Archive for July, 2010

Baseball Metaphors for Sex: An Incomplete History

Everyone – even in countries where they don’t play baseball, or have only the foggiest idea what the sport is all about – is probably familiar with the use of baseball metaphors to describe sexual activity, though not everyone agrees on what each “base” is. (See Wikipedia for more.) According to Wikipedia, this is a post-WWII thing, though I’m not sure anyone has ever tried to track down the origin of the usage.

I spent a little time recently digging into it, and I was a bit surprised at what I found. You might be, as well.

If you hunt around with Google, it’s possible to find baseball being used as a metaphor for progress in general as early as 1920, and possibly even a few years before that. But that’s distinctly non-sexual, non-romantic.

As near as I can tell, baseball as a metaphor for (romantic) progress between two people can be documented to 1935 or so , and can be documented in a popular magazine a year later.
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Published in: Geekiness, General, History | on July 21st, 2010 | 1 Comment »

WordPress Under Kloxo + Lighttpd

Over the weekend, I was setting up the website for my first novel, which should officially become available around the end of the month, Gods willing. I was doing this on a server running the Lighttpd webserver, a (usually) fast and lightweight alternative to Apache that I have a lot of experience with. (Portions of this website are powered by Lighttpd.) The server, however, was running the Kloxo hosting suite, a spiffy, powerful, and flexible – but slightly eccentric – hosting setup similar to CPanel and Plesk and so on, only somewhat less sucky. (I hate CPanel with a burning passion, but I digress.)

One of Kloxo’s big virtues – and one of the reasons it’s becoming quite popular – is because it requires substantially less memory than other hosting setups, thanks – in part – to it’s use of Lighttpd.

When setting up WordPress under Kloxo and Lighttpd (on CentOS under OpenVZ, incidentally), I was a bit surprised by a couple of things I discovered, which I figured I’d share with the internet at large.
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Published in: Geekiness, General | on July 19th, 2010 | 3 Comments »

Immigration Reform: How to Lie With Numbers

Some activist group called America’s Voice have produced a bunch of exciting-looking infographics suggesting that the “immigrant-targeting” approach to law enforcement Joe Arpaio – sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County – have resulted in a fifty-eight percent increase in crime in the county between 2002 and 2009. They would like you to believe that SB 1070 would lead to a “surge in violent crime” statewide – or perhaps even nationwide, if other states follow suit.


First of all, this is patently disingenuous, in that – despite the promises and claims of politicians – law-enforcement policies have relatively little (if any) measurable effect on the number of crimes committed. There is no magic method of keeping people from beating, robbing, or killing one another, and to imply otherwise is a wee bit dishonest.

Second, as far as I can tell, Arpaio and Maricopa County have only aggressively enforced immigration laws since 2005, making the 2002-2009 figure irrelevant.

Third, the numbers quoted by “America’s Voice” don’t appear to be correct. Per the official state data they link to, Maricopa County had 224,905 “index crimes” in 2002, and 164,094 in 2009. That’s NOT a 58% increase in crime, obviously. (On other pages, they claim the increase is in “violent crime”… but that’s not true, either.)

The ONLY index crime that was higher in 2009 compared to 2002 was arson, which went from 924 to 1084 – a seventeen-percent increase.

For the past three years – 2007-2009 – almost all categories of “index crimes” have decreased year-to-year in Maricopa County:
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Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', Geekiness, General | on July 16th, 2010 | Comments Off on Immigration Reform: How to Lie With Numbers

On eBay Fraud

I like eBay, don’t get me wrong – it’s like the 24/7/365 garage sale of the bizarre, where you can simultaneously buy a car, aircraft parts, custom-tailored clothing, long-obsolete computer equipment, lumber, and loose gemstones… all at four in the morning, wearing only pajamas. Great fun, right?

Sure. But you have to be kind of naive to overlook the fact that it’s the dumping ground of choice for stolen property… and a chaotic sea of almost endless fraud. Caveat emptor doesn’t even come close to covering it.

I’ve got a friend who reckons that about twenty percent of all eBay listings at any given moment are technically fraudulent – that is, they (knowingly) misrepresent to greater or lesser extents the items for sale. I don’t know how accurate that is, but my guess, based on years of experience with eBay, is that it’s certainly in the right ballpark.

I know a lot of people who – wary of fraud on eBay, and rightly so – won’t buy anything above a certain dollar value there; be it $20, or $50, or $100, or $400. I’m sure there’s a lot of fraud at higher price points, especially with computer and electronic equipment. But I’m constantly surprised at how much fraud there is with sub-$5 items.
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Published in: Geekiness, General | on July 16th, 2010 | Comments Off on On eBay Fraud

Dirty Minds

Over the weekend, a friend of one of my roommates was staying with us, in our luxuriously dilapidated tenament. She freely admits she has a bit of a dirty mind; this lack-of-innocence coupled with the generally high levels of sarcasm present in our household led to an interesting exchange.

See, there are a bunch of us, and one bathroom. As a result, whenever someone wants to bathe or shower, it’s standard operating procedure to check and make sure that nobody has any especially pressing need to use the porcelain throne beforehand. Responses to these inquries can range from “yeah, whatever” to “go ahead” to “don’t let me stop you” to “oh please yes” to “have fun”…

On Saturday, one of the male roommates went through this routine, and was, erm, cleared to commence showering. One of the female roommates – in front of the visiting friend – responded to the “I’m going to shower now” statement with “have fun”. A simple, harmlessly sarcastic sort of comment, right?

Well, the visiting friend interpreted that exchange to mean that the male and female roommate were in a relationship – which they aren’t – and that she’d just given him permission to perform a, um, “manual override” in the shower, which was not the case. To make things even more interesting, the friend then decided that the only reason she’d give him “permission” to you-know-what is because the friend’s presence over the weekend was getting in the way of their romancin’, so she really awkwardly spent most of the weekend either trying to get them together (on the same couch, side-by-side at the dinner table, or whatever), or announcing that she’d be on the deck, reading a book and listening to headphones for the next ninety minutes, or was going to go see a movie, didn’t I (the only other person home at the time) want to come with, hint hint?

Eventually Sunday afternoon the female roommate confronted the friend over why she was acting so strange and being a total dick – “you said you came to see me, but we haven’t done anything together and it seems like you’re avoiding me!” – and the whole grand confusion was sorted out with some not terribly flattering sort of denials. “You thought I’d date him? Ugh!”

All that drama because of two not-terribly-innuendo-laden-at-all, mildly sarcastic words, a dirty mind, and (probably) some sort of psychological issue.

Moral of the story: everyone pleasures themself in the shower, and it’s your moral duty to explicitly discourage this at every possible opportunity, otherwise squickiness, angst, carpal tunnel, and strained friendships will result…

Published in: General | on July 14th, 2010 | Comments Off on Dirty Minds