Sunday, April 24, 2011

No more ugly makeup !

John Cowan has pointed out a "bookmark resource" for tarting down the websites I complained about in my last post. As he explains here:
The Readability bookmarklet helps a lot with pages like that. Go to this webpage and drag the "Read Now" button to your browser's bookmarks bar. Then click on it whenever you want to make a page more easily readable. It deals with bad colors, annoying formats, etc.
People should take a look at Readability's FAQ, which answers the questions "What is Readability?" and "What happened to the free version of Readability?".

In short: the bookmark resource is "still free", and this is what it's all about:
We’re turning Readability into a monthly subscription service with a unique twist: the great majority of your fees (70%) will go directly to the writers and publishers you enjoy. We’re tethering a small, passive transaction to the reading decisions you make through the platform. You can even publicly share the top domains you’re enjoying through Readability. It’s a new type of badge: “I support these writers & publishers.”
In other words, this is another scheme to keep track of where you go with your browser - but only when you actually use the bookmark. Clicking it merely takes you to another website (Readability), and there is not even a cookie involved. Exactly the same happens when you point to any link. You'll have to decide if you want to live with that. It seems reasonable enough to me.

The make-it-more-readable feature appears to work as follows (I've inspected the page sources, but am not a browser/javascript expert):

1. Let's say you are positioned on some web page "" in your browser. That is, the "page frame" showing the contents of that page is in the foreground of your browser.

2. You click on the "Read now" bookmark. This is a "widget" containing javascript activated by your click.

3. The bookmark javascript is called with the "" address as parameter, causing the browser to call another piece of javascript at This other javascript technically reads the HTML page at the parameter value "" (the stuff which your browser had rendered in the original, hard-to-read form). It converts that original page into a "more readable" HTML page at, which is then the final page that is actually rendered in your browser (no longer the one at "").


John Emerson said...

Grumbly, you took an ordinary phrase ("urban myth") and played dumb, like a high school sophomore. And I kindly elucidated it to you, you played dumber.

It's often true that if you construe a commonly used phrase word by word you will get the wrong meaning. I mentioned "anti-Semitic" earlier in the thread. I explained the derivation of that particular phrase very well.

Many of your jokes are annoying past one or two iterations. Don't beat things into the ground.

I am among those at LH who would be just as happy if you didn't post there. (Fortunately, Steve is not, nor Crown, and I don't run the place.)

Since everything requires elucidation for you, let me explain that this is not a good thing to say about someone. It means that the value of your good stuff is more or less negated by the annoyance of your bad stuff. I like your good stuff and not your bad stuff.

AJP Crown said...

You're right about me. And Empty, and doubtless a lot of other people. If it weren't for Stu, I probably wouldn't read the comments at LH - certainly not every day.

I don't really understand your problem, John: it must be stylistic, I can't believe you of all people would object to flippancy. I think we are all united in laughing at much of what goes on in the world as well as having other reactions like indignation or anger. When you say "I am among those who would be happy" etc you sound like the class bully, as did Cowan when he talked about trolls (ridiculous). And it's ironic coming from just the people who pleaded with Steve to let Nij & Read stick around. Stick to "I like your good stuff and not your bad stuff", then I can say "likewise".

Stuart said...

WTF is all this, all of a sudden, and here ??

John, you have recently started holding public tribunals at LH, informing the world as to what suits you about my contributions, and what doesn't. My reaction to that is modelled on Gable's: frankly, my dear, I don't give a shit.

It makes me quite faint with vindicated delight (or do I mean "vindictive" ?) to see you doing exactly what you accuse me of doing, as quoted by Bathrobe from the WiPe on "troll":

someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

Both you and John fell victim to your own moralizing, just as I predicted ("moralizing is divisive") - in public outbursts unlikely to win you friends and influence others.

I said I was willing to let it go, and you agreed to do the same. But you're not letting go, though I don't see what you hope to achieve by this backbiting. Perhaps you're associating with the wrong people, if that is what they appreciate ?

I get the impression often that you think ad hominem tackiness is a convincing way to finesse the lack of arguments ad rem. But help is at hand. The next time you run low on arguments, just drop me a line and I'll send you some of mine that I've grown out of.

John Emerson said...

The reason I posted here is that LH closed the thread.

As I feared, Grumbly feels vindicated by what I had hoped was a compromise involving some acknowledgement on his part that the other side has a case. I just get tired of his reiterations of the same point, especially of course when I didn't think much of the original point.

Stuart said...

Confirming once more what I pointed out: when you don't think much, you get tacky and can't or won't stop.

I see myself vindicated not on the "urban/urbane" subject - about which I could not care less - but on my claim that moralizers tend to lose their self-control and turn personally nasty.

I wonder, in a casual way, how much longer you are going to keep this up.