Is "My Bad" Bad?

So Alyssa Wodtke rants about how much she hates the expression "my bad":

'You CANNOT say "my bad" as in "Sorry, that's my bad!"--this is not a grammatically correct statement.'

Alyssa is far from alone in her belief. People are convinced their grammatical sense is as right as the law of gravity, when, in fact, preferred dialects are nothing but an arbitrary social construct. "My bad" is yet another expression that white kids have borrowed from Black slang like "the bomb", and "phat" in an attempt to appear cool.

Linguistically speaking, African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) is just as regular and valid of a dialect as Standard English. While most people wouldn't dream of saying sexist or racist comments, many people still suffer from dialect prejudice. [Link updated 03/24/2004] It's not just AAVE: rural, Southern, Brooklyn, Appalachian dialects are all seen as less prestigious, less educated, than Standard English. Only British English is seen as better than Standard English.

I don't claim to be 100% immune from this dialect prejudice, but I try. Ironically, given my geekish tendencies to talk in complete sentences, I probably benefit from this prejudice, At least when I don't start revising my sentence assuming I don't revise the sentence in the middle of talking.

Speaking of which, a similar issue involves discourse markers, which are the "um" and "you know" type words, not to mention the repetitions and false starts that people use in spoken English. We all use them, but are often prejudiced against others using them.

Posted by Chad Lundgren on Thursday, May 30, 2002 (Link)

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Faucet follies

I was the victim of the worst shower design ever this weekend while staying at a friend's house. The only visible control was on the showerhead, a knob you could turn. This knob didn't do anything. Pulling, pushing, attempting to turn, both on the knob and the showerhead itself, did nothing.

I had to break down and ask how to turn it on.

You pull down on the nozzle of the faucet. How in the world would you ever think of that? Especially when there is a knob on the side of the showerhead? The knob on the side, by the way, changed the stream from continous to pulsing.

It's similar to an example they have at (a great site, by the way, it's a great deal of fun to browse). I would have sent them a really bad example of the credit card machine they use at a supermarket here in Albuquerque, but I couldn't get a good picture of it before I was nearly thrown out by a manager type.

Posted by Chad Lundgren on Tuesday, May 28, 2002 (Link)

In a related vein, proving that remembering the previous state is not always a good thing, the normal shower I use has that rod you pull up to send the water to the showerhead. I always make it a point to push it back down and turn off the faucet after that. Other people are not so considerate. I've been nailed by cold water more than once. At a previous place with a similar shower, one particularly bad "I'm not a morning person" morning, I was so enraged, I struck out and hit the showerhead so hard I broke it.

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Google and Psychological Reality

I was inspired by John Rhodes' excellent post about netchecking [Link removed 03/25/2004 - Sadly, John is apparently NOT keeping his archives online] to think about what Google really does.

Google does not find the most authoritative source. It finds what people believe to be the most authoritative source. It is a good meter of what people believe something to mean. This is the psychological definition of reality: someone can have an intense belief that seems to them as real as anything else, but only they see. For some things, the only physical manifestation the rest of us can see is chemical level in the person afflicted.

To be more social about it, this gets into one of my favorite areas: linguistics. Much to the distress of grammatical puritans, language evolves. To someone my age (30), saying "The data are suspect." rings about as oddly as "The sand are wet." I am aware of its plural usage in scientific circles, but it still strikes me as silly. The only people using the word datum, the alleged singular, are surveyors.

This linguistic oddity stemmed from the fact that educated people used to learn Latin. This is no longer the case. In Latin, data is the plural, and datum is the singular. So it sort of bled over. I was delighted when reading early Roman texts that they considered Etruscan a "better" language and used it for religious purposes for quite some time. Sound familar? Apparently, "Roman Numerals" were borrowed from the Etruscans as well.

Posted by Chad Lundgren on Thursday, May 23, 2002 (Link)

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Why I Hate Firewalls

To me, it's clear that the weakest point of any security system has always been the people. Social engineering, bad passwords, software that allows buffers to overflow (see the next page for more on that)

Firewalls use a militaristic metaphor that does not accurately capture the way the operate. A better metaphor would be black holes: your data goes in, dies silently, and is never heard from again. As a general rule, you can only guess at a firewall's existence. Or, if you want a more human metaphor, the silent treatment. You just never hear anything back.

Currently at my work, there are multiple firewalls running around. I cannot FTP to our web server at a usable speed when behind the firewall. The web server is, of course, outside the firewall.

So I finally managed to get a connection outside the firewall. Great. Well, not really. Not only do I have ZoneAlarm (another firewall) nagging me all the time, but there are some systems that can *only* be accessed from inside the firewall.

So I'm playing musical cables, switching stuff around.

But wait, there's more. I have to remember which way things go. Say I want to copy a file from one computer to another. I cannot copy from an outside computer into an inside computer. I have to go log into the inside computer, and then tell it to copy from the outside computer. There is no easy way to remember which is an inside and which is an outside.

And today, I've discovered a site that is outside the firewall (it's a web server) and cannot be FTP-ed to from the connection outside the firewall. It must be, you guessed it, another firewall.

It's like the formerly two-way Internet has a bunch of one-way streets.

Posted by Chad Lundgren on Tuesday, May 14, 2002 (Link)

Buffer overflow- Executive summary for non-programmer types: programs are written in a way that allows a malicious user to input more information than will fit in an alloted space. This data then "overflows" into parts of the program it shouldn't. Usually, this just crashes the program. But sometimes this lets that user run commands they shouldn't.

This is how most web servers are broken into these days. And it only has to be figured out once: then the method is spread far and wide using the Internet.

This is sin both Microsoft and UNIX operating systems are guilty of, though perhaps not in the same amount. The real sin is that a number of programming languages have been around for over 20 years, where you cannot create (or compile) a program that can buffer overflow. It just won't let you. But programmers continue to use software that makes it easy to write sloppy programs that are easy to overflow. I get the feeling that an "Unsafe at Any Speed" book is going to come along and knock the software industry for a loop.

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Zen Haiku

There are no haiku on the site. What is the sound of zero zen haiku?

Posted by Chad Lundgren on Monday, May 13, 2002 (Link)

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Think "Pupil"

The dance of her eyes,
Widening and narrowing;
The void in the prize
Riveting and harrowing.

Posted by Chad Lundgren on Monday, May 13, 2002 (Link)

I usually write free verse, but I'm like the challenge of rhyming.

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Breastfeeding, part II

Speaking of neo-Puritans, another thing that bothers me is the rant, directed against men: women say, breasts are only for feeding a child, why do men sexualize them, they're just designed to feed the tykes, I know men are infantile but this is ridiculous.

Well, a little biology: only a small part of a woman's breast is actually devoted to producing milk: all the rest is there as a fertility symbol. I don't approve of men talking to women's chests, particularly in a business environment, but I find it a bit odd when women out in public wear blouses designed to get attention, and then seemed perturbed when they get it. I understand for staring, but it's often true even for glancing.

To me, there is not a bit of inconsistency in being pro-breastfeeding and finding breasts sexy. I seem to actually be a bit less obsessed than some of my male friends, to the extent where they have pointed out a woman, for her bosomy qualities, a woman I found attractive, but had not noticed said bosom.

I also love hair and laughter and smiles and wit and intelligence and can honestly say that the only physical parts of women I've never really felt attracted to are elbows and (usually) backs of knees and feet. I've been entranced by porcelain necks, delicate collarbones, cute noses, freckles, you name it.

Damn, I feel a poem coming on.

Posted by Chad Lundgren on Monday, May 13, 2002 (Link)

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Being around breastfeeding women increases other women's sexual desire .
(Via Sci-Tech Daily)

The theory being that other women breastfeeding implies that it's a good time to have kids, that the environment is suitable.

And I read study after study after study about how good breastfeeding is for the child as well. The last has about 100 citations.

To me, the fact that most women in America don't breastfeed gets at the root of two things people don't like to talk about in America: class, and sexuality.

Posted by Chad Lundgren on Monday, May 13, 2002 (Link)

Class: I'm sorry, I forgot, everyone in America is middle class. Some upper middle class, some lower middle class. Bill "I'm not a monopolist, really" Gates is upper middle class. What was I thinking? Seriously though, we are so unwilling to address the class issue it's not even funny. Anyone even bringing it up is immediately accused of being divise, or un-American, or some damn thing.

Breast feeding is not seen as something prestigious to do. It's just not upwardly mobile enough. Even in the UK, where they are less uptight about nudity, at least, they don't show it very often on TV.

Sexuality: The article mentions that the woman doing the breastfeeding often enjoys it. This has been shown in studies for a while: what's new is that other women benefit too. A lot of people, including women, can't handle the concept that women can enjoy breastfeeding. (I also realize some women don't enjoy it.)

For the "old school" Puritians, it's just your basic suspicion of pleasure. But I get the feeling that some breastfeeding advocates want to avoid this issue entirely and focus just on the health benefits. It's like the Puritians say, any touch/nudity is sexual and sex is bad, and the neo-Puritans say, it's not sexual, it's only because you're a sex-obsessed Puritan that you would think that.

Why can't it be about sex, among other things, and be good? Lord knows that mothers have a high enough stress level. Why is bonding supposed to happen without pleasure somehow?

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Patently silly

So in a WebWord Posting on May 3[03/25/2004 - Link removed - John Rhodes is apparently not leaving his archives online.], I said that Adobe and Macromedia had both stolen features from each other. Well, take a look at this news story.

At least 2 juries agree: now both Macromedia and Adobe have won a lawsuit on patent infringement. I think it's completely ridiculous. It's not a bad thing for companies to be influenced by the ideas of other comanies, it's only bad when people are out there stealing code and the like. It's ridiculous for patent laws are being used to keep people from making common interfaces that would benefit everyone.

The quote from Macromedia implied that they had sued out of self-defense, and that the customers were the losers, but I haven't followed this closely enough to say whether that's true or just a PR thing.

Posted by Chad Lundgren on Friday, May 10, 2002 (Link)

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Second Usability Rant

CSS needs better usability. Since when does the adjective come after the noun? I am speaking, of course, of my desire to say things like "left-padding: 2 em;". No, I don't expect this to change.

I am more happy with the look and feel now, but will probably continue futzing. I'm still trying to figure out why I like the orange/purple color scheme so much.

Posted by Chad Lundgren on Friday, May 10, 2002 (Link)

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This is Chad Lundgren's Usability Rants and Poetry Blog.

First Rant: I really hate the way software companies put their company name in front of their product. Even worse, when I want to go edit something in Program Files I have to remember which company put it out. Of course, I don't do it that often, so I forget, and then I get mad as I have to scroll through the list and say, now who made this product?

Coming soon - a less generic look and poetry. Some of it may even be haiku...

Posted by Chad Lundgren on Friday, May 10, 2002 (Link)

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