Recently I had reason to register on a work-related web forum, so I went through the usual process of entering a handle, give my email address and then I got a CAPTCHA to ascertain that I was a real human. It gave me some pause, as half the characters I was required to enter were in Greek. Had I been on a Mac, it wouldn't have been much of a problem, but on my work Linux box I had no idea how to input the required text. Fortunately requesting a new challenge generated an ISO Latin-1-only string and I could proceed.

I wonder about the implementation of the CAPTCHA—did it really generate strings of random Unicode characters? Probably not, since the first half of the string was fully in Greek, and the latter fully in Latin characters, rather than a jumble of Chinese, Indic and Runic characters. So, if there was a restriction to certain character sets, why combine two different alphabets? Or was the implementation from a distant perspective of “Since these are all European characters, they can be generated on a European keyboard, right?” Or possibly just somebody being deliberately difficult. I know the kind, I am one of them…


It's like Ishida was psychic

Ms Fuchsia crying

Kista morning

Army of engineers,
keycard dogtags.
Highspeed tenspeed,
floorball-stick banner.
Sensible mother
pedals sedately uphill.
Men in overalls,
up since five.
Fractions of fractured English.
Students dream of glamour,
important meetings in faraway places.
cabin bag,
empty eyes,
full coffee cup.


Secular rituals

I’ve often thought that while the Cold War was a Bad Thing and Swedish neutrality largely a sham, the hidden mobilisation depots, the air-raid shelters in all schools and the evacuation plans in the phone book still gave a comforting feeling that We Were Prepared, Plans Had Been Made and that serious people had Considered All Eventualities. Now, bunkers are filled with concrete, subterranean command centers are turned into exhibition spaces, air force road bases dismantled. The risk of war has diminished, but things are more uncertain.

So, it pleases me every time an election comes around, as the well-oiled process, honed over generations, turns into gear. Today it was time again, I walked up to the school, passed the ballot-toting party representatives chatting in the cool evening, selected my ballots, received the envelopes at the entrance to my precinct and went behind the booth to put the ballots in. Then, showing voter card and ID, handing over envelopes, the official carefully checking that there was only a single ballot in each envelope before he dropped them in the boxes, chanting for the other to mark off: “Yellow. White. Blue.” Thank you.

A young woman has not received her voting card, no worries, get to the City Hall where they can fix that, there’s still plenty of time.

Now, it’s just wait for the results to come in.

And in that democratic process, almost 6% of the voters have decided that only people of the right ethnic background should count as first class citizens… Why am I sitting in a handbasket, and where am I going?


Happy New Year!

There are very few Jews in Montana, which is probably why there isn't a Rosh Hashannah Montana.