Friday, January 26, 2007

Rolling Estonia

Rolling Estonia:
'The stuff you see in the press about Estonia,' Diel told me, 'about the Miracle Republic--most of it really is true. Estonia's unofficial goal is to become one of the five richest nations in Europe.' Could that happen? 'They'll never be richer than Switzerland, but it's not impossible to imagine that they'll come close. Estonia is still pretty homogeneous, with a government that agrees on the core issues. That's Estonia's secret. It's not that divided. Estonia wants to be Western.' Diel's biggest impetus for staying in Estonia, he told me, other than his predictably lovely Estonian wife, was 'lifestyle.' But, when I expressed some curiosity about possibly moving with my girlfriend to Tallinn, Diel advised: 'Make sure she comes in the summer.'

Who I Want to Win the Superbowl

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Email Blog Interface

This is a test of the emergency broadcast blogging system.

Had this been a real emergency you have been given instructions how to blog.

Sitemeter Flaky

Sitemeter for me has been getting more and more behind:
The statistics for visitors from the last 2195 minutes are not yet available.
Yeah, eventually no statistics will be available because I will have switched to someone else.

UPDATE: Looks like it caught up today (Jan. 27).

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Friday, January 19, 2007

Down the Rabbit Hole

I'm testing a YouTube embed. Let's see if this works:

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Half are Below Average?

Charles Murray, Intelligence in the Classroom:
Today's simple truth: Half of all children are below average in intelligence. We do not live in Lake Wobegon.
Somebody please tell Mr. Murray the difference between the median and the average.

Dihydrogen Monoxide - The Truth

Dihydrogen Monoxide - The Truth:
Dihydrogen Monoxide Facts
Dihydrogen monoxide:

* is also known as hydric acid, and is the major component of acid rain.
* contributes to the Greenhouse Effect.
* may cause severe burns.
* contributes to the erosion of our natural landscape.
* accelerates corrosion and rusting of many metals.
* may cause electrical failures and decreased effectiveness of automobile brakes.
* has been found in excised tumors of terminal cancer patients.
And yet I just can't stop using it.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Muffin Top?

"Lynneguist," who runs the delightful separated by a common language blog, announces her Words of the Year 2006. Pretty interesting, but I have a problem with "the winner of best AmE import to BrE":
muffin top
the roll of fat that bulges over the waistband of (BrE) trousers/(AmE) pants that are too tight and too low
I think it is a wonderfully descriptive term, but my problem is that I don't think I've ever heard the term in America (or anywhere else) before. So it just doesn't feel to me like an export for the Brits to import.

But maybe the problem I have is with me....

Sunday, January 07, 2007

My Local Library System Responds

Classic Literature at the Fairfax County Public Library by Edwin S. Clay, III:
You may have recently read an article -- or comments generated by an article -- about classic literature in the Fairfax County Public Library. I would like to correct the misleading impression given in the article and by others about this issue.

There are classic texts that are widely regarded as some of the most important literature in western culture. These include works by Aristotle, Hemingway, Proust, Faulkner, Bronte, Fitzgerald, Angelou and many others. We are committed to offering classic texts by important writers like these in our library system.

Recent media reports have misled readers to believe that we’ve eliminated all copies of classic titles from our branches. This could not be further from the truth. Although we occasionally have to trim the number of copies we offer in a particular branch, we definitely keep multiple copies of these works in the Fairfax County Public Library. In some cases, we’re even able to offer the text in multiple formats: in large print, on CD, as an e-book, or in languages other than English.

Because there’s a growing demand for more and more books in more and more formats, we have to balance the need to offer classic literature, and satisfy public demand, with the physical limitations of our finite shelf space. We are physically unable to warehouse every book that every resident may want to read. Therefore we have to make difficult decisions about what items to keep in our collection.

These decisions are based on standard industry practices refined by library professionals over many years. We use complex formulas, computer data and the expertise of librarians with decades of professional experience to decide which items to offer to the public. If you’re interested in understanding this very complex process, feel free to ask any of our branch managers.

In the meantime, as the director of the Fairfax County Public Library, I want to assure you that we take our stewardship of public property very seriously. We make every effort to manage the public’s investment in library materials in a prudent, reasonable and rational way.

Sample classic literature available in the Fairfax County Public Library:

Works of Aristotle by Aristotle -- 107 copies of various titles
Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner -- 99 copies on CD, cassette, large print and regular print
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway -- 108 copies on VHS, cassette and regular print
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee -- 359 copies on CD, cassette, DVD, VHS, large print, e-book and regular print
Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams -- 116 copies on VHS and regular print (including in some volumes of collected plays)
Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak -- 50 copies on CD, cassettes and regular print
I was afraid the article was misleading. It was, but even in ways I could not predict.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Unofficial Qur'an for an Unofficial Swearing-In

First Muslim in U.S. Congress to use historic Koran - washingtonpost.com: "
Representative-elect Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat, requested the 18th century copy of the Koran for the unofficial part of his swearing in on Thursday, according to Mark Dimunation, chief of rare books and special collections at the Library of Congress in Washington.

. . .

Members are sworn in to the U.S. House of Representatives as a group with no Bibles or other books involved; but in a country where three out of every four people consider themselves Christians, the Bible has traditionally been used in ensuing unofficial ceremonies.

These unofficial events among other things provide each member with a photo opportunity for themselves and their constituents.

. . .

The English translation of the Koran from Jefferson's collection dates to the 1750s. Jefferson sold his collection to the U.S. Congress after its library was lost when the British burned the Capitol during the War of 1812. Much of his collection was destroyed in an ensuing fire in 1851 but the Koran that Ellison will use survived, Dimunation said.
My understanding is that "translations" of the Qur'an lose their inspired character, so we're looking at an unofficial Qur'an being used for an unofficial swearing-in.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Douglas Crockford Videos on JavaScript

Yahoo! Video - Results tagged as douglascrockford

D.C. residents may get vote in Congress - Yahoo! News

D.C. residents may get vote in Congress - Yahoo! News:
Most — but by no means all — scholars say an amendment is unnecessary. The Constitution says that the House shall be composed of members chosen by 'the people of the several states.' But it also gives Congress the power 'to exercise exclusive legislation' over the seat of the federal government, interpreted by some to mean that Congress can, if it wants, give D.C. voting rights.
I doubt "most ... scholars" is correct, but this argument has been mooted by former judges Kenneth Starr and Patricia Wald in an op-ed piece in The Washington Post:
Finally, and equally important, the most analogous legal precedent addressing Congress's authority over the District confirms that Congress can act now to give the vote to D.C. residents. That precedent concerned the fact that Article III of the Constitution confers on federal courts jurisdiction to hear suits brought by citizens of different states against each other. But the Constitution did not give any such express jurisdiction over suits brought by or against citizens of the District of Columbia. As a result, Congress, relying on its broad Article I power over the District of Columbia, remedied that unfairness through legislation that extended the right to District residents. In a 1949 case called National Mutual Insurance Co. v. Tidewater, the Supreme Court upheld that extension and also said that Congress was entitled to great deference in its determination that it had power to address this inequity. The logic of this case applies here, and supports Congress's determination to give the right to vote for a representative to citizens of the District of Columbia, even though the Constitution itself gives that right only to citizens of states.

Hello, Grisham -- So Long, Hemingway? - washingtonpost.com

Hello, Grisham -- So Long, Hemingway? - washingtonpost.com:
The weight of the new choices falls on the local librarian. That's especially hard at the Woodrow Wilson branch in Falls Church, one of the smallest in the Fairfax system. It's a vibrant place popular with Latino and Middle Eastern immigrants, the elderly and young professionals. Branch manager Linda Schlekau, who has 20 years of experience, says she discards about 700 books a month.
When I was growing up, Woodrow Wilson library was the local branch of the public library for me. I remember when it was expanded and doubled its floor space. Now it's not enough.

What the article does not tell us, however, is how many new books and other media the library gets a month. That should put the discard rate of 700 books a month into some perspective.

Monday, January 01, 2007

First Swede in Space

2006, the year that was - Robert’s talk:
If you’re Swedish, there’s no chance that you’ve missed that we have now had the first Swede in space. Christer Fuglesang went on a NASA trip to the International Space Station, ISS, and successfully performed his missions. No doubt, the media coverage here has gotten overwhelming and a bit too much for some people, but please don’t blame poor Christer for that.

ETP - Etruscan Texts Project

ETP - Etruscan Texts Project Looks pretty good if you're into the Etruscan language.