I was recently delighted to discover that Daniel Harbour, one of the linguistic theorists I’ve most enjoyed reading, has a blog – about language and also other interesting topics. It’s called the “because” charade, and here’s how he explains that curious name:
My blog is called the “because” charade because what follows the word because (in a lot of discussion of science, ethics, politics, religion, …) is rarely a reason, or reasonable, or rational. And I believe that we’d all be better off if reason(ableness) played a bigger part in public life.
Recent topics have included the Pirahã controversy – an important linguistic debate, which he explains in terms a layman can understand – and the theory of evolution. A pleasure to read!
I really didn’t expect to be posting anything today, certainly not this, but it seems to be quite urgent, so here I am. Google is planning to (finally) give Google Reader an overhaul. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been looking forward to that for a long time. But what I didn’t expect is that instead of integrating gReader’s social functions with G+, they’re replacing the former with the latter. No more “people you follow” feed, no more “comments view”, no more of my little clutch of gReader buddies, formed around the mutual opinion that each of the others shares interesting stuff. These people have introduced me to some of the most interesting pieces of reading I’ve come across, many of which have ended up linked to on this blog or influencing my thinking and writing.
Here are some of the posts about the shuttering that have come up (in “people you follow”, of course):
I’ve mentioned in a recent comment
that I’ve slowly started reading less on Google Reader because I can’t keep up with everything. Well, the one area that is consistently 90% read-worthy is “people you follow”. Killing the social part of gR will kill the whole service for me, I’m afraid.
Don’t get me wrong: I like Google+, I like it when social networks get an overhaul, even when it forces me to change how I use them. I’m the guy who can’t wait to see the new Facebook newsfeed, not the guy who shakes his fist at Zuckerberg every time the interface is improved. Heck, I’ve specifically been waiting impatiently for a new gReader interface ever since I saw the Preview theme on Gmail. But moving the social features out of gReader will make me very sad.
I woke up this morning to a very strange and unpleasant mention on Twitter:
Of course, it’s always possible the Israeli Right is, well, right, and that like all lefties I’m an unwitting copywriter for Hamas… But it’s unlikely, so I dilligently applied Occam’s Razor and concluded it must be a typo (okay, I mean I took a guess), and followed the link to see what it’s all about. It turned out to be an auto-generated newspaper-esque page of content — powered by paper.li — collected from tweets with the #Hamas hashtag, conveniently called “The #hamas Daily” — which is this case sounds like an official Hamas publication.
Since one of my posts yesterday was about topics related to Hamas and since I apply an excessive amount of tags, which Feedburner selectively-but-automatically turns into hashtags when tweeting my posts (see tweet below), I ended up being an unwitting copywriter for Hamas, who incidentally would like to kill almost everyone I love.
I never used to believe it when they said machines will rise up to destroy us… But now I’m starting to see it… A conspiracy of half-intelligent automatons, interacting on the wild Internet, producing their own newspapers and slanderous tweets… They are the real enemy!!
Happy New Year everyone, and welcome to didyoulearnanything.net.
I spent a lot of the last ten days installing WordPress, learning about CSS, fiddling with file permissions, and figuring out the new name and domain name. It’s a huge pleasure to finally be posting this.
I hope you like the new site. Let me know if you bump into any errors, or if you have ideas for improving the layout or something.
It’s been really great getting to know WordPress better. It really is an amazing project, and I’m glad I could move from the turnkey hosted environment of wordpress.com to this web server without needing to learn to use a whole new system.
As for the hosting, I was very happy to discover the provider I chose: NearlyFreeSpeech.NET. At first I was a little hesitant about using such a non-user-friendly service, and it’s been a true challenge. But it’s great to work with such a likable service provider. They have a really great attitude and it feels right to be their customer.
A note about Sappir.net:
Sappir.net currently still points to the old version of the blog. It will change to point here over the next few days. I think RSS feed subscriptions should continue working once the transfer is complete, but you should just remove the old feed and switch to the new one if you don’t want to miss anything.
I’m back sooner than expected and will resume posting about democracy soon. Meanwhile, here’s a link to the latest post over at Peter Gray’s excellent Freedom to Learn blog, in which Peter discusses how free social play lends itself to the development of a sense of democracy in children:
Children cannot acquire democratic values through activities run autocratically by adults. They can and do, however, experience and acquire such values in free play with other children. That is a setting where they are treated as equals, where they must have a say in what goes on, and where they must respect the rights of others if they wish to be included.
Link: Social Play and the Genesis of Democracy
The rest of the blog is well-worth reading as well!
I’ve discovered a new blog, ComingAnarchy.com. (Thanks, Google Reader!)
It looks like an interesting mix of topics. The latest Quote-of-the-Day post, from Friday (Jan. 9) is of particular interest right now. Here’s an extended quote from the Economist:
Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister, has been saying all week that, although Israel’s immediate aim is to stop the rocket fire and not to topple Hamas, there can be no peace, and no free Palestine, while Hamas remains in control. She is right that with Hamas in power in Gaza the Islamists can continue to wreck any agreement Israel negotiates with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority on the West Bank. Mr Abbas, along with Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, may quietly relish Hamas being taken down a peg. Egypt is furious at Hamas’s recent refusal to renew talks with Fatah about restoring a Palestinian unity government.