Luxury Spending Up

According to an article in USA Today, spending on luxury goods and services (wine, pet care, televisions, jewelry, etc.) is up, while spending on essentials (bread, milk, eggs, etc.) is still lagging. Now, the conclusion the article draws is that this represents an increase in the divide between those who have (money) and those who do not. That's valid (although it should be noted that this observation reflects a short-term trend).

However, there's another, perhaps more practical conclusion that can be drawn from the same data: if you're looking for work, the local five and dime, or similar places where people tend to apply when they're desperate, isn't necessarily your best bet. Look for industries and businesses that primarily sell luxuries or cater to people with a little more money. They're more likely to be hiring at the moment.

Targetted Web Searching on the Client Side: A Little Programming Knowledge Can Save a Lot of Time

Okay, here's the background: there's a website that I use, which in general is quite good and very useful. It's called Lang-8. The basic idea is, you write journal entries in the language you're studying, and native speakers post comments and corrections. In turn, you post comments and corrections to entries they've written in your native language. The idea is good, and the site has a lot of really useful features.

One feature it doesn't have, unfortunately, is a really good search capability...

In particular, I wanted to be able to search through the comments and corrections I've made in the past. When you're working with people coming to English from the same liguistic background, they tend to make some of the same mistakes (e.g., Japanese people seem to have trouble learning the correct use of the English phrase "after all", which, admittedly, is somewhat idiomatic), so several times I've run into situations where I remembered having explained a particular thing in some detail before, with examples. Being the lazy person that I am, I wanted to have a look at that previous explanation and possibly copy and paste some or all of it in response to someone else who was asking about the same thing, or who made the same mistake.

So I wanted to search my past corrections and comments, but the site doesn't seem to have a way to do that. I can search my own journal entries, but that doesn't solve my problem. I thought about Google's site-specific search, but privacy features prevent most of the journal entries, and the comments on them, from being visible to the world; Google, from the site's perspective, is the world.

So I used my virtue of laziness to create a way to quickly search through my past comments and corrections. You can see the actual code on Perlmonks. (It's easier to post it there, because of the automatic handling it has for source code.) One screenfull of easy code, and my computer is pointing me right to my previous explanation. The first time I used it, it saved me more time than it took to write it, and I know I'll be using this one again and again and again.

Ugly Words for Beautiful

Have you ever noticed that a lot of languages have some fairly nasty-sounding words for the concept of beauty? The Hebrew word, יָפֶה (ya-FEH), for instance, sounds kind of like you're coughing up a hairball. The Japanese word, 美しい (oots-koo-SHE-ee) is a little better, but it doesn't exactly roll melodiously off the tongue. In Greek, καλός (cah-LOSS, good or beautiful) is only one letter different from κακός (cah-KOSS, evil, bad, ugly).

I think the worst of all may be the Latin word pulcher, source of the English spelling-bee word "pulchritude", which ostensibly means "beauty", although I cannot possibly imagine ever using such a hideous-sounding word non-sarcastically to refer to genuine beauty. Perhaps we could coin the word "malpulchrated" to refer to unnecessary or gaudy decoration (making something "beautiful" in a bad way, like stringing excessive amounts of five clashing colors of tinsel all over an otherwise attractive building, or make-up a la Tammy Faye Bakker).