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Far too many:
Wednesday, February 4, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

Our Tax Dollars at Work: FCC to investigate Janet Jackson's flash:

In a statement, Powell said, "I am outraged at what I saw during the halftime show of the Super Bowl. And I mean, what was up with that star-shaped thing? Was that some kind of piercing, or what? Ewwww!"

The dangers of randomly generating subject lines are amply demonstrated by this one, from some penis-enlargement spam: "Subject: familiarly shorten". Ooch!

You are connected to -32214 people through 15 friends.

Orkut continues to be fun, although the server's sometimes down, and sometimes has problems with arithmetic. Orkut has also attracted some figures out of myth:

Eris Discordia added you as a friend. Is Eris your friend?

Indeed, Eris is my friend.

A mildly interesting case of trolling on Orkut; one "Jeremy Fuller" (almost certainly the owner of this livejournal), self-identified as a straight man of "very authoritarian" politics, started communities called "Wiccans", "Lesbians", and "Bisexuals", all with just mildly cockeyed descriptions, vis:

Wicca is the one true faith. Discuss relevant topics such as Magick, Obesity, Vampyres, Life Without Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and what hell is going to be like.

A safe and welcoming hate-free zone for women, young and old, to discuss lesbian-related issues and other thingies or whatever it is lesbians talk about. BISEXUALS STAY OUT!

This is a safe, welcoming community for bisexuals of all types to discuss bisexual issues and make friends. We are completely nonjudgmental (no furries though).

Note: Due to requests it is now acceptable to have sex with your boyfriend and your girlfriend at the same time

When people on "Lesbians" questioned why a straight man was starting a "Lesbians" group and forbidding bisexuals, he did a very deadpan reply, first saying that some straight men have always supported gay rights, then declaring that all straight men should leave the group at once, and that all bisexuals should go over to his "Bisexuals" group.

Last time I looked (the server is down again at the moment), the membership in "Lesbians" was down to three (all male), but the membership in "Bisexuals" was significant, and people were doing a bit of actual talking. Dear Jeremy had started a thread in "Bisexuals" on whether bisexuality is good or bad, and a thread in "Wiccans" asking for "some good spells". Neither one quite over the top, but both definitely in troll territory.

To some extent you have to admire the skill required for a subtle series of trolls like this, and the exploitation of the Orkut feature that gives any piece of the namespace to the first person that types it into the "create community" form. On the other hand, it does mean that Wiccans, lesbians, and bisexuals aren't being as well served by Orkut as they might otherwise be. And of course it means that Jeremy Fuller is probably a real jerk. *8)

(My Alpha Centauri community is now up to five members, none of whom I invited myself! Of course one of them is the guy who used a 'bot or something to join like five thousand different Orkut communities, and his account may have been frozen by now.)

From the "Anyone but Bush in 2004" group on Orkut, a depressing piece on voting machines from Common Dreams. Sigh! It's a relatively old article, and I may even have cited it before. Here's a more recent study; it found that the Diebold machines slated to be used in the Maryland primary are horribly insecure; Diebold officials interpreted this as praise. Sheesh.

Speaking of which, here are the counts for the relevant Orkut communities last time I looked:

AnyoneAsLongAsItsBushIn2004 (17 members)
BushIn2004 (29 members)
AnyoneButBushin2004 (747 members)

Unfortunately this probably doesn't represent the general voting public come November.

Monday, February 2, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

Justin Timberlake! Janet Jackson! Nudity taboo violation! Public apologies! Extensive media coverage!

I've continued to fiddle around on Orkut. Sort of fun, in a time-wasting way. I belong to (what?) 22 communities, most of which have no activity at all in their forums, and no events in their events. (I added a "Giant Fluorescent Tuna" event to the event board at "Discordians".)

Fun Fact #1: the "Princeton University" community has 48 members, but zero posts in the forum, and zero events in the event list. Everyone (like me) just liked the idea of having it in their community list. I was going to post something pointing out how funny it was that there were no posts, but you know...

Fun Fact #2: by far the most active community on my list is "Bloggers", with (ooh, big surprise!) 817 members. Virtually all the activity there is in the "Introduction" thread, where people post links to their weblogs.

Fun Fact #3: it's apparently possible to post anything you want to to any user's "scrapbook". I posted the first paragraph of some spam ("We are pleased to inform you of the result of the Winners Lottery International programs...") to Stewart's scrapbook, just to be annoying. (Maybe I'll get banned!)

I also started a community about Alpha Centauri (which I have very bravely not been playing all night lately), just because I thought it'd be fun to start a community.

A reader notes, apropos my offer to invite any interested friends into Orkut:

:-) - People are sellling them on eBay for $2 a pop!

Now that's funny! (Ben also notes that eBay seems to have quashed the brief "imaginary girl(boy)friend" market that was developing there. Why would they do that? Weirdos.)

From boing boing, we hear that "Lord Hutton's damning report of the BBC is a whitewash".

From Leuschke we discover a board game based on "The Name of the Rose" (we are Not Making This Up). Next week: a party game based on "The House of the Seven Gables".

And finally, from all over, "Bush, Blair nominated for Nobel Peace Prize". We like:

Nobel watchers say neither Mr Bush nor Mr Blair has much chance of winning.

Sunday, February 1, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

If anyone wants an invitation to Orkut, drop me a line (I feel funny giving a site someone's email address without their permission, or I would have already invited all of y'all who aren't already there). It looks sort of pointless unless you're looking for a date, and/or willing to put lots of time into business or social networking. And I suspect most of the Cool Kids have already been and gone. But if anyone's curious...

Subject: groggy hostess motto

Speaking of ideas futures markets, PBS (of all people) have started one up about the U.S. Presidential Election. Except that it doesn't use real money, and so sort of misses the point entirely. Ooops.

The National Cyber Alert System is "under fire"! (Interesting choice of metaphor.)

In my "things to log" file, there's a line that I wrote at some time in the past, and the line says "I didn't know my".

I wonder what that meant?

Yesterday when the little daughter was at ballet and M and the little boy were at his basketball game, I put on my down vest (with the cellular telephone in the pocket), and my scarf (one of my scarves), and my heavy jacket and my fleece-lined gloves and my hat, and went out for a walk.

The ice on the lake had four or five inches of snow on it. The surface of the snow was slightly crusty, with brittle designs carved into it by the wind. Under the crust it was light and powdery, and under the powder the ice was hard and black.

I stood there, somewhere out near the middle, watching cars drive by on the roads on the sides of the hills around the lake. A wind came up once, and I saw coming rapidly across the snow toward me this oddity, this shadow, this area of color.

For an interesting instant I was freaked; I had no idea what it was. Not a cloud-shadow, since there was no sun. A whale, about to surface under the ice? The ice surface collapsing downward into the dark water, about to drown me?

Then it got to me, and the windblown flakes of snow and flecks of ice (that was all it was) swirled around my ankles and flowed off across the lake, toward the outlet down at the south end.

And I walked back to the shore and home, because it was almost time to pick up the little daughter.

Saturday, January 31, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

So some wag has set up a weblog server within the IBM intranet again, and I spent more hours than it deserved messing about with it today, making my own weblog on the server, fiddling with the design, making it XHTML 1.1 valid, and so on. This one's based on Roller, a server-side weblogging tool I hadn't heard of before. The last time someone tried it they used Manila (or Frontier, or Radio Userland, or something; I've never been able to keep the various Dave Winer things straight).

I've yet to be convinced that weblogs are a killer app in the enterprise, at least in relatively straightlaced and security conscious companies. If you can't talk about the details of the product you're working on (because that's confidential, and not allowed to be discussed in the open even on the intranet) and you can't talk about your pets and your wild weekend in Vegas (because that's not business related), then all you're left with is vague business related stuff ("I just read this really good book about deploying financial solutions in the enterprise"), and that's really really boring.

But I'd love to be wrong. (Wikis, too, while we're at it.)

I think you'll like his ultimate remarkable and Mind-boggling photo series and videos!
P.S. Firm to believe but ticket is Gratis!
Very good rapid overall gift from Ramona or your friend and pal Tommy Nassery.
To finish from this nice nippy overall tips, send any email at Actually Free here prized Chess:

There's this empty building next to the lab. It used to be a Topp's Appliance City back when those existed; now it just sits there. I was out walking after lunch the other day, and I looked over at the building, and noticed that the driveway and the parking lot had been efficiently plowed, the snow piled high left and right.

Who plowed the parking lot? Who paid them to plow it? And why?

One layer down, I think this says something about how things look from the outside and the inside. From the outside, it seems very odd that someone would bother to plow the parking lot of a deserted building. A mystery! I suspect that from the inside, to the owner of the building, this isn't just a deserted building sitting empty and sort of romantically desolate in the snow; it's perhaps an active property, a problem, a thing e hopes to improve. And if some hot potential renter wants to have a look at the place, of course you want to have the parking lot plowed.

From Zannah, the very cool Tao of Programming. (See also The Coder's Tale.)

From Sean Colbath, Martian Air Force denies stories of UFO crash. Yet another government cover-up.

Favorite recent spam subject line: "elusive collectible kowalski almighty nothing". Movie title? eBay listing?

Two things from a recent NTK: the Disinfopedia (which is theoretically about, rather than full of, disinformation), and dodgeit dot com, yet another one of those "when you need a quick one-use email address" services. (Check out "bob" for instance; he gets lots of Motely Fool mail.)

Please explain:

I'm in a plane. I can't explain.
Ian M Banks
you go first
why there are no symmetrical faces

That's easy; it's "Iain M. Banks". You see?

On the other hand:

Well, it's kind of complicated. I'll start with the dog. He likes me, see. Really, really kies me. So he always follows. everywhere I go. And so that Sunday, when we went into the 7-11 and found Michelle standing in line for the checkout with Phil and a bunch of roses, as well as what seemed to be armfuls of packs of Doritos, he was there. And he hates roses. The smell, or what, I dunno. So he runs straight at her, lips pulled back over his teeth, horrible noises and all, and then she...listen, could we maybe get a coffee while I tell you this?


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