Ex Bibliotheca

The life and times of Zack Weinberg.

Wednesday, 22 May 2002

# 5:30 PM


I dreamt I was asked to perform a marriage between two of my old college friends. A full-fledged Jewish religious marriage. One is not obliged to be a rabbi to do this; however, the rabbi is less likely to make a total mess of it, which is what I did. (It would have helped if I'd had a prayer book to work with. I had to make up most of the ritual.) For some reason all this was happening on the top of a hill and everyone was wearing beach clothes.


Ted Barlow has a lot of good commentary, and links to commentary, about the intelligence failures leading up to Sept. 11 and the current political arguments over same. Go read.

Meantime, Electrolite links to a bone-chilling post by Charlie Stross:

World War Three ...

... Looks as if it's going to break out in the next week. No, I'm not kidding. Two regional superpowers with a combined population of 1.2 billion people -- half the Earth's population at the time of WW2, double the combined population of the USA and USSR -- are eyeball to hairy eyeball over Kashmir. Both sides have got nukes and delivery systems capable of hitting each other's cities. They've fought three wars in the past half century, and they're both pissed.

Makes our little political dust-ups seem real insignificant by comparison.


Over here on Willamette Week Online, we got four articles about marijuana. One in particular argues that legalizing pot will kill pot culture, and that this would be a Good Thing. I am not convinced of either prong of this assertion, but it's still a fun read.

They also have a more serious interview with New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, who advocates legalization of pot and possibly other recreational drugs on the grounds that prohibition is a failure, and one with horrible side effects:

There has been the acknowledgment on my part since 1993, when I started to run for office, that the War on Drugs is a failure. I have always believed that we could not continue to arrest and incarcerate all the drug users in this country. When I stepped out on this issue, my intention was to have a dialogue, and let's include legalization as a potential alternative. Half of what we spend on law enforcement, half of what we spend on the courts, half of what we spend on the prisons is drug-related. And again, from my standpoint, I don't think there's a bigger issue facing the world today that has some practical solutions.

The elimination of drug prohibition would have a positive impact on our country. We can't continue to arrest 1.6 million people a year.

This is a position I wholeheartedly agree with; it's nice to see a serious politician (and a conservative, no less!) espousing it.

(Also from Ted Barlow.)


Two of my all time favorite Mozilla bugs, 76431 and 101016, have been fixed. Now if they would just do something about 29838...

# 12:15 AM


Groceries have now been bought. Berkeley Bowl is a local non-chain supermarket, which has any number of interesting quirks. For example, it's the only market I've ever seen which has Ready Made and the Utne Reader but not the National Enquirer on its check-out magazine rack. Also, they do not stock any Coca-Cola products. I do not know why, but it's likely to be because the store is run by ex-hippies (they have a complete selection of organic and other good-for-the-environment stuff) and they have some issue with Coca-Cola. However, they stock plenty of other megacorporate products (Kleenex, for instance) so I am not sure.


Emacs 20 has an irritating bug in its "customization" code. When you ask the customizer to save your changes, it writes a bunch of Lisp forms at the end of your initialization file (.emacs). If it sees there's already a block of forms that it wrote, it is clever enough to replace them without clobbering what you put in the file by hand.

However, if you have byte-compiled your initialization file, which you might like to do if you have lots of Lisp functions in there, then it goes and writes its stuff at the end of the compiled file. It does not know how to remove the existing byte-compiled version of its stuff from before, which means all the settings get applied twice, and any side effects happen twice. Worse, the next time you modify your personal set of Lisp routines and recompile the file, those settings get clobbered.

The Right Thing would be to modify the source file, which will cause Emacs to ignore the out-of-date compiled version, and notify the user that they may want to recompile. (You don't want to recompile every time you tweak something, it's quite expensive.) A user who has a byte-compiled init file can be assumed to know what the program is talking about. For all I know this has been fixed in Emacs 21, but I'm not particulary interested in upgrading (it's likely to break a lot of my complicated custom Lisp...)