York Corpus Christi Play Simulator Screencast (PSim 2.1; D.G. Jerz)

Another digital artifact lives. The York Corpus Christi Pageant Simulator was my first serious accomplishment in digital humanities. After I learned all the medieval drama content from a class with Andrea Johnston at the University of Toronto, I made the computer program as part of a humanities computing course with Willard McCarthy in 1994, and published a poster paper and an updated version over the next few years. This simulation…

My 20-year-old Java Program Is Broken!

So a harmless little Java program I wrote in 1997 no longer works, due to security updates in modern browsers. It’s a simulation of medieval pageant wagons in the town of York, England. I wish I’d recorded a screencast of myself demonstrating it while it worked. I imagine it will be possible to get it working somehow, but it will no longer simply work as an app embedded in a…

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The Last Soviet Citizen

Interesting reflection on the collapse of the USSR, from the vantage point of a cosmonaut who returned to a completely different world. After blasting off from Baikonur, Krikalev wouldn’t inhale earthly air for 312 days. In that time, the soft-spoken cosmonaut would watch his country crumble from 200 miles up. Presidents would change. His hometown of Leningrad would become St. Petersburg. And one communist superpower would splinter into 15 nations.…

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Shakespeare Popularized Falconry Terms

English is full of figures of speech popularized by Shakespeare. Some of those terms Shakespeare’s interest in falconry. “Hold onto Lima,” Healy-Rennison commanded, as I tightly pinched the speckle-feathered bird’s jesses, or tethers, under my thumb. “Now she’s ‘under your thumb’,” Healy-Rennison explained with a smile. “Quite literally,” I replied, amused to learn the etymology of a phrase that I’ve used for most of my life. Only now I was…

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Ringling Bros. circus to close after 146 years

The more I learned about elephants, the less I liked the idea of going to the circus. I’m interested in its place in the history of American culture, but times have changed. After 146 years, the curtain is coming down on “The Greatest Show on Earth.” The owner of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus told The Associated Press that the show will close forever in May. The…

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New “Adventure” Details from Will Crowther in Mammoth Cave Book

The new book from the University of Kentucky Press, Mammoth Cave Curiosities” A Guide to Rockphobia, Dating, Saber-toothed Cats and Other Subterranean Marvels, offers some new tidbits from Will Crowther about his ground-breaking 1970s computer game, “Colossal Cave Adventure.” In a subsection confidently headed “The First Computer Adventure Game,” we find this weaselly clunker: “Developed in 1976, Adventure was probably the first computer adventure or IF game…” (217). Probably? Of course…