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Charlie Hebdo

The terrorists who assassinated staff at the offices of the satirical Parisian magazine “Charlie Hebdo” also attempted a hostage situation at a kosher supermarket outside Paris, where they were shot dead by police within the last few hours.

Much attention has rightly been paid to the acts of terror themselves, and to the increasing threat to free speech in Europe and beyond, and to the absolute necessity of fighting by whatever means, if necessary, to preserve that right. But there is a finer shade of question to these awful events, France’s “911,” which as yet has received scant examination.

We must ask ourselves what we might expect if a satirical cartoon “intended to highlight public issues” ridiculed and disgraced the Christian Jesus with a humiliating and mildly pornographic image. In some parts of Europe and America, the lynch mobs would be still be assembling. It’s not a question of free speech – of course we are free to speak plainly in the western world – it’s a question of matching the message to the issues. While I admire Charlie Hebdo’s courage in the abstract, their implementation was very junior-high-school and puerile. It was a gratuitous slap in the face to the majority of 1.6 billion Muslims in the world who live in peace for much the same values as we do. None of this in any way mitigates or ameliorates the terrorist attack of Charlie Hebdo offices, and I am glad those terrorists were shot dead. But it is worth thinking about.

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New Posts for 2015

It’s not a full-fledged “new year’s resolution,” but I neglected this site in December, with only two posts – an all time low, I believe, since 1995. I can do better!

I had cataract surgery in November, the fastest and safest procedure in the world. All went well, but any such procedure seems to take the wind out of my sails. I pampered myself, slept outrageously (but it was glorious), and re-thought how I’d been pursuing a massive Perl project I’ve had on my mind for some years. You know what that means!

430PM Update: new Quotes database installed. Links updated!

It involves our venerable “Quotes” database, accessed from the front page of this site for years. I don’t have a counter on it, so I have no idea who else uses it, but I use it all the time. With about 6,000 quotations amassed over the decades, the database has only one keyword field.

Take this quote, for example:

Bumper sticker seen on "Support our Teachers" auto: 
"Why is money always available for war, not for education?" 
Our guess: there's four whole syllables in 'education', 
only one in 'war'.

With only one keyword, I’d assigned the keyword “war.” Should that have been “teachers?” Or “education?” Why not all three?

No, no, the NEW quotations database and app is not available yet. It will be, much sooner than I’d expected:

A former manager used to tell us, Simplicity comes at the end, not the beginning.”

I rewrote all the Perl code and supporting libraries in connection with the project, in addition to adding four keyword fields. I created two new apps for my own use, Entry and Update (so I can add keywords, among other reasons). The first two months of coding were a minefield of unsatisfactory trials, mistakes, and “almost pretty good” results. I took the core program apart and worked on each piece again, then put them all back together. Voila, mon ami!

So it took about 2-3/4 months to work up the three prototype apps that finally worked perfectly. And then, only an hour or so each to convert them to “production” apps. That’s “portable!” You should see the new Quotations database version 81 in a few days.

In the meantime, as if this makes up for December’s lapse, I’ve today posted a new photo by my friend Swan, and a short personal recollection of a remarkable candlelight dinner in the Mojave Desert. You can see the short excerpts and links to the post pages below.

May 2015 bring happiness, laughter and friendship your way!

Alex

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“The Interview” and Hacking of Sony

We’re getting a little tired of reading harebrained opinions by pundits and experts about Sony’s decision to yank its movie “The Interview” after Sony was hacked, apparently by the petulant North Korean regime.

1) It’s Sony’s movie. There is no “right to be shown a movie.”

2) By all accounts this was a B-grade comedy with very little artistry or other redeeming merit. There are very few right-to-free-speech issues here.

3) The movie is Sony property and Sony’s decision to run it or not, not the media’s, and not the so-called cybersecurity experts’.

4) If Sony decided to run the movie anyway, and even one of 18,000+ theater outlets had been victimized by a terrorism bombing attack, the media and the public wouldn’t be screaming “capitulation,” they’d be screaming for Sony’s head on a platter for risking public safety by inviting a terrorist response.

5) The only appropriate response to North Korea is beyond Sony’s expertise, and hopefully Anonymous is working on that now.

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Respect the Office

I had lunch with a very old friend earlier this week. He is an old-school (1960’s) conservative. I mentioned how the media, including a channel he watches, savages the President with smears and lies. His answer surprised me. He said: “I don’t care WHAT party a person is from, the President of the United States is OUR PRESIDENT and he should be treated with respect, dammit!”

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TULIP TREES by Richard

See image posting in PHOTOS. thumbnail, featured imageTULIP TREES by my friend Richard Wanderman, on Flickr. Canon PowerShot G7 X, November 9, 2014, Schaghticoke Ridge, Appalachian Trail, south of Kent, Connecticut. Richard says, “I’ve shot these enormous tulip trees before and it’s sort of a test for any camera I’ve got. The tilt out LCD on the G7X makes this kind of shot a breeze. ”

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“A Gaggle of New York’s Finest” by Richard

See image posting in PHOTOS. thumbnail, featured image“A Gaggle of New York’s Finest” by my friend Richard Wanderman, on Flickr. Ricoh Imaging GR, October 31, 2014, NYC. Richard says, “We walked down to the Village to get some pizza … and because it was Halloween and there was going to be a parade, there were NYPD everywhere. This looked like a scene out of a movie.”

171 total views, 1 views today