I promise to never write in French

I read a copy of The New Yorker while I was on a cruise recently, and I’m finally fed up with columnists who write for English-speaking audiences, in an English-language publication, published in and for an English-speaking country, IN FRENCH. I see this trend all over the place, and it’s not new. I don’t know when or where it started, but it’s really starting to grate my nerves.

These are people who presumably had to major in something like, I dunno, *ENGLISH* in order to get where they are. Why the French? Of course, they don’t write entire articles in French, but in one 3-page-or-so article there were probably 2 or 3 French phrases. A couple of them I understood, and they were completely unnecessary, and the other one I wasn’t quite sure about, but after studying the word structure, I’m pretty sure the writer was just saying “pencil”.

So maybe it’s a more colorful way to say “pencil”, but if you have to leave your native language to do that, then you’re no damned writer. Reaching across the ocean to find the exact phrase to match your sentiment is a great skill to have, I suppose, but not if your audience doesn’t get it, or has to change mental gears to match your schizophrenia.

Quit writing in french! Nobody is impressed! What if I started littering my posts with Cajun French? “I went to a barbecue the other day, man, it was the finest couchendele I have ever attended!” Great, I had a good time, but you have no clue what the hell that barbecue was about.

To add arrogance to pretense, they usually italicize the French words, too. As if to say “Looky here! French!” Just stop it. It’s not cool. If you want to look cool around your sweater-around-the-neck crowd, order some expensive vodka that comes in a cool bottle. Don’t shove another language down my throat. I don’t like French, and it has no place in English/American writing. That’s why they call the language “French” and the writing “English/American”.

Cruises are not my cup of tea

We (my fiance and I) recently returned from a cruise to Halifax, Nova Scotia. It was a short, 5-day cruise, just to see if we even liked cruises. Neither of us had ever been on a cruise. We had a good enough time, but both agreed that we’re not likely to ever do it again.

I guess I was raised watching Love Boat just enough to have an expectation that all was luxurious and relaxing on a cruise. This expectation was not met.

First of all, a cruise is basically a floating communist Russia. We stood in line for everything. There was always a crowd, no matter where you were or what you were doing. This does not make for a relaxing vacation. That whole “24 hour food thing”? Well, it’s true, but the truth is it has to be 24 hours because you have to stand in line so long to get it. This doesn’t apply, of course, to formal meals in the dining room, just *all* other food.

The entertainment on board the ship was pretty poor and extremely amateurish. We sat through it anyway to try to get some enjoyment out of it. It didn’t work very well, but we were gonna die trying!

There were TONS of kids. Kids everywhere. If you don’t like kids, don’t go on a cruise, because they completely monopolize the pool areas, and even some of the lounge areas, so you can’t really use them in peace. The parents who bring these kids on board are clearly of the mind that there’s no need to keep an eye on their kids because they’re on a boat. Maybe I’m giving them too much credit. Maybe they never watch their kids.

There were other issues as well. I’m a geek, and they had wireless access, and I asked the person in charge where the signal spread to, and she said throughout this really big bar/lounge area. My next question was where I could plug in my laptop, and she pointed to an outlet… the *only* outlet in the entire area! The rest of the outlets are some special connector specifically for vacuum cleaners. So wireless did not offer much in the way of freedom unless I wanted to watch my battery drain.

The beds were not comfortable, the rooms were very small, the shower water pressure sucked, and the temperature of the water would go from cold to *scalding* hot at least 2 or 3 times during a shower.

We might just as well have gone camping. At least our expectations would have been met!

Linux Distributions Suck

Almost all distributions of Linux suck. The good news, though, is that as more people get into Linux, they inevitably ask for things, and they ask for them in larger numbers. Nobody wants to work on a project that is only used by four people in the world, so large groups asking for stuff is a great motivator for developers, because they think they’ll end up being heroes for providing whatever it is the users are clamoring over this week. They probably don’t realize that they’ll really end up a martyr for the cause because when the product is unleashed on the world, they’ll get more bug reports than praise, but that’s another rant.

The reason most distributions of Linux suck is because they try to be everything to all people. That is a model doomed to failure. The last OS that did that was Windows, and even people that use Windows hate it. Windows belongs, if anywhere, on the desktop. Had they concentrated their efforts there and stayed put, they probably would’ve been just fine. End users are generally too brainless to take many of their complaints seriously, and indeed, many of the complaints of end users are a direct result of their being completely non-technical, a result Microsoft no doubt aimed for to some degree. No, it was when Microsoft tried to conquer the server market that things got dodgy, because now a huge critical mass of technical people with systems management backgrounds were exposed to the inherent flimsiness of Windows as a server platform. Now the complaints had the backing of geeks. This was no good.

So Linux distributions are doing similar things. One distribution, omnipurpose. I myself used to install a new distro on my desktop every 3 months or so, because eventually it would become evident that a distro had put more effort into parts of the system I had no interest in using on my desktop. I have to break down and confess now that I installed Linspire when Five-0 was released, and there has been no looking back.

Why? Because it’s just a desktop. It’s not trying to be anything but a desktop. Also, it’s done a pretty damn good job. Don’t try to run apache, and LDAP server, an FTP server, a database server and a DNS server on it. It’s not likely to get you far without some serious effort. But the system has worked flawlessly. I’m not a recording engineer, so I don’t need 18 different sound daemons on my system. Linspire uses one that I know of, and I’ve never had to worry about whether xmms would emit sound. Every audio application, including the desktop sounds, work flawlessly.

Truthfully, I don’t know a whole lot about my Linspire system. I was able to get around and see how it was generally configured, what services are running, what ports are opened, and then I closed by terminal session and haven’t looked at it. Actually, I couldn’t if I wanted to because my fiance is usually the one using it. Many times I’ve walked right past my office where the Linspire box lives, down the hall to the Mac in the music room because Natasha was already using the Linspire machine. Ah, the power of bookmarks!

Someday I’ll Use My Grill

New Jersey has really been a not so nice place to live this summer. I’m sure this has been true of several eastern seaboard states, but I’m not there, so I can only guess. For the past two months in NJ, it’s been either 95+ degrees with 100% humidity, or it’s been pouring buckets. Both situations have kept me from using my (still) brand new grill that I got this year.

I’ve probably used it 5 times since May, down from last year when I used it an average of probably two or three times per week. Last year I had the ol’ Weber kettle. This year I have the Brinkman whose advertisement slogan is that this thing can cook or smoke up to 100lbs. of food! Both are charcoal grills.

I have a deep dark secret about why I use charcoal grills. My family and friends think I’m some kind of hardcore purist or something. A charcoal elitist maybe. I dunno. But the truth is that those gas tanks scare the bejeezus outta me. When I was a kid, my grandmother used to freak out if the kids got too close to the gas grill, so to keep us away she would lean on the possibility of the gas tank exploding to sufficiently scare us away. Well, it worked. I’m likely to use charcoal for the rest of my life, not that it’s free of danger itself.

Just got back from RI

Natasha and I were in Rhode Island for a few days. Good times. We went to Block Island, which is a really nice place. There’s a small town center with shops and stuff, and then a whole island’s worth of hiking, biking and all that sorta stuff. They rent mopeds by the beach to ride all over the place and stuff. The next day we went to Mystic Aquarium across the border in CT, and we saw them feed the African penguins there. That was cool.

Then we came home. Mojo had been given too many treats and too much people food, so he’s still on bedrest, but aside from that we’re all fine. I had to get back to writing right away to stay ahead of deadlines for the book. I have a final exam tonight that finishes up my Cultural Anthropology class, and then I’m off for the longest break from school I’ve had since I started up in January. A whole 3 weeks! Then I start the dreaded Calculus.

Anthropological Blues

I hate my anthropology class. Thank God it’s over soon (8/9). I’ve learned very close to nothing in that class, except for what my “professor” thinks about religion, race, culture, and the bleak future of our economy and society. The entire grade consists of a final exam and a paper which has not seen even a single revision — just hand it in at the end and hope it was what he was expecting.

I guess I should be thankful that I don’t have to use my brain much in this class. Come fall the math class I’m taking is Calculus :-( I’ve never taken a calc class, and am pretty much deathly afraid of it. I took a college algebra course in the spring and aced it, so the prof told me to move on to calculus. I’m doing it at his suggestion, so hopefully he knows my ability better than I do.

I got a book deal!

You are now reading the blog of the co-author of the next edition of O’Reilly’s “Linux Server Hacks”. I don’t know if that’s what it’ll be called, but that’s the working title. What do you think they should call it? Leave a comment!

I’m excited by the opportunity, and have been writing –ALOT– since things were finalized.

Wish me luck!