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Thursday, October 3, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

So I just like people too much. (Not people en masse; them I find it pretty easy to despise, especially powerful ones. But real-live individual people that I'm talking to. I nearly always find them interesting and/or likeable.)

On our lament about pediatric orthodontia the other day, a reader writes:

"I want this guy (note that I was restrained and didn't say 'this goddamned slime-bucket') to tell me what percentage of the kids that he does an 'initial evaluation' on turn out to 'need' braces... " So, ask him. It's a perfectly legitimate question. If he doesn't want to answer, go to someone else.

I figured I would in fact ask him, but I also thought that if he really was a slime-bucket he might just lie. I called his office and asked them to have him call me back, and they said that he would, that evening or the next morning. That was a few days ago, and I'd pretty much given up, but today sometime at random he called me at work.

Oh, he says, it's definitely mostly cosmetic. If we didn't do anything, she might be a little extra prone to cavities where the teeth don't come quite perfectly together, and perhaps have a small extra risk of jaw-muscle aches, but really as long as she keeps going to the dentist every six months it's unlikely there'd be any problems at all.

"When we were kids," he said, "she probably wouldn't even have seen an orthodontist, and if she did nothing would have been done." He seemed entirely comfortable with the concept. "Nowadays," he said, "everyone wants to have perfect teeth."

And I could hardly say "And don't you feel a crushing guilt about that?", or "And it's all your fault, you greedy slimebag!". Because of course it isn't his fault; even if it's the fault of the institution of pediatric orthodontia as a whole, it's still not his fault.

How would I feel if someone saw my IBM badge on the street, and started ranting to me about how lousy software is? They'd be entirely right, and I'm certainly part of the institution (broadly construed) that is to blame for it (broadly construed). But it's not my fault!

What percentage of the kids he sees end up getting work done? "Oh, the majority," he said, "I couldn't tell you exactly, but definitely most of them. Around here, it's just something you do: you save up for college, you save up for orthodontia."

And he wasn't ashamed, or apologetic, or sad, or anything. That's just the way it is. Pays the bills. He chose the right profession! Giving people what they want; what's wrong with that? (He didn't say any of that; he didn't need to.)

Of course I would have preferred it if he'd been an upstanding and inspirational guy, who'd told the little daughter that she was beautiful and didn't need anything done to her teeth at all. But can I really blame him for not being? And if he had been, would she end up hating me years from now, when the influences of the rest of society (one hypothetical enlightened orthodontist does not a culture make, after all) led her to finally decide that she wanted her teeth moved around, and she was the only person with braces in her entire sophomore college class?

Life is so complicated.

Hey, is this thing still working? Cool.


Wednesday, October 2, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

On yesterday's epigram, an old friend writes:

The Bicycle Pedaling Frog is pleased to see his friends in CEOLN.

From Salon, today's Scary Statist Site o' the Day: AVOT, from our dear friend Bill Bennett. They're against terrorism; they aren't for instance against non-Christians or anything like that (that was right out, we deny it completely). So there must be a serious typo in the last item of their Statement of Principles:

10. Finally, we must understand our enemies better. AVOT will encourage scholarly research into various aspects of Islamic theology, history, and culture. AVOT will hold such scholarship to a serious and rigorous standard.

Billy must have meant to write "scholarly research into various aspects of terrorist theology, history, and culture." Wouldn't want to leave out Tim McVeigh, after all, or describe the entire Islamic world as "our enemies". Would we, now?

(I note in passing that avot.org seems to be running Manilla, which suggests certain possibilities. Unfortunately, certain features of the software seem to be disabled. It would probably be anti-social to explore this in any more detail.)

Here are the top phrases searched:
  - 5 for "mikes apartment ftp"
  - 2 for "clitoris"
  - 2 for "dark materials"
  - 2 for "mikes ftp"
  - 1 for "bush"
  - 1 for "chess photographs"
  - 1 for "egypt"
  - 1 for "gaul bladder"
  - 1 for "hack webcam yahoo"

Microsoft/Intel Outline Future of Computing: Can't Do Shit:

Redmond, WA - At a technology conference for developers, representatives from Microsoft and Intel outlined the Can't Do Shit (CDS) Road Map for future cooperative products between the two companies. They predict that in 6 years it will be impossible to violate a copyright with a computer, or to do anything at all for that matter.

And finally from Ian, we have a different take on 'regime change' (here's a perhaps more permanent link):

Khatami asked the U.N. to set a deadline for Bush to step down in favor of president-in-exile Al Gore, the legitimate winner of the 2000 election, the results of which were subverted through widespread voting irregularities and intimidation. "We favor not regime change, but rather restoration and liberation," he said. In addition, Khatami said, the U.S. must dismantle its weapons of mass destruction, guarantee basic human rights to all citizens and agree to abide by international law or "face the consequences."

That's all we have tonight, because we spent most of the evening at Back To School Night at the middle school, and are otherwise too busy to think.

Teachers are weird.

Tuesday, October 1, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

Who let the frogs out?

Ribbit, ribbit!
Ribbit, ribbit!

I don't see how people can have a problem with the U.S. going to war with Iraq, not after 9/11. I mean, most of the terrorists on the planes were from Iraq, and the mastermind of the plot comes from a family that's real close to the Iraqi government, and that government has been sending money to radical violent anti-Western organizations for years. There's even this videotape of the mastermind gloating over the plot, and there's an Iraqi prince right there in the room, obviously in on the whole thing!

Well, okay, so it's not actually exactly Iraq. But it's one o' them countries over there. Somewhere near Iraq, anyway.

From: chess@theogeny.com
To: complaints@qves.com

Awhile ago, I got some sort of spam from your site, and I went to the "unsubscribe" page and requested to be unsubscribed. Just to make sure that you weren't harvesting the "unsubscribe" data for more people to spam, I also attemtped to unsubscribe two fictitious addresses on a domain that I control: "QvescomUnsub@Theogeny.com" and "QvesUnsub@Theogeny.com".

Imagine my surprise when, just now, I received two pieces of spam addressed to those two addresses! I'm sure that you wouldn't DREAM of selling the addresses that people type into your "unsubscribe" page to spammers for further spamming, as that would be unethical and most likely illegal behavior that might open you up to bad publicity and massive class-action lawsuits. So I assume this was a mistake, and that now that I have brought it to your attention you will immediately

Remove "chess@theogeny.com", "QvescomUnsub", "QvesUnsub", and *every other username* at theogeny.com (a domain over which I have complete control and authority to make this request) from *every list* that you control, and take steps to ensure that *no address* at theogeny.com *ever* receives another piece of bulk advertising email that's in any way associated with qves.com, or its heirs or assigns.

Thank you very much. In case it's helpful, the most recent two bits of spam were addressed from

  "WeSellCellular" <nika@s3.serveimage.com>


  "WeSellCellular" <damaris@mx-03.intimail.com>

and the corresponding "unsubscribe" links were




While you're at it, please ensure that "chess@us.ibm.com" and "chess@watson.ibm.com" are also permanently removed from all your advertising lists.

Thank you,
David M. Chess
Owner and Webmaster

No reply yet! *8) I know it probably won't do any good, but it makes me feel better. I'm actually surprised that this is the first time I've caught a spammer using an address that had only ever been given to an "unsubscribe" page. Of course, I don't check the "to:" addresses on spam very often.

I am now even more dangerous than before, having finally learned a few basic keystrokes of vi (the famous Unix editor). For years I've been spending long minutes ftping files from Unix machines to OS/2 or Windows machines that had editors I was familiar with, and then ftping them back, just to avoid the effort of learning vi. For some reason I decided to expend that effort, all four and a half minutes of it, today. More skillz!

I think it's gonna take my fingers quite awhile to get used to vi, though.

"Hey look, Pherd, when I type my name into vi in command mode, it causes the first ten characters of the even-numbered lines of the file to be replaced by the corresponding characters from the Star Spangled Banner, uuencoded!"

Some people are very, very silly.

Spam Subject Line o' The Day: "Null, You don't know me I realize".

From Ian, a very cool optical illusion. I definitely didn't believe it at first, but Ian brought it up in Photoshop or somat and proved it. If I weren't so lazy, I'd do one with red and green squares!

Not all readers entirely believed that it was not a search box; others riffed nicely on the concept, and one even found that it was:

Webcam Hack
Iris Chacon
ceci n'est pas un query
not a search request
Nadia Bebber
Where can I find a blue page with the 'word' "Tx!" on it?
(by enclosing this statement in parenthesis I mark it poetic)
Snippy. Defensive. Sauron. Anything.
where am I?
not a search query
If it's not a search box, will I still find what I seek?
but an equal! --Oops. Wrong movie.
Not a search term
yahoo webcam applet hack
It's ok, I'm not searching (at this microsecond).
britney spears
that's ok - I'm not looking for anything
so I won't type "Iris Chacon" here
Don't show me "Laura Bush naked", then.

And one unfortunate reader falls through altogether:

no? how can that be? you are not joking, are you? It's impossible for this to be not a search box... unraveling fabric of the space-time continuum... search... no..............

We hope he finds his way out again before dark.

Monday, September 30, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

So I've taken to looking at the non-infected files that often accompany the infected files in the emails that the Klez virus sends my way, one every few hours. There seem to be a lot of readme files: from the operating system itself, from random utilities I've never heard of, and a surprising number from anti-virus programs. I don't know that anyone has ever analyzed Klez in enough detail to know exactly how it picks the files that it sends out; why bother, after all?

I'm hoping, I suppose, in a nasty and shameful way, to be sent something terribly secret and revealing (I was vastly amused when, the other day, some random even dumber than usual scammer sent as an attachment to his scam the whole list of five thousand or whatever email addresses that he was spamming). Or maybe I just enjoy these glimpses of (apparently) utterly random files (I once asked for, for my birthday, five books chosen more or less at random from store shelves by the giver; it turned out to be a very nice present).

Sometimes the attachments are pictures, and of course some of the pictures are porn. Always (and again I don't know if anyone knows why) very small porn, little thumbnail images of flesh-colored shapes in roughly curved configurations, borderline suggestive, sometimes obviously copulatory, coital, but often not.

One of my favorite images is this one:

an enigmatic picture

I have no idea what it is (which is why it's one of my favorites). I think I've been sent it twice now. I can just barely not make out the words at the bottom.

(Apologies if it's pornographic and I'm just not seeing it!)

If it is porn, well, strike a blow for peace (so to speak).


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