2012.03 minutiae

  • I just learned that women who changed their names upon getting married are forced to use their birth names while living in Quebec. The law doesn't apply if the marriage and name change occurred before 1981.0402, but if e.g. the Obamas moved to Montreal, one of those driver's licenses would say Michelle Robinson. Tabernac!

  • I am on record proposing the following distinction among social networking sites, or at least my experience of them:

    • Twitter: friends make telegraphically constrained jokes

    • Facebook: friends post pictures of their childlings, talk about mundane life events ("I'm sick," "bad commute today," "went jogging"), post links to products/organizations they like

    • Google Plus: friends douse each other with firehoses of links, mainly articles from academia and the intelligent media

    Let's test this theory! As I type this, I have just signed onto all three sites. Here's what greets me:

    • Twitter: "I hereby declare that 'I apologize if anything I said offended anyone' is to be called 'Schrodinger's non-apology'."

    • Facebook: "Miles and Dad bonding while listening to the French soccer game"

    • Google Plus: "In the sample of healthy young Belgian women (half of whom were vaginally orgasmic), history of vaginal orgasm (triggered solely by penile-vaginal intercourse) was diagnosable by appropriately trained sexologists by observing walking gait. Clitoral orgasm history was unrelated to both ratings and to vaginal orgasm history. Exploratory analyses suggest that greater pelvic and vertebral rotation and stride length might be characteristic of the gait of women who have experienced vaginal orgasm (r = 0.51, P < 0.05)."

  • While I'm on the topic, it seems to me that a great breakthrough in social networking would be autodetected subject tags. Manually entered subject tags have been around for ages on blogging sites, but even if they were available on e.g. Facebook I imagine that few people would actually use them — the ratio of tagging effort to posting effort would be too high. But it's strange to me that Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus put so much emphasis on filtering whom you can see and so little on filtering what you can see. For instance, just looking at my Facebook feed here, here's an international travel post; it's by someone I haven't seen since the '80s, but it's still interesting. A post about an unusual incident in class by someone I've only met once in my life — still interesting. On the flip side, no matter how well I know you or how much I like you… I don't care at all about running. Some days my feed is like 50% marathons and marathon prep and my interest in these posts is exactly zero. But I don't want to filter out the people, only the subject! Surely it can't be too complicated for the site to do some sort of quick analysis, even if it's just a keyword match, and add a bunch of tags about the likely content of a post that could then be run through filters?

  • I know that a lot of people seem to think that overcooking vegetables is a mortal culinary sin, but in most cases I would much rather eat vegetables that were significantly overcooked than those that were even slightly undercooked.

  • It seems to me that the noun form of "frantic" should be "frantor."

  • A fire devastated a large building on the corner of Telegraph and Haste a few months ago, claiming the venerable Cafe Intermezzo and leaving the rest of the building a total loss. The shell has slowly been dismantled. As I was driving up Telegraph, I noticed an interesting result: apartments in the building next door, whose windows once looked out onto a brick wall a few inches away, now have expansive views out those windows. That also means the rest of the world can look in. And a lot of residents apparently didn't have much of an impromptu curtain budget because I saw an awful lot of towels and bedsheets and things being pressed into service.

  • Why do so many students raise their hands to ask questions and then lower them the moment the professor actually looks in their direction? It's kind of astonishing how often I see a boldly raised hand suddenly become a cringing "never mind" as soon as there's a chance of actually being called on. Srsly, wtf.

  • I went to Target at 10 a.m. on a Friday. I think I was the only one there without a two-year-old. Several of the two-year-olds were repeating a word incessantly, as they are wont to do. In one case, that word was "twagic." "Twagic, twagic," the toddler recited from the shopping cart seat.

  • Bay Area types: I strongly recommend you get Sonic.net as your broadband provider, if it isn't already. After eighteen months of fast, uncapped, hiccup-free service, I finally needed to call tech support, and it was super friendly and super competent. No waiting for hours on hold — leave a number and someone will call you either ASAP or at a time of your choosing. I had someone cheerfully walk me through a reconfiguration at eleven o'clock on a Friday night.

    However, it turned out that my modem was fried, so I had to order a new one. I decided against ordering express shipping, since being without a modem didn't seem like it'd be such an inconvenience — the Albany Public Library is just down the street, the wifi is on 24 hours a day, and the signal reaches outside the building. Still, I tended to get a little freaked out when I was sitting in my car in the library parking lot at 3 a.m. and another car drove in. One time I was checking my email a bit past midnight when a couple of dudes wandered in, ducked into a shallow alcove, and undid their pants. I don't know whether they were just taking a leak or whether they had romance in mind, but I decided to relocate to the closed Starbucks.

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