Monday, December 23, 2013

Hodgepodge

My first thought on posting today was to mention Barry Ritholtz's article at Bloomberg on the subsidizing of corporations, namely Wal-Mart. I hadn't thought of a title yet. Having had enough coffee, my next idea was a discussion of Christmas, namely by way of the Christ myth theory. Then I thought about including several links, such as I have done, and calling the whole post Hodgepodge. And there it is. But what delights me most, loving words as I do, is the citation from the inestimable Etymonline on the origin of this word. Check that out here. Then read Ritholtz's article.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Is violence rational?

I've been following the great lawyer-journalist Glenn Greenwald for a while, in fact long before the NSA Affair was brought to light with his help. (That's establishing with some upper lip that I am hip to other channels). Here's a good, short and recently posted interview at a mainstream one, Esquire.

Preface aside, I found this quote in my files. One can debate how far causation runs, but there's no denying, to me at least, that this is indeed a major taboo, if not the greatest.

"The greatest taboo in American political culture is to suggest that America bears any blame or responsibility for the fact that people around the world hate us and want to do violence for [sic] us; that's the prohibited question, is: what have we done, what are we doing, that causes this animosity to exist."
AntiWar Radio (17:54)
The subtext or implication is another question, that of whether violence is rational or not. If planned, in a court of law we say that it is pre-meditated, and as such thus not by reason of insanity. It's important to note that rational does not mean "just" or "moral", but whether it is in proportion. See ratio.

From this, is violence rational? I fall back on the trite phrase "it depends". Self-defense of one's home seems to me to be so, whereas flying planes into buildings does not, especially under the influence of religious idiocy.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Edits, hiding

There's a great article at the Guardian on the editing of history, in this case recent North Korean history. It reminds me of this 2004 debate of which there should be no debate...

Addendum: here's a good article at Acting Man on the 'airbrushed uncle'.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Balance

The following is found in the collection Sunlight Here I Am: Interviews & Encounters, published by Sun Dog Press. The original piece appeared in the LA Free Press, Oct. 31 1975 issue.

This is an excellent encapsulation -- hence, posted here.

[Charles] Bukowski: What moved me to the typewriter was just sheer desperation. I had these dog jobs, and my time was being invested in another man's game. He had my life...8, 10, 12 hours...

[Ben] Pleasants: But other writers have done that, too. Didn't you see the possibility of working that con game, too?

Bukowski: I didn't know what other writers had done. I just had to take those extra couple of hours, get the beer out, and to balance what was happening to me.

[Steve] Richmond: It's got a lot to do with making your own answers to survive. You know, you read a book and there's no answer there. There's nothing worth surviving for in what you read. Nothing worth surviving for in what you see in the streets. So you go to the typewriter and you create something, and it becomes the only thing worth surviving for.

Bukowski: Exactly it.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Naturally the people

I had planned on writing about a Bukowski quote on work/life, but today I will paste for my record an excellent reminder from the historical one, and return to Buk another day.

Göring: Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.

Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.

Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Lost docs

If I had the time and the toner, I'd print everything onto archival paper. I thought, I wrote, I archived -- often in Microsoft Word, saving the file of course rather than printing it. The joke, as I like to tell it, is that cuneiform tablets > hard drives. I hadn't thought of the archival disaster that awaited these .doc files. How would I read them in the future? Or anyone? No copy of Word 97 on the shelf...

Joking aside, I'm glad I found this post by Peter Hansteen during a day's BSD wanderings. Forthwith I made it a mission to preserve what I could of the old files.

I tried Antiword and Apache's Tika, but neither of these could extract the text from every file. Enter the primitive lasting last. 

for i in $(ls ./WordDocs/doc/*.doc); do strings $i > $i.txt; done;

As the manual page for strings notes:
The algorithm for identifying strings is extremely primitive.
That said, plain text is better than no text. Hmm, there's a line.