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Wtf, GNU?

Posted by Ben
on 10.30.10

An excerpt from the GNU gettext manual, describing emacs' PO-mode:

The command 0 (po-other-window) is another, softer way, to leave PO mode, temporarily. It just moves the cursor to some other Emacs window, and pops one if necessary. For example, if the translator just got PO mode to show some source context in some other, she might discover some apparent bug in the program source that needs correction. This command allows the translator to change sex, become a programmer, and have the cursor right into the window containing the program she (or rather he) wants to modify. By later getting the cursor back in the PO file window, or by asking Emacs to edit this file once again, PO mode is then recovered.

Emphasized as in the original.


 

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What in the Samhain were we thinking?

Posted by Stanley
on 10.30.10

Somebody sent me this Craigslist post, which, uh, yeah. Hm. Okay.

However! It did jog my memory regarding a Halloween decoration we used to put up when I was a kid. As far as I recall, it was my idea but with an explicit green light from Mom and Dad. I'm recalling it now with a total "what the hell?!" feeling about it.

It was a dummy hanging from a tree. In our front yard. As in, with a noose.

Anyway, I'm explaining it to myself as a total blindspot of our family never having lived in the South at that point. But, really, I'm pretty troubled we did that. Yeesh.


 

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On Balance

Posted by Stanley
on 10.30.10

I just overheard some random snippet of radio (I think it was a replay of yesterday's Talk of the Nation) wherein some talking head was laying out his Very Serious and Important A/B Analysis comparing the Fox News network to The Daily Show/The Colbert Report

Yes. Because these things over here are exactly like that thing over there. Very well done. A+++. Would listen again.


 

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We're all going to die

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.29.10

Sincere question: how do you keep your despair over politics compartmentalized? What strategies do you use to keep large-scale problems from overwhelming you? I'd say that I'm not very successful at this. In practice, I just get immersed in the most proximate activity or task, but when things quiet down, I can really ruminate.


 

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I'm so glad tomorrow is Friday.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.28.10

The first comment on Youtube gets it exactly right:

For so many years I always thought some small gay man with a cowboy´╗┐ hat sang this song. Later I find out this nice looking woman sang it.

Still, such a great song.


 

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Adult conversations

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.28.10

At lunch just now, the conversation topic was "Things that my kids are exposed to that I don't like having to explain, at least at this age." Since Hawaiian Punch is not yet two, I have no experience whatsoever. But whatever, I'm judgmental. Anyway, I think they were all being stupid.

I can see death being a very hard conversation to have. And topics that would upset your child. But topics that are too "adult" for your child? This was crap like "It's red ribbon/don't do drugs week at school. My 5 year old is too young for those conversations" and "In our family, Christmas is about giving, but to my son's friends, it's all about getting." Or the doctor a few weeks ago, "I just don't like having to answer questions about those people with my 11 year old."

I'm just really not clear on how any of these are hard conversations. Just be straightforward with your kids, right? With an age-appropriate level of detail. What the hell's the problem? I'm sure this all comes back to whether or not God is scary.

Anyway, whenever I'm judgmental in a post, I come to regret it because everyone loves to take down the judgmental person. So maybe this coda will offer some double-reverse-psychology-protection. Or maybe I should just affirm twice as emphatically that they were being stupid.


 

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ATM: compositional cop-out edition

Posted by Ben
on 10.27.10

In the past I have expressed my disapproval of web sites, blogs even, which publish the IM conversations of one or more of the authors. How lazy they are! And not nearly as amusing or insightful as they take themselves to be. I, however, am exactly as amusing and insightful as I take myself to be, and so when I publish an IM log (as I do in this very post, click "read more" to verify this for yourself) it's ok. It concerns a quandary in which a Blog Correspondent has found himself, to which he has given the provisional title "It's only because I'm a feminist that I know what's good for you".'

Incidentally—and unrelated to anything else to do with this post—if you want to feel superior to an idiot, read this.

Let me first of all make clear that the Roxy Music link is my work.

x. trapnel: I was going to actually write it out in paragraphs, etc, but since you're here, i'll just kick it becks-style
x. trapnel: ok?
ben: go for it
x. trapnel: So. About, oh, 8 months ago, I met a woman at a dance hall, and we danced, and there were drunken texts, and that led to further meetings and sex.
ben: a dance hall?
ben: there are such things?
ben: (proceed)
x. trapnel: Very early on, I made a full disclosure about my inability to play a 'boyfriend' role: only in the country for probably another 6 months, not ready for a relationship, fundamentally against monogamy, really not ready for a relationship.
x. trapnel: A 'disco', other europeans would say. A club.
ben: ah so
x. trapnel: Her response was, basically, 'Well, who knows what the future will bring? Let's just see what happens!'
ben: HM
ben: you seem to have known what it will bring.
x. trapnel: This interpretation, and the interaction at issue, somewhat questionable due to language problems.
x. trapnel: Her english being only a little better than my deutsch.
ben: ah
x. trapnel: Yes. I believe I added, as a conscience salve, a further interjection of, "no, really, I'm leaving in September, and I'm really, really not up for a relationship."
x. trapnel: BUT, whether or not that's a figment of my self-justifying memory, the point is... then 8 months go by, and I decide to stay another year.
ben: uhhuh
x. trapnel: And ... ok. The bottom line: I don't find her all that attractive. That's not a huge thing, but then: I also don't find her very interesting. I mean. She just IMd me about having watched an entire season of 'King of Queens.' She's probably only with me because she's obsessed with NYC, an obsession largely due to Sex and the City.
x. trapnel: It's not just that we've never had what I'd deem a substantive conversation, it's that I can't really see us ever having one.
ben: the "I'm a feminist" angle is getting clearer and clearer here
x. trapnel: So now: what to do? Because it seems like she's clearly falling for me, if she isn't already fully 'in love.'
x. trapnel: And I acknowledge that there's a certain degree of, oh, adverse possession, involved in relationship-status.
x. trapnel: So, after 8 months, with me having decided to stay in the area, I at least owe a 'redefine the relationship'.
ben: agreed.
x. trapnel: But! Here's where the feminist paternalism comes in.
ben: "maternalism"
x. trapnel: If I just repeat the same warning: 'Look. I'm not up for a relationship, we can be friends who fuck, but that's it,' she will almost certainly say, 'Well, ok, let's just see what happens.'
x. trapnel: OTOH, if I send her a transcript of this chat, that's just unnecessarily cruel.
ben: perhaps you should seek a more thorough trennung from this woman you don't even find that attractive.
ben: right, if only there were some middle path.
x. trapnel: Well, so, the opinion of those I've asked seems to go to, "Just break up with her, dude."
ben: that does seem like the right course of action
ben: besides, apparently, all you have to do is go to another cotillion and be set
x. trapnel: But isn't that, I dunno, being a bit paternalistic? What if she'd prefer sex and watching movies to nothing?
x. trapnel: ANYWAY
x. trapnel: I mean, objectively, there's an obviously right answer: break up with her, douche.
ben: are you really all that concerned that your breaking up with her would be objectionably paternalistic, since she might really (despite signs to the contrary) just be warm for your form?
x. trapnel: No, not exactly. I mean. I'm looking for excuses to not do The Right Thing. BUT, when I think, 'why is that The Right Thing?', I then start wondering if I'm being excessively paternalistic.
x. trapnel: I mean - I don't think there's any question what I ought to do, but my reasons seem suspect somehow
x. trapnel: gah.
ben: over the counter! it's not paternalistic to decline to continue providing apparent confirmation for someone's in fact false belief, anymore than it's paternalistic not to outright lie to someone
ben: your concern, surely, is that she'll interpret a less-than-right action of hers as in fact holding open a door for something you don't want but she does
x. trapnel: Hmmm.
x. trapnel: Right.
ben: you know the lay of the land better than she does and it's borderline churlish to say, well, she'll just have to find that out for herself---I can't make that mistake for her (or prevent her from making it)


 

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Speaking of states

Posted by Stanley
on 10.27.10

Via Here and Now, an interesting state-by-state map and partial breakdown of 2010 ballot initiatives.

I think have to rejigger my mental stereotype of Washington state, which I had filed away as "rainy hippie place with good coffee". Not so! From the second link:

This initiative comes at the tax and revenue problem from the opposite direction: it would impose a new tax on incomes of more than $200,000 for individual filers in Washington, and above $400,000 for joint filers. The revenue gained from this new income tax would offset cuts in the state property tax and business and occupation tax, and direct any additional revenue to health and education programs. Washington does not currently have an income tax.

And, according to the lovely people on the radio, it's polling at 51% against, 42% in favor. Hippies these days....


 

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On the other hand, the border guards in Indiana might be very nice.

Posted by Stanley
on 10.27.10

I'm perpetually confused by "states-rights" arguments when they come from places not formerly part of the 1860s Traitors' Club. Say, for instance, Alaska:

[Alaska GOP Senate Nominee Joe] Miller wouldn't comment on the anti-gay Christian activist he paid as a campaign consultant, but when Maddow asked if being gay is a choice, he replied: "I think that's up to the individual. The individual has to make that decision."

Maddow asked him to clarify which choice he meant: "About whether or not they're gay, or about whether or not they believe that?"

Miller took a long pause, and said: "You know, I'm not going to intrude upon an individual's decision as to what he or she does. The fact of the matter is, it's a state issue." [My emphasis]

Setting aside the proximate issue of "OMG Teh Ghey" for a second, and assuming that people who go all in for the Whirly-Eyed Tenth Amendment Party are being serious: what would their ideal outcome actually look like?

I'm envisioning a totally dysfunctional patchwork of fiefdoms (even more so than the current set up—hey-oh!), but maybe I'm missing something.

I do struggle to picture Yay-Tenth-Amendment Alaska with, uh, wait, what are they called again? Ah, right. Roads.


 

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Void Where Prohibited

Posted by Stanley
on 10.26.10

I don't have anything to report, except a mildly embarrassing and maybe sort-of-gross personal anecdote. And I'm sure few if any of you have any interest in the prurient, so I'll just go and tuck it right under here.

Okay, first, you're a total perv. Congratulations. But actually it's not all that bad.

So, anyway, I awoke this morning with an unrelenting need to pee. Like, bad, you know? So, I stumble out groggily to find the house's single bathroom occupied by my housemate taking a shower.

Now, under normal circumstances, I simply would have knocked, explained the exigent nature of my condition, and requested permission to do my thing. But these were not normal circumstances. I wasn't thinking very clearly, and the pee was getting all, "I'M HAPPENING, LIKE, NOW, MOTHERFUCKER!"

Outside. I'll go outside, I thought. (I had actually done this once before. Run to the back corner of the yard and hope the neighbors don't see me.)

Now outside: mission abort! Neighbors on both sides are out in their respective yards, leaving no blind spot in which I can dispatch the cargo. Dear god.

Panic. Back inside. Housemate still in shower? Yes. Fuck.

Wait. What's that? Gatorade bottle? Whose is it? Fuck it. Whatever. It's empty.

Relief. And back to bed for a bit.


 

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Pop quiz

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.26.10

Before reading the comments or post, submit what you consider to be the four most mainstream, common bagel flavors.

At the conference this weekend, breakfast was catered by Einstein bagels. They provided the following selection: blueberry, cranberry, cinnamon raisin, and plain. This is the exact selection available at our grocery store, too. I'm not a particularly picky bagel eater, and I don't go in for inventing red state/blue state distinctions all over the place, but I'm starting to think that Texas is run by a bunch of goyim.

I just really want a good pumpernickel bagel. Is that too much to ask?


 

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Old news, but still.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.25.10

I remember Becks posting that her brother ran up something like 5000 text messages in a month. We all know the kids text a lot. But it's still hard to fathom. The average number of text messages sent or received by kids under 18 is 2779 messages per month.

The average. The average kid is sending an average of about 90 messages a day. Which is only 5 messages an hour, but that's every single waking hour of your entire month. How do the kids on the high end of the distribution function?!


 

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Times Change

Posted by LizardBreath
on 10.25.10

Ta-Nehisi Coates had an interesting post last week on having grown up in the sort of culture where hitting someone was an ordinary thing to do. Coates was at the Democratic convention in '08, and some guy was being a persistent jerk about something he had written; eventually, after verbally bickering with him for a while, Coates told him to back off, implicitly threatening and sincerely intending to start a physical fight if he didn't. And looking back at the incident, he realized that this was a really, really bad idea. While being willing to get physically violent with someone who was being interpersonally unpleasant was a cultural norm where he grew up, and he had to grow up abiding by it to stay safe, it's not a cultural norm among 'the sort of person who's likely to end up writing for the Atlantic', and he could have gotten himself in a whole lot of very important trouble by getting violent when upper-middle-class professional culture doesn't allow it (which is pretty much any time it wouldn't legally constitute self-defense).

Coates' point is about how hard code-switching can be for someone who grows up with one set of rules, which are functional in context, and moves to a culture with another set of rules, and how someone can damage themselves by sticking to their old rules. What struck me (which is less important) is how randomly these kinds of rules can change. I grew up firmly in "No one hits anyone ever" culture: I don't think there was a fight in my high school in the six years I was there (a kid broke his ankle when he threw a pretend martial arts kick at another kid, and the other kid blocked it and made the kicker land wrong, but that doesn't really count.) Other than in my years in the Peace Corps, I've still never seen anyone either hit anyone else, or seriously threaten to (barring childhood intersibling violence).

But the norm Coates describes: that if someone is disrespectful/a jerk to you, an ordinary thing to do is hit them, doesn't sound all that weird to me, and Coates' behavior in the incident he talks about doesn't sound all that deviant, because the no-one-hits-anyone-ever norm is (as far as I understand it) only a couple of decades old among middle-class white people, and I've had a lot of exposure to prior norms that would make Coates' conduct sound pretty normal.

My father, telling stories about going out at night as a late-teen/early twenties middle-class Queens kid around 1960, talked about strategies for not having to get into fights (hanging around with a full baseball team of large athletic guys who also didn't want to get into fights apparently worked fairly well.) No one I know around my age, on the other hand, ever worried about getting into fights -- maybe about being crime victims, but not about getting into fights. And books and movies about the same time period suggest that punching each other was something that fairly ordinary functional men did from time to time. It was probably a norm that was easier to opt out of for someone who didn't enjoy that kind of thing than it would have been for a kid growing up in Coates' childhood neighborhood, but violence wasn't impressively deviant. And this without the poverty and social pressures that Coates uses as an explanation for the violent norms of his upbringing.

I don't have a big conclusion here. But if you haven't read Coates' post (and a couple of followups), you should click through, and read the discussion in the comments as well. Interesting stuff.


 

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Drama in under ten seconds

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.24.10

One of the first places I drove by myself after getting my license was over to a friend's house to watch movies. I left around midnight. On my way home I passed in front of the mall, where traffic used to be busy, so I was all alone in the middle of a six lane road. While I waited at a stoplight, two cops pulled up, one on either side of me.

I wouldn't say I was nervous, because I wasn't doing anything wrong, but I was hyper-alert. Maybe a teeny bit nervous. The red light dragged on.

Then it turned yellow. Really, a wave of cold washed over me. It was like the laws of physics had been suspended. The light can turn from red to yellow? What the hell am I allowed to do when the light goes backwards? For a very long, panicked second I sat there. It was just red and now it's yellow. What does that even mean?

Then it turned off. My stomach dropped all over again. I looked from side to side at the cops to see if they were freaking out, too. They weren't worried.

Then it turned yellow again, and then off, and then yellow, and we all realized that it was precisely midnight and the automatic blinking yellow had begun, and we each drove on.


 

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