbit's shed to build a surprise present for Lapinette's birthday and the Wabbit was on tenterhooks to see it. The Wabbit was surprised. "That's Wab!" he yelled. "Oh Wabbit, I found it under some covers in a corner and adapted it. I hoped you wouldn't mind." The Wabbit was a bit embarrassed. He'd borrowed it in 2011 for a race and quite forgot to give it back. He thought about it for a bit and decided if they hadn't asked for it back, they didn't really want it. "That's OK," he said, "We've improved it." Strangeglove smiled. "We certainly have. Under the bonnet is an anti matter unit of my own design." The Wabbit patted what passed for a bumper. "What about controls?" Strangeglove nodded his gloved head. "There are three main controls. Forward to the Future, Backward to the Past - and Sideways." The Wabbit was intrigued. "Where does Sideways go?" "I don't really know!" shrugged Strangeglove, "so better not touch it." The Wabbit looked alarmed but said nothing more about it. "It has inhospitable climate control," said Strangeglove and I also put in a make-up case and a fur drier." "Very wise," nodded the Wabbit. Then he noticed the bow. "That's a nice bow, I thought you didn't do bows." Strangeglove looked embarrassed. "I found that lying around too. I stuck it on, and it wouldn't come off." The Wabbit knew where it came from. It had been attached to a present given to him by Lapinette. "I suppose bows all look the same," he chuckled. He rubbed his paws together. "Now I have to find a way of getting Lapinette round here." Strangeglove laughed and laughed. "Just tell her it's surprise," he said. "She'll be suspicious," replied the Wabbit. Strangeglove drew himself up to his full height. "Send a red rose by courier pigeon." "That'll work," agreed the Wabbit. 

Monday, December 28, 2020

1. The Wabbit and the Emergency Present

The Wabbit was stuck. He'd left it too late to get a present for Lapinette's birthday and didn't know what to do. There were only a few days left and all the shops were shut. But he had an idea that it could be something technical, so he tracked down Doctor Strangeglove to his lair. "Pleased to see you Wabbit," said Strangeglove, "I was just tuning up this engine for the electrical people." Dr. Strangeglove was in ebullient mood. Let loose on anything electrical, he was very happy. The Wabbit explained his predicament. Strangeglove smiled. "You want it to be a surprise?" The Wabbit nodded his head but looked rueful. "I should have thought of it before."  Doctor Strangeglove paced up and down, thinking. "Something technical you say?" The Wabbit nodded. "Something she hasn't got already?" added Strangeglove. The Wabbit nodded with vigour, because that was the main problem. No matter what he thought of, Lapinette had it already. The Doctor came up with an idea. "A time machine?" The Wabbit was astonished. "You could get me a time machine?" "Of course," said Strangeglove. "By Friday?" asked the Wabbit. Dr Strangeglove thought for a minute then he nodded. "I could do it for Thursday evening if I have the designs." The Wabbit was sceptical - but Lapinette did not have a time machine. That he knew. "Will it go into the future and come back?" "Anyway you like," smiled the Doctor. The Wabbit asked his penultimate question. "Will it have a seat?" "Yes," said Strangeglove, "Two seats if you want." The Wabbit wondered how much he had in his dinosaur fund. "I can build it from scrap," said the Doctor. The Wabbit had one more question. "Can you gift wrap it?" "No, I'm not that good," said Strangeglove.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

The Wabbit at his Adventure Caffè

The Wabbit said he'd give everyone a surprise and took them to a Caffè he knew in Venice. It was very dry this year and they didn't have to wear Wellington boots - so Skratch was very pleased because he hated getting his feet wet. Lapinette and the Wabbit went ahead to order the drinks, because that was the way things worked. "Over there by the canal," said the Wabbit, "our drinks will be here in due course." Skratch was anxious to answer the question about the goings on with the letters and Wabsworth posed the question. "What on earth was that that for a sort of adventure?" Skratch was duty bound to respond. "It began as a satire about words and their meanings, but quickly changed to a discourse on the structure of words themselves." The Wabbit was disappointed. "Is that it?" Skratch meaowed a long and plaintive meow, "Certainly not. The discourse circulated around the power of the dictionary and, in essence, demonstrated that the letters had little power at all." Wabsworth grinned his android grin. "All the letters were caught in the dictionary's control of the word."  Skratch was on home territory. "And a word only has meaning as a place in a signifying chain." Lapinette laughed. "Stuck in a concatenation?" "At the station!" added the Wabbit. The rest all looked at him and groaned. "In other words it hardly mattered," said Wabsworth, "the lower cases and the upper cases are at the mercy of sound-images." The Wabbit wanted the last word. "They say the unconscious is structured like a language," Lapinette did get the last word. "Desire is therefore always left unsatisfied." "I desire my drink," said the Wabbit. Then they laughed and laughed and laughed.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

7. The Wabbit inside the Word Drum

As they walked into the vast halls of Dictionary House, a door slammed behind them and things started to revolve. The gothic interior gave way to the clean lines of a washing machine and it started to fill. One by one, all the letters they'd met joined them and started to gyrate. Everything ran and colours shattered, merged and separated again. Lapinette's kilt turned into coloured arrows and swept across her face. Only the Wabbit seemed happy. He'd been twirled before, so he lay back and let the wash do its work. Capital A got very small then big again then small. The lower-case letters swam  in the exotic brew. Now they were bigger than the capitals and they seemed happy too. "What's happening?" yelled the A. "You're being decapitalised," laughed the Wabbit. The wash got more violent and everything swirled around. All of a sudden it stopped. Then it began to twirl the other way. The letters became the same size. "Give me back my kilt!" shouted Lapinette. The tartan became tartan again. Lapinette breathed a sigh of relief. Now that they were the same size, the lower-case letters smiled benevolently on Capital A. "Join us brother," they yelled, "Join us in the heady brew of language." The Capital A shrugged. "I may as well," he said. "I was getting tired of always being at the front. Perhaps I could be in the middle." Small b smiled. "Perhaps you could be at the back," he said. "That's OK," said A, "I've been rather stressed always beginning sentences." The Wabbit dried his fur by blowing on it. "Now that your all palsy-walsy, perhaps we could get out of this drum." The door swung open. The gothic halls beckoned. "So many letters, so little time," said Lapinette. "Always time for a drink," said the Wabbit. "How do you spell that," laughed Lapinette.

Monday, December 14, 2020

6. The Wabbit and Dictionary House

The Wabbit and Lapinette carried out painstaking research but found nothing. So they took with them a python list of dictionaries and went to Dictionary House. The House lay deep in the Bavarian Quarter, a little-known part of Turin. The python list was a way of finding things out but that was a far as the Wabbit could go. It was a collection of unordered values accessed by keys. They keys had to be hashable, floating point numbers, strings and tuples. When the Wabbit got to tuples he bowed out. Of course, Wabsworth would have known all about it - but the Wabbit was determined to sort the matter out himself. "You don't need that," said Lapinette. The Wabbit asked why not. "Because," replied Lapinette, "the answer isn't there." The Wabbit nodded gravely. "Of course," he said. He waited but Lapinette said nothing. "OK where is the answer?" said the Wabbit. "The answer is in common usage," said Lapinette. It was the Wabbit's turn to say nothing. He nodded as if he understood everything. "Many languages do not have capitals at all," said Lapinette. The Wabbit waited. "Arabic, Hebrew, Korean or Japanese" (The Wabbit understood all that.) "The matter is quite complex," continued Lapinette, "but the lower-case letters appear to be demanding an end to mixed text." The Wabbit shook his head. "I don't think anyone will agree to that, but I have an idea." Lapinette shrugged. "Everything will be in upper case but very small," said the Wabbit. "I've seen it done," said Lapinette, "but I don't think the Upper Cases will agree." The Wabbit thought for a while. "What about Studly Caps mixed case?" Lapinette snickered. "Like the hidden message in HoTMaiL? They might just go for it ... let's go inside and ask."
 [HoTMaiL: HTML]

Friday, December 11, 2020

5. The Wabbit and the Rumble Letters

The Wabbit and Lapinette chatted amiably to the letters and told them they would make a case for their demands. But as they passed along Via Nizza Capital A sprang out at them. He's acquired some wheels and so he'd made good speed down the redundant cycle lanes that had sprung up. He kicked the w to the side. "Oh you big bully!" yelled Lapinette. She tried pushing him but he wouldn't desist. He swept the o to the side and laid into the letter s with venom. The letter s was having none of it and he clattered the Capital A with a left jab. "You little fool, your no better than a snake," shouted Capital A. He tried to trip the s up, but only managed to stub his base on the sidewalk. The s bounced back. "Your tyranny ends here, you moron," he shouted. The s jabbed again and again. Ever watchful from the side, the letter b shouted in support. "Take that for your trouble," he screamed, "And that and that." Encouraged by Lapinette's push, the letter o came back fighting. He rolled over the Capital and ground his wheels until they were flat. The Wabbit hadn't got involved up until now. His role as peace maker seemed to be in danger so he strode into the midst. "Quieten down now, you letters." His voice as far from soothing, especially when the w accidentally hit him in the eye. The fight was becoming something more than a rumble but remained less than a donnybrook. So there was hope. Eventually the Wabbit and Lapinette managed to separate them. The Wabbit dabbed his eye. "You've have got to make an accommodation," he said, "Or you'll all be dead letters." Lapinette had her pad and pen at the ready. "I'll dash a note off to the dictionary people to see what they say." The Wabbit nodded. "Stay clear of four-letter words!" 

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

4. The Wabbit and the Lower Cases

The Wabbit and Lapinette strolled over to meet the lower cases and they were grumbling. The letter s addressed Lapinette directly. "What are the Capitals doing now?" It was the Wabbit who replied. "Capital A is coming to beat you up, but he's going to be some time." The other letters were waiting to cross the road and they all turned round. "We've had enough of being oppressed by the Capitals. We have the weight of numbers. We will defeat them." The letter b tapped the Wabbit on the leg. "I'm b," he said. "Pleased to meet you," said the Wabbit, "what would you like to be when you grow up?" The small letters were mortally offended. "We are all grown up and perfectly capable of making our way in the world!" Lapinette tried to smooth things over. "We only meant you were small." The letters talked amongst themselves then pushed the letter w forward. "Will you help us to draw up a list of our demands?" The Wabbit dug in his fur and took out a small notebook and a pen. "Please write it all in lower case," said the o. The Wabbit nodded gravely. "Firstly," said the w, "capitals are henceforth to come at the end of sentences." The rest piped up. "And all people names shall end in a capital and not begin it." They gathered to discuss it further. Then the s turned round. "All place names shall have no capitals at all." The Wabbit noted down all the points, then read them aloud. There was a murmur of agreement. But Lapinette had an important question. "To whom shall we take these proposals?" The Wabbit made a suggestion. "The dictionary people?" The letters went into a huddle and came up with a question. "Do dictionary people agree on things?" The Wabbit went into a huddle with himself and then came up with an answer. "Mostly," he said.

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

3. The Wabbit and the Indefinite Article

The Wabbit thought no more about it. But he was making his way along Via Andrea Doria when he came across an obstacle. There was Lapinette and she was staring at a giant Letter A, which was obstructing the sidewalk. "Get out of the way," she shouted and she waved her arms. "I will not," said the Latter A. "I'm getting up and standing up for my rights." Lapinette hopped from one leg to another. "Do it somewhere else!" The Wabbit watched for a little while and then he popped his head around the letter. "Hello Lapinette." Lapinette smiled and waved a greeting. "I'm trying to persuade this letter that he should locate elsewhere." The letter twitched a little. "I'm the indefinite article and I'm not necessarily a he." Lapinette placed her arms at her side and said in no uncertain terms. "I don't care. The sidewalk is for pedestrians." The Wabbit decided to get involved. "We've been getting trouble from your kind," he said. "My kind?" said the Letter, "Do you mean these other non-standard letters?" The Wabbit was lost for words. "Perhaps you're referring to the lower cases?" Now the Letter moved up and down. "We've had enough of these lower case varmints, always around our feet. We're tired of them!" The Wabbit shook his head. "Couldn't you conduct your struggle in a library or maybe even the Internet?" "No" cried the Letter A, "Were taking to the streets and soon we'll take up arms! Death to the lower cases! We shall not rest until we rid the world of them all." Lapinette was appalled. "That's not very inclusive." The Wabbit agreed. But the Letter A stood his ground. "I see some lower cases over there, I'm going to get them!" He tried to move but couldn't go fast. "Would you like a push?" smirked the Wabbit.

Friday, December 04, 2020

2. Skratch and the Way of Words

The Wabbit made his way along Via Nizza in search of Skratch when he hear a meowing behind him. He pretended not to hear and instead spoke to the poster. "I was wondering poster, why you refer to the summer? Although this is a bright day, it's Winter and yet you proclaim a different season." Skratch was beside himself. "Wabbit, Wabbit! It's me Skratch and I know all about words." The Wabbit slowly turned. "Oh it's you, Skratch. I thought that poster was speaking." Skratch climbed down from the tree. "As time passes, Wabbit, the poster becomes a sign of something else. Something long past and hard to remember." The Wabbit nodded. "True. Summer is indeed long past and very hard to remember." Skratch paused and licked his paws. "You were looking for me Wabbit?" "I was because I wanted to ask you about words," said the Wabbit, "I wondered if words could fight amongst themselves." Skratch grew interested. "What might they fight about?" The Wabbit grew pensive and replied. "Their meanings." Skratch launched into explanation. "Words have arbitrary and culturally prescribed meanings and we could assign meanings to words as we went along. As long as we agreed on the meanings all would be well." The Wabbit looked round as if someone might hear him. "Supposing the words didn't like their meanings. Supposing there was conflict." Skratch was becoming interested. "You mean if words were self-serving entities with a conscious point of view?" The Wabbit nodded his agreement. "Yes, supposing words didn't like the typeface they were set in - and supposing they went to war." Skratch laughed. "You do have a vivid imagination, Wabbit." The leaves on the sidewalk rustled in a breeze that sprung from nowhere. "Not at all," said the poster. "I should be set in Times New Roman." The Wabbit spoke sharply. "I told you there'd be trouble."

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

1. The Wabbit and the Meaning of Words.

The Wabbit walked along the porticos musing on anything he could muse on. He'd never given the Caffè sign a second glance. He merely knew it to be a place that sold extremely fine coffee. But today he looked up at it and thought for a minute. An acquaintance had given him to believe that the sign had an offensive word and he just couldn't understand why. Apart from the successful Italian rock band, he only knew it as a descriptive term of endearment in Spanish - and he'd argued with the acquaintance that The little black girl Caffè just didn't fit the bill. The friend had disagreed and had stalked off in high dudgeon, leaving the Wabbit bemused. The Wabbit shook his head. After all, he was a brown rabbit and proud; and he thought, "This is something I must take up with Skratch the Cat." So he bowled down the road, wondering about words. "What if words could take up arms against their oppressors and fight for their rights? What if they disagreed? The streets would be wash with warring factions all claiming authenticity. And typefaces too!" Such were his thoughts. He imagined it for a bit, seeing words in various fonts and sizes clashing at dawn. Capitals would wage war on lower case. Italics against Roman against Kanji. Upright might pit themselves against oblique. In the Wabbit's mind, vast armies drew up in opposition. Hiragana and Katakana waved banners at each other as if in a film by Akira Kurosawa. Written on their banners were the same words with different meanings. It was all quite overwhelming. The Wabbit spotted Skratch loping further down the porticos and he chased after him shouting in Ariel Bold ...