Monday, December 20


Before Anyone Asks...

I have absolutely no idea what most of the pictures used in the titlebar represent. One of them is the Sydney Opera House. One is opals, another is agate. The other 597, I dunno.

Just wait until I get the remaining 59,400 images loaded onto the server. Or, if I manage to get the font switching working without it screwing up permissions like it did last time, the remaining 959,400.

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To The Point

Peace and wealth and effective medicine and a comfortable home with air conditioning...My little aside bagging Noam Chomsky in About the Author, and my choice of Oliver Kamm as my latest Blog of the Day after a long absence, are not some momentary aberration, but rather a return of this blog to its roots.*

After the recent electoral victories of the right people in Australia and America I felt as though a great weight had been lifted - or to use a less cliched phrasing, as though a critical and feared exam had turned out to be, relatively speaking, a walk in the park. And here we are in Graduate School, exams no longer looming on the horizon, but still a huge amount of work to be done.

Because, you have to understand, I'm not a Conservative. Neither George Bush nor John Howard truly represent my views on most subjects. I am pleased by their respective victories primarly because both are fundamentally honest, and I was deeply opposed to John Kerry and Mark Latham primarily because both challengers seemed to me to be deeply, personally, dishonest.

Look, I'm not a child; I don't expect politicians to tell the truth all the time. Sometimes they can't - they have to deal with matters of security that cannot be made public. Sometimes they won't, because, well, politics is like that. But the dishonesty of Kerry and Latham runs much deeper; they are not honest even to themselves.

What I'm really most directly opposed to, and what I've been fighting for years, long before I set up this blog, is not the political Left as such but intellectual dishonesty.

I'm not, technically, a scientist, though I would have been, technically, a scientist had I troubled myself to attend my classes and so ultimately graduated.** That doesn't mean that I can't recognise Science - the process, the method, even more than its vast body of discoveries and achievements - as the single greatest invention of Western Civilisation. (Number two being the limited liability corporation, something that far too many people take for granted.)

My aim is to promote Science and Civilisation, and it's a selfish aim. I want the products of Science and Civilisation for myself: Peace and wealth and effective medicine and a comfortable home with air conditioning and a fancy computer and an interesting and productive job. The people who attack Science and Civilisation are trying to deprive me of all that, and I won't allow it.

The Creationists pushing their fraudulent spin on Evolutionary Theory; the Post-Modernists denying the concept of Objective Truth; the Islamists trying to do both at the same time; the historical revisionists; the Psychics; the "Alternative Health Practitioners"; the academics who see their role being not to teach but to brainwash their students into leftist zombiehood; the "free speech" proponents who want to stamp out speech they don't like; Mysticism and Obscurantism; the spammers and scammers and hackers who are doing their level best to destroy the Internet; the nanny-state idiots and the totalitarian hardliners who try to legislate problems out of existence: These and more are what I truly oppose.

So I shouldn't want for subject matter.

* Not that it has any.
** I was studying Computer Science, hence the "technically". Still, it's better than Sociology...

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Peace And Tranquility With Mozilla Thunderbird

Over the weekend I switched from Mozilla to Firefox and Thunderbird, the separate web and email programs from, well, Mozilla. I do prefer the integrated design of Mozilla, but Firefox and Thunderbird are sufficiently ahead in functionality that the switch was worthwhile.

Except for the minor fact that I've stopped getting 90% of my email, which is somehow - I haven't quite worked this out yet - ending up in Mozilla, even though it isn't running! At least it's peaceful this way.

Update: Worked it out. Answer: I'm an idiot. Big surprise.

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Now That Is Style

Few of my correspondents manage to scale comparable heights of idleness and incompetenceOliver Kamm dismantles a Chomskyite:

Thank you for writing. I receive, if not quite hundreds, then certainly scores of messages from people who, like you, press Chomsky's case without having first read either him or his critics. Be assured, however, that your own message is distinctive, in that few of my correspondents manage to scale comparable heights of idleness and incompetence, or at least not in the opening sentence.

I won't exhort you to read the whole thing, which is part of a series of articles regarding our favorite left-wing crank, but if you have ever been irked by Chomsky's followers, or Moore's, or similar rabble, it is a delight to see Kamm's elegant handling of their uninformed diatribes.

Witness too his dismissal of some of Chomsky's fellow travellers in linguistics:

“I read books and talk to people about them,” she says. “Without a method?” asks Howard. “That’s right,” she says. “It doesn’t sound very convincing,” says Howard.

I thought of this exchange when considering an international symposium to be held next April at the University of Montreal under the felicitous title For a Proactive Translatology.

Translatology is the study of translation. Proactive is a gruesome synonym for anticipatory. Of this pseudoscholarly gobbledegook, one leading literary translator remarked despairingly that her own work required no proactive translatology beyond the aim of serving foreign authors and English-language readers as well as possible.

Take that, defilers of the syllabary!

Oh, and this too:

I think you should be aware that a discharged lunatic has managed to gain access to your email account and is using it to send out absurd messages in your name in an attempt to discredit you. I am forwarding an example.

I should look into this if I were you.

That one looks to be quite useful. I might need to adopt it at work.

Blog of the Day, folks: Oliver Kamm.

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Thursday, December 16


About the Author

Her life was transformed when she was introduced to the works of linguist and political philosopher Noam Chomsky
Born in 1976 to a family of Welsh toothpaste-miners, Pwxy Mwsa (as it is spelt in her native tongue) led a rebellious early life, her free spirit drawing the animosity of the Calvinist power structure, whose worldview she saw as stodgy and uninspiring. In 1991 her despairing parents packed her off to Cambridge, where they hoped she would become something, though just what was left unspecified.

Her life was transformed when she was introduced to the works of linguist and political philosopher Noam Chomsky, and she realised that anyone can get tenure these days. Sadly, her new academic career was short-lived, and in 1995 she was drummed out of the Bristol School of Sophistry when authorities uncovered her secret cache of samizdat Robert Heinlein novels.

Forced to take up a new trade, she started her own business selling "Y2K" solutions to large corporations. This proved to be a huge success, and by 1999 her net worth had reached $3.5 billion, before she lost it all in a failed takeover bid for British Telecom.

Reinventing herself yet again, she became known as a composer, producing the chart-topping hits Crunchy Frog Blues, What Dance Dance Kitten Did On Her Holiday and Return of the Return of the Electric Ant in rapid succession. She is also the author of several unpublished novels, most notably the fantasy thriller Stone Dead, as well as even more unwritten ones.

In 2003 she founded Mu.Nu, the Online Journal of the Good Parts of Western Civilisation, which has prospered to the point that it now garners sometimes dozens of visitors every month. In 2004 she became an ordained minister of a recognised church, though just how this was allowed to happen has not been adequately explored.

Her eyes are blue, her star sign is Carotius, the root vegetable, and she prefers coloured stones to diamonds, thank you.

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Innumeracy Are Us

Every ten or twenty minutes, someone is clicking through from the Ecosystem, wondering who this new number three blog* is, maybe one of the big bloggers has changed names, and ending up here, and saying huh? And it's funny, but even when it's just an accident, being number three in the world feels like it carries some responsibility, and that I should be, you know, actually doing something with this blog.

Unfortunately, most of my posts - and all the good ones - come when I am inspired (or more likely, irritated) by something. I can't write good stuff on demand; that's a talent, and not a common one. Also, left to my own devices, I'm a lazy slug. That's why I'm hosting a hundred or so other blogs - no, hang on, this actually makes sense. I have a lot of things to say, but unless something is really pissing me off right now (the editorials in New Scientist are good for this) I'm likely to just let it slide and go and watch some anime instead. But now I have a hundred bloggers doing my writing for me!

Am I sneaky or what? And I don't even pay them! Of course, they don't always do what I had planned, but then neither do I, so it works out pretty well. It used to be that if anyone wondered what my opinion was on something important, I could just point them at U.S.S. Clueless, but that was before Steven retired and became a hermit took up a new career as an anime critic. Now I can only point to him for that, and while there's only one Den Beste, there are other anime critics whose tastes match mine, near enough. (By the way, Steven, if you don't watch Escaflowne you're really missing out. Yes, there's a mecha in it, but it's central to the plot in name only. Err, literally. And the music - by Yoko Kanno - is fantastic. I'm utterly disinterested in the average mecha series, up to and including Evangelion, but Escaflowne had me hooked. Don't bother with the movie, though, it's rubbish.) But now I have the Munuvians to talk for me. (Oh, and I agree with you about manga, mostly. The only ones I've followed are where the anime series was cut short - Oh! My Goddess, Gunsmith Cats, and 3 x 3 Eyes being leading examples.)

So, um, that is all I really have to say right now. I'm going to take a nap, then set up some more blogs for various people. You can amuse yourself while I'm gone by reading some of the fine blogs listed on the right. Or you can hold a party in my comments, that's always good.

* Unaudited figures.

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Tuesday, December 14


King for a Day

Something is just slightly out of whack on the Ecosystem today - I've been elevated to Higher Being:

Higher Beings
1.Instapundit.com (4351) details
2.Daily Kos :: Political Analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation. (279cool details
3.Ambient Irony (2572) details
4.lgf: skiing through the revolving door of life (250cool details
5.Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall (2422) details
6.Eschaton (232cool details
7.Boing Boing: A Directory of Wonderful Things (2137) details
8.Power Line (2131) details
9.The Volokh Conspiracy - (1914) details
10.www.AndrewSullivan.com - Daily Dish (1851) details

I don't expect this to last. But you can all claim that you knew me when...

(Thanks to the Llamas for noticing.) more...

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Speaking of Painful

I uploaded 10,000 images this morning to go with my new layout.*

I just kicked off our not-entirely-regular complete offsite backup. So it's now downloading those 10,000 images again.

* No, I'm not kidding. Yes, ten thousand. Well, 9985 in fact, upon actually counting the little buggers.

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There, That Wasn't Too Painful

This layout is starting to grow on me.

It's a little irritating that it looks better in Internet Explorer than Mozilla, but that might just be the font settings that I have in Mozilla.

Anywho, let me know what you think.

The only remaining problem is that for some reason, MT never puts the code for the icon in the first time around. Edit and re-save, and there it is. But never the first time. Pfui.

P.S. No, the images didn't just change. It must be your imagination. Yes indeedy.

P.P.S. Hey, I like these ones. Think I'll keep 'em for a while.

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Yes, Virginia, There Is A Scroll Wheel

This is why I had a three-column layout before.

Now I'll have to put two months' worth of posts on the main page just to make the content longer than the sidebar.

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