URLs du Jour — 2013-03-21

  • Perl Sorry for the lack of blogging. As if you care. But I took a slug of my free time over the past few days to extricate myself from the soon to be defunct Google Reader.

    Instead of relying on third-party solutions—because if you can't trust Google, why should you trust anybody?—I decided to roll my own RSS feed fetcher/parser via the usual everything-looks-like-a-nail hammer of Perl, mostly via the modules XML::Feed and URI::Fetch. Add a datastore design that would make purists scream in horror: a config file written in Perl; plus a Berkeley database; plus a Linux file system directory tree. And cron everything.

    So we'll see how that works out.

  • If you missed it, James Taranto was on fire yesterday with not one but two worthwhile essays in his Best of the Web Today column. The first covers some all-too-rare good news: the exclusion of the so-called "Assault Weapons Ban" from legislation under consideration by the U.S. Senate. The joy is threefold:

    1. The legislation's demise is, of course, a good thing on its own.

    2. But it was also a defeat for what Taranto accurately calls the "demagogy" of its supporters:

      They cynically sought to exploit a horrific crime in order to promote dubious policies that they had long wished to impose but had refrained from pushing for fear of the political consequences.

      The good news: it didn't work. And it wasn't even close to working.

    3. And, as a final bonus, lefties are just apoplectic about this ignominious loss. We have to take our schadenfreudian joys where we can find them.

  • But JT was also good on exposing the economic illiteracy of new Senator Elizabeth Warren, who recently wondered why the minimum wage shouldn't be raised to $22/hr, based on productivity gains since 1960. Taranto wonders about the 1960 date:

    Heck, why not go back to the Pliocene? We'll bet that'd get you to 100 bucks an hour.

    But there are more substantive criticisms too.

  • Meanwhile, Reason notes that Senator Fauxcahontas is (at least) consistent in her anti-freedom sentiments. Taking aim at one of the candidates to replace John Kerry in the Senate:

    Addressing the crowd, Senator Warren said, "I advise everyone to pay very close attention to Dan Winslow's platform. He has a 100 percent ranking from the gun lobby and he's for the legalization of marijuana. He wants us armed and stoned."

    Elizabeth, on the other hand, wants us poor and unfree.

  • Thanks to McSweeneys, you might want to learn some Politically Correct Terms for Politically Incorrect Terms.

  • Lore Sjöberg also performs a public service: Rating the Greatest Martians. Example:

    Marvin the Martian
    I once loved Marvin, but in recent decades he's been overexposed and overused to the point where -- oh, who am I kidding? I still love this guy. Why wouldn't I? He wears sneakers, a green tutu and a Roman centurion's helmet with a little broom on top. And he has a dog that wears the same outfit! In a better world, those things would also be true of me. He was also kind of a thinking man's cartoon bad guy. For instance, you know that helmet? It's Roman. Like Mars. The Roman god. See? Brainy! B+

    Missing: Dejah Thoris. But given the suckiness of the recent movie, my guess is that Lore is just being charitable.


Last Modified 2013-06-19 3:39 PM EST

Way Down on the High Lonely

[Amazon Link]

This is book number three in Don Winslow's five-book "Neal Carey" series, originally published between 1991 and 1996. Like the first two I've read (here and here), I found Way Down on the High Lonely to be well-written and fun to read. Apparently out of print from the original publisher, but fortunately Kindlized.

As it opens, Neal's where he was left in the previous book: stuck as a prisoner in a remote Chinese monastery. Which would make for a pretty boring book. But never fear, Neal's "Dad" shows up to extricate him, and also to lead him on their next mission. (Which they perform for a secretive Rhode Island bank catering to the ultra-rich, such catering sometimes extending to extralegal investigations and operations.)

This time, their goal is to retrieve a missing child, snatched by the ne'er-do-well ex-husband of a Hollywood movie producer. He's absconded with the kid to middle-of-nowhere Nevada, which has its share of totally upstanding citizens, but also tin-hearted hookers and a secretive organization of nasty white supremacist religious kooks.

It's with that latter bunch where the kid was last seen, unfortunately. Neal goes undercover as a drifter trying to make sense of his life, ingratiating himself with the locals, both decent (including the local schoolmarm) and indecent. He's in a dangerously precarious position. It's a real page-turner (or, since I was on a Kindle, a next-page-button-pusher).