Monthly Archives: August 2006

sometimes size matters

Size matters

So you find something cool on the Web, and you want to send your friend a link. But you know how it goes; when you copy the URL and paste it into an email, it looks something like this monster:

WordPress has helped me prove my point: I had to manually break these lines to get them to fit in the editing window. (Before I broke it, the URL vanished off the right edge.)

When you paste a URL like this into an email, it will probably wrap, either on your end or the recipient’s. And if it wraps, it probably breaks, too — your friend clicks the link, but now only part of it is live, so the result is an error rather than a web page.

I’m delighted to say that I’ve found a solution to the overly lengthy URL: When I pasted in my example 145-character URL, TinyURL instantly generated the following 24-character alternative: (If you follow it, it takes you to a satellite photo of the location of the Louisville Science Center — a fantastic, fun place to visit.)

These tiny URLs never expire. Plus, if you dig through the site and locate the information about the guy who came up with the idea, it turns out that he’s a unicycling photographer from Minnesota. How cool is that?

Java jive

Yo, yo, yo, weebles, I don’t like hip-hop, you hear what I’m sayin’? But now I’m down with the hella fresh rap from the fly guys at NerdCore Hip Hop.

Nerdcore 1 Nerdcore 3

Check it out from Wired:

There’s a new beat on the street and it’s called Nerdcore. This geeky hip hop subgenre, also dubbed CS rap (that’s computer science, yo!), is finally booting up with the release of Rhyme Torrents, a compilation featuring the work of more than 50 men – and even a few ladies – who bust rhymes (and C++ code). The collection is free online, so none of the artists make bank.

(Daunks to the insane crew at Urban Dictionary!)

mama, I want to sing

Happy, happy. I’m back in Voces Novae.


Way back in the misty past, in high school, I sang in the Louisville Youth Choir with an incredible director named Frank Heller. Years later, Frank decided to start an adult chorus with some of the LYC alumni, and Voces Novae was born. I sang with the group since its inception; but I felt the need to take last year off, because I had just started singing with Guilderoy Byrne, work was chaotic, you name it — I needed my Monday nights for myself.

But I missed it all year. When I went to the November 2005 concert, I was ready to cry because I wanted so very badly to be up there, sharing the beauty of the music. So I auditioned this summer to regain a spot, and I just got the call.

I’ve missed singing soprano. In Guilderoy, I use my alto/folk/chest voice; in Voces, I use my soprano/classical/head voice. I’ve got a big voice with a large range, and it will be fun to use all of it by singing in two such different ensembles.

If you enjoy choral music and you’d like to support an outstanding nonprofit choir, buy a CD. (Heck, buy several — they make great gifts.)

Happy, happy!

the tough coughed as he ploughed the dough

I was reminded yesterday of the vagaries of English and how much I pity anyone who attempts to learn it as a second language. To, too, two. Its, it’s. Your, you’re. Multiple pronunciations of the same letter combinations, as in the title of this post. English is a marvelous, expressive language — but, thanks to the many cultural sources from which it obtains new words, it offers a bewildering and sometimes seemingly random assortment of spellings and sounds.

I’m currently working on a book whose author speaks (first) Dutch, (second) French, and (third) English. He has a wonderful grasp of English; and, in an example in his book, he introduced me to something I’d never heard of: Shavian.


From Wikipedia:

Posthumously funded by and named after Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, the Shavian alphabet (also known as Shaw alphabet) was conceived as a way to provide a simple, phonetic orthography for the English language to replace the difficulties of the conventional spelling. Shaw set two main criteria for the new alphabet: that it should be phonetic, with as great as possible a 1:1 correspondence between letters and sounds; and that it should be distinct from the Latin alphabet so as to avoid the impression that the new spellings were simply “misspellings”.

What a superb idea: a phonetic alphabet that would yield something akin to “thuh tuhff cawft az hee plowd thuh doh” (only written in much prettier, vaguely Elvish characters; here’s an example) and would thus save us from our maddening tangle of spellings and pronunciations.

it’s a burp, it’s a stain, it’s … Wee-Wee Man!


Now, why didn’t they have something like this when my son was a baby? It got so that as soon as we unfastened his dirty diaper, we immediately put a towel over the relevant area, because we knew that a fountain would be forthcoming.

Parent protectors including Wee-Wee Man, Whizz Kid, Captain Blast Off, and more are available from Sozo. The next time your progeny pees, be prepared!

UUs & lightbulbs

How many Unitarian Universalists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

  • None. We accept the lightbulb the way it is.
  • None. We think the lightbulb should change by itself.
  • Three. One to change the bulb, and two make sure the power doesn’t go to her head.
  • None. UUs aren’t afraid of the dark!
  • Nine. Three to form the committee “For” change, three to form the committee “Against” change, two to abstain, and one secretary to record the meetings of both groups.
  • It’s about five or six, isn’t it? Whatever is a quorum for the church board meeting. Well, plus a couple members of the Building & Grounds Committee to actually get the ladder and bulb and DO it … and of course the chair and vice-chair of the committee to supervise. Oh, they can’t come Saturday? Well, how about Sunday just before the service? The choir’s rehearsing? Oh, God! No, I’m not praying — it’s just an expression. What do you mean, I use too many careless expressions? If I gave the kind of wacky pulpit editorials you do … no, I am NOT appointing myself Censor of the Liturgy. Liturgy? What’s a liturgy? …
  • Three. One to write a solemn statement that will affirm the following:
    1. This light bulb is natural, a part of the universe, and evolved over many years by small steps.
    2. There must be no discrimination against dark bulbs in any form, and means must be found for all “dark” bulbs to take their place alongside light bulbs on a basis of equality.
    3. We affirm the right of all bulbs to screw into the sockets of their choice regardless of the bulb’s illumination preference.
    4. UUs seek for each light bulb the fullest opportunity to develop itself to its full electrical potential.

    One to read this statement, even if s/he is the only human being to do so; the reader will then write the obligatory criticism and dissent. And one to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness.

must (not!) see TV

Swedish state broadcaster SVT has admitted a “huge blunder” after a porn film was accidentally shown in the background of a news bulletin.

A five-minute news update shown at the weekend included explicit scenes from a Czech porn movie on a monitor behind the anchor Peter Dahlgren.

(entire article)


Apparently the Swedish audience didn’t mind a bit. Given the U.S. tendency to devolve into mass hysteria at the sight of a nipple during prime time, I wonder what the response would be if this little kind of little mishap occurred during, say, a broadcast of “The O’Reilly Factor”?

I pledge allegiance to the First Amendment

I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free; and I won’t forget the men [and women] who died to give that right to me. And I’ll gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today, ’cause there ain’t no isn’t any doubt I love this land. [My personal patriotic statement ends there; I see no need to call upon a deity to bless my country.]

When the National Anthem plays, I sing. When my family discusses current events and aspects of American politics or society that may be less than perfect, I’m quick to remind my children that, despite its imperfections, American is the greatest country in the world and we’re extremely lucky to live here. When I’m at a gathering that recites the Pledge of Allegiance, I put my hand over my heart, face the flag, and unhesitatingly state my commitment to America.

However, I leave out two words: “under God.”

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amen to that

My friend Tim wrote an excellent and thought-provoking entry today, titled “Questions of Faith.”

I may be an atheist, but to this I can only say AMEN. These are exactly the sorts of questions that I wonder about regularly, but directed at all religious bodies, not just Christians.

All of the world’s major faiths profess to be about peace and love, and yet very little of either is evidenced in their words and actions toward the rest of humanity. It seems as though the members of all faiths who believe themselves to be the most pure and the most devout display the highest degrees of insularity; fear of the new/different/unknown; resistance to rational thought; and willingness to behave in irrational, contradictory, and often violent ways.

I do my level best to maintain my open mind and tolerance regarding religion (despite the regular condemnation of atheists and humanists as being the source of all evil in the world — have those who condemn me looked in the mirror lately?), but it’s increasingly difficult as peoples of all faiths seem more and more desirous of molding the world to suit their particular brand of theism and of stamping out all skepticim and alternate beliefs.

So many wars, so much violence, all in the name of God, and all promulgated by people who claim to be devoted to the sanctity of life. So many children are being raised to hate, in the name of their God. And now, families I know personally are rejoicing in the Middle East war because they believe it brings the world a step closer to the Second Coming.

Surely the God in which billions of people place their blind faith would prefer that those billions serve him by taking care of each other and the world, rather than ransacking the planet to prove that their way is the only truth. But come to think of it, that would make them humanists — and apparently, to them, that’s the worst possiblity of all.

new at the zoo

So there we were at Polly’s Freeze in Georgetown, IN, last evening, following my Guilderoy Byrne performance in Corydon. As we stood in the twilight, waiting for our food and ice cream, a young girl and her family joined the line. The girl was holding a tiny black kitten. I, naturally, went over to say hello and pet the kitty; it turned out they had just rescued it off the nearby highway.

Nero 1

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