Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for November 5th, 2009

Claude Lévi-Strauss, 1908-2009

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What a life. The LA Times has an obit by Thomas Maugh II:

Claude Lévi-Strauss, the French philosopher widely considered the father of modern anthropology because of his then-revolutionary conclusion that so-called primitive societies did not differ greatly intellectually from modern ones, died Friday at his home in Paris from natural causes. He was 100.

Part philosopher, part sociologist and entirely humanist, he studied tribes in Brazil and North America, concluding that virtually all societies shared powerful commonalities of behavior and thought, often expressing them in myths. Towering over the French intellectual scene in the 1960s and 1970s, he founded the school of thought known as structuralism, which holds that common features exist within the enormous varieties of human experience. Those commonalities are rooted partly in nature and partly in the human brain itself.

He concluded that primitive peoples were no less intelligent than "Western" civilizations and that their intelligence could be revealed through their myths and other cultural keystones. Those myths, he argued, all tend to provide answers to such universal questions as "Who are we?" and "How did we come to be in this time and place?"

His studies of American cultures, he said, was "an attempt to show that there are laws of mythical thinking as strict and rigorous as you would find in the natural sciences."

He was particularly intrigued with opposites, such as black and white, cooked and raw, roasted and boiled, or rational and emotional, that often serve as organizing elements in societies. He explored these binary concepts to find fundamental truths about humanity, noting, for example, that some cannibal groups boiled their friends, but roasted their enemies.

His conclusions about the role of mythology were elegantly expanded in a series of books that included "Tristes Tropiques," "The Savage Mind" and "Mythologiques." The jury for France’s most prestigious literary prize, the Prix Goncourt, said it would have awarded the 1955 prize to "Tristes Tropiques" had it been fiction. Novelist and intellectual Susan Sontag called it "one of the great books of the century." …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 November 2009 at 10:13 am

Posted in Books, Daily life, Science

The Web won, but Gopher plugs away

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Interesting article at Ars Technica by Nate Anderson. It begins:

gopher n. 1. Any of various short tailed, burrowing mammals of the family Geomyidae, of North America. 2. (Amer. colloq.) Native or inhabitant of Minnesota: the Gopher State. 3. (Amer. colloq.) One who runs errands, does odd-jobs, fetches or delivers documents for office staff. 4. (computer tech.) software following a simple protocol for burrowing through a TCP/IP internet.

-From RFC 1436 describing Gopher

Minnesota is not a proud place—how else to explain the fact that it voluntarily bills itself the "Gopher State" and has as its main university mascot an appallingly bucktoothed rodent known as a "golden gopher"?

So it was no surprise that when University of Minnesota researchers developed an early protocol for organizing and sharing documents over the Internet, they named it "gopher." The initial version of the protocol appeared in 1991; by 1993, it had been codified as a Request for Comment (RFC 1436) that laid out the protocol in some detail.

According to the RFC, gopher was designed as a client-server protocol running over TCP/IP. Much lighter than HTTP and HTML, gopher provided essentially two options: menus and documents, both of which were accessed through port 70. The system was initially text-based, though basic image serving ability came later. There was no decorative markup for menu pages, which all looked basically (and boringly) the same; on the other hand, gopher was quick and consistent.

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Written by LeisureGuy

5 November 2009 at 10:07 am

You have one wish…

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The wish can be for any human gift/skill/knowledge—no wishing for more wishes or for impossibilities like time travel, knowing the future, etc. But you can wish for instant attainment of mastery of the area you choose—for example, persuasiveness, sports performance, musical performance, and so on.

What would you wish for?

I assumed that my own wish—to be able to fluently speak and readily understand any language and any regional dialect. I’m willing to pass on the reading/writing skills if necessary.

The Wife’s wish was in a totally different area.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 November 2009 at 9:55 am

Posted in Daily life

Transition to Chrome

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My transition from Firefox to Chrome is pretty much complete. The final piece fell into place when I discovered the function of the little blue button in Chrome’s lower left corner:

Tab-list button





Clicking this button pops up a clickable list of open tabs with titles and URLs so that having lots of tabs open (my usual situation) is no hindrance to efficient navigation.

LastPass seems as though it can replace Roboform Pro if I can ever figure it out. I do miss Firefox’s search options: I had installed search engines for Yahoo, Bing, Google, Wikipedia, Netflix, IMDB, Amazon, Google Images, and others. With Chrome, you search through Google, period, although of the course you can go the individual sites and search from there, so it’s not a showstopper.

What hastened the transition (besides Firefox’s annoying pauses) was discovering this site, which lists Chrome extensions—easily added to Chrome. Once I had a few extensions to facilitate my workflow, the game was over.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 November 2009 at 9:46 am

Free shipping from The English Shaving Company

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The English Shaving Company is the home of Edwin Jagger products, and though they make great stuff, the shipping from the UK to the US may give pause to some. (Not to me: I always found the shipping charges to be reasonable.)

From now until November 16, TESC will not charge for shipping. Good chance for some gift shopping (for yourself and/or others).

Written by LeisureGuy

5 November 2009 at 9:28 am

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

Another great boar brush

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The Omega Pro 49 (Model 10049) in the photo is, like the Omega Pro 48, a truly terrific boar brush: it breaks in quickly, it holds plenty of lather, and it’s pleasant to use—and just gets better and better. This morning was no exception: lush lather from Mama Bear’s Gentleman’s Blend, and the Vision 2000 with a previously used Swedish Gillette blade did a smooth and easy three passes to perfection. Mr. Taylor’s aftershave was a great finish.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 November 2009 at 9:21 am

Posted in Shaving

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