Saturday, December 26, 2009

In case you missed it...

Nick Dupree doesn't have a regular Wikipedia entry, just the "User" version. However his blog and in particular his YouTube version pretty much says it all.

I post this because it makes me imagine what would happen to our comparatively minor inconveniences with life if Nick were the "complaint manager" for the world. You've been having trouble finding a parking place so you walk into his office and he asks "what's your problem?" and in an instant his "no worries, mate" response fills you right up.

How we have checked our humanity at the door is, I must admit, troubling.


Friday, December 25, 2009

putting the "X" back in Xmas

There are a lots worse things to be than alone on Christmas day in Madrid.

I hear the fishing is great in Iraq, so for any servicepersons who enjoy angling...

So I'm listening to Louis Armstrong ca 1938 singing "I've Got the World on a String" and realizing that he was probably as high as I am as I look through the window at the no-off-days Chinese guy's store across calle de Seco and wonder why, as my "landlord" says we can't just celebrate every day as intensely as we do Christmas. I think maybe we are more in the joy of Xmas, the day when we realize just how absurd it is to be other than optimistic/Utopian as the days inexorably lengthen and the prospects are certainly rosier than they are dire.

We've all been on Bro. Dylan's Desolation Row at times but there's no profit in the actual blues - only the musical kind!

I am always surprised when I learn that somebody besides me reads these rants but in case anyone is "Mary Xmas" and let's look forward to many more.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

More on hyperlink bullet-proofing

I have now "repaired" two link failures that required me to go to the Wayback Machine's archives. Whatever I did could have been automated in a routine of reasonable doability. The only human mind power I used was to select which archived piece was the one I intended and I simply chose the earliest. It could have been the one closest to the date I posted the link or...

This might put a burden on the Wayback Machine but I think it can handle it, if not there's lots of free storage space for such things.

In doing this I realized that I had bypassed the linked-to site's subsequent "forbidden" order and I wonder if I could use it to, e.g. get New York Times archives without subscribing to the NYT?


Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Language Barrier

I get more perspective on human language as I'm staying afloat in a Sea of Spanish. I point to something at the charcuterie and read the little sign stuck into what looks like a smoked pork chop and gesture as to how thick to cut it and become addicted to chuletas Sajonias (chops, Saxon style) or the same meat without bone as filetes sajonias. Before long I'm getting slices of chorizo and other marvels.

Then I go to the pescador counter and prawns are called langostinos and mussels are mejillos and the tuna for my sashimi is atun, which he slices from a huge slab. The carniceria is less interesting because I still make a pretense at vegetgarianism.

The produce section has a really dazzling array of mostly familiar items, but of marvelous quality. A bag of Clementina tangerines keeps me busy for a couple of days.

The hashish is outstanding, the people are super-friendly and the women startlingly beautiful. I don't know how I missed knowing about Madrid all these years but I'm sure glad we found each other.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Rights - What Rights?

NYT: "On Dec. 10, 1948, the U.N. General Assembly adopted its Universal Declaration on Human Rights."

Subsequently the U.N. issued a "convention" which elaborated on the application of said "rights" to People With Disabilities. I hope it's not sixty years before we begin to take steps to demand those rights - above states' rights - for all humans.

As we march and shout in Spain "Derechos Humanos Ya!"

If you wondered what you would have done had you been a German in the 1930s when they took the crips and Gypsies away to test the gas chambers, now you can find out through self-examination. If you're into "I'm not a Gypsy so I don't care that they are all being murdered" then please stand aside so I can carry my sign and perhaps even bring legal action at an international level.


Monday, December 7, 2009

More DUH!

From a spam notice: "Now you can talk and drive without using your hands."

No info on how the Bluetooth drives for you.

I am struck by how late to the dance are legislators, etc. who pretend that they are just finding out that distraction is the danger, not just using one's hands or eyes.

Particularly with aging I notice that just distractive thought is dangerous as are tuning the radio, looking at your passenger, and a host of other activities, but what we are getting are rules against texting and in some cases using the cellphone while at the wheel.

They have in some places forbade putting a TV where the driver might watch, but the GPS has eased this ban on visual distraction, although one could use the navigator in voice-only mode, but it doesn't work all that well.

Just as we made progress with seat belts and drinking/driving we will have to address distraction per se. The SKI Study on elder vision includes: "aging significantly reduces the effective visual field under conditions of divided attention (white circles, red line), and coarse stereopsis (depth perception) is also greatly impaired." and "Older persons self-restrict their driving based on several aspects of their vision, but not on the basis of deficits on attentional fields (measuring divided attention performance — one of the most important correlates of accidents). Testing and education is therefore needed."

And all Department of Motor Vehicle testing agencies still use the primitive visual acuity charts that are actually pretty useless.