Joho the Blog » 2001 » December

December 31, 2001

New JOHO Doc reminds me

New JOHO

Doc reminds me that I published a new issue of my newsletter this morning. Yeah, I remember now! In it you’ll find some previously blogged stuff PLUS reader mail and link contributions. And a Bogus Contest. In fact, here are the contents:

Links and Horizons: There’s more to the Web – and to the real world – than meets the eye

The word “horizon” became important to some philosophers in the second half of the 20th century. “Horizonal this” and “the horizonality of that” are sure signs that you’re dealing with a so-called Continental philosopher. They’re also the ones talking about silence, gestures, and, occasionally, nothingness. There’s a reason for this…

Teams vs. Individuals: Strong individuals can make lousy teammates … Hegel and the Web to the rescue!

There’s always been a contradiction of an Hegelian sort (oy, what’s with me this week!) between the value of individuals with strong beliefs and the need to be flexible enough to subordinate one’s beliefs for the sake of the team. Passion versus teamwork. Commitment versus compromise. Individualism versus collaboration…

So, You Go: The verbal tic of choice

So, you can already tell I’m a webby type of guy. The giveaway was in the very first word of this paragraph. “So,” I began, thus taking up an affectation of speech that is to web entrepreneurs what “what-ev-er” is to Valley girls and “On the other hand” is to philosophers…

Misc.: Why search engines suckā„¢, XP as pirate, and spam vs. English
The Anals of Marketing: Miscellaneous marketing stupidities
Walking the Walk: San Jose Bicycles talks the talk, in the best sense
Cool Tool: ClearType works
Links: Your pointers
Email, Arbitrary Insults, and Suspicious Hacking Coughs: Your comments
Bogus contest: Neologisms

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Kevlar’s Good but Dupont Sucks(tm)

Kevlar’s Good but Dupont Sucks(tm)

From http://dpsftp.sourceforge.net/about.html:

DPS-FTP is a multi-threaded FTP client for GNOME. It was originally called Kevlar FTP, since its interface was inspired by Bulletproof FTP, and Kevlar is bullet-proof. But DuPont actually sent me a notice telling me that I can’t use their trademarked product names in my product name. They were generous enough to allow me to say that my product contains Kevlar, however. After explaining to them that, being software, my “product” does not contain Kevlar, and that I’m not making any money from the “product”, they still would not let me use it. So, I renamed the program to DuPont Sucks FTP, or DPS-FTP.

[Thanks to T. Byfield for pointing this out on a mailing list.]

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Philosophical Death Match RageBoy, in

Philosophical Death Match

RageBoy, in an email, points to an entertaining book review by Jim Holt in the NY Times. The book, Wittgenstein’s Poker: The Story of a 10-Minute Argument Between Two Great Philosophers by David Edmonds and John Eidinow, provides the context for a famous encounter between Wittgenstein and Karl Popper in 1946. The book sounds excellent, the review is very well done, and — as Chris points out — be sure not to miss the snarky last line.

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Scrambled Edress Found on Gary

Scrambled Edress

Found on Gary Turner’s blog: A
site
that turns your email address into a string
of ASCII character codes. For example,
self@evident.com gets represented as:

self@
evid
en
t.com

(s& is the HTML code for ASCII character “s”.) Use this in the HTML version of a page and the
browser will render it correctly as
“self@evident.com” but – and this is the important
part – programs scouring sites for spammable email
addresses won’t recognize it as an address (unless
they wise up).

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Vomitous Flashes In response to

Vomitous Flashes


In response to our call for holiday Flashes that deserve to die, Israel Orange writes:

While hunting down some drivers for a friend’s flaky hardware I wandered onto NEC’s website a few days ago, and the flash animation they threw at me struck me as “tedious, pretentious, empty and boring” as you say. Also completely unbearable and totally hideous and all kinds of other negative appellations. My god. They truly and really oughtta shoot the suit that thought this was a good idea. I volunteer.

Ah, the miracle of clip art!

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One Line Per Life Being

One Line Per Life


Being your completely predictable liberal, humanist type of person, my initial reaction to today’s article in the Boston Globe listing the notables who died this year was: How terrible to have your life reduced to a single phrase! For example:

  • “Robert Rimmer raised eyebrows with ‘The Harrad Experiment,’ a novel about contemporary sexual relationships.”
  • “Christopher Hewett played ‘Mr. Belvedere.’”
  • …”actor-puppeteer Lewis Arquette…”

What rich lives are thus reduced to a short string of words. How sad! How wise and compassionate a person I must be to be bothered by this! Yada yada existential yada.

Of course, what’s really bothering me is that I haven’t done enough with my life to be able to reduce it to a four-word phrase. Yes, I’m suffering from a classic case of Obituary Envy.

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December 30, 2001

50 Fond Farewells Gary Stock

50 Fond Farewells


Gary Stock writes:

Half of these I just don’t get.
Half of the remainder are not funny.
Half of the remainder are sort of funny.
Half of the remainder are really funny.
The remaining half-dozen are very, very funny.
“50 things we’ll be glad to see the back of in 2002″

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Rowling Weds! J.K. Rowling, author

Rowling Weds!


J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, today married anesthesiologist Neil Murray. The private Rowling issued no photos, but the happy couple were caught on film several months ago:


Immediately after this picture was taken, however, a gust of wind blew back the good doctor’s hair:


For purposes of creepy comparison:


NOTE to commenters: I love your passion for the Harry Potter books, but you should be aware that there’s no reason to think that JK Rowling reads this blog.

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Kuhn’s Paradigm Chris RageBoy Locke

Kuhn’s Paradigm


Chris RageBoy Locke has sent an email to a few of us pointing out an excellent article in the NY Times by Edward Rothstein about recent books about Thomas Kuhn, author of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) and the guy who – damn his eyes! – introduced the phrase “paradigm shift.” The article talks about Steve Fuller, a sociologist who has written a philosophical biography (which I have not read).
The Times article summarizes Fuller’s position:

Mr. Fuller, in fact, suggests that Kuhn, despite his reputation, had too much allegiance to the old concepts of science. Kuhn, says Mr. Fuller, retained the “elitist myth” about “visionary geniuses” who changed the world by shifting paradigms. The notion of a coterie of specialists coming to agreement, Mr. Fuller says, supports the idea of an authoritarian, antidemocratic establishment.
…Unlike the object of his criticism, Mr. Fuller doesn’t offer many scientific examples but he does follow some of Kuhn’s precepts in mounting his attack. Like Kuhn, he treats scientific inquiry as a matter of sociological confrontation rather than a progress toward truth; he just thinks the confrontations should be taken out of the hands of specialists. Science, he says, should become a democratic clamor of competing ideas.

Fuller’s attack (or the Times’ representation of that attack) seems off base. Kuhn was an historian of science. He found a paradigmatic movement in that history. The fact is that Newton, for example, smashed the old paradigm through an intellectual breakthrough so radical that it can only be called an act of visionary genius. (I just finished Newton’s Gift by David Berlinski, an oddly ornate but quite effective effort to explain the magnitude of Newton’s genius to those like me whose math is 400 years behind the times.) Within the bounds of the new paradigm, science becomes a more-or-less democratic clamor of competing ideas. The fact that science operates within – conforms to – a paradigm discovered by a (usually) dead white man may make us uncomfortable politically, but I think Kuhn’s description (notice, not “prescription”) is brilliant and can only be refuted by an hypothesis that accounts for the facts of the history of science as well as his does. (The Times points out that Fuller’s critique is not redolent of historical facts.)
Now, having said that, Fuller is certainly right that science is becoming democratized and messy, no little thanks to the Web. What started as a way for scientists to exchange information is sapping the power from the scientific authorities, for the old guard worked by limiting access to information – could your article make it into Science or JAMA? – and now, of course, we not only have unlimited access to information, but that access is causing new scientific communities to form the way rocks cause eddies in streams.
But does this mean Kuhn is wrong? Not in the essence of his insight. Paradigms are second-order information. They frame the eddies. They determine which questions are sensible to ask and which issues are urgent. They enable science to proceed with its daily tasks. They require, by definition, an act of genius to be born. But perhaps we have entered a time when multiple paradigms can exist.
The Web is ready for this but the real world isn’t … and the funding comes from the real world.
[Note 1: This doesn't touch on the truly sensitive topic: can one paradigm be said to be closer to the truth than another or are all paradigms equal? Don't even get me started!]

[Note 2: RageBoy has found a really interesting article by the philosopher Don Ihde about why there aren't "science critics" equivalent to art critics. RB mentions this over at Gonzo Engaged where he also reminds us that Jeneane is up to some important blogging.]

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December 29, 2001

Killing the Too-Clever Clipboard If

Killing the Too-Clever Clipboard


If you want to get rid of the annoying clipboard in MS Office that pops up when you all you want to do is a two-finger copy and paste, you “just” need to edit a line in your registry. Microsoft has directions here. (If you’re using Office XP, it seems likely that you can replace the 9 with a 10 when you’re browsing the registry.) Obviously, editing your registry is a dangerous undertaking, you should make a backup, don’t come whining to me, etc. etc. etc. [I found this tip in the Lockergnome discussion forum. Thanks!]
You may also be able to set this using the excellent x-setup tweaker from Xteq.

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