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Knights of Malta in the Dominican Republic … ar-meisce.com 15th of March, 2006 ANTE·MERIDIEM 11:46

I had the weirdest dream last night; it involved finding out that the Dominican Republic, that chunk of Hispaniola that isn’t entirely hell on earth, was formally the possession of the Knights of Malta, though maintaining democratic structures like elections and a parliament. And the Knights, the Malteser† Ritter as they’re known here, in this alternative universe are not the entire laughing stock (as a quasi-national entity, not as a charity doing good works) they are in our own, and the prospect of Bavarian nobles travelling to this Caribbean island and taking on government responsibility, makes me laugh, for some reason.

I’ve just bought ar-meisce.com and, together with fuсκ.com (note the Cyrillic), that makes two domains I should be doing something useful with that I’m not. I’m taking suggestions!

Word of the day: Олим is Tajik for “scientist” and is eerily similar to the Irish word for the same thing, “Eolaí.”

† Don’t laugh, it’s the normal form for an adjective derived from a place name.

Last comment from Aidan Kehoe on the 16th of March at 10:05
Now, of course the dupe thingy is really my problem. Sometimes I say to myself that re-inventing the wheel is probably a waste of time on some level; and sometimes I’d be right.

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Weather … Neosupervital … Van Morrison … la bataille 14th of March, 2006 POST·MERIDIEM 02:38

The weather here is beautiful; sun shining, blue skies, snow melting. This is a little unexpected, much as is Cliph pointing out that Neosupervital has a MySpace page. What in tarnation‽

Oh, and I’m not depressed, which is nice:


I score zero or one, depending on how the test is administered; were I to give up drinking, it’d be ~10, with changes in agitation, irritability and indecisiveness.

Is Van Morrison’s new album worth listening to, anyone? Number eight in the UK charts doesn’t say a whole lot about its quality, but it does say something about his popularity.

Word of the day: la batalla  is Spanish for “battle,” „die Schlacht, Schlachten“ is cognate with “slaughter” and is German for the same thing.

Last comment from Sheila on the 15th of March at 19:36
You are not alone, my ale and hearty friend.

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das Grab Ernst Udets … Jeffrey Lewis … Incremental garbage collection 13th of March, 2006 ANTE·MERIDIEM 12:44

Went to see Ernst Udet’s grave Saturday—I find my teenage interest in aviation in the Second World War is reviving, since I can now actually read other points of view than those of Guy Gibson, Douglas Bader, Kelly Anderson and so on. Udet’s much more interesting than any of them; second-highest scoring ace in World War I, barnstormed in the inter-war period, held a high rank in the World War II Luftwaffe, shot himself in 1941. So, yeah, diverting. And snowy.

Also on Saturday saw Jeffrey Lewis, http://​www.​thejeffreylewissite.​com/​ on the recommendation of my sister Eileen. He stuck mostly to singing, presenting one cartoon thingy; the overall humour of his Dublin show, as Eileen described it, wasn’t to be found. Maybe he was nervous about his lack of German. Supporting Jeffrey was Martin Büsser, giving a presentation on his favourite music genre, “Anti-Folk.” From the samples, this seems to be a genre of deserved obscurity; The Fugs  seem to be professional musicians with the musical instinct of Richard Stallman, and anyone who’s ever listened to why-cooperation-with-rms-is-impossible.mp3 will know why that’s a bad thing.

Okay, and on another issue, Marcus Crestani’s new incremental garbage collector for XEmacs is really getting on my tits. When I run an XEmacs with it, it a) freezes for much longer than was previously the case when collecting garbage and b) never lasts longer than a day and a half without crashing. Further, today, when I went and complied a version with it turned off,  it does what seems to be a non-deterministic core dump! Even less cute is why I felt the need to go and compile a version without it; my mail client currently runs on 21.4, and the sha1 Lisp function behaves differently to 21.5 and to Perl in 21.4. Since I use my mail client to write blog entries, and I use sha1 to sign them for the back end, this is inconvenient.

Word of the day: „die Steigleistung“  is German for power-to-weight ratio, that relationship between the power of the motor and the weight of an airframe that becomes so important in dogfighting climbing performance.

Last comment from Aidan Kehoe on the 14th of March at 10:39
Ah, indeed it does, thanks for the correction. (I tend not to bother with LEO if Oxford-Duden doesn’t have an entry for the word; looks like I should change that.) I hadn’t actually found a definition, and from the context I saw the word in, the English that occurred to me was either "power-to-weight ratio" or "wing loading," and Flächenbelastung is the latter. I stand back in awe at your German skills!

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UAE in US ports … Where one embarks. 10th of March, 2006 ANTE·MERIDIEM 12:11

Apparently the US administration is getting criticism from Republicans for its support for the ownership of several US ports passing to the UAE:


For once, this is something on which I agree with Bush and disagree with his critics. I think greater economic integration across the world is a good thing. The more investment from Taiwan that goes into Mainland China, the greater the economic harm to the People’s Republic if it rattles sabres too energetically and Taiwan moves its investment to India; the more investment from Finland and the rest of the EU that goes into Estonia, the more tighter Estonia is integrated into the EU, the greater the potential harm to Russia if it does its normal Russia-threaten-the-neighbours thing.

And unless both sides in a multinational transaction are equally open to such a possibility—A would have no more trouble with B investing in A than it would with A investing in B—then there are legitimate grounds for B refusing the investment of A. And in such a case, assets for sale in B will be sold for a lower price to people who have less interest in making optimal use of them (they haven’t paid much, they’re not risking much); ditto assets for sale in A, though where A is the US and B is the UAE, this effect will be masked by the much greater internal market size of A.

And this is worrying to me:

„Immerhin jeder vierte US-Bürger sagt sogar, er sei gegen den Verkauf jeder US-Firma an Ausländer.“ 

So one in four US citizens is against selling any US firm to foreigners? If US politicians play to that sort of tribalism, then asset and firm prices in the US will fall, and the US economy will tank some more. This will be a problem both for the US and for those parts of the world that have significant business dealings therewith; that is, the whole industrialised world.

Word of the day: „das Kai“ , German for Quay (like lots of German nautical terms, it’s from Platt or Dutch and close to the English word); el embarcadero,  as in the San Francisco neighbourhood, is one Spanish word for the same thing. No Tajik today, though I’m certain a Persian word for the concept exists.

Deutschland before Bavaria, before Preußen, before Hanover … 9th of March, 2006 POST·MERIDIEM 01:41

One of the things that’s fascinating about Germany to me is that while, on the macro level, the society has its ѕhіt together as much or more than any place I’ve lived, or even visited, on a micro level I see disorganisation and chaos and general lack-of-ѕhіt-togetherness pretty often.

For example, it’s impossible for me to do the amount of work that I am responsible for in an eight-hour day; I’ve made this clear, my project manager has made it clear, everyone’s been aware of it for months. The reaction to this is to put new management structures in place with new document-organisation procedures, that make it harder to get work done, and while more manpower has been allocated to the issue, the new management mostly ignores what we say are our problems, and put in place solutions for entirely different issues, often exacerbating our perceived problems.

And talking to other people about their workplaces turns up similar problems quite a bit. But, still, the public transport system is excellent, shops are well-stocked and cheap, bank service has been much better for me here than in Ireland, even dealing with public servants is less of a problem than in Ireland or Wallonia. So what is it? Is it just that a slightly higher level of ѕhіt-togetherness gives a significantly higher quality of life? Or is it that I’m hallucinating about the relative quality of life? I don’t think I am, and the Irish people I know who’ve lived in Germany seem to have had the same impression.

Last comment from Aidan Kehoe on the 9th of March at 14:35
Maybe :-) . Still, ask the next German you meet in Dublin if things work better at home; bet you they’ll say they do.

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Wikipedia … Maciej on Antarctica … ¡Cabrón! 8th of March, 2006 POST·MERIDIEM 01:58

I just picked nits on the subject of Wikipedia over at Languagehat’s page, http://​www.​languagehat.​com/​archives/​002295.​php , and I suspect people read it as my hating the project. I don’t; I think it’s a magnificent resource, incomparable in its breadth—as Des noticed recently, no other information source is likely to list the mock Latin names of Mr. W. E. Coyote episode by episode, and indeed I find, for example, its articles on Warner Brothers cartoons in general fascinating and comprehensive.

But I only rarely edit it or add to it, even on those subjects I have some confidence about. It is tedious to have the English pronunciation information for Jökulhlaup removed from the corresponding article for no good reason , or to have well-sourced coherent criticism of Richard Stallman taken out of his article by his cheerleading team, or to have coherent edits taken out without notes as to why by someone writing incoherent things himself on the corresponding talk page. Arguing a point is essentially marketing work for your point of view, convincing other people of something you’re aware of already; I don’t like most strangers enough to consider that worthwhile.

Anyway. Jamie Zawinski linked to it, so you’ve probably seen it already, but if you haven’t, Maciej Cegłowski wrote an excellent, and in some places screamingly funny, article on the Antarctic yesterday. Go read it— http://​www.​idlewords.​com/​2006/​03/​ruling_antarctica.​htm .

Word of the day: el cabrón  is Spanish for “billy goat,” and can often be translated by “bastard”; буз means “goat” in general in Tajik.

Last comment from Aidan Kehoe on the 9th of March at 13:22
And, that particular problem fixed; I suspect the W3C’s validator was telling me different things about <textarea>s three years ago when I started doing <input type="textarea"> instead of <textarea>, than it is today, when the latter is fine.

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