Later On

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

Archive for August 5th, 2012

The move effort

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It’s endless. Today, though, I disassembled some steel shelving I’ve used as a bookcase for years and years—I can’t even recall when I first got it—sometime in the 60’s, I believe—and have put a note in Freecycle for anyone who wants some shelving for storage.

I do feel good after each small step, and I have faith that if I continue to take steps eventually this thing will get done, perhaps even this year.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 August 2012 at 2:41 pm

Posted in Daily life

Shooting rampage in Milwaukee; Public-service video from Houston city government

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I blogged this public-service spot this morning, but then deleted it. It seemed too grim, too depressing that our response to the growing number and increasing frequency of mass shootings is to make a public-service video like this. The video brings to mind the Cold War instructions to huddle under your desk in the event of an atomic or hydrogen bomb explosion.

But now this morning news is breaking of another shooting, this one in Wisconsin. The front-page announcement in the NY Times places it with a plea in an earlier mass shooting, the one in which Representative Giffords was shot:

Are we getting to the point where mass-shooting news will have its own front-page box, to collect reports of current activity on that front.

In the meantime, here’s the video the city of Houston offers as response to the spread of such shootings. The video seems to say, “Expect this sort of thing to continue: it’s a new aspect of modern life that you’re just going to have to get used to.”

Written by LeisureGuy

5 August 2012 at 11:53 am

Posted in Daily life, Video

Interesting column by an Israeli on Israel’s fading democracy

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Avraham Burg writes in the NY Times on the path Israel has taken:

WHEN an American presidential candidate visits Israel and his key message is to encourage us to pursue a misguided war with Iran, declaring it “a solemn duty and a moral imperative” for America to stand with our warmongering prime minister, we know that something profound and basic has changed in the relationship between Israel and the United States.

My generation, born in the ’50s, grew up with the deep, almost religious belief that the two countries shared basic values and principles. Back then, Americans and Israelis talked about democracy, human rights, respect for other nations and human solidarity. It was an age of dreamers and builders who sought to create a new world, one without prejudice, racism or discrimination.

Listening to today’s political discourse, one can’t help but notice the radical change in tone. My children have watched their prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, kowtow to a fundamentalist coalition in Israel. They are convinced that what ties Israel and America today is not a covenant of humanistic values but rather a new set of mutual interests: war, bombs, threats, fear and trauma. How did this happen? Where is that righteous America? Whatever happened to the good old Israel?

Mr. Netanyahu’s great political “achievement” has been to make Israel a partisan issue and push American Jews into a corner. He has forced them to make political decisions based on calculations that go against what they perceive to be American interests. The emotional extortion compels Jews to pressure the Obama administration, a government with which they actually share values and worldviews, when those who love Israel should be doing the opposite: helping the American government to intervene and save Israel from itself.

Israel arose as a secular, social democratic country inspired by Western European democracies. With time, however, its core values have become entirely different. Israel today is a religious, capitalist state. Its religiosity is defined by the most extreme Orthodox interpretations. Its capitalism has erased much of the social solidarity of the past, with the exception of a few remaining vestiges of a welfare state. Israel defines itself as a “Jewish and democratic state.” However, because Israel has never created a system of checks and balances between these two sources of authority, they are closer than ever to a terrible clash.

In the early years of statehood, the meaning of the term “Jewish” was national and secular. In the eyes of Israel’s founding fathers, to be a Jew was exactly like being an Italian, Frenchman or American. Over the years, this elusive concept has changed; today, the meaning of “Jewish” in Israel is mainly ethnic and religious. With the elevation of religious solidarity over and above democratic authority, Israel has become more fundamentalist and less modern, more separatist and less open to the outside world. I see the transformation in my own family. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 August 2012 at 8:35 am

The Autocorrect curse

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The problem with Autocorrect is that it is more frequently Autoerror: making changes one doesn’t want and often fails to notice until the recipient of the autocorrected message sends a puzzled query. James Gleick takes note in a column in the NY Times:

I MENTION a certain writer in an e-mail, and the reply comes back: “Comcast McCarthy??? Phoner novelist???” Did I really type “Comcast”? No. The great god Autocorrect has struck again.

It is an impish god. I try retyping the name on a different device. This time the letters reshuffle themselves into “Format McCarthy.” Welcome to the club, Format. Meet the Danish astronomer Touchpad Brahe and the Franco-American actress Natalie Portmanteau.

In the past, we were responsible for our own typographical errors. Now Autocorrect has taken charge. This is no small matter. It is a step in our evolution — the grafting of silicon into our formerly carbon-based species, in the name of collective intelligence. Or unintelligence as the case may be.

Earlier this year, the police in Hall County, Ga., locked down the West Hall schools for two hours after someone received a text message saying, “gunman be at west hall today.” The texter had typed “gunna,” but Autocorrect had a better idea. . .

Continue reading.

I’ve turned autocorrect off whenever I’ve been able to. It’s more hindrance than help.

It occurs to me that the precipitating incident in Terry Gilliam’s dystopian movie Brazil might today have been Autocorrect rather than a fly in the teletype.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 August 2012 at 7:39 am

Posted in Movies & TV

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