culture

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Texas pro-life whistleblower website

Posted by on 31 Aug 2021 | Tagged as: culture, politics, robobait, USA

Bless their heart, people in Texas have set up a pro-life whistleblower web site to try and persuade Texas to anonymously report each other for personal medical decisions about abortion.

These folks, “Texas Right to Life”, say they want to enforce the Texas Heartbeat Act, which claims to let people sue each other based on reports like this. This is the same faction which claims personal choice over a medical decision like wearing a mask or getting a shot to prevent unnecessary deaths, but then forbids choice when it comes to abortion.

The good news is, someone has set up a similarly-named, but good, web site: https://www.prolifewhistleblower.net/ . Go to that web site to find out about detectable heartbeats and standard medical practice and why abortions should not be illegal. Maybe, some people looking for the snitch website will find the good website instead. Let’s hope the good website is the first result search engines return for a search like “report abortions in Texas” — and that the bad website is waaaay down in the search results.

But how internet search engines come up with the order of search results? By looking at what other web pages link to each website. My blog is small, but the links on these pages will help in their small way to push the good result up in the search results. Do you have a web site or blog? You could link to the good web site also.

Now, another thing people are doing is gumming up the bad web site with spurious reports. I won’t link to the bad site here, but it has the same URL as the good web site, except use “.com” instead of “.net”. You currently can’t connect to the bad site except from an internet address inside the USA. You can’t see the anonymous report form except from an internet address within Texas. But there (V) are (P) ways (N) to arrange to have a Texas internet address.

To fill out a report, have the following information: How do you think the law has been violated (500 chars), How did you obtain this evidence (200 chars), Clinic or Doctor this evidence relates to (20 chars), City (30 chars), State (30 chars), Zip (30 chars). You must answer, Are you currently elected to public office? with Yes or No, and check “I am not a robot”. Now, I read that many people are submitting reports with false information. I hope they are being careful. Sites with report forms like this can easily filter out clearly bogus reports (e.g. state is not Texas, or Zip does not match City, or it mentions someone famous who is not an abortionist). It is harder to filter out plausible-sounding reports. Some anti-abortionist will have to spend effort to check them out. The more effort they waste, the less this bad website helps them.

Of course, this being the internet, someone has made another website, https://prolifewhistleblower.fun/ , to have “fun” with the bad web site by automatically generating false reports and submitting them via your internet address. I found it interesting and worthwhile.

Search engines, hear my keywords, and raise up my links! Texas Heartbeat Act! Prolife Whistleblower Web site!

InDesign 20周年 — 20 years of InDesign-J

Posted by on 28 Feb 2021 | Tagged as: culture, Japan

On 6. February 2021, a day-long series of web presentations in Japan celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Japanese version of Adobe InDesign. I tuned in from British Columbia, late Friday night my time. Mixed in with tips about the latest InDesign features were reminescences by the key Adobe employees from the time about how InDesign Japanese Version came to be. It turned out to be more than some tales of just another product. It was a warm reunion, particularly on the chat threads. It was the story of a singular gathering of Japanese printing expertise at a singular time of transformation. It was for many of the speakers a capstone event of their careers.

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Earth, Moon, and abolishing leap seconds: the curious astronomy and politics of time() (IUC44 session)

Posted by on 30 Nov 2020 | Tagged as: culture, meetings and conferences, time, Unicode

Last month was the pandemic-distanced rendition of the Internationalization and Unicode Conference. This year is the 44th conference, or IUC44.  In addition to a tutorial (blogged about last month), I delivered a presentation: Earth, Moon, and abolishing leap seconds: the curious astronomy and politics of time(). Here are my slides, and a video of me talking through my slides.

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Recording “To Shiver the Sky”

Posted by on 31 May 2020 | Tagged as: aviation, culture, music, personal, travel

The conductor beat out a measure. A rich orchestra sound flowed from 80 headphones into 80 heads. With a sound like an earthquake’s rumble overlaid with angelic choirs, 80 voices sang out: “Una Volta che Avrai…“. And I was sitting 10 metres in front of them. Wow.

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Happy new decade, yes, 2020 not 2021

Posted by on 31 Jan 2020 | Tagged as: culture, robobait, time

Happy new decade, everyone! This month, January 2020, marks the start of a new decade, the 2020’s. And for those of you who are saying, “no, strictly speaking the decade doesn’t begin until 2021”, you are wrong. Or, at least, all of us who say that decades and centuries start on round numbers are just as “strictly speaking” right as you. Here is why.

I think we all agree that a “decade” generally means a 10-year time span, and a “century” means a 100-year time span. In everyday usage, the word “decade” means a time interval which starts on a year ending in “0”, and ends on a year ending in “9”. Thus we have just finished the “2010’s” (10 years from the start of 2010 to the end of 2019), and are entering the “2020’s” (2020–2029). By the same token, every-day use of the time unit “century” means a time interval which starts on a year ending in “00” and ends on a year ending in “99”. The previous century is known as the “1900’s”, and also as the “20th century”.

And all of the above only applies to English usage of North America, when using the current standard Gregorian Calendar. It is also limited to year 1 onwards — the Common Era (earlier labelled as Anno Domini or A.D. by Bede back in the 600’s and 700’s).
The pedants will point to the first year of the Common Era, which is year 1 rather than year 0. They argue that the first decade must begin with year 1 and be 10 years long, so it must end on year 10. Count forward in 10-year increments, and the 2020’s must start with the year 2021 and end with the year 2030. Similarly, the pedants argue that the first century must begin with year 1 and be 100 years long, so it must end on year 100. Note that the entire foundation of their pedantry is that the time unit “decade” must always and only be 10 years long, and “century” must always and only be 100 years long.

I believe that where the pedants go astray is to prize a constant length over a convenient starting point for “decade” and “century”.

Decades, and calendars, are social constructs. They don’t have to abide by strict mathematics, and they don’t. There is a value to having a calendar which matches the earth’s rotation around the sun. There is value to having a calendar which adjusts to seasonal changes in sunrise and sunset. And, there is value to having a calendar which matches common and convenient language usage.

Consider the day: normally it is 24 hours long. But when “springing forward” from Standard to Daylight Saving Time, there is a day which is 23 hours long. Later in the year, when “falling back” to Standard Time, there is a day which is 25 hours long. I have had to write software which handled this variation. A day is normally 24 hours, but can be 23 or 25 hours.

Consider the minute: normally it is 60 seconds long. But when a leap second is necessary — to keep the highly-accurate Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) in sync with the Earth’s variable orbital duration, and to keep the March equinox close to March 20 — the minute containing the leap second is 61 seconds long.

Some years are 365 days long, others are 366 days long, because of leap years.

Britain officially started its civil year on 25 March, until as late as 1751. Only in 1752 did it finally change the start of the civil year to 1 January. Common usage was ahead of civil rules in adopting 1 January as the beginning of the year, leading dates from 1 January to 24 March to be written with two alternative years: “30 January 1648/1649”.  Even more interestingly, September 1752 was 19 days long in England, instead of 30 days as in other years. This was to bring the calendar back in sync with the solar year, or in other words, to move March 20 back to the day of the March equinox.

All these calendar shenanigans are about deciding to allow social (and astronomical) considerations take precedence over strictly consistent numerical duration. “Strictly speaking”, a calendar balances all these considerations. And rightly so.

Given that, I think it is perfectly reasonable to declare: decades are normally 10 years long, but the first decade of the Common Era was 9 years long: 1 to 9 CE. 10 CE began the second decade. Centuries are normally 100 years long, but the first century CD was 99 years long: 1 to 99 CE.

Thus, 1 Jan 2020 CE also began a decade. Pedants, I see where you are coming from, but if you are willing to use a calendar with 25-hour days, and a 19-day September back in the day, I claim you cannot justify denying the 9-year decade and the 99-year century.

I am tempted to find a time machine, go back to northeast England in the 7th or 8th centuries CE, and persuade Bede to define his Anno Domini year numbers at 0, instead of 1. It would sidestep this whole decade and century problem. The only problem is, that in Bede’s time, Europe would not learn of the zero for another 3-5 centuries (where “centuries” are not strict 100-year time durations).

Happy new decade, starting January 2020!

Impressions of Italian grocery stores

Posted by on 31 Oct 2019 | Tagged as: culture, personal, travel

For the last six weeks, I’ve been shopping at grocery stores in Venice, Naples, Rome, and Florence. My Carissima and I are self-catering during an extended trip through Italy. My grocery store sample is limited and unrepresentative, but even so, the experience makes me appreciate the treasures at these Italian groceries. And, it helps me appreciate by contrast what they grocery stores back home in B.C. do well. Continue Reading »

In which Jim and Ducky appear in the Venice Biennale

Posted by on 30 Sep 2019 | Tagged as: culture, music, travel

A most extraordinary thing happened last Saturday: Ducky Sherwood and I appeared in the Venice Biennale! We were a (tiny) part of Sun & Sea [Marina], an “opera-performance” by Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė, and Lina Lapelytė, at the Lithuania Pavilion. This work won them the Golden Lion award for Best National Participation. I have been a devoted amateur opera singer for nearly 25 years. I am delighted to join in this performance, in my little comprimario role. It is an unlikely addition to my résumé. Continue Reading »

Macbeth

Posted by on 30 Jun 2019 | Tagged as: community, culture, music, personal, Vancouver

I’m going to be in an opera! I am in the chorus of Heroic Opera’s production of Verdi’s Macbeth on Friday 5. July and Saturday 6. July in Vancouver. It will be a marvelous show. The singers are powerful and exciting, the direction is incisive, the costumes are lavish.

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Good Godless Grief Songs

Posted by on 31 May 2019 | Tagged as: community, culture, music

I am on the lookout for good songs to sing at bad times. I want songs of grief and loss, suitable for amateur musicians like me to sing at funerals and memorial services, that do not mention gods, creators, heaven, or other fables. I am looking for “Good Godless Grief Songs”.

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For only the second time in 41 years

Posted by on 31 Mar 2019 | Tagged as: culture, Keyboard Philharmonic

January 1st each year is, among other things, Public Domain Day. This is the day, in most industrialised countries, when the copyright period expires on those works which became old enough in the past year. On Public Domain Day, those books, music scores, and artworks enter the public domain en masse. They are free for everyone to use and re-use without asking permission.

This year, Public Domain Day in the USA was notable. For only the second time in 41 years, works actually entered the public domain in the USA on that day. The last time this had happened was in 1998, and before that, 1977. These two 21-year droughts were the results of changes to US copyright law, first in 1976, and again in 1998. “The public domain has been frozen in time for 20 years”, quoted Smithsonian magazine.  Cultural advocates celebrated how the arrival of works into the public domain enriches culture generally in the USA. But they focussed more on literature. I am interested in music scores. Continue Reading »

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