Archive for June, 2009

The Tale of the Heike

June 24, 2009

Reading a translation of the 12th Century Japanese epic “Tale of the Heike”, about the fall of one of the great houses. Some parts are unintentionally funny. At one point, an army of militant monks is approaching the palace to demand justice for wrongs done their members. Troops are stationed at all entry gates to defend them. The North gate has a renowned military leader, but few forces, so that’s where the monks go. They stop at the gate, and the leader’s deputy comes out.

“Look,” he says (I paraphrase), “we agree with you, but the Emperor says you can’t come in. If we let you in, we fail our Lord. If you fight your way in, against such a small force, you’ll win, but you’ll be embarrassed, and everybody will be looking at the ground. Our commander has never lost a battle, and it would be embarrassing all the way around. Why don’t you go to the East gate, where they have a force worthy of your attention.”

The monks thought a bit, and some said “You know, he’s right, there’s no glory in it. And the commander is from a good family. Besides, he not only is a good commander, he writes excellent poetry. Remember that one about the cherry trees?”

So, the monks went to the East gate, where they were defeated, abandoned their petition, and went back to their mountain, crying.

Bing

June 1, 2009

Or should it be ‘bling’? What’s with the balloons?

MS’s new search engine. Returned mostly good answers on my standard questions, though it didn’t catch the page on who first used the word ‘filk’. The ‘edge of chaos’ stuff was split pretty evenly between Kauffman and the MMORPG.

My take is that it’s on par with Google, but that the big ‘G’ has the approach down better — when I’m searching, I don’t need popups or hoverups, or cutesy pictures of balloons. I want a minimalist interface and the best results.

Bling will be a Google-killer only to the extent that MS near monopoly on the desktop can entice captive IE users to go there.