George V. Reilly

Sorting Python Dictionaries by Value

New post at the MetaBrite Dev Blog.

Review: Ashes By Now

Title: Ashes By Now
Author: Mark Timlin
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Vista
Copyright: 1993
Pages: 219
Keywords: crime
Reading period: 13–14 February, 2016

Nick Sharman is a washed up London PI, living with two strippers and drinking himself into oblivion. He used to be a promising Detective Constable, and a bad case from that time comes back to haunt him. The teenaged daughter of an inspector died after being raped twelve years ago. His sergeant fitted up a local flasher and Sharman re­luc­tant­ly went along. Now Sailor Grant is out and wants to clear his name. Sharman refuses to get involved; Grant is murdered; and Sharman’s former sergeant beats him half to continue.

Review: Counterstroke

Title: Coun­ter­stroke
Author: Andrew Garve
Rating: ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Penguin
Copyright: 1978
Pages: 178
Keywords: Suspense
Reading period: 13 February, 2016

The wife of a rich politician has been kidnapped by terrorists who want to exchange her in nine days’ time for one of their number who’s in prison. Actor Bob Farran thinks he can im­per­son­ate Tom Lacey well enough that Sally Morland will be freed and he can earn the £250,000 reward.

We spend three quarters of the book preparing for the im­per­son­ation, which gives Farran time to do it well. While the nine-day delay enabled the im­per­son­ation, it makes little sense for the terrorists to have asked for such a delay. The exchange and continue.

Review: Reversible Errors

Title: Reversible Errors
Author: Scott Turow
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Warner
Copyright: 2002
Pages: 553
Keywords: crime
Reading period: 7–13 February, 2016

Ten years ago, Rommy "Squirrel" Gan­dolph—­gen­er­al­ly regarded as a harmless thief not playing with a full deck­—­con­fessed to three murders. Now he’s about to be executed and Arthur Raven, his court-appointed attorney, believes his protes­ta­tions of innocence. The book follows Arthur, who finds an ally in Gillian Sullivan, the disgraced ex-judge who presided over Gandolph’s trial, and the prosecutor, Muriel Wynn, and the detective, Larry Starczek.

Turow digs deep into the characters of his four pro­tag­o­nists, as they struggle with each other and with the rev­e­la­tions of the case. They are all flawed, continue.

Unicode Upside-Down Mapping, Part 2

Yesterday I showed FileFormat’s ɹǝʇɹǝʌuoↃ uʍo◖-ǝpısd∩ ǝpoɔıu∩. Although the lowercase letters generally looked good, several of the uppercase letters and numerals were un­sat­is­fac­to­ry. Looking through the Unicode Table site, I came across the Fraser Lisu alphabet, which is un­for­tu­nate­ly not well supported in most fonts. The following renders in Hack and Source Code Pro in MacVim, but not in the Source Code Pro webfont from Google Fonts:

B: ꓭ u+A4ED  Lisu Letter Gha
D: ꓷ u+A4F7  Lisu Letter Oe
J: ꓩ u+A4E9  Lisu Letter Fa
K: ꓘ u+A4D8  Lisu Letter Kha
L: ꓶ u+A4F6  Lisu Letter Uh
R: ꓤ u+A4E4  Lisu Letter Za
T: ꓕ u+A4D5  Lisu Letter 

Unicode Upside-Down Mapping

Unicode is so versatile that you can (more or less) invert the Latin alphabet:

ɐqɔpǝɟƃɥıɾʞʃɯuodbɹsʇnʌʍxʎz ∀𐐒Ↄ◖ƎℲ⅁HIſ⋊⅂WᴎOԀΌᴚS⊥∩ᴧMX⅄Z 012Ɛᔭ59Ɫ86
abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ 0123456789
68Ɫ95ᔭƐ210 Z⅄XMᴧ∩⊥SᴚΌԀOᴎW⅂⋊ſIH⅁ℲƎ◖Ↄ𐐒∀ zʎxʍʌnʇsɹbdouɯʃʞɾıɥƃɟǝpɔqɐ

Obtained via the ɹǝʇɹǝʌuoↃ uʍo◖-ǝpısd∩ ǝpoɔıu∩. More at Unicode Upside-Down Mapping.

Update: more tomorrow.

Emma at Madrona Fiber Arts Festival

Emma is once again at the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival in Tacoma. It’s a convention of knitters, crocheters, and prac­ti­tion­ers of other fiber arts, and Emma goes every year. She takes classes and hangs out with her fellow knitters. It’s always held over Valentine’s Day Weekend, so I tease her about preferring knitting to romantic dinners with me.

Review: Thrones, Dominations

Title: Thrones, Dom­i­na­tions
Author: Dorothy L. Sayers & Jill Paton Walsh
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Copyright: 1998
Pages: 322
Keywords: mystery
Reading period: 4–7 February, 2016

Recently married, Lord Peter Wimsey and the former Harriet Vane take up residence at their townhouse. When the beautiful wife of an ac­quain­tance is murdered, Peter becomes involved in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Meanwhile, Harriet is coming to terms with having "married up", after fending off Peter’s wooing for several years. Should she continue her career as a mystery novelist, now that she no longer needs the income, or do what is expected by some: have babies and give up writing. All of this is against the continue.

MythBusters: Lead Balloon

I don’t watch much television. One of the few shows that I do watch is Myth­Busters, sadly now in its last season. I watched three old shows tonight, including one of my all-time favorites, making a lead balloon.

Taking on the adage "to go down like a lead balloon", Jamie and Adam set out to prove that it is possible to make a lead balloon fly. But it’s not easy.

After pro­to­typ­ing a couple of designs with aluminum foil, they move on to lead foil. Lead foil is very hard to obtain and it’s much weaker than aluminum foil. Jamie likens it to working with wet toilet paper, as it’s so easy to tear. They prove continue.


I half-watched team sports twice today. We got up early to go to an Irish friend’s house, to eat a full Irish breakfast and watch rugby. I no longer detest rugby with the virulence that I had growing up, when I attended a rugby-playing school in Dublin from ages 7 to 18, but I’m still not interested in the game.

This afternoon, I went to a Chinese New Year’s party, which doubled as a Superbowl party. I trans­ferred my feelings about rugby to American football when I moved here. I have many problems with football culture: the worship of jocks, rape culture, homophobia, concussion. Even if all of those could be fixed, the continue.

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