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Internet Rant Possibly Overstated!

Internet Rant Possibly Overstated! -

Last Build Date: Thu, 26 Jan 2012 22:01:53 GMT

Copyright: NOINDEX

Thu, 26 Jan 2012 22:01:53 GMT

Just a comment for the increasingly small handful of people for whom this is the only means of contact with me:

It is January 26, 2012. Until I went in for a specific reason this afternoon, I had not looked at nor touched my personal web site since mid-November of last year. I also have not read LiveJournal anything close to regularly since mid-November of last year, and not at all since about the first week in December. I doubt I will be back. I miss the handful of you who are still carrying on here terribly, but not enough collectively to justify spending some of my (limited) time and (extremely limited) personal energy keeping up with the place.

If you need to reach me, the one place I check all day, every day - basically, almost constantly during my waking hours - is Twitter, at least until that goes down the tubes too. And I try to check personal email at least every other day.

Keep well.

Mon, 26 Oct 2009 00:14:05 GMT

Regular readers of the RSS feed for my journal entries (irregular readers should consider eating more fiber) are hereby informed that the RSS feed has been broken, through fault which is entirely LiveJournal's, for about four days. Actually, in the last month it seems to have been broken more often than not. This is the level of reliability and customer service I have come to expect from LiveJournal, which is but one of many reasons I am no longer on LiveJournal.

I'm going to stop noting when the RSS feed is broken, because frankly I no longer have any expectations of its reliability whatsoever. Just remember: If you don't see any notices, that doesn't mean I haven't written anything. Even when it IS working, its "every hour" feed interval is largely mythological.

I miss those of you who didn't come find me in the new place, and I hope you will come see me one day.

Administrative Note

Wed, 16 Sep 2009 14:44:16 GMT

People who have (image) columbina_rss in their regular LJ reading should note that, as far as I can tell, NO RSS-based LJ feeds have been working at all for some three days now.

That is all.

Public Announcement

Mon, 08 Jun 2009 02:33:03 GMT

Contains collected archives of some twelve years' worth of fiction, non-fiction, journal entries, and miscellaneous cruft, together in one place for the first time since - never.

OK, not entirely in one place, but that's because I'm not done yet. Most of the journal archives are missing and are being reincorporated slowly, but new entries are being posted over there. (This is the last thing I am going to post in this space.) Almost all of the non-journal writing is there, except for one major project which will be the last thing to move, because it's gonna be hell.

Viewing everything but the journal is completely open to the public. Viewing the journal is only a little harder - you just have to request a login. There's a form for this on the site. Use that, not email.

Logins will be given to almost all askers, assuming you can behave yourself. (There's a delay between your requesting and my replying, because I approve and add them by hand, usually in the evenings, so don't panic if you don't hear from me immediately.)

I've delayed announcing this in an unlocked entry because I felt it wasn't quite together enough to be ready for that, but it's as together as it's going to get, short of the missing pieces.

Do come on by, won't you?


Wed, 13 May 2009 14:43:20 GMT

In case you hadn't deduced from the silence, this journal's going essentially silent until I move off LJ onto a different system. Short answer: there's no good excuse for me to pay for my own site and not use it; it's time to use it again.

If you'd like to follow interim activity, I'm really putting a lot of interest into my Flickr account lately, and most of it (except, as ever, pictures of people and pictures of my workplace) is unlocked to all. (I also changed the default safety settings a while back, so it no longer prevents you from seeing photos without a login.) I've started a "one a day" set there, so there should be at least one new picture a day for the medium-term future.

A Short History of Klingon

Fri, 08 May 2009 16:07:52 GMT

I can't believe I'm linking this, first off because it is in the odious Slate and second because it concerns a subset of geeks I dislike a great deal amid a subset of geeks I dislike a fair amount. (Got that? It's like the least favorite flea on the least favorite dog.)However, while I may dislike Star Trek geeks, and the Klingon enthusiasts most of all among those, I love languages, the formation of languages, the study of languages, and I am especially fond of tales of the creation and syntax of fake languages, from Quenya to Esperanto.*So long as you don't actually try to use them.Anyway, so, putting aside what it says of the psychology of people who would actually try to write or speak Klingon for any sort of actual communication in the real world, the language itself is fascinating. Turns out it is complicated and difficult:Most people are familiar with the idea that verb endings can indicate person and number. [...] But Klingon uses prefixes rather than suffixes, and instead of having six or seven of them, like most romance languages, it has 29. There are so many because they indicate not only the person and number of the subject (who is doing) but also of the object (whom it is being done to).[...]As if that weren't complicated enough, Klingon also has a large set of suffixes. [...] Klingon has 36 verb suffixes and 26 noun suffixes that express everything from negation to causality to possession to how willing a speaker is to vouch for the accuracy of what he says.This makes Klingon ("tlhIngan Hol" to you), among other things, an agglutinating language of the first water, right up there with "blue Russian" dialects and some of the more long-winded German constructions.It's great fun to contemplate and analyze. But it's still stupid to try to really learn it, much less actually speak it.*** I realize that by saying that I am pissing off the Esperantians, who tend to only come in one flavor - rabid - but I stand by my statement. I do not draw the mushmouthed political distinctions Wikipedia does between a "constructed" language and a fictional language, much less further hair-splitting such as "planned language" and so on. Either a language evolved from actual use by actual humans or it was constructed by a human artificially. Bloodline counts here. If it hasn't come into being by actual evolution through human history, then it's a fake.("Some speakers of Esperanto and Ido also avoid the term 'artificial language' because they deny that there is anything 'unnatural' about the use of their language in human communication." - HAHAHAHAHAHA - whew, that felt good.)And yes, that does mean I feel trying to get people to communicate in Esperanto is just as foolish an endeavour as trying to get them to communicate in Quenya. The one has no more pedigree than the other. (Actually, Tolkien's languages are probably better-constructed, as one would expect when comparing the work of a professional linguist to that of an opthalmologist who was more interested in an ideology than practicality.) ** When I was younger, and more foolish about how I wasted my time***, I spent a lot of time with ciphers, codes, and synthetic languages. To me they are indistinguishable - no matter which name you use, you are making a system for communicating information which only a few people will be able to understand. I got very good at this. Eventually I realized I was doing a card trick in the dark. Now I no longer make codes or ciphers, because the ones which are sufficiently complex to be interesting to make are too complex for anyone else to enjoy breaking, and I don't make any other form of synthetic communication, because they have no practical purpose whatsoever unless you're CIA (at least ciphers etc can be justified as puzzles, if you can call that a justification).The only difference between my young-adolescent self cackling over the idea that I could write a system no one else could understand, and speak[...]

A Bus Ticket and a Hamburger on the Way

Thu, 07 May 2009 21:43:14 GMT

I'm pretty sure that this Burk Murray who is also this Burk Murray is also the Burk Murray I was reminded of a while ago today and went to dig out of the internet. I'm pretty sure, but I can't tell for certain, because neither Facebook nor Twitter will let me dig any deeper into their social networks without registering for them, and there will be a need to increase the snowplow budget in Hell before that ever happens.

I only want social networking for other people, so I can exploit it. I don't want social networking for me. (I never claimed to be fair.) I don't want to be findable. One reason I am moving back off LJ - yeah, yeah, I know it's slow, I'm busy, but it is happening - is so that I can reorganize my site so that all the good parts which I want to keep public can still be public, but less strongly connected to me. I'm not interested in any part of the real world being able to find me, unless I invite it.

Fortunately, LJ is such a backwater to the rest of the internet (one of the other reasons I'm leaving it - no one takes it seriously except people who are already here), that I can mention Burk by name and never have to worry about him connecting the dots, because he will never read this.

I can't find out about him and he won't find out about me. Nothing whatsoever is accomplished. The system works!

(Okay, I'm not being entirely serious. I don't mind someone like Burk finding me. If he did read this, and wrote me, "Hey, who the heck are you," I'd tell him. But there are plenty of other people from my past whom I really would rather not have finding me. Some of them are perfectly nice people, it's just that I have Officially Expunged all parts of my life from before, say, 1989, and I mostly don't want to reconnect with those parts.

And then there are employers, future employers, past employers, and people who just like to make trouble. You may not think you know anyone who'd love to drop a dime on you to ruin your life out of sheer malice. You're wrong. Everybody knows at least one. Some know many.)

If Burk ever reads this, he and I will both know if he's the real Burk. I have left clues.

Thu, 07 May 2009 19:56:00 GMT

Today is not going so well. Yesterday didn't go too well either.

Rather than rant about that, five pictures taken for the testing of Kawaii Very Smart Good Camera of Japan Friendship, starting here.

ETA: I have added a photo. It comes with a scavenger hunt.

Wed, 06 May 2009 19:50:51 GMT

Now this is the way to teach.

The unprintable Justice Scalia says, "I don't see why we need more online privacy protections."

A Fordham law professor says to his students, "OK, everybody see what you can find out about Scalia's personal life on the web and we'll make a dossier."

The class

turned in a 15-page dossier that included not only Scalia's home address, home phone number and home value, but his food and movie preferences, his wife's personal e-mail address and photos of his grandchildren.

The students presumably got the point.

Scalia, predictably, did not.

The Entries Will Continue Until Morale Improves

Wed, 06 May 2009 19:29:36 GMT

This is the best thing evar.

Unless, of course, you are one of those poor sad souls who doesn't like Muppets. Or Janis.


Wed, 06 May 2009 19:02:04 GMT

Originally uploaded by eccentricflower.
With any luck this will be the last time I go to my phone tools with a sense of excitement, and then dejectedly find that my phone has taken, not the photo I hoped to get, but a washed-out, blue-gray version of the actual event.

Concerning Turkey Eggs

Wed, 06 May 2009 18:27:38 GMT

When we were up at world-renowned Mack Hill Farm the other weekend, and took home some goose eggs and some duck eggs, we wondered about the turkeys. One does not, it seems, often encounter turkey eggs intended for consumption. This is probably [(image) nonelvis and I theorized] because turkeys are worth more as meat critters, so most turkey eggs are intended to hatch. (I also assume they produce few enough eggs that you don't usually have a surplus for eating.)

Here's some minor insight on the matter from Bill and Nicolette Niman (of Niman Ranch fame).

Confidential to (image) lisanh: Given that your farm's unofficial motto is "If we didn't find out how to do it on the internet, we read it in a book," isn't it a little reassuring to hear that the Nimans admit to being new at this whole turkey business?

P.S. Recipe Tips confirms our theory, and notes that turkey eggs are considerably higher than chicken eggs in cholesterol. However, turkeys were apparently common enough in Aztec times that several sources report that they consumed the eggs as well as the meat on a regular basis.

Wed, 06 May 2009 15:28:37 GMT

This story (via Scalzi) is about the most tragic thing I have read yet this week.

Centuries from now, however, anthropologists will look back on this experiment in human suffering and note some significant breakthroughs.

Daniel Romero read a book for the first time this year.

Lopez actually communicated with an uncle during a rare conversation about swine flu, politics and history.

Jenny Corona connected with her autistic brother, and, to her utter amazement, read an entire Harry Potter book in four days.

Without her headphones blocking out the real world, Flor Salvador heard strange chirping sounds.

"I didn't know we had birds!" she wrote in her journal.

Meyer, who might have had ulterior motives all along, said she found that the quality of her students' homework vastly improved.

Wed, 06 May 2009 15:01:54 GMT

The Globe ran an article today about Connie Culp, the woman who got a face transplant, but they only showed the "after" photos. Now, I must confess, seeing the "after" photo I thought, "Wow, people would stare at this woman - and not in a good way - the way she looks NOW; what must the 'before' pictures look like?"

Well, several sources online have the "before" pictures, and I need to warn you, you might not want to look at them when you're eating or just before bedtime.


Sometimes it's all about perspective, eh?

Also, I realize this is crude, but in the interest of absolute honesty and disclosure, after I read this quote -

Culp's husband, Thomas, shot her in 2004, then turned the gun on himself. He went to prison for seven years.

- I confess my thought was: He had a shotgun. He shot her in the face from eight feet away and she lived - ok, plausible. He shot HIMSELF in the face - i.e. point-blank - and he apparently lived (with only minor scars, yet).

Either this man was VERY unclear on the shotgun concept or was VERY drunk.

Tue, 05 May 2009 19:22:17 GMT

When I began my long career as an animation and short-film aficionado, I learned a lesson early on: If you see the logo of the National Film Board of Canada at the beginning of a film, stick around. You have excellent odds of getting to see something good. In particular, their track record of picking wonderful little animated films is a nearly unbroken streak of goodness.

Of course you have seen award-winning shorts "The Cat Came Back" and "The Big Snit" (of course you have, right? What? You haven't? Well, remedy this immediately!), but today via a link under a picture of Lisa in her anti-blackfly gear, I found these two which you may not know about.

Both of them are based on songs by a gentleman named Wade Hemsworth, who wrote them many long years ago. Both have been expertly animated and spruced up with arrangements and vocals by the McGarrigle sisters (and if you don't know about them already, go look them up, you're missing out there too). The first one is hilarious; the second one is so pleasing to me personally that it nearly brought tears to my eyes. I don't know why it connects with me so well; I just know it does.


"Log-Driver's Waltz"

And, should you find yourself with time on your hands, wander around the NFB archives some day. You can just about fish in at random and find a hit every time.

Retconning the Retcon

Tue, 05 May 2009 18:01:41 GMT

I think in a way the biggest tribute you can give the comic strip "For Better or For Worse," despite the many ways it went so wrong and the number of people it pissed off, is that it pissed a lot of people off BECAUSE the characters were reasonably involving. I mean, if you get upset that Elizabeth is marrying the wrong guy, this implies that you are interested in Elizabeth's fictional life story to some degree, yes?There are plenty of comic strips that piss off people with their story decisions, but I think FBOFW is particularly fertile territory for three reasons:1. The strip's main character is an analogue for the real-life author, always has been, and this has never been a secret;2. The strip, toward the end of its original storyline especially, became a reflection on the author's neuroses and on the way she would have liked her life to be;3. The author is currently in the process of relentlessly retconning her own life via the means of the "restarted" comic strip. Things are happening in ways we KNOW - because some of us read them the first time - they didn't happen before. Reality is being remade, pravda-style.Here are three weblogs which have all devoted a fair bit of time to the idea of retconning the retcon - to retelling, or continuing, the story the way they think it should have happened had reality in the FBOFW universe not gone horribly wrong. To understand any of them, it's probably best to start at each of their beginnings.Foob's Paradise started out by reworking the Liz/Anthony wedding strips and ending up with Liz finally getting some sanity and calling off the wedding. Since then, it has continued intermittently with events that would have happened since then in that alternate reality. It is a thoughtful, talky script which has done what Johnston increasingly forgot to do - make her characters human. In particular, some characters which FBOFW painted as one-dimensional monsters (e.g. Mira, Therese) turn out to be much better people than Johnston's universe-through-Elly's-lens painted them. It's like, as someone once said, the rest of the story.Here's a strip that takes place when Liz, Therese, and Julia meet up and make peace about the man they all learned was a mistake. It's one of my favorites in the lot.Foob's Paradise reserves most of its venom for Anthony, the very self-centered Mike, and Elly - but tempers Elly by making her actually on the verge of mentally ill, and in therapy. Foob of Destiny is a lot harder on Elly, and on Liz. In the Foob of Destiny universe, Liz did marry Anthony, John leaves Elly, and one gets the impression the writer is enjoying leaving Elly stranded in order to make her repent. At one point recently the author thought about letting Elly have a breakthrough, but then said in a subsequent entry: "I'm going to abandon the idea of a rehabilitation of Elly -- I just can't muster up any enthusiasm for this project when every day a glimpse of the new-runs just makes me dislike the character more and more."FOOBAR is the eeriest and nastiest of the lot. This is the horror-movie approach: The rebooted strip is explained by Elly having found a way to actually rewrite reality. She has rolled back time, but it's imperfect; some of the characters remember their prior reality to one degree or another. Liz was getting married; now she's an infant again, and she's aware of the reality change, but can't do much about it because she can't talk - usually. Her age varies widely; one day she can walk, then she can't again. Meanwhile April and anyone else who arrived in the strip after the point in time it rebooted to are in an alternate reality, trying to figure out how to reverse Elly's may[...]

Old Forest (Mostly For Mel)

Tue, 05 May 2009 02:53:30 GMT

Mel and I seriously hit the Old Forest in Lord of the Rings Online tonight for the first time.

One of my characters is 10+ levels ahead of the two that we play together, and when SHE went through it the first time, she got so lost in the damned place that she made a map.

A couple of weeks ago I made a cleaner version of that map as an image, and then forgot I had done it. Until now.

(ETA: I have also posted several WoW screenshots I took a while back and forgot to upload, including the famous hatch in Bittertide Lake.)

Five Things Separated By Five Dashes

Mon, 04 May 2009 20:37:16 GMT

I bought a teeny tiny camera today. If reviews are correct, of which this is the most detailed of the lot, it seems to do everything I want in a camera. Oddly, raw picture quality is not that high up the list, not for what I use photos for (picture quality when they are only going to be displayed on a screen at 72 DPI is a bit of a red herring).I got it in black from Amazon and I threw in a memory card and a spare battery. Grand total: $225.[16:12] nonelvis: jesus, 10 megapixels for less than $250[16:12] columbina: we live in amazing times[16:12] nonelvis: why, when I was a lass, we had to beg for our megapixels[16:12] columbina: right there with you-----Meanwhile, in other news, the Globe management got really nasty in the game of chicken it has been playing with the unions. The unions blinked. Well, all but one of the unions blinked. The one that didn't blink is the one that has the editors and writers in it. They refuse to surrender the "lifetime employment guarantee" that 190 of their people got some years ago, and they believe the paper is just trying to intimidate them.[In other news, apparently the Globe still has at least 190 people in its combined editorial and advertising staff. Who knew? Some mornings these days the paper reads like it was edited by a child with a blunt crayon.]I am feeling some serious hate for this union right now. When they are all out of a job because the paper went bust, the fact that they and their obstreperous obstructionism was the thing that hastened the collapse will not be of any consolation to the rest of us, who will be deprived of our newspaper that much sooner due to their idiocy.Lifetime employment guarantees? There are people who can't find jobs to save their soul. There are people who are worried sick about losing theirs. What sort of hubris do you have to have, to assume you are entitled to a guarantee of lifetime employment in this day and age? I, too, wish we were back in the day when my grandfather could work happily for Exxon for forty years ... but I'm realistic enough to admit it's gone. Unlike the people who write for the Globe. This is the problem, right here.The critics are right: Too much of the newspaper industry refuses to wake up and realize it is not 1960.-----Speaking of the economy, especially if you live in Massachusetts, just remember: Could be worse. You could be in Rhode Island.-----The Economist's Lexington columnist has a piece this week you really should read in its entirety - it's about the fragmenting of the right and Arlen Specter.Mr Specter's decision is yet more proof that the once mighty Republican Party is in a perilous state—abandoning the middle ground of politics to the Democrats and retreating into an ideological and regional cocoon. A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll revealed that the proportion of Republicans had shrunk from 25% in late March to just 21% today, the party’s lowest figure for more than a quarter of a century. That compares with 35% for Democrats and 38% for independents. A recent Democracy Corps poll also shows that Mr Obama enjoys a 16-point advantage over the Republicans on the economy, a 24-point advantage on heath care and a 27-point advantage on energy policy.Even these dramatic numbers may understate how bad the situation is for the Republicans. The party is rapidly disappearing in whole swathes of America. The proportion of Republicans among 20-somethings has reached its lowest ebb since records began to be kept after the second world war. Just two and a bit years ago Pennsylvania had two Republican senators. Today it has none, and there are precious few[...]

Mon, 04 May 2009 15:16:41 GMT

One of the things that The Comics Curmudgeon has done for me (or to me, depending on whether I consider it a positive) is show me the hidden joys of some of these antique "soap opera" comic strips. (Some of these joys are EXCEEDINGLY hidden.) I've learned that the reason to love "Apartment 3-G" is because of the astonishingly self-centered Margo McGee, whose worldview is encapsulated in the final panel in this entry. One day I am going to take the Lichtensteined version of that panel and make it into wallpaper.

Similarly, while the title character in "Rex Morgan, MD" is a bore, the strip gets interesting whenever his wiseassed wife and evil genius child show up. I agree with Josh: Sarah is very clearly the smartest human in the entire Rex Morgan universe.

Sarah: Sometimes it's best to tell adults what you did ... after you do it.
Rex: I see. And what if you're wrong?
Sarah: I don't know ... it hasn't happened yet.

I'm sure one day the Curmudgeon will show me some secret entertainment in "Mary Worth" or "Judge Parker," and then I will truly be doomed.

A Public Service Announcement

Fri, 01 May 2009 13:40:45 GMT

Of some brilliance.

Thu, 30 Apr 2009 18:48:49 GMT

Once upon a time some brilliant soul came up with Twister bedsheets, but they are largely a mythological item. One photo that's widely circulated (of the Twister pattern printed on an actual fitted sheet) turns out to have been part of a Viagra ad. A UK company did apparently make Twister duvet covers for a time, but their site is MIA. My personal theory is that a nameless game company (let's call them Shilton Spradley) which was later bought by an even more nameless game company (let's call them Shmasbro) has absolutely no sense of humor and excessively tight anal sphincters, and sicced the proverbial Horde of Lawyers on them. But I can't prove that.

Meanwhile, here is the logical evolution of that concept: Karmasheetra.

(Blame Dan Lyke.)

Oh For God's Sake Everybody Calm Down

Thu, 30 Apr 2009 15:44:22 GMT

I will say this about the impending death of traditional news reporting: There are some things I won't miss. One of those is this apparent need to trump up hysteria, from the very people who have control of the megaphone and should therefore be telling people to keep calm and stay sane.Clearly if we are to find sanity we will have to check the new reporting, AKA, any halfwit with a weblog. Clearly the situation is bad when the halfwits, on the whole, have it more together than the MSM.Three from BoingBoing:Swine Flu Q & A from Maggie Koerth-Baker.(Please note: Koerth-Baker is not a halfwit. She is one of the best things to happen to BoingBoing ever and I hope they make her permanent. If you are looking for a good day utterly lost to fascinating reading, search for all posts by her.)Swine Influenza Update from a Nurse: Virus, Panic, Precautions, and End of the World Websites.Swine Flu Fun Facts from Maggie Koerth-BakerYou'll note I deliberately did NOT post Bruce Sterling's rant because - possibly for the only time in his lifetime - Sterling is wrong and dismissive and out of line.From Making Light:Swine Flu and Information Hygiene (AKA Rumor Control)Flu Redux (already linked in this journal, but I can't link Jim Macdonald enough)Here is the thing to remember: So far Mexico City is anomalous. Obviously, this could change, but right now the only place where otherwise healthy people are dropping dead has been there (and there haven't even been that many of those, not if you're thinking in pandemic numbers - of about 150 cases, last I heard, there were seven deaths). As of this morning there were 109 confirmed cases in the United States the CDC knew about (check for updates here), and only one of those resulted in death (and that was in Texas and may well have been a severe case that had already incubated over the border - I can't confirm). Everyone else in the US is responding to treatment and recovering well.Also, this appears to be a single-vector, known-source outbreak: We know where it came from, which means we know what to quarantine. (If you said you didn't want to travel to Mexico right now, that would be totally reasonable. I would not consider that overboard.)Yes, there is no effective vaccine for this. So what? In general the reason I do not get flu shots is that they always immunize against last year's flu strains. Flu strains evolve faster than we can develop vaccines for them; this is not news. Nor, to my mind, is it cause for panic.Yes, the WHO has raised their influenza pandemic alert level to phase 5 but that just means, "We consider this could be a real problem if we don't take steps to try to prevent it travelling around the globe," which I think is a true statement, and is also not cause for panic.Take precautions. Wash your damned hands. But don't panic.I think people WANT to panic about something right now. The economy is in the toilet, everyone's either out of work or worried about it, so let's find some other reason to run in circles and scream and shout. Well, just remember: Every time you go into a tailspin, Dick Cheney kills a puppy.P.S. For god's sake, do people really have to be told that there is absolutely no connection between swine flu transmission and eating pork? Apparently they do. I despair.[...]

Apparently They Don't Count?

Wed, 29 Apr 2009 21:26:19 GMT

Steve Benen on conservative writer Byron York's saying something really, really appalling.

I'm with Benen (and Andrew Sullivan and Dave Weigel and Matthew Yglesias): I simply cannot interpret York's statement in any way that is innocuous or accidental or forgivable. It's a flat-out, baldly racist remark, and the casual way it slipped into York's statement tells you something about the man's mindset.

Again, as Benen says: Unacceptable.

Google Calendar and Your Shaker of Salt

Wed, 29 Apr 2009 17:14:41 GMT

A rant about calendars, stupidity and Google, after the cut. Some folks will find it interesting, others not so much, and I'll try to keep it in easily parsed English so as not to exclude anyone.However, even if you skip the saga, if you like and use Google's tools (including GMail et al.), you may want to read the part after the break (- - - - -), which has some meta-comments you may find eye-opening.We have, as I have said before, a database-driven event calendar, which I maintain. In fact, I wrote it; when I took this job, the underlying data structure was reasonably sound but the code was not, so I essentially replaced it from scratch.The calendar has issues (lots of them), but most of them have to do with matters of uncertain spec and feature drift - i.e. each group of people has a set of things they want the calendar to do, sometimes mutually exclusive things, but none of the groups is able to articulate or define their needs very well, so the calendar becomes a sort of Thneed which does all things, but none of them well. This is a long-standing problem with software and is a rant for Another Day. Anyway, it works.This is our starting point: A calendar driven by an underlying database of events, accessed entirely through dynamic web pages. That last part is important: You have to go to our web site to view, edit, or create events. It's a decent system, but some people don't want to go to our web site - they want to know about events, but they want information about those events hand-fed to them in the preferred format of their choice. Some would say this means they are lazy, or stubborn about their habits. Not me, no, I wouldn't say that, because I wouldn't want to insult my users.Nor does it matter: If no one is seeing the events (even if it's just because they won't go look), the calendar is not doing its job. So I have a mandate to accommodate people's preferred formats, within reason.We already hand out calendar information to certain other applications, by translating it into XML-style markup and putting that data in a file with a known name where those programs can grab it at periodic intervals. This is probably known to you by the generic label "RSS." RSS is kind of a non-technology and I don't like the buzzword. I think of it as a periodic XML export. If you prefer to call that a "feed," that's okay too.In fact - read closely here now, because this is important - because I like adaptability, I have written a generic exporter/feeder. It is essentially a search engine for the calendar which outputs information into one of any number of formats of your choice. You can say to it things like "Show me all events of the "Lecture" type occurring this week which are open to the public, and, oh, let's have that as XML" and, poof, it will generate a file of those events in XML format. Since the formats for output are templates, if we decide we want to output new format Q, then we just make a template that shows how to write format Q and we're ready.That's the history. Now to the issue which arose a few days ago.In a meeting, it developed that what the largest group of our users were using - despite our going to some trouble to send calendar information into a portal for that specific group - was Google Calendar. Some of this is because we make them use GMail now (and that's another long story), and they just naturally wandered into other Google tools while they were there. Some of it is because they a[...]

Tue, 28 Apr 2009 19:54:41 GMT

Arlen Specter jumps ship.

In related news, in the latest Washington Post poll, only 21 percent of respondents identify as Republican. This is the lowest percentage of people so self-identifying since 1983. Up: people identifying as independent.

This was prophecied, and I was not the only person to prophecy it. Next: a split among Democrats, probably before the end of Obama's term. Eventually we will be a nation with a 20% uncompromising far-right party, a 20% uncompromising left-center party (there will never be an actual far-left party in America), and a whole lot of people who don't really feel very strongly about the matter in the middle.