log (2001/07/20 to 2001/07/26)

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I'd better be:
Thursday, July 26, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

Dear Meester Chess,

Please reassure your readers that Plurp is not dead yet. It is convulsing on the ground, spitting up blood and making the most awful retching sounds, but it isn't quite dead. It seems that our dear Web hosing (sic) service decided not to do all that pesky security stuff, got majorly hacked, and can't quite figure out how to get things working again. As I type, Plurp seems to be there again, but it is mere illusion. Email (and hence the infamous Blab boxes) are not working, and the site cannot be updated (hence its belief that it is still Monday).

We hope it will return to service before hell freezes over, though that is not currently obvious. In the meantime, we do appreciate the ability to use davidchess as a surrogate blog.

Kindest regards,

La Marquise de Plurp
Chief Enforcement Officer
Plurp Retribution Service

And, perhaps from a different reader:

I want your company to supply me all this item seagate hard disk 20GB. I hear by solicit you to issue cheque of $25,000 to this company on my behalf.

You are aware of my unpaid pensioner allowance which is equivalent to this above amount. I have transacted business with this company where I am yet to pay this amount US $25,000. So therefore please consider my proposal.

Shipment: Via UPS delivery door to door to Lagos

yours faithfully,
Yinka Babatunde.

What an odd world it is!

Britannica or Nupedia? The Future of Free Encyclopedias; worth reading. I like the idea of world-writable collaborative encyclopedias; I'm not yet convinced they'll replace the Other Kind, though...

From Camworld, we have A Comparison of Popular Online Fonts: Which is Best and When?

First, no significant difference in actual legibility between the font types were detected. There were, however, significant differences in reading time, but these differences may not be that meaningful for most online text because these differences were not substantial. It may, on the other hand, be helpful to consider using font types that are perceived as being legible. In this study, the font types that were perceived as being most legible were Courier, Comic, Verdana, Georgia, and Times.

So by using Georgia and Verdana, I'm not actually making my site any more legible, but I'm making you think it's more legible. How appropriate!

Uncle Sam wants Yours

I'm a card-carrying member of the ACLU, and although I don't always agree with them on all the issues, I do think they have some cool ads. I like the ones on asset forfeiture and citizen privacy especially.

Eek, look at the time!

Wednesday, July 25, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

Is plurp dead?

Only sleeping! The machine that hosts both Steve (of Plurp) and Ian (of Ian) has suffered some sort of disaster, but is apparently on the way back up. Try again later!

Paul Ford, on the other hand, has been very much alive! This dude can write, by howdy. Read this, definitely read this, and read everything else he's written.

(My SSN name starts "Bu-wunafa", which is quite attractive. I find I'm too paranoid to reveal the entire string!)

From AIR, the very earthshaking "Good Day Sunshine: Stock Returns and the Weather":

Psychological evidence and casual intuition predict that sunny weather is associated with upbeat mood. This paper examines the relation between morning sunshine at a country's leading stock exchange and market index stock returns that day...

If transaction costs are assumed to be minor, it is possible to trade profitably on the weather. These results are difficult to reconcile with fully rational price-setting.

Also from AIR, cruelly torturing telemarketers.

Dihydrogen Monoxide in the Dairy Industry:

The use of Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO) by farmers in the U.S. and internationally is prevalent. Typical of this is the widespread use of DHMO in the U.S. dairy industry. The facts surrounding DHMO's presence in the nation's milk supply are surprising. What may be even more surprising is the silence of the U.S. Government on the issue of DHMO in the milk our families drink every day. ...

Governmental regulations cover the addition of DHMO to the milk once it leaves the cow, but do not cover levels of ingested DHMO.

Brad points out that the Wall Street Journal editorial page has a weblog. Cool!

Puzzling interactive art o' the day: EvilPupil.

Blind link o' the day: OneShare.com.

On the WTO item yesterday, daragh writes:

It's a satire. Pretty sure about that anyway -- looks like they added a hint at the bottom...

Could be! That's the fun of the Web; you can Never Be Sure.

thanks for the great log BTW.

Hey, any time...

More reader input and stunning pieces of wisdom in future days!

Tuesday, July 24, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

Late Monday, Adobe officials said they had changed their minds and no longer believed that Dmitry Sklyarov should be prosecuted for alleged copyright infringement. --

Yeah, it was all just a big misunderstanding. So let the guy go. And all you protestors can go home now, too; nothing more to see here. Oh, and could you maybe put out that little fire on your way out? If it's not too much trouble.

I'd like to demonstrate my complete lack of sensitivity to the very difficult times that the people of Indonesia are currently facing, by pointing out that their new President is named "Megawati".

Is that just a coincidence, or was there one of those Name Fads in Indonesia a few decades ago? Does she have siblings named Kilohertzi and Microfaradhi?

With automatic weapons, is stratigraphy so important?

While preparing for her role, Jolie was said to be "on a strict training regimen of gymnastics, bungee jumping, kickboxing, weight training and the use of machine guns," according to an AFP report last September. Should we consider revising the archaeology curriculum on the university level?

So, a twenty-four by fifteen elipse has an area of like 283 square feet. Fill that four feet deep with water (and assorted chemicals), and you have 1132 cubic feet of water. At 7.5 gallons per cubic foot, that's 8490 gallons (US) of water (and assorted chemicals). At eight pounds to the gallon (a pint's a pound the whole world 'round, except for shot and feathers), that's 67920 pounds, or just under thirty-four tons.

That's one heavy Tub of Water!

From Risks, we discover that The Postal Service Has Its Eye On You (that's you specificially, not the general "you"):

Since 1997, the U.S. Postal Service has been conducting a customer-surveillance program, "Under the Eagle's Eye," and reporting innocent activity to federal law enforcement. Could you already be a victim?

Important reading for y'all who've just signed up for broadband connections at home and wonder if your system is 0wned by Eastern European teenagers yet: CERT advisory about threats to home systems.

Domain Name o' the Day: MyCatHatesYou.com (from Bill).

Food o' the Day: Sour Cream and Onion Potato Chips. Because, just because.

Monday, July 23, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

".NET is the architecture term du jour for Microsoft. Underneath that umbrella it seems like virtually every Microsoft product has been renamed .NET. I wouldn't be surprised to see Age of Empires.NET coming out next year." --

I just thought that was kinda funny. "Dungeon Keeper 2.NET"?

The World Trade Organization and an embarassing memo:

Through a third party, Y NOT, Inc. initially approached actresses Sarah Michelle Gellar and Tara Reid about serving as spokespersons for the WTO "brand," but made little headway. We have since been approached by a representative of Kevin Costner, but aren't convinced that he is "brand" appropriate.
We are currently working on customizing the guerrilla marketing strategies of Big Fat, Inc. (bigfatpromo.com) for the WTO "brand." This highly effective method utilizes trend-setting teen marketers who sell product to their own demographic while keeping their own affiliations hidden.
62% of teen focus group participants reported that they would "be interested in trying" a "brand" that 1) eliminated Third World debt or 2) provided free drugs to people suffering from AIDS or 3) got rid of sweatshops. Just a thought.

Risks Digest ran a note about how the White House (2600 Pennsylvania Avenue) is listed in real estate records as being owned by Exxon Corporation! How compelling! The traffic this generated (including a few people who actually noticed that the White House isn't at 2600 Pennsylvania Avenue) was enough that the editor later issued a whole nother Digest on the subject. From which I feel I ought to be able to draw some Deep Moral...

Phil Agre issued two numbers of Red Rock Eaters full of juicy pointers about the "Code Red" worm that's currently bouncing around between IIS servers that haven't applied the latest patches (including one very popular site!). The most interesting thing about Code Red (aside from its possible political motivation, and how many machines it seems to have taken over) is that it exists only in memory; in particular only in the virtual memory of the thousands of machines it's on. Unlike every other bit of nasty code that's made the headlines lately, it never touches the filesystem, never exists as a filename.ext that you could check for or erase. Sort of a ghostly thing that way.

Agre also points to this Wired article about the Sircam virus, a more traditional email worm that's currently spreading around out there. My own inboxes have gotten nine or ten copies of it (sent by the worm to me as a random email address, not by victims to me as an antivirus guru). So it must be pretty widespread! I don't usually get many of these things. (The antivirus community seems to have gotten past the fog of confusion that the Wired story reports; the Symantec writeup is for instance reasonably complete and accurate.)

As usual, don't open any attachments that come unexpectedly in the mail even if they're from friends. Those friends might be infected, and the virus sending itself to you on their behalf.

But you already know that...

My fourth ever Metafilter posting pointed to a story about the arrest of a Russian security dude for violating the dreaded DMCA. Now I see that the EFF has a page all about it, and there's a freesklyarov.org and a BoycottAdobe.org. Interesting times indeed!

One particularly interesting point is Electronic Publishers Coalition Condemns Criminal Use of DMCA; some publishers have more clue than others. See also coverage on law.com, and Wired's Arrest of Russian Programmer Sparks Protests.

Chain letter o' the Day: An Interesting Observation about Social Security (I've gotten it twice in the mail, so it must be epidemic).

There were 14 searches for the week ending 7/14/2001 for
davidchess.com at http://www.davidchess.com/.

Here are the top phrases searched:

- 1 for "atrus"
- 1 for "chest excercises for men to increase size"
- 1 for "clothes"
- 1 for "directv"
- 1 for "elizabeth cadell"

Elizabeth Cadell?

Sunday, July 22, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

The Big Tub of Water is a parody in some ways. If the ideal is to float motionless in a patched inner tube by the old dock, with fish in the depths below you going about their secret business, and turtles sunning on the bank, and the gangly Broome sisters out in their rowboat with poles and nets hoping for boys, and the river singing you old songs of commerce and adventure and storms, if that's the ideal, then the Big Tub of Water stands for exactly the opposite.

Its water flows only five feet: out the skimmer, through the pump, through the DE filter, and back in through the jet. An elaborate series of chemical rituals keeps the water clear, unmysterious, and lethal to anything with the bad judgement not to be human. It's surrounded by a high fence, so the suburban versions of the Broome sisters don't try a midnight swim, drown, and then sue us for not preventing them.

Not the same thing at all.

Taken on its own terms, though, the Big Tub has its charm. I sweat in the summer; any small task involving the movement of atoms leaves me with my hair dripping into my eyes, my clothing soaked, and my glasses slipping maddeningly down my nose. I use up lots of sweatbands. If I soak in the Tub for a few dozen minutes though, my glands calm down, I feel cool and clean, and my body temperature drops substantially (well, probably not; but it feels like it!). I can then get out and do things, and I don't start to drench my clothes for many ergs.

Looking at clouds, grey clouds rich and heavy with water like saturated cotton, makes me thirsty in a way that drinking never quite satisfies. I think what they make me want is this feeling of cool bouyancy, the thing I feel relaxed and motionless in the Tub, my knees bent so the surface is just below my mouth, looking at my shadow on the bottom through the invisible water. If I wave my hands the right way, nothing happens at first, but then in the shadow-world of the bottom a cloud appears, roiling and chaotic, as the force that I waved toward the surface finally gets there and makes small waves, too small to see in themselves, but evident in their shadows. I'm a wizard, my gestures and my breath making circles and currents and eddies and explosions in the shadows on the clean blue bottom.

This water has a sort of song also. It did, after all, come from somewhere, and it's on its way somewhere eventually. This song is, maybe, a song of control, of knowledge, of how the chemicals are extracted and purified, bottled and powdered and sold, how the water rushes through the filter around and around. The gentle intercourse between the surface and the air, evaporation and dew, the bobbing of the Solar Cover at midnight. I can hear a song there, I think.

I lie on my back on some floating toy and look up at the trees and the clouds and the sky, gently rocked by the water. It's not an inner tube by the old dock. It's not the oracular platform of the Goddess, chained with gold links to the marble floor of the pool, bobbing under a haunted moon. It is, in fact, kinda suburban, kinda gauche. But I kinda like it.

Friday, July 20, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

You have taken over an enemy lair.
You have taken over an enemy library.
You have taken over an enemy torture chamber.

When a store has one of those reversible "Open / Closed" signs on the door, and the "Open" side is facing out (because the store's open), and the "Closed" side is facing in (because it's one of the simple ones that doesn't have a cover on the inside), and you're approaching the door from the inside (because you're leaving), there's this tiny moment, perhaps not perceived at all on the conscious level, when it occurs to you that perhaps the outside world is closed. And you'll have to come back later.


When I put the sun shade up in the front windshield of my car (because I'm parked in the sun), it presents a benign message to the outside world ("IBM AS/400: Solutions, Growth"). But on the inside it says, as though presenting a message from the outside world to anyone in the car, "Need Assistance, Please Help". Entirely too true.

The Materialist Bodhisattva says: I will not sit with my laptop by the pool, surfing the Net and watching my healthy and well-educated children frolic, until all sentient beings are sitting with their laptops by the pool, surfing the Net and watching their healthy and well-educated children frolic.

I'm afraid I'm no sort of Bodhisattva at all.


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