log (2003/09/19 to 2003/09/25)

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Thursday, September 25, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

So there's this book exchange rack at work now, in the elevator lobby, and it has a sign encouraging us to drop off our unwanted books there, and take any that we like. I've taken a few of books from it (a couple old issues of Analog, a copy of Ayn Rand's "Anthem" because M just finished "Atlas Shrugged" and I thought she might be interested in "Anthem" and I'm not sure if we have it, and something else I forget), so I thought I'd go up into the house's library and bring down half a dozen unwanted books from up there to contribute.

Now the library is full of stacks and stacks and shelves and shelves of books, some sorted and some not, some M's and some mine and some ours, and I was sure that I'd be able to find a handful really quickly that I'd be glad to part with.

Silly me.

Even books that have been on my "to be read" shelves for decades: when I look at them I think, "well, shucks, those have been on my 'to be read' shelves for decades." They're like old friends, somehow. Like, it's part of my self-image that someday I'm going to get around to reading these books.

I did find a couple eventually (one that I'd read and found really worthless, and one that somehow held no attraction at all). I'm also tempted to turn in this Tom Clancy Brand book ("Net Force: State of War") that I bought in like the grocery store the other week because I thought it might be a quick escapist read with funny ideas about network security; so far it's been incredibly slow-moving, and consists mostly of excruciatingly boring descriptions of the various guns owned by the various characters. But I'll probably give it one more try before I give it away.

A third anti-spammer brought down recently, to add to the two mentioned yesterday:

Effective immediately blackhole.compu.net will no longer be in service. We have this past week been the targets of 12,000+ bounced emails, Several hundred abuse complaints, and numerous threats against our selves, our servers, and our Internet connection.

And more on the "why certain electronic voting schemes are bad" issue from yesterday: Analysis of an Electronic Voting System. The thing that really puzzles me in all this is that the additions that would make these machines pretty much acceptable (auditable non-digital paper trails, for instance) seem like they would be so simple to add to the systems, yet the companies involved fight hard against it. I'm not paranoid enough (yet?) to suspect that they really do want the systems to be unauditable so they can commit fraud; but it's hard to think of plausible alternative explanations.

One of the more paranoia-inducing stories is one that you've probably already heard, but here it is again just in case. In August one Walden O'Dell said he was "committeed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the President next year". This would be a perfectly ordinary thing for a Republican campaigner to say; the hitch is (of course) that O'Dell is the CEO of Diebold, a major producer of electronic voting machines. I mean, sheesh!!

This morning the word "dexitropober" popped into my head, as it has now and then over the years, and this time it occurred to me to Google it. I didn't get any hits (although now it'll be in there soon), but I wasn't really sure about the order of the consonants, so I tried "dexitroboper", and that worked. Turns out to be a word from an old "Doc" Smith space opera; maybe I'll read those again after I finish "A Fire Upon The Deep".

Amazing what's bopping around at random in one's head...

Wednesday, September 24, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

I'd have to plug Bookslut just for the name, but in fact it's got good content too. If you like books.

Two different anti-spam activists have been forced out of business lately by DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks. The owner of Monkeys.com wrote soberingly:

I confess that I underestimated the enemy rather badly. I underestimated both the enemy's level of sophistication, and also the enemy's level of brute malevolence. I always knew that spammers had no principals and no ethics, but up until recently, I had no idea that they could or would stoop this low, or that they would engage in quite this level of criminality. I guess that, naively, I just never thought hard enough about how much money was actually at stake (in the spamming trade) or what that might mean in terms or the determination of spammers to win at all costs.

I don't know what else I can or should say at this point, other than that it is my fervent hope that people of good will and good intentions, people who believe in common values like civility, honesty, decency, and privacy, will someday be able to take back the net from the criminals who are clearly in the driver's seat at the moment. Sadly though, I have to say that I am not hopeful that this will occur anytime soon.

And sometime before that Osirusoft was also forced out of the biz:

Osirusoft, one of the largest anti-spam black-list, has been shut down by its operator following a barrage of massive Distributed Denial of Service (DoS) attacks that have crippled the service.

My sources suggest that the attacks in question are likely to have been carried out by bad guys hired by the spammers to take out these sites. Which is pretty horrifying, in a cyberpunk sort of way. Spammers are scum.

Speaking of which, you should read Salon's Bad Moon on the rise:

Overcoming his church's bizarre reputation and his own criminal record, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon has cemented ties with the Bush administration -- and gained government funding for his closest disciples.

And speaking of which again, I'm now listening to Bernard Lewis' "The Crisis of Islam" on the iPod (I'd link to the Audible page, but Audible uses overly dynamic urls that time out after thirty minutes). Having just recently listened to Bart Ehrman on early Christianity, and at the same time being in the middle of rereading "A Fire Upon The Deep" (which includes an account of a human civilization taken over by a Power from the Transcend), I'm now seeing virulent memes everywhere.

Even the media crackdown in Zimbabwe starts looking like a case of a runaway replicator; today totalitarianism feels less like something bad that a single person does than like a disease that infects a nation, and takes over lots of minds (why does anyone do what Mugabe says, after all?).

In our ideal libertarian state (we still need names for these) people would of course be free to follow whatever religion or otherwise become infected with whatever replicator they chose to; on the other hand contracts could require disclosure of, and even place restrictions on, such infections, and those contracts would be enforceable.

What about the democratic collectivist state? Shall we make it a rationalist place, with religion in general outlawed? Or would only intolerant religions be banned, or only religions that made truth-claims? Or would there be an official state religion, intended to promote solidarity and good feeling? (Planning is certainly more difficult than not planning.) Or we could leave it up to the individual, as long as their religion or other infection didn't lead them to go against the smooth functioning of the collective economy.

Tomorrow the little daughter has to bring to school some object that represents (or "symbolizes" or something) who she is. We're having a hard time coming up with a single object for her.

My current favorite for me is a nice round rock (smooth, with good heft in the hand). It would represent P'u, the uncarved block, from which all things spring (more or less), including me.

And I just think rocks are cool.

What object represents you?

Tuesday, September 23, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

Hey, hey, skip to my Lou!

What was I going to say, again? I forget. I did talk like a pirate on Friday, but not in the log here. You should read Salon's "An open invitation to election fraud" (if massive vote-faking is going to occur, we should at least know about it), and the amusing bit of (non-)espionage that it links to.

Typical for this industry, security was non-existant and I managed to join the conference (by dialing the number and using the passcode, provided to me by a sympathetic insider who didn't attend. ) I used my own name when I introduced myself to the rest of the conference, then I sat for an hour and took notes.

I remember I was on some huge conference call back in the anti-virus days, involving people from all sorts of law enforcement and national security agencies, and at the start of the call there was this incredible storm of beeping as new people called in, and of course no one actually had any idea who was actually there even though it was nominally sort of hush-hush, and we were sitting around with our phone on Mute and daring each other to break in and say "ello, zhis iz Dmitry".

Bug o' the Day: Rhodoferax ferrireducens: We get energy from eating sugar, so why shouldn't my iPod?

Funniest Thing Ever (from ntk): You get paid for that?

From gorjuss, what must be the first sneeze caught on film (by an assistant of Edison's). Ker-choo! Arrr!

I think it might be cool to have a wireless mouse for the iBook. (That url is really annoying; they could at least have one with "wirelessmouse" in it, rather than forcing me to point at a page that no doubt has whatever "vaguely keyboard or mouse or something related" feature they want to highlight this week. There ought to be blogability guidelines for websites.)

Found on Daze Reader, the Reason Magazine weblog. Mostly about politics and boring stuff like that, but interesting to those who are interested.

Many readers were willing to communicate something about chocolate:

late in autumn trolls explode.

It's in my hair! IT"S EVERYWHERE!!!

science fiction

something about mary

It's often not nearly as good as you expect it to be. Even when you sneak it into a movie.

I like chocolate

I like chocolate

Lindt 70%: yum!

short story

I could tell you something about chocolate alright, but you might not believe it. Come to think of it, even I don't believe it. Eww!

just about perfect





I was going to write a poem about chocolate for you, but nothing rhymes with it.

Lots of things rhyme with it! "Bit", "pit", "sit", "exquisite". (Ha ha ha ha ha!) Hafta try that Lindt 70% stuff; is it really better, or is it just a Price Effect?


Elixir of life; bonum sanguinem, joy, the fifth basic food group, true companion for good coffee and good dark beer

There are those who believe that chocolate cake is the pinacle of perfection. However, I am one for whom Coffee cake is that pinacle.




I have chocolate now but am saving it for later. AAAAGH, those gears are back! ESCAPE! ESCAPE!

There is no escape. I also like chocolate.

chocolate beyond measure

manila explodes within envelope

haiku will bring stephenson's wrath

the color of badtz-maru's flesh

The order may have gotten a bit jumbled here, so we may yet escape stephenson's wrath. Or something.

Not about chocolate. About the contest. They didn't bother to tell those of us in Almaden about it, pout, pout, so we missed out. Watson always gets all the cool stuff, grumble grumble... except we have better climate. And more earthquakes.

The way I heard it, y'all out in Almaden just recently had your own site Innovation Days, so they didn't want to pound on this one too much. Besides, at least one of the winners of the contest was from Out West there in the Land of Richter.

melting slowly within a partially opened mouth, dribbling gently across the slope of a whiskery chin and falling to rest on the soft sheet beneath his sleeping face - if the light had been different she would have sworn he was bleeding - she gathered the last smears from the corners of her mouth, still wet with the taste of the kiss.

Yum. I was once going to write a story called "I Am The Chocolate Bunny She Eats While She Masturbates", but it never really gelled. Maybe someday. Maybe pseudonymously. *8)

(P.S. Did I mention I had lunch with Vernor Vinge?)


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