2012.08 minutiae

  • Telling me not to eat at Chick-fil-a because the owners fund groups fighting against gay rights is like telling me not to club baby seals because the club manufacturers won't let their workers unionize.

  • I was gobsmacked to discover that Berkeley Bowl hiked the price of those Calabrian peppers I like from $3.49 to <blink>$8.49!</blink> We live in dystopian times.

  • I know this has been a summer of record-breaking heat for most here in North America. If you'd expect an exception, it'd be up in the Puget Sound area, which is traditionally the one green spot on a blazing red summer temperature map… but Victoria BC is just across the way, and Elizabeth reports that it has been sweltering. Meanwhile, down here in the Bay Area I've spent much of August wearing a fleece jacket. It is weird to look at a map of the west coast and see it covered in 96es except for a big 61 over my house.

  • My current computer didn't come with a word processor, so after poking around for a bit I decided to get Open Office. But I didn't start using it heavily until fairly recently, and I soon found myself very irked by the fact that (a) it doesn't scroll properly and (b) people have been complaining about this since at least 2004 and the maintainers refuse to fix it. I tried to find another free word processor that seemed remotely usable, but failed. I even installed Microsoft Word 2002 because I had the CD lying around my apartment, but that hasn't proven to be much of a solution: not only does it not shade non-breaking characters, but it overrides my tab settings whenever it thinks making them a different size would be prettier. Infuriating.

  • Wait, was the person who designed Open Office's scrolling the same person who thought it was a good idea to create web pages that load new content when you scroll down, inevitably making the page jump unpredictably and causing you to lose your place? Or if those were by two different people, can we make them fight to the death or something?

  • I was grievously disheartened as the election returns came in and it became clear that Romney and Ryan were rolling to a big victory… and relieved beyond words to wake up and realize that it had been a dream, because my brain had provided none of the usual subconscious signals that this wasn't really happening. I guess I was set off by that PPP poll showing Elizabeth Warren losing by five points to Scott Brown, because in the dream Romney had actually won Massachusetts — commentators were astonished that the GOP wave had extended so far, and then others chimed in that, hey, Romney had won the governorship there back in '02…

    …and it occurs to me that while the idea of Mitt Romney as president is seriously traumatic, I lived in Massachusetts for three years while he was governor and I was barely aware of his existence. What a difference an 85.5% Democratic legislature makes, I guess.

  • You Kids, Get Off My Lawn department: I totally don't understand the whole subculture of people who post Youtube videos consisting of a montage from a TV show with some random pop song on top. I was watching a show, recognized an actress, went looking for a clip of her on her previous show, and the search results were just page after page after page of fake music videos.

  • Having well over a thousand files in my Calendar directory was causing problems, so I sorted them into subdirectories and whipped up a custom 404 page that would automatically reroute people to the Calendar pages' new addresses. It worked fine in Firefox, Chrome, and Opera, so I figured I was all set. But I recently discovered that Internet Explorer won't load custom 404 pages unless they're long enough for its liking. I had to add a giant comment to the 404 page that does nothing but pad it out so that IE will acknowledge it. That program can't die fast enough.

  • How did I manage to own Please Please Me for 23 years without realizing that it's actually pretty good?

  • One wrinkle to the Todd Akin story you may have missed: he put up a web petition and urged visitors to "Tell McCaskill That Your Standing With Todd Akin!" Someone pointed out that "Your" is incorrect in that context. So the message was revised to read: "Tell McCaskill That Your're Standing With Todd Akin!"

  • I was reading an article on Wikipedia about German humor. Here is one of the items under the heading of "Traditional joke themes and forms":

    Fritzchen (Little Fritz): A boy of 8-10, who traps adults (usually teachers, parents or policemen) in witty plays of question and answer, exposing their silly or bashful adult ways.

    Example: Fritzchen and his grandma walk along the pavement. Fritzchen finds a 10 Pfennig coin, but his grandma intervenes: "No, don't pick up anything lying on the ground!" Soon afterwards Fritzchen finds a 10 Mark note, but again his grandma says "No, don't pick up anything lying on the ground!" Soon there is a banana lying on the pavement, grandma steps on it and slips over. "Help me, Fritzchen!", she cries, but Fritzchen says: "No, don't pick up anything lying on the ground!" (Note that because of their being hard to come by, bananas were a highly-craved commodity in East Germany)

    Is it just me, or is the parenthetical at the end the funny part?

  • So last year I talked about how my car seemed to be near the end of its lifespan, but then the battery went dead, and putting in a new battery resolved a bunch of different problems? Well, it turned out that it resolved the problems for nine months. The car started acting up again and I took it back down to the shop. The mechanic said:

    • "Time to get a new car"
    • "That'll be $529.33"

    It sure would have been nice if those statements had been linked by an OR instead of an AND.

  • I was at a lecture in which the professor was explaining that Andrew Jackson's policy of Indian removal was reviled in New England due to the influence of evangelical Christianity there. A hand shot up and the professor called on its owner. The question: couldn't it be because the population shift would lead to an unfavorable reapportionment at the next census?

    The aspies are bringing the heat early this semester!

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