Life Update: Uke

“Work is pollution” — Bill Mollison

I’m getting better at the ukulele, without even trying.

Specifically, without the joys of the Inter Nets to distract me, I’ve done things like played the uke for fun. Without an intent to practice or get better or do anything but be happy playing with it and listening to the sounds come out, and see what happens.

And I can now switch from chord to chord (among the chords I happen to know, like G, C, D, Dm, A, F) a lot more smoothly than I could before. Enough so that I can sit there and noodle around and play a few strums on this chord, switch to that, a few strums on that chord, switch to this, and so on, and it sounds like actual music.

If I get around to recording any I’ll put it up as an mp3, but I’m almost afraid recording it will spoil the magic somehow.

Maybe it’s not magic, though.

Maybe it’s better to learn things when you don’t pollute the learning with work.

UPDATE: I’m so frustrated. For the past day or so my uke has refused to accept a tuning. It’s got the cheaper friction pegs, not the gear kind you see on a guitar, and I guess it’s the heat and humidity or something but they slip right out of tuning. I can turn it to the right tuning and let the peg go and SHOOF it turns a quarter turn and several notes out of tune. Most frustratingly of all I can sometimes get all but the last string tuned, and that one just never yields. Ah well. I hope it gets better when things dry out and/or cool off.

UPDATE 2: all is good, I noticed the little phillipshead screws embedded in the pegs that let you tighten them!

Chunky Bacon Warrants Deletion

.c( whytheluckystiff )o. — Chunky Bacon Warrants Deletion

Mefites apparently aren’t big on inside jokes they’re not privy to. LanguageHat in particular got quite snotty:

Once again we see that making short, cryptic comments that mean nothing except to the commenter and those few people either in the know or willing to do research on somebody else’s apparently pointless comment, though a source of deep satisfaction to the commenter, is probably not a good idea.

You know, despite my interest in language I generally can’t stand linguistics-oriented blogs. Perhaps linguistics bloggers as a breed are pedantic, both in the “obsessed with minutiae” and “stern, lacking a sense of humor” senses of that word.

Or maybe I just caught the Hatmeister on a bad day.

Psychological and Sociopolitical Factors Contributing to the Creation of the Iraqi Torturers

Welcome to IBPP Online (Psychological and Sociopolitical Factors Contributing to the Creation of the Iraqi Torturers: A Human Rights Issue) — via Metafilter —

A fascinating article by an expert in torturers. The author suggests that there is little evidence that the offenders in Abu Ghraib were in fact “bad apples” — particularly sadistic individuals. Most of them seem to have been pretty normal until they found themselves in Abu Ghraib. He invokes Stanley Milgram and Phillip Zimbardo and his own experience investigating Greek and Brazilian torture, to point out that almost certainly the widespread torture in Abu Ghraib was a matter of ordinary people becoming torturers because of situational factors — in other words, most of us would have done the same thing in the same situation. Most of us would have delivered apparently fatal electrical shocks in Milgram’s experiment, most of us would have abused the pseudoprisoners in Zimbardo’s experiment; most of us would have at least stood by and watched the Holocaust if not actually participated. Normal people trusting in authority can be turned into torturers if the authority they trust chooses to do so. That’s just a fact.

The question is — why was there a situation in Abu Ghraib which was such as to turn people into torturers? (Many of the techniques they used, according to this article, are not obvious torture techniques. They would have been well known to people familiar with Nazi, Stalinist, Greek, or Brazilian torture techniques, and not to ordinary soldiers. Somebody had done their homework and taught the soldiers well.)

Who was responsible, and more important, what can be done to prevent it from happening again?

Or stop it from happening in other places where it may still be happening, such as Guantanamo Bay? Condones Torture

Via MeFi. condones torture. One of the most important assets we are using to protect Americans both at home and abroad is our military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — “Gitmo.” (Blog posting from founder Bob Parson’s highlighted on the front page of

I almost registered a domain through these people yesterday, chose not to at the last minute for reasons unrelated to this issue. Glad I didn’t register it. Wouldn’t really want to support a guy who uses his company as a platform to promulgate views I so strongly disagree with.

He thinks we’re not torturing people hard enough at Guantanamo Bay. Seriously.

UPDATE: He takes it all back.