June 2002

Jim Miller on Politics

Pseudo-Random Thoughts

The Missing Word:  There is a word missing from most discussions of Arafat and the Palestinian Authority.  To be more precise, there is an adjective missing.   What kind of government is the PA?  Not democratic, obviously, although they have held some sham elections.  Not communist, though Arafat, for much of his career, received support from the old Soviet Union.  Not monarchical, though nepotism is rife.  So, what is it?  Consider the following definition from the American Heritage Dictionary:
A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.
Every single item in that list fits the Palestinian Authority. Now, can you guess the word from its definition? If it isn't obvious yet, here's a hint: One of the most popular books in the area controlled by the PA is Hitler's Mein Kampf.   So, the definition is for "fascism", and the missing word is "fascist".

That so many, especially on the left, are unable or unwilling to see that the PA is fascist, in every thing but name, says something sad and disturbing about the level of much of our political discourse.
- 1:45 PM, 29 June 2002   [link]

Georgia on My Site:  Choosing a good general font for a web site is not easy.  For large blocks of text, the most readable fonts, except for very small text, are those with serifs like the ubiquitous Times.  Unfortunately, these fonts generally do not scale well, and so what may be clear on the designer's screen may be difficult to read for many users.

There is a good solution to this problem from a source that would surprise some.   Microsoft has commissioned a set of TrueType fonts for Web use and made them freely available.  If you don't have this set, consisting of Andale Mono, Arial, Comic Sans, Courier New, Georgia, Impact, Times New Roman, Trebuchet MS, Verdana, and Webdings (for Windows only), you can download them here.   You will surprised how much easier some sites are to read after they are installed.

For general use on this site, I chose a serifed font, Georgia.  Though not as handsome, to my eye, as Times, it is far more readable when scaled.  (If you are interested in more detail on the design decisions for this site, you can read my design notes.)   Thanks to Jerry Pournelle for putting Georgia on my mind.
- 2:50 PM, 25 June 2002   [link]