Monday, November 18, 2013

Mea Culpas, Proverbs, and Sayings:

Oy vey!

I have gone astray (mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa) several times recently, by no one's fault but my own. (I and no one else is responsible for my happiness: Atlas Shrugged and many others). 

I have excitedly forwarded information that has been sent to me from trusted sources, but that turned out not to be true.

I try to live by "once burned, twice foolish" but surprisingly googling fails me, offering this only in Somali, but alternatives such as,+twice+shy, which is not quite the same or,+shame+on+you%3B+fool+me+twice,+shame+on+me, which is closer.

So, thankful and confident that it's an ill wind that blows no good I set about devising a method to make it so dead easy to check that it's even more embarrassing to be caught out for not having checked our sources.

So here it is, as simple and easy as possible, depending on whether you are under Linux or Windows (Sorry Mac folk, you'll have to fend for yourself):

• The basic search engine is at
• Under Linux (since every good Linux geek always has a terminal open) just enter 

at the command line, or more simply, invoke


    where you have written a checksnopes BASH script on some path in your .bashrc to the following effect:

        #! /bin/bash
            # Call Firefox
    (Yes, there are many cuter ways to do this, but this is possibly the simplest...)
• Alternatively, under Windows (or Linux, for that matter), open a browser to the site and then create a bookmark on your desktop or toolbar (usually by dragging and dropping the URL).
• In either case, doing these will take less time that it took to read this.

    Invoking either of these will open a new Firefox window (or a new Firefox tab, depending on your system settings) zeroed in to the search window. Type in whatever suspect phrase you have and you'll see the answer. 

Chances are, if it's too good to be true, then it isn't... Q.E.D. :-( 

Of course, Snopes is not the final word, there are several others that you can pursue, depending on how much time you have to spend, e.g.,

But the point is, we need to check our sources since we are now engaged in the new journalism.    

Now, if you're really dedicated you can bookmark a phrase like:

    "Yes! I checked with and it's TRUE!"

that you can then drag and drop into your email.

But automating that is a task for later. After all, tomorrow is another day.


An easy solution for the last problem (inserting a saved phrase) for Thunderbird is QuickText, a Thunderbird addon. It saves any number of different little text snippets and provides a button in the composition window. Place the cursor, then click the {Snopes} button and the text is entered:
Very cool.

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