I ♥ grep

grep -o 'isbn=[0-9]{10}' | sort -u

That is how you scrape the HTML source of your weRead page to get a nice CSV of ISBNs to export to GoodReads. Handy until they get proper export functionality.

Japan is: A clash of old and new

I hate when you have a power surge and all the lights go out and you go around turning the heaters and gas and computer and everything back on and a little while later you sit down on a cold toilet seat. This obstructive shock is the price we pay for having 21st century conveniences in badly wired Showa era housing.

What I expect

This is too perfect in its entirety to simply publish a pullquote. Enjoy the whole thing and give Marco props.


My content will be stolen and republished in ways that violate my extremely permissive Creative Commons license. This will be done by both bots and humans. The bots will use my content to steal pennies from advertisers and time from people. Some of the humans won’t realize they’re doing anything wrong. The others think I won’t notice.

People will misquote, re-title, and edit my content to make it more sensational, at the expense of my credibility and their readers’ trust, in an effort to increase pageviews to their own site, like Business Insider, or increase their rank or reputation on someone else’s site, like Hacker News.

People will misread and misunderstand my content, usually because they’re inattentively skimming it for trigger phrases and concepts that confirm or inflame their own biases.

This will incite many of them to leave misguided, poorly written, ad-hominem comments on every site that republishes or links to my content. Most of the commenters will only read the (edited, sensationalized) title before commenting. They’ll insult my intelligence, call me names, tell me I suck, and refute arguments I didn’t make. Many of them will email these comments to me to make sure I see them.

But I still write.

Because amid all of the spam, fraud, and nastiness, people are reading what I write. Some even send positive feedback or valid counterarguments.

But most importantly, I’m freely expressing my ideas in public, which helps me clarify my thoughts, enhance and alter my views, and improve my writing over time.

I think I’m getting the better end of the deal.

The Baby Staring Problem — Or, am I supposed to punch this old lady in the mouth?

When you are a child, and you are staring at some person for being drunk or dressed funny: your mom hits you. If you are down in the pub and some bloke starts giving you the eyeball: you hit him. That’s the rules, refined over generations. However, another rule (well, more like a derivative corollary) that you learn elsewhere when you are a kid is: Don’t hit old ladies. This is the root of my cross-cultural conundrum. Let me explain.

When I am taking my baby out in the baby carriage for a brisk walk, maybe to purchase some fine meats or visit the local confectioners or even to simply enjoy the kôyô, the baby carriage is invariably invaded by gawking grandmas. Often, without asking, old women will stick their entire head into the carriage to get a far-too-close view of my child. They do not wait in strategic areas like a hunter near a stream where deer congregate. They do this while I am full-out walking, oblivious to my hurried gait and my over-attentive keitai fiddling. Ignorant of my attempts to ignore.

Is this some sort of age-right? Like the right to elbow while boarding trains, or to wear leopard print capes? It is like they are feeding off the energy of the young, like some sort of parasitic photosynthesis.

Younger women do not do this. According to the observational data I have collected over the past four months the baby-staring phenomenon is limited to women over the age of fifty Earth years. Elderly men try to sneak a peek, but do so at a safe distance from a not-so-subtle angle, easily obscured by a strategic placement of the body. Frustratingly, there seems no similar simple technique for baby-staring obachans.

Is baby-staring even done outside of Japan? I have never raised kids in my home country. I have no internalized rules about how to react to baby-staring. It is obviously a blatant violation of personal space, similar to the inexplicable impulse to touch the belly of a pregnant woman. Can’t they see that I have places to go and meats to purchase? Must I set up a barbed wire enclosure around the baby carriage to ward off the elderly? Or should I just be done with it and punch them in the mouth?