Later On

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

Archive for April 9th, 2011

Was the American Revolution co-opted from the git-go?

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UPDATE: An interesting response to the article.

Interesting article by William Hogeland in Salon:

Edmund Randolph of Virginia kicked off the meeting we now know as the United States constitutional convention by offering his fellow delegates a key inducement to forming a new U.S. government. America lacked “sufficient checks against the democracy,” Randolph said. A new government would provide those checks.

Randolph’s listeners in Philadelphia in the spring of 1787 knew what he meant by “the democracy.” And readers of this series probably will, too. He was talking about the 18th-century American popular finance movement, whose supporters agitated for policies to obstruct concentrated wealth and to give regular folks access to political power and economic equality. Amid depressions and foreclosures, ordinary people had long been rioting — they called it “regulating” — to pressure assemblies to restrain the merchant creditors, whose command of scarce gold and silver let them acquire immense wealth by lending at high, even predatory rates to the needier.

Then, with revolution against England, the popular finance movement turned its attention to changing the economic terms of American society. The 1776 Pennsylvania constitution, based in large part on ideas expressed by Thomas Paine in “Common Sense,” smashed the ancient property qualification for voting and holding office. In Pennsylvania, new political leaders like the preacher Herman Husband, the weaver William Findley, and the farmer Robert Whitehill entered the assembly and began passing laws shutting down elite banking and requiring government to operate, for the first meaningful time anywhere, on behalf of ordinary people.

Democracy in Pennsylvania sent chills through elites of every kind throughout the newly independent country. Rioting for popular finance was bad enough, but rioting was temporary, spasmodic, and traditional. Debtors wielding legitimate political power to equalize economic life — that was tantamount to a new kind of tyranny of the mob, hardly what Whig revolutionaries had fought England to gain. Neither Edmund Randolph nor other delegates of the Philadelphia convention, meeting in secret sessions in the Pennsylvania State House, felt any need for subtlety in seeking to suppress the political and economic equality burgeoning everywhere in America among “the democracy.”

Present at the Philadelphia convention was the fabulously wealthy Pennsylvania financier and speculator Robert Morris, America’s first central banker, no doubt licking his ample chops over the fulfillment, at long last, of his plan to wed nationhood to high finance. Yet it was the planter Randolph, not the financer Morris, who referred to “the plague of paper money,” and he meant just what Morris meant. State legislatures’ currency emissions and legal-tender laws depreciated the merchants’ income from their loans; paper, the people’s medium, built debt relief into money itself. Randolph also rued the country’s difficulty in paying the investing class its interest on federal bonds. With those bonds, Morris had made private creditors into public creditors as well, swelling the domestic U.S. debt to vast proportions in an effort to connect national purpose to high finance.

Hence the need, Randolph said, for . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 April 2011 at 7:22 pm

Moving closer to Esperanto input on Mac

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This interesting sentence appears in the Wikipedia article on Esperanto orthography in the Mac OS X section:

In OS X it is also possible to create your own keyboard layouts, so it is relatively easy to have more convenient mappings, like for example one based on typing an x after the letter.

If you click the link you are taken to downloadable files, two of which are for enabling the Mac keyboard to enter Esperanto symbols. One is a read-me, the other is some sort of character map that one copies into the appropriate spot in the fonts table, I presume. But this is way more into the Mac than I am likely to get. Anyone know of anything easier?

The “typing an x after the letter” refers to a convention sometimes used when diacritics are unavailable. For example, cx for ĉ, gx for ĝ, hx for ĥ, jx for ĵ, sx for ŝ, and ux for ŭ. You can see why one would want those “x”-characters converted to the regular character with the diacritic.

That conversion is, of course, what I thought I had solved with the “Character Substitution” semi-feature in the Mac—which, as noted, works only in some Apple programs and not at all in other programs (Firefox, for instance). I need to get at the keyboard mapping itself, somehow. I suppose that is what those files do.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 April 2011 at 7:04 pm

Posted in Esperanto, Technology

A winner among on-tap water filters

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I have tried various on-tap water filters that attach to the kitchen tap: the Brita ($30) and the Water-Pik ($40). I didn’t try the Pur ($33) because for a long time they marked the “u” in “Pur” as a long “u”, so the word would be pronounced “poor” (a bad marketing decision, it seems to me). However, this one does have 3-stage filtering.

Both the Brita and the Water-Pik attach the filter to the tap with a threaded fitting made of soft plastic piece. Unfortunately, after a week or two of use (or even less), the plastic deforms and unit leaks fiercely, with tiny sprays in all direction, and if you happen to bump it, it will fall off the faucet.

The Instapure filter ($15), mirabile dictu!, attaches with a threaded metal fitting. The filter itself is plastic, but the metal fitting makes all the difference: absolutely no sign of a leak. But then as I read the box more carefully, I realized that this filter works ONLY to remove chlorine taste and odor—no removal of lead or microorganisms. That’s not really enough.

So I continued, and I just got the Culligan on-tap filter ($18): another threaded metal fitting, another secure connection. And this filter is indeed a stage 3 filter, removing lead and a host of microorganisms.

Success at last. Pur claims that their mounting is easy and secure, but I think I’ll stop exploring. With the Culligan, water runs slowly through the filter, but that’s really not a problem: I rarely run more than a quart of water at a time, and more usually a cup or a pint, so speed is not the issue. The Culligan does automatically turn off the filter when the faucet is turned off, so when you turn the faucet on, you get unfiltered water until you engage the filter, a minor advantage.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 April 2011 at 1:38 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Technology

Klar Seifen

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Very nice shave, and Klar Seifen seems to me to be quite similar to Klar Kabinett, though obviously with superior packaging. The usual fine lather, then three smooth passes with the Gillette shown, a splash of Klassik, and we’re off for adventures.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 April 2011 at 1:11 pm

Posted in Shaving

Automatic substitutions of special characters

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This morning I went looking for how to enter Esperanto’s special characters, which are Ĉ, Ĝ, Ĥ, Ĵ, Ŝ, Ŭ, ĉ, ĝ, ĥ, ĵ, ŝ, ŭ. Note that the problem is not displaying the characters (they show up fine, eh? — I copied them from elsewhere), but in entering them from the keyboard.

Apple provides Option-key combinations for some special characters. For example, the sequence Option-N, n produces “ñ” — if you try it you’ll see that Option-N displays the “~” (at the appropriate height to leave room for the letter) and then typing “n” puts the “n” under “~”.

For the circumflex Option-Shift-i will produce a circumflex, but right now I find the letter following is typed beside, rather than under, the circumflex—not just the circumflexed Esperanto letters shown above, but even the French circumflexed letters are not working right now. (And moving Français higher in the langague list (see below) doesn’t work.)

I have found no Option-key combinations for any of the Esperanto special characters. OTOH, under System Preferences > Language & Text, you find two things that help some. First, under “Language” (the first tab), you see a list of languages. If you press “Edit” under that list, you can add Esperanto to the language list, and then drag it up the list to where you want it. What this does, I have absolutely no idea, but it sure doesn’t help whatsoever with entering special characters.

So go to the next tab, “Text” and you’ll see “Symbol and Text Substitution”. You’re not home free, but this can help. You can edit the list to add more text substitutions—for example, I’ve added “cx” as the entry, with “ĉ” as the substituted character, “ux” with “ŭ” as the substituted character. But it turns out that Bob is only distantly related to your mom, not her brother. First, you have to go into the individual programs and turn on Text Substitution to enable the operation to function:

(In some applications, such as iChat, iPhoto, Mail, Safari, and TextEdit, you can automatically replace text with other text or symbols. (In the application, Control-click and choose Substitutions > Text Replacement, or in some applications, you can also choose Edit > Substitutions > Text Replacement.) Select an item in this list to have it replaced with the symbol or alternate text to the right of it. For example, if you select the (c) checkbox and text substitution features are turned on in the application you’re using, when you type (c) it will automatically be replaced with ©.)

The tip-off is the word “some”: not even all Apple applications, and whether programs from third-party vendors work or not… who knows?

I bought Pages from the Apple app store, for example: an Apple program. Pages does not allow the automatic character substitution. Instead, they have (through extensive usability testing, I’m sure) devised this efficient procedure:

To insert special characters or symbols:
Place the insertion point where you want the special character or symbol to appear.

Choose Edit > Special Characters to open the Characters window (or choose Characters from the Action pop-up menu in the lower-left corner of the Fonts window).

Choose the type of characters you want to see from the View pop-up menu at the top of the Characters window. If you don’t see the View menu, click the button in the upper-right corner of the window to show the top portion of the window. Click this button again to hide the top portion of the window.

Click an item in the list on the left to see the characters that are available in each category.

Double-click the character or symbol on the right that you want to insert into your document, or select the character and click Insert.

If the character or symbol has variations, they appear at the bottom of the window when you click the Character Info triangle or Font Variation triangle at the bottom of the palette. Double-click one to insert it in your document.

If the character doesn’t appear in your document, Pages may not support that character.

Wonderful: Apple programs fail to support Apple OS functionality. And the laborious procedure to insert a special character: it does work, but it stinks.

Still, when I moved to Apple from Windows, I knew I would lose functionality. So I’ll continue to look for ways to accomplish this. At least I have an answer for Mail. That’s one program.

UPDATE: Aha. I just found this note. (And this is why I don’t understand people who bad-mouth Wikipedia because they found errors in some articles—the same thing happens in printed encyclopedias, which happen to fall far short of the range of Wikipedia.)

UPDATE 2: I also found this, which I’ll try later today. But now I need to get going. — Later: Guess not. The Wife says this is for OS 8.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 April 2011 at 10:51 am

50 books every child should read

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Interesting list. How many have you read?

Written by LeisureGuy

9 April 2011 at 4:11 am

Posted in Books, Education

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