January 2020 archive
I took a pair of climbing shoes to the cobbler yesterday. I was listening to the impeachment hearings while walking to their shop. I took off my headphones, walked in the door, and heard that they had the hearings playing on speakers inside. I didn't ask whose side they were on.

One of Trump's defenders, Robert Ray, spoke yesterday about how impeachment overrules the voters' choice. He said he was one of 62 million Americans who voted for Trump. I wish commentators would object every time someone says that, because Americans don't get to vote for President. We instead vote for electors. 65 million Americans voted for the electors of Trump's opponent. The Electoral College is our system, we live with it, but let's not pretend that we vote for President.

cobbler But back to the cobbler. I was entertained by their 'safety third' sign, even if it's not a bumper sticker I'd put on my car. For my thoughts on danger (in climbing and elsewhere), see this blog's postings for 2 November 2004 and 18 June 2012.

A word of explanation about 'sport climbing is neither': it expresses a preference for trad (traditional) climbing that doesn't rely on hardware permanently installed in the rock as seen in 'sport routes'. I don't share the sentiment as phrased; I'm like a lot of climbers in that I enjoy both trad and sport climbing. Most of the climbs in my neighborhood are the latter because the rock doesn't lend itself to the placement of removable protection equipment.
If you're familiar with the recent imbroglio between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Mary Louise Kelly of NPR, feel free to skip the next paragraph.

Pompeo got angry at Kelly for asking him about Ukraine in an interview. Afterwards he asked her, "Do you think Americans care about fucking Ukraine?" (Kelly only said that he'd used the F‑word in that sentence; I'm guessing as to whether it was a present participle and where it appeared.) Pompeo asked her to identify Ukraine on an unlabeled map. The next day, he posted a statement about his encounter with Kelly, ending with the sentence "It is worth noting that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine." Although that's phrased to not explicitly accuse her of anything, the insinuation is clear enough and it's scurrilous. It strains credulity to suggest that Kelly—who has a Masters degree from Cambridge in European studies—would point to Bangladesh when asked to find Ukraine on a map.

This morning I dreamt that I asked a co‑worker if he could find Ukraine on a map. He got the reference and defended Pompeo. I started to ask a question and he said, "You could continue, and I could respond to your questions, or ..."

"I could cut my losses," I said.

"Yup," he said, and shooed me away.
I've been listening to the impeachment proceedings. They're repetitive but there are occasional striking moments. I have the audio playing while I do other stuff. I listened to the bitter end yesterday but I don't think I would've stayed up that late if I lived on the east coast.

There will be no justice in the short term but my guess is that history will not be kind to Trump and his allies.

Artwork by my friend Kira (photos of whose dog Fred have graced the pages of this blog) is currently featured on Adam Schiff's web site.
Some of the nicer readily available plywood comes from Finland or Russia, sold as Baltic birch. It's relatively stable and the inner layers are sound. I don't know why it's as inexpensive as it is, especially considering how far it has to be shipped to be sold in California.

It's often made in metric thicknesses, even when produced in 5'×5' sheets for the US market. 12mm is popular.

I need some for a project I'm working on but the lumberyard in my small town doesn't stock it anymore. I called a yard in Bishop this morning:

Do you have 12mm Baltic birch?
I don't know millimeters.
½ inch.
We're out but we'll get a delivery at 1:00 this afternoon.

At the lumberyard this afternoon:

Do you have ½ inch Baltic birch?
It'll be here at 1:00 on Wednesday.
On the phone you said 1:00 today.
I might have said that. I was wandering around thinking today was Wednesday.

Another lumberyard in Bishop had it, making it easy to be more amused than annoyed by this episode.
Installing a new utility pole on my block today.
The high voltage circuit they're working on is live.
N787RR at 35,000'
A Rolls-Royce 747 flew overhead yesterday
(note the mismatched engine).
I've always liked the look of their RR logo.

Today's Rolls‑Royce Motor Cars is a BMW subsidiary that licensed the brand name and trademarks. Their cars are built in a new factory and have no direct connection to Rolls‑Royce cars made prior to 2003. The Rolls-Royce company that makes (among other things) aircraft engines is a more direct descendant of the business started in 1904.
"There was no doubt that there were a series of imminent attacks that were being plotted by Qasem Soleimani. And we don’t know precisely when and we don’t know precisely where, but it was real."
‑ Mike Pompeo, January 9, 2020

"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us."
‑ Dick Cheney, August 26, 2002

"We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."
‑ Donald Rumsfeld, March 30, 2003
HTML support for custom fonts seems like a good thing. But like any freedom, it creates opportunities to screw up. With WOFF fonts in common use on the web, I'm seeing various forms of typographic ugliness that used to be rare. E.g., some fonts support automatic rendering of 'fi' with a ligature. Problem is, some fonts have a ligature for fi but not ffi and make a mess out of a word like 'suffice'. A picture would be worth a thousand words but I don't have an example on hand. I'll update this posting next time I come across one.

Fonts include hints intended to improve rendering on less-than-high-resolution devices but the wrong hint can make things worse. Der Spiegel has redesigned their web site and now uses a font for body copy whose lowercase 's' has a hint that makes it drop below the baseline when viewed with a couple different browsers. This is a Firefox screenshot from the article in which I first noticed the problem: The US President stands in the White House in front of generals and colorful flags and announces with great foofaraw the solution to a crisis to which he himself made a significant contribution. Maybe I'm just overly sensitive but those subterranean esses grate on me.

Comparing desktop browsers, Chrome exhibits this problem to a lesser degree than Firefox. The page looks fine on my phone. So yeah the problem is browser‑dependent (and font‑size‑dependent) but it is also unnecessary. The 's' looks good everywhere if I remove the hint in the font. So far I've found no downside to taking it out.

Both the font's hinting and the idiosyncrasies of the browser's rendering code contribute to the result. I can imagine font designers pointing fingers at browser engineers and vice versa. I don't know enough about hinting to comment on who is more at fault in this case. But when it's your web page, you just want it to look good. You may not be able to change how browsers behave but you can can choose or tweak fonts to get results you like.
Geococcyx californianus
Roadrunner in my yard around noon today.
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