I just saw a link to this article in my Google Reader.
I haven’t read it. I figure it reads something like this:
My God, blogging is sooo hard. Most people give up and start a Tumblr or a Twitter but some folks really have what it takes to stick with the blogging. Bully on them!
I’ll tell you, though, when you’ve been blogging for the better part of 20 years, and they build special blog software to help you do all your blogthings, it gets less difficult to click click click and copy-paste-type-type-type.
I’ve been “blogging” since 1995. I’m like freaking Chaucer. Blogchaucer, anyway.
A Prop 8 champion is having a change of heart:
Marriage says to a child: The man and the woman whose sexual union made you will also be there to love and raise you. In this sense, marriage is a gift that society bestows on its children.
At the level of first principles, gay marriage effaces that gift.
[ . . . ]
But there are more good things under heaven than these beliefs. For me, the most important is the equal dignity of homosexual love. I don’t believe that opposite-sex and same-sex relationships are the same, but I do believe, with growing numbers of Americans, that the time for denigrating or stigmatizing same-sex relationships is over. Whatever one’s definition of marriage, legally recognizing gay and lesbian couples and their children is a victory for basic fairness.
I think that there is more to marriage than children, and that those children who can not be adequately cared for by their birth parents are still entitled to be cared for by whatever competent and loving parents society can find for them. At any rate, I am glad to see a Prop 8 supporter come out of the closet and realize that the way to strengthen marriage is to focus on strengthening marriages, rather than denigrating homosexuals.
The other day they were talking about Aung San Suu Kyi on the radio, that the path she chose to follow was the path laid forth by Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Martin Luther King. The idea is not to seek victory over the enemy, but to identify the universal capacity for virtue, to love the enemy and change the enemy’s heart, to be open to a more enlightened and equitable path. I feel that David Blankenhorn’s evolution here, along with the evolution of many Americans, is evidence that this sort of spiritual warfare is carrying the day in my country.
I love the smell of progress in the morning.
A quiet morning with Maggie.
An e-mail recently sent regarding a job opportunity:
Good luck filling the position. If you don’t mind some unsolicited recruiting advice … I ignore job spam and and otherwise deride messages from CyberCoders for the following reasons:
1) They spam me with regularity.
2) CyberCoders is a horrible horrible name some fifth grader cooked up in 1995. Seriously? Cyber? Orange on purple web design with tiny fonts? Coders? Even if I were a FT programmer I still don’t think I could take “Cyber Coders” with a straight face.
When I see a job posting come from CyberCoders I assume the company in question is at best a few clues short and more likely doesn’t understand tech employees or what they want, and it is likely not a place I would ever want to work.
For your sake, hopefully my own view is just an abnormally harsh minority opinion not widely held by your target audience.
And that’s all I have to say about that.
A paragraph I had highlighted as I finished my reading of Du Bois’ “Dusk of Dawn”:
The Dyer Anti-lynching Bill went through the House of Representatives and on to the floor of the Senate. There in 1924 it died with a filibuster and the abject surrender of its friends. It was not until years after that I knew what killed that anti-lynching bill. It was a bargain between the South and the West. By this bargain, lynching was let to go on uncurbed by Federal law, on condition that the Japanese be excluded from the United States.
Sometimes Divide and Conquer needs some unity of purpose to succeed. All too often, we have made compromises to accommodate critically-needed constituencies, and it takes us far too long to realize the evil in the deals we have made, and far too long to correct it. These days I feel that efforts to reduce carbon emissions for the sake of a stable climate are for our generation what race and gender equality, voting rights, workers rights, national infrastructure and slavery were for previous generations.
NPR has a nice piece on the whole Facebook-hijacking-your-mail brouhaha:
We asked Facebook to explain, and got a statement reminding us that the company announced back in April that it would update addresses “to make them consistent across our site.”
Of course, the Internet follows up with comments like “I don’t see what the big deal is, I’m glad they changed my email address for me because I use Facebook all the time anyway.” So, I post my own explanation:
The problem is that Facebook has effectively hijacked email for some people.
The problem is that many people have turned off notifications, and they do not check their Facebook every day. A further problem is Facebook quietly files messages in its spam folder, where you’ll never find them.
That’s not a problem if you do not use Facebook to exchange private messages with your friends … until your friends’ smartphones sync with Facebook and your email address comes up as firstname.lastname@example.org and instead of sending email to your primary email address, your friends start to send messages into a spam-filtered black hole which removes file attachments and you never know to even check on Facebook did they try to send you a message.
Quietly changing everyone’s email to forward to Facebook is a dirtbag move. It may suit your needs but it disrupts the needs of many others.
Please do this: IF you use Facebook, AND you use email, UPDATE your profile so that when we look up your email on Facebook, the correct address is displayed.
Furthermore: if you want to send me email, my address, as it has been for the past decade, is email@example.com. If you want to sign me up for a bunch of nasty spam that I will never read, go ahead and put in firstname.lastname@example.org.
This image I seen at The Lost Albatross is Creative Commons so I can post it here:
I have been aware of the prison problem for a decade or so. What strikes me here is that every year we have the same number of people released from prison as receive Bachelor’s degrees. We funnel this money to corporations who are always happy to lobby for more money, when we should be putting the cash into schools, who are always protesting about their budget cuts.
Once upon an unemployed time I was soul-searching, and I figured that our biggest, most solvable problem was the rate of incarceration. How could I help to solve that? Well, if we started letting folks out, they would need jobs . . . jobs with a prison record and poor educational background. People need to help improve literacy in the prisons.
But I wasn’t bold enough to follow up. And when I am working I don’t worry so much about finding mission to make the world better.
Many well-meaning people counter that the BSA is a private organization, and as such should be able to keep whomever they want out. This is of course the same justification used to prevent minorities from eating in restaurants during the Jim Crow years. And where an organization as revered and national in scope as the Scouts maintains and defends such a policy, it sends the wrong message to our youth, many of whom already are struggling with their own sexual identity–an identity which has nothing whatsoever to do with their “morality,” but everything to do with their self-esteem and happiness. Thus, while the BSA may have the “legal” right to continue to discriminate–a question I believe should be revisited–I and others have the same “legal” right to protest the policy, till our last breaths if necessary, as blatantly discriminatory and against everything that equality in America stands for.
The dinosaurs running the national organization at the Boy Scouts of America need to stop practicing discrimination. Acceptance of people without regard to sexual orientation is the Morally Straight approach.
So, we have yet-another-shooting, which usually provokes a mention on the potential wisdom of gun control and some NRA vitriol about how what we need isn’t less guns but more guns. But then, the latest incident involved kevlar body armor and a gas mask. Guns wouldn’t have been quite as useful in stopping this guy.
I have a more practical solution for the NRA to advocate. Instead of arguing that more people should carry unregulated firearms, instead create a world in which the populace is universally armed. In every pubic place we install explosive devices capable of maiming an armored human being. Then, you put a sign on each device explaining what number to text to trigger an explosion.
Improvised Explosive Devices have proved invaluable to the Iraqi population in their struggle against a well-armored occupying army. And, frankly, learning to handle firearms and having to drag them around everywhere in case a crazy person starts shooting and keeping up your aim so you can get a clean headshot . . . that’s so 19th Century Old West. We can solve our modern problems with modern technology, and put the ability to defend oneself with lethal force in the hands of anyone who can obtain a simple mobile phone.
I hope to see more of these . . .
We recently purchased a home, which was originally built in 1948. I was just puttering in the back yard when I discovered a sheared metal post in a cement foundation. I figured I would dig the post out. This wasn’t easy but it was gratifying. At the end I had a 1′ deep hole in my back yard and some angry ants. I saw what looked like a white button at the bottom of the hole.
A silver “Mercury” dime from 1943, which I just found in my yard.
After cleaning it off, I found that it was a 1943 US dime, with a bust of
Mercury. Neat! I’m not sure what purpose the metal post must have served, (I reckon it was the base of a clothes line) but it must have been installed around the time the house was built.
I have to wonder if whomever dug the original hole left this souvenier to the future on purpose, or if the dime just slid out of his pocket.
Correction: per Wikipedia, this isn’t Mercury, God of commerce, but “the mythological goddess Liberty wearing a Phrygian cap, a classic Western symbol of liberty and freedom, with its wings intended to symbolize freedom of thought”
As a white guy I can often get away without worrying about racism. But then I’ll get on the phone with my step mother. As a proud black woman, she takes the Obama hatred personally. “They wouldn’t be so vicious except he’s black.”
I know enough about my country to agree. This is a racist country. We have elected a black man, but we’re in that awkward transitional phase where we feel like we’re over the worst of it but we still have racism that gets diluted year after year. Not sure if that is true or not . . . but like I said, the white majority manages not to think too often about racism.
I get reminded again, today, catching up on blogs and Angela Tung has to speak up about this video:
She contrasts this to McCain in 2008 gently prying himself away from more blatant racism from some of his supporters:
The earlier video makes me squirm all the more … I wish McCain had said that Arabs are decent people too … but you can tell that his top priority is to back away from the crazy. McCain isn’t going to revel in the easy hatred of his opponent. “Obama is a decent man. You do not have to live in fear of Obama being president!”
And, I’m totally cool with a sense of humor, but us white guys, especially anyone running for public office, know there are things you just don’t joke about, especially not in front of the TV cameras. Of course nobody asks about our birth certificate. Nobody asks where we are from. That never happens. Its preposterous! Because white == American == white! Everyone knows this! The only reason an intelligent person like Mitt would crack a joke about his birth certificate to a crowd of supporters is as a nod to his “birther” supporters.
And you know why there’s a birther movement who absolutely can not believe that the president of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama, is a native-born citizen of the United States? I’ll give you a hint. Some coded, off-color humor:
Nobody asks for Romney’s birth certificate because he’s not a n*gger.
That’s the plain and simple truth, and when Romney deliberately brings it up he is race-baiting his audience.
Angela takes is more personally than I do … she is quicker to speak up. But even if the casual coded racism doesn’t bother you, what is all the more disappointing about Mitt Romney is that he is so desperate to pander to an audience that he will even pander to racism. John McCain had some character and integrity. The same has not been demonstrated by Mitt Romney.
. . . and how to make the streets safe!
First off, a couple years back, someone very close to me wanted to learn to ride a bicycle. I took her to a free workshop in Brooklyn where two dozen people learned how to ride a bicycle in a few hours. The process was surprisingly simple: you take the pedals off and learn to scoot around, then how to turn and brake. Once you are comfortable balancing on the bike, the pedals go back on and you learn the tricky part: how to shift your weight and pedal, with full confidence that you can manage everything else once you get the thing going. What took me weeks to learn as a kid is something adults can now pick up in a few hours.
A few times now I have recounted this inspiring story, and I have found that REI covers the technique in good detail. So, if you know someone who wants to master the two-wheeler, now you know a good way to do it!
On a not-unrelated note, I just enjoyed this article about European street design, where instead of designing every street for cars but also allowing pedestrians on the side, they design some residential streets for pedestrians, but also allow cars to crawl through slowly. Instead of designing for “speed” they design to make driving “tortuous” . . . cars are damned convenient and you’ll drive when it makes sense, but when you’re in a neighborhood it is good if you slow the heck down and pay attention to your environment. So, the Dutch will do things that sound absurd in America, like putting playground equipment in the roadway.
The thing is, if you are slowly driving through an obstacle course, you’re going to be a lot more careful, and if you do end up hitting something, you’re going to do less damage at 10 MPH than you would at 30 MPH. As someone whose commute is now primarily via bicycle, that kind of thinking makes me very happy.
Ah yes, speaking of my bicycle commute, the Deputy Director of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition suggested I attend the next meeting of the Bicycle Advisory Committee Meeting of the City of Santa Clara, after I shared with him this email I recently drafted to the Mayor of Santa Clara:
Subject: Tasman Drive Hostile to Bicyclists
To whom it may concern:
I am an employee of Cisco Systems on Tasman Dr in San Jose. I commute to work via Scott Boulevard, the San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail, and finally via Tasman Drive into San Jose. The commute is mostly very pleasant, except for the section of Tasman Dr in Santa Clara.
For my own safety, I take the full right-most lane when bicycling on this road. I do this because there is no bicycle lane and because it is very scary to be passed by vehicles speeding above 40 MPH, and because the sight visibility is limited on the overpasses. I want to ensure that vehicles can see me and pass safely.
In each of the past two days I have been harassed by drivers on this roadway. Yesterday afternoon a woman was honking at me, and this morning a man pulled up next to me and yelled obscenities at me from his SUV. Tasman Dr is scary enough without the obscenities, and it makes Santa Clara feel like a more hostile and threatening place.
Please consider the following suggestions:
– Install a bicycle lane on Tasman Dr, at least between the San Tomas Aquino Creek trail and the bicycle lane in San Jose.
– Consider lowering the speed limit, to make the roadway feel more hospitable to mixed use.
– Short of these suggestions, post signs advising that bicycles may make full use of the lane.
The section of Tasman Dr near Great America Parkway has been very pleasant due to the speed restrictions and signage that accompanies stadium construction. In constructing the stadium you have inadvertently demonstrated what a pleasant and progressive bicycling experience Tasman Drive can be.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
For now, I have cooked up a less-threatening alternate route. I am skeptical that I can get Tasman Dr changed around, but the Bicycle Coalition guy was very encouraging and I look forward to providing some advice in civil planning! If in the next few years Tasman Dr becomes a nice way to bike I will be very happy about that.
Via Facebook: “Guys, I finally wrote a letter to the Boy Scouts to resign my Eagle Scout rank, and sent it along with my badge. It was hard to do but I can’t continue to the associated with an organization that has become so discriminatory and bigoted toward gay youth & leadership.”
As a former Boy Scout who never made Eagle, I am impressed by those that had the dedication to put in the hard work to attain that rank. I am not surprised to hear that my college friend, Dan Wright, made Eagle, and I am proud that he did.
Two decades on, it takes some integrity to renounce the hard work and proud accomplishment of youth, in the name of those youthful values. Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Courteous, Kind, and Obedient to a code of Universal morality which affords equal respect to all people.
Dan did well in his younger days, and he’s doing right now. Sometimes the label which you have earned just doesn’t fit on the heart within.
See Also: Eagle Scouts Returning Our Badges
So, I really like Ubuntu. Its Linux and it just mostly works. Except when they try to force everyone into some experimental new desktop environment. That is pretty awful, but I’m happy again now that I switched to kubuntu-desktop. (
apt-get install kubuntu-desktop)
Kubuntu is Ubuntu with a nicely set-up KDE environment. They try to get you to use their own home-grown web browser, and the file manager takes some getting used to, but you can pretty quickly get under the hood, set up all your little window manager preferences, and get back to jamming. (Focus Follows Mouse in my house!)
The only thing that was missing is the fonts were rendering . . . not as pretty as regular Ubuntu. Kubuntu is set up to use the Ubuntu font, but in KDE things render kind of pixelly looking, like I was still in the 90s. A bit of searching and they seem to look nicer:
System Settings > Application Appearance > Fonts
Use anti-aliasing: Enabled
Use sub-pixel rendering: RGB
Hinting style: Slight
Now things feel a little more 21st century.
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