Archive for January, 2011

The British Resistance Movement in WWII

January 29, 2011

The what?

Unbeknownst to most people, the UK was one of the first countries to have an organized, armed resistance movement to fight the Nazis in WWII. They were known as Auxiliary Units , headquartered at Coleshill House. They were groups of civilians detailed to stay behind and carry on the fight even if Britain were invaded and overrun and the government forced to flee to Canada.

Information about them was very hard to find in the pre-Internet era, because very few records were kept — they didn’t want the Germans to find out about them. Now, of course, they have their own Wikipedia page. In some cases they masqueraded as Home Guard units, in others they were just groups of people who were given special training. They kept stocks of weapons and explosives, and were prepared to conduct sabotage operations against German units and infrastructure. Since in some ways they didn’t officially exist, there was no way for them to disband, and their sleeper cells lay dormant for decades after the war.

When we lived in England, in the early ’70’s, there would periodically be a news item about a former AU member contacting the army or police and saying “I am 90 years old now, and can no longer do proper maintenence on the 100 kilos of explosives and the collection of automatic weapons that have spent the last thirty years buried under my garden shed. What should I do with them?” Just another example of how people from that time felt they had a pact between themselves and the government, and were willing to keep secrets very nearly unto death. More recently, of course, government have violated those pacts, and squandered that good will.

Every now and then one of their bunkers gets rediscovered, and in 2010, archaeologists started surveys at the AU headquarters at Coleshill House to see if they could uncover any physical evidence.

Updated to include mention and link to the Wikipedia entry.


January 21, 2011

When setting up a filter on your email, telling it which messages to send to the trash unread, it’s best if you select the sequence [subject] [contains] (as in “subject contains viagra”), instead of the [subject] [does not contain] sequence. Just sayin’.

Wednesday Wii – Weight…Wait, What?

January 19, 2011

Others may have noticed this, but I don’t normally read the Wii forums and such – it’s more fun to discover stuff on my own.

So, yesterday, my wife is running late for some meeting, and we are splitting the make coffee/start Wii chores. She’s making her coffee (’cause she knows how she likes it), and I’m starting up the Wii so that she can take a quick Body Test before heading out. I go through the usual: start TV, start Wii, click the (A) to tell it the controller is there, click on the Wii Fit+ channel, tell it to start; then confirm that I have the strap around my wrist so the controller won’t fly away when it sees my weight, watch as the two figures come trotting out (well, her’s trots, mine waddles) and tell it I’m her. I then (A) and lip-synch my way through the greetings, and kick the Balance Board Button on command.

It starts up and does the usual “Starting Up….Step On…Oh, Ow…Ready”, and at that point I step off. (more…)

Organizing My Web

January 15, 2011

One problem we have today is too much unstructured information. More information is usually better, but not if it is in a form that prevents us from finding it, evaluating it, and understanding it. A major source of information, and chaos, is the web. There’s just too much good stuff out there to keep track of, even if you are a specialist. If you happen to be an omnivore, you are in deep trouble. Over the years I have developed a methodology for structuring my web surfing. I am presenting it here because you might find it useful. (more…)

Why I won’t let my students cite Wikipedia, and why you might

January 7, 2011

β€œWikipedia only works in practice. In theory, it’s a total disaster.”
-Sue Gardner, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation.

I love Wikipedia. I love the theory of it (sorry Sue), I love the way it’s been implemented. I think it’s one of the great works of the modern world. I use it. I encourage my students to use it. But I won’t let them cite it as a source on a paper.

Let’s get one thing out of the way — it’s not because Wikipedia is an inaccurate source. (more…)


January 1, 2011

β€œIt is said that power corrupts, but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.” David Brin

Here’s to an increase in sanity in the New Year.