log (2001/11/30 to 2001/12/06)
Thursday, December 6, 2001
The word "security" is a broad, vague generality whose contours should not be invoked to abrogate the fundamental law embodied in the First Amendment. The guarding of military and diplomatic secrets at the expense of informed representative government provides no real security for our Republic. The Framers of the First Amendment, fully aware of both the need to defend a new nation and the abuses of the English and Colonial governments, sought to give this new society strength and security by providing that freedom of speech, press, religion, and assembly should not be abridged.
New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713 (1971).
You are a surreal landscape composed of several disjointed and bizarre components. You like to keep an eye on the time, although the very concept is fluid for you. People are never sure what they are seeing when they look at you.
The Art Test says that I'm one of my very favorite paintings. Cool!
The "Which X are you?" test is definitely the Meme o' the Month. The maturity of the field is demonstrated by the "Which Online Personality Test Are You?" test, which said that I'm (um) well I forget what it said, but the point is that it's deliciously meta, and meta is good.
A reader writes in email:
You can win Alpha Centauri as the Spartans fairly easily if you start finding and attacking the other factions FAST. The longer you take, the less likely it is that you will be able to do it, because eventually there will be a technology gap you can't span; better to try it when everyone has nothing but sticks and stones to throw.
So having switched to the Spartans from a saved game that was already well on the way to a Gaian or University victory, with tech pretty high, I'm probably unlikely to actually win. Being unable to bring myself to attack factions that don't attack me first is also a problem.
However, last night I got my gravships, so I'm happy, even if I don't strictly-speaking win. Vroom vroom vroom!
When last I awoke there was a chair beside my bed. Beside the chair was a table. On the table was a loaf of savory bread in the shape of a man.
A reader writes in the input box:
I was all looking forward to reading The Novel finally (I had put off looking at it until you were done), and now your site is hosed. :( Will you be making it available somewhere to read for those of us who are eager to devour it?
I do have at least one other personal bit of Web space to put things like novels into, embarassing as the URLs for it may be. So anyway, here is the novel, zipped up and in a temporary home until davidchess.com returns. (Hm, I seem to have ZIPped it into a three level deep directory structure; sorry about that.)
Anyone who wants for some reason to read this: please do lower your expectations considerably first! *8)
[my own novel has been put on indefinite hold due to other projects jumping ahead of it in line (such as finding a job), but it'll be out some decade or other. As long as I don't die first...]
Everyone's different. I'm pretty sure I never would have finished the thing (before dying) unless I'd imposed on myself that one-month deadline. Now that I've done it once, will I be able to do it again, without the time pressure (and lack of quality-pressure)? Do I even want to? I'm not sure, but it was definitely fun, and I've learned stuff about myself as a writer, and about the writing process.
Make the world a happier place! Go to one of the heirs of amihotornot, and give everybody a 10.
From dumbmonkey, some notable commentary on them pesky tribunals:
While Bush was making his "we have to bomb this village in order to save it" speech, his White House counsel, Alberto R. Gonzalez, equated the new tribunals with the long-standing system of military courts-martial.
Sentence o' the Day: "The processing of national security information involves the production of rapidly rising and falling signals." (From cryptome's fascinating collection of declassified "tempest" material.)
When bad things happen to clued people: On Being the Target of an Email Worm, by one of the innocent people whose address is hardcoded into the BadTrans worm. Ouch!
Still no word from either Network Solutions (on my fax about getting control of my domains) or Audible.com (on my email about not being able to use the ebook I "bought"). Hear my fingers twiddling!
"They say only: The Doors of Durin, Lord of Moria. Speak, friend, and enter."
So I skipped Aerobic Things this morning so as to be able to come in early and worry about this new virus. Looks like it's not a big deal, at least not at the moment. Widespread in places, but already withering. The Big Secret to avoiding infection? Get ready:
Don't Open Unexpected Email Attachments
Gee, it's not like every security person on the planet's been chanting exactly that for a couple of years now or anything...
Fame! This word of mouth stuff really works; thanks to all the folks who've been spreading the news about my exile from davidchess.com. This humble page right here was number sixteen on the blogdex chart, and number thirty-eight on the daypop top forty at some point yesterday (right there among all the latest news on gyroscopically stabilized scooters).
Also on the blogdex, and speaking of viruses and computer security, The Great MS Patch Nobody Uses:
A free, downloadable update that transforms Microsoft's Outlook into a significantly more secure e-mail application has languished virtually ignored on Microsoft's website for more than a year.
Told ya so! Not that I can prove it, the relevant issues of my log being (sob) offline.
Censorship: Mouth Organ had a much more thoughtful article than mine about the Times piece that I briefly noted the other day.
In other words, Freedman is saying that any national standard we are forced to devise would ultimately be more liberal than any community standard we are likely to adopt.
A Mouth Organ reader pointed to a Reason piece on the same subject; it's well reasoned, if not startling.
The attempt to make the Web child-safe is not only unfair to adults and to minors whose parents are less strict than the jurors hearing COPA cases. It is also doomed to fail.
Torvalds speaks, in a posting included in an article on kerneltrap.org:
> The question is whether Linux can still be designed at
A lot of development managers probably hate hearing stuff like that. True, though.
We really do need to make up a master page of "pages that want to forbid you from linking to them".
As someone on MeFi pointed out, there are technical ways to keep people from linking to you, if you really want to. People who use referer blocking sometimes complain that various pages don't work; this is presumably because the server has been taught to kick out (redirect to the home page, say) anyone who comes into the site somewhere in the middle without a referer tag suggesting that they came from somewhere else on the site. You can also do what audible.com does, and have all non-homepage URLs include a magic cookie that "times out" after awhile (that's why I couldn't link you directly to the Rio 600 Audible deal the other day).
This doesn't address the question of why you'd want to keep people from pointing to the inside of your site. Seems dumb to me; if you want word-of-mouth marketing to work, isn't it a good idea to let people share particular good stuff they've found on your site, rather than forcing them to say "go to whatever.com and hunt around for the special offer on frotzes" (or to say nothing about you at all)?
Two from MarkPasc:
An excited posting about a new sleep-avoidance drug that we were talking about at lunch the other day:
Provigil / (Modafinil)  is a "highly selective CNS drug" that is *on the market today* (approved for treatment of narcolepsy, but being used more broadly) which creates a state of "gentle wakefulness and alertness" in its user --- potentially for days on end, eliminating the desire to sleep entirely.
And a slashdot posting where someone from Sealand talks about Sealand:
if I were going to be living in isolation with a small number of people, I don't know if people who are dedicated to bringing down governments and complete individual liberty are the best companions.
On the other hand, they have lots of cool geek toys.
What else was I going to say? Oh, goes anyone know how to change the email address that Yahoo Groups sends subscription email to? Or are they actually using email address as the master account key, so the only way to change it is to sign up with them again, and resubscribe to everything? (davidchess.com will probably be working again by the time I get around to doing that...)
Keep those cards and letters coming!
With help and advice from Ian, I have begun the process of reclaiming control of my domains from the abducted onepine.com. I have just sent a FAX off to Network Solutions, with a copy of my driver's license for authorization, to change my thingie from MAIL-FROM to CRYPT-PW, so it will stop mattering that I can no longer receive mail at davidchess.com.
Of course first I fax'd them a blank page with their fax number scrawled at the bottom. I don't get along real well with fax machines.
From Pursed Lips, a New York Times article about the possible end of the "community standards" measure of non-protected obscenity, as derived from Miller v. California:
Before the Miller case in 1973, Freedman explained, courts told juries that they must evaluate alleged obscenity according to national norms. Experts testified about what the national norms were. The result skewed toward a fairly liberal standard, he said, adding, that when the Miller case came down, with its emphasis on 'local' standards, that was a victory for more toned-down expression. "It was attacked on the grounds that it would lower speech to the level of the most repressive community," he said.
(As usual, if the Times asks you for a username and password, giving "fubar" for both seems to work.)
I'm not sure that pretending there's a "national norm" for obscenity will really turn out any better than looking to "community standards" has, but if the ACLU and friends think it's good it's probably at least worth a try. How long until we can get to "the government has no business applying any 'standard' to my choice of what I read or watch"? I mean, how hard is that?
So as I hinted yesterday, I got an early Christmas present: an audible.com deal that includes a ("factory refurbished") Rio 600 and a one-year subscription to their "BasicListener" service, which gives you your choice of one audiobook and one month's worth of a periodical each month.
It's pretty cool. The Rio 600 is a really sweet little device; tiny, nice-looking, very light, nearly no moving parts, takes a single AA battery and claims to run for eleven (well, "<11") hours on it. When doing Aerobic Things at the Club (my leg is almost entirely better, but I'm still not doing Lifting Heavy Things again for awhile) I've been listening to the audio version of Science News. It's a little slow (I can listen faster than this guy talks), and my mind sometimes wanders and I miss a paragraph or two, but it's better than twisting my head around and straining my eyes trying to read the print version while pretending to cross-country ski.
On the other hand my first attempt to get an audiobook was a failure. I "bought" a book of poems, but after I'd bought it I got a popup warning that the only format it's available in won't work on the Rio 600. I downloaded it anyway, hoping the popup was wrong, but apparently it was right; the downloading thing refused to download it to the Rio. I tried to play it on the computer, got a popup saying "The Media Player plugin is not installed, would you like to install it?", and when I pressed "Yes" got another popup saying "The plugin could not be found". I wrote audible.com Customer Service asking to "return" the book so I could get something I could use, but I haven't heard back yet.
Computers are stupid.
I triumphed as the University Guy in Alpha Centauri, at the third difficulty level. It was mildly harder than the first two levels, only because the other factions kept attacking me ineptly and for no particular reason. But eventually I got humanity to the next level of evolution and became a demigod and all, so it was okay in the end. *8)
Now I've gone back several decades to one of the save files from that run and used the scenario menu to switch to playing the Spartans (who were never a major force in the game as it originally played), on the theory that it might be an interesting challenge to salvage a faction that'd been ineptly played by the game AI for a few hundred years. It's kind fun, but I'm not sure that the game will last long enough for me to discover the technology to make gravships, and I really want to play with a gravship.
Yet another Personal Web Publishing system: Moveable Type. (I still don't really understand what's wrong with FTP; but I'm just dense.)
Thanks to all for the kind words in the input area. I'd encourage everyone to anonymously post whatever silly thing springs to mind, just like y'all used to do in the input box.
I realize that apparently-small differences in the interface can make a big difference in what content actually gets created. I've messed around a bit here on the laptop to make posting to this incarnation of the Log feel as much as possible like posting to the old one did, so I don't lose anything that I'm fond of about my style.
I remember when I was a little kid learning to type, I would sit at an old table down in the basement and type on this ancient Smith-Corona typewriter with an "Elite" font (eight letters per inch rather than six, or something like that). I'd type all sortsa random stuff, snippets of short stories, poetry, shapes made with a zillion "m"s or whatever. When I moved to a bigger electric typewriter (which I never got to like at all), and later to a computer keyboard, the feeling was completely different, even though it was in some objective sense pretty much the same. But I never felt like I was touching exactly the same parts of my inner landscape that I touched sitting there in the basement typing.
Hey look, it's Sylloge!
Well, isn't this exciting? Although their main page still seems to exist, our dear (former?) webhosts at onepine.com seem to have vanished utterly. As Ian notes, the entire subnet (containing some thousands of domains including davidchess.com, theogeny.com, stevewhite.org, and other popular favorites) is no longer on the Net. I tried calling them on the telephone even, only to get a recorded message that the number has been "temporarily disconnected" (all them puzzled people wondering where their domains went, no doubt!).
So here we are over here instead. Pitas is a nice simple place to set up a quick weblog (infinite thanks to the mysterious Andrew for setting it up), and QuickTopic (neé TakeItOffLine) is a nice simple place to set up an input box cum discussion area like this one; feel free to use it to send in reader input that you'd normally have typed into the input box. It's not quite as simple, but that's life.
All the former content of davidchess.com and theogeny.com and chessfamily.org is safely mastered on the laptop here, and backed up in various other places, so there's no danger to the information itself. Access to it, on the other hand, is likely to be spotty for some time, as I'm awfully lazy, and fixing things (unless the aliens decide to repatriate onepine.com with its memory intact) is likely to take effort.
If anybody'd like to mention in their own weblog or whatever that the davidchess log is for the time being sitting at ceoln.pitas.com, that'd be cool. No points off if you don't, though; I understand that some of you don't have weblogs or whatever, or that they're devoted entire to Elvis sightings or reviews of snuff films or essays about the nature of the universe, rather than notifications of weblog movements.
So we got our Christmas tree over the weekend; that was fun. Abel's is running out of really big trees, but we found a medium-sized one down next to the lake (the "pond") which was a really lovely color and shape, and is now sitting all decorated and be-lighted in the living room.
The little boy woke up with a cold on Sunday (I think it was), which was actually nice because originally the weekend was incredibly busy, and the cold meant that his swimming and tennis classes could be crossed off the schedule. He also stayed home with M while the little daughter and I went to get the tree, which was cozy for them and meant some nice bonding time for us.
On Friday, while the kids were at school, M and I went up to Cold Spring to do a little Christmas shopping, and of course stopped at Salmagundi Books even though the last thing in the world we need is more books.
Salmagundi is great; not only do they have wonderful new books (not nearly as many books as, say, a B & N, but a vastly greater density of good ones), but the collection of used paperbacks at a dollar a pop is also luscious.
I know you're always fascinated by lists of books I've bought, so here we go (apologies for the lack of links; all this weblog-moving has used up my energy).
Andre Norton, "Wheel of Stars": I'm currently reading this during breaks from Kafka's "The Castle". I loved Andre Norton as a kid. The writing in this one seems very stilted and clumsy. Is this one just more sloppily written, or have my standards just changed?
Simenon, "Maigret's Failure": some crime novel or something. *8)
Erle Stanley Graner "The Case of the Sun Bather's Diary": Perry Mason Rules OK!
Bill Leslie "The Violator": a wonderful find. The cover has an attractively bare arm, leg, shoulder, and bit of profile, and subtle but effective copy ("50¢ Adults Only / First American Printing / Exclusive! This Cover Folds Out!"), and it does indeed fold out, to reveal the rest of the attractively bare person, carefully posed to avoid the censors of 1962. I'm not sure what the words inside are about, but I imagine they're in the same vein. I love antique porn.
Zane Grey "Ken Ward in the Jungle": apparently written in 1912, but this more modern edition contains no hint of that fact. Zane Grey (like most of the rest of this stuff) is great escapist reading.
Lawrence Block "The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling": I've read one other novel in this series and didn't really like it all that much, but hey for a dollar you can't go far wrong! (This is a falsehood that has, I'm sure, led to me wasting countless hours over the years.)
Richard Rorty "Essays on Heidegger and Others": this wasn't in the used paperback section. Richard Rorty was in the Princeton Philosophy Department when I was an undergraduate there, and I even sat in his office and talked to him for a piece of an hour once. I remember him as a friendly, softspoken, ruddy guy. I don't remember that we discussed any deep philosophical stuff.
The question is: can I still read essays on Heidegger and Derrida, after being exposed to both parenthood, and the Web?
Lots of other stuff to talk about, my new Rio 600, which came with an audible.com subscription as an early Christmas present, lotsa reader input, the excitement that is the Segway, my recent Alpha Centauri triumphs, and so on. But right now I'm too excited about these new digs, humble as they are, and I must run about telling everyone where I am... *8)