Following my post Condemning Censorship, Even of Werewolves, a great many people took me for task for trying to make a principled distinction between public space and private space, and tangled that up with a lot of confusion about the distinction between “public” and “state-owned” space. Here I’ll attempt to shed some light on the… Continue reading Public Space in Cyberspace
Thomas Paine once wrote: “He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.” Paine’s truth is not idealistic handwaving, it is brutal pragmatism. Justifications for censorship, even the best-intentioned kind, have a way of… Continue reading Condemning Censorship, Even of Werewolves
In all the foofaraw surrounding the ACORN scandals, there is a huge important consequence of them understood – but not spoken – by everyone who follows politics as a blood sport. This story describing conditions in Michigan and tallying up some recent ACORN convictions for electoral fraud is an indicator. And, on top of Obama’s… Continue reading Mighty aches from little ACORN’s fall
This morning I had the delightful “I was right all along!” experience of learning that the one grammatical bugaboo in my life is probably bogus. The next time a copy-editor invokes it on me I shall gleefully kick him or her in the snout…
I expected to enjoy Dr. William Short’s Viking Weapons and Combat Techniques (Westholme Publishing, 2009, ISBN 978-1-59416-076-9), and I was not disappointed. I am a historical fencer and martial artist who has spent many hours sparring with weapons very similar to those Dr. Short describes, and I have long had an active interest in the… Continue reading Dr. William Short’s “Viking Weapons and Combat”: A Review
I’ve not been blogging much lately for two reasons. One: vacation. I went to sword camp (formally, “Polaris Summer Weapons Retreat”) again this year, had great time with friends, learned how to fight using a glaive (a form of bladed polearm). Two: heavy technical work. I’ve been designing and implementing a new protocol for GPSD;… Continue reading A Midsummer’s Light Posting
I received an email that deeply moved me a few moments ago. I’m going to reproduce it here exactly, except that (as requested) I am omitting the name of the sender. Because I think I’m going to need a term of reference for him, I am substituting the name of a legendary Persian hero. My… Continue reading A plea from Iran
I spend a lot of time on IRC channels and discussion forums where many of the users are not native speakers of English. Recently one of these expressed surprise when I observed: “You type with a foreign accent. What is your birth language?” He knew, of course, about speaking English with an accent, but he… Continue reading How to Type with a Foreign Accent
Most people don’t know that there are two different philosophical camps that differ about how to do correct punctuation in English. This has been on my mind lately because of some questions I have been asked by non-native speakers on the Battle for Wesnoth development list, where I am the resident English pedant. The rules… Continue reading Extreme punctuation pedantry
This weekend, at Balticon (the Baltimore Science Fiction Convention) I got to play a bit with an infrared-sensing webcam. These turn out not to be very difficult to construct, because CCDs are sensitive well into the IR range. The normal filter blocks IR but passes visible light; by replacing it with fully exposed film stock,… Continue reading Objective Evidence
Some years ago I did a speaking tour in Scandinavia that involved staying in Denmark for a couple of days. Denmark, like the other Scandinavian nations I’ve visited, is a tidy little country full of intelligent, civilized, and agreeable people. As long as you can get along with gray sub-arctic weather and gray, characterless food… Continue reading Is Danish Dying?
I saw the new Star Trek movie last night, and it answers a question I wasn’t sure anyone would ever ask (or want to) – namely, could they find a young actor who could effectively clone William Shatner’s performance in TOS (The Original Series) as the alpha asshole of the future galaxy. The answer is… Continue reading The Trek Movie: TOS rides again
It is quite difficult to get banned from commenting on my blog, but some – I think a grand total of about four out of a number of commenters well into the thousands over the last seven years – have managed it. With sufficient hard work and dedication, you too can join this select group.
Yeah, that’d be the Doug McIlroy. Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie’s boss when they were inventing Unix, himself one of its early co-designers, and the inventor of the Unix pipe. He was very helpful when I was doing The Art of Unix Programming in 2003. Hadn’t heard from him since then until he emailed me… Continue reading Doug McIlroy makes my day
Steven Shankland from CNET sent OSI some questions yesterday about the Microsoft patent lawsuit against TomTom involving the use of Linux in their GPS devices. Here’s what I told him by email:
God Wants You Dead is an entertaining and subversive little book that reminded me of a well-known controversy in the translation of the Judeo-Christian Bible. Most educated people probably know that in Isaiah 7:14 it is prophesied that the Messiah will be born of an ‘almah’ of the House of David — and thereby hangs… Continue reading Translation Errors
This comment is not confidential; I grant unconditional permission to republish it in full. DRM is a disaster for everyone involved with it, because it cannot do what it claims but imposes large costs in the process of failing. The people who have sold DRM technologies to Big Media are frauds playing on the ignorance… Continue reading My comment to the FCC on DRM
I am not sure when or where I first encountered it, but the theory that the Arthurian cycle of legends might be rooted in the mythology of Scythia and the Sarmathians instantly struck me as not only plausible but almost certainly correct. The Sarmatians (and the closely-related or identical tribe of Alans) introduced armored heavy… Continue reading From Scythia to Camelot with Thud and Blunder
I did some writing I’m feeling rather proud of today. It is storyline text from a Battle For Wesnoth campaign I’m working on. I’ve decided to post it here as a teaser and let my readers have the fun of deducing the kind of context in which it makes sense.
I have acquired a Googlephone — a brand-new T-Mobile G1 to replace my eight year old and on-its-last-legs Sprint phone.