Archive for July, 2009

Title Capitalization

22:15 31 Jul 2009

I capitalize the title of my blog posts (evidently), which means that five days a week I get to consider precisley how to do that. Often, as in today’s case, it’s simple and doesn’t require any thought. But sometimes it does, and—worse—sometimes it does but I don’t notice.

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2009 Goals Status

22:50 30 Jul 2009

At the start of the year I laid out some goals for 2009, and it’s time to review how they’re going.

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Better reST–WordPress Pipeline

23:15 28 Jul 2009

Last week I posted about my setup for going from reStructuredText to WordPress. It involved a shell script, some Python scripts, and the pbpaste and pbcopy commands. It worked, but it was a little on the convoluted side.

Now I have a slightly better process, and one that I will have used to publish this post.

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Crows Are Smart—And Hold Grudges

22:50 27 Jul 2009

This was on BoingBoing, but I can’t resist posting about it: NPR have a story about crows recognizing human faces, holding grudges, and passing related information to other crows.

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22:08 26 Jul 2009

thesixtyone is a music site unlike any other I’ve seen. I first heard about it from AlecF’s tweet in June, but only glanced at it then. This week, I was in the mood for finding some new music, and remembered it.

It’s a site where you can browse music, except that it encourages you to try out various discovery methods by giving you “quests” and assigning points to you based on your achievements.

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Friday Flash Game: Shift

17:36 24 Jul 2009

My brother sent me a link to Shift the other night, and I’m quite impressed with it. It’s a fairly simple platformer, but with a nice twist that adds a little more of a puzzle aspect. I haven’t finished it, but it seems worth spending some time with. It reminds me a little of both Jumpman and Portal: The Flash Version.

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Some Tips on Email Management

22:52 23 Jul 2009

I can be a terrible correspondent. I go through patches, some of them years long, where, unless I respond to an email immediately (which is essentially a function of chance), I might not respond ever. This becomes cumulatively worse very quickly, because I become more and more overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff in my inbox, and this makes me less willing to engage with older emails.

Recently, I’ve figured out some methods for dealing with it better.

(To those of you who are owed email from me who are still reading this: you might receive long-overdue replies in the near future, even if they’re to messages that could be classified as “ancient”.)

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An Instructive Example of CIA Wiretap Use

23:57 21 Jul 2009

I occasionally read Consumerist, and a trope on that site (and perhaps in the larger culture) concerns company spokespeople stating that they take (insert some egregious abuse or screwup here) “very seriously”. This line is used so often, and is folowed by meaningful action so rarely, that it has become more or less synonymous with empty posturing. This is why the last paragraph of this article in the San Francisco Chronicle today made me laugh out loud:

CIA spokesman George Little offered a brief response to the case, saying the agency takes its obligation to the U.S. courts seriously.

—Nedra Pickler, Associated Press. “CIA committed fraud in court, judge rules”. SFGate.com, 21 Jul 2009.


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Considering Carnivorism

14:05 20 Jul 2009

(Actually, I’m considering a return to a wider variety of omnivorism, but that’s not as cool a title.)

I gave up eating meat about ten years ago. Since then I’ve been an ovo-lacto-pesce-vegetarian. Now, for the first time, I’m seriously considering eating meat again.

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Better Word Count in jEdit

22:33 19 Jul 2009

I tend to care about word count in my writing. I’ve never been paid by the word, but nevertheless, it matters to me. From time to time I write fiction where I set the word count in advance, and then I try to hit it precisely. Even when that’s not the case, I just like to know how many words there are in a piece I’m writing. For this reason, a "word count" function is completely critical to me for whatever word processor or text editor I’m using to write.

jEdit has such a feature. It’s more or less the same as the one that I’ve been using in AbiWord, and in various word processors before that. But for quite some time I’ve wanted a better word counter. Since jEdit is now my application for all writing and I can script for it in Python, it was time to make the word counter I wanted.

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jEdit Macros in Python

16:57 17 Jul 2009. Updated: 17:52 18 Jul 2009

jEdit has long been my text editor of choice, and I’m using it more than ever now that I’m writing more or less everything in it. I’ve been waiting a while for 4.3 to come out, but overall I remain quite happy with it. I do occasionally wonder about switching to vim or Emacs, but jEdit’s generally been able to do whatever I wanted it to.

I haven’t done much scripting with it, though. I recently came up with some use cases for scripts—involving reStructuredText, naturally—but I was a little reluctant to do the scripting because it involves Java and I really want to keep my current focus on Python and JavaScript.

I was therefore rather happy to discover the existence of the JythonInterpreter plugin, which makes it possible to write macros for jEdit in Python.

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Some Character Encoding Gotchas

10:31 16 Jul 2009

While scripting my reStructuredText to WordPress workflow, I ran into a bunch of character encoding problems.

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Blog Workflow with reStructuredText

22:57 14 Jul 2009. Updated: 23:13 28 Jul 2009

I wrote about moving my writing over to reStructuredText on Sunday, and since then I’ve moved both my morning pages and my blog writing to it. The latter proved more complicated, primarily because I wanted to make the process almost as easy as writing pseudo-HTML (which is more or less WordPress’ native format, and kind of mine, too, for the last several years). With some hacky wrangling, I’ve managed to set that up.

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Katie Faulkner, “Loom” and “Until We Know For Sure”

23:50 13 Jul 2009

I went to the West Wave Dance Festival last night with my friends Brian and Anne. I had never heard of Katie Faulkner before, but when I left, I was a fan. I’m pretty sure she’s the first choreographer I’ve even considered being a fan of. That’s not to say I’ve never seen “better” choreographers, but in the past I never really felt I should make an effort to follow their work.

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Moving From Word Processors to reStructuredText

23:54 12 Jul 2009. Updated: 17:17 28 Dec 2009

I’ve written before about my wish for semantic word processing tools, and two years on I still haven’t found something that suits me. I think that WYMeditor has definite promise, but unfortunately the authors are aiming that at browser-to-server functionality, rather than in-browser standalone functionality. This isn’t such a major obstacle for me, but it is one of the reasons why I’m hesitant to move over to using a project that hasn’t reached version 0.5 yet.

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Costikyan on Europa Universalis

22:52 10 Jul 2009. Updated: 00:28 28 Jul 2009

Over the last couple of days I’ve encountered, more or less randomly, references to three computer games that each seem extremely deep, and as if they would consume vast amounts of time and attention. They are Defense of the Ancients, Dominions 3, and Europa Universalis III.

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Fox News on ‘Pure Genes’ and ‘Pure Society’

22:44 09 Jul 2009

It can be so easy to forget how widespread views like this are, although in fairness Brian Kilmeade’s two co-hosts don’t seem to share his zeal for race purity:

I particularly like how he cites marrying Italian and Irish as being the opposite of race purity. At first I thought he meant “pure Americans” marrying Irish or Italian people, but he might have meant that it’s especially bizarre to mix those two specific races. (With a name like “Brian Kilmeade”, I suspect some Irish background is likely.) Either way, it also seemed very likely that his citing of “Italian and Irish” mixing was a lighthearted attempt to cover for his actual concern, which was probably mixing “white” with much darker skin tones.

Regardless of what he was concerned with, seeing “racial purity” espoused on contemporary television, even Fox, was rather shocking to me.

Here’s a chaser from The Onion.

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Body Mass Index: Bogus

22:05 07 Jul 2009

I’ve never paid much attention to things like body mass index, and always had an idea that it might not be completely reliable as an indicator of individual health, but apparently it really shouldn’t be trusted at all.

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There’s No ‘t’ in ‘Wimbledon’

23:16 06 Jul 2009

I tried listening to this podcast by Bill Simmons and Jon Wertheim, but Simmons’ pronunciation drove me nuts. I actually like some of his writing, but listening to him proved incredibly irritating.

If you don’t follow tennis, well, you might not know how it’s pronounced, fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. We all screw up pronunciations of unfamiliar and foreign words, and clearly something about American placenames pushes Americans to devoice that consonant. No problem.

Wimbledon has a “d” in it. No “t”. Not all Americans pronounce it with a “t”—Wertheim pronounced it properly without difficulty—but I’ve only ever heard Americans do this. Simmons doing it in this podcast was all the more annoying because he was talking to someone who was pronouncing it correctly.

If you’re a major sports journalist talking about it, and you’re talking to another sports journalist who’s pronouncing it correctly, what the fuck is your excuse? Either Simmons is unbelievably oblivious, or he’s doing it on purpose as some kind of schtick—which would be even worse. Deliberately pronouncing it the wrong way to show that you’re “a common man” who doesn’t have any truck with the educated types and their high-falutin’ ways of talking is just horrible. See, for example, “nucular”.

I don’t know if Simmons is actually doing it on purpose, but what, nobody ever took him aside and said, “look, Bill, it’s ‘Wimbledon’”?

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Fifteen for Federer

23:53 05 Jul 2009. Updated: 23:13 27 Jul 2009

Federer won his fifteenth Grand Slam title, and his sixth Wimbledon title, today in a remarkable five-set match, 5-7, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 16-14. That last set isn’t a typo, it really was sixteen games to fourteen. The longest fifth set, in terms of games, in Wimbledon history, and probably in playing time also. Andy Roddick did better, far better, than I or many others expected, and did not lose his serve until the last game of the match.

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Some Rémi Gaillard

23:47 03 Jul 2009. Updated: 02:51 04 Jul 2009

I’m not sure why, but this Rémi Gaillard video strikes me as hilarious:

He has a couple of other ball-striking videos, as well as a whole lot of other videos, including live-action Pac-Man.

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A Month of CrossFit

23:20 02 Jul 2009. Updated: 15:53 24 Aug 2009

I started CrossFit proper, after having done three intro classes, on 01 Jun. I’ve managed to keep it going since, five days a week with Fridays and Sundays off. (I missed one Tuesday because of the first PyWebSF meetup.)

In that time, I’ve run a 5K, run a 10K, gained the ability to do overhand pullups, done some ridiculous number of burpees, and lifted serious weights for the first time in my life.

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