This Week I Learned About – Issue 1

The Shavian alphabet

On Wednesday I saw a Toot in a beautiful script I did not recognise. It looked like this:

𐑣𐑩𐑤𐑴 𐑥𐑲 𐑯𐑱𐑥 𐑦𐑟 ·𐑚𐑼𐑯𐑸𐑛 Tyers. 𐑲 𐑤𐑲𐑒 ·𐑜𐑦𐑯𐑩𐑕, 𐑣𐑨𐑥 𐑕𐑨𐑥𐑢𐑦𐑗𐑦𐑟 𐑯 Tayto 𐑒𐑮𐑦𐑕𐑐𐑕.

which says

Hello my name is Bernard Tyers. I like Guinness, ham sandwiches and Tayto crisps.

from the to Shavian translator

It was the Shavian alphabet which:

is a constructed alphabet conceived as a way to provide simple, phonemic orthography for the English language to replace the inefficiencies and difficulties of conventional spelling using the Latin alphabet.

It was posthumously funded by and named after Irish playwright Bernard Shaw.

Shaw set three main criteria for the new alphabet. It should be:

  1. at least 40 letters;
  2. as phonetic as possible (that is, letters should have a 1:1 correspondence to phonemes);
  3. distinct from the Latin alphabet to avoid the impression that the new spellings were simply misspellings.

Wayback Machine data downloader

I found that the Wayback Machine had archived versions of this website from 20 years ago. I thought I’d lost those posts from the various migrations to different hosting over the years.

I wanted to download those posts in a format where I could import them into this WordPress. If that wasn’t possible, then just simply downloading all the posts and somehow repost them here.

The came to the rescue again. Paul Ganssle suggestedWayback Machine Downloader” a Ruby on Rails tool.

It downloaded all the website snapshots into a nice directory structure.

Now it’s a matter of copying and pasting. Not ideal, but it’s better than nothing. makes it easier to discover RSS feeds of content related to a Fediverse user account. For example, here’s the RSS feeds associated to my Fediverse account.

Tor Network University campaign

Tor have a campaign for encourage universities to run Tor nodes. If you’re working in a university, the campaign website will help.

Tor will also be speaking at
Lessons learned running Tor exit relays at an NREN

Rituals are the key to happiness

In this Guardian article about Wim Wenders new movie, they talk about “marrying physical activity with routine is optimal for improving one’s mental wellbeing”.

It mentions the results of a Harvard 80 year longtudinal study on happiness.

“Close relationships, more than money or fame,” she wrote, “are what keep people happy throughout their lives… Those ties protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes.”

Underpinning close relationships are shared rituals, a shared language, a shared code. Intimacy is produced by habit. To maximise happiness in this age of choices, we need to inject more routine into our lives. We should all aim to be happy monks.

Harvard study, almost 80 years old, has proved that embracing community helps us live longer, and be happier, by Liz Mineo

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