I upgraded to Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar (that’s really what they call it) a while back, after a hairy time trying to back up my computer for the first time. (I’ll spare you the details.) Since then, I’ve been trying out Safari, Apple’s flashy new web browser. It’s actually pretty nice. Standards support isn’t as good as Camino™ yet and there are some odd choices in the default stylesheet (abbreviations are italicized for some reason), but it’s faster and has some nice UI features.
Also, it just looks great. Safari takes advantage of Mac OS X’s native drawing environment which really does draw better-looking text. (Some of that is also Jaguar’s support for sub-pixel rendering.) I’m hoping that future versions of Safari will use Mac OS X’s advanced typography features. Fonts like Hoefler Text include special support for ligatures, which you can see in TextEdit by picking Hoefler, choosing Font → Ligature → Use Default or Use All, and typing in afflict. By default, the “ffl” will be written with a single glyph (especially at higher point sizes). When all ligatures are on, there will also be a swash connecting the “ct”. In italics, you’ll even get things like a swash between the “i” and “s” in “risk”.
Now, extra swashes are all well and good, but the “fi”, “fl”, “ff”, “ffi”, and “ffl” ligatures really can improve readability, as they prevent the curl of the “f” from visually interfering with the following letter. Also, it’s something you’re unlikely to see in Internet Explorer.
Almost victory in Iraq
Fortunately, I’ve never tried to be an up-to-the-minute news site, or else I’d feel pretty bad about how far my Iraq posts have fallen behind events. In any case, it looks like the U.S. has pretty much won this one—not that there was any serious doubt. The people, myself included, who felt that maybe we didn’t have enough troops in the area weren’t concerned that we would lose, just that the Iraqi resistance would drag things out and increase the death toll. Those fears don’t seem to have materialized. Well, good. I’m happy when me being wrong means less death and destruction.
We’re winning handily against inferior forces fighting for a fascist tyrant. And yet, I don’t know how much I can trust the news. We all heard about the daring rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch, but we didn’t hear that there were no enemy forces in the hospital at the time. Just Iraqi doctors and nurses, whom our soldiers proceeded to handcuff and shout at. We all saw the footage of Iraqis destroying that statue, but that was maybe less spontaneous than it seemed. (There are also reports that the U.S. flag that was briefly draped over the statue’s head was the very same one flying over the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. I first heard this from Josh Marshall and this article from the Daily Telegraph concurs. On the other hand, the Concord Monitor merely says that the particular flag was given to a marine on September 11, not that it was flying that day.)
Elsewhere, Arianna Huffington argues that the speedy collapse of Iraqi resistance shows that a preemptive strike was unnecessary:
The whole pretext for our unilateral charge into Iraq was that the American people were in imminent danger from Saddam and his mighty war machine. The threat was so clear and present that we couldn’t even give inspectors searching for weapons of mass destruction—hey, remember those?—another 30 days, as France had wanted.
Speaking of which, whatever happened to those weapons? I don’t want to spend my days arguing against a war which has resulted in the overthrowing of Saddam Hussein, but I still don’t feel any better about this. Yes, it’s good that Mr Hussein is gone, but now what? The Bush administration is making all sorts of aggressive statements about Syria all of a sudden, but there’s still a chance that they’re just trying to keep Syria from grabbing a piece of Iraq during the chaos.
And speaking of chaos, I can’t ignore the sacking of Iraq’s museums and antiquities. I honestly don’t know how much more we could have done to protect them, and it’s possible that much of it was carried out by professional thieves, but that doesn’t make it less saddening. (Nor does it make Donald Rumsfeld’s “so they stole some pots, big deal” attitude less irritating.) Tim Bray has a short piece that expresses a lot of my feelings about why this is a terrible loss.
Neo-Victorian hysteria strikes again
A Texas couple were arrested for photographing their child breast-feeding. Police explain: “We thought they contained sexuality.”
An aside: Can a photograph contain “sexuality”? One of the definitions given in my dictionary is “Sexual character or potency”, which I suppose could apply here, but “sexual acts” would still seem like a clearer description of what was believed to be in the photograph.
But seriously, breast-feeding infants is sexual? On what planet? Sure, maybe some people get off on it, but you can name almost activity and someone will be aroused by it. In this case, the couple is from Peru, where people are apparently much more accepting of breast-feeding as a normal thing to do, rather than something that makes people uncomfortable.
The DA has since dropped the criminal charges, but the Child Protection Services Unit will not return the children to their parents, who have already had to undergo group counseling, unless they attend parenting classes and take a polygraph test.
Another aside: Despite its popularity, there is very little evidence that the polygraph, or “lie-detector test”, actually works. See the entry for “Polygraph” in the Skeptic’s Dictionary and this USA Today article for details.