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Thursday, January 4, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

Hey, I've got an idea! I have lots of links and stuff that I encountered, but didn't bother following, over vacation. Now I've been following them and tracing various paths through the Web from them, and I think I'll share the interesting pages that I find with y'all readers, here. Isn't that a good idea?

We could call it a "weblog" or something, eh?

Kitsune: Magical foxes of Japanese legend. Also a very popular persona in the fascinating if bizarre "furry" culture. Kitsune: Coyote in the Orient:

Many things in what I'd dubbed the "kitsune subculture" weren't evident in the stories--while I couldn't conclude these things weren't part of Japanese folklore, I couldn't conclude they were, either. The second thing was at least as intriguing to me: the kitsune stories bore striking resemblance to the stories of Old Man Coyote, the Native American trickster god.

Schizomimesis: (did I just coin that?) Crank.net is "devoted to presenting Web sites by and about cranks, crankishness, and crankosity. All cranks, all the time." Lotsa great reading here, including "Crank o' the Day" and a categorized index ("alien abductions" through "zero point energy"). Which segues nicely into...

Tax Protesters: Not the serious kind that want to reform the tax laws, but the kind that spend hours and weeks and months in the court system (the court system that I am paying for), claiming that the existing laws already don't require them to pay any taxes. Here's one recent case, where the plantiff claims that he doesn't have to pay taxes, because paying income taxes in the U.S. is "voluntary". As the courts have repeatedly found, and the Tax Protester FAQ amply documents, this is based on taking certain sentences out of context, and hasn't a hope in Heck of succeeding.

If you don't want to pay taxes, work on getting the laws changed, don't waste effort on this sort of cruft. Sheesh! (OK, so I'm in "dupe of the Conspiracy" mode today; I grovel.)

Ants in the Asteriods!

The swarm would take three or more years to travel to the main belt of asteroids. Once there, 100 ruler and messenger "ants" would look on, guiding operations, as the 900 or so worker probes did the bulk of the work. Only a small number of messengers would then make the return trip to their space-based safe harbor, ferrying with them the data acquired during the mission.

Scarleteen: having future teenagers ourselves, we like Scarleteen, which is devoted to giving teenagers clueful information and advice about sex and stuff. Here is a rather longwinded mission statement, and a way-simple way to give them money (at least if you can remember your PayPal password).

In our experience as sex educators, it is only very rarely that teenaged rebellion makes a teenager or young adult make unsound or unhealthy sexual decisions when they know what their alternatives are. What keeps them from making those decisions in as responsible and healthful a way possible is that they simply don't have the information, they don't know what alternatives exist.

Some links from the Agents site at UMBC:

The Dangers of ActiveX: Back in August, the CERT held a workshop with various smart people (inspired, I suspect, by the good work of Richard Smith at the Privacy Foundation), about ActiveX, what makes it dangerous, and how to minimize the risks. The resulting paper, Results of the Security in ActiveX Workshop, looks well worth a read.

The security issues relating to ActiveX cannot be ignored. ActiveX controls are an integral part of systems and applications, and they are required for essential functions in many environments. Though priorities many change from organization to organization and user to user, it is important to understand the tradeoffs between functionality and security and to make informed decisions about the appropriate level of risk.

Note that there's considerable language in the report about how wonderful all the benefits of ActiveX technology are; I suspect this was so the Microsoft rep would sign off on it. *8)

Burn all GIFs?

More Security Stuff: "Protecting Network Infrastructure at the Protocol Level" (in the small Netw3.com reading room). Low-level grungy stuff about attacks on RIP, BGP, and other obscure but important routing-level protocols.

Content-location: the trouble with some RFCs (and most w3.org docs) is that they don't have enough examples. So RFC2616 gives the official definition of the Content-Location header field in HTML, but it doesn't say what it's for.

Governments do lots of stupid things, and using tax money to build sports stadiums is right up there on the list. Should New York City subsidize new digs for the Yankees and the Mets? I don't always agree with Mark Green, but

"I think it's more important to spend scarce capital dollars on building and renovating our schools than [to give] huge subsidies to private companies," Green said earlier this year, referring to Yankee owner George Steinbrenner.

really seems like a no-brainer.

(The problem with spelling Ypres "Ieper" is that in various fonts it looks just like "leper". Very confusing.)

Google search doodads: from Slashdot via Vanessa Layne, if you put this JavaScript link onto your Personal Toolbar or whatever, you'll have a little doodad that will do a Google search on the selected text (or prompt you for a search string if there's no selected text). Almost enough to make me turn the Personal Toolbar back on! Bryan O'Sullivan (and Google's own browser Googlification page) point out that putting

user_pref("network.search.url", "http://www.google.com/keyword/")

into the proper prefs.js file will tell Netscape to use Google for searching when you type random stuff into the location bar; so now I can type "fragrant aphids" up there, press enter, and off I go! Google themselves offer a Google toolbar, but it only works with (shudder) IE at the moment.

Whew! Lotsa possibly-interesting links still waiting to be followed up, but this is getting kinda long. Later!

On the speakers: the Essential Jazz Vocals station on mp3.com, found by looking at the list of stations playing Gretchen Lieberum (a clever idea on mp3.com's part).

Tuesday, January 2, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

I thought composing this was going to be a challenging test of my ability to multitask in the verbal domain, but the little boy says he doesn't want me to sing songs tonight. So I'm just sitting here in the rocking chair trying to type quietly.

"Obsessed with", and other things typed into The Box recently:

Iridium... for a while longer, anyway.

There is no such thing as coincidence, just as there are no such things as cause or effect. There is only the raging river of space-time.

One of the sections of one of those dusty old spiral-bound notebooks that I threatened to type in excerpts from over this vacation (an empty threat, as it's turned out) is an attempt to start from the raging river of space-time ("this experience storm", I think the notebook puts it), and build up from that to things like causation. Not that it hasn't been tried before...

That's what's missing from my life! I'm not obsessed with anything right now, as I usually am. I wonder if I can find a new obsession that will also make me money.

filling in the blank spaces

It happened again!


(Apologies if that last is some horrible obscenity in your local language, idiom, and character set!)

Helen ?


urban decay and obesessed with my obsession with it...

Admirably meta.

Russell Crowe. (*swoon*)

very fine mazes.

(I'm not sure if that's an obsession with admirable, or perhaps fine-grained, mazes, or undeserved praise of our own mazes; thanks in any case.)

With a singular drive and passion, of course. You can't be half-heartedly obsessed.

Your wedding invitations. Now we want to know what poor dear riverrun press actually did with your wedding invitations on the first try.

As I recall, M first noticed that they'd misspelled "Spelman" as "Spellman" in her address, and we were going to let it slide until she noticed that they'd written "Princetown" for "Princeton". (Ouch!)

filling in the blank spaces

redheads. Always have been, always will be.

As a slight redhead myself (more in my youth, when I got more sun, than laterly), I can certainly understand that. *8)

A wonderful paragraph on the used book store thread:

In Honolulu, not far from the Arizona Memorial, there is a used book store in a small shopping center that also contains an ice rink. When you are in the back corner of the book store, you can hear the faint shooshing noise of people going by on ice skates on the other side of the wall, as well as the faint generic chatter and laughter of children. I always thought that was a particularly special addition to the ambience. Another detail of used book stores is the fact that often the items that appear in the windows are tinted blue, due to the gradual breakdown by the sunlight of the reddish pigments in the printing inks.

And finally, the one reader who tried to give us some assistance with all those lost things:

I believe I saw your hoka-boka on the stairway. You might check there. Was yours the green hoka-boka?

I think the little boy is just about asleep, so perhaps I'll go post this. Good Night!

Monday, January 1, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

Happy New Year to all!

Finally we can stop debating what millennium it is.


This year (unlike last year) both kids easily stayed up the whole time (and both went to sleep very quickly thereafter). We've all been sleeping late the last few days; getting back to school (and work!) is going to be a shock, I suspect. Everyone else is asleep now (fifty-seven minutes into the New Year), and I should be too (this cold or whatever is almost gone, but still hanging on by its fingernails, and by staying up typing I'm probably giving aid and comfort to the enemy), but I thought I'd write to y'all for a few minutes.

The date stuff is going to be awfully confusing this time around. For the last three months it's been "two oh oh oh one" and then some numbers, and now it's going to be "two oh oh one oh" and some numbers for nine months. I really ought to get a Perl script to generate, or at least check, the various datish things that I have to type here in the Log.

(Speaking of scripts, if anyone's using the Net::FTP_DC module that I coded to hack around the Y2K bug in the FTP daemon on a Certain Server, be warned that that Certain Server has still not been upgraded, and the original version of the hack only handled dates in 2000. You can make the obvious generalization yourself, or contact me for a version that doesn't break again until 2010/01/01.)

So how many of the worthwhile things that require long stretches of leisure did I get done during this long stretch of leisure that's ending before too long? Some, I guess. I drafted the source mods to Slige for Solaris compatibility (but I did it via the obvious swap macros and ifdefs, not by rewriting the file-writing code to be independant of byte order and structure packing). I went through some of the gobs and gobs of backed-up mail in my in-basket (but not a very big proportion of it, really). I thought about some of the things I wanted to take time to think about (but came to no new conclusions). I did lots and lots of nothing at all, which is important.

There's some part of me that wants the nothing at all to be for a purpose; to be a relaxation and decompression and state-shifting time, so I can finally get into some desirable mode: profound thought, creative art, productive motion, charitable endeavor. But if I have a New Year's Resolution at all, I think it will be to value nothing at all more for its own sake, rather than as a means to an end. To realize that there is no need for guilt feeling, no inherent waste, in just sitting around in a warm house with a loving family playing Tetris or reading obscure Agatha Christie novels or whatever. It doesn't have to be for some other reason.

This reminds me of something vaguely similar that I said in another place, awhile ago:

Is enlightenment really just something that happens to people who were brought up to be too bookish and introspective, suddenly seeing that they could be just like normal people instead, and think about stuff other than their own angsts?

I like my closing from last New Year's, so here it is again. Happy New Year to everyone reading, or not reading, this and all their loved ones, heirs, and assignees. May we all have a content, exciting, fulfilling next thousand years, and finally figure out how to be nice to each other.

Friday, December 29, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

Steve is probably threatening me with the eagles again. Ha ha! I now have, by the way, a geniune SteveWhite.org T-shirt to go with my Geegaw and Flux Redux and davidchess.com ones. It's very nice. One could build a whole wardrobe this way! (Well, just the tops actually.)

(Being blissfully offline, I don't have all the cafepress URLs handy. I'd guess that they might be steve, geegaw, and flux; but who knows? Twenty minutes into the future, when we have DSL or cablemodem or satellite or whatever, will I miss these soothing unconnected hours? Or will I forget entirely what they were like?)

Thanks to all the readers who pointed out the little error in the day of the week the other day!   *8)   This one pretty much sums it up:

Dave, in my timeline there was no Saturday December 26 2000. What _is_ it with you and dates?

What it is is that while cut and paste is a very useful timesaving device, it has its pitfalls. Or maybe I just like to make sure you're paying attention (that little slip got many more comments than, say, my wise and insightful comments on the relationship between Buddhism and used book stores).

So Christmas was fun, and involved all too many plastic toys. One thing the kids got was Lego Studio, which involves some Lego and a tiny digital camera. Sometime when I'm on a faster connection I'll upload for y'all one of the Cinematic Masterpieces I've constructed while making sure it worked.

Neighboor kid just called to say that she and her brother and her Dad and a friend are going down to the lake to iceskate, in case we want to come down too. I said they shouldn't wait for us: not only are the kids still in their PJs (it's been a nice lazy day), but the sun's setting, it's real cold outside, and the wind's still blowing. They're insane.

We did heartening midwinter neighborhood things yesterday: down to the lake (when the sun was higher in the sky!) to shovel off a place for skating and to watch the kids slide around, and to huddle around the fire for warmth and roast marshmallows; then a party in the evening with presents for all the kids and potluck food overflowing the tables. I've still got this rogue replicator oozing around in my system, and my voice and my nose are taking turns not working quite right. I had a good time, though.

The Lahiri book was good (I think I should get over this guilt feeling I have about using vague adjectives like "good"; it was good!). Short stories, mostly about love (how many stories are not about love?), mostly about immigrants (or emigrants), subtle and unspectacular, no car chases, no neat resolutions, hints of despair and hints of redemption. Recommended.

After that, I started a book about Science Fiction, written in the 1970's somewhere, but it was stuffy and dry, dry and stuffed, very serious and full of itself. I can't, at least today, bear a book of poetry and short stories that has a set of questions for the reader at the end of each.

So now I'm well into "Last Flight" by Myrick Land, the first novel in a Detective Book Club triple volume, one of a dozen that I got for five dollars back in August. The other two are "The Ghost Writer" by Diana Carter, and "The Bengali Inheritance" by Owen Sela. They will all, I expect, be straightforward and unremarkable mystery stories, and I expect to enjoy them all immensely.

"Mr. Reynolds, this is all pure speculation, as I say. But it's possible that the plane was behaving erratically because of something that happened at that fuel stop. It seemed to be going along very smoothly before, from the reports we've gathered. But half a dozen people in a seventy mile radius of Pemberton have told me that it was behaving very strangely just a few minutes before the crash."


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