This Book Is Made of Rabbits and Lemonade

I’ve been hitting the Ruby pretty hard over the holiday weekend, and when you do that you can’t help bouncing against some _why here and there.

Somehow I missed this when I read it, but I noticed that the Poignant Guide to Ruby has a soundtrack! Performed by _why and the thirsty cups!

_why’s writing has always reminded me a little of Robyn Hitchcock, and I’m happy to report that that holds true musically as well. Nice songs.


UPDATE: the gem can be installed thus:

sudo gem install rubnolia –source

and the rdoc is here too, for the curious.I just created my first almost-ready-for-other-people’s use Ruby library, Rubnolia. It’s designed to access bookmarks and tags on ma.gnolia, through its published API.I created it because I had been dinking around with calling web apis in different languages I know (which aren’t Perl, cuz, Perl is work to me, other languages are play). I wasn’t quite digging the style of John Nunemaker’s Addicted to Ma.gnolia — there’s nothing wrong with it; for some reason I just wasn’t comfortable with implementing everything as class methods rather than instance methods. So I did my own, and while I was putting together I had a wonderful time watching it grow and then shrink, as I found minimalist ways of accomplishing things.I’ve actually put the library to a little use — I put together a little camping app that used this library to produce tag clouds, display bookmarks with their descriptions and screenshots, and stuff like that. It was kinda cool, but I didn’t really finish it.


UPDATE: I realized that I totally reinvented the wheel on this one.  The stuff I added on to Hash just makes it behave like a Struct or OpenStruct.  Which weren’t there in Ruby 1.6, which is the version of Ruby I first learned DOH!  I could probably cut the code size even more knowing that.

Little Boy Reminds Monks: The Origin of Suffering Is Attachment

Bad kid karma ruins Buddhist picture :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Nation:

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The little boy spotted the pile of colored sand and couldn’t resist. Slipping under a protective rope, he danced all over the sand, ruining the carefully crafted picture.

Never mind that it was the creation of Tibetan monks who had spent two days on the floor of Union Station, meticulously pouring the sand into an intricate design as an expression of their Buddhist faith.

They were more than halfway done with the design — called a mandala — on Tuesday when they ended their work for the day and left. The little boy showed up later with his mother, who was taking a package to a post office in the hall.

”He did a little tap dance on it, completely destroying it,” said Lama Chuck Stanford.

The monks saw the destruction Wednesday.

”No problem,” said Geshe Lobsang Sumdup, leader of the group. ”We have three days more.”

Go, Geshe! The point of doing sand paintings is that they are ephemeral. The leader’s response suggests he’s got that in mind. The reporter doesn’t quite get it.

“How’s that welfare state working out for you?” “Pretty well when you use real statistics instead of fake ones”

Programmer (creator of Io, one of my favorite languages) & blogger Steve DeKorte linked to this “How’s that welfare state working out for you?” article, which purports to show that socialist nations are cesspools of poverty, and that very few Americans are very poor compared to, say, Norwegians.

I thought I’d better check it out, because I do buy into the idea that Americans as a whole and poor Americans in general would be far better off if we were considerably more socialist, and if that’s not true, well, I’d better find out why.

One of the commenters on that article pointed out that something looked funny about those statistics — when you multiply the fractions by the population of the countries, you get very small numbers — less than 20 individuals total in each of the countries. And indeed, the original source has a list of actual numbers rather than percentages — right here. And the numbers are a bit hard to credit. For example, there’s apparently 30% of a single human being in Luxembourg who lives on less than $11 a day. Apparently you could take a large bus full of poor people from any one of these countries to any other one and completely rearrange the rankings. So either the math is wrong there or these statistics are meaningless.

I checked and even on the list of $1 a day or less, if you look at absolute numbers, it shows less than 100 people living on $1 a day or less in the poorest countries on earth! I’m thinking the math is wrong.

Maybe what thinks are absolute numbers are actually percentages?

According to this source, about 50% of sub-Saharan Africa as a whole lives on less than $1 a day. If that’s the case, these numbers are almost certainly percentages, not absolute numbers.

And if that’s true, these are meaningless numbers. These are the meaningful numbers, and they show the opposite of what the original article claimed — the most socialist of those nations actually have considerably fewer people living on a low income than the most capitalist ones. Though the disparity is not as great in the real statistics as it was (in the opposite direction) in the wrong ones.

I found the original research cited by I was right. The real data does show very low poverty in socialist nations and higher ones in less socialist nations. Thank you, Google!

Michigan man arrested for using cafe’s free WiFi from his car

Michigan man arrested for using cafe’s free WiFi from his car:

A man doesn’t know what he’s doing is a crime.

The “victims” don’t know that what he’s doing is a crime.

A cop vaguely suspects that some kind of crime might perhaps be happening, and takes it upon himself to research it just in case someone might be committing a crime.

The result: by the grace of the courts the “perp” escapes a five year, $10,000 felony, and merely got 40 hours of community service and a $400 fine and nothing on his record.

What a country!

Note to self: if you’re using an establishment’s free wifi, and a cop asks what you’re doing, lie.