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Greece 2012: arrival

Letter from Greece, touchdown edition

An uneventful flight. The interesting events in our two-legged flight from Vancouver to Athens were seat selection and AV problems.

We selected our seats relatively late, and as a result should have been even more screwed than we were. The YVR-YUL leg was on an A320, and we ended up with Rebecca on the aisle, and me one row behind in the middle (3-3 seating configuration). I asked the gentleman in my row's aisle seat if he would mind swapping with Rebecca, so we could sit together. He demurred, as the woman in the window seat in my row was his wife.

Yep, I was the unwelcome meat in a spousal sandwich. There's two rational reasons for a booking choice like this couple's: you hate your spouse, or you are trying to sneakily book your own private row of seats, aka ghetto first class. The down side is what happened, on a heavily booked flight where they got me in the middle.

Apparently it's Women's Issues Week at Wired Cola

I have no idea why.

A friend linked to this article published on the Atlantic's website: "1% Wives Are Helping Kill Feminism and Make the War on Women Possible," by Elizabeth Wurtzel. I usually ignore such things, because while I think the Atlantic is a great magazine, I want to engage with strong arguments, not weak ones, and my initial response was, dismissively, "this is terrible...cyanide-laced Kool-Aid for movement feminism."

I am convinced by the response though, that some people regard this article as advocating something reasonable. I guess I can write a rebuttal, then (and what follows is slightly edited from a comment I made on Facebook).

Quoting straight from the article, "Who can possibly take feminism seriously when it allows everything, as long as women choose it?"

A quick update to "Drink While Pregnant": Keep drinking!

There seems to be further evidence that modest drinking while pregnant (as I noted previously) does not affect the development of your unborn child.

NPR is reporting on a bunch of studies (also summarized here that just got published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology.

Vegas, baby

Vegas, baby

Las Vegas, and I was theoretically prepared for this, is a profoundly, wildly strange town. What follows are little vignettes of my stay here for Infocomm 2012, the trade show for audiovisual nerds.

Disorientation is the default setting for me here, and I have stopped blaming my poor sense of direction. Even the conference centre is laid out such that it has taken two days to figure out the relationship between the North and Central exhibit halls. And yes, I realize there is a pretty big hint in their names, thank you.

Greek politics gets far too interesting

Recent electoral events in Greece appear to have been lightly attended to by the usual English-speaking chattering classes, so I thought I'd fill in.

First, there was a national legislative election on Sunday, and the result was fairly dramatic. The ruling left-of-centre PASOK party was comprehensively trounced. The right-of-centre New Democratic Party (yes, a right-leaning NDP, very amusing to all Canadians) gained a bit. Those are also the only two parties, as far as I can tell, that were committed to continuing the austerity/bailout policies.

Know Thyself and Lift Weights: How to Exercise

And now, the guy with no professional credentials in workouts will embarrass himself.

Darren Barefoot linked to a semi-interesting but disappointing article about exercise myths.

Instead, here's my rough-sketched precepts of exercising, which draw on the Lifehacker article, but are more succinct, more coherent, and don't lie to you about the value of hard workouts.

Most people should do strength training. It is far more important than we previously realized*. Shorter, high-intensity workouts and drills are more useful than long-slow workouts; unless you're training for an endurance cardio event, you don't need a cardio focus in your workouts.

Pentax K-01, smarter than it looks

Pentax just announced an unusual mirrorless body, the K-01. It continues to use the venerable K-mount, but that also means the mount is still far away from the sensor, to accommodate a swinging mirror that is, ahem, no longer present. What follows is camera-nerdy, and is mainly just a prediction I want to get on record.

Compared to its mirrorless adversaries, the resulting body is thick. Imaging Resource published a preview that has side-by-side pictures of the K-01 against some other cameras, and you can see how much thicker than a small micro-4/3 body this one is. (The Sony NEX was curiously absent from the comparisons, but it's about as thick as a micro-4/3, albeit using lenses that are closer in size to typical dSLR systems, including, ahem, the Pentax K-mount).

a blog post about HDCP consisting of nothing but profanity

Not quite. But I could easily write that one.

It would be the f-word, "HDCP," and then a paragraph's worth of the f-word being used in its adjectival, nominal, adverbial, and verb forms to describe the technology, its creators, its implementors, and its shortcomings.

HDCP has bitten me in the metaphorical ass numerous times, both at home and at work, and only while trying to do stuff that was utterly non-infringing: I don't get bit by HDCP when I'm trying to copy protected content, I get bit by it, repeatedly, while trying to play HDCP sources in boring ways that were non-issues in the Analog Era. It has cost me (and thanks to my professional capacity, taxpayers) a disturbing amount of time, energy and money.

A Year in Review, 2011 edition

Inspired by last year's summary, here's what I did in 2011:

In January, TLO bought us a car, as we finally surrendered to the reality that our semi-beloved New Beetle was not reliable, and between me and our mechanic, we had neither the will nor the wit to make it right. The Versa has been a quiet charmer: surprisingly comfy seating for four; flip the rear seat, and it eats bikes with no wheels off, no bad habits, driving-wise, and the cupholders can actually hold cups, unlike the comical VW cupholder parodies. (We also sold the Beetle, of course).

In May, my parents invited us to join them for a four-day cruise, which was a first for TLO and I. It was something we will do again.

Mean advice to prospective writers from an unprofessional writer

A friend shared this link covering the dubious financial prospects for professional writers (in Quebec, but I'd bet the prospects look about the same in the rest of Canada, and indeed in the rest of the first world). My response to her seemed to amuse others, so now I'll share it more widely:

Published authorship is a star system, and it sounds like cynical craziness, but widespread literacy means a lot of people have the basic tools to become a writer, which means supply swamps demand at the non-superstar end of the market (think of pro sports, in terms of the rewards at the top, the relative lack of depth in the middle, and the total lack of demand for mediocre athletes) except with a less-clear system for detecting and recruiting superstar talent.