Notes from the Library

Apr 2011

Fri, 29 Apr 2011

Philosophy is a demanding intellectual discipline, with many facets: logic, epistemology, philosophy of nature and science, metaphysics, ethics, political philosophy, philosophy of art, rhetoric, philosophy of language and mind. But a long tradition of ancient Greek philosophers, beginning with Socrates, made their philosophies also complete ways of life. For them reason, perfected by philosophy—not religion, not cultural traditions and practices—constitutes the only legitimate authority for determining how one ought to live. They also thought philosophically informed reason should be the basis for all our practical attitudes, all our decisions, and in fact the whole of our lives. In these lectures we examine the development of this pagan tradition in philosophy, from its establishment by Socrates, through Plato and Aristotle, the Stoics, Epicurus, the Pyrrhonian Skeptics, and Plotinus and late ancient Platonism.

This looks fantastic. Unfortunately I'm only going to be able to attend fortnightly.

(source, retrieved 29/iv/2011)

Hacker Typer – now you can type like a hacker in the movies

Should be 'Cracker Typer' but I suppose films do use 'hacker'.

(via Hacker News)

Bringhurst suggests that normally, an ellipsis should be spaced fore-and-aft to separate it from the text, but when it combines with other punctuation, the leading space disappears and the other punctuation follows. This is the usual practice in typesetting. He provides the following examples:

i … j k…. l…, l l, … l m…? n…!

(source, retrieved 29/iv/2011)

So. Spaced emdashes, spaced endashes or unspaced emdashes to separate thoughts in sentences – like this – is my evening's dilemma. Not the question of whether Mill made a substantial contribution to ethics; no, tonight we have TYPOGRAPHY.

The three variants:

  1. This is — a spaced emdash
  2. Here is a—unspaced emdash
  3. Here is – a spaced endash

And the issues:

  • The first option is non-standard.
  • The second option is the standard American English.
  • The third option is the standard for British English.

My dilemma is: I like emdashes and want to use them, but I speak and write British English. Further, if I adopt option 3 (as seems likely), shall I still allow myself spaced emdashes in such as titles?


There are no words for this betrayal. Look how far I've sunk; how far Emacs has sunk me.


Here's the code (source 1, 2):

(setq-default cursor-type 'box)
;; variable width font in text buffers ...
(dolist (hook '(erc-mode-hook
  (progn (add-hook hook (lambda () (variable-pitch-mode t)))
         (add-hook hook (lambda () (setq cursor-type 'bar)))))

;; ... but not in Org tables
(set-face-attribute 'org-table nil :inherit 'fixed-pitch)

I'm using the face Bitstream Vera Serif (would like to know just how this differs from my beloved Bitstream Charter).

 '(variable-pitch ((t (:family "Bitstream Vera Serif")))))

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