Now that I’m living in a foreign country, I’ll have to be careful about visiting the United States.

Names part 2

April 25, 2009

I wrote a complete post on this earlier this week, but when I pressed the publish button it all vanished except the first line. I hope it works this time.

So now we come to boys. As I said in the earlier post, Julia picked the boys’ names.

She wanted our first boy’s name to be similar to mine, but not identical, so she picked Christopher Gerald. (Gerald is my middle name and my father’s name.) Christopher means “bearing Christ” so that seemed like a good name to me. Gerald means “sword wielder.”

I don’t remember why Julia picked Daniel for our second boy. I think this is when I started suggesting “Moroni” for the middle name, but Julia would never agree to that. Instead she chose “James”. Daniel means “God is my judge” and James is an anglicized version of Jacob, who was also named Israel. So we could stretch things a little and say “Daniel James” means “God is my judge, oh Israel.”

Samuel means “name of God” or “God has heard.” I know I tried to get Julia to use Moroni for Sam’s middle name. In the end, we went with Conrad because it was a family name on both sides: it’s my brother Hans’ middle name and Conrad Kleinman was one of the original pioneers to reach the Salt Lake valley, while Conrad Mund was the first one in Julia’s family to come to Texas from Germany. Conrad means “wise in counsel.”

On marriage

April 23, 2009

This time I won’t just link, I’ll comment:

Let Gays Have Marriage; We’re Not Using It.

The point here (which I agree with) is that we wouldn’t be hearing all this stuff about same sex marriage if our society didn’t already have incorrect ideas about marriage. We have to get the real thing right if we’re going to defend it against the fakes.

The Men Have Muffed It: How Men’s Misunderstanding of the Telos of Marriage Imperils Its Future

Sis. Smith linked to this approvingly, but the more I think about it the more I can’t go along with it. If marriage has a unique telos (why can’t it have multiple purposes?) it’s to help us become like our heavenly parents. The quotes from general authorities on equality in marriage never say that’s the purpose (or even a purpose) of marriage, just a necessity if you’re going to do it correctly. If we’re looking for a purpose for marriage, “unity from complementary opposites” comes closer than “gender equality.”

Procreation is an important purpose of marriage too, but arguments about who is fertile and so on miss the point. Humans are not just biological organisms, we’re cultural and social and emotional and spiritual beings too. It’s fairly obvious that marriage is not required for mere biological reproduction; but the universal experience of the human race is that it provides the environment most likely to produce fully realized human beings. Childless couples contribute to this purpose by helping establish marriage as a cultural norm.

I have yet to see an argument for same sex marriage that was not totally focused on the “rights” of the people entering into the relationship, ignoring the way marriage creates ties, obligations, and responsibilities to many other people and to society as a whole. When Julia and I married I became related to her family and vice versa, and I committed to accepting responsibility for her and for them and for any children we might have. One of the reasons marriage has become such a weak institution is our selfish focus on what we get out of it.

So that’s the main thing I wanted to say. A few side notes:

She asked the great scholar why women should support traditional marriage when its history has been the oppression, in general, of women.

This question fails to distinguish use from misuse. It’s almost like asking “why should I keep matches in my house when they’ve been used so often to commit arson?” I see no reason to believe that women would be oppressed any less if we didn’t have marriage, and I believe the history of oppression of women would have been much worse without it.

And because I’m the kind of person who cares about such things, I have to say that whoever designed the markup for that Square Two site needs to learn some things about HTML. A good starting point would be A Dao of Web Design by John Allsopp, or reading Designing with Web Standards by Jeffrey Zeldman.

The fourth republic

April 21, 2009

Another interesting (though long) link I saw on Instapundit:
The Coming of the Fourth American Republic. Its thesis is that while we’ve had the same Constitution for over 230 years, we’ve actually had three different governments: the one before the Civil War, the one between the Civil War and the New Deal, and our present government that started with the New Deal, which the author calls the Special Interest State. Furthermore, our current government is rapidly becoming unsustainable and will have to be replaced soon. Well worth reading and pondering.

Python’s urllib2

April 20, 2009

I know it’s mostly my family that reads this and most of them won’t care about this, but I need to say some things about urllib2 in Python.

One of my responsibilities at work is to administer our Tamino databases. Tamino comes with APIs for Java and C# (and a really low-level one for C) and there are unsupported libraries for JavaScript and Perl. But I don’t want to use those languages; I want to use Ruby or Python. Well, it turns out that Tamino access is all built on HTTP and the underlying interface is really well documented, so I decided to write my own libraries.

I wrote the Ruby one a while back. It uses the standard Ruby Net::HTTP library to manage the protocol. A few weeks back I started on Python, and decided to use the standard urllib2 library in that language.

At first I was pretty impressed with the architecture of urllib2. The way it has a generic “opener” object with handlers for different protocols and errors is pretty slick. As I got further in, though, it became clear that it was written by looking at what browsers do and not by reading RFC 2616 and actually following the standard.

  • By default, it only does GET and POST. Yes, that’s all that browsers do, but HTTP has other methods. I found the workaround on Stack Overflow and it’s not too unreasonable, but I still prefer the way Ruby’s Net::HTTP has a different subclass of Request for each method. (Net::HTTP even has subclasses for WebDAV.)
  • The big thing was when I did a POST and urllib2 threw an exception because the status code was 201, not 200! The RFC specifically says that by default all codes from 200 to 299 should be treated the same as 200, so this violates the RFC. It turns out that this has been fixed in Python 2.6, but our production environment will be Python 2.5, so I still need a workaround.

The workaround I came up with is to create a subclass of urllib2.HTTPErrorProcessor that has the code from the Python 2.6 version, and pass it to urllib2.build_opener() if the version of Python is less than 2.6. (I was already building an opener object so things like authorization and cookies would be database-specific.)

But I still think that people who are writing libraries around a published specification should actually read the specification and follow it in the first place.

Great satire

April 15, 2009

The Onion is often vulgar and almost always juvenile, but when they’re on they’re really on: Media Having Trouble Finding Right Angle On Obama’s Double-Homicide.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll have time to post something other than a link.

Followed this link on Instapundit and thought I’d share it: Don’t Be Preedy. It asks why we have a word for wanting lots of money and don’t have one for wanting lots of power, and answers that people who seek power tend to kill those who don’t agree with them. It’s very well written.