Soda versus Pop

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2004/07/01/soda-versus-pop/

This is the most fascinating map I’ve seen in a very long time:
Generic Names for Soft Drinks by County

Thanks for the tip, Declan!

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Happy 228, USA!

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2004/07/02/happy-228-usa/

An anecdote from http://wordsmith.org/words/anacreontic.html:

The US national anthem ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ is set to the tune of the English song ‘To Anacreon in Heaven’ which was the ‘constitutional song’ of the Anacreontic Society, a gentlemen’s music club in London.

It is worth subscribing to A.Word.A.Day to expand your mind with stuff like this.


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Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2004/07/03/yeehaw/

We got ourselves a new piece of software. This WordPress stuff seems pretty darned not-broken, which is good. But after a long nite of playing with HTML and tweaking parsers to generate meta-data appropriately, it is time to get some sleep. Got a wedding to attend tomorrow …

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Boom Boom Boom Boom

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2004/07/04/boom-boom-boom-boom/

Well, the family just left, and Yayoi is down at Navy Pier with Brian and his sisters to watch the fireworks. So, I have the place to myself. Time to check out this new software.

Yesterday I had to Google for “how to tie a tie” and I found that the third hit returned was the best one. So, I mention it here in the hope that this page will get a better placement. We went off to Li Chun’s wedding, in Chinatown. It was a spectacular affair. About 80% of the thing was in Cantonese, with some translation into English. The wedding banquet was a twelve course meal, give or take, of top-notch Chinese food. If you want to hear see what a Chinese wedding banquet is like then you need to procure yourself a copy of Ang Lee’s “The Wedding Banquet” which would give you a fair idea of what ours was like. It is a culture that knows how to have fun. The groom speaks Mandarin and the bride’s family speaks Cantonese. (These are two dialects of “Chinese” which has a common written language, but sounds completely different in different parts of the country. You can’t understand folk from Naw’lins or Scotland? Same thing, but with an extra few millenia of history …) So, as part of the amusement had at the expense of the wedded couple, the groom had to recite wedding vows in Cantonese. I know that this was a very funny ordeal, because I was laughing. And I wasn’t laughing because I understood what he was saying, but because everyone else was laughing, and whether we all spoke the same language or not, we all understood that the guy was happy to have everyone laughing at his expense because at the end of the night, he got to go off with the bride.


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Tranquil Baghdad?

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2004/07/05/tranquil-baghdad/

Last night, while trying to get some sleep, past midnight, bangbangbang a constant sound in our neighborhood, I bragged to Yayoi about how spectacular the fireworks were in our own neighborhood. boom boom bang bang boom boom kids setting stuff off in the streets, and prettier stuff going off overhead. The best stuff was behind Wells High School, where they were shooting off very pretty lights into the sky, that were accompanied by very loud explosions – M80 at least. Walking down my own street at one point I had to turn back and run away from a roman candle that had fallen over and was shotting sparks toward me.

“I hope that Baghdad is quieter than Chicago tonight.”

Yayoi agreed to that.

I look forward to when those 130,000 soldiers can peel off their sweaty body armor and enjoy July 4th at home. Back home, we know how to party. It was all I could do to drag myself from slumber this morning to stumble in to work, where I’m spending the day on my own projects, while answering what ought to be highly infrequent calls from customers requesting server reboots, which I relay to the Datacenter Technician.

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Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2004/07/06/metabolisms/

You know that feeling after a long weekend where you’re too full of food and relaxation to bust your butt doing work?

I’ve had that feeling all day. Half hour ’til I can go home, relax, and hop on the bike with Yayoi and we can get our metabolisms back.

I started writing metabolia, but the only hit returned by the dictionary was:

0-12:30 djh@ratchet ~> dict metabolia
1 definition found
From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) [web1913]:
  Metabola Me*tab"o*la, Metabolia Met`a*bo"li*a, n. pl. [NL.
     See 1st {Metabola}.] (Zo["o]l.)
     A comprehensive group of insects, including those that
     undegro a metamorphosis.

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Technical, Technology

My Favorite Mozilla Firefox Extensions

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2004/07/07/wired-news-building-a-better-mozilla/

I really really enjoy using Firefox as a web browser. It is a stripped-down, development version of Mozilla, which is what Netscape became. Among the best features of this web browser are tabbed browsing, where you can keep several navigation panes in one window, and click among them by selecting them via tabs at the top of the window. The browser also tends to do a better job at standards compliance than MSIE.

Firefox also has a plug-ins architecture so programmers can add features to the basic web browser, and share them with users who might enjoy those features. I just reviewed an article from Wired News that talks about some of the more popular plug-ins. From reading this article, I have now got BugMeNot and Dictionary Search installed here at work.

Other plug-ins which I use and love:

Tabbrowser Extensions
Gives you more flexibility in managing tabs. With this plug-in, I can middle-click links into new tabs, force web sites that open new windows on me to put those windows into tabs, and configure Firefox to save and reload tab sessions when I exit and re-start the browser. Tabs means fewer windows all over the desktop, and saved tab sessions means I can pick up where I left off with all my web browsing without leaving the computer running at night.
You know how pleasing it is to put commercials on mute, or better yet, fast-forward them with the TiVo? Well, the web works the same way. The basic Firefox already has an option to block images by right-clicking on them. With Adblock, you can right-click on an annoying image, and you get a little window asking you to edit the URL, so you can put a * on the filename, and block all ads that match a particular pattern. Some folks just adblock stuff like */ads/* but I only turn ads off when they annoy me. The slickest part might be that you can block stuff like shockwave animations, which normally give you a shockwave menu when right-clicked.

I think I should also give a shout out to Moji, which will someday help me learn Japanese. With the click of a button, you can get a web page set up so that you can hover over words and get their English or Japanese translation. Yayoi was impressed when I showed her.

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Technical, Technology, WordPress

WordPress – First Impressions

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2004/07/07/wordpress-first-impressions/

I recently installed WordPress, mostly out of curiosity. My web site has evolved over many years from static files, to using stylesheets, and some lightly-templated formatting to facilitate the creation of an RSS feed. While I have maintained a “log” for a few years now, I’ve always been wary of the whole self-important, vapid, “blogging” stuff.

Well, I saw Keith Garner using it, and I liked the idea that it was a rewrite of some previous software, and had a plug-in architecture, so I thought I would try it out. The install was easy enough, and then I got hooked in to the possibility of importing my data from into via an RSS file. There was some wrestling involved to hack the migration script to eat my raw HTML, and a bit more to get my scraping script adapted to output the appropriate HTML via RSS, but lo and behold, everything made it in.

And I got to tweak the look and feel a great deal with the stylesheet, and by editing the index.php directly. It has all the bells and whistles. Like, comments, which I’ve never had before, but a few people have asked for. And then all this gay backtrack stuff and pingback and backflip and blogflop and whatever. Okay, it promised to be easy to install and support all the silly jargon that I don’t care about, personally. Yay.

And for the most part, it has been comfortable. I get to put things in categories. The categories can be organized hierarchically, but any given item can have more than one category. I can maintain a list of links that can be displayed in the side menu bar. No really serious god-awful, show-stopping bugs …


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Good Reads, Technology

The New York Times > Microsoft on the Trail of Google

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2004/07/08/msn-imitates-google/

I must recommend this New York Times article about Microsoft’s attempt to develop a Google-class search engine. It pokes fun at Microsoft with dry wit. Some highlights:

The new look consists of an empty white screen that loads blissfully quickly, even over dial-up connections, and an empty, neatly centered text box where you’re supposed to type in what you’re looking for. The search page is ad-free and, except for the MSN logo, even devoid of graphics. (On July 4, however, MSN added a waving-flag graphic, an imitation of the way Google’s witty artists dress up its own logo on holidays.) In short, MSN Search couldn’t look more like Google if you photocopied it.

Unfortunately, Microsoft calls the separation of advertising an experiment, not a permanent change in policy. It seems to be trying on honesty in the mirror to see if people will find it attractive, rather than realizing that running a principled business is the way to win customers’ trust.

If you read the whole thing through, you’ll discover that Microsoft has a long way to go to achieve its search-engine dominancy.

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Good Reads

ginmar: Market day

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2004/07/09/ginmar-market-day/

Another awesome post from ginmar, serving in Iraq. This time, reflections on the concept of wealth, and some hopeful news:

There’s a noticeable difference in the police, in the Iraqi National Guard, in the people on the street. People are noticeably more effusive now; waving enthusiastically, blowing kisses. The biggest difference is in the police and the Iraqi National Guard … the ING is doing things I wouldn’t have imagined being possible, after the past four months. I saw them abandon their posts, and I could understand it, because they’re still poorly-armed, and they don’t have body armor. Some of them are still unarmed. But it sure makes a difference when it’s their own country they’re fighting for, and it shows. Before, the Mahdi Army would attack police stations and the police would run after token resistance. Now they’re fighting back and standing their ground.

There is plenty of dreary truth to temper this optimism — notably, crushing poverty — which ginmar has seen before in Russia, and the fact that the enemy targets civilians. That latter dark cloud seems to indicate a silver lining:

More and more, it’s civilians that the Sadrs and the Zarcawis are aiming at, and civilians don’t have body armor or helmets. Every soldier who dies here is accompanied in death by civilians who were deliberately targeted by either religious fanatics or cold-blooded opportunists who aren’t even Iraqi. And now the Iraqis are taking matters into their own hands.

But where’s the heavy-duty reconstruction? The roads, the bridges, the electricity, the jobs and ultimately the economic stability that helps a newly democratic government survive? She cites Abraham Lincoln in her conclusion, which makes me wonder if Iraq will be more like post-war Georgia and Alabama than post-war Germany and Japan. (Lincoln wanted to spend a great deal on reconstruction, to “bind the nation together” again, but this ambition died with his assassination.)

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Letters to The Man

Dear Washington Mutual

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2004/07/09/washington-mutual/

I received a $4 check from Washington Mutual, which upon deposit would enroll me in some crazy program with undisclosed fees. I crossed out all the stuff on the back of the check about “By endorsing and depositing this check with Washington Mutual …”

I am depositing this check at my friendly local Washington Mutual ATM, with the following letter. We’ll see what happens.

Dear Washington Mutual,

As a consumer, I have a lot of choices as to where I do my personal
banking. I chose to do my banking with Washington Mutual because you
don’t charge other folks to use your ATMs. I think that is a righteous
policy, and all banks should operate this way.

I recently received the enclosed check for $4.00, which would enroll me
in some program I know nothing about. The check arrived from your
company with no descriptions of the fees you wish to charge me as a
consequence of depositing this check. This is misleading,
bait-and-switch trickery based on some misguided theory that as your
customer, I just might be dumb enough to fall for it.

You insult my intelligence, and my sense of doing the right thing, when
these are the very things that brought me in as a customer in the first
place. This is chutzpah. I return your chutzpah in kind. If this
check is credited to my account without preconditions, I will forgive
your breach of etiquette. If you prefer not to do this, I will keep my
eye out for other banking opportunities.

Thank you for your time and banking services. Thank you for the $4.
Thank you for firing the person who persuaded you to enact this scam.



Politics, Technology

Three Cheers for Indian Engineers!

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2004/07/12/yay-india/

Back in the boom, there were so many ideas. Some were great, some were crap. But for every idea that got seed funding, there were a dozen or possibly a hundred more, that might have been good ideas, that went nowhere. And it wasn’t for lack of money or ambition – there wasn’t enough talent to go around. Salaries and rent and the traffic on 101 skyrocketed, and then it turned out that actually, there just wasn’t enough money to be made off these six-figure salaries in the short-term, and the whole thing skiddered.

I’m a little worried that India may bring down the salaries of technology professionals like me. It may cause short-term unemployment in the United States, but it has so far brought a lot of highly competitive, highly-talented people to the industry. They can work for even lower costs from India, and if their government sees any “IT Dividend” the taxes these people are paying can take a very short trip to the aid of hundreds of millions of some of the poorest people on this planet.

And the next time we get the fever of good ideas, we may find that the talent pool for exploring these great ideas has expanded three-fold, five-fold or more. More great ideas will be brought to us, at more competitive cost, that will be of value to more people, and it will be a global phenomenon. The triumphs of the next technology boom will be enjoyed in places far more exotic than San Jose, California. I say, huzzah!

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Good Reads, Politics

USDA Opposes Free Market Capitalism to Protect Naive American Consumers

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2004/07/15/usda-mad-cows/

Japan is a country lamentably deficient in delicious cows. And while they may console themselves with delicious morsels of raw fish on rice, there is a sizeable demand for beef, and they are willing to pay top yen for imports.

But for such money, the Japanese want to be damn certain they are importing beef that will not melt their brains. Since Mad Cow disease was detected in the USA’s cattle supply, they have required that any American imports be tested. Does this not seem prudent?

And so, in order to re-gain access to a valuable export market, Creekstone Farms, in the Red State of Kansas, built a laboratory next to their slaughterhouse, and trained employees to conduct tests.

You can read the story here, but the upshot is that the USDA will not allow Creekstone to test their beef. (more…)

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Millenium Park

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2004/07/18/millenium-park/

Millenium Park

The music pavillion is outdoors, with a criss-cross metal skeleton surrounding it off of which dangle many speakers, so that you feel, you hear, the same acoustics as an indoor concert hall, but you are outdoors.

And you can see the tall buildings around you, they are minor players. Directly behind the band shell stands the Aon Building, a modest single cousin to New York’s former World Trade Center.

And we sat back and listened, in the middle of a park in the middle of a city in the middle of America, to opera, which sounded as it would in a concert hall, but under a serene blue sky.

You could tell what the desired effect had been – at the dawn of the new millenium, we could sit outdoors and have that experience and feel really damn optimistic about the future in to which we were flowing.

But it wasn’t finished on time. Four years late. Time enough for the tech bubble to burst, for an illegitimate son to take our nation’s throne, for our nation to face the inexplicable hatred and fanaticism that struck us in the face on 9/11, and two half-assed attempts at war and nation building upon two strange foreign cultures.

Four years is enough time to get used to those troubles, and be reminded of the dream we had had at the millenium. The price tag for this serenity? A steep half a billion dollars. I believe that is about our daily burn rate in Iraq. For one hundred billion dollars we can make a half-assed, ignoble attempt to impose democracy on a foreign country that doesn’t seem to want it so awfully bad, or for one hundred billion we can build 200 millenium parks.

Which would bring greater hope to humanity?

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I Like my Coffee . . .

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2004/07/19/i-like-my-coffee/

We watched “Malcolm X” recently, and at one point, Malcolm opined that “the only thing I like integrated … is my coffee.”

Which makes me think of my father, who, like me, is a white man. “I like my coffee like I like my women: strong and black!” His wife, from whose womb I did not personally emerge, matches that description, but as he says this, you’ll see him putting cream in his coffee. So, I’m not sure that he actually says that — it might be Uncle Bill, quoting Shaft, or Marcus Garvey, for all I know. Anyway, I think it comes back to integration — strong and black, but all the more satisfying with the injection of some white creaminess.

I got thinking about this topic this morning because I was reading through The Week and I came upon an item from Leonard Pitts, regarding Bill Cosby:

I am sick of worrying what white people think, said Leonard Pitts, in The Miami Herald. So, apparently, is Bill Cosby. At a Rainbow Coalition conference in Chicago, Cosby responded to those who said he’d been airing the African-American community’s dirty laundry. “Let me tell you something,” Cosby said. “Your dirty laundry gets out of school at 2:30 every day, it’s calling each other nigger… They can’t read. They can’t write. They’re laughing and giggling, and they’re going nowhere.” Many blacks have been saying as much for years–just not in earshot of white people. Our fear has always been that if we admit to problems, especially serious problems, “bigots will use it to bolster their bigotry.” But Cosby, I think, is right: Standing silent is no longer an option, no matter what white people think.


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