Lenny Domnitser’s

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This is a static archive of the domnit.org blog,
which Lenny Domnitser wrote between 2006 and 2009.

A Virtue of Political Detachment

Why We Fight is an update on the state of the “military-industrial complex” since Dwight Eisenhower first warned the public about it in 1961. The film is fast-paced—a good trait for a thriller, not so much for a documentary. The interviews are chopped into sound-bites of the sort I’ve learned to suspect or ignore. That’s a shame, because what is said is true and frightening.

Once you realize that that bad taste is just propaganda, for which the prescription is a grain of salt, the film can be pretty good, and the content has legs to stand on. The theme is set by Eisenhower’s farewell address, in which he describes the potential danger of a standing army and an economy built around it. To the classic formula of military, contractors, and government, the film adds think tanks, which create policy without public accountability; otherwise Eisenhower was spot-on.

I’ve heard and agreed with the same arguments before, and while data are nice to know, to me the most interesting part of Why We Fight was the way it exposed Eisenhower’s clairvoyance. Listening to Eisenhower speak led me to wonder of he surpasses even George Washington as a farewell addresser. (Of course, I didn’t have the benefit of hearing Washington’s voice.) I enjoyed it so much because the farewell address is the most honest medium of public speech; there are no politics to play.

So I did as any self-respecting web-geek would do, and mined Google to see which were the most important farewell addresses, based on mentions along side the words “farewell address”. Tools used were Greasemonkey, JS shell, OpenOffice, a plain text editor, and my own historical knowledge (read historical web searching) and discretion. I started with this search, wrote this script, and got this data out. I went to work removing nonsense entries, merging spelling errors and variations, translating synonyms like Ike to Eisenhower and Springfield to Lincoln, and culled the list to a reasonable size. The non-scientific but interesting result—15 men 1 greater than You 2:

Person Mentions
Washington 183
Eisenhower 138
Lincoln 22
MacArthur 16
Truman 15
Reagan 13
Annan 13
Rumsfeld 12
Clinton 11
Lee 7
DeLay 6
Jackson 6
Forrest 5
Proxmire 5
Powell 5

  1. If the list wasn’t cropped, I think Thatcher would have been the only woman.
  2. You’re cool too.

Bedborne Skills

A portion of nights, I sleep in a t-shirt, and a portion of those, I wake up without one. I don’t know how this happens. Either I toss around until the shirt comes onto my head, then wriggle out of it when it starts to constrict and suffocate me, or I just remove it with my hands for comfort. Either way, I never wake up.

This morning I found my shirt in an orderly, elongated bundle, at the side of my pillow—a typical arrangement for this phenomenon.

photo of said shirt on bed

The shape and position seem to suggest that the shirt is placed, not haphazardly thrown off, although I don’t know if the shirt achieves such a state immediately or over the course of the night. If I do remove my shirt manually, I only do so crudely, as I tend to find the garment inside out.

That’s the mystery: that the shirt is inverted. It is difficult to believe that ordinary nighttime rolling about can disshirt me so completely, but if I have some bizarrely mild parasomnia, why don’t I leave my shirt right-side out like I do when I undress wakefully?

After such a night, conciousness brings confusion and wonder. What else do I do while sleeping? What of my roommate, or any potential bedmates? Most importantly, can I harness my bedborne skills—no, powers—for anything besides sloppily pulling my shirt over and off my head?

Unicode Chess

Not sure if these work on your browser/operating system (yes, no, sorta), but it’s sweet that they exist as Unicode characters:

♜ ♞ ♝ ♛ ♚ ♝ ♞ ♜
♟ ♟ ♟ ♟ ♟ ♟ ♟ ♟
□ ■ □ ■ □ ■ □ ■
■ □ ■ □ ■ □ ■ □
□ ■ □ ■ □ ■ □ ■
■ □ ■ □ ■ □ ■ □
♗ ♗ ♗ ♗ ♗ ♗ ♗ ♗
♖ ♘ ♗ ♕ ♔ ♗ ♘ ♖

If somebody wants to play in the comments (I’m bad), copy the last move, wrap it in <pre style="font-size: 200%"> and </pre>, and move a piece. Any number of people can play for whichever side they wish–just don’t make two moves in a row.

Alternatively, if neither of the two to three people reading this can see the characters, I’ll just play them in real chess.