Links: June 1st

I’m going to break out of the usual cycle of posting my Links of the Week threads on Wednesday. Let’s try posting these on Monday since there’s a lot going on this week that is of importance. I’ll be keeping this post updated, particularly with the Air France airliner that went down.


  • The New York Times has an interesting book review on a work titled Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human by Richard Wrangham. I may have to get this one.

    I recall some years ago when I had heard that cooking helped break down heavier starches into more manageable types (including simpler sugars), and that cooking is at least partially responsible for us having the brain we do. (While our brain-to-body mass isn’t extraordinary, the amount of oxygen our brains consume compared to the rest of our body is.) Anyway, it looks like Michael Savage was right and the vegetarians–not surprisingly–were wrong.


  • The Economist has a somewhat amusing style guide on commonly misused words or words that are commonly used in a non-standard manner. Now, the reason I find this particular article humorous is because it reads more like a stupid nit-pick: there’s a significant number of words that they point out as misused when they’re widely accepted, defined, or colloquial use defines them as the speaker would expect. Granted, this is purportedly an internal style guide for their use, but I sometimes wonder if such things aren’t taken to unnecessary extremes. Here are a few examples of what I mean:
    • Demographics: no, the word is demography. Funny, but it looks like demographics isn’t a nonstandard, ungrammatical use…
    • Garner means store, not gather. Are they aware that garner can be used as a verb, meaning to gather?
    • Immolate means to sacrifice, not to burn. They have a strong case here. Though, there’s still that pesky colloquial usage thing…

    Honestly, I think they need to purchase a copy of Diana Hacker’s A Pocket Style Manual.

    Edit: I’m so used to reading British English that it dawned on me that this particular style guide is most likely limited almost exclusively to UK English. If this is the case, then perhaps it is a good exercise to observe differences between US English and British English.

Local News


  • I stumbled upon an interesting graph of benchmark data from the “Computer Language Benchmarks Game” (formerly “Language Shootout”). The results are rather surprising. For those of you who claim Java is painfully slow, it might be worth looking at the benchmarks. This is pretty close to tests I’ve seen myself. Tomcat (written in Java) serves up static content faster than Apache 2 (written in C). Although, whenever .htaccess support is disabled in Apache, performance is reasonably close–with Tomcat still ahead.
  • Speaking of Java, Gilad Bracha has a fascinating article on certain deficiencies in Java. Although Python is much slower in comparison, it does make me feel a little bit better about some of Guido’s language choices. Everything as an object has its use.

World News

  • Air France Flight 447
    • Update – Tuesday afternoon: Tim Vasquez of has a tremendously detailed write-up on the influence weather may have had on flight AF447. He is careful not to implicate weather as the cause but suggests it may have had an interesting impact. He also has a few plots related to where the aircraft’s position most likely was relative to the storms in the area.
    • Update – Late Monday, early Tuesday: According to WikiNews, passengers had sent text messages to family members before the plane disappeared.
    • On Monday, a French airliner went down in the Atlantic. has a lengthy article on this along with a picture from JetPhotos.Net of the exact aircraft involved.

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