log (2004/06/18 to 2004/06/24)

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Thursday, June 23, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

A reader writes:

If she just graduated (presumably from middle school), she ain't the "little" daughter anymore, David my man.

From middle school indeed; the ceremony was just last night in fact (and if I wasn't such a modest guy I'd mention that among her armload of awards was one for having the highest GPA in the entire freaking eighth grade, woo woo!). And she's slightly taller than her mother now (a fact of which she is very proud).

But she'll always be the little daughter.

I've been posting various bits of breathless Google admiration lately, so I feel obliged to log this also. Google's Gag Order:

On June 15, the Google Adwords team informed me that it had discontinued all advertisements placed by Perrspectives.com due to "unacceptable content" on the site that includes "language that advocates against an individual, group or organization." As we'll see below, this may or may not be blatant bias against liberal viewpoints. There can be no doubt, though, that the current Google editorial guidelines, evenly applied, would bar almost any newspaper, magazine, opinion journal, political party, advocacy campaign or even religious organization from advertising on its site.

That's somewhat worrying; I'd prefer that Google didn't have stupid or otherwise suboptimal advertising policies.

On the other hand I do have to note that when the author goes on to say

And that puts Google dangerously at odds with core American rights of free speech and assembly.

he's wandered off into silliness. Those rights are rights against the government, not against private actors. This general idea that once something becomes big and successful (like Google is), We The People get to apply the same standards to it that we apply to government actors, is silliness.

We need special rights against the government because being under the jurisdiction of the government isn't voluntary. As cool and popular as Google is, anyone can choose not to use it at any time. If they have a dumb ad policy, that'd just be a bad business decision, not a violation of anyone's rights (as long as they didn't lie about it, it wasn't a breach of contract, etc).

(End of civics rant.)

From Skimble:

The House bill includes measures tailored to help restaurant owners, makers of private jets, bank directors, timberland owners, liquor distillers, Native American whalers, commodity traders and shipping conglomerates, to name a few. One last-minute provision, pushed in part by Home Depot, temporarily lifts customs duties on Chinese-made ceiling fans.

"Christmas has come on the 17th of June," said Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.).

Everyone's a special interest.

How important am I today? (Speaking of middle school...)

Subject: because she wanted it insatiable ale

And speaking of spam, some spammer out there (or perhaps some spam address list shared by multiple spammes) thinks that my name is "Maddie Lathe". I get spam subject lines starting with "Maddie,", or referring to "Lathe household". At the moment the obvious search doesn't find any "Maddie Lathe", but it's a cool name. Maybe next time I join a MUD or something I'll use it as a handle.

Bush told he is playing into Bin Laden's hands:

Anonymous, who published an analysis of al-Qaida last year called Through Our Enemies' Eyes, thinks it quite possible that another devastating strike against the US could come during the election campaign, not with the intention of changing the administration, as was the case in the Madrid bombing, but of keeping the same one in place.

So I have semi-automatic tooling at CEOLN Central here to ping the update-pings at weblogs dot com and blo dot gs. Does anyone (as far as they know) actually use either or both of these? Or have RSS and friends made the genre obsolete?

And speaking of weblogs, my final gift for today is a pair of pointers to two songs on the subject (blogger filk?). A longer list is here, for the really determined masochist.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

"So we're going to meet them at that restaurant in Vermont."

"Which one?"

"You know, from last year. Um--"

"Is it in Plymouth?"

"No, Plymouth is too small to have restaurants. It's in that other town, down the road. Uh--"

"Oh, great."

"No, hold on; I'll look at the map. Ah, right: it's in Ludlow."

"What was it called?"

"Um, wait, uh..."


"I'm still looking. Hey! Whoa! What's this Google Local thing? Did you know about this?"


"Amazing! Oh, and the restaurant is DJ's."

It's a whole new world.

Not a whole lot else today, busy with sudden meetings and errands and email and stuff.

Got some spam that at first I thought was just funny:

Subject: Microsoft corporation is confronted with the fall through intimidation

The Microsoft state is now very much make us being anxious , through last year original code reveals that the problem becomes world concern topic of a conversation always . Now Bill tops the puncture vine calling causing him irritated very much , being living always to stop happenning of problem , and may he senseing late , and his systematic code Be able to be publishd very quickly together with multitude .

But on a whim I looked at the innards of it, and it had a hidden iframe that tried to load a page from somewhere in China that then tried to load some Javascript to exploit an old Windows bug to download and execute a program. Fortunately neither my mail client nor my browser were fooled by any of it, but it does make the spam content less funny somehow.

Marriage Equality Dept: What you can do to today to oppose the FMA:

It's been several months since George Bush announced he is trying to lead this country by endorsing a discriminatory, unnecessary and undermining amendment the U.S. Constitution. We just learned that an actual vote on this proposal has been scheduled in the United States Senate just three weeks from now.

So get out there and spread the word. (Why do I so often find advocacy sites like this, even for causes that I believe in, vaguely annoying?)

Bruce Schneier's Crypto-Gram has an RSS feed, which is a really good idea. Bruce also has another interesting article about the Law of Unintended Consequences in anti-terrorism measures.

A reader who insists on psychological warfare writes:

Bravo on Wednesday's page David. (I'm the reader who insists on psychological warfare.)

Everyone has their own preferences; glad you liked that day. Sometimes I'm fonder of the days with lots of links, sometimes of the days with none. I could canvas y'all readers about which kinds of entries you like the most along various axes. Or I could just keep typing away at random, in the Traditional Fashion.

Let's see, which involves less effort? *8)

Monday, June 21, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

So I'd like to complain about pockets now.

Pants pockets.

I have all these very nice pairs of cargo pants (100% cotton, two slash pockets in front, two square pockets in back, two big bellows pockets on the legs), and they're made of nice tough fabric that's also comfortable and wrinkles nicely and generally works pretty well.

Except for the front slash pockets, which are little sacks made of what might as well be flipping Kleenex as far as their long-wearing capabilities are concerned.

I mean, yeah maybe I carry a few too many keys in my right front pocket, and maybe some of them are a little sharp or something and gradually wear away at the cloth while I walk. But.

The left front pockets, where I carry nothing nastier than a nail-clipper (closed) and a nice smooth worrystone and a couple of dead watch batteries, also tend to get holes in them, so it can't just be the keys.

So I have all these pairs of otherwise-fine pants where one or both of the front pockets have quarter-sized holes in them (just big enough for my change if I forget which pocket to avoid that day to dribble embarassingly out and down my leg to emerge at my feet).

And they're a pain to fix; iron-on patches are a joke, and the cloth anywhere near the hole is too spiderweb-thin to hold repairing threads, and the entire pocket is just as Kleenex-fragile as the rest so any repair is just going to give way to another hole sooner or later.

I wonder if the little Maria's Alterations place next to John's Barbershop can entirely replace front slash pocket-sacks with stronger ones?

Medley links to an anti-DRM talk that Cory Doctorow gave to the Microsoft Research folks. Worth reading.

Just to show how easily distracted I am, I'll note that every once in awhile while reading it I was brought up short for an instant, somewhere in the reading mechanism just below the conscious level. It surfaced eventually, and I realized that it was Doctorow's use of the term "PC" for what most of us would probably call a "computer".

Do people still say "PC"? Do you say "PC"? Do your cow-orkers, your sister, your mom, your advisor say "PC"?

When I think "PC" I tend to think of an old IBM PC with the green-on-black display and the big five-and-a-whatever inch floppy diskette drives. The word for a personal computer is "computer", because nowadays the default computer is personal. Them other things are "servers" (and "routers" and "DVD players" and "smart dust" and so on).

Should Americans be concerned that on March 23rd a bipartisan group of Congressmen attended a coronation at which a billionaire, pro-theocracy newspaper owner was declared to be the Messiah -- with royal robes, a crown, the works? Or that this imperial ceremony took place not in a makeshift basement church or a backwoods campsite, but in a Senate office building?

I dunno, should Americans be concerned about that? (Link from here via here, or vice-versa.)

One of the many noteworthy things in this scary article is the blatant lying by the office of Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) about whether or not the Rep attended the event. Apparently they said "definitely no" until someone said "well, what about this photograph, then?", after which they said, "oh actually yes".

Sheesh. Shouldn't that be grounds for impeachment right there? Not that we'd have many politicians of either party left if it were. But that might be a good thing.

I'm hoping that the story behind the story really is "the Moonies lured the congresscritters there under false pretenses, then took their photos in front of the Moony Messiah before they could politely run away".

That'd be good.

I finally got around to writing up "An Experiment with Time". I've been reading it forever, and am very fond of it, odd as it is.

And finally I wrote to the ACLU after accidentally seeing an annoying piece about gmail on TV:

I was distressed to see an ACLU representative on the news just now, expressing concern about Google's GMail. Despite the hype it's been getting recently, this issue is an utter red herring, and I do NOT appreciate my donations to the ACLU being spent on distractions like this. The current threats to our liberties come from the government, as always, not from an email provider doing exactly what every other web-based email provider has always done (storing mail on its servers) plus a little extra (using the contents of that mail to display unobtrusive targetted ads). Yes, Google *could* exploit that content for other things, like marketing, but so could Yahoo and AOL and MSN and every other mail ISP in the world. GMail is not one whit different in this regard.

Please focus the ACLU on preventing government intrusion into our lives and government violation of our civil liberties. Please do NOT jump on the anti-Google bandwagon of the moment; it's a waste of your resources.

I got back an utterly unencouraging form email of the "we're sorry you disagree with us on this issue; due to the volume of mail we get, that's all we're gonna say, so bugger off" variety. They're lucky I give them money because of their politics rather than their net.clue.

Saturday, June 19, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

An expectedly lovely day, the breeze fresh and cool and the sun bright, the kids out playing, the fudge cooling in the fridge, M and I lying around on the bed reading and writing, music is playing.

The perfect nearly-summer day, and here I am filled with a nearly-summer melancholy, at the impermanence of perfection, at the rising cost of college tuition, at the uncertainty of the future and how badly people are treating each other in other places in the present, and I can't fix it with a wave of my hand, a flourish that would spread this sunny perfection into every heart on the planet.

Have you seen 99 Rooms yet? You should; it's deliriously good.

Let's do some images. These don't necessarily fit my current mood, but they're queued up here to be logged, and I wouldn't entirely object to shaking some of this melancholy.

A generous reader has made this for us:

using the Kerry Sloganator (which, oddly, seems to be used mostly by people not planning to vote for Kerry).

And here's one for the other party:

from the General.

I'm also very fond of this:

from here (along with seventeen others).

And lastly image-wise:

from Tom Tomorrow via Medley. I like that one because it has both specific and general readings.

"Apparently 'frying stuff' was not in the test plan for the frying pans."

Another reader writes: "A nomic card game? You bet! [link]". A link I highly recommend following.

A bunch of cautious folks have decided that email is too creepy, and they're no longer going to send any, because their words might go astray. (Something like that, anyway.)

Someone or other writes:

After visiting your website 'davidchess.com' I'd like to invite you to be listed under such topics as "to properly,rum sodomy the,richer" of our anime directory, WWW.JOSTILLA.COM. We are trying to create a selection of quality links for our visitors.

It's nice to see that our unique expertise in "to properly" (not to mention "rum sodomy the") has been recognized.

We also got this one:

We are building a cooking web directory and would like to add your site 'davidchess.com' on such topics as "author,chess,users".

which wasn't quite as noteworthy on the face of it, but I bothered to look around on that site a bit, and found that it does actually have a "users" category, as well as a "warez" category, and an impressive host of others, not all entirely cooking-related. I can't decide if the people who set up sites like this are clueless, or if they're playing some scam that I just haven't grokked.

I wrote up two novels that I finished the other day. There's a small pile of books by the bed that I've also finished, and that perhaps deserve more thoughtful writeups.

I'd like to close with a Great Truth. On alChandler recently, I read "Nothing is free, especially enlightenment". On this poignantly perfect nearly-summer day, I'd like to invert that great truth to produce another great truth:

Nothing is free, except enlightenment.


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