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The Linux Laundrette


(?)Spiegel news
(?)Election stuff
(?)spam: 419 #2
(?)If you needed proof that Microsoft was evil...
(?)Mail summary
(?)Murdock article
(?)LG author accepted for Google's Summer of Code
(?)Interesting spam
(?)"I only read it for the open source"
(?)KDE and Wikipedia integration
(?)Zombie dogs
(?)Transcoding UTF to ISO8859-1
(?)Google *does* know everything
(?)Public Menace or Public Good
(?)If cars were computers
(?)MS Car
(?)LWN links
(?)Open Solaris
(?)Test #1

(?) Spiegel news

From Sluggo

http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,354011,00.html The EU constitution in trouble

Does this affect the status of software patents in Europe? Is patent legislation dependent on the constitution?

(!) [Karl-Heinz] Af far as I can overview the connections between all this: The Software patents are most successfully lobbied with the European commission and the Comission is the instance that waved them through. The EU Parliament was opposed and even in the Comission a recent poll would not have been in favour of the latest SP draft. The constitution would strengthen the parliament in comparison to the comission.

(?) Election stuff

From Sluggo

Looks like we have our governor for a few more months at least.
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2002319056_webverdict06.html Judge upholds election, rejects every GOP claim
And this is a judge in a red-state county....

(?) spam: 419 #2

From Sluggo

Translation: I urgently need to scam lots of easy money. PLEASE HELP ME!

(?) If you needed proof that Microsoft was evil...

From Benjamin A. Okopnik

I'm usually not much for Micr0s0ft bashing; I figure, live and let live, let the better product win... anyway, not my point. Now, however, there's _this:_

(from RISKS Digest 23.90)


Date: Wed, 15 Jun 2005 11:23:03 PDT
From: "Peter G. Neumann" <neumann@csl.sri.com>
Subject: Microsoft censoring blogs in China

Microsoft is cooperating with China's government to censor MSN's Spaces Chinese-language Web portal. Bloggers are prevented from posting words such words as democracy, human rights, and Taiwan independence. 5 million blogs have been created since the service started on 26 May 2005. China reportedly has 87 million online users. [Source: AP item by Curt Woodward, 14 Jun 2005, seen in the San Francisco Chronicle.]

[I wonder whether this issue of RISKS will be blocked because of those OFFENSIVE words? (And I thought democracy and human rights were DEFENSIVE words?) PGN]


If they want to talk about OFFENSIVE, truly offensive... wow. I guess that's Micr0s0ft's version of bringing democracy to the world. Yeah, that must be it.

(!) [Sluggo] Here's a cartoon of it. http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/horsey/viewbydate.asp?id=1223

(?) Mail summary

From Jimmy O'Regan


(?) Murdock article

From Sluggo

http://ianmurdock.com/?p=239 Good aricle by Ian Murdock suggesting goals for Debian's future

(?) LG author accepted for Google's Summer of Code

From Jimmy O'Regan


(!) [Ben] Accepted, or just applied? I didn't see an acceptance list anywhere, although I wish him the best of luck.
(!) [Jimmy] Accepted. It was on one of the Google blogs, in a list of those who had been accepted and who keep blogs

(?) Linux-pixies

From Benjamin A. Okopnik

Kat just sent me this whimsical little expostulation (or possibly expository, or maybe even exegesis); I figure it's worth sharing with our readers. [grin] Progress is happening all over.

----- Forwarded message from Trinker LiveJournal <trinker_journal@yahoo.com> -----
It was a perfect setup for Linux-pixies.
You know. Those Little Annoying Things about Windows that make you think that this time, maybe you just will switch OSes. Or rather, in the rhetoric of the *nix cadre, "start using a real OS". You didn't think those things about Windows were inherent, did you? Oh, no, it's clearly a conspiracy where the *nix cadre sneak onto the machines of the Windows faithful to infect our machines with Linux-pixies.
Like the one that made my Windows box refuse to connect to the hotel's wireless connection. There's my beloved, editor of Linux Gazette and a longtime *nix whiz, happily toodling around the 'net, grabbing his e-mail, doing who knows what else while I'm poking and prodding at panel after panel of interfaces for the wireless card and the web browser and the net connection wizard. I've done everything I can do based on the little standup info card the hotel has helpfully left on the desk. Calling tech support will be next. I've already asked Mr. *Nix Whiz to see what he can do, and his first few passes haven't fixed much.
Tech support wants me to go down the hallway, disable my wireless card and then re-enable it, so that it'll connect to the proper channel. It seems that either Windows or my network card or both are too stupid to configure themselves properly through any less drastic measure.
My in-house Linux wizard did something that made all the obstacles vanish, finally.
Clearly, it had to do with removing the Linux-pixies. I mean, really, do you expect me to believe that there's something wrong with Windows?!
I'm sure there's some reason why I'm clinging to my Windows box. Yep. If I don't figure it out soon, though, I think it's curtains for Microsoft on my machine.

(?) Interesting spam

From Sluggo

Here's an interesting spam. It's HTML followed immediately by a (presumably) base64 blob. (I added spaces and __ in the tags to get it past the filters.) Note how the image is a "cid:" URL, whatever that is. Also, the skiddie seems to disapprove of WebCrawler and has ghastly punctuation. Or else it's a code to reassemble. I wonder if the ylonchaez is the skiddie giving himself away or an innocent victim.

< __html >< head >< meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html;
charset=iso-8859-1" >< /head >< body bgcolor="#FFFFFD" text="#421527" >< p
>< IMG SRC="cid:part1.02070609.01000008@ylonchaez@yahoo.com" border="0"
ALT="" >< /p >< p >< font color="#FFFFF1" >WebCrawler in 1846 engine I'm
against it < /font >< /p >< p >< font color="#FFFFF7" >What's your
viewpoint Let me< /font >< /p >< /body ></ __html >
(!) [Ben] It's a URL that, along with "mid:", allows you to reference body parts of messages; see RFC1738, where they're reserved but not defined. Micr0s0ft, of course, is using them full-blast (is anyone surprised?) and praying that others will pick up their implementation. [Yawn] Have we seen this before, or have we seen this before?
(!) [Kapil]

<puts on victorian-age persona>
How positively vulgar! No polite person should be allowed to refer to the body or for that matter internal organs like the stomach and liver.

<removes victorian-age persona>
(!) [Ben]

(!) [Kapil] The infamous "goto" enters HTML courtesy Microsoft.
(!) [Ben] [LOL] A masterly, concise description of the situation, Kapil. Bravo!

(?) "I only read it for the open source"

From Jimmy O'Regan

Playboy spreads open source software

(!) [Rick] Oddly enough, Newsforge seems to have spiked the story -- but evidently it was a slightly tongue-in-cheek description of http://mirrors.playboy.com , a public mirror site (http, ftp, rsync) for several open source projects kindly sponsored by Playboy Enterprises, Inc. and administered by Tim Yocum.
(!) [Ben] Jimmy, that was mean - like showing somebody one of those cards that says "GREEN" in red and "RED" in green. I spent several seconds trying to realize that the word "for" is actually not in that sentence...
(!) [Brian] Damn, damn, damn. You made me laugh out loud, Ben, and that hurts.
One extraction, four implant placements and a bone graft yesterday in a single three hour session in the chair. Moving my face hurts and you made me laugh!
(!) [Ben] Ouch. Sorry, pal... but you should know better than to read TAG when you're holding a beverage, eating anything, or - well, you can extrapolate - have had bits of you chopped off, grafted on, or otherwise shifted around.
(!) [Brian] I'm just waiting to see what happens to you next year on the Sixth day of the Sixth month of the Sixth year of the current millenium.
(!) [Ben] [blink] What, my Day of Assumption of Full Powers? [scratching head] Can't think of anything special...

(?) If you get a dog that day, make sure you call it something suitably evil, and not simply "Dog".

(!) [Ben] People would know that I was truly evil if I named him something normal-sounding, so I'm going to indulge in a little reverse psychology. "HellBeast, Destroyer of The Universe and Chewer of Expensive Furniture" ought to be just about right. Especially if it's one of those microscopic leg-humping chihuahuas.

(?) Aw... you haven't read "Good Omens"?

(!) [Ben] Oh, I got the reference; I figured that you'd take it for granted that I did, since I didn't react with confusion. Gaiman is brilliant and weird, but for whatever reason, Good Omens didn't work for me - I'm not even sure why. The two of them writing together should have been terrific. [shrug]
(!) [Rick] It helps to have read Richmal Crompton's "Just William" British boys' novels as a sprog, and to have read Paradise Lost as a teenager. I thought Good Omens was a hoot even though I never saw the dreadful Gregory Peck / Lee Remick occult movie that it also parodied.
And I always did think there must be something demonic about Queen.

(?) KDE and Wikipedia integration

From Jimmy O'Regan

KDE and Wikipedia:

(!) [Jay] "Open Source Programming: Where Good Ideas... Actually Happen"

(?) Ooh. Birth of a slogan?

(!) [Jay] Slogans just drip off the ends of my fingers, Jimmy.
"Florida's Moving Experts... for over a century."
"Let them eat... steak." -- "The revolution... in casual dining."
"Karaoke -- it's not just for breakfast anymore."
"A movie that's old enough to drink -- and a cast that isn't." (About my old RHPS cast, most of which was under 21)

(?) Zombie dogs

From Jimmy O'Regan

Totally off-topic, but interesting: http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,15739502-13762,00.html


Pittsburgh's Safar Centre for Resuscitation Research has developed a technique in which subject's veins are drained of blood and filled with an ice-cold salt solution.

The animals are considered scientifically dead, as they stop breathing and have no heartbeat or brain activity.

But three hours later, their blood is replaced and the zombie dogs are brought back to life with an electric shock. Plans to test the technique on humans should be realised within a year, according to the Safar Centre.


Woohoo! Freeze-dried soldiers coming to an army near you. And no, the article doesn't mention whether or not the dogs have developed a craving for human brains.

(!) [Jay] Ok, see, cause, coming from Jimmy, "Zombie Dogs" is a real message, not spam.
(!) [Sluggo] It's a good title for a movie too.

(?) Probably already is... How about "Night of the Wagging Dead"?

That story came at the right time for me, just as I was stumped -- I mean, even if I could get a high-powered rifle, how would I ever get it to the top of the clock tower?

(!) [Jay] And, as I just noted somewhere else, It Would Be A Great Name For A Rock Band.
Cheers, jr 'since "Dingoes Ate My Baby" is already taken' a
(!) [Brian] Hmmm. This was actually June's cover story in Scientific American. There's quite a bit more to it than "zombie dogs". They were trying to replicate some of the effects of extreme de-oxygenation that allow multi-year "hibernation" or dormancy (think sea monkey (brine shrimp) embryos) and some "ice-water" drowning victims to be recuscitated an hour or more after clinical death.
Interesting stuff, and closely related to the sorts of hibernation/anti-g stuff that Joe Haldeman used in the Forever War.
Additionally, of interest in the SA article, there were experiments with inflicting injuries on hibernating and non-hibernating arctic ground squirrels. Upon autopsy three days later (after euthanizing), it was found that the level of cellular damage other than the immediate injury was minimial in the hibernating animal, by contrast with a wide area of damage caused by inflammation in the non-hibernating animal.
Interesting stuff, and closely related to the sorts of hibernation/anti-g stuff that Joe Haldeman used in the Forever War.
OB Linux, I don't think any of the Zombie Dogs are running linux (yet). But that's just a port away.
And yes, Zombie Dogs makes a great band name. But think Quentin Tarantino and "Zombie Reservoir Dogs" Wooo.

(?) Yeah, sure, point out the real story whydontcha? "Multi-year hibernation" doesn't make a good band name though, (well, maybe for emo, or whatever the latest whiney teenager genre is) and that's what counts!

As it happens, as I first opened this mail "Shaun of the Dead" came on. Good comedy horror -- not as good as Evil Dead 2, but still amusing.

(!) [Sluggo] I told you to watch for those come-ons, but you didn't listen....
"Multi-Year Hibernation" wouldn't be the worst band name ever. Although in Jimmy's case it would be Hibernian Hibernation.
(!) [Rick] With Caledonian Cacophany as the opening act?
(!) [Breen] And a guest set from Cambrian Chaos?
(!) [Sluggo] It's not cacophony!! It's the Scottish Symphony.
[grumble] No respect, no respect. We try to showcase our original talent -- "It's not your father's Bartok"-- and he calls it "cacophony". Mogwai, now there's cacophony.

(?) Transcoding UTF to ISO8859-1

From Sluggo

Jimmy O'Regan said:


$a_okopnik ?

(!) [Jimmy] Y'know, I'd considered changing the variable names to $a_z_ogonkiem, $s_z_kreka, $z_z_kropka etc., but I don't know what the L character is called (I'd guess L z przezem, but I'm more than likely way off) and I thought "Nah, nobody would stoop to that level". Oh well, I've been wrong before :-P
(!) [Ben] With an ogonek ("small flame/spark"), of course. You know me too well, Mike.

I didn't even catch the ogon' in ogonek! I just thought it looked vaguely like a Russian word.

(!) [Jimmy] Eh?
/me thumbs the polsko-angielski sl/ownik


ogonek m 1. zdr od ogon 2. BIO (li`scia, owocu) stalk 3. inf (kolejka) queue
ogon m ZOOL, ASTRON tail


Tail makes more sense to me (an ogonek is like a backwards cedilla).
(!) [Ben] Hm, strange. I expected it to be like Russian - in fact, I'm surprised that it's not.

ogon' - fire
ogonyok - small fire/light, spark
(!) [Jimmy] A quick trip back to the dictionary later: fire is ogien'. I bought a Russian phrase book a while back (there's a lot of Central and Eastern Europeans moving to Ireland these days), and the difference between Russian and Polish seems about the same as that between Irish and Welsh: mostly the same words, but with different spellings and pronunciation :)
The best example I saw is 'stol'. In Polish, that has an o acute and an l slash. When you're just using the nominative, it's pronounced 'stoo', but in the genetive the o acute becomes an o, and the l slash becomes an l before adding the genetive ending ('em' in this case).

(?) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogonek "Polish for little tail; In Lithuanian it is nosin&#279; which literally means handkerchief"

I suppose khvostok or khvostka would be little tail in Russian? But Babelfish says "men'shii kabel'".

(!) [Ben] Heh. Babelfish is... odd, and amusing. Yeah, you're pretty close - "khvostik" would be a little tail. I don't know what the Russian term is for the diacrit above, say, the Russian "i-short" letter is, but I could definitely see 'ogonyok' as being a candidate. When I was taught Proper Cursive back in first grade (yeah, yeah, I had a trilobite for a pet and Chicxulub had just happened the week before), we were taught to actually form that mark as a sort of a short vertical tilde.

(?) It's called a breve in English, or informally a cup. I wouldn't think of it as fire-like. But I suppose to a hotheaded secret agent....

My Russian teacher used to ding people for not using the cup, saying "it's not a diacrit, it's part of the letter". Unlike the e-umlaut, which was OK to leave off because most Russians do.

(!) [Ben] That's not how I was taught to write it. I've seen it that way, yeah, but your teacher's preference isn't necessarily the One True way - just a preference. A quick review of the fonts on my system shows a fairly random mix: a couple of the 10646 fonts have it as a breve, but many others - e.g., "-ttf-tl help cyrillic-medium-r-normal-regular-0-0-0-0-p-0-iso8859-1", use an accent mark (the "forward slash" type) over it, while yet others use a short horizontal bar. (You really don't want to know what Kirillica and Lavra do to the poor thing. Old Slavonic - on a computer - is just... WRONG.)

(?) It wasn't the shape of the mark she was talking about, it was the presence.

(!) [Ben] Ah, OK. My argument was with your calling it a breve - I'd always thought of it as more of an accent-shaped diacrit. Yeah, there's a big difference in using it vs. not; almost exactly like using an 'i' instead of a 'j'.

(?) I've always seen it as a cup in books. So I assumed that was its proper shape.

(?) I tend to write it as a horizontal bar; most Russian handwriting I've seen uses an acute accent.

(!) [Ben] [Nod]

(?) The students were miffed because she never told us there was a difference in importance between the breve and the umlaut, she just dinged people for it on the test.

(!) [Ben] Yep - that would be totally wrong. Those diacrits are indeed a part of the letter itself, and omitting it can lead to [grin] "interesting" results.

(?) Not me coz I always write accent marks, but others left them off thinking they were optional. (I write accent marks. I don't type them on the computer. I can't be bothered to go find a list of keycodes every time an accented letter comes up.)

(!) [Ben] That's one of the reasons I like Vim. ":dig" shows you the list of available digraphs (I'm using UTF8, so I've got the whole kit); Russian letters are almost all encoded as '<sensible_transliteration>=', so that the Cyrillic 'n', for example, is 'n='. Oh yeah - you have to hit 'Ctrl-K' to insert a digraph.
For a chunk of test, I just write a transliterated text file and run my little 'tsl2koi' converter over it (a Perl script, natch.) If you want a copy, you can ask nicely. :)

(?) As for "-ttf-tl help cyrillic-medium-r-normal-regular-0-0-0-0-0-p-0-iso8859-1", what? Is that a command that starts with -ttf or a font foundary with a typo in the middle?

(!) [Ben] [blink] There have been font names with spaces in them in Unix as long as I can remember. Parsing that crazy shit was one of my very first scripting challenges (a damn nasty one for a beginning scripter, I'll tell you.)
As to what and where -
ben@Fenrir:~$ xlsfonts|grep 'ttf-tl'
-ttf-tl help cyrillic-medium-r-normal-regular-0-0-0-0-p-0-iso8859-1
ben@Fenrir:~$ grep -ib 'tl help cyr' /usr/share/fonts/truetype/*ttf
Binary file /usr/share/fonts/truetype/TT_Tlhlpcyr.ttf matches

(?) And how can Cyrillic and iso8859-1 be compatible?

(!) [Ben] What is this, a philosophy class? I don't have any answers to those existential questions.
(!) [Breen]


My mother worked at the US Embassies in Warsaw and Moscow just after the war. Years later, my parents visited Poland again -- by that time an old friend had become the Ambassador. Somebody told them during that trip that "all Poles understand Russian, but none speak it."
(!) [Jimmy] Erm... that's kinda true. Russian was mandatory in Polish schools, so all Poles speak Russian. Just not in Poland :) (Well, unless you've made some attempt at Polish first. The Polish know how difficult their language is to learn, and will bend over backwards to help a foreigner who has made some attempt to learn Polish). Outside of Poland, the Polish will happily converse in Russian.
(!) [Ben] [laugh] True. At least until they get to the States, at which point they magically recover it (money speaks louder than politics, in many cases. :)

(?) Similar to what Brits say about Americans, although they doubts that we understand it either.

(!) [Ben] I've never heard a Brit say that all Americans understand Russian - much less speak it. You must have hung around with some very strange Brits when you were over there.

English. They think we don't understand English. I don't know how they ever got that idea.

(!) [Ben] [shrug] No idea. It could be because they read your last post and said, "hmm, highly ambiguous referent. Those American blighters don't seem to speak English, what?" :)
(!) [Ben] (Thomas, please keep a tighter grip on him the next time he shows up. As you can see, he tends to... wander, which results in problems. Did I ever mention that incident where I had to rescue him from six very upset midgets, a highly annoyed giraffe, and a bunch of enraged phlebotomists? It seems he used several miles of rubber tubing, a very precise amount of steel shavings, and a couple of drums of industrial grease, and... well, it's not a story for public consumption, but I assure you that even hiring a large, muscular nursemaid for him would be quite worth your while. All of Britain would certainly be in your debt.)

(?) Google *does* know everything

From Jason Creighton



Jason Creighton

(!) [Jimmy] Almost everything. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=who%27s+the+black+private+dick+that%27s+a+sex+machine+to+all+the+chicks&btnG=Search
(!) [Rick] "Shut yo' mouth!"
(!) [Jimmy] I can dig it.

(?) Public Menace or Public Good

From Brian

[ NOTE: This has NOTHING to do with Linux, except that I composed and sent this message using Mozilla Thunderbird version 1.0, commenting on a Linux Gazette article I'm viewing in Mozilla Firefox version 1.0.4 on a Debian Unstable system. ]

From the inaugural "Ponders Corner" article, Rick writes:

"Pretty soon, having a mail server available for redelivery of mail to and from everyone came to be seen as a public menace, like having an unfenced swimming pool in a neighbourhood full of children."

I either missed that, or let it pass unscathed as it traversed my inbox. Most likely I'm so absorbed in making sure I learn the lesson that Rick so effectively teaches that I neglected to pay attention to the humorous (but in a deadly serious sense) possibilities in that line.

This problem first came to my attention when we were living at the corner of Mary and Remington in Sunnyvale, some years back. The building maintenance people had been tasked with blocking off every opening larger than 4" wide from "outside" to the pool area in each of the buildings. The people whose doors opened into the pool area were to look out for themselves, one presumes.

I watched them doing this work, and commented on their contravention of the positive application of Darwin and Wallace's discoveries to the improvement of the human species. When they prevent children that are inquisitive enough to crawl through spaces smaller than their skull in order to jump in some water and drown, they remove opportunities for genetic improvement in the species.

Floyd looked at me and remarked, "You don't have kids, do you?"

"Nope. But that doesn't matter. All kids do stupid things. You did, I did. But we survived, which is the very first qualifier for reproductive excellence. If a being doesn't survive until reproductive age, then something which might have been passed on to future generations has been nipped in the bud."

Now I'm not suggesting that people actually send their children out to play in traffic. Well, some people probably should, but that's another topic, I guess.

Anyway, I consider an unfenced swimming pool in a neighborhood full of children as a fun thing for children who manage to enjoy themselves without drowning, and a complete public good for those children who do manage to drown themselves.

Besides, more children, in an urban environment, is counter-productive. In an agrarian society, children are the ultimate unpaid labor -- the more kids you have, the more land/animals you can handle. In an urban setting, children are only assets if you're welfare farming.

(!) [Jason] Doesn't matter either way. Expediency has no relation to morality. I'm not saying you're wrong. People often give away safety in favor of other things. For instace: motor vehicles. 42,065 people[1] died in 1996 in car accidents. Fourty two thousand people who would probably still be here today, fourty two thousand souls who would still be laughing at books that say "Complete works. Volume I" on them, fourty two thousands people going to work, buying food, running fast and jumping high. All that, gone.
Now, what should we, who supposedly care about innocents dying, do about this? There's a couple things that could be done, none of which will ever be seriously proposed or acted upon because it's not "practical" for Americans.
One would be just to stop driving and just go to public transit, biking and walking. Americans wouldn't do this. We love our cars literally more than life itself.
Or harsher penalties for reckless driving. If you're at fault, and you killed somebody, while drunk or not, would the death penalty be too far out of line? No, seriously?
But nobody thinks about it, and nobody talks about it, because those deaths are nessesary to live life that way we want to. It sounds harsh to say it that way, but that's the way it is.
Now, is it really wrong? You could make the counter-argument, and claim that emergency services saved at least that number of people in that year.
I'm not proposing that any of those things actually be done. I'm just saying, it's worth considering the questions, "Is this worth it?". And nobody asks, or cares, because in America (and most other places as well), we have plenty of means, but few ends. Drive to work, drive back, don't ask why.
So, that takes an already-OT discussion even further off the Linux path.
[1] http://www.disastercenter.com/traffic/State.htm I couldn't find a more recent stat quickly, but the numbers were probably similar for 2004.

(?) Do you want bright kids responsible for you when it's time to go the nursing home, or ones that wouldn't have survived to puberty without kiddie leashes, having bullies ejected from school, and making them still wear water wings at 13?



(!) [Rick] Brian gets this month's Friends of Papa Darwin award!
(!) [Jimmy] One of the books I'm currently reading is, serendipitously, "The Darwin Awards III: Survival of the Fittest" (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0525947736).
I found myself in agreement with the general sentiment of your mail until I hit the above paragraph, the word "crawl" in particular--children still at crawling age are not generally familiar with the fact that a swimming pool is not a solid surface, hence the need for fences. You could, of course, argue that these children have no business near a swimming pool in the first place (and I could possibly resist the urge to be trite and say "Exactly! Put a fence around it"), but you'd be surprised how far a toddler can crawl in the blink of an eye.
"We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid." -Benjamin Franklin

(?) I am so aware, but there's only so much that can be done in the name of protecting children from themselves, and they were closing up 8" wide openings at a height of 4' off the ground. But if I lived in a complex with [un|under]protected swimming pools, then I'd be responsible for a toddler gate at MY door. So, once the little rascal got out of the burlap sack, through the triple-bolted bedroom door, and into the front room, well then, by golly, if she could pick the Ilco brass lock, then she's fit to drown herself, walking or crawling.

You see, at this particular complex, families with babies were permitted to rent units that opened onto the pool area directly. This fencing kept non-resident and other-resident children from drowning inappropriately.

Hmmm. Since it comes down to the parent wanting to protect the children, then it's up to the parent. Good parenting skills will propogate, too, neh? Bad parenting skills could (should???) be "punished" by both removing the child from the shallow end of the gene pool, and training the parents to be more careful in the future.

Of course, I was raised by a good Catholic mom, who still was capable of making jokes about post-natal abortion when I would especially try her nerves...

Back to the pain.

(!) [Kapil] I thought such "social Darwinism" ideas were thrown out by ... well Darwin!
Having recently been to the USA and seen paranoia (which has taken the place of normal caution) up close, I can perhaps guess where such an attitude may spring from. But, I must disagree with the premise that "the fittest human beings survive".

(?) Ah. But I wasn't going to go there. The moment someone says "fittest", it becomes a judgement call. Just because I don't think that hemophilia is a long-term survival trait, doesn't mean that I don't think that a person with hemophilia isn't fit to survive. But if I were that person with hemophilia, I'd do my darndest to ensure that I didn't pass that gene on to any kids of mine.

Same thing if I lived in a double-wide in the Texas panhandle. It's just not survival-oriented. It may be genetic, one just can't always tell... Grin.

(!) [Kapil] Firstly, I don't think evolution happens on such short time scales. This confusion about time scales is something that the above POV shares with the opposition to the theory of evolution (which seems to be unable to understand how vast changes can happen on non-human time scales).

(?) What sort of time scale were you thinking of? Greg Cochran's article [1] is looking at round-about 1000 years making perhaps up to 1 standard deviation upward bump in "IQ" for Askenazi Jews. I call that natural selection (aka evolution).

(!) [Kapil] The above POV ignores the enormous effect that "plain ol' luck" (*) plays in the grand scheme of things. And luck is not inherited(+)---only money is!

(?) Of course I went to the same place you did: Pierson's Puppeteers and the Birthright Lotteries from Niven's Known Space series (where they didn't use Linux, either).

(!) [Kapil] That said, normal caution says "RTFM before using your brand new stereo" system while paranoia says that "if the decibel level may be enough to give you permanent hearing damage then this should be put on a big red warning on the box".
Kapil. (*) People often confuse luck and probability. If you have more money than me, then you will probably win against me in the long run (if we play a fair game)---"but with a little bit of luck" I'll wipe out your pile of gold first!
(+) ... ass far as we know. There is a Larry Niven story based on the idea that luck is inherited.

(?) If that means that I don't have to listen to Weasel, a DJ for whom it could be said that "He has a voice for mime.", then it might be worth it anyway.

[1] http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=4032638

(?) If cars were computers

From Sluggo

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=134394&cid=11219970 If people treated their car the way they treat their computer...

(!) [Ben] He forgot a few things...
They would leave the doors unlocked, and it would be the car's (or perhaps the mechanic's) fault that the somebody broke in and wrecked the interior - or that the car had been stolen and used in a bank robbery.
They would occasionally, just for experimentation's sake, pour a 10-lb. bag of cement into the oil fill and a gallon of molasses into the gas tank. The result would, of course, be the car's fault - because they Didn't Do Anything Different (or, better yet, Couldn't Be Expected To Know.)
They would rip off the carburetor "because it was making that annoying noise". They would smash the low-oil and alternator lights "because the red glow was distracting". They would hacksaw the airconditioning pump out of the engine compartment (letting out all the refrigerant as well as cutting the fuel line and the electrical harness in the process) "because I'd read that Freon was harmful to children." The result would be towed to the garage and blamed on the mechanic because he had replaced a fuse six months before.
They would let the village idiot - as long as he spouted automotive-sounding gibberish - do anything he wanted to the car, including using it as a toilet. When the mechanic hinted that this was not the wisest thing to do, they would get huffy and tell him it was "only his opinion".
I could go on for a while. I've done tech support and field repair. :)

(?) MS Car

From Sluggo

http://hardware.slashdot.org/hardware/05/05/03/1735254.shtml?tid=109&tid=126&tid=137 Microsoft announces plans for a high-tech car that can't crash.
I'm speechless.
Slashdot commentators suggest some help text for Clippy, wonder what HAL would do, and debate which moment the Blue Screen of Death will appear.

(?) LWN links

From Sluggo

http://lwn.net/Articles/133421 FSF attorney Eben Moglen discusses the state of the GPL and software patents in 2006 at linux.conf.au, in a keynote LWN's editor calls one of the best talks he's seen in some time.
http://emoglen.law.columbia.edu/publications/lu-26.html In a related article written in 2003 but still relevant, Moglen explains why software-controlled radios matter.

(?) test

From Ben


(!) [Sluggo] Move along, nothing to see here.
(!) [Brad] I tend to prefer -EINVAL.
(!) [Brian] Albatross! Get your bleedin' _ALBATROSS_! No, it don't come with chips!
(!) [Pete] What flavour is it?
(!) [Rick] "Rat-onna-stick! Rat-in-a-bun! Get them while they're dead!"
Cheers, Rick ("C-M-O-T") Moen "vi is my shepherd; I shall not font."

(?) Platypus

From Jimmy

Platypus is a Firefox extension that lets you edit a web page as you view it. Your edits can then be saved as a Greasemonkey script so your changes are applied each time you view the page. (Greasemonkey is a Firefox extension that allows you to write custom javascripts to add custom DHTML to web pages -- to learn how to write them manually, there's a free book online at http://www.diveintogreasemonkey.org)




(?) Open Solaris

From Jimmy O'Regan

Not Linux, but important because we'll probably be using some of this software in a few weeks/months time: the source code of Open Solaris has been released (http://www.opensolaris.org/os).

(!) [Thomas] Woooo.

(?) Sun aren't finished releasing code, but this release has most of the kernel and userland tools. (No Thomas, nothing CDE related, but X stuff isn't scheduled for release for another few months yet--the X community is here http://www.opensolaris.org/os/community/x_win)

(!) [Thomas] Awwww. :(
(!) [Raj] Tim Bray, who is a Sun employee and a reputed blogger, has nice set of links about the release http://tbray.org/ongoing/When/200x/2005/06/14/OpenSolaris-Blogs
(!) [Ben] I'm teaching a Sun class right now, and the response from my students was uniformly sceptical: "They're just trying to stay in the game." I'm just going to note that Apple has been playing exactly the same game - kinda-sorta release some-but-not-all of the source, maybe - and it hasn't done very much for them.

(?) Heh. Their FAQ has a nod to Apple:


Do I need to register the OpenSolaris source code I have downloaded from the site?

No. There is no registration. There is no click-to-accept license. Enjoy!


Sun look to be more sincere about what they're doing than Apple--they're using a licence that's already accepted (the CDDL is just the MPL rebranded),

(!) [Rick] And improved, in my view. You may already have seen my related post to the Irish Linux User Group mailing list,

(?) Alas, no. Too many bounces in my last great disconnect, and my current connection isn't reliable enough to justify resubscribing.

(!) [Rick] but here it is:
Quoting Niall Walsh (linux@esatclear.ie):

> From there how long from there until we have a Debian GNU/OpenSolaris?
> Or is CDDL even DFSG Free (the patenting clauses anyway makes me
> wonder)?
CDDL does strike me as being every bit as DFSG as its MPL predecessor.[1]

(?) From what I remember of the debian-legal discussion, the gist of it was "the licence may or may not be free, depending on how the licensor chooses to act".

(!) [Rick] Ah, debian-legal. {sigh} A fellow on ILUG raised that, too, and here was my response


Quoting Niall Walsh (linux@esatclear.ie):

> Checking the debian legal lists it seems it may be DFSG compliant...
In a better world, it would be possible to consult debian-legal (or the various related "summary" Web pages) to reliably determine whether a licence is DFSG-compliant. That fictional alternate debian-legal wouldn't be populated by context-challenged monomaniacs woefully ignorant of applicable law.
Ah well.
Suffice it to say that I draw a distinction between the concepts of "DFSG compliant" and "approved by certain net.random wankers posting to a rather painful-to-read public mailing list".


(!) [Ben] [laugh] A critical distinction in the world of Open Source, and one that needs to be drawn far, far more often than it actually is.


(!) [Rick] That having been said:

> http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2004/12/msg00004.html
> http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2005/01/msg00952.html
The "patents" comments are tautologically true -- but would be so regardless of licence. That is, any codebase adversely encumbered by patents is non-free/proprietary, irrespective of what licence provisions would otherwise apply.
That other bit about fixed attributions making a work non-free/proprietary is one reason why, although I'm a long-time subscriber to debian-legal, I only rarely read it, in order to safeguard my blood pressure: Author attributions may not be stripped in derivative works by default action of copyright law , so it is utter lunacy to assert, as poster Garrett and numerous others do, that clauses to that same effect make the work non-free through it "failing the Chinese Dissident Test".
That is a perfect example of the aforementioned problem of certain posters being context-challenged and ignorant of the law.

Quoting Niall Walsh (linux@esatclear.ie):

> You must include a notice in each of Your Modifications that
> identifies You as the Contributor of the Modification."
> So that the theoretical dissident programmer could distribute a
> modification without having to admit to ownership.
That licence requirement could be met by "Module foo.c was contributed 2005-06-14 by Anon Y. Mouse of the Fugitive Coders Group". The cited clause's intent is not to require the equivalent of biometrics and a mugshot from any contributor, but rather to distinguish cleanly between original code and subsequent contributions.
And that is an example of what I mean by "context-challenged". ;->
Licences are not code for a Turing machine: They're designed to be interpreted by judges, who (being modestly optimistic, for a moment) have brains and are supposed to apply them to such things.


(!) [Rick] However, of course, the OpenSolaris codebase apparently (as everyone suspected) includes quite a lot of binary-only, proprietary "secret sauce" components.[2] How useful the CDDL (and other open source / free-software) portions would be without them is an open question. My own expectation would be "Not very; probably even substantially less than the corresponding case with Apple Darwin."

(?) The only thing I remember seeing mentioned specifically is drivers, which is understandable--too many NDAs. IIRC, Sun has a compiler that recompiles Linux drivers for Solaris--device support isn't one of great plusses of Solaris that Sun have been cheerleading in any of the blog entries I've seen (DTrace this, DTrace that :)

(!) [Rick] Quite. Third-party rights. I remember seeing some other things, too, but cannot remember specifics.
I don't mean to derogate the benefits to some of Sun's move -- just to remind people that OpenSolaris's carve-outs mean it's doomed to be crippled as an open-source operating system, e.g., for purposes of porting performed by anyone but Sun themselves.
(!) [Ben] I tend to take an optimistic view of these things that look like naivete from a certain perspective - any move in the direction of Open Source by the historically-proprietary software companies is good for us. One of the many underlying reasons for that is what I like to call "time in grade": the longer these people spend using Open Source methods - to whatever degree - the more these get embedded in their culture and the environment around them. After a while, they're impossible to eradicate. As for "the abyss looking back at you", I rely on the GPL and its ilk to keep the resulting influence on the world of Open Source to a tolerable minimum.
(Yes, the sum total of all the influences and issues here is far more complex than this. However, abstracting this bit and staring at it for a while contains its own lessons, and they're interesting ones.)
(!) [Rick]
> Of course whether it's worth it or not is another matter.  I
> guess both will be projects like rebuilding a Freely redistributable
> Suse/Novell Professional image, a test of just how many people care.
I think the latter would be a great deal easier -- and more useful.

(?) Heh. I think there will be a lot of public contributions to the code, if only to clean it up. I never really understood why so much research goes into code comprehension (well, aside from the fact that C lecturers write some of the worst C around): open source projects need to have code that's as clear as possible, otherwise noone can contribute. Heck, even Wine, which (of necessity) has some of the most cryptic code I've ever seen (self-modifying blobs of x86 binary code, C emulations of C++ exceptions and classes, etc), is a model of clarity, as far as it can be.

Not so Open Solaris. Their tar implementation is one 182k .c file; their nroff implementation uses the original Unix naming convention for files (n1.c etc). I'm sure they'll get plenty of clean-up patches from people cringing on Sun's behalf :)

(!) [Rick] [1] Sun Microsystems solicited my feedback on the licence before its publc release. Unfortunately, I did not have sufficient time in to help them during the very short comment period available -- but my impression of the licence is overwhelmingly favourable.
[2] Alluded to, briefly, here:

(?) instead of writing their own just barely open source by just enough people's definition, but oh-so obnoxious licence for the purpose (I suppose they've already done that enough times), and have put all the released code in CVS from the start.

(!) [Ben] I didn't have much time to really look into this yesterday (but I did get some really good coding done, and had the very satisfying experience of solving a thorny problem that's been bugging me for a couple of years!); today is a new day, and I'm wasting^Wspending my morning checking out the buzz on this. Fascinating - it looks and smells real. In fact, reading Tim Bray's blog and the link tree that branches out from it - thanks, Raj! - I'm slowly growing convinced that Sun has finally clued in, bought the stock, drank the Koolaid. All I can say, in stunned admiration, is "Bravo" - I had not expected it, and was actually rather cynical about it, having built my expectations based on what I saw from my little corner of the Sun culture. It seems I was wrong.
The interesting bit about this is that the Solaris kernel has been a strictly "hands-off" affair since time immemorial; you could tweak some user-space settings to influence its operation in some mild ways, but that was about all (and learning to do even that required a three-day class and using ADB [shudder].) As well, some of the operational algorithms - e.g., the exact process of deciding how to accept/reject TCP connections - were generally hinted at but the details were intentionally shrouded in mystery (security through obscurity, even though Sun showed itself to be totally aware, in other places, that this is not a useful approach.)
There's also the fact - and I'm not snarking at Sun in the least, but applauding their moving with the times - that Solaris installations are growing far fewer percentage-wise; this latest change may just be a simple recognition of fact and adaptation to it. I've spoken to many people in the large corporate culture, in many places and many different companies, and have heard the story/complaint/simple fact repeated many times: "so this new guy comes into IT, and before anybody knows it, he's got 30 Linux boxes up in one day..." Cost of software: zero. Cost of machines: hauled out of a closet where it was stored due to being old and unusable. That's a hard combination for a commercial machine+OS to beat, stony hard - and companies that _aren't_ having to spend a million bucks a year on buying new are starting to notice. Many of them - including banks, the traditional stronghold of conservatism - are quietly dropping their "no non-commercial OSes" policy.
Sun is an excellent hardware company; the cost of their gadgets is quite high as compared to the commodity PC, but the quality and the reliability that you get from the stuff can be absolutely stunning to someone who's never experienced them. I've never had Sun stuff "fight" me the way, e.g., a PC SCSI card has; the documentations was always available, and the relevant setup was as obvious as it could be made and robust. Solaris, seen in that light, has always been a house divided against itself - and Sun appears to have finally resolved the ambiguity.
Bravo; bravo indeed. The Open Source world has grown - and it's quite the growth spurt. Not that we needed validation, but this is an unlooked-for bit of big-leagues legitimacy that does not hurt at all.

(?) Well, though Sun want to hype up the release by saying "Solaris is open source now", their own roadmap says otherwise.

But regardless of the usefulness of the software, at least the code has already yielded some amusing comments (http://www.zdnet.com.au/news/software/0,2000061733,39197326,00.htm)


Another tried his hand at predicting the future of system speeds. "As of this writing (1996) a clock rate of more than about 10 kHz seems utterly ridiculous, although this observation will no doubt seem quaintly amusing one day," he wrote.

Religion was a common theme in the code. "Oops, did not find this signature, so we must advance on the next signature in the SUA and hope to God that it is in the susp format, or we get hosed," said one developer.

"God help us all if someone changes how lex works," wrote another. "Oh God, what an ugly pile of architecture," moaned a third.


There's a live cd already: http://schillix.berlios.de

One of the big things in Open Solaris is that services can start in parallel at boot time. Finito (http://web.isteve.bofh.cz/finito) does something similar for Linux.

Erm... scratch that, InitNG (http://initng.thinktux.net/index.php/Main_Page) looks much better.

(?) Test #1

From Sluggo

Test message from [snip address]

(!) [Ben] Your message has nothing to do with Linux, The Answer Gang, good food, or interesting times -
(!) [Brian] If I may interject, I finally got around to Pratchett's Interesting Times. That was fun - I dig Rincewind. And Hex appears to be somewhat of an Open Sourcery project of his own...
(!) [Ben] [ Now that I'm back home, and more-or-less settling back into the insanity that I jokingly refer to as "my life"... ]
[grin] pTerry draws unforgettable characters, doesn't he? What an amazing talent. I especially love how he slips in those little messages that take a bit of time to come home; bits on religion and philosophy and just plain good skull sweat about life.
(!) [Jimmy] I started to catch up with my reading last week, after I noticed a new pTerry -- "Science of Discworld 3: Darwin's Watch":
"It is always useful for a university to have a Very Big Thing. It occupies the younger members, to the relief of their elders (especially if the VBT is based at some distance from the seat of learning itself) and it uses up a lot of money which would otherwise only lie around causing trouble or be spent by the sociology department or, probably, both. It also helps in pushing back boundaries, and it doesn't much matter what boundaries these are, since as any researcher will tell you it's the pushing that matters, not the boundary."
(!) [Ben] ...and, moreover, smells strongly of elderberries that have been passed through a hamster.
(!) [Brian] Does that also make for a special coffee flavour? Is it garnished delicately with Lark's Vomit? Is it, in a word, Good?
(!) [Ben] Redolent with the rare scent of Cockroach Puke with a subtle nuance of Moorish Macaque Faeces, this product will NOT be available at your neighborhood supermarket...
(!) [Jimmy] So... it's an instant coffee?
(!) [Jimmy] Hmm. A coworker, who is dating one of my Polish friends[1], arrived home Sunday morning to find that he had discovered the joys of Irish whiskey, but not the joys of watering it down, and decided to eat a basket of plums. The resulting scene strongly reminded her of several horror films.
Apologies to the weak of stomach, it's just that 'berries' and 'passed through' brought up (sorry!) the story in my mind.
(!) [Ben] Even more importantly, it never made it to any list to which you sent it, so all your striving was in vain. You may retire, sobbing bitterly, in the knowledge that it is all useless.
(!) [Brian] I never saw that message either. But then I didn't get around to following Rick's edict until this evening.
(!) [Ben] Yes, but what's important is that you intended to. Those darn mail servers should have known and forwarded it automatically!
I blame all this on the lack of moral fiber in our country. We need more fiber, dammit! [1]
(!) [Brian] The results: All lists subscribed to, show properly in the Mailman interface as such, set translators@ to no-mail for the time being, as I can only translate to gibberish, or Perl, whichever comes first.
(!) [Ben] Visualize the power of 'and'. Intelligent thought filtered through Perl results in excellent code; idiocy filtered through it results in a variety of moronic drool that is otherwise inaccessible to mere mortals. (Under Python, it results in well-structured, object-oriented, neatly laid-out moronic drool.)
Gibberish is.
(!) [Jimmy] Are you sure you didn't mean: "Three slices of ham and a pocket of petrol. *Flithers*"?
(!) [Brian] My own TAG message came through to me fine, and I got HELD replies from the other three lists. Looks all good to me.
(!) [Ben] Think nothing of it; it was simply an evil plot in which we all colluded to make it look like everything was working fine. But then, when you least expect it...
(!) [Jimmy] Ooh! Another quote opportunity:
"The thing about best laid plans is that they *don't* ofter go wrong. They sometimes go wrong, but not often, because of having been, as aforesaid, the best laid. The kind of plans laid by wizards, who barge in, shout a lot, try to sort it all out by lunchtime and hope for the best, on the other hand... well, they go wrong almost instantly."
(!) [Brian] Thanks, Rick!!!
(!) [Ben] Chinese word for rain: or-yu Your lucky number for today: 3.141592653
(!) [Jimmy] Aw. I just finished reading "The Science of Discworld 3", and would greatly prefer the lucky number to be umptyplex.
[1] He has promised to never drink a whole bottle of straight whiskey again, if only because he's not a rock star, and is therefore not permitted to die by choking on his own vomit.
(!) [Brian] Tonight's listening List, from the front end of the tunes.pls:
Acantus: Acantus
and AC/DC: Who Made Who
The contrast is ... disturbing, yet somehow fulfilling.

(?) And I got a $1 CD from a thrift shop this weekend that looked like punk from the cover but was metal, ugh. A black-and-white cartoon of a chick with boxing gloves punching out a dude. But I can't complain; I got nine CDs for $9, so the two that I liked cost $4.50 each. One is Global Communication's ambient album, which I already have but I got a second copy for when the first one breaks. I had this album originally when it came out in 1994, but all my CDs were stolen in 1998. Then I forgot about it until a roommate moved in who was an electronic DJ, and I started remembering all the ambient stuff I used to like. But GC vanished without a trace after putting out one album, which wasn't popular but to me is the best ambient album ever. So I looked for two years for a copy, then finally found one last year at a used record store. But I really distrust CDs, you never know when they'll self-destruct for no visible reason. I've gone back to vinyl for everything that's available on it, because if it skips you can see what the problem is, and if it has no visible scratches it'll play on any record player, period. Contrary to my CD player which sometimes plays certain disks and sometimes won't, and won't play disks my computer plays perfectly, and won't play CD-R's at all.

The other CD I got was Buck O'Nine. I remembered the name but couldn't remember what they sounded like. But it was from Taang Records (a little oi label in LA) so I figured it must be at least passable. Turned out to be a third-wave ska group. Mediocre but OK.

(!) [Ben] My listening choices today:
"Junkanoo" by Geno D (Bahamian party music)
"I'd Rather Kill You In Your Sleep" and "The Whore" by Dead Dog
The combination worked well, carrying us through scraping barnacles and making minor repairs on a 15-horse outboard engine and well into an amusing interlude of damn nearly strangling over the lyrics of the latter:


I used to think your legs were so long
But last night I slept with a whore
And her legs were longer than "Dances with Wolves"
So I don't like your legs anymore


Sheesh. What's with all that intellectual music I've been listening to lately?...
(!) [Jimmy] My current listening:

"Mezmerize" by System of a Down
"(With Teeth)" by Nine Inch Nails
"Videos 86>98" by Depeche Mode (erm... does that count, being a DVD
rather than a CD?)
"Deliverance" by Opeth
I'm waiting impatiently for the new Nile album to come out. Death metal with an Egypt obsession! (Their lyricist does so much research that he gets graduate students writing to him to ask for his sources :)
(!) [Ben] [1] This ad brought to you by the American Prune Council and the Committee For The Promotion Of Non-Artificial Wood Shavings.
(!) [Jimmy] American Prune Council? I thought you were only joking about your 'old fart' status.
(!) [Rick]
Quoting Benjamin A. Okopnik:

> I used to think your legs were so long
> But last night I slept with a whore
> And her legs were longer than "Dances with Wolves"
> So I don't like your legs anymore
A propos of nothing in particular, though I've never seen the flick in question, I did hasten to read the Pauline Kael New Yorker review, at the time: I figured seeing Kael apply the bladeless sword without a hilt to Mr. Costner's hapless (if likeable) directoral effort would be popcorn-worthy, and was not disappointed.
I believe this was the opening paragraph:
"This is a nature-boy movie, a kid's daydream of being an Indian. When Dunbar has become a Sioux named Dances with Wolves, he writes in his journal that he knows for the first time who he really is. Costner has feathers in his hair and feathers in his head."
But the true highlight was where she said Costner's character's Lakota name actually should have been "Plays with Camera".
(!) [Jimmy] Hee hee hee. I like it. IIRC the director's cut version of "Dances..." was almost 4 hours long. The story wasn't worth sitting through, but the scenery and camera work was.
(!) [Rick] Other great lines from pan movie reviews (courtesy of a discussion thread inviting same on "Improv Message Boards"):
Keith Phipps, about Kim Basinger's "I Dreamed of Africa":
"In the opening segment of 'I Dreamed Of Africa', Kim Basinger breaks her leg. The rest of the film is so dull, you can almost hear the bone heal."
Almost any review of the two "Matrix" sequels:
"Take the blue pill."
A.O. Scott, about "House of D":
"The reasons to avoid David Duchovny's unwatchable coming-of-age drama can best be summarized in a simple declarative sentence: Robin Williams plays a retarded janitor."
The Onion , about "A Man Apart":
"A violent, simplistic revenge thriller, the film casts [Vin] Diesel as a dedicated and efficient DEA agent who shares with his beautiful, loving wife the sort of comically overwrought wedded bliss that exists in action movies solely for the sake of being destroyed."
Eric D. Snider about "Battlefield Earth":
"Forest Whitaker's Ker looks like the love child of Della Reese and a Klingon."
NY Times TV listings, about "Beneath the Planet of the Apes":
"Indeed." (that being the entire review)

(?) News

From Sluggo

News from the United States, where truth is stranger than fiction....


"What started out as an election contest between Democrat Christine Gregoire and Republican Dino Rossi may be turning into a fight between Democratic felons and Republican felons.

In the ongoing dispute over Gregoire's 129-vote victory over Rossi in the governor's race, the state Democratic Party said yesterday it has sent the GOP a list of 428 felons who apparently cast illegal votes in the election.

Eventually, state Democratic Party Chairman Paul Berendt said, his side expects to meet or beat the total of 946 felon voters the GOP has claimed in its legal challenge to the election, set for trial May 23 in Chelan County Superior Court."

(!) [Brian] If Washington State is lucky, this fight will drag out until the next election, when the voters can throw BOTH bums out, and vote in a new set of bums.
After all, felons are just nascent politicians who got caught...

(?) If the GOP gets its way, they'll have a chance in November (or sooner). People here have a low opinion of parties, but I doubt that can overcome the recent red-blue polarization, especially since each side thinks "their" governor deserves a term for having to go through this attack.

(!) [Heather] Maybe they should forced to both be governor, the way conventions sometimes have a co-chair setup. With items only considered signed by the governor if both sign.

(?) On the other hand, the vast majority of people are seething mad the parties got the courts to overturn the blanket primary system (where people could vote for any candidate regardless of party). The parties (R, D, and Libertarian) claim they have the right to choose candidates without interference from non-members. The people say they have the right to ignore whatever the parties want, and view it as a power grab by the parties to gain influence. Curiously, the parties can't prevent self-proclaimed Rs and Ds from getting on the ballot even if the party disapproves, haha.

I have to say, Gregoire was fully ready to concede if she lost. Rossi (and moreso the GOP chairman) are acting like elections are only legitimate if they win. One side takes pains to enfranchise all qualified voters; the other side worries about felons voting. (Hint: the side that's more concerned about felons than enfranchisement is the same party Jeb Bush belongs to.) And they wonder why we question their commitment to democracy....

(!) [Heather] And let's make a few more things so illegal that more people are felons, too. :(
(!) [Jason] I think both parties have about the same level of disrespect for democracy/rule of law. I hate the concept of a recount. We're going to count the votes over, using the exact method we used the first time, and the results are somehow going to be more accurate. It would probably work better if we said "no recounts, coin flip in case of ties". Seriously. If you have a tie, what's a fair way to break it? Flipping a coin is as good as any other way I can think of.

(?) Nobody has dared touch the issue of why are felons prevented from voting anyway? Are people afraid they'll vote for candidates who'll overturn the laws they were convicted on? Puh-lease, there aren't enough felons to make a difference in that. I suppose a more likely scenario is a governor courting the "felon vote" and then pardoning them all, but even that's ridiculous. One "Politician for the Cons" headline and they'd be creamed at the polls. As for arbitrarily restricting felons' rights to make life uncomfortable for them, there are rights and there's the fundamental characteristic of democracy. Which part of d-e-m-o-c-r-a-c-y don't they understand? Have they not heard of taxation without representation?

(!) [Heather] Sure they have. What they seem to lack is how to recognize it. I personally believe parking meter tickets qualify.
(!) [Jason] Well, everybody pays taxes, through inflation and the higher prices they cause. I'm 17, working (part-time), paying taxes, and I can't vote. Is that so wrong? I don't really think so. The nation as a whole is probably better off without the under-18 crowd voting. But it's hard to talk like that. Would 16 be a better voting age? 21? We've essentially said "Everybody has the right to vote, except for..." and then proceed to exclude those who we feel would abuse the privledge. And trouble is, we're right. Think if literally everyone could vote. Can you imagine a 6-year-old kid trying to understand the issues involved? So we take blocs of the population and tell them they can't vote 'cause they're not smart enough. I'm not sure if that's okay or not, but I think the alternative is worse.
(!) [Adam Engel] I didn't want to inject "politics" into TAG (outside my articles for LG), but since the subject has come up...I received the below email (ultimate outstretched hand) from a number of news groups, if anyone is interested. The same people going after Palast are going after Stalllman, GNU, etc. So it is related/relevant. I think.


Palast Investigations Under Attack Iraq oil, elections story scoops generate awards and lawsuits
Our work is under attack and we need your help. Bluntly: without your financial support, we're finished. GregPalast.com will be no more and the on-going investigation of the election, the war and globalization shuts down.
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(?) Where was it where the vice presidency went to the second-top contestant, so he was always in opposition to the president? Was it Mexico?

(!) [Breen] Right here in the USofA, in the early days before the parties got organized.
In California, we can and have elected a Lt. Governor from the opposite party to the Governor. It's proved useful in the past when the sitting Governor had to stay in the state to prevent the LtGov making appointments and signing things, instead of gadding about the country running for President.

(?) In Washington they're trying to abolish the position of Lieutenant Governor saying it's a waste of money. His sole job is waiting around in case the Governor becomes incapacitated. The current Lt Gov has vowed to be Useful and has been pursuing his pet projects. Some people say that's even worse.

No, there was a country where the vice presidency automatically went to the second-highest vote getter, and it did have strong parties because that's why they were in such opposition.

(!) [Jay] And as he noted, that was the US.

(?) I kept thinking "Rome" but couldn't figure out how elections fit in since they didn't have elections.

(!) [Ben] In fact, they did. You had to be at least a member of the Equestrian class (i.e., well-off businessman) to have the franchise, but there were lots and lots of elections in Rome. [1]
(!) [Ben] Erm, I forgot to satisfy that dependency.
[1] So sayeth Caius Minucius Scaevola, Diribitor (voting official) of Nova Roma - a.k.a. Yours Truly. [2]
[2] As if I didn't have enough to do with my Copious Free Time. :p
(!) [Jay]
[3] And the Boulder Daily Camera to the contrary notwithstanding[4], I don't believe Tom Lehrer is "late" ('as in the 'late' Dentarthurdent[5]').
[5] The movie's good.

(?) Turns out I was thinking of the consuls in the Roman Republic, who had to share office with mutual veto power. Similar to what Brian suggested. That must have got mixed in with the murky details of American history.


(!) [Ben] This makes a lot more sense when you come to realize that most Roman political structures were designed so that you couldn't get ahead by stabbing your colleague. Given some of their early (pre-Republican) history, this is not in the least surprising.
The weakness of this system was, of course, demonstrated when you had two consuls who hated each other (Gaius Julius Caesar, everybody's favorite fair-haired boy-hero, was paired up with such a critter during one of his terms, but - as usual - managed to work his way around the obstruction); nothing would get done due to constant deadlocks. However, most Romans - at least those who got to that exalted position - cared enough about their prestige (/dignitas/ and /auctoritas/ both) that they would try to at least work out some sort of compromise for the good of Rome.
(!) [Breen] I recently read a newish history of the end of the Roman Republic: Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic, by Tom Holland.
A good read and relevant today.
(!) [Ben] [perk] If you can provide a capsule review, I know a group of people who'd really appreciate one.

(?) Trying Jasmine green tea pearls today. I wanted loose green tea with Jasmine flowers but it's gotten hard to find.

(!) [Ben] Does Seattle have a Chinatown? I don't recall. You should be able to find it in any sizeable market there if it does.
(!) [Thomas] Really? I have loads of green Jasmine tea -- it tastes like shit. I'll send you it -- loose-leaf OK? :)
(!) [Ben] Check the label, Thomas. You might have bought some Kopi Luwak coffee by mistake. :)
(!) [Thomas] Hehehe. Not quite. :) The worst_ tea that I have tried is Lapsang Souchon - that was just like drinking fire embers... bleh. :)
(!) [Breen] Mmm. Lapsang Souchong. Don't have any now, but I think I'll pick some up this week...

(?) The lady at the tea shop insisted Dragon Phoenix Pearl was the same thing, but I was afraid to try the pearls because it looked like the disgusting Tea of Inquiry (roasted rice) I had the displeasure of trying once. She said the pearls would unfold when it was steeped. Well, they did unfold, and it tastes almost but not quite as good as loose green tea with Jasmine flowers. Actually, it tastes kind of like root beer. Jasmine green has now beaten Earl Green as my favorite flavor.

(!) [Thomas] Earl grey, English breakfast and fruit teas are fine. :)
(!) [Ben] Earl _Green?_ That's cute. I've got about a dozen different kinds of tea on board these days, including /kombu/ (seaweed) - which, oddly enough, tastes kinda like chicken soup - and definitely have jasmine pearls, which I really like.
(!) [Breen] Genmaicha is an acquired taste, but I quite like it.
(!) [Ben] Ditto. I was first introduced to it in a Korean restaurant, and immediately started looking for the stuff on the shelves. Sadly, I don't have any now - will definitely need to remedy _that!_
(!) [Heather] A tea that tastes vaguely like root beer? I really must try some of this stuff. Where did you get them?

(?) It's pretty common. I've seen it at Whole Foods.

(?) Accents

From Sluggo

http://groups-beta.google.com/group/comp.lang.python/browse_thread/thread/1be27ccd50534e1b A thread on the Python list titled, 'When someone from Britain speaks, Americans hear a "British accent"...'

(!) [Rick] Usenet thread in question (cross-posted between rec.sport.cricket and comp.lang.python) features some amiable railery about regional accents and cultural perception thereof, e.g., traditional jokes about unsophisticated Kerrymen in Eire, the West Country and Yorkshire in the UK, "Ockers" in Australia. (The latter term is not regional but denotes a rough-hewn, rustic working man, and is taken from the name of a character played by Aussie comedian Ron Frazer on the satire programme "The Mavis Bramston Show", 1965-68. It's a variant form of "Oscar".)
Some of the finer points in this discussion were interesting, especially these from Steven D'Aprano, posting from Australia:
> But don't worry, there is one thing we all agree on throughout the
> English-speaking world: you Americans don't speak English.
> There are a few things that you can do to help:
> Herb starts with H, not E. It isn't "ouse" or "ospital" or "istory".
> It isn't "erb" either. You just sound like tossers when you try to
> pronounce herb in the original French. And the same with homage.

(?) Except when it is. (Cockney)

(!) [Jimmy] 'ave an 'eart, mate!
(!) [Rick] I'd forgotten about this one, having moved back to the USA so many years ago, and adopted Yank pronunciation in most matters: In American usage, silent-h "herb" denotes a plant leaf used for food or medicine, distinguishing it form hard-h "Herb" as a given name. In Commonwealth English, the h is always pronounced.
> Taking of herbs, there is no BAY in basil.

(?) What do Brits say instead?

(!) [Jimmy] I'll try this in SAMPA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SAMPA_chart_for_English). It's ["b{zl] or ["b{zIl]. (Though I'm not sure whether or not the first should be ["b{zl], ["b{z@l], or ["b{zl=]. Probably not the last).
(!) [Rick] Taken either from Greek "basilikon" = royal or Latin "basilisk". Either way, the American hard-a departs further from the historic pattern. Interesting to note that, again, Yanks use different pronuncation for the given name "Basil", to distinguish it from the herb.

(?) We do? I call both BAY-sill. But Basel in Switzerland is bazzle.

(!) [Rick] BAAH-sil, for both meanings (personal given name and plant). Which is fairly close to the way the Greek and Latin possible origins are pronounced.

(?) I heard the word comes from Greek basileus (king), because it's the "king of herbs". (Interesting, I would say "herb" there, but "it's an erb" and "we need a 'erb".)

(!) [Rick] Or from Latin basiliscus (English "basilisk") because its sharpness of flavour and aroma conjure up the fire-breathing dragons of myth. We'll probably never know, unless some word-hunter spends time chasing it down.

(?) I heard it from a Greek Orthodox priest. The word basileus (now pronounced "vossil-EFS") is used all over in the hymns and New Testament. Vasili ("Vah-SEE-lee") is a common first name (I'm not sure how they anglicize it: Basile?), and one of the three liturgies is named after St Basil the Great.

(!) [Ben] "Vasili" is a very common Russian name, and the etymology is well known - I knew it meant 'king' by, oh, age 10 for certain. Etymology, history, related names, etc. here:

(?) Against this background he said basil was so-named because it was considered the "king" of herbs. So I guess basil has a long and honorable history in Greek. As for basiliscus, it seems to come from basileus too. "dict basilisk" says:


From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 [gcide]:

Basilisk \Bas"i*lisk\, n. [L. basiliscus, Gr. basili`skos little
king, kind of serpent, dim. of basiley`s king; -- so named
from some prominences on the head resembling a crown.]
1. A fabulous serpent, or dragon. The ancients alleged that
its hissing would drive away all other serpents, and that
its breath, and even its look, was fatal. See
[1913 Webster]

Make me not sighted like the basilisk. --Shak.
[1913 Webster]


I don't know what it means by "basiley's king".

(!) [Ben] It means that "dict" sucks at being denotational. What that should have said is something like


Basilisk \Bas"i*lisk\, n. [L. "basiliscus", Gr. "basili`skos": little
king; kind of serpent; dim. of "basiley`s" (king)


Conveying meta-information is clearly not their long suit.

(?) It's no worse than the usual corruption of a (ah) to short a (cat) or long a (bay).

(!) [Rick]
> And oregano sounds like Ray Romano, not oh-reg-ano.
That is, it's "orr-i-GAH-no" in Commonwealth English, and "o-REG-a-no" among Yanks. The former is close to the scientific neo-Latin species name (oreganum vulgare), which got it from heaven's knows where. (The usual claim of Greek origin is wrong because oros = mountain simply doesn't fit the word's long-"i" sound.)
> And please, fillet of fish only has a silent T if you are speaking
> French.

(?) Really? And buffet too?

(!) [Rick] I'm no authority on regional usage, since travel has made me hopelessly heterodox. (Mrs. Alexander, from the Fourth Form, Peak School, Victoria, Hong Kong Royal Crown Colony, would be dismayed to hear me no longer say "aeroplane", and almost never pronounce "schedule" or "zebra" correctly, any more.) But my recollection is that the noun meaning a type of self-service meal is pronounced very close to the original French, in all English-speaking countries.
(!) [Dave Williams] In aviation the 't' in buffet is always pronounced.
(!) [Rick] I'll just note in passing that this is an application of the second sense of the word I mentioned, the one meaning "a blow" (noun) or "to strike" (verb).
(!) [Dave] Incidentally, when I was growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, we lived in several US states. Though it may have just been one of those bizarre results of chance, it wasn't until the late 1970s that I came across "buffet" to refer to a self-service meal. Prior to that, the only word I'd ever encountered for that was "smorgasbord." (central California, Florida, Tennessee) Since 1980 or so, I've seen the word "smorgasbord" at a restaurant only once, as far as I can remember.

(?) I've never heard "smorgasbord" used for an actual meal, only buffet. Bay Area 1966-72, Seattle 72-onward. Half the Seattle natives are Norwegian to some degree (as I am), so you'd think they'd have lots of smorgasbords. But no. "Smorgasbord" seems to be more an abstract term, meaning "lots of different food together". Buffets require a dedicated serving table, but smorgasbords don't. A large dining table with people around it and a wide variety of food in the middle is also a smorgasbord. But smorgasbord also connotes "sandwich fixin's" -- little slices of bread, cold cuts, cheese, sliced vegetables. A typical family-style dinner (meat, potatoes, salad, cooked vegetables) is not a smorgasbord. A Thanksgiving dinner, maybe.

"dict smorgasbord" has an amusingly precise definition (WordNet): "an assortment of foods starting with herring or smoked eel or salmon etc with bread and butter; then cheeses and eggs and pickled vegetables and aspics; finally hot foods; served as a buffet meal"

Buffets, hmm. There's the hoity-toity buffet served at fancy hotels and golf clubs. (Not that kind of golf club, Jimmy. Put that 9-iron down before you hurt somebody.)

(!) [Jimmy] Aw. You never let me have any fun

(?) Pick your favorite items from fancy platters and let a chef cut you a custom slice of prime rib. But increasingly I've seen lunch buffets at Indian, Chinese, and vegetarian restaurants. And Mongolian grills, which are by nature buffets.

I vote for a smorgasbord in the TAG lounge.

(!) [Dave] hmm... most of the definitions I'm finding on Google imply a seafood buffet. Here's a variant one from word-detective.com:


Dear Word Detective: English is not my mother tongue, and sometimes I find words in a dictionary which my American colleagues have never heard before, so I simply stop using them. One of such words is "smorgasbord." Could you please tell me something about its meaning and origin (if it exists in English at all)? -- Ivana.
"Smorgasbord" does indeed exist in English, and I'm surprised that your co-workers don't know it. A "smorgasbord" is an offering of food, ranging from simple hors d'oeuvres to a full dinner, presented as a serve-yourself spread on a sideboard or table separate from where diners are seated. Granted, "smorgasbord" started out as a Swedish word, but it has been used frequently in English since the late 19th century, long enough to qualify as an English word as well.
The roots of "smorgasbord" speak to its origins as an assortment of simple appetizers set out for dinner guests. "Smorgas" in Swedish means "slice of bread and butter" (the "smor" is related to the English "smear"), and "bord" simply means "board," or in this case "table."


(?) 'gas' means goose. "butter goose table". I always took that literally and assumed Scandinavians ate lots of goose. But Wikipedia claims it's figurative: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smorgasbord Thus, "butter butter table"! (I suppose butter can have "geese" the same way dragons can have "crowns".)


(!) [Dave] Today, however, the term is usually taken to mean a full and often elaborate assortment of dishes, and any host who led his guests to expect a "smorgasbord" and presented them with naught but bread and butter might well end up on the evening news. Since the late 1940s, "smorgasbord" has also been used in a metaphorical sense to mean "a wide variety or range," as in "The defendant faces a smorgasbord of charges ranging from mopery to vote tampering."
I remember hearing and reading about "smorgasbords" fairly often during the Scandinavian craze that swept the U.S. in the mid-1960s (the same period during which everyone received a fondue pot for Christmas).


(!) [Rick] And, just to clarify, fondue pots (albeit indeed a silly '60s fad) are not Scandinavian, but rather Swiss.


(!) [Dave] If your friends are unfamiliar with the word, it's probably because they know the "serve yourself" dining arrangement as a "buffet," a meal, like a "smorgasbord," served on a sideboard or separate table. "Buffet" is an imported French word of unknown origin for a side table, common in English since the early 18th century. "Buffet" dining in the U.S. today, aside from dinner parties and the wretched "breakfast buffet" offered in many motels, is usually found in all-you-can-eat emporiums where customers can (and, from the looks of some of them, do) graze until the cows come home.


(!) [Rick] The noun / verb sense of the word meaning a blow / to strike is pronounced differently -- again, to my knowledge on both sides of the pond + Australia, New Zealand, India, etc. -- is pronounced somewhat like "buff it".
(!) [Rick] This one, I did remember. In Commonwealth English, it sounds close to "fill it".
> Aluminium is al-u-min-ium, not alum-i-num.

(?) Yanks often don't even recognize the word when it's pronounced that way.

(!) [Jimmy] Heh. I saw an interview with an English actress once, and the interviewer was asking about the differences she found living in America. One of the things she mentioned was that waitresses didn't understand her when she asked for water. ["wA:t@] vs. ["wAd@`] (vs. ["w{T@`] in Hiberno-English)
(!) [Breen] Which reminds me of the story about a Russian chess Grandmaster (Bogolyubov?) who asked a page for a drink during a tournament. The page brought a glass of clear liquid -- the GM took a swig and nearly choked.
The page had heard "Voda" but the player had said - and expected - "Vodka".
Breen (Se non e vero, e ben trovato.)
(!) [Rick] Isaac Asimov (an accomplished biochemist before he became Master Explainer to the world) once lavished one of his very engaging essays, entitled "The Mispronounced Metal", in _The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction_ (Oct. 1973, reprinted in Of Matters Great and Small , 1975) on this question: He pointed out that Humphry Davy, discoverer of the element, at first used "alumium" for the element in 1808, but soon thereafter changed that to "aluminum" (current American usage), to match the Latin root. As he discovered and named other elements, though, those tended to get "ium" suffixes: potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium, strontium. So, he agreed in 1812 to change element 13 to "aluminium" in the name of uniformity. Americans at first used this form, but then went back to "aluminum" in the late 1800s.
Asimov provided a scholarly but very entertaining explanation (which I can no longer recall) of why the chemistry and physics of the element -- even if not spelling uniformity with other Davy-discovered elements -- strongly favours "aluminum", not "aluminium". I can't find the essay online (no surprise), but did find this citation of its opening paragraph:
What do you call that nice, shiny white metal they use to make sidings and airplanes out of? Aluminum, right? Aluminum, pronounced 'uh-LOO-mih-num', right? Anybody knows that! But do you know how the British spell it? 'Aluminium', pronounced 'Al-yoo-MIH-nee-um'. Ever hear anything so ridiculous? The French and Germans spell it 'aluminium', too, but they're foreigners who don't speak Earth-standard. You'd think the British, however, using our language, would be more careful.
Here's a paraphrase of Asimov's analysis, which someone posted to sci.materials:


Potassium Aluminum Sulfate was known by the Romans as "Alumen", a word which seems to be related to the Greek for "bitter".
In 1746 Johann Heinrich Pott obtained a "simple earth" (compounds which did not dissolve in water, melt in fire, or burn in air) from alumen. Following the practice of the day, he called it "alumina".
By 1790 Lavoisier had established the present system of chemical nomencalture, which was becoming internationally accepted. In that system, metals had names ending in -um. Hence platinum, molybdenum, and tantalum.
When Humphrey Davey believed he had isolated a metal from alumina, he called it "aluminum". However, due to the chance vagaries of language, many metals were prepared from compounds ending in "i", and became therefore ----ium. The momentum of the times carried aluminum with it.
Until 1880 no element had an English name with more than four syllables, except aluminum in Britain. Even now, those that do are not common.
Therefore, it is aluminum, NOT aluminium.


> Scientists work in a la-bor-atory, not a lab-rat-ory, even if they
> have lab rats in the laboratory.
This usage difference is well known, thanks in part to any number of old Peter Cushing mad-scientist movies.
> Fans of the X-Men movies and comics will remember Professor Charles
> Xavier. Unless you are Spanish (Kh-avier), the X sounds like a Z:
> Zaviour.  But never never never Xecks-Aviour or Eggs-Savior.
I would speculate that the latter forms are not any form of Americanism, but rather people struggling with an unfamiliar name. To my knowledge, the standard pronunciation is the same between Commonwealth and US English.
(!) [Jay] Nope; I've always heard the X pronounced, from Massachusetts to Florida.
Now, granted, I don't hear the name said aloud very often, but... 'mongst 'murricans? Yeah, people tend to pronounce the X. Just took a short poll about the office, and X won, 2 out of 3 (which, I guess, ain't bad).
(!) [Dave] In high school French class in the early '70s, we were told to pronounce it "Zah-vee-eh" with a nasal "eh."
As to how accurate that was, I haven't a clue.
(!) [Jimmy] That would be a valid French pronunciation, AFAIR.
(!) [Dave] Even English names can be troublesome. I'd been aware of "Sean" for at least fifteen years before I found out it's pronounced the same as "Shawn."
(!) [Jimmy] Shawn is an American spelling of Sean (which is not an English name, by the way, it's Irish. It does appear in Scotland, but IIRC, the Gaelic version is Ian). Caitlin is also an Irish name, pronounced the same as 'Kathleen', not 'Kate Lynn'.
(!) [Jimmy] While I'm at it, I should say that 'Sean' is the Irish rendering of 'John', while 'Caitlin' is the diminutive of 'Cait', the shortened version of 'Catriona', which is the Irish version of 'Catherine'.
(!) [Rick] At the risk of sounding (or being) stubborn, I'd say this means you've encountered people not familiar with the name, all the way from Massachusetts to Florida. Label me an Eastern-Establishment elitist if you like, but I draw a distinction between "very common bad guess" and "standard pronunciation". ;->
It's a Basque name, the only Basque name (to my knowledge) that gets any kind of exposure outside that small mountain region -- and known to the world because of the tireless -- but mostly futile -- Jesuit missionary work of one Francis Xavier (1506-1552) in Japan.

(?) It has also become a common Spanish name, including LG's own Javier Malonda. Spanish pronounces x like Spanish j (kh) and sometimes spells it that way too: Quixote/Quijote, Mexico/Mejico, Texas/Tejas. (Interestingly, I've never seen texano, only tejano ("person from Texas").

X at the start of a word is usually pronounced z (xylophone, Xerxes), so Xavier follows that tradition. But it can be hard not to say Ksevier when you're reading the word (as opposed to remembering how people say it).

(!) [Rick] Rome canonised him in 1622, even though the man spent a huge amount of the Society of Jesus's wealth trying to convert the Japanese, with only about 1% success for their pains. Xavier's biggest problem, fatal to his ambitions, was that he hadn't a clue about Japanese internal politics, wasn't aware that the emperor he pinned all his hopes on was a figurehead, and wasn't aware that he himself was a pawn in Japan's ongoing civil wars.
Anyhow, the name is reasonably well known in Spanish-speaking countries, especially among devout Catholics, but pretty darned exotic in English-speaking ones. Two out of three people in your office tried to tackle an impossibly difficult-looking, foreign name that they didn't know, and missed. That doesn't tell you bupkes about "standard pronunciation".
(!) [Rick]
> Nuclear. Say no more.
I think English-speakers everywhere, including the USA (and yes, in Texas), classify "nukular" as illiterate usage -- sometimes deliberately adopted, e.g., if hypothetically a politician emerged from Andover Acadmey and Yale University, but wanted to come across as just plain folks.

(?) I don't know how many people would notice the difference. I prob'ly wouldn't, not unless it was highly exaggerated. It's like when Brits say cah you hear car even though you "know" they're not pronouncing the r. (Unless you mistake it for caw, as sometimes happens.)

(!) [Rick] Really? As with "ah-thuh-lete", I wince and pity the speaker -- which is the sort of response that makes possible the theatrical anti-Eastern-liberal-elitism posture some people aim at, in deliberately adopting those and similar examples of semiliterate pronunciation. Thus my point.

(?) I guess I'm too much of a philistine. Nook-you-lr and ath-uh-leet are what I grew up saying coz everybody said it that way. At some point I unconsciously switched to nook-lee-r most of the time but never 100%. (Maybe. I don't know which one I say when I'm not consciously thinking about it.) Certainly I've never heard "nukular is wrong" or "nucular sounds uneducated" before.

(!) [Ben] [blink] Mike, are you serious? Over time, I've probably seen hundreds if not thousands of occasions where someone lampoons that pronunciation in order to imply ignorance. From the other direction, I don't think I've heard even a dozen people use "nukular" in a serious fashion. As to "ath-uh-leet" - although I don't think it gets used the same way as "nukular", to me it implies at least a lack of linguistic sophistication. IMO, it's a regional variant, generally in the South: since I'm in Atlanta right now, I would not be surprised if I heard it, especially from older black people.

(?) Occasionally I notice the extra vowel but just put it down to "lots of English words are pronounced differently than they're spelled".

(!) [Rick] English pronunciation is a notorious basket case, for readily understood historical reasons (being the result of a violent collision between a dialect of lowland German aka Old English and late Gallic Latin aka Norman French), but not generally to the point of inventing entire imaginary syllables.
The Brits , now: They do excruciating things to words, especially those of French extraction, but also others for which they have no excuse (Marylebone, lieutenant, Ralph, Worchestershire, Chomondeley) -- but their sin is generally dropping entire syllables or using odd but barely logical sounds in them. Not dropping in extra rubbish in a manner suggesting a whole tribe of people all aping the same dyslexic and never bothering to check the spelling.
For your amusement, the aforementioned words, in the UK, are pronounced as follows: Marley-bone[1], left-tenant, Rafe, Wooster-shir, Chumley.
[1] This doesn't seem quite so bad, until you realise that this placename is a mangled version of "[St.] Mary a le burn", the name of a chapel that once stood at that site.

(?) Ath-leet and nook-lee-r sound a bit more formal. But I do switch back and forth with athlete. And herb too, now that I think about it.

I can imagine an actor playing an uneducated Texan saying, "I don't know if that newfangled nook-you-lr ree-act-or we got in town is safe." That sounds uneducated because of the whole sentance. But "nucular" alone would not sound significant to me; just a variation like tomayto/tomahto and coyotee/coyote.

(!) [Ben] Accepted variations tend to be listed in, e.g., Websters; note that "nucular" is not.

(?) Now if they said "ain't", that'd be a different matter.

(!) [Ben] That one, along with "an't", is listed in "gcide" and others - and denoted as "[Colloq. & illiterate speech]".
(!) [Jimmy] FWIW, I say 'nuke lee ar', but that's still two syllables :) ('ee ar' is a common dipthong in Irish).

(?) New clear?

(!) [Jimmy] Oddly enough, I don't generally say 'clear' that way. Hmph.

(?) There's a town near Seattle called Puyallup. Everybody pronounces it pyoo-AL-up (short a) even though some people claim it's "supposed" to be poo-YAWL-up. But I had a college friend (from Texas) who used to say as a joke: "pull-y'all-UP".

(!) [Ramon] I loved the link in the same thread to this site though:
It archives 438 different types of accents of non-native english speakers with samples
(!) [Jimmy] Heh. I tried the Tagalog and Polish samples, because I work with native speakers of both, and none of the samples sounded anything like the people I work with. In fairness, though, the samples seem to be of people who have been speaking English for a fairly long time - the Polish samples had 'th' sounds (the people I know generally go with 'd' for the 'th' in 'brother' and 't' or 'f' for the 'th' in 'things' (apart from one girl, who manages to say 'tf' there)) and the Tagalog samples have 'f' and 'v' sounds (most of the guys I know can't manage either, except when they're saying 'for fuck's sake', in which case they say it with a fairly thick Irish accent :).

(?) From Realtime Interrupt by James Hogan, chapter 5.

[About a virtual reality experiment gone horribly wrong, but in this scene the protagonist Corrigan is a bartender in Pittsburgh talking to one of the waitresses Sherri about a customer Delila. Some extraneous details removed.]


"I don't know how you stand that woman the way you do," Sherri said. "She's so gross with her 'I've got this' and 'I've got that' all the time. But you can just stand there and say 'that's nice' like you do. You'll have to teach me how to do it.

Corrigan smiled wryly. "Oh, that's an old Irish story," he said. "You'd have no problem if you knew it."

"Well, tell me, then," Sherri invited....

"It's like this," he said. "Two woman are sharing a hospital room in Dublin, you see. One is from Foxrock. That's south of the city, where all the money is -- she'd be one of your Delilas. The other's the complete opposite: bottom end of the social spectrum--what we'd call a roight auld slag."

"You mean like parts of the South Bronx?"

"Maybe. Anyway, Delila wants to make sure there's no mkstake about who she is, see. So she says to the other..." Corrigan mimicked a prim tone: "'Ah, I hope you don't imagine I am accustomed to sharing like this. Usually, I go to the private wing.'"

He changed to a shrill, coarser accent. "'Oh, yiss?' says the other, who we'll say was Mary. 'Dat's noice.'

"'I'll have you know,' says Delila, 'that my husband is an extrememly successful man and takes very good care of me. The last time I was a patient, he took me on a Carribean cruise to recuperate.'

"'Dat's noice.'

"'And on the occasion before that, he bought me a diamond pendant to compensate me for the discomfort.'

"'Dat's noice.'

"'Out of curiosity, does your husband show such consideration when you are confined?'

"'Oh, yiss, o' course 'e does,' says Mary. 'When we 'ad our last one, 'e sent me fer elocution and etiquette lessons.'

"'*What!?* *Elocution?* How would somebody like you even know what that word means?'

""E did, too. See, at one time, whenever oi 'eard people tellin' me a load o'buillshit, oi used to tell 'em ter fuck orf. Now oi just smiles at 'em all proper, like, and oi say, "Dat's noice."'"


(!) [Ramon] I remember a friend telling me he met a really nice (small & frail looking) thai lady in Thailand.
However the minute she opened her mouth it became clear she'd married a englishman and learned her english from him.
English with a very strong cockney accent :-)


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Published in Issue 116 of Linux Gazette, July 2005