Let me say publicly that DonBoy’s answer exudes a combination of intuitive genius and confidence that make me think DonBoy is going to do big things in his life. -- Steven D. Levitt (Freakonomics blog)
Thursday, November 20, 2003
"Master/slave" reconsidered

Eugene Volokh is appalled at this email, "asking technology vendors to refrain from using the terms 'master' or 'slave' to refer to interrelating parts -- for example, a 'master' hard drive controlling a 'slave' client device", referred by BoingBoing:
The County of Los Angeles actively promotes and is committed to ensure a work environment that is free from any discriminatory influence be it actual or perceived. As such, it is the County's expectation that our manufacturers, suppliers and contractors make a concentrated effort to ensure that any equipment, supplies or services that are provided to County departments do not possess or portray an image that may be construed as offensive or defamatory in nature.

One such recent example included the manufacturer's labeling of equipment where the words ''Master/Slave'' appeared to identify the primary and secondary sources. Based on the cultural diversity and sensitivity of Los Angeles County, this is not an acceptable identification label. We would request that each manufacturer, supplier and contractor review, identify and remove/change any identification or labeling of equipment or components thereof that could be interpreted as discriminatory or offensive in nature before such equipment is sold or otherwise provided to any County department.

BoingBoing thinks this is a hoot:
Perhaps Dom/Sub/Switch would be more apropos. Talk SCSI to me, baby: who's your (hard drive's) daddy? ... God forbid anyone should tip the county off to interlocking male/female connectors.

Well. BoingBoing's take on it was that LA County was defending the sensibilities of BDSM practitioners. This is possible, but my first reaction to it was that it had to do with descendants of actual slaves, who may not find the whimsical appropriation of the words "master" and "slave" to be so amusing. Now, Eugene, BoingBoing and I are all quite familiar with the technical usage of master/slave, and to us they've lost their original connotations. (In fact, I notice that Eugene's case examples are from the world of sexual harassment, not racial issues, leading me to wonder if that connection slipped by him.) But those connotations can come back at you, especially when somebody new hears them, which I would guess was the case here. Obviously it's not going to be practical to change an industry-wide naming convention, but maybe the writer of the email didn't realize how big an issue s/he was getting into, and thought it was just some joker at one manufacturer who was using those terms; in which case, well, not so stupid. (Ignorant, but not stupid.)

And BoingBoing's cute remark about male/female connectors only has to bend a little to suggest some imaginary cases where it might be worth questioning long-standing technical terms. If those connectors were routinely called "rapist" plugs and "rapee" sockets, I certainly wouldn't laugh off someone who complained about it -- but then, that's not a very plausible situation, exactly because the terms would be obviously offensive. If there are actual black Americans who bristle at master/slave, the same way I think we'd all bristle at rapist/rapee, I'm not going to mock.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Give the gift of out-of-copyright authors

Jack Flower at The Corner wants you to buy these books from NR for $30 each:
Our newest book, The National Review Treasury of Classic Children's Literature, Volume Two, is a big, beautiful, and lavishly illustrated hardcover containing 37 fantastic stories by Jack London, Louisa May Alcott, Rudyard Kipling, Frances Hodgson Burnett, L. Frank Baum, Thornton Burgess, and other giants from the Golden Age of children's literature. These are wholesome, wonderfully written stories that will enchant the lucky child who wakes up Christmas morning to find this delightful book under the tree. And for younger "beginning" readers (1st, 2nd and 3rd graders) we have another excellent gift idea: The National Review Treasury of Classic Bedtime Stories, a beautiful hardcover featuring 10 wholesome Thornton Burgess stories (and some 60 charming Harrison Cady drawings). It's also ideal for mom, dad, and the grandfolks reading to the little ones when they're being tucked in for the night (they're not called "bedtime" stories for nothin'!). Order your copies (securely!) here. We ship them for FREE, and by UPS Ground if you want (for a small extra charge). We'll even send them as gifts (with a handsome announcement card) at no extra cost.

Well, sure the shipping and the card are free. You can afford to do that when you republish public domain works, which every one of them listed here is.

Sunday, November 16, 2003
Piling on du Toit

I missed this the first (well, only) time through KdT's Unabomber-like manifesto:

There was even a time when a President of the United States threatened to punch a man in the face and kick him in the balls, because the man had the temerity to say bad things about the President's daughter's singing.

Let's see: that would be Harry Truman. His daughter, Margaret, at the adult age of 26, gave a recital in DC in 1950. The music critic of the Washington Post, in a dastardly display of doing his fucking job, gave her a bad review. In return, Harry Truman, President of the United States, sent off a letter threatening criminal assualt. Mind you, he didn't actually go over there and kick his ass; he just used his position as President to make empty threats. (Everyone later forgave each other.) So who's the bigger man: the guy who makes empty threats, knowing he won't have to back them up, or the guy who does his journalistic duty and writes the unpleasant truth about the singing of the beloved daughter of the most powerful man in the world?
Saturday, November 15, 2003
Eugene Volokh: the Ted Rall of 2002?

Why did Eugene Volohh, writing as Saddam Hussein, suggest last year that he detonate a nuclear weapon over Nevada? Is he insane?
In fact, we are proud to say that we have manufactured many such weapons. Nearly a dozen of them are now in place in major American cities. We certainly do not want to have to detonate them, and we see no need to go that far, if you accede to several reasonable requests that essentially amount to a permanent disengagement from the internal affairs of the Middle East...

Americans recognize that you would not be morally justified in killing innocent Iraqis through a retaliatory attack. After all, your actions during your campaign in Afghanistan show that you do not take civilian casualties lightly, even when they are incidental to attacks on military targets.

And of course such civilian deaths will only lead to a righteous desire in the Islamic world for further acts of vengeance against Americans.

Righteous desire for vengeance against Americans? Is Volokh a traitor?

-- or do some on the right, in fact, understand the technique of writing in the voice of an enemy?

Quite The WTF

Have you noticed that nobody (in the part of the blogosphere I frequent, at least) even mentions Lileks any more? Do you wonder why that is?
Then Ted Rall wrote a column called “Why We Fight” in the voice of an Iraqi “resistance” fighter. I suppose it’s intended to help us understand the mindset of the enemy. Eh. The French have a saying: his head, it is filled with urine. Or they should have such a saying; I’m sure it would sound elegant and dismissive. These people aren’t the loyal opposition anymore; they’re just the opposition. They may say they love America, but they love some idealized nonexistent America that can never exist as long as there’s individuality and free will. They’re like people who say they love women and beat their wife because she doesn’t look like the Playboy centerfold. I’m sick of the lot of them. As for Rall, who cares about him? He’ll get his reward: the great yawning indifference of history. If people barely remember Kelly and Capp nowadays, what are the chances that they’ll remember someone who appeared to draw with his thumb?

Yup, if you're looking for wife-beating sexists, everyone knows the place to go is the anti-war left.

UPDATE: Instapundit picks this day to link to the same piece. Double WTF.
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
Bad vision

I was a little too far from a sign in Barnes and Noble yesterday: for a moment I thought they had a section full of books on Christian Imperialism, and no small section either! Turns out it was Christian Inspiration.

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