15 Nov

“Fidela, sincera subtenanto de internacia komunikado kaj amikeco”

When Ruth Moline decided she wanted Sidney Culbert’s hand forever, she said the three magic words, the phrase that would make her man’s heart flutter, then soar:

“Teach me Esperanto.”

And with that, Sidney was hers.

Sidney Culbert, who died two weeks ago aged 90, seems to have been a fascinating man. There aren’t many 14 year-olds like this, for example:

A standout student at Stadium High School who was disdainful of sports, he regularly organized the neighborhood children into performing Shakespeare plays. “He was putting on ‘Titus Andronicus’ at 14,” said nephew John Terrien, 53, of Tacoma.

“And he made damn sure people knew their lines.”

13 Nov

“Even in pretty desperate situations, there’s little micro victories inside them”

In a MeFi post today about Ray Davies, staggernation mentioned this wonderful conversation between Elliott Smith and Ray Davies from the May/June issue of Filter Magazine. At the time, Elliott seemed excited about getting his album finished and touring. It was spring and there was a lot of hope in the air. I guess that changed by autumn.

12 Nov

What the devil is THIS about?

A Florida parent is so offended by his daughter’s school mascot, a devil, that he is offering to pay all costs connected with replacing it with something more innocuous. The father insists that it’s an issue of the separation of church and state — that a devil is the equivalent of a cross as a school mascot. I read this with interest since my company has a devil in its logo. It certainly isn’t meant to be offensive; it was just a good way to depict an impish troublemaker.

12 Nov

More changeability

I’ve added another style to the blog. To see it, just click in “Green Boxes” in the menu. This one’s kind of springlike, which is odd for November. It also is dark on light as opposed to my usual light on dark. I have some other styles in mind, too. I’ll just keep adding more — now that I’ve made the jump to a completely CSS based page, changes are easy.

Now that I’ve wasted time on this, time to get back to actual work!

11 Nov

Dave Niehaus in the Hall of Fame?

The Ford C. Frick Award is presented annually by the National Baseball Hall of Fame to a broadcaster for major contributions to the game of baseball. Now this year, for the first time, fans can vote on which broadcasters deserve to be on the final ballot for the award. Voting is open throughout December, and you can vote once a day. Vote early, vote often, vote Dave Niehaus. And if you vote for Ron Fairly, I will come over to your house and beat you with a stick.

11 Nov

Where not to speed

The Seattle P-I has a story today listing the top 10 speed traps in the state, all in Western Washington. I’ve only been pulled over once on the freeway, but it was at one of these spots. And I have seen State Patrol cars hiding at milepost 174 on I-5, several times. I drove back and forth from Olympia a couple times a week for a year, though, and never ran into trouble at milepost 110.

10 Nov

Face blindness

While searching for information about my problems remembering faces (my students are pretty familiar with that), I found information about prosopagnosia, or face blindness. If you have this condition, you are unable to easily recognize or remember faces — the face-recognition center of the brain doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do. I wrote up a MetaFilter post on the topic, with a bunch of links to prosopagnosia sites, and they are well worth checking out. One of the sites even allows you to take online tests to assess your face recognition ability. Whether I have full-fledged face blindness, I don’t know, but I do seem to have some amount of it. I have trouble recognizing most people “out of context.”

09 Nov


OK, if you liked the old 2000-2003 blog style, click the “rusty stripes” link under “Change theme:” in the menu, and you will see this site in all its rusty old glory. Enjoy!

09 Nov

Impulsive? Me? Never!

Well, I did it. I played around with WordPress for a couple of days, and liked it so much that I just said “what the heck,” and switched over. This means the iBlog posts since September 29 are partially missing, but I will gradually put them into the WP blog. (In the meantime the old files still exist.)

Special note to those of you reading the RSS feed: Since I changed blog software, you might get some repeating posts. I really hope not and I apologize if it happens. One of the reasons I changed software is so that this kind of thing wouldn’t happen as much as it did with iBlog.

There’s a new design as well. If you liked the old one better, don’t worry — I’m going to set up the page so that you can click to choose which look you prefer, the new starry night design or the old rusty stripes one. Or maybe some others as well. 🙂

Anyway, do try it out, leave comments, etc. This should be better for us in lots of ways.

07 Nov

WordPress or iBlog?

Though iBlog is a nifty little program, some of its limitations have been driving me nuts. The inflexibility, invalid XHTML, not-quite-valid RSS, large size of the blog (since all pages are static) and the basic fact that it’s a client-side app and hence not able to do some of the things server-side apps can do. I’ve been able to add comments via Haloscan, and sometimes I manually Trackback my posts, but it’s frustrating. Apparently I might be more of a power user than iBlog’s intended userbase. 🙂 We have our own web server, so the only reason not to use a server-side blog program is that Jason hasn’t been enthusiastic about installing one. But that doesn’t mean I can’t…

Read More

06 Nov

“Taking the labor movement open source”

Cyberlodge, “the first open source labor organization” (i.e. union), is open for membership. “Consider us SourceForge.net for the labor movement,” they say, but can they convince notoriously non-union IT workers to organize? (And does that jargon really mean anything in this context?) WashTech has a five year head start on them, but still hasn’t managed to make many too inroads into tech companies, though they’ve still accomplished quite a bit. This might change, if the current rapid loss of tech jobs to offshore workers becomes the issue that turns techies into union supporters.

05 Nov

Language Luddite?

Are you familiar with the word “Luddite”? S. L. Viehl complained in her blog that writers shouldn’t use obscure words such as the aforementioned “Luddite,” and claimed that none of her surveyed acquaintances had ever heard of the word. Much commentary resulted from those who were surprised that such a common word should be considered “obscure,” especially by a writer. There were hard feelings, commenters were banned, drama ensued — but it looks like many people missed the actual point of the post: that those who don’t understand technology outnumber those who do, and it would be useful for the technophiles to use their knowledge and intelligence to teach others rather than to establish superiority over the neo-Luddite masses. “Knowledge,” she wrote, “is really only useful when it’s shared, not thrown.” This is a good point; too bad the use of a poor example word diluted it so much.

(Reported by languagehat, who survived the banning and follow-up apology with dignity intact. The sad thing was when Viehl replied to his apology by saying that, despite being a writer, she doesn’t like words very much. Can you imagine?)

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