log (2003/08/15 to 2003/08/21)

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Thoughts in a barn:
Thursday, August 21, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

First off, note that I'll be in one o' them Zones of Unpredictable Connectivity for the next week or so, so don't expect frequent updates for awhile.

I continue exchanging the occasional note with the Chief, and with a wealthy old gent dying of cancer somewhere in northern Africa who wants my contact information so he can funnel millions of dollars of charity to me through his security company (what's this obsession that 419ers have with "security companies"?). Nothing quite amusing enough to post here lately, though. Maybe once they'll all done I'll give them their own pages. Or maybe not.

One very amusing bit of 419 spam arrived that I haven't replied to (yet?). It's the usual thing, PRINCESS JOY MSWATI OF SWAZILAND is in terrible political trouble and needs my help to get millions of dollars to America (via the inevitable security company). But there's a little twist, as reflected in these lines selected from the mail headers:

From: "I am a scammer" <banohosegono@ecplaza.net>
Date: Thu, 21 Aug 2003 06:36:52 +0900 (KST)
MIME-Version: 1.0
Reply-To: fraud_alert@mail.com
X-Mailer: Terrace Webmail 2.0[Solaris/SUN]

So this showed up in my mailbox as being from "I am a scammer", with a "please reply to fraud_alert@mail.com" tag. Fascinating, eh? Some wag must have arranged this. Maybe just someone else at the Internet cafe who leaned over and made the mailer config changes when the Princess stepped away for coffee. A more interesting thought is that maybe someone sent a carefully-crafted note that exploited some hole (in Terrace Webmail?) to change the config when the Princess opened it.

Praising the Lord through sex. This seems like a good idea. *8)

The Japanese writing system is broken down into three separate, complete, and insane, parts: Hiragana ("those squiggily letters"), Katakana ("those boxy letters") and Kanji ("roughly 4 million embodiments of your worst nightmares").

(From ntk.)

Which contained enough content along with the wit that I got a momentary interest in once again fantasizing about learning Japanese, so I googled around a bit and spent some minutes at The Kanji SITE, which is actually about more than just Kanji.

And to end on a more serious note (not that it doesn't have its slapstick aspects), I actually gave some money to moveon dot org. They're generally a bit too simplistically lefty for my taste, but in this case...

I am writing to you from a hotel room in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I and 10 of my colleagues in the Texas Senate have been forced to reside for the past 20 days. If we return to our homes, families, friends, and constituents, the Governor of Texas will have us arrested.

I know, it sounds more like a banana republic than the dignified democracy on which we have long prided ourselves. We are effectively exiled from the state due to our unalterable opposition to a Republican effort -- pushed by Tom Delay and Karl Rove, and led by Texas Governor Rick Perry -- that would rewrite the map of Texas Congressional districts in order to elect at least 5 more Republicans to Congress.

Sleazebags. Not to say that the Democrats haven't been just as sleazebaggy in the past. But the Right really seems to be on a "see what we can get away with" roll right now, and that worries me. Moveon dot org is working on raising a million dollars to make an ad campaign on the subject; seems like a good idea to point out that we still draw the line somewhere.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

Finished The Fall of Hyperion. The ending was somewhat plausible and somewhat redemptive. I can always find something to complain about: in this case there were a few too many times when the characters Just Knew (or Just Did without knowing why) something that (a) they couldn't actually have known (or known to do), and that (b) they had to know (or do) for the plot to work.

I mean, when a powerful person makes a decision that will kill millions of people but save humanity as a whole in the long term, and that person makes the decision due to a dream that she had, you'd normally think she was a dangerous loon; since she's a main character, though, it turns out to have been a True Dream, and it's probably supposed to be saying something about Faith or Destiny or something. And various similar cases.

I'm also not sure I could actually reconstruct what's really supposed to have happened in a way that makes sense. But perhaps the third book of the series, Endymion, whose existence I've just discovered, will help. Or hinder.

SCO is going to argue that the GPL is invalid, because it's trumped by federal copyright? That is, it's going to argue that copyright holders can't grant licenses to others to make copies, prepare various derivative works, and so on, under certain conditions? Sounds utterly implausible, but see reports in the Wall Street Journal and The Inquirer. Maybe they allowed the idea to leak to see just how stupid people would think it was, and now they'll deny ever having considered it.

Another site like that "mailinator" I mentioned the other day: spam.la.

Use spam.la email addresses for throw-away site registrations. All email sent to any_address@spam.la is publicly readable right here.

I never did get anything I sent mailinator to show up on their site; spam.la, on the other hand, worked right away the first try. Neither site gives you the entire thing (headers and all), which strikes me as odd: they must be going to extra trouble not to.

Zombies! Don't worry, they're only simulated.

It's always nice, when reading someone whose writing you like, to stumble across nice words about your own writing (scroll down down down down). (Not that I have any objection to finding nice words from the referer log either.)

And from the latter-linked log (remember Lincoln Logs?) the very amusing Shocked, Upset and Insane. Some people! Sheesh, you know?

a dust mite?

So M got Songs for Dustmites, and she was being amused by the liner notes, and she showed one enigmatic page to me in particular, and I said "oh, yeah, that's by Paul Ford, I know him". Which was a nice Connected to the Conversation thing to be able to say, although in fact we've only like exchanged a couple of emails, and the closest I've gotten to actually meeting him is that my boss had lunch with him once. But I'll take Connected where I can get it. *8)

(And by the way Paul Ford has been updating ftrain frequently lately, so if you've gotten out of the habit you should now get back in.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

The Weblog looms, a monstrous form, over every second of the world. It clouds every brightness, and muffles every sound. It is relentless, unforgiving, inescapable. Its huge shaggy feet carry it everywhere, into the smallest corner and the emptiest plain; at the same time, they sit immovable on the Earth and their roots reach into the depths.

There is no hiding from the Weblog.

It hungers, and it must be fed.

Monday, August 18, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

So let's see.

I finished listening to A Short History of Nearly Everything on the iPod. It was pretty good; nothing much wild and new that I didn't already know, but good to Keep in Touch.

I finished The Well of Lost Plots (M ordered it from amazon.co.uk; it's not out this side of the pond for many months yet; very odd). 384 pages of category mistake; but I mean that in a good way. Can't be taken at all seriously (Deuses leaping from their machinas every couple of chapters to save the day, and not the kind of fantasy that makes its own sort of sense in a very consistent way), and nothing really happens in it in terms of advancing the plot of the series. But fun to read anyway.

I finished Hyperion, and am nearly done with The Fall of Hyperion. It's fascinating but very heavy stuff; lots of pain and death and betrayal and the destruction of worlds (pretty much the exact opposite of the previously mentioned book, in fact). I'm hoping for a convincing and redemptive ending, and trying hard not to flip ahead.

I'm listening to A Voice in the Night: NPR's Tribute to Jean Shepherd, which I got on CD a million years ago and only recently ripped and put onto the iPod. I have nothing to say in tribute to Shepherd that a zillion more articulate people haven't already said; I was one of those hordes of kids curled up with a tiny transistor radio when I was supposed to be asleep, listening enthralled to his stories.

One thing I didn't know was that Shepherd invented the flash mob long before cellphones and email; someone on A Voice in the Night described a "mill-in" that he created one night, by suggesting that his listeners go to a particular place in New York and just "mill around". The same person described how Shepherd would tell his listeners to put their radios on the windowsill, facing out, and turn the volume all the way up. Then he'd yell some imprecation or other over the airwaves, and it'd bounce all over the city from a zillion windowsills.

I read The Da Vinci Code, which was fun Holy Grail Legend stuff. M wanted to know if all that stuff was true, so I got to introduce her to one of the Net's richer strains of conspiracy-theory fodder. (Ref "priory of sion", "The Woman with the Alabaster Jar", etc, and note the very suspicious fact that the Catholic Encyclopedia's entry on "The Holy Gail" doesn't mention Mary Magdalen at all.)

A reader asks:

So, have you played much with the google calculator yet?

Good heavens!

Another reader points as at this contest, which one of our favorite naughty story authors is judging (and another of our favorite naughty story authors really ought to enter, if he could be persuaded to get off his duff, yeah you know who you are).

Explains alot:

...from 1949-1969, a substantial majority of stories in the two most influential newspapers in the country came from the Official White House Spokesmen. One-third of all reports were printed without any follow up sources.

Stewart points us at some great sketches, envy, envy, envy.

Y'all already heard about this "Fair and Balanced" thing, din'cha?

From both Medley and Kip, a great piece about whether God really hates homosexuals:

However, if you are determined to hold homosexuals to a higher standard, demanding detailed explanations of why they do not obey minor parts of the bible while all of Christendom tramples on the very heart of scripture, move on to part two

Last year I told y'all about how in my vanished youth I used to go square dancing every few weeks with a certain bunch of people, to a certain caller, and how that caller had had this great handsome house big enough for three or four squares, and I wondered if he still had it? Well over the weekend we went across the river and square danced with roughly those same people, to exactly that caller, in that same house.

A house where some of my fondest childhood memories were formed, and a house I hadn't seen in thirty years. It was just the same, and completely different. Same woods, same rooms, same chairs and benches, same stairs down to the bedrooms downstairs, same livingroom big enough for two squares, and a posible third over in the alcove. But not as enormous as when I was little, not as mysterious, not as filled with that amazing unconscious kid-sense of being cupped in the warm palm of the universe, with everything being taken care of for you by other people, and nothing to do but dance and sing and run around shouting.

It was great fun, and (but) I was all melancholy all night after we got home.

What a world.


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