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2006-02-03 14:37


Mr H's uncelebrated text is not in fact banned in France:

La France a adopt une attitude qui semble plus sereine : en toute rigueur, le livre aurait pu y tre interdit la vente en raison des lois interdisant l'incitation la haine raciale ; mais l'argument selon lequel pouvoir analyser de faon critique le pass est le moyen le plus sr de l'empcher de revenir fut entendu. La Cour d'appel de Versailles a tranch le dbat en adoptant la position suivante : compte-tenu de son intrt historique et documentaire, le livre reste autoris la vente, mais doit obligatoirement comporter en tte d'ouvrage les attendus de ce mme jugement expliquant les raisons de cette autorisation.

The French, being much cooler than the Chermans, haven't banned it, even though the laws permitting banning things would be dead easy. The court of appeals of Versaille has ruled that it can remain on sale, on account of its historic and documentary interest, with a compulsory health warning explaining why it is allowed.

In other words, if exactly the same book were somehow to be written today, and thus without the historical or documentary value (Pierre Mnard, how are ya?) it would be banned before you could say Spree Feech !.

But it isn't banned in France, and we apologise - to our Raried Reader, but not to France - for saying it was.


2006-02-03 11:29

Speech is always freer when you're insulting brown persons, of course

We're a little bit tired of stuff like this:

The paper contrasts Islam's ban on images of Muhammad with the secular principle of freedom of speech.

"Religious commandments and prohibitions cannot take priority over the laws of the republic," it insists. "Religions... can be freely analysed, criticised, indeed ridiculed."

This would be the "secular principle of speech" that lead the French government to successfully sue Yahoo! and others into censoring auctions of Nazi memorabilia from French IP-addresses? The one that banned Mein Kampf?

There's a lot of pompous lecturing going on, and we, for one, wish to be disassociated from it. As Dsquare von Timber keeps insisting, many persons are indeed using "religion" as a proxy for race, and there is plenty of alleged criticism that skirts the boundaries of incitement of hatred and/or to violence, and it is well-established that that sort of thing can get your collar felt, and quite right too.


2006-02-03 10:20

Censoring political cartoons? It could never happen in the FDR!


The Washington Post has received a letter of reprimand from "an unusual number of high-level signatures, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and each of its five members," concerning a political cartoon it printed in its Sunday, January 29 edition. The cartoon portrayed a seriously wounded Iraq war veteran in a hospital bed with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld playing the role of the doctor saying, "I'm listing your condition as 'battle hardened.'"

Insulting cartoons about brown persons are of course a vital matter of free speech; critisising the executive branch of the FDR is tantamount to treason and deserves to be treated as such. (Bonus prize to anyone who can find this opinion expressed in a passing Interweb cess-pit, for sure.)


2006-02-02 16:22

And another thing

If you ask Google about plantin, as in the font, it tells you all about planting as in gardens. An inspired colleague suggested using "plantin", quotes and all, which does the right thing.

Google used to do the right thing by default every time, but their mojo ain't working the way it used to, says us.


2006-02-02 14:03

12 point, double spaced

Everything looks stupid in 12pt "double-spaced" (whatever that is). Everything. The dark newspaper fonts that we like so much at 8/9.5 or there abouts look like kiddie-book fonts up at 12, while digital versions of "classic" book fonts are almost all too pale.

We looked through some of our many Penguin papperboks last night, since Penguin are very good at saying what the type is, and we were struck just how good the typesetting could be. Monotype Bembo and Plantin used to be gorgeous in those hotly-metallic days, but the first digitising of Bembo was a disaster, and contemporary Janson is a spindly waste of ink. (Some neo-heads think it's sparkly. In their dreams, maybe.) Ironically, Times New Roman looks terrible even in metal and is very clearly almost always used for its condensedness.

It was to our surprise, then, to discover in our TeX installation a version of Matthew Carter's ITC Charter, which was designed to look good on rubbish printers and seems to do just that. We reckon it's OK set on A4 at 11/20 with generous margins.

But more to the point, is there a fortune in it for us if we develop a font renderer that adds a (user-tunable) degree of ink-spread, to salvage some cheerful dark printable somethings from the anaemic knock-kneed fruit of over-enthusiastic key-punch digitising?

[In other news, our zweetie is on her way and we are slightly busy. Sorrie!]


2006-02-01 16:07

It is the Zwedish evening press, comprising as it does our very beloved Aftonbladet, the much less belovely Expressen and a thirst for sensation. Why oh why, wonders Paul Frigyes, although to his credit he doesn't wonder for very long:

Men faktum r att vrldshndelser inte sljer. Anders Gerdin berttar om lpet "Fred" 1995 i samband med freden i Bosnien. Det resulterade i Aftonbladets smsta upplagesiffra det ret.

But the fact is that world events don't sell. Anders Gerdin tells of the headline "Peace" in 1995 in connection with the peace in Bosnia. It resulted in Aftonbladet's worst sales figures for the year.

C'mon, they're the yellow press, that's what they do! Aftonbladet covers other stuff inside, at least, but the front page needs some drama, isn't it?


2006-02-01 11:49

What the mountain said to Mahomet when it came

It is the governments foolish religious hatred law, which lost a couple of votes against amendments. It is, however, not the Indybladet's finest hour since they leave the actual content of the law to the scrag end of their article about it:

Under the Lords amendments, only "threatening" behaviour will be illegal, removing government attempts to outlaw "abusive or insulting" actions.

Peers had also changed the Bill to ensure that individuals can only be prosecuted if they intended to incite hatred.

(The rest of the article is an analysis of the damage to Tony "Baloney" Blair, which is all very well but fairly unlikely to affect the feeling or otherwise of my or others' collars.)


2006-02-01 11:03

For shame Danmark Nederland!

It is the Yoorpean insistence on Ett land, ett sprkism.

Aucun pays europen n'est all aussi loin que les Pays-Bas. Le 19 janvier dernier, le parlement nerlandais a finalement serr la vis l'immigration comme le rclamait la ministre charge de la politique d'intgration, Rita Verdonk. Ds le mois de mars, les trangers dsireux d'migrer vers les Pays-Bas se verront imposer, dans leur pays d'origine, un test payant qui visera vrifier leur connaissance de la langue et de la culture nerlandaises.

No Yoorpean country has gone as far as the Netherlands which (to abridge) recently passed a law that prospective immigrants have to pass an exam in their own country to demonstrate their proficiency in the Dutch langwidge and their familiarity with Dutch culture.

But we've done that before; Le Temps has a round up of the big Yoorpean names and the many hoops you'd have to jump through to immigrate to them, and very depressing it all is too.


2006-01-31 16:23

It is smrgspost!

1. Kronprinsessmary!

It is a trippning to Bornholm, wherever that is!

De nybagte forldre, kronprins Frederik og kronprinsesse Mary, har besluttet at besge Bornholm fra den 21. juni til den 22. juni.

The new-baked parents, Kronprinsfred and Kronprinsessmary, have decided to visit Bornholm from 21st June to 22nd June.

2. Hockeysessan!

It is prinsess Madeleine of Zweden, currently in New York working for Unicef, and by no means on a junket:

Prinsessan Madeleine r imponerad av en kung.
I natt fljde hon "King" Henrik Lundqvists spel i Madison Square Garden.
- Jag r mycket imponerad av honom, sger prinsessan till Aftonbladet.

Prinsess Madeleine is very impressed!
She watched some ice-hockey!
"I am very impressed!" she told Aftonbladet

3. Tact!

It is Germanophone Italia!

Mayors and deputy mayors in 113 of the 116 municipalities of Alto Adige, where German-speakers form one of Italy's largest linguistic minorities, signed a petition asking the authorities of neighbouring Austria to protect their rights.

The appeal, which requested Austria to include clauses to this effect in a new national constitution, struck a raw nerve in Italy.

Alto Adige, you ask or enquire? That's South Tyrol to you and me, is what that is. Just don't tell "Honest" Silvio Berlusconi we said so, 'kay?


2006-01-31 12:45

Hold on to your noses!

It is, at long last, the way to configure Linux (or rather X, my pedantic chums) for direct keyboard input of not-necessarily ASCII characters:

You can use a "mode switch" key to assign more than two meanings to each of your keys. Right now, a key like "d" produces a "d" when pressed normally, and a "D" when pressed while holding shift. How about making it also usable for producing a "degree" symbol?

First, map some key to "Mode_switch", which works as a sort of extended "Shift" key. I used my right alt, keycode 113. Then map extra keys, following the pattern here:

keycode 113 = Mode_switch
keysym d = d NoSymbol degree NoSymbol
keysym e = e NoSymbol EuroSign NoSymbol
keysym m = m NoSymbol emdash mu
keysym n = n NoSymbol endash NoSymbol
keycode 34 = bracketleft braceleft leftsinglequotemark leftdoublequotemark
keycode 35 = bracketright braceright rightsinglequotemark rightdoublequotemark
keysym space = space NoSymbol nobreakspace NoSymbol
keysym minus = minus underscore 0x01002212 NoSymbol

For example, right alt + left bracket now produces a single left quote, while holding shift and hitting that produces a double left quote. Also noteworthy are the em and en dashes. (Adapted from an email from Markus Kuhn to the x18n mailing list.)

The full list of names of symbols is of course listed in the X library header file /usr/X11R6/include/X11/keysymdef.h for your convenience.

We bet you wish you used a convenient modern operating system, don't you, Varied Reader? We know we do!


2006-01-31 10:16

Nee-naw nee-naw!

It is the police! We wondered why they were being so loud this morning with their many sirens and stuff, and when we finally hauled our carcass off the premises we discovered that they had shut our road by blockading both ends with their many cars.

We have no idea why, of course.


2006-01-30 15:28

Hands off our Pints, Brussels

It is bonkers Eurocrats, and they are planning to ban the Great British pint of milk!

The pint of milk is "not at all at risk" from legislation going before MEPs on Thursday, a spokesman for the European Parliament in London has said.

The British Retail Consortium has said the legislation would allow milk to be sold in a range of metric quantities, confusing consumers used to pints.

Oh. A shiny chocklate coin for the first someone who seens this silly claim in a non-ironic news article, though.

Anyway, we're pretty sure we've been sold milk in litres in Blighty and we're pretty damn sure we don't care one way or another.


2006-01-30 14:20

What is a poster?

It is a slight scandal: Jan Wolkers's very excellent poem about some skatening was postered to add some random poetry to the Dutch Railway experience, only there was a problem:

Waar Wolkers in de laatste regel 'snelheid' schreef, verving de medewerker van campagneorganisator Poetry International dat woord door 'schoonheid'. De NS heeft toegezegd dat de gemankeerde posters binnen enkele dagen worden vervangen door posters met de correcte tekst.

Where Wolkers in the last wossname wrote "speed", it got itself changed in the process to "beauty". Netherlands Railweg said they'd sort it ASAP, sorrie.

We'd've just said "Woosh is beauty and beauty, woosh", for sure.


2006-01-30 10:24


1. Woof! Woof!

Happy new year! We are very excited that it is a year of the dawg, because that is our very own sign of the Chinese zodiac!

2. New year, new toy

It is an HP PSC 1510, which is both a printer and a scanner, and these two (2) such tastes do indeed taste great together. Even more so after we finally succeeded in persuading Linux it doesn't use "Letter" paper. (Sigh.)

3. Le Hoppage

It is Le Mondebladet, for once, on Janne "The Manne" Ahonen's late surge in the overall standings:

Ahonen est dsormais 51 points de Janda (946 points): le Tchque, co-vainqueur de la Tourne 2006 avec Ahonen et dominateur en dbut de saison, a pris la 4e place dimanche aprs avoir enregistr la veille avec la 11e place dans le premier concours de Zakopane, son plus mauvais rsultat de l'hiver.

Ahonen is now 51 points behind Janda (946 points): the Czech, co-winner of the Four Hills 2006 and dominateur at the start of the season, took 4th place on Sunday after coming 11th the day before in Zakopane; his worst result of the season.

Did you know that it's la tourne des Quatre tremplins in Frenchy-French? Fabulous!


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