log (2001/11/09 to 2001/11/15)

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Thursday, November 15, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

The notable Dagmar Chili has finished his/her/their NaNoWriMo novel, a memorable work (50,005 words according to my Perl script) called Name.

I was planning to have breakfast at the corner deli this morning and get lots of writing done, but kindness got in the way.

When I walked into the place, there was this guy kneeling on the floor with a bucket and a sponge, cleaning off the glass fronts of the cabinets that hold the milk and eggs and stuff. He said Hi and I said Hi, and he asked if his cleaning bothered me, and I said no not at all thanks for asking. Then I got my sandwich and sat down and opened the laptop, and brought up the novel to work on.

I stopped last night at the very end of a chapter, which experienced writers often advise against, and for good reason. So I was sitting there breathing in the steam from my coffee, at the bottom of a potential well, with no momentum to get me up the other side, waiting for inspiration. And the counter guy (who owns the place, I think, and is always very friendly, almost obsequious) came out, and stood next to the guy cleaning the cabinet fronts, and whispered something to him, and the cleaning guy said "oh sure no problem", and went back behind the counter and came out without his bucket, and the counter guy went back behind the counter, and the cleaning guy sat down at another table and looked bored.

So I sat there and finished my sandwich, feeling the cleaning guy waiting for me to leave so he could clean some more, trying to relax the internal censors so as to start writing things, and had no success at all. So I paid and left, and drove in to work, and wrote about 1,200 words sitting at my desk before the day started.

End of Day Fourteen: 31,507
Currently: 32,682
Today's Goal: 33,750

I finally wrote the Perl script to automatically ping weblogs.com when I update this page, so as not to have to find and fill in their form all the time. Eighty-four lines, including whitespace and comments, and the only modules it requires are Socket and Filehandle ("around here, kid, we do SOAP at the socket level").

Amusing GIF from Camworld.

Speaking of Enduring Freedom Trading Cards (as Steve was), here's some more edgy ones: American Crusade 2001.

I know that's been widely blogged, because it was on the Blogdex top-25 page yesterday. Blogdex is cool.

From Center Right, a John Leo column in U.S. News, "Let's have a 'sensitive' war". It's a very annoying column, projecting a straw man back into World War II, claiming (without actually saying) that since it was a good thing that the U.S. helped fight Nazi Germany then, it's bad to question whether, or how, we should be fighting somebody in Afghanistan now.

By late 1942, after Adolf Hitler had invaded most of the nations of Europe, relentlessly bombed England, and declared war on the United States, the vexing question naturally arose: What's better, to fight back or to sit down and study the root causes of Germany's behavior?

They hate freedom!

I'm disappointed / annoyed by conservative pundits who deride any suggestion that we ought to try to figure out why people commit acts of terrorism as a suggestion that we should blame the victim and surrender to the terrorists. Clearly it would be idiotic not to try to figure out why people do these things; no one (or no one worth responding to) is saying that once we've figured that out we should necessarily do whatever it takes (get out of the Middle East, become a vassal state of Aghanistan, whatever) to get them to stop. But understanding the motivations is indispensable to effectively reducing the threat.

Is it that these people, or some of these people, think that they already understand the reasons people do these bad things? ("They hate freedom", "They are possessed by the Devil") That wouldn't surprise me. But they're probably wrong.

Here's a Benton Digital Beat article on steganography and terroristm and stuff. Interesting if light reading itself, with some good pointers at the bottom, including a pointer to this cool page about how some moderns solved a stenographic cryptogram from the 16th century. I'm a sucker for all that "wisdom of the ancients" stuff. Anybody got a good book on John Dee?

Wednesday, November 14, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

The doctor says that I tore some small number of tendon fibers or whatever off of my Gastrocnemius muscle (apparently a relatively common injury). No strenuous basketball playing, he says, and it'll heal itself up just fine. I forgot to ask how long that'd take; I always forget to ask the most obvious questions. He's an internist, not an orthopedist, but apparently he was teaching this very diagnostic procedure (consisting mostly of squishing and poking at the patient's legs) to some medical students just the other week, and I believe he knows what he's about.

So Concerned Readers were right that it wasn't just a simple charleyhorse, but fortunately it doesn't need any treatment beyond what it would have needed if it had been. (is are was were being been) Good thing, too, as I've always considered my calves one of my most attractive features. *8)

What the heck kind of name is "gastrocnemius" for a muscle, anyway? Sounds like a stomach disorder.

After some time, he thinks he can see a glow, a reflection of the sun, from far above. He holds up his hand, and believes he can see the fingers. That line, there, must be the railing of the stair. He pulls himself to his feet, then cries out, falls back to the floor, clutching his left leg (his eyes closed tight, so tight they are again full of dazzle, of lightning, of clouds of sparks).

Life as a protagonist is tough: your author tears a muscle playing tennis, and suddenly you're falling down a flight of stairs and hurting your leg. "Write what you know," they say.

End of Day Thirteen: 29,230
Today's Goal: 31,500

A reader points out that "Opera 6.0 is out with tons of cool new features. This site has a nice tour of what's new: [link]". Sounds cool, but it's still a beta. I'm not really really into installing betas...

Faithful reader MRS. SESE-SEKO writes:


DOLLARS(US$18,000,000,00.)  WITH A

I'm just such a popular guy! I remain baffled, though, as to why this sort of scam-spammer doesn't at least check the spelling and formatting of its mail (and why it's always all uppercase). Are they just so ignorant that they don't realize that spelling and formatting exist at all? Or is it done this way on purpose, to increase the mail's effectiveness with some (unimaginable to me) demographic?

European Parliament Votes to Restrict Use of "Cookies". Not quite as daft as it sounds, given the details in the article.

While surfing for muscle-tear information, I happened across the Illustrated Encyclopedia of Human Anatomic Variation. The bits I skimmed were kinda dry (not pictures of people whose hands are the heads of cats; more along the lines of people whose left anterior dingus-artery goes under, instead of over, the subcortical whoozis). But note that the section on the skeleton is dedicated to Marilyn Monroe, who apparently had a great (professional?) interest in human bone structure.

From /usr/bin/girl, some extremely significant and useful Desktop Plants! If you don't water them, they die! And everything! Wow!

So (with the help of a couple of hints from the little daughter, who'd studied part of a walkthrough that she persuaded me to download from the Web) I finally finished Zork: Grand Inquisitor that I started back in March. Now she's started working her way through the original Zork I (downloaded from here); but she doesn't (yet?) enjoy mapping, and definitely doesn't enjoy the lurking thief, so I don't know if this is going to be a long-term endeavor. I don't remember if I ever finished Zork I or II or III; I didn't have the Web to find hints on back then...

Tuesday, November 13, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

Okay, okay, okay, so okay. A couple of readers (one of whom gets the credit for half my DNA) have suggested that I really ought to go to the doctor about this leg, so I have an appointment at one pea em. I'll let you know what he says.

Unless I forget.

The leg is quite a bit better this morning, but still not perfect (I can walk almost vaguely normally, and I can extend my knee and flex my ankle at the same time; but I still can't stand on the ball of my left foot).

Goal for Day Twelve: 27,000
End of Day Twelve: 27,029

I take these goals pretty literally, don't I? Novel-writing is still great fun. I gave the URL of the novel in passing on the nycnowrimo Yahoo list, and now two different people that I don't know have actually read at least a few words of it. Scary!

Most of yesterday's new words were composed and immediately typed in while in the dentist's waiting room. I thought I was immune to cavities since nearly all of my teeth already have fillings, but no, it turns out that decay can occur around an old filling, so they have to drill out the old filling and put in a new one. Arrg!

So yesterday evening one quadrant of my mouth was numb, and I was limping, and I still had that yucchy taste in the back of my throat from an impressive nose-bleed earlier in the day (drat this dry air). Whose idea was it to embody us in these kludgy things made of zillions of atoms, anyway?

Two Weeks and One Day After the Maiden

Objects that are the same shape have the same function. A pencil has the same function as a pen, so an apple has the same function as the sun. A shoe has the same function as a foot, so a door has the same function as a window. A man has the same function as the shadow of a man.

Look, it's a security hole in Internet Explorer! Whaddya know! For a change, this one doesn't allow anyone in the world to do anything they want to your computer; it only lets anyone in the world read and fiddle with your stored cookies. So at worst they can like steal important passwords and stuff.

Wrong Answer but Thanks for Playing Department: Europe hopes to outlaw hate speech online. Who was it who actually said "the answer to bad speech is more speech"? It's all over the Web, but the only attribution I can find is an unconvincing one to Thomas Jefferson. Similar words are found in Justice Brandeis' concurring opinion in Whitney v. California:

Those who won our independence... recognized the risks to which all human institutions are subject. But they knew that order cannot be secured merely through fear of punishment for its infraction; that it is hazardous to discourage thought, hope and imagination; that fear breeds repression; that repression breeds hate; that hate menaces stable government; that the path of safety lies in the opportunity to discuss freely supposed grievances and proposed remedies; and that the fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones.

That case is worth reading, by the way. While the opinions did uphold the general principles of free speech and the importance of the right to criticize the government, the actual decision upheld a law against (basically) belonging to certain political movements. Some hard thought in there about just how, and just when, certain government restrictions can be justified by an immediate danger of illegal acts.

Much of the existing law about free speech is about the freedom to speak against the government. Things get (even) knottier when we think about the right to speak against our fellow citizens. But I remain unconvinced that supression is a better remedy than counterargument.

Some very interesting Web statistics are available at Security Space. Things like most-linked-to sites, most "web bugged" domains, and so on.

Geek toys that I really want to find the time to play with: FileMon and RegMon from SysInternals.

FTrain has mailing lists! One for updates, and one for discussion.

Wow, I've got a lot of lurvly reader input queued up! Here's how y'all react (links mine):

ion vessel

Since I typed "whistle far and wee," I am now sputtering with giggles at Hagbard Celine. The cat in my lap is annoyed.

Gilricht the calbornova, Justin! Load the treilongers! Man on man! Rapid movement! Climbing in sufficient numbers to be laudable!

Once there was a cheetah who was a cheater. "Did not." "Did." "Did not." "Did." As you can imagine, the verbal component of the engagement was inconclusive.


digital camera

This STILL isn't a search engine, huh? Think I'd learn after a dozen tries or so.



Please permit pumpkins.

to a complete allergy medicine

You should definitely incorporate an input box that automatically puts stuff onto your web log. I am currently using the one on geegaw to send coded messages to my contacts around the world.

I'd like to see that - if only because it's always sort of bugged me that "Tx!" is not a word.

From what I've heard about the book, you might want to get to The Amber Spyglas before the daughter does.


your URLS disappear when I click on them, I'd like to know if this there is a gravitational field that is very finely balanced, holding them in place until they are clicked on, and only popping back into existence once the offending cursor has been lifted?

I just never went through an anger phase with all this, so I seem to be behind on reacting.

Take a self-picture when bored and you'll have a photo of a chess bored!

STFW via NotW: Canadian authorities, working with New York City police, arrested Patrick Critton, 54, in September and said he is the man who skyjacked an Air Canada plane to Cuba in 1971 and has been on the run ever since. Critton's whereabouts (in Mount Vernon, N.Y., where he was working as a schoolteacher) were discovered when a law enforcement official had the bright idea to enter "Patrick Critton" into an Internet search engine. [Globe and Mail,9-10-01]

equally and oppositely

evilly and appositely


I have such great readers!

The little daughter read "The Amber Spyglass" before I did, but we both enjoyed it very much. Powerful stuff.

Monday, November 12, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

(This entry was written before whatever happened in Queens. What a thing to have to say. Please let's not have to say that anymore.)

I am lame. Or perhaps "halt"; is there a difference? Mike, the guy that the little boy and I take tennis lessons from on Sundays (boy, are we bad!) was away yesterday, so I reserved a court and all four of us went to knock some balls around by ourselves. I was running gracefully after a ball when something went "pop", or perhaps "sproing", in the back of my left calf, and I hobbled quickly, in considerable pain, to a chair. I watched the rest of the family for the rest of our hour, and hobbled home to put some heat on it.

It didn't bother me during the night at all, but this morning I'm still limping around. It doesn't hurt if I'm not using it or don't touch it, but a big swath of the muscle back there is sore to the touch, and protests if I try to use it. If I straighten my left knee, I can't bend my ankle to raise my left toes above the horizontal.

I'm assuming it's just the aftermath of a really bad charleyhorse, and I don't need to see a doctor or anything. Right?

Over half way! At the moment I'm not sure where the plot is going to come from. For the first bit I could just fake it completely. But the second half is going to be harder, because I want it to sort of connect up to the first half. You know?

I've set myself a goal under two-thousand today, just to celebrate the milestone...

End of day nine: 20,0057
End of day ten: 22,764
End of day eleven: 25,033
Today's goal: 27,000

Me, reflected. They've got fewer than ("fewer than") 2,700 pictures? Send yours in today!

I haven't mentioned Phil Agre or Red Rock Eaters lately, because I haven't been reading it much. He's been mostly posting long long lists of URLs sent in by readers, and more long long lists of URLs are the last things I need. But lately he seems to be getting back into his own words again. I recommend the recent Minor Annoyances and What They Teach Us, Design for a Web Filtering Service (and its followup), and anything else not called "pointers" or "attack".

New concept encountered while reading about the 2001 Ig Nobel Prizes: "Death Elasticity". How much longer will people live if you pay them to? Or something like that...

Sitting under the skin of the world, Hunter closes his eyes and breathes in the close stale air. The rat is a messenger of death, he thinks. The crying of a black cat is a harbinger of death. He moves his tongue against his teeth. What was the last thing he ate? When was the last time he saw the sun? Marc's hair, in the sun, was like gold, or like straw, or like Ona's hair. He imagines the feeling of that hair on his face.

Friday, November 9, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

When the man dances,
Certainly, boys,
What else?
The piper pays him!

I wish I could say that this entry is so late and so brief because I've had my head down writing the novel. But in fact it's almost entirely the opposite. The Demons of Procrastination arrived in force yesterday, and we had our first "At Least We're Still On Track" day, writing a grand total of 449 words (ouch!). Today looks to be a just-barely-Good day, with 2,050 words written so far (we're over twenty thousand!), and the bed looking very attractive. (And midnight approaching, for that matter; I wonder if I'll get this posted on actual Friday?)

Ten Days After Drowning

My imprisonment continues. There is no way to tell day from night. When last I awoke, there was a woman in the corridor. Her body was composed of flames, and her hands were the heads of cats. She spoke to me in the language of the Gods.

That's a favorite paragraph of today's bit of the Novel. Are your hands the heads of cats, too?


The "network of networks" known as Al-Qaida has successfully laid a trap for the United States. Al-Qaida retains the initiative and the U.S. is operating 'inside the intentions and plans' of Al-Qaida.

How credible? No idea.

Unpatriotic pinko-types: ACLU Opposes Use of Face Recognition Software in Airports:

Anyone who claims that facial recognition technology is an effective law enforcement tool is probably working for the one of the companies trying to sell it to the government.

There's just no pleasing some people! See also:

"In treating the judiciary as an inconvenient obstacle to executive action rather than an essential instrument of accountability, the recently passed USA Patriot Act builds on the dubious precedent Congress set five years ago when it enacted a trilogy of laws that, in various ways, deprive federal courts of their traditional authority to enforce the Constitution of the United States."

Those guys are just begging to be indefinitely detained because of suspected links to possible terrorist activities, I tell ya!

A blog by a former priest; looks intelligent and interesting.

The demons of procrastination are pretty interesting, really. I like working on my novel, I enjoy both the activity itself and the result (word count, word count, rah rah rah!). But I don't actually do it; instead I read junk mail, or play Zork: Grand Inquisitor, or clean off the table. Why is that?

Of course I also have real obligations. Here's a funny story from the Sixth Grade Canteen that I was chaperoning this evening. Lots of little boys kicking a basketball around in the gym. Once it gets kicked way high up, and hits the metal cage around a ceiling light. The light gets real dim.

"Oooooh!" the boys all say, and try to do it again. Eventually they hit it again, and it gets brighter again.

"Oooooh!" the boys all say, and try to do it again. They miss the light, but eventually they hit the ceiling so hard that an acoustic tile (weakened, it looks like, by water over the years) breaks off and falls down down down down crash onto the ground. Exeunt lots of little boys, at high speed.

As I'm picking up bits of the broken tile, and pushing other bits into a pile with my foot, various little knots of boys scuttle furtively by, looking up at the ceiling and down at the ground and whispering to each other. Criminals returning to the scene of the crime.

There's nothing like kids.

End of day eight: 18,007
Currently: 20,057
Today's goal: sleep


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