Anything to Oil. Anything.

Submitted by Bill St. Clair on Thu, 13 Nov 2003 13:00:00 GMT
From The Federalist, wish GW would back up these words with actions:
"[I]n the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty." -- President George W. Bush
"Conservatives" are all over Mr. Gore for this remark, but I agree with him:
"In my opinion, it makes no more sense to launch an assault on our civil liberties as the best way to get at terrorists than it did to launch an invasion of Iraq as the best way to get at Osama bin Laden." -- Al Gore

Michael F. Feldman - 10 Things I Bet You Didn't Know about Google - I knew some of them, but definitely interesting. [picks]

Kim du Toit - But What About The Vegans? - Kim just discovered the Anything to Oil process from Changing World Technologies. He thought of a novel use for it. Hehe. [kimdutoit]

But here's what got me excited:
If a 175-pound man fell into one end, he would come out the other end as 38 pounds of oil, 7 pounds of gas, and 7 pounds of minerals, as well as 123 pounds of sterilized water.
Looks like we could finally find a good use for liberals, socialists and Democrats, after all [multiple redundancy alert].

The thought of my Ford F-150's V8 running on 93-octane Chomsky-Feinstein-Kennedy Premium makes me feel quite giddy.

Allison Brown at - Allison Gets Her Gun (Almost) - a liberal former gun-hater sees the light. She didn't say exactly what convinced her, and she hasn't yet done more than handle a few handguns, but that will come. [publicola]

I've written a few articles here on, in which I've told a bit about my experiences as a new libertarian. But nothing else is as drastic a change as the change I've had in my attitude toward guns. I'm not sure which is more embarrassing -- the ignorance I displayed in my previous attitude, or the speed at which I was convinced how wrong I was by someone I barely knew. Oh, I tried to put up a fight with the person who started all of this, but I found out quickly how truly unarmed I was. I found nothing on the Internet to support my arguments, and everything to support his.

Now, don't get me wrong. I tried to bluff my way through the debates, but I realized I was doomed when it wasn't long before all I had left was "well, I'm against guns because, um, because, well, I just am!"

So, eventually I grudgingly admitted hell had indeed frozen over, and I was wrong. But what next?

Joel on Software - The Absolute Minimum Every Software Developer Absolutely, Positively Must Know About Unicode and Character Sets (No Excuses!) - Mr. Spolsky opines on the inexcusability of improperly handling Unicode in software. My takeaway for now was to add the meta tag below to my page template. The languages I program in the most, Java & Progress 4GL, handle Unicode without me thinking much about it. [wes]

I've been dismayed to discover just how many software developers aren't really completely up to speed on the mysterious world of character sets, encodings, Unicode, all that stuff. A couple of years ago, a beta tester for FogBUGZ was wondering whether it could handle incoming email in Japanese. Japanese? They have email in Japanese? I had no idea. When I looked closely at the commercial ActiveX control we were using to parse MIME email messages, we discovered it was doing exactly the wrong thing with character sets, so we actually had to write heroic code to undo the wrong conversion it had done and redo it correctly. When I looked into another commercial library, it, too, had a completely broken character code implementation. I corresponded with the developer of that package and he sort of thought they "couldn't do anything about it." Like many programmers, he just wished it would all blow over somehow.

But it won't. When I discovered that the popular web development tool PHP has almost complete ignorance of character encoding issues, blithely using 8 bits for characters, making it darn near impossible to develop good international web applications, I thought, enough is enough.

So I have an announcement to make: if you are a programmer working in 2003 and you don't know the basics of characters, character sets, encodings, and Unicode, and I catch you, I'm going to punish you by making you peel onions for 6 months in a submarine. I swear I will.

And one more thing:



It would be convenient if you could put the Content-Type of the HTML file right in the HTML file itself, using some kind of special tag. Of course this drove purists crazy... how can you read the HTML file until you know what encoding it's in?! Luckily, almost every encoding in common use does the same thing with characters between 32 and 127, so you can always get this far on the HTML page without starting to use funny letters:
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8">
But that meta tag really has to be the very first thing in the section because as soon as the web browser sees this tag it's going to stop parsing the page and start over after reinterpreting the whole page using the encoding you specified.

John Siracusa at ars technica - Mac OS X 10.3 Panther - a long review of Apple newest Macintosh operating system. [picks]

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