A Bad Article on Multiple Levels

Published at 07:16 on 30 March 2018

The Washington post said: The vegans came to protest his restaurant. So this chef carved a deer leg in the window.

First, there is no such protest group as “The Vegans.” Saying there is makes about as much sense as reporting that “The Jews” did something when only a particular subset of them did. Veganism is a dietary choice, full stop. All you need to do to become vegan is refrain from eating any animal products. There is no organized movement you must join and adhere to.

Second, the restaurant was targeted not because it simply served meat, but because:

  • It served a particularly cruel meat product, foie gras, and
  • Its advertising crassly tried to portray the establishment as an ethically responsible dining choice.

In other words, the restaurant’s owners basically painted a huge target on their backs, then act surprised when that target starts attracting brickbats.

And yes, foie gras is a particularly cruel meat product, far worse than the norm.

The Key to Printing 19th Century Modern Serif Fonts

Published at 21:10 on 26 March 2018

Use the highest resolution you can. Do not trust the defaults at a print shop to be reasonable. Do not trust the defaults for your software’s PDF generator to be reasonable.

Both defaults might well be reasonable for most of the fonts popular with contemporary tastes in typography, but the fonts popular in the 19th century were crafted in part to show off how the ink and paper technology of the day had progressed to the point where the fine details they employ were possible.

I found that when using Monotype Modern, the thin parts of the strokes showed up so poorly with 10 point body text at the default printer resolution, that the readability of the resulting text was seriously compromised. This might be part of the reason why such fonts have a bad reputation for readability: modern print technology can fail them.

Do everything at the highest resolution possible. An output of 1200 DPI is the bare minimum, with 2400 DPI being better (letterpress printing with hot type had an effective resolution of around 2000 DPI). By “1200 DPI” I mean 1200 DPI in both axes, on a black and white printer. (Color printing uses clusters of 4 dots, and printer makers use weasel wording to flatter their products, so a “2400 DPI” color printer has only the resolution of  600 DPI black-and-white one.)

Using the highest resolution the printer can print should not typically cost more; most shops charge the same per-page fee whether you tell their laser printer to print at a degraded resolution or its best resolution. If you can’t even get 1200 DPI, take your business elsewhere; the shop you are using has substandard technology.


Published at 04:55 on 25 March 2018

Hundreds of thousands of right-wing Americans held marches protesting the violence and crime committed by immigrants and Muslims, featuring tearful testimonials by friends and relatives whose of those whose lives were cut short by acts of immigrant and/or Muslim perpetrated violence.

Long-established First and Fourth amendment rights were held to be obsolete relics of an earlier era and impediments to urgently-needed laws for addressing the crisis.

Conveniently overlooked were well-established facts indicating there is no crisis, given that crime is not increasing and immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, commit crimes at a significantly lower rate than the native-born.

Overall, it was portrayed in the media as an inspiring example of citizens getting motivated to address a long-standing social problem, and hope was held out for progress that might lead the USA to becoming a more safe, modern, and orderly society like Japan or Singapore.

Oh, wait…

No, I Still Do Not Support Gun Control

Published at 15:06 on 23 March 2018

Just personally, as a queer and an anarchist, I’ll be doubly targeted if the fascists (already in control of the national government, albeit and thankfully with a comically incompetent leader) decide to send their enemies off to the camps. If they come for me, I want to be able to take some of them out.

Beyond just personally, if enough of those targeted have this attitude, those doing the targeting are likely to reevaluate their decision to be fascist collaborators.

The USA is a failing empire on the brink of going full fascist and anyone harboring delusions about it being able to magically achieve some version of late 20th-century European Social Democracy (complete with the requisite social peace and low levels of firearm ownership) just because they’d like it to is pursuing a fool’s paradise.

Besides, those European paradises of government control and regulation are far closer to going fascist than many may realize, as the recent growth of parties like Alternative für Deutschland and Lega Nord illustrates. Even Europe isn’t really the Europe that liberals tend to imagine it is.

The State and the Right have a near-monopoly on the ownership of weapons, and have been taught (in no small part by liberals who refused to prosecute the Bush Regime for its crimes in Iraq) that they can engage in excesses and get away with it. This is a recipe for disaster, and the absolute last thing we need is to give the State more power to render the oppressed even more powerless.

Science Can Not Save the World

Published at 21:12 on 22 March 2018

Science is merely a process by which an external reality can be observed and verified, nothing more. Science can document as accurately as possible, given our personal failings, how the world is going to hell in a handbasket, but in and of itself it can’t actually change much of that process.

That process is governed by ruling classes and power hierarchies that run on threats, force, human conformity, appeals to emotion, widespread indoctrination, and so on. Science can help understand those processes but again it can only describe them.

Science is about knowledge, not action.

Changing things will require a process of revolutionary struggle; ruling classes never voluntarily relinquish power just because it’s the nice thing to do (and you built and enunciated a convincing fact-and-logic based argument).

There Is No Shortage of High-Tech Workers

Published at 18:47 on 21 March 2018

There is a shortage of decency in the high-tech industry.

I base both these assertions on my experiences at the symposium today, where I met not one but two other individuals in basically the same situation as I am. As long as the high-tech industry considers the following non-qualifications to be job requirements:,

  • Male,
  • Between the ages of twenty-five and fifty,
  • Thinks coding is the most fun thing in the universe,
  • Thinks coding is about the only truly fun thing in the universe, really, and
  • Outside of role-playing games, martial arts, and science fiction and fantasy fandom, thinks there’s basically little else of interest besides computers.

Then, yes, that industry will continue to suffer a “shortage” of “qualified” people.

Well… Here Goes Nothing

Published at 08:09 on 21 March 2018

Not quite “nothing,” but let’s be brutally honest: that’s the most likely outcome of my going to the Washington Botanical Symposium to do some job networking. First, I totally fucking suck at anything that requires social skills, and networking requires such skills in spades. Second, the odds in general are bleak, even if I do try a few strategies to cope with the first issue (which I plan to do).

Still, the odds are better than staying at home and not making any attempts at networking at all.

The Trick to Using Fontforge

Published at 13:32 on 18 March 2018

The trick to using Fontforge is to realize: (a) that its Apple Mac support is broken, and (b) Apple Mac support really isn’t critical; in fact, it’s missing from most non-Apple-supplied fonts anyhow, yet Macs manage to work just fine with them. A further wrinkle is that Fontforge tends to want to gratuitously foist its broken Apple font features onto you, and having done so, to then conceal this fact from you when you examine the broken font files it has generated.

Naturally, you must leave “Apple” unchecked in the File > Generate Fonts > Options window. But that’s not enough! Unless you go into File > Preferences > Mac, delete everything from the Features tab, then verify the Mapping tab is also equally empty, you’ll still get a broken font that will fail to work properly on a Mac.

Having done all that, though, I’m finally able to edit out the stupid kerning pairs that have been vexing me and no longer have to cope with them after-the-fact. Hurray!

So I’m now not only taking offense at the way stock fonts I find work but also editing them to suit my preferences. I guess this officially makes me a font geek.

Font Frustrations

Published at 16:03 on 15 March 2018

Trying to edit free fonts with Fontforge is something of a challenge. That’s because Fontforge is open-source software and falls victim to the bane of open-source software: documentation. Writing code tends to be more fun than documenting it, so open source projects that depend on unpaid volunteers tend to lag way behind in documenting. Fontforge is no exception to this general rule.

I could probably address the issue by purchasing a commercial font editor, but that would cost more money than just purchasing some commercial fonts that don’t have the sort of issues my free downloaded ones do. So I’m stuck living with the issues (related to broken kerning definitions) as best I can.