Quick Roundup 448

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Threat? To Whom?

CNN calls the swine flu a "threat" to the Islamic hajj season. Too bad that dying during this pilgrimage is widely regarded as a one-way ticket to heaven, and that so many Moslems hold their host countries in the West in such low esteem.

I would hope that there are "concerns that the Muslim pilgrimage will hasten the spread of swine flu."

Objectivist Roundup

Netvibes is down this morning, so I'm flying blind. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong, but I am pretty sure that Titanic Deck Chairs is hosting this week's edition. Update: Here it is -- and it's now a terrific two!

Flying Slow

Besides flying blind, the near-ubiquitous obsession of web "developers" with CPU- and bandwidth- gobbling pages has made my netbook and its mere 1 GB of memory fly like a bee and sting like a butterfly lately. My desktop, which was defective, failed around the time of the move, or got damaged during the move has a CPU over three times faster and 6 GB of RAM.

Despite some helpful hints from commenters, I never was able to isolate the problem. The unit still being under warranty, I called tech support about the problem. At worst, the manufacturer would repair it and send me a bill if they thought it was damaged, and then my insurance would cover it. So I sent it in and have been eagerly awaiting its arrival since.

It arrived yesterday -- or so I thought. According to my packing slip, which was for the correct computer, the problem was with the video card and I won't be billed. Great. So where is it?

Either my desktop manufacturer has merged or it shares a repair facility with another. Whatever the case, I opened the box only to find someone else's (vastly inferior) computer. Well, okay, it was the same color. But it wasn't even built by the same maker. So I get to wait about another two weeks for that to be straightened out -- or to start raising hell until I get a new replacement of at least equal value.

And if I do see the unit I shipped in again, this incompetence has me wondering whether it really will be repaired.

Handsome Devil

Love the fish. Enjoying the groans. Own back blistered from patting it so hard over a clever pun, if I say so myself.

Botanical Goodness

Some beautiful pictures are posted over at Thrutch, in case you haven't stopped by there in a while.


A good friend mentioned the above comic via email some time back.

Update: Trey Givens notes a mean-spirited side to XKCD I wasn't previously aware of. Disappointing.

-- CAV


: (1) Updated last section. (2) Added link to Carnival. (3) Fixed an incorrect link.


Jim May said...

Here's a comment I posted at Trey's site regarding the XKCD comic:


I wouldn't bother talking to the author about it. I've read enough of his words on his blog and through the strip to expect that he would be capable of this sort of thing. He is the highly educated, compartmentalized sort of geek who believes in global warming and certainly voted for Obama.

Having worked in the games industry (and now working in it again), I am quite familiar with have encountered this sort of person -- in the persons of game programmers, of course. Unless you are very well educated and fast on your intellectual feet, enough to chase them through the tortuous conceptual salads they can weave, you'll just make them worse.

Frankly, I don't think that Randall Munroe has any specific issues with Ayn Rand or Objectivists, and on the xkcd forums, the discussion was fairly civil for the first page, at least (but, as expected in any forum where Ayn Rand is discussed, it's grown to eight pages, so I imagine there's a lot more heat further in).

It might be "mean-spirited", but out of necessity I tend to evaluate these things by a relative standard. This was a very mild bit of snark as such things go, and unlike say this sort of idiot who slips in a snarky aside in what is otherwise a serious post, xkcd is a comic strip.

Pick your battles. This doesn't even qualify as one IMO.


Come to think of it, there is a subtle sort of grim humor in that strip which I can appreciate as an Objectivist: given the cultural backdrop against which we move, our expectations of the people around us tend to be colored by certain expectations born of that pessimism. We get used to keeping a low profile.

So, when we find out that someone is an Objectivist or at least an admirer, we are more surprised than perhaps we ought to be.

I just had that happen yesterday, when one of my colleagues noticed the "Rearden Steel" T-shirt I was wearing and told me that "Atlas" was his favorite book of all time.

Gus Van Horn said...


Thanks for also leaving that comment here. Based on similar types of people I have encountered, I think you pretty much hit the nail on the head here.

And yes, as for the the "accidentally subtle" kind of humor here, I know what you're talking about!


Andy said...

I'm with Jim on this one: I totally got the grim humor on the first pass through. And I can't tell if linking to Trey was humor or not: an argument by an objectivist that you can't make jokes about the holy and sacred -including objectivists- was one of the funniest things I've heard.

Hope your computer woes resolve themselves; if not, the Apple Store at CambridgeSide is a nice shrine of its own.

Gus Van Horn said...

"[A]n argument by an objectivist that you can't make jokes about the holy and sacred -including objectivists- was one of the funniest things I've heard."

I can't tell whether this comment is an attempt at humor, but I'll assume that it is somewhat tongue-in-cheek.

Objectivism being a secular philosophy does not preclude it from having a concept of the sacred, nor a concept of justice.

A good, rough approximation of the point might be the near-universal anger that having jokes made about one's mother causes. Some things simply cannot be laughed at in anything other than a hostile manner.