Congratulations Chelsea

I took a few minutes this afternoon to watch the culmination of a great season for Chelsea FC: defeating Bolton 2-0: “Chelsea sealed their first championship for 50 years with victory at Bolton. Frank Lampard struck twice in the second half as manager Jose Mourinho added the Premiership to the Carling Cup in his first season in charge.” I watched all of the second half of the match, and I thought that both Lampard’s goals were delightful. I’m not particularly a Chelsea fan (in fact I’m not a dedicated supporter of any one team: I’ll cheer for Manchester United, Arsenal, and Liverpool – sorry, Steve), but Chelsea’s championship victory is very well-deserved.


Selective quotation

As I was finishing up my last blog entry, I decided to link the final word to Pastor Niemöller’s famous “First they came…” quotation. And I stumbled across a page on Niemöller at Liverpool Community College which not only gives the quotation but points out the revealing way in which people have misquoted it over the years – not just casually, but in speeches, and even in memorial inscriptions.

Everbody loves to quote Martin Niemöller’s lines about moral failure in the face of the Holocaust: ‘First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist, so I said nothing. Then they came for the Social Democrats, but I was not a Social Democrat, so I did nothing. Then came the trade unionists, but I was not a trade unionist. And then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did little. Then when they came for me, there was no one left to stand up for me.’

But interestingly, people use the quotation to imply different meanings – even altering it to suit their purpose. When Time magazine used the quotation, they moved the Jews to the first place and dropped both the communists and the social democrats. American Vice-President Al Gore likes to quote the lines, but drops the trade unionists for good measure. Gore and Time also added Roman Catholics, who weren’t on Niemöller’s list at all. In the heavily Catholic city of Boston, Catholics were added to the quotation inscribed on its Holocaust memorial. The US Holocaust Museum drops the Communists but not the Social Democrats; other versions have added homosexuals.

What could make Niemöller’s point more eloquently than this selectivity? UPDATE Wikipedia gives the original German text and some of the variations.


Establishment clause? Never heard of it

Here’s a press release from the mayor of Lebanon, Tennessee. Apparently we should “regardless of religion… come together as Christians”. Note also that “tolerance” is singled out as evil….

“Man has achieved highs and suffered lows during our history of struggling with the wiles of Satan in Satan’s quest for our souls…. When our only recourse was to have a savior, God sent us Jesus….tolerance by Christians has caused our nation to slide further and further away from God…. Let us call upon the Lord together by gathering on the National Day of Prayer…. We do this when we, regardless of religion, sing and pray together calling upon God to intervene and forgive our sin and heal our land. For one hour, surely we can leave the signs on the buildings and come together as Christians

Coincidentally, I read that “cheerful piece of religious propaganda”, as Andrew Sullivan calls it, just after I’d finished an article which provided the perfect context for it. In the May 2005 edition of Harper’s Magazine, there’s a piece by Chris Hedges called “Feeling the hate with the National Religious Broadcasters”. After a thoroughly depressing account of the annual convention of the NRB, he concludes with a personal recollection:

“I can’t help but recall the words of my ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School, Dr. James Luther Adams, who told us that when we were his age, and he was then close to eighty, we would all be fighting the ‘Christian fascists’. He gave us that warning twenty-five years ago, when Pat Robertson and other prominent evangelists began speaking of a new political religion that would direct its efforts at taking control of all major American institutions, including mainstream denominations and the government, so as to transform the United States into a global Christian empire. At the time, it was hard to take such fantastic rhetoric seriously. But fascism, Adams warned, would not return wearing swastikas and brown shirts. Its ideological inheritors would cloak themselves in the language of the Bible; they would come carrying crosses and chanting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Exactly. Today, Lebanon, Tennessee and Colorado Springs. Tomorrow?

(All links and emphases are mine.)


Tiger Mail

The new email client in Tiger is… frustrating, but promising.

Thumbs down for the lack of keyboard accelerators, the weird toolbar icons (which totally violate Apple’s own UI guidelines), the pale blue folder panel, and the funky animation when you choose a message from a set of search results.

Thumbs up for “Smart Folders”, and the way they interact with the rules-based filing and filtering. A smart folder is like the smart playlists in iTunes: the contents of the folder are defined by an arbitrarily complex predicate.

I’ve defined two smart folders: ALL-UNREAD, and UNREAD-4-ME. (I’d like to colour-code them, but no….) The ALL-UNREAD folder contains all unread messages. UNREAD-4-ME contains those unread messages in which "Any recipient" contains "geoff". (I wanted to define it based on the "To:" header only, but no….)

For example: when a new message arrives from my boss, Samir, addressed to me, my rules cause it to be filed in the folder "Active/G2". The unread count for that folder is displayed in the folder panel. In addition, the message satisfies the criteria for both of my smart folders, so it will show up in both of them. Of course, as soon as I read the message it will disappear from those smart folders. On the other hand, the unending stream of messages on the "mac-users" and "solx86-interest" aliases will be filed away and will only show up in the ALL-UNREAD folder.

The bottom line is that this lets me see at a glance how many new messages are addressed to me, and how many I’m getting by virtue of list membership. If I’m in a hurry, I can simply scan the UNREAD-4-ME folder, and I can do this using just the space bar and delete key.


One song?

So I’ve got one free iTunes song from Apple. What should I get?


A quick summary of the first few hours with Tiger

I’m not going to comment on all of the new features, nor the changes to the GUI. These have been copiously documented all over the place. I particularly recommend John Siracusa’s extraordinarily detailed writeup in Ars Technica. No, in this piece I’m just going to list the problems I’ve encountered with Tiger, in the hope that it may help a few others.

  • I’ve already mentioned the first-time conversion issue for Most of you won’t have as much email as I do, but if you’re low on disk space, watch out. The new format takes a lot more space; my ~/Library/Mail now takes 1.7GB.

  • Before you run Mail (preferably before you upgrade), remove ALL of your add-ins. I caught most of them, but I forgot the PGP bundle. This caused Mail to crash hard the first time I touched a PGP-encoded message. Delete everything in /Library/Mail/Bundles (and also ~/Library/Mail/Bundles). Until we get a fixed version, you can decrypt a message by selecting the whole body and then choosing Mail→Services→PGP→Decrypt-Verify. If the PGP app isn’t running, you may have to try twice. UPDATE PGP has posted a final candidate for PGP Desktop 9.0 which is supposed to be Tiger-compatible. I’ll try it shortly. (Since they have my email address from when I bought the product, couldn’t they have notified me?) UPDATE: PGP Desktop 9.0 works just fine. The only problems were: (1) It wouldn’t accept my PGP 8.0 license key – will this be a paid update? (2) By default, it tries to secure email connections and squawked about my IMAP/SSL connection to Sun. It shut up when I told it to ignore it.

  • Bluetooth seems to work OK; I was able to send some photos from my Treo to the PowerBook. However I use Missing Sync to synchronize my Treo over Bluetooth, and this didn’t work: Missing Sync crashed with EXC_BAD_ACCESS half-way through a sync, and the Missing Sync Crash Reporter (which I didn’t know existed) also crashed, with a BREAKPOINT (so perhaps that was deliberate). UPDATE Mark/Space has a page on Tiger issues; I’ll try their suggestions a little later – maybe install the beta 4.0.5.

  • I’ve had several other crashes, including an EXC_BAD_ACCESS in the X11 window manager, /usr/X11R6/bin/quartz-wm and another in iPhoto. Neither of these was obviously repeatable. UPDATE: I’ve also managed to cause the Dashboard to reset a couple of times; while manipulating a widget, the dashboard disappears, and if I hit F12 I see all of the widgets restarting. Weird.

That’s it for now. More as I find ’em.

P.S. A couple of interesting things. First, I seem to be getting much better WiFi signal strength – 90% in a location where I used to get 40%. Safari RSS is very polite: it knows about NetNewsWire and lets it handle RSS feeds. And the latest X11 beta of OpenOffice 2.0 (the “Francophone version”) seems to run just fine.


Tiger launch

Some pics from my Treo [hence poor quality] of the crowd at the Apple store in Chestnut Hill (just west of Boston). I got there around 5:35, and got in line (first two pics). There were a couple of reporters and photographers buzzing around, asking people who had laptops to fetch them out and “do something”. The guy in front of me had a Compaq tablet PC that he was trying not to draw attention to…. The doors opened on cue at 6:00. Everybody got a “Scratch and win” card: mine was worth a one-song iTunes download. After hanging out and chatting for a while, I left at 6:20, and the line was longer than ever (third pic).

Photo_042905_002.jpg Photo_042905_003.jpg Photo_042905_011.jpg


Tiger (why be different?)

Just installed Tiger on my PowerBook. Naturally the first app that I run is Mail, right? After all, it’s where I spent a significant amount of my life time. But before I can experience the new Mail UI, it tells me that it wants to convert my existing mail folders to the new format (one message per file, for ease of Spotlight indexing). Since I cache my entire IMAP hierarchy locally, together with archives, this means converting 53,322 messages; Mail estimates that it’ll take just over an hour. So I think I’ll let it get on with the job.

(Perhaps I’ll drive over to the nearby Apple store for the launch party… see if I can score a T-shirt or something.)


Sullivan on religion and politics

Following his thoughtful piece in The New Republic on faith and conservatism, Andrew Sullivan has been responding to some of his critics. Here’s the core of his argument, which has nothing to do with right and left, and everything to do with how we live together. Quoted at length, because it deserves it:

“A conservative of doubt” [or indeed any sincere person – c’mon, Andrew] “may believe that he has a very clear grasp on moral truth. He may believe he is in the grip of divine revelation. He may believe he is so brilliant that he has solved the riddle of truth for all time. But he is also aware that he is not the only one on the planet, that others may have equally certain views of the truth, and that turning politics into a place where one eternal truth is pitted against another is a recipe for civil war and social conflict. The result would be a religious war…. Avoiding this kind of conflict was the crux of the liberal state and of the American founding. It requires bracketing your own moral truth in favor of political peace and pluralism. This is a big sacrifice, as Hobbes and Locke and the American founders fully understood. It may even, as Nietzsche suspected, sap religious faith of much of its power. But they were prepared to make it.”


False generalization

a380-small.jpgMy colleague Tim Bray posted a revealing little rant today about the first flight of the Airbus A380: “On this page there is a frightful lie, namely that the plane will seat 555 passengers with lots of room for lounges and shopping and so on. This claim is oblivious to the facts that most airlines are losing money and most travelers are highly price-sensitive; ergo, this turkey will carry 800-plus suffering souls packed in like sardines”

Now I always thought that Tim, as a Canadian, would be less prone to the typically American habit of assuming that “US = world”. If you check the current orders for the plane, you’ll see that the vast majority of the customers are non-American companies* that are not losing money. Furthermore it’s clear that many of the first A380s will be deployed on the routes between Europe and south-east Asia, which are much less price-sensitive than, say, BOS-SFO. Airlines like Singapore and Emirates aren’t going to emulate Ryanair any time soon; they’re going to compete on service and amenities. Just because the U.S. domestic airline industry is a shambles….

The bottom line: I expect that there will be plenty of 555 seater A380s with bars, shops, and casinos. Just not here, unfortunately.

* In fact the only U.S. customers for the A380 are FedEx and UPS; presumably their packages don’t mind being “packed in like sardines”….